The train thread

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Profile Bernie Vine
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Message 1697676 - Posted: 2 Jul 2015, 9:29:45 UTC

Thank you David for the pictures. For someone who watched the whole thing from the top of that camera pole the close ups were really great.

I assume you didn't see Mr Lincoln himself, a bit spooky as there was his funeral car.

Here he is with what I assume were a selection of VIP's on the Friday afternoon



Apparently they employed an actor for the whole weekend to wander about with his "wife".

Also I actually didn't get the Leviathan leaving, that is the problem with still cameras and no sound, I looked and it was already halfway down the spur leaving behind 8358. Shortly after the Amtrak Exhibition train, now turned reappeared on the spur, and stayed there for a further two days. This was the last shot I took on Tuesday evening.



Place looks a little different. Yesterday morning the train was gone.

As to the non ballasted track, it was not fully installed until late Thursday, in fact the crew were there briefly Friday morning. Leviathan and 8358 were to my knowledge the first vehicles to use the track.

A BNSF loco and what looked like a couple of ballast wagons in tow arrived at the far end of the spur on Tuesday and was there for over 24 hours.

At that point they hadn't even fixed the far rail So perhaps the job "overran" but they need to use the track on Friday.

Also the wooden ties already seem to have already been there. If you look at Google maps "earth view" it is before the track was laid and it seems obvious that there was a track there originally that possibly served the old station. Perhaps the end section had just been "buried and was found to be OK when dug up?

I will let you know what if anything happens now.
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Message 1697837 - Posted: 2 Jul 2015, 19:41:43 UTC

And here is a shot from May, of a typical long freight here in Eastern Canada. The photographer reported 123 cars behind the twin engines. Despite the rugged looking terrain, the grades are fairly light through here, along the north shore of Lake Superior.



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Message 1697843 - Posted: 2 Jul 2015, 19:52:09 UTC

Do you see the person standing in the open door of the
yellow car (Soo line?) in the middle of the train?



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Message 1697881 - Posted: 2 Jul 2015, 21:46:41 UTC - in response to Message 1697843.  

Do you see the person standing in the open door of the
yellow car (Soo line?) in the middle of the train?



I don't think it is. The door slides open, so if it were open it would be to the right of center.
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Message 1697885 - Posted: 2 Jul 2015, 21:56:50 UTC - in response to Message 1697881.  

Do you see the person standing in the open door of the
yellow car (Soo line?) in the middle of the train?



I don't think it is. The door slides open, so if it were open it would be to the right of center.

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Message 1697914 - Posted: 2 Jul 2015, 22:55:32 UTC - in response to Message 1697838.  

Really makes you wonder why they don't derail around curves being THAT long ....


The only reason a car would derail around a curve would be because of side force resulting from the angle between two cars, plus centrifugal force acting on the mass of the car. The beauty of rails is that this angle depends only on the radius of the curve, while the force depends only on the radius of curvature and the speed of the train. The sum of the forces is the same between cars 1 and 2 as it is between cars 201 and 202.

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Message 1698098 - Posted: 3 Jul 2015, 11:08:47 UTC

You are both right...
In the case of VERY long trains (over 200 wagons), not the "short" forty of fifty wagon train in the picture it is possible to get into a situation where the drag from the tailend is such that the stresses in the leading part can result in derailment. This is particularly the case on undulating track. The solution is distributed power, where you put a loco in the middle of the train to smooth out the surges due to unhappy interactions between the curves and the gradients.
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Message 1698125 - Posted: 3 Jul 2015, 13:15:38 UTC
Last modified: 3 Jul 2015, 13:36:39 UTC

Rob, the train in the picture had 123 cars, and no centre engine. They do cut in centre helpers on the really long ones where the gradients are steep. You are right, good quality track is needed for this sort of thing.

Another key is big turn radii. I wish I could draw free body diagrams in this blog :) You would see that the cars at the front do see the biggest net force perpendicular to the tracks, but the magnitude of this force goes down as the radius goes up. A long wheel base and free swiveling trucks also reduce the lateral forces.

Added in edit: found one small shot of a centre helper in the Canadian Rockies.


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Message 1698133 - Posted: 3 Jul 2015, 13:41:05 UTC

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Message 1698135 - Posted: 3 Jul 2015, 13:45:40 UTC

And a 2014 photo from Sault St. Marie, showing that CN is using some distributed power these days.



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Message 1698204 - Posted: 3 Jul 2015, 16:39:18 UTC - in response to Message 1698197.  

Are Canadian railways that close to financial ruin that they have to run stuff like this to save money and survive?


Not a bit of it, Canadian railways are doing very well indeed....



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Message 1698205 - Posted: 3 Jul 2015, 16:40:13 UTC - in response to Message 1698197.  

The length of the train in that picture is just ridiculous!!!

Up until the 1990s, the average freight train in Canada was about 5,000 feet (1.54 kilometres) long and weighed 7,000 tons. But it is now not uncommon to see these trains stretch to 12,000 feet, sometimes as much as 14,000 feet (more than four kilometres), weighing up to 18,000 tons.

Are Canadian railways that close to financial ruin that they have to run stuff like this to save money and survive?

I suspect it's just cause there is a lot of freight to be moved across the North American Continent, regardless if that is Eastbound or Westbound, this might decrease some when Panama finishes the new wider locks and other bits of the canal widening they are undertaking down there, of course not all sea ports can handle the bigger ships.
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Message 1698207 - Posted: 3 Jul 2015, 16:42:04 UTC - in response to Message 1698205.  

Just as soon as they figure out how to ship oil
through the cannel they will start doing it!



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Message 1698256 - Posted: 3 Jul 2015, 20:14:30 UTC - in response to Message 1698197.  


Are Canadian railways that close to financial ruin that they have to run stuff like this to save money and survive?


They are way past surviving, the goal is to make the most money for your shareholders. As I have said before here, the recent annual statements of both the CN and the CP state that the only thing holding back their profits right now is how fast they can buy new rolling stock and power.

From CBC Business news archives: CN profits rose 13% from 2012 to 2013, and 21% from 2013 to 2014. Total revenue in the last quarter of 2014 was $853,000,000 Canadian (about 436,000,000 Pounds). A bit more than surviving, I would say.

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Message 1698299 - Posted: 3 Jul 2015, 22:34:26 UTC - in response to Message 1698256.  


Are Canadian railways that close to financial ruin that they have to run stuff like this to save money and survive?


They are way past surviving, the goal is to make the most money for your shareholders. As I have said before here, the recent annual statements of both the CN and the CP state that the only thing holding back their profits right now is how fast they can buy new rolling stock and power.

From CBC Business news archives: CN profits rose 13% from 2012 to 2013, and 21% from 2013 to 2014. Total revenue in the last quarter of 2014 was $853,000,000 Canadian (about 436,000,000 Pounds). A bit more than surviving, I would say.

I suspect they need more rail as well, but that isn't something they have figured out or just isn't possible on the face because of right of way considerations.
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Message 1698304 - Posted: 3 Jul 2015, 23:00:10 UTC - in response to Message 1698299.  


I suspect they need more rail as well, but that isn't something they have figured out or just isn't possible on the face because of right of way considerations.


As far as I know there is very little new rail being laid in Canada these days, apart from a few commuter lines in the big cities. Almost all the growth is over existing tracks. Of course, that may be the next issue limiting rail growth.

Government plans for a high speed rail corridor on the Windsor to Quebec route (biggest rail passenger market in the country) have been kicked around for at least 30 years, but the big stumbling blocks are money - and right of way. Existing mainlines on this route are amongst the oldest in Canada, and they all go right through every little and big town along the way. Nobody is too interested in high speed rail through their downtown, and the surrounding land is high priced, and/or protected by greenbelt laws, and/or part of parks, etc etc.

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Message 1698360 - Posted: 4 Jul 2015, 4:14:33 UTC - in response to Message 1698304.  


I suspect they need more rail as well, but that isn't something they have figured out or just isn't possible on the face because of right of way considerations.


As far as I know there is very little new rail being laid in Canada these days, apart from a few commuter lines in the big cities. Almost all the growth is over existing tracks. Of course, that may be the next issue limiting rail growth.

Government plans for a high speed rail corridor on the Windsor to Quebec route (biggest rail passenger market in the country) have been kicked around for at least 30 years, but the big stumbling blocks are money - and right of way. Existing mainlines on this route are amongst the oldest in Canada, and they all go right through every little and big town along the way. Nobody is too interested in high speed rail through their downtown, and the surrounding land is high priced, and/or protected by greenbelt laws, and/or part of parks, etc etc.

I suspect on the freight lines they would like to lay another set of parallel tracks the whole way. Allows more options. As to the capacity limit, I suppose when the train gets so long that they are still assembling it in the origin yard while it is being sorted in the destination yard .... of course no one is going to like waiting for that to pass at a grade crossing!

Actually that capacity limit isn't quite so simple. It really is no different than the capacity on a highway. When traffic is light cars can pass by a point faster but there is more space between them so the total number isn't the maximum. When traffic is near gridlock there is almost no space between cars but they can't go very fast, again not maximum. Somewhere where traffic is heavy but still moving maximizes the number of cars by a point in a given unit of time. So adding a set of rails is the same as adding a lane to the highway.
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Message 1698654 - Posted: 5 Jul 2015, 13:04:57 UTC

Government plans for a high speed rail corridor on the Windsor to Quebec route (biggest rail passenger market in the country)


Is that Windsor Ontario or Windsor Quebec? (or Windsor Somewhere else)

If Quebec then its only about 200km, so is at the bottom end of the economically effective distance scale which is generally taken as being about 200km as the crow files.
If Ontario, then it is certainly into the sensible distance, and by choosing the right route it would connect Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor, and cut the journey time by a considerable margin. (Currently the timetable suggests this a 14 to 17 hour journey, and I would guess that could come down to near 4 to 5 hours (which, according to Google) is about half the time by car.

That's a nice idea about laying another couple of tracks by a freight route, because both freight and high speed rail work best when "straight and flat" - locals may care to comment on the route geography. The trick with high speed rail is not to "call at every gatepost", but to stop where there is either an existing suitable station, or where there is the land an population that would use a "park and ride" service. Thus on that 1300km journey there may only be half a dozen stops, no stops to change trains, just sit back and relax as the scenery passes by at 300kph.
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Message 1698708 - Posted: 5 Jul 2015, 17:05:32 UTC - in response to Message 1698654.  


Is that Windsor Ontario or Windsor Quebec? (or Windsor Somewhere else)


Windsor, Ontario - just north of Detroit. Your comments about population, distances, and travel times are bang on.


That's a nice idea about laying another couple of tracks by a freight route, because both freight and high speed rail work best when "straight and flat" - locals may care to comment on the route geography. The trick with high speed rail is not to "call at every gatepost", but to stop where there is either an existing suitable station, or where there is the land an population that would use a "park and ride" service. Thus on that 1300km journey there may only be half a dozen stops, no stops to change trains, just sit back and relax as the scenery passes by at 300kph.


This is where it gets tricky. In general, most Canadian freight lines are not track limited. There was a big lump of money spent double and triple tracking some choke points through the western mountains and in some parts of the east in the 1970s and 1980s. Since then, growing train lengths have handled the growth in freight, and what little new track has been laid for freight service has been mostly to move sorting yards out of the downtowns. A good part of CN and CP profit in the 1990s came from selling their old properties in the hearts of Canada's biggest cities. Over the same time long run passenger services have become mostly tourist traffic. Those people don't mind sitting on a siding every hour or so as a hot-shot freight roars by, which is a good thing because that is exactly what happens to most inter-city passenger trains these days. And when the freight lines do build new track, they build it for heavy slow freight trains - that is their bread and butter.

The local commuter services around Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver have been steadily building their own tracks since the 1990s, but it it is exactly where you don't want high speed rail - passing through each population centre, with lots of stops.

All this adds up to a high speed Windsor-Quebec train needing almost all new track. That is through the most densely populated part of the country, with the highest property values and lots of political baggage attached to such a drastic change in land use. For example, every two-bit little town along the route (including the one I live in ) says they are happy to help procure land for the new rail line, but only if there is a stop in their downtown. Sort of defeats your comments about how to build a high speed rail system.

Bottom line is that every government (municipal, provincial or federal) can't come to any conclusion. Instead, they commission another study, to be completed just after the next election.

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Message 1698717 - Posted: 5 Jul 2015, 17:32:53 UTC - in response to Message 1698708.  

Let's all play a game to guess how many towns and cities
on the new Windsor/Quebec TGV line, demand a stop?


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