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David S
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Message 1699147 - Posted: 7 Jul 2015, 0:46:14 UTC - in response to Message 1698797.  

There is always the CHSR project. The idea was to move people from downtown Los Angeles to downtown San Francisco. Well, someone should have checked if people in those two places want to go to the other end. While there are lots and lots of flights between the greater Los Angeles area and the Greater San Francsco Bay area, frankly the business traffic is better described as from West Los Angeles to Santa Clara / San Jose and some convention traffic to Moscone. Most people in Los Angeles loathe downtown and will do anything to avoid it. So putting the terminus there is only to please the few government officials who have their office there!

As to the brainchild or folly of not having any stops along the way, the route proposal follows I-5 freeway, because it is mostly cattle farms and ranches. The population of California follows SR-99 some miles to the east. By using the I-5 route they won't have stops, but that also means they don't have a line to the greatest tourist attraction in California, Yosemite! They also avoid the State Capitol Sacramento. Good Idea!

The planners did finally realize on the north end that they needed to have a stop or two on the way into SFO because their train would be empty otherwise. They haven't figured it out yet on the south end. Might be because they are listening to the politicians who built a light rail line that stops 1 mile short of Los Angeles International Airport!

They are building the first segment form nowhere to nowhere. I suspect a second will get built adding third nowhere to the line. Then somehow I see land acquisition costs skyrocketing to the point the rest of the project is never built.

I suspect the hairbrain behind this thought no stops because if there are stops it will take to long compared to the plane and there won't be riders. Well, hairbrain, if the people have to spend an hour in traffic on the I10 freeway to get from the westside to downtown LA vs 5 minutes to get to LAX, you are never going to be able to compete!

I don't follow that project closely enough to respond to everything you said (besides, Vic did respond). However, I do know that it will certainly stop in San Jose because that's where it will join the existing commuter line (which itself is being upgraded for higher speeds) for the last leg into SFO.

Regarding HSR in general, not everyone wants a high speed line in their downtown. That's one of the major points made by the opposition to the California project. Anytime you propose raising speeds on existing lines, there will always be a contingent of NYMBYs screaming about how those dangerously fast trains are going to kill all our children.

One related source of opposition to high speed is the freight railroads. Not only do they not want high speed on their tracks, they don't even want it near their tracks. Denver just built a new commuter rail system. Part of the RoW acquisition deal with Union Pacific is that anyplace where the track centers are less than 50' apart, there has to be a concrete wall between them. The issue here is liability in the event of a wreck, on either line. And that's just standard speed, 80 mph. The State of New York had trouble negotiating with CSX about adding a third track alongside the line west from Albany for the same reason, because they wanted trains to go 90. It's also a major factor in the Cal. project.
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Message 1699159 - Posted: 7 Jul 2015, 2:05:34 UTC - in response to Message 1698913.  

I had a most excellent weekend. This will give you a good idea. Details tomorrow.

So, no comments on this. Did anyone pick out the four pictures that have me in them?

To start from the beginning, no specific time had been mentioned for training on VC19. I suddenly realized Thursday night that Friday morning would be my last chance to pick up a library book on hold for me before they released it to the next person. The library opens at 9, and I was there. Then, instead of taking my usual route to the museum, I consulted my phone for the fastest route and took it. Shouldn't have bothered. The other trainee was running even later, and the trainer had to deal with a defect on a North Shore car that was scheduled to run. By the time he finished with that, he wanted to have lunch first. We finally got to our training after 1pm.

So anyway... Joe (the trainer) took us to the barn and gave us a brief orientation on the car: locations of important parts, such as the air compressor, air tank drain valve, control switch, compressor and light switches. He said another trainer might insist that we be able to stop the car with the hand brake, but his opinion was that that is only useful if the problem is with the air, not the linkage.

When IRM acquired the car from Trolleyville in Cleveland, they added a PVC pipe along one side to keep people from getting or falling off on that side. There is also a pipe on the other side, but it's only to keep people off when the car is not running. Not much point, since it's in a barn that's closed to the public anyway. But the first thing you do (after opening the barn doors) is remove this pipe and lay it on the ground where you can step on it. Raise the trolley pole, turn on the barn power (which is different than all the other barns), and turn on the compressor. When it stops, note the pressure (which the three of us all forgot to do), do a standard brake test, remove the chocks, and move it slowly out of the barn. This has to be done extra carefully because it's kept in Barn 4 West, which opens right onto Depot Street, the main north-south walkway through the museum grounds.

We got it out on the lead and went back to turn off the barn power and block the doorway so people wouldn't wander in. Then we call the dispatcher for permission onto the Car Line for training; he grants it. Larry (other trainee) takes it for a lap, then I take it for a lap. Joe mentions that the controller is not blocked from the parallel points, so we both give that a try. Being a four wheel car, it really bucks and bounces out there, especially at full parallel. Then we started taking passengers, two laps for each of us. We hadn't taken a good look at the info sign on the car, and Joe didn't remember much detail either, but we did the best we could for a car talk: it originally ran in Veracruz Mexico, from the early 1900s to 1962, when it was bought by a museum in Cleveland. When they shut down in 2009, it was one of several pieces we acquired. Chicago had some open cars very early on, but quickly learned that they weren't practical in the winter and it wasn't economical to have two separate fleets.

Then came time to put it away. It's a single-ended car, so this involves backing up. You have a choice: backpole, or turn the pole around. Larry had been conductor on the car once before and they turned it, so that was what we did. There is a bracket on the front to hold the retriever, but someone has to carry it around while the other person uses the rope to pull the pole around. Then I had the odd experience of standing there, facing almost toward the back of the car, feeling for the controls without looking, running it backwards into the yard. Stop, close the switch, turn on the barn power, remove the barrier we put in the doorway, watch out for people, and back it in. Made my safety stop in just the wrong place, with the pole right on the insulator in the wire. On 3142, if you do that you just raise the other pole and backpole for a few feet. On 19, there is no other pole. We tried to turn it around, but it wouldn't go because we were in the doorway. Joe and Larry had to push the car while I stayed on to work the brakes. Now, let me tell you, pulling a car into the barn and right up to the next car without hitting it is nerve wracking enough when you're right there and can see what you're doing. On 19, you're on the other end and have to depend on your conductor to tell you when to stop. We did it, though. shut down the car, put the pipe back in, turn off the barn power, turn the pole back around (tricky with a lift on the walkway between you and the car on the next track). Joe signs our training forms and tells us to find an Operating Dept. officer to sign them in a couple other spots, and who to give copies to. He signs our rulebooks.

I go over to the depot and find Jeff to sign my form. I also find Bob and have him sign my rulebook for tailhose, which we forgot on Sunday when he qualified me. Then I go for a ride on the coach train with my friend Mark as conductor.

This has gotten to be a much longer post than I had intended, so I will do a separate one for Saturday. It should be shorter.
David
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Message 1699181 - Posted: 7 Jul 2015, 2:58:28 UTC - in response to Message 1699159.  

Enjoyed the pics, but only one I felt certain might be you was on the 3174 car, standing behind and to the left of the gal in the green shirt and blue overhauls. If ever I get back to Chicagoland, I will stop by the IRM for a visit.
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David S
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Message 1699191 - Posted: 7 Jul 2015, 3:58:28 UTC - in response to Message 1698913.  

I had a most excellent weekend. This will give you a good idea. Details tomorrow.

Part 2:

I arrive Saturday in plenty of time for the morning meeting. There's not a lot to it. Joe hands out copies of the schedule, which doesn't affect me much because I'm on the Car Line all day. I sign in, get the handles for 3142, and head out to the barn. As I'm inspecting and prepping it, I realize it's been turned around. I also realize there's no step box to lean on to get down on my knee to check the compressor oil. Larry (who is conducting on 1374) kindly does it for me. Then Rod rolls up on a golf cart and says he wants me to train Kathy (who used to be associate editor of Trains). I'm surprised to be asked at my low experience level, but of course I agree. (This only happened because she was able to come out this weekend and I was the assigned motorman.) I get the car out on the line (losing the pole at the 73-74 switch, as usual) and pull around to Electric Park, where Rod is waiting with Kathy and her husband. He tells me again to let her get some practice running it. I agree again. He takes off and I tell Kathy I'd like to run it a little bit myself, just because I need the practice too. She agrees, wanting to watch me for a bit. The dispatcher has cleared us around to Depot St., where cars are stacking up. The separate Car Line Dispatcher has now come one duty, without being told that 1374 and 3142 are on the line already. 141 is out of Barn 4 West in front of 1374, which is in front of us. At some point, 4391 comes out behind me. The dispatcher has to tell 141 to get moving already.

The second time around to Central Ave., someone else tells me to let Kathy run. I ask if she's ready and she says yes. I pull out the reverser key and hand it to her. She sits down and puts it in again. I give her some basic instruction (not enough, it turns out) and she takes us on our way. Not very far; I tell her to stop short of the circuit that activates the crossing signals at Depot St. She's having a bit of trouble catching on to how the straight air brake valve works, but she improves over time.

Meanwhile, on the mainline, the entire schedule is about a half hour late because the Track Dept. was out inspecting the new rails they installed during the week, to see if they could lift the 10mph slow order (they did). Mark is on the coach train again, today with 1630, which needs to come out of the steam lead, out the west end, and onto the train on station 2. We are held at Barn 9 North for this to happen.

After we go around and around for about three hours, Larry and the dispatcher start talking about putting 1374 to bed so he can start prepping 19. Two laps later, we discharge all our passengers and also go to bed. I let Kathy handle the radio for this. He gives us authority to the tail track and into the yard, and call him when we're off controlled trackage. Fortunately, because it's a busy day, there are switchmen to line everything up for us and all we have to do is change poles in the tail track, which I let Kathy do. I let her run it right into the barn, which she does well. We are told we don't need to do the whole shutdown procedure, but I do have her chock it. I also tell her where to put the box with the handles. Then I trot off to join Larry, who has already brought 19 out of the barn by himself.

We call the dispatcher and say we're ready for service in Yard 4 West. He gives us permission out. We pull out and up to Depot St. and are instantly mobbed by people wanting to ride. We almost have to beat them off with a stick. Larry does a couple of trips, and then I do three, and then Bob comes along and wants to do one. I'm not about to tell him no. Then Larry takes it again, and I do a few more, and so on. When Larry's running, as we leave Electric Park, I tell the passengers to stand by for ludicrous speed. Not many get it. Even fully loaded, that car gets up and goes when you go to full parallel. You can only do that for a few seconds and then coast until the friction of the tight curves ahead slows you down. Later, I just say to hang on, this is where it gets wild.

Once, when I was running, Larry gave me a ding ding on the conductor's bell, but the switch ahead was lined for the main, so I gave four bongs of the gong. The Car Line Dispatcher looked up at me in a bit of surprise, then sent his helper to throw the switch for the Car Line. He's old school and I knew he'd appreciate me doing it that way instead of the radio. When it happened again later, though, I just used the radio.

After a while, I'm getting really tired and I just let Larry keep running it. (The operator's seat is a bit uncomfortable for me. I have to sit slightly sideways, and sometimes get up and stretch.) As the crowd dwindles, I even take a seat in the rear instead of standing on my aching feet.

Finally, we want to put it away. This time, we decide to backpole into Yard 4, although neither of us has done it before. A switchman get the switch for us. I watch from the ground as Larry backs slowly. As soon as the pole passes the frog (the wrong way) I give him a hand signal to stop. Then I call out for three point and he pulls out the reverser key. I step behind the car and move the pole to the correct wire. I step out again and signal to move toward me. He backs it to the next frog and we do it again. Then we have to remove the barrier from the doorway and bring it in. We get awfully close to the next car, but we don't hit it, so we're fine.

We did 19 trips in just under four hours. Most of them were fully loaded. Whew!

So, did you find me in the pictures? Three on 3142 and one on 19.
David
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Message 1699198 - Posted: 7 Jul 2015, 4:05:00 UTC - in response to Message 1699181.  

Enjoyed the pics, but only one I felt certain might be you was on the 3174 car, standing behind and to the left of the gal in the green shirt and blue overhauls. If ever I get back to Chicagoland, I will stop by the IRM for a visit.

3142, but yes, that was me, and that's Kathy. There are also two where you can see me in the windows if you download the full picture and zoom in on it. The fourth is me in the back end of the open car as we're about to leave the yard.
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Message 1699203 - Posted: 7 Jul 2015, 4:29:47 UTC

Sunday, I went out with the intention to run 19 again, if they could get me a conductor, but no one was interested. So, I just rode other trains. The CTA L cars 2244/2243. The UP caboose on the caboose train with Kathy training on that. The L4 electric steeplecab pulling the cabooses was an interesting experience. The Nebraska Zephyr, coincidentally at the same time Mark and another friend were on it (he'd been needle chipping the ceiling in a car being restored). Then I rode the L train a couple more times and got to run it. Another new experience. It's a real pain to hold the handle horizontal the whole time, but if you let go it turns to vertical and the train goes into emergency. I did get a chance to nag the guys who restore and maintain the L cars about when they're going to have official training on them.

I also asked those same guys about the possibility of the Metra Electric Highliners running. The major obstacle is that each of them has an MA set, a motor that runs on 1500 VDC and turns an alternator that powers all the auxilliaries on the car: lights, air compressor, radio, battery charger, PA/intercom, air conditioning, basically everything except the traction motors. They said they think all they need to do to make them run on 600 VDC instead is shunt some field windings and they will probably be running before the end of the season. Of course, there will still be the problem of them having pantographs instead of poles. Pans are not compatible with most of the frogs in our wire.
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Message 1699277 - Posted: 7 Jul 2015, 13:21:05 UTC - in response to Message 1699135.  

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?

No, but they're run by people who care more about profits than anything else.


Legally, that is what they HAVE to do.

CN used to be run by E. Hunter Harrison, who decreed that trains should be about 10,000 feet long. Never mind that on single track lines, the passing sidings were only about 5-7,000 feet. He also imposed various other practices that look good on paper but not in reality.


Then don't put the long trains on sidings. The really long trains are usually single point to single point: mine to mill, inland grain elevator complex to port, etc. They run straight through. The passenger trains fit just fine on the sidings, however.

After he hit CN's mandatory retirement age, activist investors took over the board of CP and hired him to be president there. Guess what he did? Yup, the exact same stuff.


I know, it is hard to believe some people like money more than they like running trains in the classical way. ;)

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Message 1699313 - Posted: 7 Jul 2015, 15:01:51 UTC - in response to Message 1699277.  

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?

No, but they're run by people who care more about profits than anything else.


Legally, that is what they HAVE to do.

CN used to be run by E. Hunter Harrison, who decreed that trains should be about 10,000 feet long. Never mind that on single track lines, the passing sidings were only about 5-7,000 feet. He also imposed various other practices that look good on paper but not in reality.


Then don't put the long trains on sidings. The really long trains are usually single point to single point: mine to mill, inland grain elevator complex to port, etc. They run straight through. The passenger trains fit just fine on the sidings, however.

That's fine for the passenger trains, but what about when you have two 10,000+' trains going in opposite directions? I'll tell you what happens: the passenger train gets stuck in the short siding and has to wait there while the freights meet 50 miles away at a siding that can handle one of them.
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Message 1699356 - Posted: 7 Jul 2015, 21:32:48 UTC - in response to Message 1699313.  

That's fine for the passenger trains, but what about when you have two 10,000+' trains going in opposite directions? I'll tell you what happens: the passenger train gets stuck in the short siding and has to wait there while the freights meet 50 miles away at a siding that can handle one of them.

Made all the more likely when some equipment on the passenger train has to be repaired before it can leave the station an hour late.
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Message 1699395 - Posted: 7 Jul 2015, 23:17:52 UTC - in response to Message 1699313.  


That's fine for the passenger trains, but what about when you have two 10,000+' trains going in opposite directions? I'll tell you what happens: the passenger train gets stuck in the short siding and has to wait there while the freights meet 50 miles away at a siding that can handle one of them.


Sadly, that's how you make money with a North American train service these days.

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Message 1699474 - Posted: 8 Jul 2015, 11:55:04 UTC - in response to Message 1699454.  
Last modified: 8 Jul 2015, 11:55:27 UTC

I presume the American short siding is the equivalent of the UK passing loop?


I think so. A siding is a piece of track parallel to the main line, usually connected to the mainline at either end. Used for passing, also used to park cars for loading or unloading or just for storage. This picture is from Oz, but we would call this a siding in North America.



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Message 1699488 - Posted: 8 Jul 2015, 12:44:09 UTC - in response to Message 1699474.  

I presume the American short siding is the equivalent of the UK passing loop?


I think so. A siding is a piece of track parallel to the main line, usually connected to the mainline at either end. Used for passing, also used to park cars for loading or unloading or just for storage. This picture is from Oz, but we would call this a siding in North America.

Sidings that short have become unpopular in North America, at least on larger railroads. The low car capacity makes them uneconomical. That appears to be for grain loading, and the standard for that now is (I think) a minimum of 70 cars at a time. The Class 1 railroads don't want to talk to you unless you can load 110 cars at a time and send them all to the same destination.

At the museum, we have three sidings on the mainline. Johnson Siding is just past milepost 3, about half way from the museum grounds to the east end of track, and is the meeting point for trains on days busy enough for multiple trains to be out at the same time. It has spring switches at both ends to facilitate meets. Four Mile Siding is single ended (although that may change some day) and gets its name from being between mileposts 4 and 5. Schmidt Siding is near the west end of the property; our connection to Union Pacific comes off of it. It is often used for storing equipment that has to be moved out of its usual place for some reason or other.
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Message 1699491 - Posted: 8 Jul 2015, 12:55:06 UTC - in response to Message 1699485.  

I would ask the question to Canada & the USA, just WHY do you need to move so many goods from one place to another? Why can't you simply manufacture them where the demand is?

I have wondered that myself, especially when they're making different components in different places and assembling them in other places, and often then sending them to yet another place to be packaged for sale.

But turning to passenger traffic, a quick look at the Western seaboard map shows that Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco Los Angeles etc are some of the biggest cities there. It would have made sense 50 years ago to have had a high speed rail line down the Western coast of North America, so why all the hand wringing now?

50 years ago, the North American rail industry was in decline and no one thought a brand new high speed line was a good idea. Now, there is still a lot of that thinking to overcome, as well as a lot of resistance to using public money for anything other than highways and airports.
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Message 1699505 - Posted: 8 Jul 2015, 13:34:45 UTC - in response to Message 1699485.  


I would ask the question to Canada & the USA, just WHY do you need to move so many goods from one place to another? Why can't you simply manufacture them where the demand is? OK, one needs raw materials and nature decides where the mines of minerals etc are, but even so. None of it makes much sense to me, particularly when they can't even run oil tanker trains safely, as we have horrendously seen.


A lot of this is wise use of capitol. Yes, we could have a broom factory (or whatever) every few hundred miles, but it takes less capitol to build one mega-factory and the connecting railways and roads. The decrease in manufacturing cost per broom more that outweighs the added shipping costs. Remember, Canada is nearly 5,000 miles east coast to west coast. When the first trans-continental railway was built, the total population was about 4 million. The political need for a coast to coast link was there, and the government fronted a lot of the money to build it. Once this link was in place, it was a better return on your investment to make the Ontario broom factory bigger, than to build new small factories spread all over. Government policy, and government set freight rates, promoted this at the time.

But turning to passenger traffic, a quick look at the Western seaboard map shows that Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco Los Angeles etc are some of the biggest cities there. It would have made sense 50 years ago to have had a high speed rail line down the Western coast of North America, so why all the hand wringing now?



"High speed" is a relative term. We did build a high speed rail link between Vancouver and eastern Canada in 1886. The first scheduled Toronto to Vancouver train took 8 days. Before that, the trip involved steamboats, horse drawn wagons and walking, and travel time was measured in months. The fastest way from eastern Canada to Vancouver before the railway was by ship, around South America.

Canadian passenger rail service was relatively fast, efficient and cheap up to the 1950s and 1960s. By then, the government was spending capitol on a national highway system, rising personal income meant most families had a car, and air fares were beginning to tumble. (If you take inflation into account, the Toronto to Vancouver airfare today is about 1/10th what is was in 1950.) AS rail passenger numbers fell, the private railways made a logical business decision and cut services. The CN was still government owned then, and subsidized passenger services for a while until the tax payers quite rightly asked "why bother?". While all this was going on, gasoline (sorry, petrol) was pennies a gallon. The whole society adapted to the private automobile, even for longer trips.

Today, new rail construction runs into all the problems I have mentioned before. A vocal NIMBY segment of the population, plus governments that don't want to upset anybody before the next election. Meanwhile discount airlines have become the preferred method of long distance travel for the masses. The train from Toronto to Vancouver still takes several days, a flight takes 6 hours. Canadian railways are making freight money at an amazing rate these days, and see passenger service as a money loser.

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Message 1699507 - Posted: 8 Jul 2015, 13:44:05 UTC - in response to Message 1699485.  

I would ask the question to Canada & the USA, just WHY do you need to move so many goods from one place to another? Why can't you simply manufacture them where the demand is?
The goods are manufactured in Asia, shipped by intermodal container ship to places like the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, put on a trailer frame, driven from the pier to a RR yard, taken off the trailer frame, put on a flatcar, then sent on their merry way all over the USA. Far cheaper than using expensive USA labor to build anything! But this is politics, not trains.
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Message 1699521 - Posted: 8 Jul 2015, 14:36:25 UTC

The Canadian economy has evolved in a similar way to what Gary described. Today the mega-broom-factory might be in Taiwan. The glory trains today in Canada are the "inter-modals". Everybody sits on a siding when they go by.



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Message 1699523 - Posted: 8 Jul 2015, 14:40:06 UTC

The two most efficient ways of shifting large amounts of freight around are rail and ships - if you are trying to move it over land then rail, if over oceans then ships. While the total cost per train/ship is high the cost per tonne/mile is remarkably low.
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Message 1699525 - Posted: 8 Jul 2015, 14:57:35 UTC - in response to Message 1699485.  

Sidings in the UK tend to be off the mainline but come to a dead end.


In Canada we would call that a spur line, or just a spur. They dead end at a mill or mine or factory, the other end connects to a mainline.


Passing loops are where they want to run regular trains in both directions along a single track.


That would be a siding. Most Canadian main lines are double tracked these days, so passing sidings are rarely needed, unless track work is underway. In addition, we built so much track in the first half of the 20th century that even where main lines are single, there is probably an alternate route between any two major points. The alternate may be a bit longer, but that is better than letting a train sit. Rail freight in Canada is usually not time sensitive. That stuff goes by truck or by air.

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Message 1699534 - Posted: 8 Jul 2015, 15:35:25 UTC

Not forgetting that passing loops are also installed on sections of double track to allow faster trains to overtake slower trains, or to provide stations....
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Message 1699558 - Posted: 8 Jul 2015, 16:48:25 UTC - in response to Message 1699534.  

Not forgetting that passing loops are also installed on sections of double track to allow faster trains to overtake slower trains, or to provide stations....


In Canada that would be a station siding, or a yard siding. Passing trains (overtaking or in opposite directions) is called "a meet", so you can have station meets, yard meets, siding meets, etc. What yo don't want is a wheatfield meet.



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Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread


 
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