Monthly Archives: January 2009

N-Scale Steel Mill Model

One of the big advantages of N-Scale is the ability to construct a lot of railroad in a small space.  Here is a video of a scratch built N-Scale steel mill.  The amount of detail is fantastic and the model itself is enormous.  This is something that just wouldn’t be possible for many in larger scales, but N-Scale makes it achievable.

UP turns rail yard training into virtual reality

How does a 147-year-old railroad company reach out to its modern-era new employees? One answer has turned out to be video simulation that mimics the virtual world of today’s video games.

“Video gamers, like those who play Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, feel right at home using Union Pacific’s latest training technology,” said Scott Hinckley, general director-safety and security. “This is a natural training medium for employees who grew up in the video gaming environment and it enhances their extensive safety and operation training.”

Thousands of railroad employees across the country during the last several years have retired. Railroads have hired thousands of employees of all ages to take their place. The challenge: providing the new employees with comprehensive on-the-job training tools to help them become skillful in their new jobs.

(Read article here)

Disneyland Train Runs on Biodiesel

Beginning this week, the Disneyland Railroad is being fueled by a special biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil used throughout the Resort. “We have been recycling our used kitchen grease for years, but this innovation takes recycling to another level,” said Frank Dela Vara, Disneyland Resort’s director of environmental affairs and conservation. “Now the oil used to cook French Fries and other foods is processed to power our Disneyland Railroad and our Mark Twain Riverboat. This move allows the Resort to save approximately 200,000 gallons of petroleum diesel per year.”

The Disneyland Railroad’s five trains have been using a soy-based biodiesel since April 2007. The B99.9 used cooking oil-based biodiesel will continue to reduce emissions by up to 80 percent. Disneyland Resort’s Mark Twain Riverboat also will begin using the new biodiesel within the next few weeks.

Track Plan

Here is an example of a really nicely designed plan that would be suitable for a smaller area.  The plan is designed around a double track main, which connects with a very interesting branch line.  There are a couple of really nice little yards that would allow for some switching possibilities, as well as marshalling a few trains.

One of the nicest aspects of this design is its ability to incorporate scenery breaks, mainly due to a hilly area that contains a tunnel for the branch line.  Scenery breaks are the secret to running longer trains on a smaller layout, without the train appearing to chase itself.  Hills and tunnels are the key to creating effective scenery breaks.

This layout design emphasises running trains, as there is not a lot of industry for switching.  The double track would allow two trains to run continuously.

US to reconsider applying antitrust law to railroad

Congress is expected to reconsider legislation that would strip big railroad companies of their antitrust exemption, spurred on by power companies who accuse them of price gouging.

Sen. Herb Kohl and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, both Wisconsin Democrats, introduced bills on Wednesday that would place rail freight shippers under the same antitrust laws that apply to other industries.

The industry was deregulated in 1980 because it was fast losing market share to truckers. But there have been widespread complaints about railroads’ pricing power, particularly from power companies which depend on railroads to ship coal.

(Read article here)

Veteran’s Story: Railroad hand got lots of work during World War II

Clifford McGinty, 87, spent World War II working as a railroad brakeman for the U.S. Army in Africa, Italy, France and Germany.

“I was working at Empire Steel when I was drafted in 1942, just nine days after my 21st birthday,” McGinty said.

Because he operated a steam locomotive switch engine for Empire, the Army decided railroading is where McGinty would be assigned.

In September 1942, he was assigned to Camp Claiborne, La., where the 759th Railway Operating Battalion was formed.

“Basic training wasn’t too hard for me. I was just 21,” McGinty said. “But for some of the more experienced railroad men it was pretty hard.”

(Read article here)

Intermodal Grows Up

While fuel prices are now on the wane, the stings of exceedingly high gasoline costs, and now the global recession, are factors weighing heavily on shippers as they consider transportation options. Most contend lower fuel prices will be short lived, and no one can predict how long the economy will remain in the doldrums. But one fact is certain: Business is off, meaning shipment volumes are down, and all efforts must be made to hold onto a respectable profit margin.

Add to this the growing trend to “think and act green”—a practice that, for many companies, can add expense because it means introducing new processes.

Thankfully for many, where transportation is concerned there are economical options. So, as a way to combat all the above mentioned ‘negatives’ out there, many shippers are now considering intermodal.

(Read article here)

The Ski Train: Colorado’s quiet treasure

Many skiers who visit Colorado prefer the slopes of Aspen, Vail or Breckenridge. But there’s a cool little day trip from Denver that often gets overlooked by out-of-towners.

The Ski Train begins its round-trip journey to Winter Park at Union Station in Denver, Colorado.

The Ski Train begins its round-trip journey to Winter Park at Union Station in Denver, Colorado.

The Ski Train is a 68-year-old local favorite that shuttles about 750 people between Denver and Winter Park. It runs on weekend days — leaving Denver’s Union Station at 7:15 a.m. — and begins the return leg nine hours later.

The 56-mile trip takes about two hours each way, and many riders say it’s worth the cost to avoid the traffic hassles of the oft-congested I-70.

A roundtrip ticket costs between $49 and $85. There are additional expenses, such as parking at the train station in Denver and lift tickets for skiers. If someone chooses to shop instead of ski, a free shuttle into Winter Park is available.

Train riders love the trip route, which winds through the Rockies and climbs to 9,000 feet. It also travels through almost 30 tunnels, including the 6.2-mile Moffat Tunnel, which passes underneath the Continental Divide.

(Read article here)

Track Plan

Here is a track plan for the hardcore switching fan.  It features plenty of industry and tons of yard for swapping out cars.  The main line is single track, but running trains is not the strength of this design.  This is a layout for those who love freight, and plenty of it.

In N-Scale, this layout would be fine in a small room or corner of the basement.  To get the most out of this plan, you would definitely want to install automatic uncouplers, with electro-magnet uncouplers on the main line and standard magnetic uncouplers strategically placed throughout the yard and at the various sidings.

This layout would be hours of fun to operate, and wouldn’t get too repetative.  When you are done with dropping off and picking up cars at the varous industries around the layout, all that would remain would be to assemble your train in the yard and send it out onto the main line.  Then you could sit back with your coffee and relax until the urge to break the train down and do more switching becomes too great to resist.

This is a very cleaver layout design and would be an excellent home or club layout.

(Click on trackplan to view full size)