North Bay Freights One Step Closer

North Bay cargo trains may be closer to returning to the Northwestern Pacific Railroad now that a major obstacle has been removed.

U.S. transportation regulators have ruled that the North Coast Railroad Authority doesn’t need commuter rail’s okay to reopen the freight line.

That means the Federal Railroad Administration can now inspect repairs on a 62-mile stretch of track between Napa County and Windsor. “It’s a significant step,” NCRA director Mitch Stogner said Monday.

But NCRA still needs a joint operating agreement with Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, the commuter rail agency that owns the tracks.

NCRA hopes to begin freight service on the segment early next year, Stogner said, which will provide a lower-cost alternative for shippers and take truck traffic off Highway 101.

(Read article here)

Train Station on Facebook

Yoville, Mafia Wars, you name it and there is a game for it on Facebook. Finally, there is a way for hard-core railroad fans to waste incredible amounts of productive time in front of our computers.

Train Station is a new (beta) game on Facebook that allows you to earn money by sending trains on missions. You can use the Train Station Cash to by new locomotives and cars to build even bigger and better trains.

The game starts in the Old West with a simple small passenger train and a freight train. You can load them up and send them from town to town. The game progresses to the modern era.

It’s not Microsoft Railroad Simulator, but it’s a really cute little game that can bring a few moments of diversion to a stressful day.

Check it out by going to Facebook and searching for Train Station.

White River and Northern

This is a really nice little track plan. The great part is that it is two loops, so that you can run two trains non-stop. Nothing in the way of a yard, but some really nice industry possibility with plenty of sidings and even a passing track or two – to create lots of switching possibilities. The White River & Northern has excellent use of scenery breaks which would make slightly longer trains look right at home. Newton Station would be great for passenger service, while a freight makes use of the other main.

All in all, the White River & Northern would make a great little home layout.

Arrowhead Incline Railway

In a recent column, I wrote about a seldom-mentioned trackless trolley line that once ran in the Cajon Pass. Well, here is another relic that many railroad buffs may not know much about.

During the turn of the 19th century, the Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company was responsible for the arduous task of hauling hundreds of tons of cement and other construction materials for the building of a dam for the man-made lake in Little Bear Valley, known today as Lake Arrowhead. In an attempt to speed up the process, the company’s engineers constructed a three-rail incline railway from Waterman Canyon to Skyland summit near Crestline to transport supplies.

Grading was completed by February 21, 1906, and the first rails were laid on May 12. Two balanced freight cars were alternately hoisted up and lowered down the 4,170 foot, 45 degree incline by “donkey engine” attached to the cars by cable.

The up car and down car would pass each other at the midway point. Unfortunately, this experiment resulted in one big headache after another. The route was steep, long and there were frequent breakdowns.

When the first trip was made on July 31, 1906, carrying three tons of cement bags, the cable car hit the midway dip in the rails, resulting in the cars jumping dangerously into the air. In fact, many loads were lost, and many corrections had to be made.

(Read article here)

Union Pacific Wins Environmental Award

Union Pacific Railroad said it has won the 2010 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), “California’s highest environmental honor.”

In a release, the company said the award recognizes individuals, organizations and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership for voluntary achievements in conserving California’s resources, protecting and enhancing the environment and building public-private partnerships. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recognized Union Pacific and other GEELA recipients at a reception at the Governors’ Global Climate Summit in Davis November 15.

“This honor recognizes Union Pacific’s ongoing commitment to developing new technologies that bolster our environmentally friendly transportation of freight,” said Mike Iden, Union Pacific general director, car and locomotive engineering. “American businesses and consumers depend on Union Pacific to safely and reliably deliver the products they need and use every day. We are proud of our leadership role in developing and implementing new technologies and practices that further our ability to keep America moving with greater environmental efficiency.”

(Read article here)

High Speed Rail’s Impact on Freight

Union Station in Los Angeles has been restored as a fine example of the Art Deco architecture that typified California in the 1930s. It has served as a backdrop for many Hollywood films, from “Union Station” (naturally) to “Blade Runner” and “Star Trek: First Contact”. It was the last grand station to be built before America’s passenger railways went into what you might call terminal decline.

Today it is a hub for Metrolink commuter trains and Amtrak services to faraway cities such as Chicago and Seattle. These trains have to pull in and then back out in a clumsy manoeuvre. But there are plans for through tracks in time to carry the high-speed services that California is desperate to have by 2020 under an ambitious $42 billion plan to connect San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.

California’s plans were given a boost by Barack Obama’s stimulus package last year. This earmarks a lump sum of $8 billion, plus $1 billion a year, to help construct fast rail corridors around America (see map). Such lines are common in Europe, Japan and, increasingly, China, yet the only thing at all like them in America is Amtrak’s Acela service from Boston via New York to Washington, DC. It rarely reaches its top speed of 150mph (240kph) and for much of the way manages little more than half that, because the track is not equipped for higher speeds. Acela, like virtually all trains run by publicly owned Amtrak, has to use tracks belonging to freight railways, whose trains trundle along at 50mph; passenger trains must stick below 80mph. Despite the excitement of railway buffs and the enthusiasm of environmentalists, high-speed rail in America is likely to mean a few more diesel-electric intercity trains at 110mph, not swish electric expresses going nearly twice as fast.

But the problem with America’s plans for high-speed rail is not their modesty. It is that even this limited ambition risks messing up the successful freight railways.

(Read article here)

Santa Monica Show

Members of Group 160 N-Trak are reminded that the bi-annual show at Sunset Lodge in Santa Monica will be held on the weekend of the 20th of November.

We will be arriving for setup on Friday, November 19th at 4:00 PM. Many hands make light work, so we encourage as many of our members as possible to turn out lend their assistance in getting our layout up and running. The layout will be set up in the lodge room for this show. November 20th, the layout will be open to the general public from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. There is no admission charge for this event.

Following the show, a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner will be held in the dining room for members of Group 160, Sunset Lodge and invited guests.

We hope to see as many of you as possible at this event.

Sunset Lodge
1720 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica CA, 90405

The club contact at the lodge is Michael Wamback (310) 714-0423

California High Speed Rail

A video presentation gives a glimpse of what California’s high speed rail would look like. Congress has approved $2.5 billion for California to begin the process of building the line. If you haven’t done so, we recommend that you visit the California High-Speed Rail Authority website at http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/

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