On the evening of Wednesday, November 22, 1961, a US Army "Duty Train" left Berlin for West Germany, traveling through Soviet-occupied East Germany, when a young East German, in a bid to escape, jumped aboard the train when it slowed for a curve, and was let aboard. The incident was eventually dramatized as a film called Stop Train 349, or Incident at Marienborn.
Iron, Steam and Coal. Photographer Matthew Malkiewicz captures the timeless beauty of the steam locomotive and steam trains - the steam, the tracks, the folks who run them and just the folks who love them. (Via Petapixel)
Attention Tim O'Toole : You are the CEO of First Capital Connect and my train is late almost every day. I'm going to change your face every time my train is delayed. (SLTP)
"[S]tock jobbers[,]... confidence men,... an impecunious transportation entity", politicos, judges, scoundrels and Jackie O.: the near-death of Grand Central Terminal, and how it foretold the 2008 financial crisis. [sl Harper's]
Crawling the lost tracks of Latin America. Artists Ivan Puig and Andrés Padilla Domene, a.k.a. "Los Ferronautas," converted a car into a retro-futuristic rail vehicle they dubbed SEFT-1 (Sonda de Exploración Ferroviaria Tripulada, "Manned Railway Exploration Probe") to explore the abandoned passenger railways of Mexico and Ecuador.
Designer Adam Chang rode New York's trains for 20 hours, using 9 swipes to visit 118 stations, to bring you the NY Train Project.
Railroad track today is laid by such monsters as the Plasser & Theurer SVM1000 Infranord, and specialized work trains renew old track (out with the old, in with the new in one pass) [more inside]
A $3.5 million estate for sale in Sherwood Oregon, outside of Portland, comes complete with almost 20 acres of land, a media room, a home gym--and its own miniature railroad.
If you're looking around historic logging regions, you might come across trucks, trains or even just axles with strange, wide steel wheels. They weren't intended to run on very large tires, but pole roads for logging. Here are some trains designed for such log roads, and here's a history of logging trucks that includes three types of wooden roads used to improve logging access. Here's a short clip of a logging train running on an elevated log track, and if you're thinking about building your own log road, The Timberman provides a lot of details and some schematics (Google books), straight out of 1918.
BRITISH "GHOST TRAIN" FACADES FROM THE 1970s AND 80s
(from the National Fairground Archive digital collection)
(from the National Fairground Archive digital collection)
Feeling horny? Here's a visual and audio guide to diesel locomotive horns. A definitive resource. For example, most Amtrak locomotives have a Nathan Airchime KL5A installed. Ever hear a sick-sounding horn on a train? Don't miss the sections on When bad things happen to good horns (Scroll down on the KL5A page for one such section). Turn your speakers up and enjoy!
Much like the animated train in the old Gumby television series, the UP 4014 Big Boy is moving along hopscotched panel track on the first leg of its trip to restoration (previously) at the Union Pacific's Cheyenne Steam shop. [more inside]
Two weeks ago, 14 year-old Avonte Oquendo was last seen running out the door of his school in Long Island City, New York. Because Avonte has autism and is non-verbal, he was supposed to have one-on-one supervision at all times. Now, an unprecedented citywide search for the boy that includes searching commuter trains and subways and playing his mother's voice out of emergency response vehicles remains underway. [more inside]
London to Brighton, side by side. "In 1953 the BBC made a point-of-view film from a London to Brighton train. 30 years later it did the same again. And after another 30 years it did so once more." [more inside]
HYPERLOOP Elon Musk & SpaceX finally reveal their plan for a radical new mass transportation system, Hyperloop.
Spain has declared three days of mourning following a deadly train crash that killed at least 80 people and injured many more. [more inside]
Last Saturday morning, a town in Quebec exploded. A runaway train carrying roughly 100,000 liters of crude oil derailed and subsequently exploded in the small Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic in the early hours of Saturday morning. A significant amount of the downtown is burnt or leveled, and as the search for survivors continues, residents are beginning to realize the scope of the destruction [more inside]
A train derailed after hitting a truck near Baltimore yesterday. TV news / Raw helicopter footage and citizens on the scene. (NSFW Audio and explosion is about a minute or so in)
Ward Kimball's home movie footage of Walt Disney playing with a backyard scale model railroad in 1948.
In July 1939, French authorities started building a 120m² bomb shelter under the Gare de l’Est (East Railway Station) in Paris so that traffic controllers could keep on working if the station was attacked. However, it was not completed in time and the Germans used it instead. The bunker, which includes a pedal generator, is still there, in near perfect condition. Other images and video (in French). Bonus underground Parisian bunker: this Cold-war era bunker under the Ministry of Transportation (equipped with tandem pedal generators) will become a datacenter early 2014.
The band Mano Negra are here introduced by MTV Europe in 1990. They are today best known for having been the original band of singer Manu Chao, but they were a pretty damn good band in their day. The band went from strength to strength but broke apart in 1993 after building a train and bringing ice to Macondo (or its inspiration, the city of Aracataca, Colombia). Manu Chao talks briefly about the trip here. His father, respected novelist and journalist Ramón Chao, accompanied his son's band and wrote a book describing the journey, which has been translated into English as The Train of Ice and Fire. The publisher of the translation, Route Online, made a YouTube playlist of related videos. The most interesting and substantial one has Ramón sharing a number of stories from the voyage (subtitled in English).
Yesterday, the New York Post published a dramatic image on its cover of a Queens man just seconds from being hit by a Q train after being pushed by another man who is now in custody. [more inside]
The Saga of Tim & Freya : Comedian Janey Godley's real-time reportage of a breakup on a train. [more inside]
Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return.
Network Rail virtual archive Original drawings and plans of Britain's railway infrastructure from Network Rail, including the Forth Bridge, Bristol Temple Meads station, the Tay Bridge and lots more.
Railfans love it. Model Railroaders adore it. Economics people study it. The Tropicana Corporation runs between 10 and 12 30-to-50-car trains of it every week. Behold, 5000 tons of Orange Juice on the move. [more inside]
Over its amazing 35 year run, Soul Train provided American television viewers with an incredible panorama, a veritable cornucopia of black popular music, and of course, entertained everyone with their legendary line dance segments. The man who created and hosted the show from its beginnings up until 1993, Mr. Don Cornelius, was on Wednesday found dead in his home, an apparent suicide.
Last Friday morning, two men managed to crash their pickup truck by attempting to drive 60 mph down the Sixth Street Railroad Bridge in Augusta, Georgia. Police believe alcohol was a contributing factor to the accident, but the fact that the railroad track in question is an active street-running line may have also played a part. [more inside]
The train they call the City of New Orleans began operations in 1947 carrying passengers from Chicago to New Orleans daily. Although the train service remained popular through the 60's, by 1970 train travel was on the decline. That's when native Chicagoan Steve Goodman and his new bride, Nancy, rode the train down to visit her folks in New Orleans. That trip inspired Goodman to write The City of New Orleans and an American folk/country standard was born. The song would go on to earn Goodman a posthumous Grammy 14 years later. [more inside]
This is a subject of but small importance; and I know not whether it will interest any readers, but it has interested me.
CN Turbo Train Part 2, part 3, 1970 Film. Canada Off the Rails: You know the story of the Avro Arrow, now discover how Canada fell from leader to laggard in another cutting edge, vastly profitable, globally relevant transportation industry, where Canadians had held a strong lead, until this Canadian homegrown industry was derailed; high-speed derailed... CN Turbo Train - "3:59" - The Lost Film (the high speed rail flickr pool is recommended viewing). [more inside]
The world's largest smallest airport has finally joined the world's largest model railway [YouTube, has some discreet miniature people nudity]. As discussed previously, after six years of work Miniatur Wonderland has the airport its 10,000 train cars and 200,000 inhabitants require. Though Miniatur Wonderland has little close competition for size, it is far from the most important model railroad. That honor goes to the ugly tracks of the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT. Rather than focusing on beautiful railroads, the TMRC fixated on building the best control systems for their model trains. As a result of playing with ever more complicated programming challenges, from the TMRC came some of the first important hackers and hacker culture, and the seeds of the modern video game industry.
How Fast Can China Go? On June 30, China had the first official run of a $32 billion high-speed train line between Shanghai and Beijing. "Faster (820 miles in 288 minutes) and sleeker than any other, the needle-nosed CRH380A symbolizes China’s accelerating pace, even as it faces questions about safety, and taps into an ancient rivalry with Japan." On page four, the article discusses what happened less than a month afterwards on July 23rd: the country's first accident involving a bullet train that killed 40 people near Wenzhou. As a result, 54 high speed trains were recalled, train speeds were reduced and an overhaul of the high-speed rail system was launched by Chinese authorities. [more inside]
Two Chinese bullet trains have collided with two coaches falling off a bridge after a lightning strike disabled the first train and signaling failed to alert the second in time. A few months previously the railways ministry expressed and subsequently retracted concerns that builders had ignored safety standards to complete construction more quickly. [more inside]
China’s capital is restricting car numbers and pumping money into trains. Is it headed for a less congested future – or already a city beyond help?
War is Boring's Steve Weintz has a two-part article up on mobile nuclear reactors, called Atoms In Motion: Portable Reactors (part two here). The links referenced cover planes, trains, and automobiles (though calling the last one an "automobile" might be stretching the definition a little.)
Snow is a short film directed by Geoffrey Jones (1931-2005) and shot by Wolfgang Suschitzky [imdb], simultaneously spectacle and social-commentary it can be viewed online (YouTube). Snow was made under the aegis of British Transport Films (wiki) and nominated for an Oscar in 1965; unable to afford to licence his choice of soundtrack—“Teen Beat” by Sandy Nelson—Jones enlisted Johnny Hawksworth to rerecord “Teen Beat” with an altered tempo and effects by Daphne Oram [wiki, BBC]. The result is a masterpiece of sound and image.
Within that small and very specific sub-genre of musical Americana identifiable as the train imitation, there is one amazing performance, from 1926, that set the standard: Pan-American Blues. The man who recorded it did a fine and fanciful job of evoking the sounds of a fox chase as well, and his rhythmically compelling solo rendition of John Henry stands as testament to the potential for musical greatness achievable by one man and a humble harmonica. He was an African-American who was a founding member of the Grand Ole Opry, a musical institution that we rarely (as in, never) today associate with black people, and his touching and tragic story, documented here, is one that will be of interest to those concerned with the racial, economic and socio-cultural history of American popular music. He stands at one of its more unexpected intersections: his name is DeFord Bailey. [more inside]
From Shinosaka to Tokyo (ver. 2)
"In all my slow-motion work so far, I’ve used a static camera to capture a high-speed event. But, I wondered, what would happen if the camera was the fast-moving object? For instance, if you use a 210fps camera at 35mph, on playback at 30fps it’ll seem to the observer that they’re moving at walking pace- but everything observed will be operating at 1/7th speed." [more inside]
The Hunter Valley Steamfest in New South Wales, Australia holds a Great Steam Train race every so often. [more inside]