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High Speed Trains in California

Getting up to speed : "If it can get started, the California high-speed train would almost certainly be the most expensive single infrastructure project in United States history. Judging by the experiences of Japan and France, both of which have mature high-speed rail systems, it would end the expansion of regional airline traffic as in-state travelers increasingly ride the fast trains. And it would surely slow the growth of highway traffic."
posted by dhruva on Jun 14, 2009 - 77 comments

I thought the Train would never come -- How slow the whistle sang --

"There is at least one technology in America, however, that is worse now than it was in the early 20th century: the train." Why trains run slower now than they did in the 1920s.
posted by ocherdraco on May 15, 2009 - 103 comments

On the Run from Everything but Each Other

We've covered hobo culture before, both historic and modern, but as the story of Smashley and Stogie reveals, the lifestyle of the railway traveler still exists not only for weekend adventurers but as a means of escape for troubled souls. (via)
posted by infinitywaltz on May 13, 2009 - 23 comments

I like trains

Paintings of trains. I like the energy of this one, but there are enough for everyone to have a favorite. [more inside]
posted by winna on May 9, 2009 - 14 comments

Karma police, arrest this man

GM is struggling to survive, announcing today tens of thousands of layoffs and plant closings by next year, and eliminating the Pontiac Brand. Meanwhile just a few weeks ago, the president announced a high speed rail plan [pdf] between many major cities. An interesting turn of events since the documentary Taken For a Ride uses interviews and public records to argue that GM deliberately killed off transportation via rail.
posted by cashman on Apr 27, 2009 - 91 comments

The Forbidden Railway - a train trip to Pyongyang

In September of 2008, two Austrians traveled 13,000km by rail from Vienna to Pyongyang - without asking permission and going through the official Koran travel agency. [more inside]
posted by dunkadunc on Apr 5, 2009 - 36 comments

Cincinnati's Union Terminal is falling apart

Cincinnati's Union Terminal has been named one of the top 50 architecturally significant buildings in America by the AIA. It was a major train station, abandoned, turned into a shopping mall, and now it currently houses the city's Museum Center. One problem, it's falling apart.
posted by Mick on Feb 23, 2009 - 24 comments

For all your infrastructure news needs

Infrastructurist. Although the blog is only a few days old, they've already debunked some of the myths of 24, interviewed Michael Dukakis, and grappled with Amtrak economics.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Feb 5, 2009 - 27 comments

The Lackawanna Cut-Off

A glance will show / Why Phoebe Snow / Prefers this route / To Buffalo.
And Phoebe's right / No route is quite / As short as Road / of Anthracite.


In 1908 the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad began work on the New Jersey Cut-Off to make its New York to Buffalo mainline (the Road of Anthracite so liked by Phoebe Snow) even shorter and faster. It was to have no grade crossings, and was to be as straight and level as possible — through hilly terrain. The 28-mile Lackawanna Cut-Off, as it is now known, was built over three years, cost $11 million, and was an engineering marvel of massive reinforced concrete bridges, enormous cuts, and the largest railroad embankment in the world. All of this has been abandoned for years, though there are plans afoot to restore the Cut-Off for commuter rail. [more inside]
posted by parudox on Dec 24, 2008 - 17 comments

Thomas' Pixelated Pickle: Or The Year in Thomas

Just over sixty years ago the Reverend W. V. Awdry told his sick son a series of stories based on real life incidents with trains, which he later wrote up as the Railway Series. Now Thomas the Tank Engine and the other engines of the Isle of Sodor (somewhere between Barrow-in-Furness and the Isle of Man) are a global phenomena, with toys, books and of course the TV series - filmed using model trains on more than 70 1:32 scale 16-by-20-foot sets, and voiced by the likes of Ringo Starr and Alec Baldwin. 2008 has been a rough year for Thomas: George Carlin, who voiced the series in the US up until 1998, passed away (previously), as did David Mitton, who had written and directed over 180 episodes (and who has previously worked on the special effects for Thunderbirds). There's changes ahead for Thomas as well - this year saw the faces of the engines, which had previously been cast in silicone and attached with double sided tape, replaced by CGI faces, and from 2009 onwards Nitrogen studios in Canada will be taking over production with an entirely CGI Thomas. Meanwhile a group of British students continues the tradition of model engine-based storytelling with their YouTube based British Railway Series.
posted by Artw on Dec 21, 2008 - 74 comments

NY Subway 1905

Interior New York Subway, 14th St. to 42nd St. (1905) (sound added). In June, 1905, G.W. "Billy" Bitzer, D.W. Griffith's cinematographer, mounted a camera at the front of a train and shot 6 1/2 minutes of footage from 14th Street (Union Square) to the old Grand Central Depot, built by Cornelius Vanderbilt and architect John Snook in 1871. At the time of filming, the subway was only seven months old, having opened in October 1904. Two weeks after completing "Interior New York Subway," Bitzer shot "2 AM in the Subway," a comic short about late-night cavorting in an underground station. In March, 1905, Ray Stannard Baker (author of "What is a Lynching") called New York's new subway "a confusion of wonders" -- "the next step in the evolution of a Modern City." It would have its challenges.
posted by terranova on Dec 9, 2008 - 17 comments

Geared Steam

On a traditional steam locomotive the pistons drive the wheels directly via cranks. An unusual looking series of variants, the geared locomotives, took a different approach - using gears and driveshafts, giving them an advantage in traction at the cost of speed, making them ideal for steap grades and tight curves of logging railroads. The most common was the Shay Locomotive (video), with it's vertical pistons. Other variant included the Climax (video, seen at the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad) and the Heisler, which had it's pistons in a V-formation (video). Many examples of the geared locomotive can be found at the Northwest Railway Museum.
posted by Artw on Nov 8, 2008 - 19 comments

ferroequinology, the study of iron horses

Trains of Russia, photos from Pavoroz.com, a site about the railways of Russia, the Baltics and the C.I.S. (Commonwealth of Independent States). More than 50 000 pictures of steam, diesel, and electric locomotives, EMU and DMU trains, draisines, stations, tracks, etc. The collection is updated daily. The Turkestan-Siberian railway. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Oct 6, 2008 - 26 comments

The Lost Engines of Roanoke

"Looking for all the world like an engine abandoned in the Amazon jungle, M2 class 4-8-0 number 1118 lies forlorn and forgotten at the Virginia Scrap Iron and Metal yard in Roanoke, VA." The Lost Engines of Roanoke website chronicles the history of four steam locomotives that were sold in the 50's to a scrapyard in Roanoke, Virginia. There are plenty of photos of the engines and other train equipment and information on two other lost engines. The news section has been busy of late since one of the engines has been sold to a railroad themed restaurant in Bellville, Ohio. The move was photodocumented.
posted by Kattullus on Jul 25, 2008 - 10 comments

Train in Vain

"This could take exactly 77 hours and 15 minutes, if the trains keep to schedule. Most likely, they won’t." GOOD Magazine takes a cross-country train ride to examine exactly why America's rail system sucks so badly, and where we go (slowly) from here.
posted by 40 Watt on Jul 10, 2008 - 103 comments

Choo Choo Boo Boo

The first National Train Day is this coming Saturday. There will be events all over, and concerts, special guests and lots of train related attractions in four main cities, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City. The day is May 10th to commemorate May 10th, 1869 when the “golden spike” was driven into the final tie in Promontory Summit, Utah. It joined two major railways, ceremonially creating the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. Except that it really didn't. That did not actually happen until August 15th, 1870, near Strasburg, CO. Colorado State officials list it (pdf) as Comanche Crossing, saying "An unpretentious white monument marks the spot". The "drab concrete pylon" was moved from the actual site and now sits in Lions Park. Next to the monkey bars.
posted by cashman on May 3, 2008 - 4 comments

All Aboard a Train Blog

Dogcaught, a group blog about trains and the train experience. Some of the pictures are nice enough that they almost look tiltshifted. Others are beautiful and alluring. Hang around long enough and you might turn into a foamer. [more inside]
posted by cashman on Jan 23, 2008 - 14 comments

This enormous red circular carriage will never fit onto the tracks!

Train tracker.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jan 21, 2008 - 27 comments

The Great Indian Railways

Mumbai CST (then and now) | Cuttack Railway Station | Howrah (1927) | Gorakhpur Railway Station (then and now) | Chennai Central Station (day) | Trivandrum Central {via} [more inside]
posted by hadjiboy on Jan 21, 2008 - 10 comments

Virgin? I don't think so, you saucy little wench... oh, that's the spot I like, right there.

Virgin Trains embarks on a new campaign. Richard Branson takes a new direction in getting people to think about global warming and using British rail. More here.
posted by parmanparman on Nov 1, 2007 - 40 comments

Manifold Menus

Manufold Menus [4.4MB PDF - mirror]: Cooking on train motors, including recipes, cooking vessels (really, plastic bags and Gladware) pictures of where to stash the food, and resulting dishes.
posted by c0nsumer on Oct 25, 2007 - 12 comments

Yasujiro Ozu on trains & automobiles

Yasujiro Ozu on trains & automobiles
posted by hama7 on Aug 31, 2007 - 7 comments

Railroad Gauges and Standardization

The Days They Changed the Gauge. Early in the development of railroads in the American South, the builders departed from the standard 4' 8 1/2" gauge and built their railroads with the rails 5 feet apart. As part of a trend of increased government standardization, between May 30 and June 1 1886, workers moved over 11,000 miles of track 3 inches to the new standard gauge of 4' 9". [more inside]
posted by marxchivist on May 31, 2007 - 29 comments

All aboard for thermonuclear war

Russian Missile Train !
posted by Burhanistan on Apr 18, 2007 - 22 comments

The orphan train era

Orphan trains. From 1853 to 1929 an ambitious relocation adoption program run by the Children's Aid Society, founded by Charles Loring Brace, sent kids from urban slums and orphanages out to live on Midwestern farms, with mixed results. Some became state governors, others suffered abuse or servitude. Even though we use the name Orphan Train, few of these children were true orphans. Some were half-orphans, having lost one parent to disease or accident. Some had both parents but had run away do to abuse or neglect. By 1910, CAS had "placed out" over 106,000 children and the program ran for another 19 years. Also, similar programs were run by the New York Foundling Home (called Baby Trains), New York Juvenile Asylum, and the Boston Home for Little Wanderers. In all, at least, 200,000 children found themselves moved from the city to small towns and farms across the Nation.
posted by Brian B. on Mar 16, 2007 - 9 comments

Going with the flow...

Luigi Colani, Biomorphic Designer — This prolific master of plastic has been creating organically streamlined planes, trains, automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, ships, cities, homes, computers, cameras, televisions, furniture, pianos, ceramics, shoes, eyewearPDF, pens, airbrushes, and other wonderful stuff (including the kitchen sink) for some 60 years. Wherever you need to go, you can reach your final destination in Colani style. More designs here, here, here, and here. [Brits and touristas take note: London's Design Museum will host a Colani exhibition, Translating Nature, from March 3 to June 17, 2007. Bibliophiles can check out the book Colani: The Art of Shaping the Future.]
posted by cenoxo on Feb 18, 2007 - 14 comments

Paper TGV

Paper models of the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) free for download. Complete with a finished model gallery.
posted by Mitheral on Dec 20, 2006 - 6 comments

Tail Fins Rising aka Our father who art in styling... Harley be thy Name!

Tail Fins Rising aka 'Our father who art in styling... Harley be thy Name!'
posted by y2karl on Oct 9, 2006 - 19 comments

London to Brighton. Are our attention spans getting shorter?

London to Brighton in Two Minutes (2006) [HI Apple Quicktime, LO Adobe Flash] preceeded by London to Brighton in Three-and-a-Half Minutes (1983) [RealMedia, context] preceeded by London to Brighton in Four Minutes (1953) [RealMedia, context]
posted by riotgrrl69 on Oct 1, 2006 - 21 comments

A Small German Army

One small german army and a train. (large pageload of photographs). Also: a flash slideshow of the same army (parent site) [via]
posted by peacay on Aug 22, 2006 - 18 comments

Teenage Hoboes in the Great Depression.

Teenage Hoboes in the Great Depression. During the Great Depression over 250,000 young people left home and began riding freight trains or hitchhiking across America. Most of them were between 16 and 25 years of age. Many finally found work and shelter through the Civilian Conservation Corps, a government relief project that Franklin D. Roosevelt established in 1933 as part of the New Deal. From 1933 to 1942, CCC enrollees built new roads, strung telephone wires, erected fire towers, and planted approximately 3 billion trees. By 1935, the program was providing employment for more than 500,000 young men.
posted by matteo on Jul 7, 2006 - 25 comments

Free Tibet by Train!

The Chinese Embassy announced today that the world's highest railroad is to go into operation on July 1st. By the way, here's some striking pictures of it all. It also comes with its own Great Green Wall and some problems. Shanghai to Lhasa? Yep.
posted by Atreides on Jun 29, 2006 - 31 comments

The Ted Kierscey Collection

The Narrow Gauge Circle hosts, among other fine features, the Ted Kierscey Collection -- page after page after page of historical photographs of Colorado's railroad and mining towns.
posted by Gator on Mar 23, 2006 - 7 comments

metro bits

Metro Bits documents some of the most aesthetically pleasing world metro systems including the art/architecture, logos (variations on the 'M' theme) and views with a good selection of associated photographs and links. [via] (moscow)
posted by peacay on Aug 12, 2005 - 10 comments

Riding the rails: hopper tales and boxcar art

A dictionary of old hobo slang might be a handy tool to bring along when traveling through North Bank Fred's colorful stories, photos, and chalkings of today's hobo jungles.
posted by madamjujujive on Mar 2, 2005 - 16 comments

Suicide ain't so painless when it brings so many changes

When is suicide selfish? Yesterday in Los Angeles a suicidal local man stabbed himself in the chest, slit his wrists, and drove his car up onto train tracks, lost his nerve and hopped out at the last minute, to watch in anguish as not one but two trains collided with his car and with each other, killing 11 people (so far) and injuring almost 200 others. [more inside]
posted by LondonYank on Jan 27, 2005 - 100 comments

Sri Lankan Elephant Room

Elephants of Sri Lanka. Three have been lost in a train wreck.
posted by mcgraw on Dec 23, 2004 - 3 comments

Take a vacation from your car

Having just returned to Paradise for a little visit, I am reminded just how cool this little place is (not that I needed much reminding *whimper*), and am looking for touristy things to do here without a car. While I was on my way up on the Pacific Surfliner train, a fellow rider told me about Santa Barbara Car Free. Awesome! Also props to CalTrans' alliance with Amtrak in California. The trains and service and overall quality of the passenger rail system is quite a bit different from what I've experienced thus far of the stuff handled by Amtrak alone.
posted by WolfDaddy on Aug 2, 2004 - 12 comments

A Bad Decade to Be a Railfan

It's a bad decade to be a railfan. The latest overreaction to terrorism comes at the expense of train enthusiasts. As of this week, New York is now off-limits to traingeeks. In honor of this misunderstood hobby, here's some links to some railfan photo sites I enjoy.
posted by PrinceValium on May 20, 2004 - 18 comments

Trains Of Thought

The A-Train For Armchair Travellers The Man in Seat 61, a train-mad Brit called Mark Smith, provides a wonderful guide, with lots of useful information, to train travel in Europe - though obviously catering mostly to British passengers. Choo Choo!
posted by MiguelCardoso on Mar 16, 2004 - 7 comments

Ping Pong Pang Pong!

Ping Pong Pang Pong ... (MIDI file). Archives of public transport departure chimes and announcements. From Japan, MIDI files [+] [+] (via Boingboing) and live recordings [+] [+] of various elaborate tunes (no I don't speak Japanese, just keep clicking the blue links until you hit an MP3!). European recordings [+]. The very excellent Shonen Knife used a sample of the Osaka subway chimes in their rockin' cover version of the Carpenter's 'Top of the World.' (WFMU archive here, click "Hear the show", song starts with Osaka chimes at approximately 15:23)
posted by carter on Mar 3, 2004 - 7 comments

Japanese Railway Train Panoramas

Kazumi Namiki uses a slit camera to capture panoramic pictures onto a whole roll of film. He uses his slit camera to take photographs of Japanese railway trains; lots and lots of trains. [via boingboing]
posted by carter on Jan 12, 2004 - 9 comments

Tim Davis Photographs

Tim Davis: images from the sides of boxcars, coal cars, miscellaneous freight cars and a caboose. .
posted by hama7 on Oct 19, 2003 - 8 comments

On a wing & a rail - global transportation

Transportation around the world is a huge database of photos focusing on two topics: transportation mode and geography. From bullet trains to dogsleds and camel caravans to tramways, - browse by location or by topic. Also related: One of the best transportation museums in the world is the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz in Lucern, Switzerland. (via booknotes)
posted by madamjujujive on Aug 10, 2003 - 3 comments

Splendiferous Railway Hotels

Railway hotels. To go with yesterday's post, today I bring you the hotel's that were built alongside the railway. Some of the gradients were so acute that when the train ascended or descended, the table settings and food flew in all directions. The weight of the cars added to the problem, as they were too much for the locomotives of the day, and the cars had to be left at the beginning of the railway's path up the mountain passes. Obviously passengers needed to be fed so a solution had to be found as soon as possible. Have you been to any of these hotels, and if so, what was your impression? Do you have any favorite hotels?
posted by ashbury on Jun 25, 2003 - 7 comments

Not Just a Railway

The Canadian Pacific Railway was not just a railway, it was a way of life, as the many posters featuring ships, hotels and vacation land posters can attest. Travel along the rails to a different time . . .
posted by ashbury on Jun 24, 2003 - 10 comments

Mail Rail

A miniture underground railway, known as Mail Rail has carried the post from one end of London to another. The system is closing down this weekend. An employee gives her story. Another quirky piece of London consigned to history....
posted by brettski on May 29, 2003 - 6 comments

Abandoned Railway Stations

Serviceton is a small railway town on the border of South Australia and Victoria, and was once a means for traders to escape taxes when travelling between the colonies, due to errors made when surveying the state borders. No train has stopped here since 1986, and now only a handful of people remain in the town, a sad downfall that Tom Waits has immortalized in song. But abandoned railway stations, closed as populations decline or trade routes change, exist the world over, in the city and in the country, and yes, even in France. They look like great places to explore.
posted by Jimbob on Mar 19, 2003 - 2 comments

Maglev Trains

The superconducting Magnetically-levitated Linear Motor Car is a most promising high speed transportation system in the 21st century. Mechanics and future benefits of Maglev trains.(video) [more]
posted by hama7 on Mar 2, 2003 - 21 comments

How to build a bomb

How to build a bomb isn't all there is to the Internet as press would have you think. Anyway it's harder than just getting some plans, as this guy found out. So why not build a bomb shelter instead? Or build your own train, hovercraft, speedboat, car or plane - can't fly - don't worry build a flight simulator! Toast your success with DIY firewater cooked with your solar furnace. Enjoy your CB radio, listen to MP3s or toy with your sextant. And with all the kinky clothes and loads of pervy toys to make who has time to build bombs? I can see the bumper stickers now "Make leg spreaders, not war!"
posted by DrDoberman on Oct 14, 2002 - 13 comments

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