Railroads can be used to move unusual loads. In my work I have often had discussions about clearances along tracks to allow the Department of Defense to move outsized loads by rail – presumably tanks! However, most things I have seen have been within the normal clearance diagrams. As I was driving down to the waterfront park at Mukilteo, I passed a train sitting in a siding that was the widest thing I have ever seen on a train. It was two containers side by side. Both of them were hanging over the edge of the car. I assume that it was a single container for moving outsized loads and, given where it was staged, it might have been something to do with Boeing.
As I drove past it, I figured I would walk back and get a photo. However, some locomotives showed up and they started switching everything around. I didn’t get a chance to get a shot from close up. I did take some pictures from a distance and they then staged the vehicles out on the pier where Mukilteo becomes Everett. If anyone knows anything about this load, do let me know. I assume it needs special clearance to move since it must impinge on the adjacent tracks which would make passing other trains an issue!
I was driving over the bridge heading towards Anacortes when I glanced down towards the casino near the water. I noticed a railroad swing bridge across the water which I hadn’t seen before. Since I was on my own and with no set schedule, I figured I would drop in and take a look. The railroad runs alongside the casino and crosses the river at an oblique angle. Consistently, the open position for the bridge is not perpendicular to the track but lies inline with the river.
Everything about the track looked in excellent condition so I assume the bridge is regularly used. I have seen plenty of trains on the track closer to Burlington but didn’t know they came this far. It would be interesting to see the bridge in use some time. It is a pretty long structure and the control house is on the opposite side of the river. A bald eagle was sitting on that side making a lot of noise but too far away to justify a photograph.
The terrain around Seattle is pretty undulating which is not ideal for railroads. Consequently, a good amount of the track is along the shoreline where you can be guaranteed to be flat (provided you do a little work). Mukilteo is part of the BNSF line and it runs between the houses on the hill and the water’s edge including the new ferry terminal. There is a station there too for the commuter trains Sound Transit runs.
The majority of the traffic is freight traffic. Double stack containers or oil tank cars are a regular feature. I was there to look at the ferry traffic and the wildlife but, if a train is coming, I am not going to ignore it. One came through while I was in the station while another came through a little later when I was up at the grade crossing. For people living the US, long freight trains are not that unusual. For friends and family in the UK, the length of a US freight train can be quite a surprise. The leading locos can have disappeared off into the distance but the rear of the train hasn’t even come in to sight. A curving coastline like that along Puget Sound means it is easy to be unable to see each end.
Prior to the 1960s, the Isle of Wight had an extensive rail network. The Beeching cuts reduced it to one line, from Ryde to Shanklin. It was electrified and the rolling stock was initially old London Underground stock from the 1920s. This was in use when I was a youngster but it got replaced in the late 80s by the new(er) Class 483s. These were also London Underground castoffs – this time from the 1938 stock. They had gone through a modernization program to be used but they were hardly new.
Their time has finally come. Replacement is underway with “new” stock based on retired District Line trains from London. See a pattern developing here. The system is shut down for a while for some significant track upgrades which will allow for a more frequent service. The track desperately needed work and the old trains were falling apart so, hopefully, this will provide a big improvement.
When I lived on the Island, I didn’t think much about the stuff that was there. All of these pictures I have taken when visiting more recently. This is all I have to record the new extinct Island Line stock. Two examples will be preserved if you want to go and see them!
BNSF has a large maintenance yard in Seattle in the Interbay area. My bike ride took me past the yard and then up and over the tracks. On my return leg, I stopped to have a look at the facility. There is a space where a round house used to be which you can see on Google Maps. A couple of trains were on the lines and there were a bunch of locos elsewhere in the yard.
The beach at Shoreline is alongside the BNSF railroad tracks and there is always a good chance that a train will rumble past while you are there. We got one while we were on a stretch of the beach that is tight up under the tracks. I grabbed a few shots as the train headed south towards the city.
Here are some old Japanese rail vehicles. These are part of the SCMaglev museum in Nagoya that I visited when I was in Japan last summer. The museum has a great selection of Shinkansen equipment across the generations but it also has a lot of other rail vehicles from long ago. The vehicles clearly look old from the outside but the interiors are really an interesting comparison with what you see these days. The amount of wood in the paneling and the materials of the seating are definitely of their time. I was quite amused by the fans mounted on the ceiling. Obviously pre-air conditioning days with these cars and so a bit of air circulation was all you could hope for. Knowing how incredibly hot it gets in Japan during the summer, they would not have done much for the riders I would have thought. I wonder whether it was as crowded in those days as it is now. If it was even close, that would have been brutal.
I have put some previous posts together of Japanese trains from my travels. This is an update to that (although a very late update given that these were taken nearly a year ago!). I got to see some different trains while I was in Nagoya for the day and then there is the variety of trains that you get around the Tokyo area. There was also a small line that ran through the Kamakura area which we crossed paths with as we were walking to the beach from the giant Buddha statue that I wrote about in this post. A few more photos to amuse those of you that like different trains.
In the process of scanning so many old negatives, I come across shots that I had no idea I had taken. When I still shot film, I would not go nuts taking shots but I was certainly willing to take a shot of anything that I found interesting at the time. Since I had no idea that I was going to have a career in rail, I didn’t think trains would be very important. However, I am an engineer at heart and any big mechanical items catch my interest. It isn’t surprising that I found a few photos of trains. Some of my old colleagues will find these of interest. Others may just like them because they like trains. My sister will probably like the Class 50 just because she used to commute to work behind them for a number of years!
As a small boy, the new thing in British trains was the Intercity 125. Known in the industry as the HST, this was a step forward in fast train travel for the UK. When I started working in the rail industry many years later, the HSTs were a big part of our fleet. They had been in service a long time by then but were still the backbone of certain corridors and were getting further investment. Move on another 20 years and now the fleet is finally disappearing.
Some are still being reconfigured for a future on new routes, but the majority of the fleet is being replaced by a new generation of trains and it is a surprise just how long it has taken to find their successors. The HSTs have been a solid fleet with strong performance, a level of redundancy and a ride quality that was impressive. I figured I would through in a couple of shots I have of them. I have very few, sadly. One is an old one in British Rail colors from the 80s and the others are from the days of GNER. What a shame I don’t have more. Given the amount of time I spent traveling on them or inspecting them at depots and overhaul facilities, I should have tons. Oh to have had had phones in our cameras then!