A combination of a travel image and the job stuff today. We were driving from Nairobi to Amboseli on our first full day in Kenya. The road we took initially is the main road to Mombasa which is the principal port for not only Kenya but some of its neighboring countries. Parallel with the road is a railway and, as we headed southeast, a train was coming the other way. A pair of diesel locomotives were pulling the train, and they had a message on the side about their role. I understand they were built by CRRC in China. One for the rail fans who read my blog, I think.
When I first started planning to trip to the Mojave Desert for the Edwards AFB show, a friend of mine in the Midwest was also planning on being there. He said he was also going to visit the Tehachapi Loop. I was vaguely aware of it but decided to look it up. While he ended up not making the trip, I took some time on my last day to go across to see the loop for myself. The Tehachapi Pass is a steep climb for a train to make and, in order for it to climb sufficiently in one section, the engineers that laid out the alignment put in a special configuration.
The trains make a 360 degree climbing turn and, given the length of the trains, the leading part of the train will pass over the top of the back end of the train as it climbs. It is quite something to have a long train twisting around on itself as it climbs the grade. Of course, descending is the reverse but that is less dramatic because the train is braking whereas the climbing trains are working flat out to make it up the hill. The sounds of the locomotives at high power reaches you long before they come in to sight.
When I got there, I had no idea whether I would see a train or not. I had plenty of time but I didn’t know whether the trains were regular on a Sunday. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before a train came into the loop heading down the hill. I watched it negotiate the curves and the parts of the train appear and disappear. The interesting news was, as it got a little further down the hill, it stopped. This looked promising in that it was probably holding for a train coming up the other way. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the sounds of multiple locos pulling hard came up the slope.
There were four locos on the front of the train dragging their load towards the summit of the pass. The cars were stretched out behind them down the grade and, at the back (long after the lead locos had gone), another pair of locos were bringing up the rear. With the train safely by, I decided I wouldn’t hang around to see if there was more traffic. I had a drive back to the airport to do and didn’t need to wait around just in case.
Another post for the rail fans out there. My visit to Steilacoom has yielded posts about the ferry and McNeil Island but it would be remiss to not discuss the rail line that runs along the waterfront. The weekend day I was there, there seemed to be a lot of traffic. This is the BNSF line along the coast but it is also currently used by Amtrak services. That was due to have stopped a while back with the Point Defiance Bypass having opened but, with an accident on the opening run, trains have continued to use the old route. That will transition at some point this year, though.
A bunch of trains came through while I was there. Most of these were freight services but one was an Amtrak Cascades train. It was being operated with a Talgo Series 8 train owned by Oregon DOT and on which I have done a bunch of work over recent years. Since only one train is running per day in each direction as a result of the pandemic, it was a lucky coincidence that I was there when it came through. I did get a nice wave from the engineer.
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.
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!
I know a few of the regular readers of the blog are in to trains so I hope this one pleases them. The Henry Ford Museum covers all sorts of engineering endeavors including a selection of rail vehicles. This was one of the last things we saw before we left so I didn’t explore very much. However, there was one rather large steam locomotive on display. This thing was a beast and I imagine it was quite the sight when it was in regular usage. Our visit coincided with the running of Big Boy after restoration so something similar to this can been seen for real once again!
Preserved locomotives seem to appear in a lot of towns in Washington and Newhalem was no exception. This old steam locomotive seemed to be particularly well preserved given the rugged location it lives in for a good chunk of the year. I assume Seattle City Light has enough cash to keep it looking good for the many visitors to the town. Indeed, getting a shot of it without someone climbing all over it took a bit of patience!
I passed this locomotive several times while in Tokyo. It was sitting in a square near Shinbashi station. I never got off but I did finally get some shots of it while we were stopped at the station. Consequently, I know nothing about it although I suppose if I was truly interested I could look it up. There must be something about it on the internet. It probably has a Wikipedia page. Guess I won’t find out though.
Scanning back through some images looking for something else, I came across these shots of some Sounder commuter rail locomotives. I shot these as part of a shoot that had a previous post. I hadn’t focused on the locos so much but this train had a loco leading but two locos trailing as well. The trailing locos were the old and the new with an F59PHI and an MPX together. No idea why three locos were on a relatively short train but I guess there was a good reason!
I had a period a while back when I ended up getting a few train pictures. Some of these were intended for work proposals while others were experiments for locations that might be useful in the future. This spot is one that can ideally have a really good background. Sadly, the day I was there was a cloudy one so the background is obscured and dull. It was an Amtrak long distance train rather than one for the potential client but, since it was a test, it didn’t matter this time. I will try again on a nicer day!