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Big Boys' Train Sets

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Big Boys' Train Sets

Old 21st Aug 2018, 03:45
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Big Boys' Train Sets

Sitting at dinner in Field BC, watching the Canadian Pacific Railway. Typical train: 146 trucks, four locomotives (two at the front, one in the middle, one at the back). Two containers on each truck - how did they know, more than a century ago, to build all the bridges and tunnels high enough?

So, just under 300 juggernauts' worth. And we could also watch the Trans Canada Highway, passing through the same valley, apparently carrying vastly less container freight.

Compare and contrast the F2N railway vs the A14, and wonder who is getting it right and who is getting it wrong.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 04:46
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Is it smokey there?
The trouble with trains in Canada is that, apart from a couple of high speed corridors, they are designed only for freight and trains run at an average of about 35 miles an hour. On many lines it is actually mandated that passenger trains must give way to freight. For distances over about three hundred miles aircraft are more convenient ( even with airports.) That's a very small distance in Canada.

By the way that's a train shortened for the mountains. You should see them out on the prairies. There's one goes through Winnipeg you can wait at a crossing for nearly two days!
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 05:03
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On Saturday visibility was a couple of hundred metres in smoke. It's lots better now.

The trains we saw weren't doing anything like 35 mph - looked to me more like a fast cycling speed.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 05:19
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In the US, most east-west rail lines are operating at or near capacity (my sister's husband - retired railroad engineer - claims this is largely because the railroads abandoned large amounts of track as a tax write-off rather than pay for the needed maintenance - hence there is something of a shortage of rail capacity). But cross country trains are relatively slow relative to cross country trucking, so time sensitive stuff (e.g. perishable foodstuffs) goes by truck, while much of the test go by rail.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 05:21
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Yep we got it wrong.
Our tunnels a far too small for double decker pax trains, let alone double stacked containers.
The introduction of the big boxes caused havoc on Britain’s railways. There had to be a lot of track lowering in tunnels etc, and special wagons were designed with smaller wheels (FLA wagons), and wagons that had the containers sit in what looked like a bath tub, low slung between the regular sized bogies (KTA wagons).
On the plus side, our container trains can whizz along at 75mph.

Last edited by uffington sb; 21st Aug 2018 at 06:31. Reason: put wagon types in for the spotters.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 05:38
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On many lines it is actually mandated that passenger trains must give way to freight.
Yes, on the Via Rail run thru the Rockies, we sat in a siding many times while a 100-carriage freighter went by. Our own train was the full length of Jasper, must be close to 1km long.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 06:02
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The trains we saw weren't doing anything like 35 mph - looked to me more like a fast cycling speed.
That is my fast cycling speed!
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 07:25
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That’s the penalty you pay for being an early adopter.

On the other hand, inventing the railways and starting the industrial revolution did give us a bit of a hard start and early advantage.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 07:35
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Originally Posted by tdracer View Post
. But cross country trains are relatively slow relative to cross country trucking, so time sensitive stuff (e.g. perishable foodstuffs) goes by truck, while much of the test go by rail.
Yes, it's a supply chain in spades, like the old, slow canal boats. Provided the canal was full of coal barges, a fresh load leaving as another arrived, the market was satisfied albeit a huge stock value was permanently in the canal.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 07:50
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Our tunnels a far too small for double decker pax trains, let alone double stacked containers.
Out of interest, I looked up the current Canadian single-track tunnel dimensions - 22' high and 16' wide.



The height of a double-stack car (or well car) is 20' 3".

how did they know, more than a century ago, to build all the bridges and tunnels high enough?
The tunnels as original excavated were not tall enough for the double-stack cars and so the bottoms of existing tunnels were dug out and the rails lowered.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 07:55
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looked to me more like a fast cycling speed.
Rode the C.P.R. from Halifax, Nova Scotia to London, Ontario one January some 60 years ago. Took about 4 days, and the thing went so slowly that we would occasionally get out and walk alongside to relieve the boredom.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 09:03
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What must be remembered is that generally the first railways were built for transporting goods, not passengers. The much vaunted Great Central almost certainly lost money on every passenger train it ran, the profits came from the south Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire coal fields. As so often happens we in Britain invented something which the rest of the world improved upon. Railway loading gauges being a prime example.

Just to go off on a tangent a little. Though now retired when I used to attend receptions and the like with my late wife people used to ask me, "Are you in music"?
"No, I work on the railway".
"Oh. Do you have a model railway at home"?
"No, I have a real one to play with. It's much more fun except when it comes off the rails then it's a bit harder to get back on".

I used to wonder that if I said I was a 747 captain whether I'd be asked if I made model aeroplanes or if I said that I was a cruise liner captain I'd be asked if I made model ships.

Last edited by RedhillPhil; 21st Aug 2018 at 09:12. Reason: Additions.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 09:28
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20+ years ago camping somewhere north of Whistler (100 Mile House?) we got distracted from cooking supper by an impressively long container train with several locos at its head going round a bend. A few minutes later I saw another one. "Gosh" I thought, "those two are close together. Oh, wait I've seen those containers before!". It had gone round an enormous loop on the hillside opposite and I was still looking at the same train.
Impressively slow though.
Drive over Shap on the M6 sticking to the speed limit and you'll be overtaken by one of our container trains.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 09:36
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Yes we have seen some pretty impressive freight trains in the USA - I would have put their speed as 10-15mph through towns etc (perhaps a little faster out in the country ?)
On the smaller freight lines away from the main lines (ie inferior track maintenance) they probably 'cruise' at 5mph
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 10:39
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RedhillPhil,

Specially for you!!
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 13:27
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Originally Posted by longer ron View Post
Yes we have seen some pretty impressive freight trains in the USA - I would have put their speed as 10-15mph through towns etc (perhaps a little faster out in the country ?)
On the smaller freight lines away from the main lines (ie inferior track maintenance) they probably 'cruise' at 5mph
Visiting Oak Alley plantation house near New Orleans, a railway line sorry railroad ran past the end of the plantation and a 'freight' was going slowly past. When we came out of the plantation house about an hour later, what I assume was the same train was still going slowly past.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 13:33
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The slow speed does mean a saving on level crossing hardware - no need for gates or lights or anything, just a STOP sign. Stop, look, and if you can't see a train you've got minutes to get across.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 13:58
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Or an ARRĘT sign if you are further east...

Have you watched a train go through the Spiral Tunnels?
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 14:11
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In the late 70’s, 19, not 18, boarded a train in Ottawa, bound for Calgary just because. I think we stopped at every railroad crossing, small town and single tree all the way across the prairies.

Upon first sight of the snow covered Rockies low on the horizon the thought crossed my mind that we were almost there, can’t be too much longer.

Boy, was I wrong.

That was the one and only train ride for the sake of doing it.

Peraps the Flat Earthers should go stand in the middle of Saskatchewan/Manitoba, it would make their day.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 14:59
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Observing the curvature of the earth, outstanding in his field.
They say Bonneville Salt Flats are good for that as well. Usually much hotter tho'.

You build better aircraft and highway systems and railways do what they have to, to survive. In Canada, heavy freight.
There are still big shortcomings in rail operations, single tracking etc. and many communities are left wanting for service. Churchill for example.

I've spent far more time on trains in Britain than here and I'm only over occasionally.
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