Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2009 Colorado Coal Loadings Continue To Lag Behind 2008

According to, Union Pacific is experiencing a lag compared to last year's coal loadings out of Colorado and the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. While several utilities have slowed down due to decreased demand, a few other factors have come into play. The article states,
“Several utility plants have been experiencing higher-than-usual occurrences of breakdowns and slow unloading situations, which has delayed the return of empty trains for loading,” UP officials said in a weekly coal train loading report.
According to the same report, they've had a few mine production issues as well.

Could it be that some preemptive belt-tightening has led to the delays? There's no conclusive evidence of this, but sometimes taking such steps has a tendency to worsen a situation instead of making the company more capable of weathering the current one.

The article did not mention any figures for BNSF.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Garden Railway Open House

Garden railways come into their glory in the summertime. If someone ever offers you the chance to view their layout in their back yard, don't let it slip by! In case you're wondering when you'll ever be invited, today's the day!

Greg Posta of Ridgway, Colorado, has a backyard 1:10 scale model railroad emulating the Rio Grande Southern with about 2,500 feet of track. He is doing a double fundraiser open house to benefit the San Juan Historical Society in their efforts to restore the Silverton caboose and to help his wife, Mary Posta, fight Multiple Sclerosis with an adult stem cell procedure. A donation of $10 covers the entry fee (the Silverton caboose) and the picnic lunch (Mary's MS). The open house is on June 27 & 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. See the Events Calendar entry for directions and more information!

June 27June 28

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Media Relations On Cumbres Pass

A man believed to be an employee of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a suspect in an assault on a Valley Courier reporter Wednesday. What could have precipitated this?

Apparently, it's a traffic accident. A truck and trailer tried to sneak past the C&TS train bound for Chama, New Mexico on a foggy afternoon, and the trailer of the truck was clipped. Engine 484 had minor damage, and the passengers were bused back to Chama. When a reporter from the Valley Courier started poking around and taking pictures, the last thing he might have expected to see was fireworks.

Draw your own conclusions from the article, but I'm wondering why would someone from the railroad deny that any accident happened twice and then take a cheap shot at a photographer? Business may be down, but that's not how you handle media relations, unless you're Sean Penn.

Let's see what develops.

Update 6/17/09
It seems like whatever did happen, the reporter blew things out of proportion when he wrote the story (linked above). According to Westword,
...It was a pretty wimpy punch," he [Winget] concedes. However, at the urging of Valley Courier publisher Keith Cerny, he reported the incident to the Conejos County Sheriff's Office due in part to what it symbolized. "It was an assault against newspapers and the freedom of the press,"...
It isn't the first time a person has cited their first amendment rights after they've annoyed people and gotten a sour response. If the reporter had been injured, or if there was a concerted effort to suppress a story, it might have actually been newsworthy. Up to now, all that's been injured is a reporter's ego and a publisher's notion of superiority.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What's A Drylander?

Railroading may figure prominently in the Northern Drylanders Museum in Nunn, Colorado, but it still makes me wonder what a drylander is.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Knowing The Facts About Trains

Trains Magazine has an article online backing up this month's cover article. The cover article itself posed an interesting question. You're at a party when, wonder of wonders, someone discovers that you're a train geek and they start talking about the "little known facts" of railroading, which actually could be myths. Do you know which are true facts and which are mythical falsehoods?
  • Standard gauge came from the width of a horses backside/a Roman chariot
  • Rails-to-trails and then trails-to-rails actually works
  • A passenger train's carbon footprint is less than the number of fully-loaded automobiles
  • Trucks are losing the battle against freight trains
  • Money-losing Amtrak costs more than highways or airlines
  • A mile of railroad costs more than a mile of highway
  • Maglev will never be more than a novelty
Are any of these true? You'll have definitive answers to these issues and more if you read the current issue of trains. Next time you're at a party, you might save yourself with these answers. Or maybe you'll just smile and nod as they go on in their ignorance.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Brief Video of Rio Grande Scenic Railroad's Steam Engine 18

Taking advantage of the ticket sale for the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, I headed down to Alamosa on May 23rd to catch the San Luis & Rio Grande #18. Using my small hand-held, I captured this video of the steam engine pulling up in front of the Alamosa depot. I hope to have a modest trip report available soon, conditions permitting. For now, here's the brief video.

By the way, can anyone explain what the lever is by the air compressor? I'm looking at the thing that is clicking as it rotates.