Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Tag

The Largest Railroad Companies in North America   Leave a comment


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Annual Revenue

BNSF                       $14,124,000,000

Union Pacific          $14,117,000,000

CSX                           $8,170,000,000

Norfolk Southern    $7,969,000,000

Canadian National   $6,451,000,000

Kansas City Southern $1,600,000,000

Canadian Pacific       $1,500,000,000

Ferromex                   $1,200,000,000

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Trackage rights in purple.

BNSF (the name comes from Burlington Northern, Santa Fe)

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Union Pacific

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CSX

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Norfolk Southern

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Canadian National

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Kansas City Southern

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Canadian Pacific

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Ferromex

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Posted November 12, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Winnipeg Winter Sidewalks   Leave a comment


Walking the sidewalks in Winnipeg during the cold months. The winter whiteness can be mesmerizing and pristine. The crunch of the soft frozen flakes beneath your boots.  The sun reflecting off the snow banks creating unexpected warmth. It can be a very nice experience.

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And then the melting begins!

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And for some unexplainable reason the bureaucrats at City Hall do nothing. They obviously never walk further than their cars to the elevators in the heated parkades.  Idiots. What are little old ladies with walkers suppose to do. The disabled in scooters will get stuck and need a tow. Anybody not wearing water-proof battle boots will get their socks wet.

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Look at that slop and icy mush. All the sand poured all winter on the sidewalks combined with spit, ice and settled carbon monoxide, a mixture from Chernobyl. If a citizen slips and falls into that crap they will need to be decontaminated at a military chemical warfare facility.

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How hard would it be to put blades on some of those little sidewalk sweeper buggies they use in the summer and clear a path through the ice and melting snow down to the pavement. Or put to work some of the hundreds of vagrants loitering downtown clearing the sidewalks with snow shovels.  Doesn’t the City Hall suits care? I’d like to get Mayor Bowman’s Grandmother trudging through that icy quagmire carrying a heavy shopping bag in high heels!

Even the most athletic big strapping palooka could wipe out and smash his head on this precarious and deadly ice trap.

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Come on civic politicians, make life better for us pedestrians who thump around on the sidewalks trying desperately to stay in the vertical position. 

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Posted February 25, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Mobility Scooters and Dementia   Leave a comment


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I recently came into contact with an elderly lady who lived in a large seniors complex in Winnipeg.  She came across as a sort of activist in her complex.  Her concern was the problems created by residents in the complex driving mobility scooters in the building.  Especially speeding down the hallways and taking corners way too fast and clipping walls, furniture and even other residents.  The lady did say that the scooters, that can reach speeds of 20 kilometers an hour (13 or so miles per hour) are often operated by people suffering from various degrees of dementia. People with not all the proper mental faculties speeding around with fast 200 pound metal machines.

There are also major problems occurring on the outside.

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In the province of Manitoba scooters are not required to be insured, they are classified as pedestrians, however they must give other pedestrians the right of way. Scooter drivers are not required to be tested, therefore anybody can jump in the saddle and start zooming around.  Possibly very dangerous situations.

But is driver testing reasonable? Probably not, most drivers are pretty good, but a minority would never past a driving skills test. There goes their mobility if they are restricted from operating a scooter. Like the lady at the seniors complex said, when scooter rush hour starts we have to keep our heads on a swivel and run for cover.

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Driver training course.  Maybe this should become mandatory.

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Posted February 10, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Fascinating Suspension Railway in Germany   1 comment


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The Wuppertal Suspension Railway is a suspension railway in Wuppertal, Germany.  Wuppertal is part of the massive metro area that includes, Frankfurt, Cologne, Bonn and Essen. Eleven million people live in the consolidated metro area.

Its full name is “Electric Elevated Railway (Suspension Railway) Installation, Eugen Langen System”, it is the oldest electric elevated railway with hanging cars in the world and is a unique system.

Designed by Eugen Langen to sell to the city of Berlin, the installation with elevated stations was built in Barmen, Elberfeld and Vohwinkel between 1897 and 1903; the first track opened in 1901. The Schwebebahn is still in use today as a normal means of local public transport, moving 25 million passengers annually (2008).

The suspension railway runs along a route of 13.3 kilometres (8.3 mi), at a height of about 12 metres (39 ft) above the river Wupper between Oberbarmen and Sonnborner Straße (10 kilometres or 6.2 miles) and about 8 metres (26 ft) above the valley road between Sonnborner Straße and Vohwinkel (3.3 kilometres or 2.1 miles). At one point the railway crosses the A46 motorway. The entire trip takes about 30 minutes.

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Construction on the actual Wuppertal Suspension Railway began in 1898, overseen by the government’s master builder, Wilhelm Feldmann. On 24 October 1900, Emperor Wilhelm II participated in a monorail trial run.

In 1901 the railway came into operation. It opened in sections: the line from Kluse to Zoo/Stadion opened on 1 March, the line to the western terminus at Vohwinkel opened on 24 May, while the line to the eastern terminus at Oberbarmen did not open until 27 June 1903. Around 19,200 tonnes (18,900 long tons; 21,200 short tons) of steel were used to produce the supporting frame and the railway stations. The construction cost 16 million gold marks. The railway was closed owing to severe damage during World War II, but reopened as early as 1946.

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The Wuppertal Suspension Railway nowadays carries approximately 80,000 passengers per weekday through the city. Since 1997, the supporting frame has been largely modernised, and many stations have been reconstructed and brought technically up to date. Kluse station, at the theatre in Elberfeld, had been destroyed during the Second World War. This too was reconstructed during the modernisation. Work was planned to be completed in 2001; however a serious accident took place in 1999 which left five people dead and 47 injured. This, along with delivery problems, delayed completion. In recent years (2004), the cost of the reconstruction work has increased from €380 million to €480 million.

On 15 December 2009 the Schwebebahn suspended its operations for safety concerns; several of the older support structures needed to be renewed, a process that was completed on 19 April 2010.

On 10 November 2011 Wuppertaler Stadtwerke (Wuppertal City Works) signed a contract with Vossloh Kiepe to supply 31 new articulated cars to replace those built in the 1970s. The new cars were built in Valencia, Spain. When they were introduced the line’s power supply voltage was raised from 600 to 750 V.

In 2012, the Wuppertal Suspension Railway was closed for significant periods to upgrade the line. The closing times were 7 to 21 July, 6 August to 22 October and weekends in September (15/16) and November (10/11).

The modernisation was completed and the line fully reopened on 19 August 2013.

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The cars are suspended from a single rail built underneath a supporting steel frame. The cars hang on wheels which are driven by an electric motor operating at 600 volts DC, fed from an extra rail.

The supporting frame and tracks are made out of 486 pillars and bridgework sections. For the realization Anton Rieppel Head of MAN-Werk Gustavsburg invented 1895-96 a patented structural system. The termini at each end of the line also serve as train depots and reversers.

The current fleet consists of twenty-seven two-car trains built in the 1970s. The cars are 24 metres long and have 4 doors. One carriage can seat 48 with approximately 130 standing passengers. The top speed is 60 kilometres per hour (37 mph) and the average speed is 27 km/h (17 mph).

The Kaiserwagen (Emperor’s car), the original train used by Emperor Wilhelm II during a test ride on 24 October 1900, is still operated on scheduled excursion services, special occasions and for charter events.

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On July 21, 1950 the Althoff Circus organised a publicity stunt by putting a baby elephant on a train at Alter Markt station. As the elephant started to bump around during the ride, she was pushed out of the car and fell into the river Wupper. The elephant, two journalists, and one passenger sustained minor injuries. After this jump, the elephant got the name Tuffi, meaning ‘waterdive’ in Italian. Both operator and circus director were fined after the incident.

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Driving one of these things would be a great job.

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Posted January 31, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Pam Am Airlines Morphs into Pam Am Railways   Leave a comment


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Pan American World Airways, known from its founding until 1950 as Pan American Airways and commonly known as Pan Am, was the principal and largest international air carrier in the United States from 1927 until its collapse on December 4, 1991.

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The first Gulf War triggered by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, sent fuel prices skyrocketing, which severely depressed global economic activity. This in turn caused a sharp contraction of worldwide air travel demand, plunging once profitable operations, including Pan Am’s prime transatlantic routes, into steep losses. These unforeseen events constituted a further major blow to Pan Am, which was still reeling from the 1988 Lockerbie disaster.

Pan Am was forced to declare bankruptcy on January 8, 1991. Delta Air Lines purchased the remaining profitable assets of Pan Am, including its remaining European routes and Frankfurt mini hub, the Shuttle operation, 45 jets, and the Pan Am Worldport at John F. Kennedy Airport, for $416 million. Delta also injected $100 million becoming a 45 percent owner of a reorganized but smaller Pan Am serving the Caribbean, Central and South America from a main hub in Miami. The airline’s creditors would hold the other 55 percent.

But the name and logo lives on. From the skies to the rail lines

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Pan Am Railways, Inc. (PAR), formerly known as Guilford Rail System (GRS) before March 2006, is an American holding company that owns and operates Class II regional railroads covering northern New England from Mattawamkeag, Maine, to Rotterdam Junction, New York.

Pan Am Railways is headquartered in Iron Horse Park in North Billerica, Massachusetts. It is a subsidiary of Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based Pan Am Systems, formerly known as Guilford Transportation Industries (GTI). Guilford bought the name, colors and logo of Pan American World Airways in 1998.

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Posted January 26, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Canadian Drivers get Stiff Tickets for Driving with Snow Covered Cars   Leave a comment


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A day after Ontario police ticketed an elderly man “too old and weak” to clear snow off his windshield, Halifax authorities busted a driver with a more creative excuse.

On Wednesday, Halifax police posted a photo of a car half-covered under several inches of snow, its driver hiding her face behind the wheel.

Police described the winter spectacle as a “moving snowbank.”

“Hard to find words for this one,” said police in the photo’s description, adding, “The driver was on the way to the car wash to melt the snow.”

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The 37-year-old driver was given a $180 ticket for failing to clear snow off her car. (Photo: Halifax Regional Police/Facebook)

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The 37-year-old driver was handed a $180 ticket. Police took a photo of her car and shared it with the public as a means of deterring others from leaning on the same lazy logic after a heavy snowfall.

On Tuesday, police caught an 80-year-old man in Brussels, Ont. driving a car covered with a thick layer of snow — with exception to a hole cleared on the driver’s side of the windshield.

Ontario Provincial Police spokesperson James Stanley told HuffPost Canada the driver had explained to the officer who stopped him that he was “too old and weak to brush off the entire windshield.”

What followed was a stern lesson about road safety — and a good deed.

“The officer ticketed him, educated him and helped him remove the snow from his windows,” Stanley said.

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Posted January 22, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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The Wild and Crazy Vehicles of Mad Max: Fury Road   Leave a comment


Here’s how the insane vehicles were created in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

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Talks of the twisted metal and high octane vehicles that would populate “Mad Max: Fury Road” began when director George Miller showed production designer Colin Gibson three walls filled with storyboards of the film 15 years ago.

“He said, ‘One day this could all be yours,’” Gibson recalls to Business Insider of what Miller presented him. Gibson just didn’t realize how far away that “one day” would be.

Gibson began building the cars to be featured in the film as far back as 2003, when it was originally going to be shot in South Africa with Mel Gibson returning as Max, a loner in a post-apocalyptic world who navigates through the different gasoline-starved tribes in order to survive.

But the plug was pulled on the film leading up to the Iraq War, and the project lingered in development hell until four years ago.

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The final version is an action-adventure film starring Tom Hardy as Max and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. Responsible for driving the massive “War Rig” to replenish her village’s gasoline needs, Furiosa goes rogue and dashes in the truck to parts unknown in hopes of freedom, picking up Max along the way. The village’s evil ruler, Immortal Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) unleashes his “War Boys” and their gonzo fleet of vehicles to hunt them down.

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Built over 11 months before production began in late 2011, the close to 200 vehicles Gibson created range from a sedan with massive metal spikes sticking out of it to a giant truck covered with stereo speakers.

The iconic vehicle from the “Mad Max” franchise is Max’s 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT. The super-charged car made its first appearance in “Mad Max” in 1979 when Max was chasing down bad guys with it while he was still a cop. It returned in “The Road Warrior” (1981) where Max used it to escape the clutches of the evil forces who want to take it from him for the gasoline.

Gibson knew the importance of the car, so he didn’t make many changes to its look. “All we had to do with it was make it another 45 years older,” he said. “More rust. More rattle. Less original parts.” But with Hardy now as Max, Gibson also saw the car as a passing of the torch. “When we changed Maxes, it becomes even more important that we have that particular handoff.”

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Like in “The Road Warrior,” much of the action in “Fury Road” is on a massive 18-wheeler. But like all things in the movie, it’s unlike any you’ve ever seen. With two V8 engines, and modified cabins throughout, Gibson created a vehicle that the audience wouldn’t get tired of looking at half-way through the movie.

“War Rig was one built more to a prescription than an imagination,” he explains. “It was such an important part of the story that George and the storyboard artists had come to a greater consensus of what was required.” Gibson points out that there are up to 13 different characters inside the rig at any one time through the movie. Gibson said the classic John Wayne western, “Stagecoach,” was an inspiration for creating a moving location where the drama plays out over a long stretch of time.

War Rig

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Perhaps the most challenging vehicle, for all involved in the film, was the bandwagon that follows Immortal Joe’s armada of twisted vehicles into battle. “George said every army has a little drummer boy and ours was Spinal Tap on acid,” said Gibson.

The Doof Wagon is a big rig strapped with massive drums in the rear, endless speakers in front of it, and a stage where the blind and disfigured Coma the Doof Warrior rocks out on his flam-throwing guitar. Gibson said it was the most difficult vehicle to run as its six foot wheels (which they took from old mining tractors) would get buried in the sand. And then there was the noise. “George Miller has very expansive tastes so everything has to be real,” said Gibson. That means the speakers blared music all the time. “Some of the actors could barely hear themselves act,” he said. But Gibson made the error of when creating the flame-throwing guitar that it did not also play. “I foolishly built it as a prototype,” he said. “George was most emphatic that the guitarist had to be able to play, so we went back to the drawing board and made something that could play and shoot flames.”

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Posted December 6, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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The Big Glorious Steamers   Leave a comment


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I heard the sounds of locomotion
and a whistle’s plaintive cry
of weakness, but the wheels were turning.
Steel on steel the sole reply.

The sounds of force accelerating
rhythmically as drums would play
recalled a light and tender time,
though made of steel the permanent way,

when near a depot long abandoned,
waiting for a passing train,
a child would sit alone for hours
just to hear the steel refrain.

I heard the sounds of locomotion
carrying a longing man
with freight and cargo to a place that
rails of steel alone could span.

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“I looked out of the train,
And I suddenly saw the empty station
As we hurtled through, with a hollow roar . . .
‘Harviston End’ . . . It was dark and dead”

A quiet hymn to all that we’ve lost. It’s all here, the sights, sounds and smells of a country station about to close. I’ve searched my railway book shelves to see if Harviston End existed, but it appears not. But the word ‘end’ in the title goes much further than the white-pebbled station name.

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Lost Tracks of Time

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I took a freight train to be my friend, O lord,
You know I hoboed, hoboed, hoboed,
Hoboed a long long way from home, O lord,

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train12 The Cincinnatian Baltimore and Ohio steam locomotive 1956

The Cincinnatian, Baltimore and Ohio steam locomotive 1956.

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train14 Belgian “Atlantic” class steam locomotive, built in 1939 for the Brussels-to- Ostend run

Belgium Atlantic Class steam locomotive, built 1939 Brussels to Ostend run.

train15 Mallard. The worlds fastest steam locomotive, at 125.88mph. Not the prettiest steam engine I've ever seen, but its wonderful that we can make a kettle go that fast... england

The Mallard. World’s fastest steam locomotive timed at 125 miles per hour, Doncaster, England.

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Cass Shay #5, #11, #6 running full throttle

Virginia coal train

trainDurango Silverton Line, North of Durango, CO

Durango Silverton line Colorado

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Posted December 2, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Fantastic Futuristic Hover Train Concept   Leave a comment


Posted November 23, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Actual Used Car Vending Machine in Nashville   Leave a comment


Online used car retailer Carvana, which has revolutionized how people buy cars, is back with another innovation — the world’s first coin operated car vending machine that can dispense cars in a fully automated process. The five-story glass tower, which can house as many as 20 used cars at a time, stands on Interstate 65 in the US city of Nashville, in Tennessee. Carvana said the move was to simplify the car delivery process, and at the same time make picking up the car an experience for the buyer.

Carvana, a technology start-up based in Phoenix, has been selling used cars online since 2013. Typical of online shopping sites, Carvana allows customers to browse its selection of used cars online with high-resolution photos and 360-degree virtual tours. Once a vehicle is selected, customers can get financing, trade in a vehicle, and sign contracts — everything done online. The car is then delivered to the door or picked up from the company’s store. Buyers get a 7-days test-drive period after which they can return the car if they aren’t satisfied.

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The online model has allowed Carvana to cut down on staff and overhead, and according to its own estimates, save customers around US$2,000 in the process. Now with the new vending machine, even the pickup is unmanned.

Customers buy the car online, like before, and then proceed to the vending machine as soon as their car is ready to pickup. Upon entry into the lobby, the customer receives an oversized coin that they place into a slot. The coin triggers an automated process where a machine spins and grabs the vehicle, bringing it to a track that delivers the car to one of three bays. The entire process is accompanied by a grand light and sound show.

Those customers who live outside Nashville but want to pick up from the vending machine, Carvana will subsidize $200 in airfare and arrange transportation from the airport to the Nashville facility.

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Posted November 18, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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