Reminiscing about days gone by...

jonwray

Active member
Back in 2007/2008, I had the rail experience of a lifetime... At least it was to me at the time. I was watching trains around Durkee, Oregon. Then, I saw a grain train headed by an SD90 waiting for an intermodal train. Driving up to it, I got out of my car and took some pictures. Then, a crew member got out to check on something, and saw me. To my surprise, he invited me into the cab for a few minutes, and this was exciting. In the cab, he let me blow the horn a few times and even ring the bell. In fact, he even gave me a spare reverser handle that I'm sure I still have lying around somewhere. Anyways, after that I went back to my car, and then the intermodal train stopped, and the real reason for the stopped train was evident: the trains were going to switch crews, an operation I never saw before. After they drove away, I say there for a few minutes thinking of how lucky I was.

So, what are your favorite memories from watching real trains in the past? Feel free to leave them as replies.
 
Jon that sure was an experience one would never forget.

When I was about 4 years old, I got to climb up into an old switcher in the yard near my old house. We didn't go anywhere, but I got to look around. I never forgot that either! Both the yard and the switcher are long gone. The yard is now a parking lot for the commuter rail, and there are only two tracks left to old spare equipment.

John
 
Aye, some of my finest memories come from the days when I was about 4 years old... Lived in a house that was in viewing distance of the local railyard here. (If you're an Idahoan and in the Boise area, you know who owns it.) Nothing better than seeing Ash and Grain trains along with locals and QNANP trains all day long.. It was a grade crossing as well, so plenty of horn. Today it's all an overpass, but I miss the days that you could see a patched or unpatched CNW going on every train in and out... They used to cut in Mid-train units for the grain and ash trains headed for the Blues Mountains in Oregon, but they don't anymore really even though there is some experimentation going on with it once more. Ahhh how much I miss the early 2000's of railroading... The day's before GEVO's and ACe's are pretty much all you see... I loved seeing C40-8's, SD60M's, C44-9W's, Boss SD70M's lash ups, and of course EX SP And CNW all the time. I would give up every video I've ever made to go back and relive those moments, because that's what railroading should look like!
 
Hi everybody.
Like many in Britain I use the railways extensively for travel in the course of my work. I often take two or three long journeys each week in the course of my business but I have never lost the enjoyment of rail travel which for me is far more pleasurable than air or road.

I originally retired in October 2013 but at that point I quickly realised how much I missed those rail journeys throughout the UK. I returned to work in May 2014 following a severe accident to a senior member of staff so I decided to give up my retirement temporarily to give a hand. It soon became apparent that member of staff injured would never be able to return to the company so I am still again working at present time.

On returning to work I realised what it is I so love about passenger railways. Nothing can replace the atmosphere of a large mainline station. The big London terminus stations such as Paddington, King’s Cross etc hold a unique experience unlike any airport, seaport or bus terminals. At Paddington that I use so often, on entry to the station there is always the thud of the engines of the diesel power cars entering the station on arrival or awaiting departure from one of the 18 full-length platforms. Trains enter and leave the station every three minutes in each direction making a “cacophony” of noise from the brake and wheal squeal along with the sound of the turbochargers gradually starting from a low pitch whine to the full sound of their scream as the class 125 and 130s Depart the station.

On the station concourse you always have at least several hundred people looking up at the arrival and departure boards in expectant anticipation of what platform their train will be departing from in the coming minutes. They stand or sit with their suitcases or hand luggage alongside business travellers such as myself having none of the foregoing but the inevitable laptop bag slung round our necks.

Alongside the above you have every few minutes the station announcements regarding last-minute platform changes, delays to departures and arrivals and often the simple fact that the coffee is on special offer at the Costa coffee concourse establishment (still costs a lot I always fine).

On boarding the train and finding your seat there is again that sense of anticipation as other passengers store their belongings in the luggage bays, but it is a much more relaxed atmosphere than you would find on any aircraft awaiting departure. After a few minutes the doors close and there are the “welcome aboard” and safety announcements by the on-board train manager. Then slowly the train moves away at first with no increase sound from the power cars. However, as the train passes the end the platform and through the major set of points (turnouts) and signals there are ajacent to Paddington then there is the sound of the engine turbochargers engaging as finally the HST consist begins to show just what it was designed for.

As it begins to accelerate to its cruising speed of around 100 mph it passes through first central and then the outskirts of London seemingly effortlessly compared to the road traffic congestion that can be seen from the windows of the coach. The metallic sound of the wheels running on the track, the gentle swaying the train along with the loud thudding/cracking from beneath the carriage as the train passes over turnouts long route become the audible story of your journey. The passing sight of countryside and towns along with the sudden flashing past of trains travelling in the opposite direction becomes the visual story of your journey.

All the foregoing and much more will be my memories of the railways and rail travel when I finally move into retirement in August of this year. No preserved railways or (dare I say it) train simulator can create the atmosphere of a well-used full-scale operational passenger railway.

I shall certainly miss it all.
Bill.
 
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Aye, some of my finest memories come from the days when I was about 4 years old... Lived in a house that was in viewing distance of the local railyard here. (If you're an Idahoan and in the Boise area, you know who owns it.) Nothing better than seeing Ash and Grain trains along with locals and QNANP trains all day long.. It was a grade crossing as well, so plenty of horn. Today it's all an overpass, but I miss the days that you could see a patched or unpatched CNW going on every train in and out... They used to cut in Mid-train units for the grain and ash trains headed for the Blues Mountains in Oregon, but they don't anymore really even though there is some experimentation going on with it once more. Ahhh how much I miss the early 2000's of railroading... The day's before GEVO's and ACe's are pretty much all you see... I loved seeing C40-8's, SD60M's, C44-9W's, Boss SD70M's lash ups, and of course EX SP And CNW all the time. I would give up every video I've ever made to go back and relive those moments, because that's what railroading should look like!
I've also seen and taken pictures of some BNSF, NS, CP, CN, you-name-it (except Amtrak :() locomotives that have passed through. Today, I saw locomotives from 4 different companies in the same place: a UP SD90, a CP AC44, a BNSF Dash 9 H1, and a few HLCX GP38-2s.
 
Hi everybody.
Further to my posting #4 in this thread, as part of my work I was returning from London to North Somerset by rail on Friday. It was the start of the schools and colleges half term holidays therefore London Paddington station was very crowded when I arrived their early afternoon. I had booked one of the few remaining table seats on the HST services these days and a family with two children which must have been between the ages of four and six occupied the table on the opposite side of the aisle.

Our service was about to depart when we were informed that there would be a delay due to a mainline “track obstruction” on the west side of Royal Oak station which is only a short distance from Paddington. The delay only lasted for about 12 minutes but with trains arriving and departing every 3 minutes at London Paddington delays can quickly snowball if dispatchers do not make the correct decisions. The dispatchers therefore decided once the obstruction was removed that the HST services for the West Country would be released first followed by the regional and district services which had been delayed.

Once our service had departed and cleared the numerous signals and switches adjacent to the station the driver really started to open the throttles taking the consist up to its maximum of 130 mph in several places. I was working on my laptop but could not help looking up several times at the Faces of the children opposite as I soon realised this was the first time they had travelled by rail. Those faces portrayed a picture of absolute fascination with their first rail trip. I think it was the noise of the metal wheels running on the rails, the flashing past of other trains travelling in the opposite direction and the scene of us cruising past traffic on the congested M4 motorway that made it for them.

The best part of it came just after our service departed Chippenham station and then suddenly enters the two-mile long box tunnel. The noise of the train is multiplied at least fourfold and the outside world is plunged into darkness. As the coaches sway from side to side at high speed the noise is amplified on one side of the carriage and then the other giving a stereo affect. Another HST service Flashed past in the other direction further increasing the sway of the train and the noise. The little girl by this time had her fingers in her ears while the little boy just sat there with mouth wide open.

The foregoing along with the smell of the hot brake pads on the down gradient and the musty odour that always enters the carriages as you pass through the tunnel made the little boy give out a loud “CAAAUUUL” as the train flashed out of the tunnel and the outside world was lit up once again. By this time everyone on our table was laughing at the expressions of the children.

The mother told us that this was the first time she had ever travelled by rail and the experience of the tunnel had frightened her "near to death", which brought all who heard her in the coach into near hysterics.

As left the train at my local station in North Somerset I felt I had witnessed the start of a new rail generation in those kids, and long may that continue.

Great memories
Bill
 
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For me it was discovering the Scottish Highland railways in the late 1970's. Whether it was a Class 40 hauling the Glasgow portion of the Inverness overnight to Perth, or the plucky little Type 2 diesels thrashing away on 7 or 8 coach trains from Inverness to Wick/Kyle or Glasgow to Oban/Mallaig it left a lasting impression. Rolling stock on Scottish internal services was almost exclusively Mark One, of the old steam heat type and those lovely TSO's with wooden panelling, big headrests and tungsten lighting. It was only in the early to mid eighties that Mark 2 stock started to creep in on these trains and then a few years later the cost effective, but from an enthusiast's POV - ghastly, Sprinter diesel units took over.

North of Perth and Helensburgh the installtion of long welded rail or practice of welding out joints had not made any serious in-roads so most journeys were accompanied by the clickety clack which is far more delightful than the smooth whoosh of LWR.

The world felt good heading back out of Wick on the evening train to Inverness. Thurso portion attached at Georgemas Junction and with the Class 26 rasping away on the climb to the moors, the odour of diesel exhaust mingling with the carriage aroma of musty steam and wooden panelling all seemed right with life.

Sadly you don't get that riding on a Class 158 or 170 DMU.

And the most sobering thought - this is now not far from being 40 years ago.
 
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While railfanning around 6 PM today, I found two special locomotives: a KCSM AC44 (never seen one before) and UP 1983 WP Heritage (hadn't seen it either). I will never forget today.
 
Mine was going on tours around the Eastleigh works in Hampshire (England) as a kid aged about 11 or 12 in about 1959/1960 As I recall, conducted tours were carried out on weekends while no repair work was underway. The works were full of steam locos used by Southern Region. You could also watch the express trains roaring through Eastleigh station on route to Southhampton or London.
 
Paul

My defining moment was much the same as yours, except that it took place about 1937/8. Eastleigh works switched me on to engineering as a future occupation and trains as a hobby.

Peter
 
Another memorable moment occurred in 1976. I took an early Amtrak/PC-painted United Aircraft Turbo Train from Boston Back Bay Station to New York Penn Station to spend a week with my aunt and uncle at their summer house out on Long Island. The trip down from Boston was an experience in its self. The old New Haven was still diesel from Boston to New Haven and then it was catenary the rest of the way. This was the first time I crossed over the Hell's Gate Bridge. The rail equipment then was quite interesting still because there was a mix of old New Haven electrics, PC Electric freight diesels, Conrail painted equipment. Old New York Central, and Pennsylvania painted equipment, even saw a GG1 or two in and around Sunnyside Yard in the Queens. This was only the first leg of the trip. My aunt met me at Penn Station and then we took the EL out to her apartment in the Queens before she drove out to Hampton Bays. On the EL, which ran up and over Sunnyside Yard, I saw some Southern Railroad streamliners, used on the Florida service, and lots and lots of other equipment, mostly old, but lots and lots of stuff like we run in Trainz today.

Here's a picture of the UAC Turbo at what looks like Boston's South Station. I'm not actually sure...

http://www.northeast.railfan.net/images/tr_amtk51.jpg

John
 
My fond memories of the Southern Pacific was along the Bay Area Peninsula, commuter and freight, from mid 70s to about mid 80s. San Francisco to San Jose, and between areas. I even remember the farewell to the Harrimans event, and take over by Caltrain. For a while, lived right next to the tracks in San Mateo/Burlingame area, it would shake the windows as they rolled by. Something about the thick black diesel smoke, that was bluish in color after sunshine broke through, and it lingered around the track. Smelled much better, for whatever reason, than the cleaner burning stuff today. I guess I just like it, miss it. Along with this, there was the activity with Muni street cars, cable cars, and many trips on BART trains.

Those were the days, more care free, too.

Paul
 
How the "Long-Time-Memory" can last ! I remember very well, as it were just yesterday. Back in 1947. it was the Centennial Year for our "Spanisch Brötli Bahn" in Switzerland. That time, I went with my mother to Baden/AG for some reason. In every shop in the city could be seen a model of this famous train. I remember specially one bakery, there was a complete train made out of choclate and bisquits. Later on, we where standing at the closed booms of a RR-crossing and we could watch the replica, which can be seen today in the Transport Museum in Luzern, roaring by. My interests for trains were most probably already born and put in my subconcious at that very instant. I dreamed often to have a model train, but we where not that rich at that time and such a thing was unaffordable. Only many, many years later, when I could afford it myself, I started with model railroading. I had finally a collection of locos and rolling stock for several 10'000 Swiss Francs. Today, almost nothing remains of all this. Most of them I gave away, some I did sell. I kept only a few of the today prizeless models, like NWSL-Shays and Willamettes, and some rare models from Fulgurex and Derobert. Some years age I switched to virtual railroding with MSTS; then changed to Traiz, starting with TRZ2010EE, then TS12, and finally I am waiting for the pre-ordered boxed T:ane, version "Collectors Edition".

from Laos, Marcel
 
My fond memories of the Southern Pacific was along the Bay Area Peninsula, commuter and freight, from mid 70s to about mid 80s. San Francisco to San Jose, and between areas. I even remember the farewell to the Harrimans event, and take over by Caltrain. For a while, lived right next to the tracks in San Mateo/Burlingame area, it would shake the windows as they rolled by. Something about the thick black diesel smoke, that was bluish in color after sunshine broke through, and it lingered around the track. Smelled much better, for whatever reason, than the cleaner burning stuff today. I guess I just like it, miss it. Along with this, there was the activity with Muni street cars, cable cars, and many trips on BART trains.

Those were the days, more care free, too.

Paul

Yes, I think the odor of the old diesel was more pungent and smelled better. I think this has to do with the removal of the sulfur from the oil plus the change in the type of crude from the past. Then again, years of smelling diesel fuel, breathing DeSol, MEK, Toluene, Acetone, and other chemicals may have deadened my olfactory senses a bit and has lead to early onset Parkinson's Disease. I can barely smell or taste anything anymore these days.

That was quite a memory to have! There really was something unique and special about the equipment the different railroads ran even if it was similar to what others around them used. Just like lots of things today, as companies consolidate and modernize, they share the same technology so everyone runs the same equipment in the region. You now have the Bombardier double-deckers like we have. The only difference is the paint-scheme. Like your Harriman cars pulled by SP Geeps, I remember seeing the old New Haven "American Flyer" coaches pulled by McGuiness era E units and Alco RS3s out of Boston's South Station. They too had a distinct look that made the New Haven exciting to see compared to the boring Boston and Maine because the B&M ran only RDCs on their lines.


How the "Long-Time-Memory" can last ! I remember very well, as it were just yesterday. Back in 1947. it was the Centennial Year for our "Spanisch Brötli Bahn" in Switzerland. That time, I went with my mother to Baden/AG for some reason. In every shop in the city could be seen a model of this famous train. I remember specially one bakery, there was a complete train made out of choclate and bisquits. Later on, we where standing at the closed booms of a RR-crossing and we could watch the replica, which can be seen today in the Transport Museum in Luzern, roaring by. My interests for trains were most probably already born and put in my subconcious at that very instant. I dreamed often to have a model train, but we where not that rich at that time and such a thing was unaffordable. Only many, many years later, when I could afford it myself, I started with model railroading. I had finally a collection of locos and rolling stock for several 10'000 Swiss Francs. Today, almost nothing remains of all this. Most of them I gave away, some I did sell. I kept only a few of the today prizeless models, like NWSL-Shays and Willamettes, and some rare models from Fulgurex and Derobert. Some years age I switched to virtual railroding with MSTS; then changed to Traiz, starting with TRZ2010EE, then TS12, and finally I am waiting for the pre-ordered boxed T:ane, version "Collectors Edition".

from Laos, Marcel

Imagine what your collection would be worth today, Marcel! I too have some older N-scale equipment, which I foolishly lost bits and pieces to over the years. If we still had the original sets, these would be a collector's item today. :) That was quite a thing to remember as a child though. I can only imagine your excitement when you saw the replica train pass through! The publisher of Trains Fever has the Spanisch Brötli Bahn as one of it's early trains in their little transport simulator. It was quite a beautiful train, and must have been amazing to see in real life.

John
 
Hi John,

yes, today I regret, having acted like this with my collection of trains. My only aim was, I wanted to get rid of all this, I did not wanted to see them anymore. It was foolish behaviour, I know, but I built up in my mind, that my hobby was part responsible what finally lead to my divorce back in 1996. One can have such stupid moments in life. Anyway, it's gone. Today I'm married again to a Laotian girl, and expatriated and living in Laos and I'm happy again, retired and, what else, trainzing ! And most of all, I am not continually hasseld and blamed for what I do.

Marcel
 
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Yes, I think the odor of the old diesel was more pungent and smelled better. I think this has to do with the removal of the sulfur from the oil plus the change in the type of crude from the past. Then again, years of smelling diesel fuel, breathing DeSol, MEK, Toluene, Acetone, and other chemicals may have deadened my olfactory senses a bit and has lead to early onset Parkinson's Disease. I can barely smell or taste anything anymore these days.
John

I think the smell of modern diesel is more like a bleach smell, or some weird combo of fast food oils and cleaner. And, to top it off, it is not a common smell, seems there are different blends of smells. Just cannot seem to stand it, like I could back in the day. I even remember the smell of the transit bus, as I road my bike behind one, or walking by, or just getting off one at a stop. Those were the days.
 
I think the smell of modern diesel is more like a bleach smell, or some weird combo of fast food oils and cleaner. And, to top it off, it is not a common smell, seems there are different blends of smells. Just cannot seem to stand it, like I could back in the day. I even remember the smell of the transit bus, as I road my bike behind one, or walking by, or just getting off one at a stop. Those were the days.

You nailed it... I'd say it's almost like wimpy candle wax. Then again everything tastes and smells weaker to me now.

John
 
Hi John,

yes, today I regret, having acted like this with my collection of trains. My only aim was, I wanted to get rid of all this, I did not wanted to see them anymore. It was foolish behaviour, I know, but I built up in my mind, that my hobby was part responsible what finally lead to my divorce back in 1996. One can have such stupid moments in life. Anyway, it's gone. Today I'm married again to a Laotian girl, and expatriated and living in Laos and I'm happy again, retired and, what else, trainzing ! And most of all, I am not continually hasseld and blamed for what I do.

Marcel

Marcel,

There are a lot of things that usually build up that cause this. Your hobby wasn't part of it I don't think. Everyone needs a hobby, an escape from reality. I know it's sad but it is what it is now.

You'll like this quote. It's actually the signature from Boc61.

"My wife says that if I buy one more train, she is going to leave me. I'm going to miss her."

All in kidding of course. :)

My N-scale trains are all packed away in a plastic storage box with track and stuff packed in other boxes. In early 2003 I was painting some buildings which were not coming out very well. I attributed this to my clumsy nature and thought nothing of it. A bit later I had some tremors and knocked a very expensive Alco RS3 on to the floor as it smashed into hundreds of pieces. Little did I know that this was the tell tail signs of Parkinson's Disease, and things were going to get worse. In December when TRS2004 came out, I switched to that and my models became a home for spiders until I packed it up in the boxes.

So enjoy your hobbies while you can. It's an escape from the rotten things in the world. Nothing is forever.

John
 
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Having been a lover of trains since a wee boy I have always had a sad feeling when I pass and look down or up an embankent or flat bit where track used to be. In my late teens an well into my twenties a friend and I would go and look at a closed line, rusty track, declining train station buildings and was even worse if no tracks. What would especially touch me is a line I had travelled on as a youngster and now a bit of forgotten history. My longest memory was at a wee boy on a hired train when my Sunday School travelled from the west of Glasgow all the way to Campsie Glen which looked so remote with few houses. The charming wooden buildings of the stations stuck with me. In my twenties with my friend we did a walk along a former line that had been lifted but I had travelled on in a railbus. Souvenirs were lying about gathering dust so we went home feeling good!

Another reminder was when my local Boys' Brigade District hired a long steam train to take us right through the city from the west over the Clyde to the southside. I didn't know then it was possible and we got off to join a massive even on the then Queen's Park Recreation grounds with thousands of others. For most of those teenagers it was just a way of getting there but for me a fascination and when I pass the empty embankment these days it always reminds me of the line and stations that had been there and under used. Before that suburban route along the Clydeside was closed I went upstairs to Whiteinch Riverside and the old Victorian building in an island platform(as a number were like that) and asked for a single to Scotsotun East. The man looked puzzled at me and said but it waqs inly the next station and you could see it actually along the line (!).

However always being highly individualistic I insisted that was my destination even though I was told I could walk it in 5 minutes! He shook his head still puzzled why anyone did what I was doing and confirmed he never had anyone else doing it. The train cam in a few minutes and I got on and the man had came out to whistle the train on still puzzled. Three minutes later I got off and the single man in Scotstoun East who was a porter took my ticket then gazed at it again. He then looked up and said something like "eh, you got on at Whiteinch?" I smiled and said I had and he was gobsmacked while he pointed back to my boarding station. Speechless he walked back to the building looking at my ticket!

Another suburban line off that which was closed seen an awful lot of fans travelling for a final ride. I went to Glasgow Central (Low Level) and had a ticket to Crow Road and what made it special was that it was unlike the other tickets white as it was a First Class one to a station not that faraway. I had alreay beeen told to get a 1st Class as it was not then then BR but was an LMS ticket from before 1948! Later I got a ticket from Charing Cross station again being told what to ask for and I got a bicycle ticket printed North British Railway (one of the companies in Scotland swallowed up by the UK big four in 1922). The fascinating thing about the LMS ticket and the NB ones is they were still in the racks of stations decades after their companies were history.

A line I travelled on too was to Balquidder which was used in the original Dr Finlay casebook series. Beautiful station and lovely line long gone but I still got it to Rob Roy's home place!
 
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