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  1. Once again, apologies for the long gap between posts. This time three more M’s, two from the north, one the south. Minnesota Commercial This operation is based mostly in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and provides local service plus it has a lengthy line out to Hugo, MN and has trackage rights on BNSF to Bayport and Stillwater. Independent, it was formed in 1987 to replace the former Minnesota Transfer. The MNNR has an eclectic locomotive fleet comprising mostly of ALCos and a few GEs. 313 is a Century C424 which was new to the Green Bay & Western with the same number (3382-04 1/1965). It is seen at the Midway shops on 10 July 2005 with Slug T1 rebuilt from a former B&O Alco RS3. 35 is a more modern “ALCo” product, a MLW built M420W (M6092-15 2/1977) formerly Canadian National 3574. It is seen at the Midway shops on 10 July 2005. 83 is another Montreal product, a RS18 (82464 4/1958) previously CP 1837. 71 is an interesting locomotive being the former CP Rail 4711, a MLW M636 (M6031-12 1970) which had been experimentally repowered by it former owner with a 3200hp Caterpillar engine in 1988. 59 is even more exotic. It’s a C36-7 but no ordinary example. Rather than being built by GE at Erie it was constructed by Goninan (55) in Australia in 5/1978 for Hammersley Iron and subsequently imported to the US. It's named Crocodile GE in honour of its roots! 318 being fuelled at Midway roundhouse on 10 July 2005 is a rare ALCo RS27 (83602 3/1962) formerly GB&W 318 but new as C&NW 901. 1983, a GE B23-7, propels a cut of cars from Midway into Cleveland Ave. Minneapolis MN on 10 July 2005. It was new to Conrail as it 1983 (42321 4/1979). A flashback to the former Minnesota Transfer. ALCo RS3 200 (79245 10/51) is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum at Union. Minnesota Northern This is a Class III shortline railroad that operates over 224 miles of track in northwestern Minnesota. The railroad is co-owned by KBN Incorporated and Independent Locomotive Service and is headquartered in Crookston, Minnesota. It was created in December 1996 when the railroad’s former owner, RailAmerica, purchased 204 miles of track from the newly created Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway. Also included in the sale were 64 miles (103 km) of trackage rights on the BNSF's Grand Forks Subdivision from Crookston, Minnesota to Erskine, Minnesota and the Canadian Pacific's Detroit Lakes Subdivision from Erskine, Minnesota to Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Sitting outside the shops at Crookston, MN on 16 July2005 we find 1392 a ‘GP10’ owned by Independent Locomotive Services, one on the Minnesota Northern’s co-owners. New Chesapeake & Ohio 6138, a GP9 (22046 9/56), it was acquired by Illinois Central Gulf and rebuilt as a GP10 in 11/73 becoming ICG 8286 and later Paducah & Louisville 8336. 1380 at the ex-CP shop at Thief River Falls MN on 16 July 2005 is another GP10. New as Illinois Central GP9 9363 (23863 5553-64 1/58) it was rebuilt by ICG and later became Cedar Valley 9363 in 1984. This rare EMD TR4A-TR4B “Cow and Calf” set at Crookston on 16 July 2005 gives away its origins as the former Belt Railway of Chicago 505 (505A) and 513 (505B). They were new in 9/50 (10519 4032-A4 and 10522 4032-B2). N They are the equivalent of a SW7 and only 15 sets were built. Mississippi Export This is a 42-mile shortline railroad founded in 1922 which operates in the state of Mississippi from Pascagoula to Evanston. The company owns a North-South line between its two termini, along which it interchanges with Canadian National and CSX. MSE also connects to the NS in Mobile, AL, and Hattiesburg, MS and KCS in Jackson, MS, through haulage agreements. It also has access to the Terminal Alabama State Docks and the Port of Pascagoula through a reciprocal switching agreement. The day I passed by the headquarters at Moses Point, 11 October 2000, nothing was happening so well-maintained GP38-2s 65 (75645-1 9/75) and 66 (786213-2 4/79) were basking in the sunshine. Both were purchased new. I’ll try not to leave so long before the next posting!
  2. Love it! I can make a few good guesses as to his identity. It's great when things happen like it did when the UP guy said you could use their road. I've had that sort of thing several times myself. One of the best was at State Line in Kansas City where we were carefully keeping on public land only to be approached by a BNSF cop who got chatting. Having found out we were British he told us we were on the wrong side for the sun. We agreed but pointed out that being on the right side would mean trespassing on railroad property. No problem, not only did he give us his blessing but put it in writing too together with his card in case anyone else challenged us! In addition to Hermosa there are several other places well known for railfan-hostile neighbours.
  3. 583 was a MLW built RS10, a model unique to Canada and basically a cross between the RS3 and the later ALCo RS11 and MLW RS18 models. For those not in the know, MLW (Montreal Locomotive Works) was ALCo's Canadian partner. When dieselisation was sweeping across the continent there was no free trade between the US and Canada with both imposing high tariffs on imports. So the loco builders got round this by partnering with Canadian companies who built locomotives for Canada (and export). In addition to ALCo/MLW, Fairbanks Morse partnered with the Canadian Locomotive Company whilst EMD set up its own Canadian company, General Motors Diesels Ltd which later became General Motors Diesel Division. Whilst most designs supplied replicated US offerings, all three did produce special designs to meet the requirements of Canadian customers.
  4. Yes it is and it sends a message back to the loco confirming pressure at the rear of the train.
  5. FRED: Flashing Rear End Device - that's what Jim Boyd printed in Railfan only to be told by several readers that the F stood for something else. Indeed, but there's a limit to what you can print in a magazine!
  6. In conjunction with the reopening, a new bus service has been started between Tavistock and Okehampton station via Lydford connecting with the trains. It's run by Dartline in partnership with GWR. It will be interesting to see how well its used.
  7. Me neither. I signed up yesterday evening.
  8. And talking of Freightlifters here's one in action at Loudwater - or it will be when the staff get bored with posing!
  9. It is not strictly true to say that a TOC cannot procure additional stock during the course of a franchise although it does require Government approval. GWR's acquisition of the 2+4 mini HSTs are a case in point, they were not envisaged in the orignal franchise agreement. The DfT has had a major role in the design of some recent train orders, the Thameslink 700s and the various 800 and 801 derivatives for example. They may not have done the detailed design at DafT Towers but they created the tightly worded specifications to which the trains were to be designed and built. The result is plain for all to see, overly complex trains that fail to deliver on so many fronts. It is worth remembering that FirstGroup, GNER and Siemens had an "HST2" designed and were about to start cutting metal when the DfT stepped in and insisted the project be cancelled (despite having already sanctioned it) in favour of the IEP. Had HST2 gone ahead it would have consisted of hauled coaches with a DVT at one end and a locomotive, which could have been Diesel, electric, bi-mode or anything else (gas turbines were under serious consideration at one time) and it would have been in service years before the IET - some even say it would have reached its first overhaul before the IET entered service - and cost much less to build and lease compared to the IET, one of, if not the most expensive trains on the network.
  10. Electrification hasn't priced itself out of the market. The problem is/was that the GWML electrification scheme was so badly botched; estimates cooked up on the back of an envelope, no proper surveys done in advance and trying to move the goal posts after work had started led to the costs of the project spiralling out of control - Network Rail appeared to have no idea what things were costing or what was being spent. Eventually the Treasury took fright, understandably, and the project was scaled back along with some others being cancelled. Since then a lot of lessons have been learnt and some small schemes are now progressing which hopefully will set a standard going forward for bigger schemes. I don't think anyone is suggesting hydrogen is the answer for all routes and trains.
  11. As my sadly missed chum Jim Boyd (former editor of Railfan & Railroad) used to cry: "Remember it's only a rental!" It was probably the likes of him (and me!) that have bu**ered it for the rest of you! I once took a rental car back to SLC literally covered in mud including the roof. The receiving clerk's face was a picture. "Just run a bulldozer over it to get the worst off and it'll be fine" I said as I walked off. Never heard any more about it. Another time I left Ford Taurus upside down in the Mohave Desert. Again, no comebacks - Hertz were only interested to know if there were any injuries and promptly replaced the car. Another of Jim's pets was to accuse us Brits of driving on the wrong side of the road. "No Jim, you may drive on the right side but we drive on the correct side."
  12. Around the time the 175s and 180s were being delivered, some of us decided Alstom stood for "Always Slow To Overcome Malfunctions"...
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