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Karl1459

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About Karl1459

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    OBS Chief

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    Male
  • Location
    Oregon
  • Interests
    Trains, Antique Cars and Hot Rods, Firefighting, Bridge (the card game)

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  1. Other considerations are the true beginning and ending points of the trip, and the access and cost to and from the relative train or bus station and the airport. Is parking needed? Cost? Is a rental car needed? available at the train/bus station? Higher or lower cost than airport? Personally I consider stress and important value and in most cases the train wins hands down.
  2. Update from a Sacramento TV station... The person (victim) is awake and able to communicate, claims he would never have jumped though has little memory of the incident. Amazing recovery so far from the injuries, I hope he continues to improve. https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2018/12/07/23-year-old-hurt-amtrak-speaks/
  3. The 50 lb rule should be a hard rule, I read a nstb report on an Amtrak derailment that occurred in Canada (Cant remember the train right know, think it was Detroit-Toronto), the conclusion was that many injuries were caused by flying luggage and a strong recommendation for the 50 lb limit was issued. If there were an issue with too many pieces (which could be combined under the 50 lb limit), a 55 gal garbage bag could aid in correcting the piece count. Personally I find it easier to carry and stow multiple smaller bags than one or two larger ones.
  4. I suspect that the NEED (as apposed to a nice to have) for a call center had dropped dramatically with online purchase of tickets, so where 10 years ago 2 centers made sense today only one does. In a perfect world where union and management could sing in harmony (rather than alternating shooting themselves in the foot) utilizing todays technology to distribute the remaining call center duties to small town station agents might just provide a high level of customer service at reasonable cost. Cut bank(?) or Winona(?) or some of the other stations that have lost agents could reopen, but the agents primary job would be call taking.
  5. Turning a train... 1. One big freaking turntable. 2. Uncouple the train, switch each car and locomotive and turn on a normal sized turntable, reassemble the consist, couple, and go a couple days later. 3. A balloon track. 4. A wye with long enough legs to turn the entire train. 5. A wye with a leg too short.. repeat the procedure #2. Reversing a train... the hard way 1. Uncouple the locomotives and turn per "turning a train", move to opposite end of train and couple. 2. Flat switch any head end or tail end cars to there respective new positions. 3. Flip any seats as needed. Reversing a train... a little easier. 1. Plan ahead, two locomotives back to back. Simply flat switch the locomotives to the opposite end and couple. 2. Deal with flipping seats and head/tail end cars the "hard" way. Reversing a train the easy way 1. Locomotive at one end of train and a cab car or locomotive on the other. Engineer simply changes seats. 2. Don't flip seats. 3. No head end/tail end cars.
  6. Karl1459

    Fred Frailey Column: November TRAINS

    Part of the issue is the cyclic pattern of the economy and freight traffic. While a second main, or even a third, may be crucial during a peak month in a boom year that track may well be underutilized for normal traffic demand. And then when, not if, the economy tanks the fixed needs of maintenance are still there and can wreck havoc with profit/loss. There is no easy answer here.
  7. Wish we could ship them out rain. Been raining for two days straight here. When the rains come (and California tends to be either drought or monsoon) the freshly burned hillsides will become slide zones. More trouble.
  8. OMG. If Amtrak were to (be able to) consider federal payments as income, Amtrak as a corporation would be showing a PROFIT (or at least break even). That would just not do. There would be no controversy for anti rail flamers and pro rail foamer to get riled up about. Some congresscritters and think tankers just cannot allow themselves to be ignored.
  9. I like to bring some of my own bottled water and snacks. Also I tend to pack a meal or two worth of food in the unlikely event the train is seriously delayed (to have as an option when Amtrak breaks out the "Dinty Moore Stew"). Having very basic tools have come in handy (above mentioned gaffers tape, phillips/flat screwdriver, small adjustable wrench, pocket knife). Bring reading material and a deck of cards, cell service will be spotty and wi-fi a miracle. Have fun.
  10. Karl1459

    To be or not to be: Amtrak A/C Edition

    Two (off the wall) suggestions. First, become a volunteer firefighter. You will become accustomed to working at any and all hours and functioning with your sleep patterns upended. Not railroading but you can find out if you can handle irregular schedules. Not to mention emergency medical and emergency situation management experience. Some of the very best volunteer departments provide EXCELLENT leadership training. Second, consider a stint in the military. Besides the obvious benefits of learning how to be a cog in a huge bureaucratic machine Amtrak advertises it gives preference to veterans. Then there is the leadership training and positive life experiences you can get only in the military. Also, in general, your stated desires as to "hands dirty" and not being tied in an office all day suggests to me that you would be a better fit for a small to very small company. For railroading you may try to first try to get on with a short line rather than one of the big 6 freights or the big A.
  11. It seems to me that Senator Manchin is being very conservative rather than liberal as a democrat should be, in the sense that his proposal avoids change (keep the status quo). (Yes, it creates an unfunded mandate which is a very liberal democrat thing, as well as a republican thing... but don't let facts get in the way of a good story). If Sen M wishes to mandate Amtrak employee warm body stations agents, then Congress should fund them as a separate budget line item with Amtrak only being charged the value (as opposed to cost) of their service. At the same time Amtrak needs to explore, and have the freedom from legacy union contracts and congressional mandates, alternate ways to provide human staffing. What comes to mind is contracting. For example the Izaac Walton Inn in Essex Montana could easily have their desk clerk act as an Amtrak agent... even be a baggage clerk as they meet the train with their van anyway. Sandpoint, in theory, might have the Best Western Inn do a similar service. Or allow local government (State, County, City, etc) to be the agent, and then the government provides the employees (which could be volunteers to the government as far as anyone should care). One mandate that should happen, is that a person boarding at an unstaffed station, should be able to pay for pre-reserved tickets on the train without penalty and be assisted with any reasonable (enter definition debate here) baggage. As to charter and PV moves, Congress needs to make rules that apply to the entire system contingent on funding availability for equipment and manpower to enable that, and any costs not recovered from fees need to be a budget line item separate from general Amtrak support.
  12. Or as the graffiti artist noted: "WE CAN HANDLE IT" "and handle it" "and handle it" "and handle it" "and handle it" "and handle it"
  13. Karl1459

    Amtrak/Camping Sites

    Whitefish Lake has a campground just a few miles north of Whitefish MT, Cab/Uber/Lyft or bicycle should be easy. Chemult Oregon is a wide spot in the back country, a couple mile hike puts you into Forest Service land where barring fire closures you should be able to dry camp.
  14. These incidents point out to infrastructure consequences. First (good), Frequent service on the SJ has the likelyhood of a trainset available on both sides of an incident. Second (good), Having the alternate mode available (buses on contract) allows a quick response for a bus bridge. Third (bad), single track can easily be disrupted. Double track less so. Separated double track (ie what the Erie built across Indiana years ago with tracks 100 foot apart to avoid a derailment fouling the other main) even more resilient. Fourth (bad), At grade highway crossings. Too many auto/truck type drivers ignore the "law of lugnuts". Separation solves most of this (not all, refer to the darwin awards).
  15. I have traveled Christmas on the CS a couple of times, and Christmas Eve on the EB (ESM-PDX) once. Christmas day: light load, no freight trains (UP and BNSF try to terminate all trains on Dec 24 and not restart until Dec 26 out of respect for their employees families). Christmas Eve (and the 26th): Full Trains! Any decorations are what a passenger brings or what generic holiday stuff an individual Amtrak employee cares to put out. Because Amtrak if federally funded, and the US has a pretty strict separation of religion from government, Amtrak is very limited as to what it can do. Holiday season decor is kinda OK, explicit official celebration of Christ is verboten (passengers can in their personal area, freedom of speech). The UK (and Canada by extension) have the Church of England as the Official Church so they are only limited to what the Church frowns on. Which is really the most civilized is a discussion that should be reserved for good friends who will still be good friends after a spirited discussion lubricated with lots of good beer.
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