Category Archives: Trains

The “Beacon Line” In Miniature


Rolls of newsprint are loaded off the dock at the Smith Street rail yard in David Todd Magill’s basement display.

The Poughkeepsie Journal on January 2018 published a great article:

Engineer railroad lover rebuilds Poughkeepsie’s past – in miniature

As trains pass through the Poughkeepsie Train Station on their way to the next destination, their sonorous chimes echo across the city. For longtime residents of the area, the railroads that border the Hudson River are as integral to the Hudson Valley as the waterway itself.

It was the local locomotive industry that drew David Todd Magill to his model train passion. As a child growing up in Poughkeepsie, Magill first fell in love with trains at the age of 4.

Starting young: David Todd Magill is show in 1977 at the Smith Street yard in Poughkeepsie in this photo taken by his grandfather.

The railroad yard, where freight trains dropped off newsprint for the Poughkeepsie Journal, was just a short walk away from Magill’s grandparents’ house on that same street. During visits there, the railroad crew would let him sit in the train cars.

A model freight train on its way to Maybrook is shown heading into Poughkeepsie in David Todd Magill’s basement display.

“That was the first place I got a ride on a locomotive,” he said.

Around the time of that first ride, he received his first electric train set and began building model trains from kits. He stuck with the hobby throughout high school, often toting home supplies such as plywood and tracks.

A freight train is shown passing under Route 9W in Highland in David Todd Magill’s basement display.

After graduating Poughkeepsie High School in 1991, Magill got a job with the railroad, then known as Conrail, in 1992. It was due largely to his relationships with the staff at the Poughkeepsie Train Station, where he was a frequent visitor.

“When I got out of high school, they made sure I had a job,” he said.

Today, the Selkirk resident works as an engineer for Amtrak and looks forward to celebrating his 27th anniversary as a railroad employee in May. He enjoys his job so much that he incorporates his passion into his downtime as well.

A model freight train heads across the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge in David Todd Magill’s basement display.

For Magill, building model trains is more than just a hobby. It’s a family bonding experience, an opportunity to de-stress and an extension of the career he enjoys.

“It’s therapeutic,” he said.

Whether he’s jamming out to ’70s tunes while building sets or operating the line with friends, he relishes the tranquil beauty of his model world. Between operating mini trains at home and riding around on them for work, Magill is one happy camper.

“I don’t consider my job that I do work because I love what I do,” he said. “It makes getting up and going to work very easy.”

As a railroader for more than 25 years and a model train enthusiast for the majority of his life, Magill has discovered his personal happiness equation. Yet that does not mean he is content to rest on his laurels — he already has plans to expand his setup.

“I’m planning on doing a second level,” he said.

He hopes to include spots such as Hopewell Junction, Danbury and Clintondale, all of which were significant points on the Maybrook Line. Magill estimates the additions will take him another year or two to complete.

Regardless of how many tweaks he makes, Poughkeepsie and the railroad bridge will remain at the core of it.

“It’s my hometown,” he said.



Finally Something Good From TWITTER!

Agreed, Have never TWEETED much but most everything was “stuff” I was not excited about. Donald Trump, etc.

Short Line and Regional Railroad Facts and Figures Book is NOW available!

This publication is the definitive guide to the Short Line freight rail industry with insightful narrative and supporting graphs, charts and infographics.

Using the results from ASLRRA’s 2016 Member Survey, the report provides an industry overview on the nation’s 603 short line and regional railroads, their impact on the U.S. economy, and key factors in their success.

Known as the “Fact Book”, this publication paints the picture of an American success story, from the industry’s origin as cast-offs of the Class Is, to today’s vibrant, entrepreneurial, customer-focused entities that operate 29% of the U.S. freight rail system, providing the first, or last mile of service for one in five cars moving on the U.S. freight network.

The Fact Book provides information such as:

  • A profile of the short Line and regional railroad industry
  • The evolution of the short Line freight industry
  • Its impact on U.S. economy and society, with a state-by-state view

Charts include:​

  • U.S. Freight Railroad Performance Since Staggers Act
  • Number of Railroads Over Time
  • Short Line Railroad Key Facts
  • Short Line Railroad Miles Operated By Type
  • Network Size of Small Railroads
  • Railroad Ownership by Type
  • Traffic Type
  • Carloads by Commodity
  • Short Line Industry Highlights
  • State-by-State Rail Network Facts
  • State-by-State Impact to Economy
The 36-page soft-copy booklet is available for $25.00 for members, and $50.00 for non-members, including first class postage. Each purchase includes access to a password protected online NxtBook version of the publication.


France aims to have ‘driverless’ high-speed TGV trains by 2023

SNCF will begin testing ‘drone train’ in 2019, though conductors will still be onboard to handle emergencies

from “TheVerge

France’s national railway operator aims to have autonomous high-speed TGV trains running by 2023, according to a report from FranceInfo. The train operator, known by the French acronym SNCF, will begin testing a prototype of its so-called “drone train” in 2019, FranceInfo reports.

 The new TGV train would be equipped with sensors that would allow it to detect obstacles and automatically brake, if necessary. The TGV, which reaches speeds of nearly 200mph, could be remotely piloted, though conductors will remain onboard in the short term to handle emergencies or unexpected events. SNCF President Guillaume Pepy tells Le Figaro that if the project is successful, SNCF would be the first operator in the world to run automated high-speed trains.

In an interview with FranceInfo, Matthieu Chabanel, the adjoint director of SNCF, compared the autonomous train to autopilot systems used in commercial flight. “In airplanes, you always have a driver, fortunately, but you have an automatic steering system,” Chabanel said.

The aim, according to the SNCF, is to increase the speed and frequency of TGV journeys, particularly around Paris, where TGV lines intersect with various local and regional rail lines. The operator believes that the automated system would increase the number of trips between Paris and Lyon by 25 percent.

The SNCF recently announced plans to rebrand its iconic TGV line as “inOui,” in a move that drew widespread criticism and mockery online.

25 Tips When Traveling by Train for Business

Smal Biz Trends from California Rail News

Research the Available Routes

Amtrak has more than 30 train routes that go to and from various locations in the U.S. And in some cases, there may be more than one way for you to get to a particular location, though some are more direct than others. So take a look at the schedule and routes well before you need to actually travel so you can make the best decision.

Look for Deals Online

You can also purchase tickets directly online, as well as by phone and at Amtrak stations. But if you buy online, you can sometimes get access to better deals than you would otherwise. So try to plan ahead and compare prices online.

Buy Separate Tickets for Stop-Offs

Depending on your plans, you might want to take a train to one location, stop for a day or so, then take a train to another location from there. This is absolutely possible. But you do need to buy separate tickets so you can be sure your entire trip is covered.

Use Business Class Lounges

Some train stations offer business class lounges where priority customers can relax and access wifi and comfortable working space. So if you arrive for your trip a bit early, take advantage of those spaces to get some work done while you wait.

Anticipate Delays

While traveling by train can be comfortable and cost effective, it’s not the quickest mode of transportation. And even the scheduled arrival times don’t always come to pass. So don’t schedule a trip if it leaves you arriving just an hour before a bit meeting. It’s best to arrive a little earlier just to be safe.

Get a Rail Pass for Frequent Travel

Amtrak offers a rail pass that can help you save money if you travel frequently. So if you plan on taking trains for business trips multiple times per year, it’s worth looking into as a cost saving measure.

Use Points to Purchase Tickets

You can also sign up for Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program that can help you earn points that you can redeem for future travels. So if you travel by train regularly, it can be worth it to sign up for an account and then use your points for future purchases.

Save Time With Mobile Ticketing

Amtrak also offers mobile apps for Apple, Android and Amazon devices. So you can download the app and use it to purchase and show your tickets. This can help you streamline the entire booking and boarding process.

Be Flexible With Seating Assignments

When you book a trip, you can get your confirmation right away. But Amtrak normally assigns seats once each train is booked before assigning seats. So if you plan on traveling by train, it’s best to be a little flexible about where you sit.

Book Together if Traveling With Colleagues

If you are traveling with others, that means you should book your tickets together so you can ensure you actually get seated together.

Reserve Coach for Economical Travel

There are a few different options when traveling by train. Coach is the most popular and economical option. If you’re taking a relatively short trip and want to save money, this is probably the best option.

Upgrade to Business Class for Meetings, Working Space

However, there is also a business class option. If you want a bit more room and want to be sure you get access to a full desktop and outlets, you can opt for a business class seat instead.

Consider Roomettes When Traveling Overnight

If you’re taking a lengthier trip where you’ll be traveling overnight, you can certainly stick with a coach seat. But if you’re looking for something a little more roomy, you can opt for a roomette. However, most roomettes are made for two. So it’s mainly an option for those traveling with their significant others.

Get a Bedroom for More Comfort

Or you could opt for a private bedroom for even more space and privacy. This option is best if you’re looking for a really comfortable experience when traveling across the country.

Take Advantage of Onboard Wifi

Most trains to offer complimentary wifi on board. So if you’re just looking to browse the internet or send emails when you travel, you can take advantage of that feature.

Use a Hotspot for High Bandwidth Functions

However, the onboard wifi doesn’t include high bandwidth functions like music streaming. So if you need to do anything that requires a stronger connection, it could be worth investing in a personal hotspot.

Remember Your Chargers

Most seats, especially those in business class, also have access to electrical outlets. And there are some in common areas as well. So remember to bring chargers for all your devices so you can stay powered up while you travel.

Check Large Bags

If you’re taking a long trip, you’ll probably bring a decent sized bag, which you can check so that it won’t take up all the space in your seating area.

Keep Essentials With You

However, you can bring a small bag with your most important items like your laptop and any important documents you might need to reference if you’re working while you travel.

Book a Table for Meals

In the food car, you can book a table to ensure that you have seating reserved for all meals. If you’re traveling with others, you can sit at a private table. Or you can allow the staff to sit you with others on board so you can socialize.

Hang Out in the Bar Car

There’s also a bar car on most trains that offers comfortable seating and refreshments to help make your trip more enjoyable.

Head to the Quiet Car to Work

Or if you’re looking to really focus and get some work done in transit, check to see if your train has a quiet car where you can go to work without having to worry about loud distractions around you.

Prepare for Varied Temperatures

No matter where you’re traveling, it’s a good idea to pack some layers in your carry-on bag so you can be prepared for any temperature, since train cars don’t necessarily go along with the outside temperatures.

Take Breaks at Rest Stops

As your train makes its way to your destination, it’s going to make several stops. But not all of them are actually rest stops. Some are just stops where the train is picking up more passengers and then immediately departing. So check the schedule so you can know where it’s safe to get off and stretch your legs a bit.

Map the Trip from Station to Hotel

Many train stations are located in downtown areas. So you can potentially make it to your hotel or meeting spot quickly. But it’s still a good idea to map it out before you get there so you know if it’s possible to walk or if you need a taxi or public transportation.

The 3 Essential Ingredients for Cooking Up Transit That People Want to Ride

Streetsblog USA via California Rail News

Speed. Routes should be direct, instead of cutting labyrinthine paths across a city. Fare payment needs to be fast and easy, via off-board fare collection or tap-and-go entry at every door. Transit can’t get bogged down in traffic, either, so features like dedicated space on the street and priority at traffic lights are needed to keep things moving.
Frequency and Reliability. People won’t ride transit if they can’t depend on it…
Walkability and Accessibility. Transit works best when people can walk to it. That means both concentrating transit in compact, walkable places, and making it easier to walk to transit in places where pedestrian infrastructure is lacking…
On the Dublin buses you can pay your fare with a tap card. Passengers can walk past the farebox next to the driver to tap the card reader and not wait behind cash paying riders to dig out their money.

Indianapolis 500 versus Monte Carlo Grand Prix: Train to the Race

Yes as far as the races: Indianaplis 500 and Monaco Grand Prix; there are a lot of differeces. We won’t try and appear intelligent; let’s conclude they are HUGE spectator events that happen every May.

In 1911, The Peoria & Eastern  Railway will convey about 70,000 to the Indianapolis Speedway.  1963 The Peoria & Eastern runs the last of its “500” specials. The trains are profitable, but do not fit into the company’s long-range plans.

Beginning in 1929, the Grand Prix of Monaco is also a really huge event.  Compare to Monaco F-1 Grand Prix held end of May. SNCF (French National Railways) runs through Monaco over a high speed electrified line from French Riviera to Italy. Most trains are eight car Alstom-manufactured trainsets. Four of these are owned by the Principality of Monaco and painted royal colors of red and white with royal crest. Limited roads into Monaco and very limited parking. Frequent busses run in two and three sections. The course of the race has been modified over the years, but the current route from the beach to the casino used to be a tramway route.

See our WebSite on the Peoria & Eastern Raiway.




BrightLine Testng Trains In State Park

All Aboard Florida’s Brightline is testing its BrightBlue train on a 3-mile stretch of track in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, the company said Thursday.

A Palm Beach Post reporter spotted the train, named for the color of its passenger cars, traveling north near the area of County Line Road in Tequesta Thursday afternoon.

A company official said the park offers a section of track that does not have any rail crossings. The testing plan has been approved by the Federal Railroad Administration, she said.

In recent weeks, Brightline has also tested the BrightBlue train along a 9-mile-stretch of track that runs between Park Place in West Palm Beach and Central Boulevard in Lantana. That section has multiple rail crossings.

Brightline last month launched a safety campaign designed to warn students and those living near the FEC corridor about the dangers of walking along train tracks.

The company has asked cities along the route to help promote the campaign, part of a national program called Operation Lifesaver, which is designed to reduce collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and prevent trespassing on or near railroad tracks.

Brightline has said it will start “pre-season” service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale in late July. Service between West Palm Beach and Miami is expected to begin in August.

A grand opening of the rail project is planned for mid-September, the company has said.