July 13th, 2015

Go By Train

Private Varnish

I have queued up photos that I've not had a chance to edit and release, including the one below of a passing private railroad car.

Amtrak has been running desperately late much of the last two months. Because a very late arrival in Emeryville means a late departure the next morning (same equipment, same crew; you have to allow enough time to clean/restock the train and to let the crew get their rest), they're stuck in a rut. I'd suggest slowing the schedule down even further, but that probably wouldn't work because they'd just fall behind that one as well, and furthermore when they run as they can run they'd have to "wait on time" a lot, which is almost as annoying.

A few days ago, I heard on the scanner, "Amtrak 5, diverging approach, East Fernley." Now #5, the westbound California Zephyr should come through at about 7:45 AM when on schedule, but this was more than three hours later, which unfortunately is not too bad these days. (There have in fact been days when the westbound has come through after the eastbound, and the latter should pass at 4:45 PM. I've never yet seen the two trains meet each other at Fernley, but it seems to be only a matter of time before it happens.) "Diverging approach" means "slow down, prepared to enter siding." The dispatcher was sending #5 into the siding to meet an opposing train. By necessity, Fernley Siding's speed limit is much slower than the 60 MPH allowed on the main line. This is bad for a train falling progressively farther behind (late trains get later), but good for a photo opportunity.

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Yes, one of our dreams is to own a private railroad car. They're less expensive than you might think, especially compared to Bay Area housing prices. But having a place to store and maintain it, that takes some doing. But if we had the money for the car, we probably would also have the money to pay UP to put in a small spur off the existing Fernley House Tracks and to buy the plot of land where the derelict building (and unlicensed bordello) used to be across the street and to put up a building into which we could store the car. Such a siding would doubtless be much easier than a mainline switch. We'd have to pay BNSF or UP to switch the car down to Sparks to be attached to the Zephyr, but it seems plausible, at least.