12 June 2013
Streamliner Train "City of Denver"
The City of Denver train - Jun 1936 Photographer unknown - Denver Post.
Denver Colorado USA - Twenty thousand people packed Union
Station to see the new City of Denver passenger train in 1936.
It was one of Union Pacific's elite fleet of streamliners and the last word in modern travel luxury.
The gangway for the Union Pacific's sovereign of the rails - 15 Jun 1936 Photographer unknown - Denver Post.
In direct competition with the Burlington Zephyr, the City of Denver cut travel time between Denver and Chicago to 16 hours.
When it arrived at Union Station on 15 Jun 1936, its red and gold engine pulled four sleeping cars, an observation lounge, two day coaches, a dining-cocktail
lounge car, and the Frontier Shack car, which was a replica of pioneer taverns in Colorado mining towns.
The Frontier Shack car on the City of Denver - 3 Jun 1941 Photographer unknown - Denver Post.
The streamliner was formally dedicated three days later, on 18 Jun 1936.
Governor Ed Johnson and Mayor Benjamin Stapleton gave speeches.
The governor's daughter, Grace, proudly broke a bottle of champagne on the engine while intoning, "I christen thee the City of Denver".
KOA radio station picked up the ceremonies and broadcast them over the NBC network from coast to coast.
Following the ceremonies, passengers streamed aboard filling every one of the 182 seats in the sleeping cars and coaches for the maiden trip.
Dining and cocktail lounge car on the City of Denver - Date/Photographer unknown - Denver Post.
10 June 2013
TCDD to Assist
Ethiopian Railways Corporation
A railway yard in Addis Ababa - 1994 Jos Veerkamp.
Addis Ababa Ethiopia - The Turkish State Railways (TCDD) has
agreed to assist Ethiopia in technology transfer, restructuring its railways system, and to give training to its personnel.
Ethiopia has asked for assistance from TCDD via the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) in order to reactivate its railways between the capital
Addis Ababa and Djibouti, which has been stopped since 1997.
In a meeting held at TIKA's office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the TCDD and Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) has agreed on cooperation on numerous
According to the agreement, TCDD will prepare operational regulations, help in ERC's structuring, and give technical support in railway building, supervision,
observation, projects, and agreement, give training to the personnel, and build capacity for human resources, give technical support in transfer of
technology, and share knowledge and experience in the administration of immovables.
The TCDD had sent a panel of experts to Ethiopia in April 2013 upon the request of ERC, for assessment.
Officials from the Ethiopian railway will be in Turkey between 10 and 14 Jun 2013 to visit the high-speed train lines of the Marmaray project.
12 June 2013
Thomas the Tank Engine at Strasburg
Thomas the Tank Engine pulls Strasburg coaches through cornfield country - Jun 2010 Chris Muller.
Strasburg Pennsylvania USA - This weekend, a trip to check out
the train activities in Strasburg can be a trip to a railroading fantasy world. From 15-23 Jun 2013, the Strasburg Railroad will be presenting "Day Out
With Thomas, the Go Go Thomas Tour 2013."
Children of all ages love Thomas the Tank Engine. And, Thomas the Tank Engine loves them back, especially during his special visits to the Strasburg
Every year, the steam locomotive named Thomas makes several visits to Lancaster County where he entertains enthusiastic children and their parents. The
locomotive, which has its own PBS television series, will return to Strasburg this weekend and will stick around for awhile.
For nine days in June, and for nine days in September (14-22 Sep 2013), and three in November (22-24 Nov 2013), the Strasburg Railroad will be the temporary
home for the train with bright eyes and a wide smile.
Fans will be able to get up-close and personal with Thomas the Tank Engine, a full-sized operating steam locomotive. And, they will also be able to ride a
train pulled by Thomas, and meet the locomotive's buddy Sir Topham Hatt.
A ticket for "Day Out With Thomas" includes the train ride with Thomas the Tank Engine, as well as a variety of Thomas & Friends themed
entertainment such as storytelling, video viewing, temporary tattoos of Island of Sodor friends, and an Imagination Station.
For more than 50 years, Thomas the Tank Engine and his Island of Sodor friends have been favorites of pre-schoolers and their parents. Based on "The
Railway Series" (classic stories authored by a father who loved trains and wanted a shared experience with his son), "Thomas & Friends" has
evolved into a rite of passage that inspires imagination.
11 June 2013
Prague's Former Railway Station
Might Turn Into Shoa Memorial
The Prague-Bubny railway station - Date unknown Michael Taylor.
Prague Czech Republic - The old, unused
railway station in Prague-Bubny, from which Jewish death transports departed during World War II, may turn into a site of remembrance of local Jews' wartime
fate, a project promoted by the Shoah Memorial organisation that plans its first public presentation on Tuesday.
The Shoah Memorial has prepared an exhibition in the Bubny station's departure hall, along with a complementary programme highlighting the
Almost 50,000 people were deported to death from the railway station during the war.
The Bubny station complex has not been used as a railway station for many years and it is only by lucky coincidence that it has not succumbed to developers'
expansion so far, Shoah Memorial representatives said.
The exhibition to open on Tuesday is named Kaddish, after the Old Testament prayer for the dead.
Kadish is also a sculpture by Ales Vesely, which was to be installed in front of the departure hall, but it could not be brought in due to the recent
devastating floods, one of the organisers, Tomas Stanek, told CTK.
The Bubny complex is situated close to the Vltava River that swelled dangerously a week ago and it has been only slowly subsiding in the past
The exhibition, to run through 18 Jun 2013, will be accompanied by concerts, educational projects, discussions, and meeting with surviving
The railway station hall will be arranged in the style of the early 1940s when the Jewish transports were departing from Bubny, including period train
timetables, tickets, and newspapers, and also fragments of photo portraits of those who were deported and never returned.
The exhibition will also acquaint the visitors with the Shoah Memorial's plan to turn the departures hall into a museum.
12 June 2013
Hitachi to Build Vietnam's
First Urban Railway
A Japanese built Javelin train - Date/Photographer unknown.
Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam - Vietnam will have its first urban
railway in Ho Chi Minh City with Hitachi Ltd. to oversee the project.
The railway system, running 20 kilometres, will connect the northeastern and central part of the capital.
The project will cost 37 billion yen and will be provided by Japan through a yen-based loan as part of its development assistance to Vietnam.
The Chiyoda-based conglomerate won the bid of railway construction in Vietnam against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Toshiba Corporation.
The billion-yen comprehensive railway project is not limited to train-car construction, as part of the Hitachi contract includes making communication systems
and other operational needs of a railway network.
Vietnam can expect to have the railway operations begin in 2018.
The Vietnamese Cabinet initially aimed to follow Japan's bullet train, or Shinkansen, system in 2010.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is also involved in the proposed high-speed train construction in the Philippines, was appointed to
assess the feasibility of the project.
However, the plan was finally dropped in May this year when the Vietnamese government opted to have a slower railway instead of a bullet-train to cut
The Shinkansen would cost Vietnam about 5 trillion yen.
The country's decision also placed Japan in tough competition with China and Korea, both expected to place bids for slower railway construction.
6 June 2013
Full Steam Ahead
Alaska Railroad number 557 - Date/Photographer unknown.
Anchorage Alaska USA - In December 1944, Alaska was doing its
part to prepare for World War II. Among 11 others, Baldwin Locomotive Works steam engine 70480, US 3523, arrived in Alaska to be pressed into service as
Alaska Railroad Number 557.
Steam engines were more utilitarian than the more common diesel traction locomotives, which didn't fare well, especially in the frequently flooded Tanana and
Nenana valleys. Number 557 served in Alaska until 1964 when it was retired, after having been converted from a coal fired engine to an oil burner in 1954 as
diesel locomotives became the workhorse pullers throughout the state.
For you beer-drinking train buffs out there, here's a bit of technical detail. Number 557 was a S-160 Class Consolidation 2-8-0 known as a GI Consolidation but
more fondly remembered as a Gypsy Rose Lee Locomotive. Number 557 was "stripped down for action," which was the case for most of the locomotives in
the class, but in Alaska, additional work was needed. Larger compound air compressors were mounted on the front pilot and steam coils were installed for cab
If you want to know what such a locomotive looks like, you might have already seen one, since sister locomotive Number 556 is a familiar landmark on the Park
Strip at Ninth and E Streets downtown. Don't rush down there to gaze at it if you haven't seen it already, it's currently covered in a special enclosure while
it, too, undergoes some restoration.
Engine 557 was the last steam locomotive in regular service in Alaska. As late as 1962, the Tanana River flooded through Nenana, and Number 557 steamed north
through the high water, which at the time came right up to the engine's firebox. In 1957, Number 557 was sent to spend lonely days in the Whittier Engine House
until 1964, when the engine was sent to Everett, Washington, to be scrapped. Monte Holm bought the engine, for it eventually wound up in Moses Lake at the
Moses Lake Iron and Metal Co.
Fortunately for Alaska, it was never scrapped. There are only five such engines left.
In 2008, the Jansen family bought the engine from Holm and donated it to the Alaska Railroad. Jansen is the director of Lynden Transport and put a lot of work
into having the engine transported back to Alaska where it is in the process of being restored for limited tourism and special events use between Anchorage and
What does this have to do with beer? When Arkose Brewery was setting up shop in 2011 in Palmer behind the Alaska State Fairgrounds, brewer and owner Steve
Gerteisen, a train buff, and his wife June were fascinated with Locomotive Number 5, which sits in front of the Palmer Depot. They contacted the local
Historical Society and were put in touch with Patrick Durand, the president of the Engine 557 Restoration Company. Locomotive Number 5 became the inspiration
for Arkose's Boxcar Porter and the engine is featured on the beer's logo.
"The Alaska Railroad needed an organization outside of the railroad to fund the restoration project," says Durand. "That's where I came into the
picture." Thinking back to the brewery's inspiration with Engine Number 5, Durand contacted the brewery to see if they might be able to do something to
raise awareness and support for the project.
"Of course we said yes," says June of the concept of brewing a beer centered on Number 557. "Patrick was one of the folks who helped us in the
beginning when we were researching the train at the Palmer Depot. Stephen loves trains so it's a perfect fit."
The tentatively named "557 Ale" was brewed on Monday, 30 May 2013. "It will be a blonde ale," says June. "We're still refining the
final name, but it will have 557 in it for sure. We also plan to brew a 557 Stout in the fall/winter."
I wondered about the historical aspect of beer on trains in Alaska. One thing I'm familiar with is jumping on board the annual Alaska Railroad Oktoberfest Beer
Train every year and taking the four and a half hour round trip to Portage and back while sipping suds and rolling through the spectacular fall scenery. Durand
doesn't know much more, never having focused on the beer aspect of Alaska railroad history.
"I have to tell you that the truth is I'm not much of a beer lover," admits Durand. "On a really hot day, I can comfortably drink one ice cold
beer and I get full."
But he did add some insight. "Beer on the railroad was discouraged because there were enough people back then that abused it and it was a
"I know that in the early years, they did serve beer in the diners. There was a businessman special train that ran between Anchorage and Fairbanks between
1957 and 1967. It left Anchorage on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and returned. You could get to Fairbanks and back in two days."
This was before regularly scheduled flights began. "Beer was liberally supplied in the diner, although I don't think they had tap beer," says Durand.
I suspected as much and am quite sure there's more to beer's history on Alaska's rail, but if Durand, who is 70, doesn't know about it, who might?
"We plan to have a first tap with 557 at exactly 5:57 p.m. at Arkose Brewery. We plan to donate a portion of the sales to the restoration effort,"
says June. On 29 Jun 2013, the first taste will be available to the public.
"I'll be there and our volunteer crew will be there prepared to chat with folks to discuss the project, donating to it and volunteer opportunities,"
Here's another superb example of local beer supporting a community effort. "The nice thing about beer when it comes to something like this is that there's
an immediacy to it. You can start a beer on a Monday and serve it at the end of the month," says Durand.
I'd suggest taking the railroad up for the Saturday, 29 Jun 2013, event, but the Alaska Railroad doesn't service Palmer, although it used to. Still, this
would be a great reason to fire up your modern day jalopy (or something more historic if you have it) and head to Arkose (650 E. Steel Loop Road) to get a
great taste of Alaska's rich history. Bring some extra cash to throw in the donation jar for the project and some empty growlers to freight some great Arkose
beer back to town.
11 June 2013
MPs to Investigate York's National Railway Museum Funding
The Duchess Of Hamilton in the National Railway Museum at York - 26 Feb 2011 Photographer unknown.
York Yorkshire England United Kingdom - The future of York's
National Railway Museum is going to be examined by a group of MPs.
The Culture Media and Sport Committee says an inquiry into the funding of the Science Museum Group needs to be held as soon as possible, likely before
18 Jul 2013.
John Whittingdale MP, Chair of the Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, said "We are convinced of the importance of the Science Museum Group, which
includes the National Media Museum in Bradford and Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, and of the need for an inquiry into the future and funding of
these museums to be held as soon as possible. The Committee therefore agreed to look into this as soon as time allows".
It comes as the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, has today spoken about the importance of supporting the cultural heritage of Northern England following
news that the National Railway Museum in York may face closure.
The Science Museum Group (SMG), the parent company of the National Railway Museum, as well as the National Media Museum in Bradford, and Manchester's Museum of
Science and Industry, said this week that a further 10 percent cut in the next round of Government spending proposals would leave it with "little
choice" but to close one of the museums.
The Archbishop's comments follow reports underlining the growing economic divide and health inequalities between people living in the North and the South of
England. The Archbishop said that individuals deserved access to decent services regardless of where they lived.
Dr. Sentamu said:
"I was shocked to hear of the cuts that our museums are facing. It is simply incredible that we are now considering cutting back on funding which benefits
the whole community, investment which not only helps to educate future generations, but which also gives them a sense of their cultural heritage and
"I know from my own experience as a local resident, and as an Ambassador for Tourism in York, that the National Railway Museum is one of the leading
attractions in the whole country. It brings great enjoyment and pleasure to people across the age spectrum, as well as contributing greatly to our wellbeing as
a city and the local economy."
"We are not alone in facing such difficulties. In Manchester and Bradford there are proposed cuts to the Museum of Science and Industry and the National
Media Museum, also thriving attractions. We need to recognise that our cultural heritage is an important part of our country's history. A country which forgets
its heritage becomes senile."
"Increasingly it seems there is a growing economic divide between the North and the South. Too often we are seeing communities across the North of England
bearing the brunt of the economic downturn. We need to see a level playing field. Whether we are looking at transport investment, education, employment,
health, or about where our children and grandchildren learn about what made our cities the fantastic places they are today, we need to put wellbeing at the
centre. Everyone deserves the opportunity to blossom and flourish, regardless of where they were born."
"We need to put fairness back at the heart of our policymaking. The Church has a unique role serving the poor and vulnerable at a grassroots level, it is
a privilege to be able to stand with the needy and serve them, but it is also a great tragedy. We need to raise our voices when we see unfairness or
inequality, we need to rediscover the springs of solidarity and together be the change we want to see."
"From my time being Sponsor of the Fairness Commission in York, I know we have great prosperity, but also great poverty in our city. The Foodbank, run by
a local church, has given food parcels to over 1,000 people since November, and two more Foodbanks are due to open in the coming months. We see growing
unemployment and some people not getting a living wage when they do work. 6 out of 10 families living in poverty in the UK have at least one adult in work,
this is about rediscovering fairness and ensuring none are left behind."
"But poverty should not just be measured in what you earn, it should also be measured in your physical, spiritual, and mental wellbeing. Of course, these
things may often go hand in hand, but what we need is a holistic approach to developing and nurturing healthy and cohesive societies."
"When you see museums closing and libraries having to cut staff, you have to ask yourself, who is benefitting from this? Are we happier and healthier as a
society if we become more isolated and less interested in our neighbour and our shared heritage."
"Surely we pay our taxes for a reason. What are our priorities as a nation? I would argue we need to see investment in police if we want safer
communities, investment in doctors and nurses if we want better healthcare, investment in teachers and books if we want better education, and we need to invest
in art and heritage if we want well-rounded, well-informed, citizens that understand their history. It should not be an either-or scenario, it should be about
considering what helps the growth and cohesion of our country, and making that a priority."
"Our decisions about where we go need to be informed and inspired from where we have come from. Let us celebrate the diversity that makes our nation
great, as well as the shared bonds that make us human."
"If we are going to say that museums cannot charge people to come through the door, which is the current Government policy, and to my mind a wonderful
principle we should all want to embrace, then we have to ensure that the grant funding being allocated is fair. Otherwise our great libraries of learning will
be lost forever."
12 June 2013
The Vernon Born Inventor and His Camel
The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum holds the recently restored Camel locomotive number 305 designed and built by Ross Winans -
Baltimore Maryland USA - Different people make different
pilgrimages, and for different reasons. Some go to Lourdes, or Mecca, or the Western Wall. Some go to the Grand Canyon, or Gettysburg, or Omaha Beach. And some
go to Space Mountain, Rockefeller Center, or Graceland.
Me, being a history dork, went on a pilgrimage to 901 West Pratt Street, Baltimore, Maryland. And yes, I had waited years, decades actually, to get here. I was
I entered the soaring, cathedral-like space with a sense of awe and reverence. And there, in the center of everything, it stood, the object of my journey of
veneration: the Winans number 305 Camel. "Sigh" I had finally made it to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum.
O.K., I need to explain myself. Back in the Revolutionary War days, Vernon's main tavern was owned by William Winans (it stood where Burger King is now, and
was replaced by it.) In 1793, Winans and his wife Mary had a baby son, whom they named Ross. A Vernon innkeeper's son, Ross Winans would go on to change the
As a local boy, he grew up around horses and ploughs, and soon demonstrated a knack for tinkering and improving mechanical devices. In 1820 he married Julia
DeKay, of the locally prominent DeKay family, and started a family. And he soon became fascinated by the new technology of railroads, the high-tech of the
After his father sold the tavern in 1827, they moved a few doors up to the old Vibbert House, commonly called "The Sea Captain's House" (now home to
Amare Consignment Boutique.) It was in the attic of this house, around 1828, that Ross Winans built a 125-pound scale model railroad demonstrating new and
unique design elements, including a swiveling carriage for railroad car wheels he called a "bogie."
But Vernon was no place to be if you wanted to make a name in the new field of railroads. And so in 1830 Ross moved to the place to be: Baltimore,
specifically, to Mount Claire, headquarters of the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad, one of America's very first.
The catalogue of innovations and new ideas that Ross brought to the rapidly changing field of locomotive engineering is a long one. Perhaps his most prominent
achievement is the one he first experimented with back in Vernon: the "bogie", a pivoting car or "truck" of four wheels, with special
bearings, for railroad cars. This allowed long railroads cars to maneuver significant curves, which had been a problem before this point (because before this,
railroad car wheels were normally rigid, and didn't swivel). It's the design you see on railroad cars to this very day, and it was patented by Ross Winans in
One of his other major contributions, the one I came to visit on my pilgrimage, was a new type of locomotive. In the 1840s, Winans had experimented with
building a new style of engine that burned coal instead of wood (which required a larger firebox), and that had four sets of drive wheels and the engineer's
cab up front, instead of in the rear, as was common. They were very different from the old-time steam locomotives we are used to seeing. They called this the
"Muddigger" and what it lacked in beauty it made up for in sheer pulling power.
Winans modified the design in 1848, putting the engineer's cab right on top of, and in the center of, the boiler. This put virtually all the engine's weight
squarely on its four sets of drive wheels. Somebody in the shops joked that with its cab on top in the center, it looked like a one-humped dromedary camel.
With that, they named that first engine the "Camel," and the name stuck. Henceforth they were the Winans Camel Locomotives.
This very unusual locomotive design had two distinct advantages. First,it had enormous traction, it could pull roughly twice as much as any other engine its
size, obviously a major plus. And since the engineer's cab was on top, he had an excellent view to operate by, which was another plus.
The disadvantages? The fireman (the guy that shovels coal into the firebox) was no longer comfortably housed with the engineer in the same cab, but had to
stand on a platform near the coal tender to do his shoveling, exposed to the wind, snow, rain, etc. As for the engineer, he had his nice cab, but since it sat
atop the main boiler for the locomotive, he was typically as hot as a boiled lobster. And if the boiler were, by chance, to explode, well, survival chances
went from small to zero. And needless to say, the engineer and the fireman had to shout pretty loud to communicate with each other.
Despite these shortcomings, the Winans Camel Locomotives' strengths made it a rather popular early design, preferred by lines where pure pulling power was
favored over speed. Slow but strong, the Camels were used to haul coal, iron, and other heavy freight, often up steep grades and on mountain railroad lines.
The early versions had four sets of drive wheels (eight total) with no leading or trailing wheels, which is called an 0-8-0 in railroad terminology. Later they
developed a 4-6-0 version of the Camel for passenger service.
Ross Winans built and sold his Camel locomotives in his own shops in Baltimore, and from 1848 until 1860 he sold over 300 of them to dozens of different
railroads, the B&O being his main customer. They cost about US$10,000 apiece back then, adjusted for inflation, about a quarter million US dollars each.
That means in todays dollars, Ross sold about US$75 million worth of locomotives in twelve years. And that's not counting all the other rolling stock, car
fittings, etc., that his shops produced and sold. Not bad for a Vernon boy.
The later years of the Ross Winans story are no less remarkable, he turned his locomotive business over to his sons, who got the contract from Czar Nicholas I
of Russia to build that country's first railroad, from Moscow to St. Petersburg. It made the family even wealthier, and they were soon marrying into European
nobility and building homes in Newport, Rhode Island.
Meanwhile, Ross busied himself with a variety of endeavors building odd, cigar-shaped steamships, promoting charitable causes, developing a steam-powered
machine gun, and writing religious tracts. He was nothing if not a uniquely omnivorous intellect. He seems to have kept touch with his many relatives in
Vernon, and owned property here over the years, though he always lived in Baltimre. He died there in 1877 with a fortune estimated at between US$20 and US$40
million dollars, that's 1877 dollars. Think around a half-billion today.
As for the Winans Camels, they were built through the 1870s, and remained in common use through the 1890s. In later years, another locomotive design, called
the "Camelback," incorporated some of the elements of the Winans Camel, but basically it was a different engine.
The Winans Camel that is enshrined in the B&O Railroad Museum today was built in 1873 on the 4-6-0 pattern, and assigned number 305. It has a curb weight
of 129,000 pounds, and could routinely and easily haul 160 tons up steep rail grades, about the same as eight fully loaded tractor-trailers.
The B&O Railroad was unusual in one way, mindful of its own history as America's first railroad, it kept one of each type of locomotive it ever owned.
These now form the bulk of the B&O Railroad Museum collection, over 250 locomotives and pieces of rolling stock, the best of which are housed in a
spectacular roundhouse the B&O built in 1884.
The number 305 Camel on display was the example the B&O kept for its "archives", so to speak, one of only two original surviving
"Camel" locomotives. By the 1890s it was a kind of travelling ambassador of rail history. It was displayed at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition
in Chicago. By this time it had been repainted and renumbered as number 217.
In 1927, for the centennial of its creation, the B&O put on a huge spectacular of live steam engines, exhibiting changing technology over time. It was
called "The Fair of the Iron Horse", and the Winans Camel was a featured engine. The locomotive went on to be displayed at both the 1933-1934 Chicago
World's Fair and at a revival of "The Fair of the Iron Horse" at the New York 1939 World's Fair.
In later years, the Winans Camel was kept on display in the historic 1884 roundhouse that forms the nucleus of the B&O Railroad Museum. This spectacular
building was where the B&O kept its showpieces, twenty-two beautifully restored and preserved examples of America's most important early locomotives and
It was, quite literally the cream of the crop, containing the finest examples of early American railroad history. Which made the events of President's Day,
17 Feb 2003 all the more horrifying. A massive snowstorm dumped historic-sized drifts on the building's 115-year-old roof, and near midnight, it started to
By daylight, half of the roundhouse's roof had collapsed onto the historic locomotives and rail cars below, smashing and damaging them. Amidst this
inconceivable wreckage sat the 133-year-old Winans Camel. Badly damaged, it fared better than several historic rail cars, which were too thoroughly destroyed
to be restored.
In 2011, after years of costly restoration, the Winans Camel was returned to the B&O Museum. It has been returned to its original factory colors, as well
as its original number 305. Having wanted to see it for something like 20 years, and having read about the travails of both the museum and its locomotives, my
long-awaited visit to the B&O did not disappoint.
It is the most jaw-dropping collection of early locomotives I've ever seen, and the number 305 Winans Camel is nothing less than spectacular. It's a unique
piece of American railroad history, brought to you by Ross Winans, a son of Vernon.
10 June 2013
London-Tokyo Train Route
Plans Laid Down
Somewhere on the Trans-Siberian Railway - Date/Photographer unknown.
Tokyo Japan - It has always been a train lover's dream to
board a train in England, go into Europe and deep into Siberia travelling into the Far East, alighting from the same train somewhere in urban Tokyo. This dream
is now set to become reality, as transportation officials from Russia and Japan met last week to finalize the details of the cooperation between the two
previously disputing nations, making this railway fantasy a distinct possibility in the future.
As the railroad routes from England into Europe are pretty much set in place, the difficult part of the plan involves extending the existing Trans-Siberian
Railway into Japan. The plan calls for a bridge from the Russian mainland to the island of Sakhalin, where the new train route will continue south across the
island directly to a 25-mile underwater tunnel that Japan will build under the Soya Strait, taking the train onto Japanese territory, thus making possible a
two-week London-to-Tokyo train journey. But this train travel dream is not only for posterity or for the sake of making things possible, officials from both
Japan and Russia are hoping that this will actually enhance trade relations between both nations. "In terms of natural resources, this rail link would be
a very positive development," said Koichi Yamagishi, director of overseas projects at Japan's ministry of transport. "To have direct access to the
Sakhalin 1 and 2 oil and gas projects would be very beneficial," he added, as Japan continues to look for alternative natural gas supplies for its power
This project is by no means a new one, Stalin first envisaged this long-distance train route in the 1950s. The plan was abandoned upon Stalin's death in 1953,
but now, almost 60 years later, Russian president Vladimir Putin is bent on reviving the idea. "It is also possible to connect our railways directly with
Japan by a tunnel," Putin said in 2011. "It is a grand project that will drastically improve our efficiency of physical distribution," he added.
This project has never been pushed that far forward, as the territorial dispute between Japan and Russia over the sovereignty of the Kuril Islands, which Japan
calls the Northern Territories, simmered on. There are indications, however, that both countries are now keen to improve their ties, starting with a meeting
between Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Putin recently. Japan partly motivated by a need to access Russian supplies of natural gas, as its nuclear reactors
remain idle after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011. The first phase of the Russian plan for the railway is set to break ground in 2016, with no date for
completion made public as of the moment. The total cost of the project is estimated at US$9.75 billion.