Thursday, April 5, 2012

Trains are running again!

The Jackson tamper was introduced in
the 1950s on the Northern Pacific
Railway and continues in a new role
at the Northwest Railway Museum.
It has been an unusually long winter in the Northwest but spring weather has finally arrived.  Track machines and crews have been working on the railroad and trains are running again between North Bend and Snoqualmie Falls.  Check out this season’s schedule here; regular trains are operating on Saturday and Sunday through the end of October.

Vibrating work heads pack ballast
(rock) under the ties.
There are many aspects to a operating a railroad that are not apparent to the casual observer. Whether historic or contemporary, railroads have a right of way to maintain and it is a significant responsibility that consumes the majority of a railroad's resources. Bridges are "big ticket" items but even the ubiquitous tie (at the Museum there are more than 3,000 per mile) are valued at more than $100 each to purchase and install.  Signals and railroad crossings also require significant resources to inspect and maintain in compliance with Federal regulations.

A hyrail excavator from RailWorks
installs a new stringer in one of the
Museum's bridges.  Each timber is
9 inches x 18 inches and can be over
30 feet long.
Over the winter, volunteer and community work crews changed more than 150 ties and tamped them, performed maintenance along the right of way including brush cutting, and performed annual, periodic and monthly maintenance on signals. Bridges were inspected and bridge maintenance performed. In addition, the locomotives were check out, oiled and fueled.  Coaches had minor repairs and were cleaned. Now the Museum is ready for an estimated 50,000 guests who are expected to ride the railroad this year.  Come up and visit this weekend and take a trip back in time!

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