RE: O/T: And Now You Know

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It may be concrete ties are coming down in life cycle cost enough that their advantages over wood ties are worth the investment, or the UP is planning for possible higher speed rail. Train speeds much over highway speeds (70 in many places, 75 in others) require the use of concrete ties. This is just speculation on my part, and maybe a bit of hope.
Sure would be nice to have another option for those trips where another state is just in the way. (IL to OK has MO in the way. I44 in MO is interesting, though.)
Puckdropper
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Puckdropper <puckdropper(at)yahoo(dot)com> wrote in

As I noted earlier, concrete ties have been the norm for mainlines for the last 20 years or so. With a heavily used track, the rail cuts into wood ties and they have to be replaced every couple of years. The counterpart to that is that concrete ties are very stiff, so the subroadbed has to be built very strong, so that the ties don't flex at all. For a less-used secondary line, it makes more sense to put less money into the roadbed, and use wood ties which will flex without cracking.

No, you can use wood or concrete at any speed. It's the weight and number of trains that makes a difference, not the speed (speed limit for freight trains is 69mph, for passenger 79mph except for a handful of "high speed" lines. As you might guess by the weird numbers, those are set by the Federal government).

With airline seats being designed for 12 year old children, yeah, having an adult alternative would certainly be nice :-)
John
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Yes! Boy, was that a surprise the first time I went that way. Who'd expect to find a volcano in the middle of New Mexico? But definately very much worth stopping and taking the walk up to the top.
(that's actually US87...north out of Amarillo, take a left at Dumas (and swear at the traffic light), thru Dalhart, Texline, Clayton, Capulin, and eventually Raton. As a Southern boy, it always surprises me to be going thru cotton fields up that way).
John
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On 12/28/2014 4:30 PM, John McCoy wrote:

Good...just thought I'd mention it as being worth the stop if you had always just driven on by...

87/64 run together from Clayton to Raton. 64 then goes back south and west on over to Cimarron while 87 follows I25 north. Since we are used to 64 in OK far more than 87, that's the nomenclature we think of it as... :)
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On 12/29/2014 8:57 AM, dpb wrote: ...

Re-reading earlier posting I see I did flip 56 and 64, though...56 goes on to Springer while 64 goes northwest to Raton from Clayton...
Sometime if you have the time to take another hour or so driving time and it's been a good year moisture-wise, try taking NM 72 east out of Raton and just follow it along the Johnson Mesa/Plateau. It'll end up taking you to Folsom and then you can take 456 (caution, it's got about 20 mi of gravel road/track; avoid on a rainy day) along the Black Mesa and end up in Boise City or go on south there and come back to 64/87 at Des Moines just east of Capulin. Gorgeous country with miles you'll see nary a telephone post, even.
We came back from Santa Fe by the long route a few years ago in August after a wet year and it was as pretty a drive as I've ever taken...looked more like the KS Flint Hills country instead of NM that year.
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While that's true from a physics standpoint, I believe it's also a government requirement that higher speeds be done only on concrete ties. It's been a while since I came across it, but speeds above something like 100 mph required concrete ties and full grade separation.
Excuse the delay... I had to go watch a train. :-)
The explanation I read years ago about the speeds were based on highway speeds + 15 mph, which is considered the threshold for wreckless driving in some states. 65 + 15 = 80, minus 1 is 79. (Thus "safe". ha ha ha)
*snip*
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On 12/28/2014 4:54 PM, Puckdropper wrote:

That's really confusing to me, Puckdropper. I would think that the faster you go, the less chance you have of being "wreckless." Hell, I see the way some of these idiots drive at less than 20 miles per hour and they STILL have wrecks. They'd be reckless if they were parked in a garage.<g> (sorry, couldn't resist!"
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Puckdropper <puckdropper(at)yahoo(dot)com> wrote in

Hmm, not sure if that's a FRA requirement or not - it's been a while since I was involved with that stuff, and there's two different things the government calls "high speed" (one being anything over the normal 79mph limit, and the other being Acela style 150mph speeds) which have different rules.
Definately all forms of high speed require enhanced signalling and grade crossing control, with Acela speeds needing grade seperation. And now, of course, PTC will be required.
As a practical matter, you'd use concrete ties, whether required by regulation or not.

In the case of trains it's because the Federal regs use the phrase "less than". Passenger trains must operate at less than 80mph. So the railroads, logically enough, set 79mph as the speed limit. In cases where the Fed rules don't apply, they use multiples of 5 like everyone else.
John
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Those overlapping route numbers are a pain...at least on a paper map they print them both, I dunno how people that depend on Google Maps and the like survive, because they often only show one. (worst is in NC where I-74 overlaps with US74, something the designers of the Interstate system specifically set things up to avoid, but apparently the NC DOT didn't read the manual).

Noted. I hope some day to be able to spend more time out there just looking around...I'd like to take US60 across thru Clovis and Belen and then look around Albuquerque. Was out there on business years ago and couldn't make any time for sightseeing...
John
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On 12/29/2014 5:32 PM, John McCoy wrote:
...

Never taken it but interesting you mention NC as we were in VA/TN for 30+ yr before returning to family farm so all the kids grew up back there; only the eldset, the elder son was born before we left school in KS. He is in Raleigh so been over there a fair amount. US 64 meanders all across the country and ends up its eastern terminus on Roanoke Island...
Spent quite a lot of time w/ Duke Power as started w/ the reactor vendor for the Oconee station and was there for startup of Unit 1 then went the consulting gig but continued to work for the B&W owners utilities for years afterwards before eventually drifting over to mostly fossil as nuclear work became more competitive and tiring to deal with the increasing bureaucracy burdens...
...

Just out of curiosity, where in S TX are you starting from??? Possible to suggest other touring guidelines, perhaps knowing starting point... :)
Mother's side of family settled in "The Valley" in the '30s around McAllen/Pharr. Still have family on that home place and scattered from there northwards. Don't get down there much; last and farthest we made was a reunion in Bay City in fall of '98 while were still in TN.
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I hear you on the regulatory burden - altho in fairness, the scale of the problem when things go wrong with nuclear does justify an excess of caution.
On the fossil side, I recall Duke being noteworthy for the high efficiency of their powerplants back in the early 80s. Dunno if that's still the case, or if everyone else has caught up.

I'm actually starting from the pointy end of Florida (Ft Lauderdale) :-)
I have family in Austin, and family in Ft Collins, and every so often I take I long vacation and drive to both. There's still a lot of alternative routes for sightseeing out west (I've pretty much worn out all the alternatives in Fla).
John
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On 12/31/2014 7:25 AM, John McCoy wrote: ...

It really was not so much the nuclear safety that was the problem, it was the increased security practices and layers of duplication (even before 9/11) that just made trying to work such a pita, especially for offsite contractors it just became to be more trouble than it was worth in my view when there was as stimulating work in the fossil side where all one had to do was walk in once had site clearance...

It's mostly related to how old the plants actually are...at one time the top-ranked plant by heat rate almost annually was TVA Bull Run owing to it being one of the few super-critical cycles plants out there. It does take a committed operations staff to make them run at or near their peak, of course, so the utility mentality and particular plant manager/operations staff do make a difference. But, Bull Run is an early-60s plant so now it's down in the pack a ways.
In 2014, Duke had two of the top five (albeit they were 4 and 5)...
<http://www.power-eng.com/articles/slideshow/2014/08/top-5-u-s-coal-plant-heat-rates.html#pgtwo
...

...
Ewww...that _is_ a fur trek...at least you do have the intermediary wayside point in Austin. At least in our case until the kids were out of high school both sets of grandparents were in the same place so one trip made it to both. In doing that for 30+ yrs, we covered about all possible routes as well, even those that on occasion went down through AL and (once) as far north as Chicago (on that occasion was a side trip to a cousin's place for a special event they were having plus a stop at the younger son's place in N KY just across river from Cincinnati).
I suppose we should probably bring this to a close...enjoyed the chat... :) Still puzzling over what I _think_ I recall about the rail lines out there in E CO but I have to admit it's been a while and mayhaps I'm placing things somewhat incorrectly...maybe by the time see the coal trains we are already up to Kit Carson???? Oh well...
It's turned cold here so am trying to finish up year-end books and not doing anything can avoid outside...was 3 F this AM; at all the way to 6 now--at least wind has let up. Got a snow covering over the wheat so that is _a_good_thing_ (tm) ... but this is a diversion when tired of what should be doing... :)
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On 12/31/2014 7:25 AM, John McCoy wrote:

It didn't work since Aunt brought home what she wanted as well.
I'd send him home with 40 or 50 pounds - but my trees that were cut were always small. He wanted 24-36" diameters. He turned Hats!
Martin
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snipped-for-privacy@wizardanswers.com wrote in

My perception of California and the fault line has been ruined by the Superman movie. I just can't think of the two together without thinking about all the land in New Mexico and Arizona I should be buying. ;-)
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"Leon" wrote:

Since the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach is the largest port of entry into the USA, the answer would be almost anything found on the shelves of the big box stores.
What is amazing is to see one of those unit trains heading east out across the California desert.
I'm guessing that those trains are at least a half mile long.
They are visible from several miles and almost give the appearance of being a model train layout.
After that, it would be the food grown in the central valley headed east to the markets.
Lew
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I bet that is a site to see.. I have seen long line trains in the middle of nowhere in west Texas and probably 100 car plus trains making round trip journeys hauling coal from Wyoming to a coal fired electric plant just SW of Houston.
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9,000 to 10,000 feet would be typical for a train on the western railroads. If it's bulk, like coal, 10,000 tons; if it's cans (intermodal containers) maybe 6,000 tons or less.
And yes, when you see one of those double-stack container trains in open country like the desert, it looks like the Great Wall of China moving across the landscape.
John
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On 12/25/2014 8:09 AM, John McCoy wrote:

and on north as needed. I don't live very close, but want to say we have 8 every 24 hours. Many petrochemical and containers.
Martin
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100-car trains (mostly container an car transporter) aren't uncommon around here (Atlanta) at all. I'd guess the average is 80ish (I often count when I'm waiting for one). Long trains make money.
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On 12/25/2014 9:48 AM, snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote: ...

We're on mainline of UP and they run 'em as long as they have necessary siding space for...at the moment they're averaging 18 long-route thru trains daily...making for a lot of time at the crossing on main street; fortunately they did build one overpass on east side of town a number of years ago when rerouted the NS highway around town...
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