Rail Operations in the U.S.A.

Presenter: Sholto Thomas

Our first live meeting for 19 months was a presentation on “Rail Operations in the U.S.A.” by Sholto Thomas. Describing many enjoyable trips to the States, Sholto took us on a whistle stop tour of the whole country, looking at passenger operations, freight operations, heritage railways and railways which no longer exist. We saw everyday commuter services, trams (street cars!), Amtrak longer distance, and Acela High Speed trains. An image of two commuter trains at an intersection station, one above the other up in the air over a street was striking. Sholto described the various types of locomotives from both GM-EMD and GE, the latter currently winning the race to build environmentally friendly locomotives. Freight forms the greater majority of rail services in the States. As a consequence of them being very lengthy and very heavy the permanent way, as we would describe it, is incredibly well built, and maintained in fantastic condition. Lengthy double stacker container trains along with coal, oil and grain trains were depicted. Images of heritage traction made us appreciate just how big the UP ‘Big Boys’ really are! We also saw some Shays with their complex drive mechanisms. A certain situation has meant Sholto has been prevented from visiting the US for nearly two years. He is looking forward to the day when he can return.