Rails & Trails Pages

Sunday, May 15, 2016

C&NW Convention 2016

The annual C&NW Historical Society Convention held its 2016 Convention in Minneapolis on May 12-15.  Another great convention with speakers, bus trips to historical locations, good friends, and lots of food!  Following are pictures of sights we saw on our bus trips.

DAY 1.  First stop was the light rail maintenance facility.  About 120 people on three buses were given the royal treatment.  Our tour guides took us through the entire facility, except the dispatch center, and answered all our questions.  (A couple of weeks earlier, on a tour, someone broke the rules by taking a cell phone picture in the dispatch center and posted it on-line. End of seeing the dispatch center.)

Last year the light rail averaged 31,400 riders daily for a total of 10.6 million on the Blue Line (Mall Of America to Target Field) and 37,400 riders daily for a total of 12.4 million on the Green Line (St. Paul Union Depot to Target Field)

There are 11 revenue consists on the Blue Line and 12 revenue consists on the Green Line.  There are 2 types of cars, Bombardier (17 cars) and Siemens (59 cars).  The Bombardier cars have a 30-year life cycle and they are on year 12.

To be an engineer on the light rail, a person must first be a Metro bus driver.  There are currently 121 engineers (train operators).

The cars run on 750-800 volts direct current.  There are 17 substations on the blue line and 14 on the green line, each about one mile apart.  The power comes in at 4,000 volts, is stepped down to 584 volts, and then rectified back up to a clean 750-800 volts.  This is converted to 3-Phase AC for the propulsion motors.  Three car sets have the first and third powered and the middle one is used for braking.

Here is the storage barn which holds 48 cars.

 We had full access to the shops.

There are lots of mini-turntables for moving the wheel sets:

We even had access to the pits:

These cars have three types different brakes:  engine, disc brakes on wheel and shoe pad against rail.

Here is the paint shop, with automated robotic sprayers.

Unfortunately, the two types of cars are not compatible.  The couplers work so cars can be towed but not used together.  (Different electrical connections)

Another large room has the washers and sanding/fuel facilities.

We got back on the buses and went to Bloomington where Progressive Rail parked an engine and caboose for us to take pictures.

At this location they have a large transload facility.

We drove to 28th Avenue, just north of Mall Of America and rode the light rail down to Target Field.

A few sights along the way.  Here we pass the light rail facility maintenance shop.

And we pass the new Viking Stadium:

At the top of one of the station stops is this neat translucent panel with star constellations.

We pass the Soo Line Building (but didn't stop!)

And we arrive at Target Field.

Back on the buses, we travel to the Milwaukee Road 261 steam engine shop (where we had lunch also).  We had complete access to the shop, pit, and even the cab.

Of special interest to me is the dome car which is owned by the North Shore Scenic Railroad but is having work done by the 261 staff.

Parked at the 261 shop was the BNSF Business Train.  Warren Buffet and Matt Rose were on this train (Buffet wanted to see the steam engine) but they got off earlier to return home for a funeral.

Back to the hotel, the first speaker was Yours Truly!

From this angle, I don't see anyone sleeping!!

Day 2:  Another good bus trip.  We started out by visiting SPUD (St. Paul Union Depot).  I had been here two weeks ago for Laker Rail but this time we had a guided tour.  Here's the front of out of a window of our bus.

Entering the depot, we head to the Head House.

Inside the Head House.

Back into the waiting room, there had been a Prom the previous night so crews were cleaning up but we could go around the outside.

Across the street from the front of the depot is the BN Building.  This was the location of the Great Northern headquarters and the Northern Pacific headquarters.  Interestingly, there was a wall between the two competing (and didn't get along) railroads with only one door on one floor connecting the two.  It was only used for delivery of important messages.  When the two companies merged as part of Burlington Northern, the dividing walls came down!

And just down the right and across the street was the Omaha Railway Building.

Back on the buses, we headed to Randolph, located south of the Twin Cities.  Our first scheduled stop was at the large grain loading facility.  It has a big loop track for continuous loading.  Even with this, unit trains must be split into two pieces for loading.  Unfortunately, our guide for this location had a medical emergency and was not there.

But Joe Fehr of Progressive Rail greeted us 'downtown.'  

PGR serves several businesses at this location.  Most interesting to me were 2 car repair businesses.  These companies drive up to the cars and do their repairs out in the open.

When the frac sand was booming, a company called PGR on a Sunday afternoon and said they wanted to start loading right away.  So PGR located this loader in Nebraska, went and got it, set it up, and they were in business late Tuesday!  Unfortunately, it was used for a very short time as the frac sand business dried up.

Our last stop was MTM (Minnesota Transportation Museum).  They have lots of equipment on display here.  A couple of shots:

Out by the roundhouse, caboose rides are given.  A couple of years ago I got to run the SD45 Hustle Muscle during caboose rides.  Today, friend Peter Johnson is at the controls so I climbed aboard for a quick ride.

We went back to the hotel for the Banquet and speaker, Mark Wegner of the TC&W (Twin Cities & Western).  Two more speakers on Sunday morning the the Convention was done for another year.  Another fun time with old (and new) friends.

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