Why do we still have street running?

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Why do we still have street running?

Postby CPSK » Thu Jan 29, 2015 6:06 pm

It's 2015, and yet even class 1's like CSX still run on streets in some towns. Take New Albany Indiana. I watched a long YouTube vid of a long freight train running very slowly down 15th st.
It is awesome to see these videos, but I have to ask why, in 2015 are trains still sharing streets with cars and pedestrians? In this day of expedient freight delivery, it just doesn't make sense. Why not rip up the streets and replace the ROW with good rail and higher speeds?

Are these rails relics from years gone by, to be abandoned or upgraded in the near future, or are we going to see street running for a long time to come?

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Re: Why do we still have street running?

Postby mmi16 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 11:54 am

$$$$$

Money charts the path of human progress or lack thereof.

Relocating tracks, especially through built up areas is a very high cost project.
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Re: Why do we still have street running?

Postby Gadfly » Sun Feb 01, 2015 9:56 am

mmi16 wrote:$$$$$

Money charts the path of human progress or lack thereof.

Relocating tracks, especially through built up areas is a very high cost project.


Amazing how people know precisely how to spend other people's money, eh? We don't want them old trains in our way, now do we? :-) After all, those goods and services just magically appear, right? We're in such a hurry, ya know.............such a hurry we don't have time to wait 2 minutes for the train to pass. So we go around the gates and get hit. How DARE an old train hit me!! :wink: After all, I am sooooooooo important, just little old ME (me, me, me, me, me). And we don't want some dirty old train trundling down main street to deliver our goods, now do we?

Of course, I'm being facetious (and a bit of a smart aleck), but its to cause us to see that its very expensive to move everything to accomodate everybody's hurry. Then, too, remember: Some towns very existence was because OF the railroad itself, and it grew up AROUND existing railroad structures and facilities. NOW we want it gone because it's "inconvenient". 'S like people who move in next to an airport. They KNOW there's an airport there & its likely to grow creating traffic, noise and congestion. Then they begin to whine and cry about the noise and want to be PAID for their "inconvenience". Then why the H** did you move there in the first place???? :(

LIke you said, its all about the $$$$$$$!
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Re: Why do we still have street running?

Postby CPSK » Wed Feb 04, 2015 2:36 pm

I am not at all opposed to having trains running down Main street. It is very interesting from a railfan's point of view. What I don't quite understand is why the street was allowed to be built right on top of the track in the first place. After all, the tracks were there first.

When I was a child, I was rarely interested in knowing what might be inside of those box cars, tankers, or hoppers - only what the train looked like on the outside. But now I am finding myself constantly asking myself what the train is carrying, where it is coming from, and where it is going. I would like to see more freight carried by trains, and less by trucks - especially when some of those trucks are articulated into 2-3 trailer sets!

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Re: Why do we still have street running?

Postby YamaOfParadise » Wed Feb 04, 2015 6:02 pm

I generally agree with the "railroad was there first" theory here, but I think there is something important to consider for this particular application of it. That is: the ratio of rail traffic to vehicle/pedestrian traffic, with consideration to length of track embedded in the street. That's what separates the cases of the New York Central's West Side Line from CSX's mainline through LaGrange KY from any of the numerous examples of moderately to sparsely used industrial tracks across the country. The NYC's West Side line in Manhattan ran down the majority of the length of Manhattan, with half of that going through the streets; and as much as the railroad certainly was there in the beginnings of the city's expansion, from a safety perspective it really just didn't make sense with the high volumes of both rail and vehicle traffic. As for LaGrange, while it's a mainline track, the urban population is much lower. The section of the track that is actually in the street is significantly smaller, only approx. 750ft (from google maps). And even that differs from the most common cases of street running in the U.S, which are (usually) lightly-used industrial tracks in lightly-used roads.

How the streetrunning can be eliminated is an interesting topic in-of-itself. The West Side Line with the bridge and building-tunnel approach obviously was a solution that just wouldn't resolve that way today, for a number of reasons. Off the top of my head, though, I think an interesting idea of how you can resolve the need for streetrunning is the Providence and Worcester's East Providence Running Track deals with the George Bennett Highway (formerly the East Providence Industrial Highway). The railway pre-dated the highway by quite a bit: opened in 1875, and the NH valuation maps show no trace of the highway ~1915. The highway was probably built in the 40's or 50's with the advent of trucking. Anyways, if you look at the map, you can see why it's interesting, seeing as how it snakes back and forth across the road at various points to be closer to industrial buildings. I figure that that was the safest way for the highway and railway to co-exist, though that solution was only able to happen since the original RoW was fairly wide.

Anyways, that's just the musings of a Civil Engineer-in-training.
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Re: Why do we still have street running?

Postby Desertdweller » Thu Feb 05, 2015 12:22 am

New Albany Indiana is not the only place. It also happens in New Albany, Mississippi.

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Re: Why do we still have street running?

Postby CPSK » Sun Feb 08, 2015 2:33 pm

Desertdweller wrote:New Albany Indiana is not the only place. It also happens in New Albany, Mississippi.

Les

But probably not in Albany NY <g>

One problem with street running is that when the ties get rotten and need to be replaced, the road has to be dug up. That said, the same might be true if utility lines need to be repaired/replaced. Either situation becomes an issue for both the RR and the public. That said, I suppose that railroad ties which are covered by asphalt will last longer than those that are not. Same reason crossings don't get replaced every time new ties are installed on the track.

I don't think any railfan will disagree with the fact that street running makes for great photography and video.

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Re: Why do we still have street running?

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Feb 08, 2015 3:10 pm

CPSK wrote:
Desertdweller wrote:New Albany Indiana is not the only place. It also happens in New Albany, Mississippi.

Les

But probably not in Albany NY <g>

One problem with street running is that when the ties get rotten and need to be replaced, the road has to be dug up. That said, the same might be true if utility lines need to be repaired/replaced. Either situation becomes an issue for both the RR and the public. That said, I suppose that railroad ties which are covered by asphalt will last longer than those that are not. Same reason crossings don't get replaced every time new ties are installed on the track.

I don't think any railfan will disagree with the fact that street running makes for great photography and video.

CP

I'd guess that ties buried under the street don't last longer, actually, and that having (particularly) wooden ties under a roadway is a quick way to ruin both the road and the railroad. Not only are the ties buried entirely and subject to constant water saturation from all four sides, salt corrosion, and freeze-thaw action, they aren't visible to inspectors except through core samples or physically removing the pavement. They're probably just less visible, and I suspect many railroads take a "see no evil" approach to their terminal-area street running. CSX in either New Albany and NICTD in Michigan City may be a different matter altogether, since those lines are so major.

That said, concrete ties or concrete panels probably wouldn't have the same issues.
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Re: Why do we still have street running?

Postby Desertdweller » Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:37 pm

I was involved in two accidents in street running, about a block apart. An old convertible with two teenage boys in it ran into the fuel tank of the Geep I was running when the rising sun got in their eyes. I had dinner with their parents the night before: they were my insurance agent's kids. Fortunately, they weren't injured.

On another day, I took the front bumper off a car an old lady was driving. Guess she didn't hear my horn and bell. I asked her, "Didn't you realize that is a railroad crossing?" She said she did, but she pulled out onto the crossing to see if a train was coming. One was.

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Re: Why do we still have street running?

Postby CPSK » Sun Feb 15, 2015 1:23 pm

Desertdweller wrote:I was involved in two accidents in street running, about a block apart. An old convertible with two teenage boys in it ran into the fuel tank of the Geep I was running when the rising sun got in their eyes. I had dinner with their parents the night before: they were my insurance agent's kids. Fortunately, they weren't injured.

On another day, I took the front bumper off a car an old lady was driving. Guess she didn't hear my horn and bell. I asked her, "Didn't you realize that is a railroad crossing?" She said she did, but she pulled out onto the crossing to see if a train was coming. One was.

Les

Why do people do such idiotic things around trains?
Pulled out onto the crossing to see if a train was coming? That's like walking out onto a frozen lake to see if the ice is thick enough to support you, or touching a wire to see if it is live. I have read stories about both of these examples - some had tragic results.
Makes me think about the woman who got hit by the MNCR train in Valhalla NY the other night. But there is a thread for discussions of that accident, so I won't go into it here.

As far as having the sun in my eyes while driving - I always stop my vehicle (in a safe manner) if I cannot see what is in front of me. Then I will put on sunglasses, and/or pull down the visor to see if I can get any visibility. As a result of my cautions attitude, I have never hit anything or anyone. Of course, teenagers don't have enough experience with driving - that is why their insurance rates are so high!

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Re: Why do we still have street running?

Postby Appalachianrailroads » Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:53 am

I'm surprised the famous street running double-track mainline of Jack London Square in Oakland, CA hasn't been brought up on this thread yet. I have visited there twice within the last few years and out of interest, I researched a bit of the railroad operation history within the last three decades. I'm no expert but this is what I have come to understand. Up until 1994, the majority of rail passenger service for Oakland was served via the architectural masterpiece known as 16th Street Station in West Oakland. (Well, there was the Western Pacific station too but that mainly seems to be remembered for the classic California Zephyr.) I'm guessing that the area around the station wasn't bad or downright dangerous when it was originally built but it unfortunately devolved where today's West Oakland has a horrible reputation as a big hub of widespread crime and illegal drug use. The 1989 earthquake caused the station to became unsafe to use so it was then decided that passenger service would be split off to two areas, one at Emeryville and a new station at Jack London Square. After the quake, it still continued to serve passengers in an adjacent structure up until 1994 when Emeryville's station was completed. The station at Jack London Square was completed the following year.

From a railfan perspective, yes it's sad that such a historic structure no longer serves its original purpose for the railroad but honestly, I see the series of unfortunate events something that created change for the better. 16th street station is located on the what's essentially the "ghetto" side of Oakland. I would dread having to go through a really bad neighborhood just to watch or ride a train. Imagine getting off at 16th street station in the middle of the night, where buses aren't running again till morning, and a taxi comes around every once in a while due to most cabs waiting for people at the Oakland airport. The station isn't going to be open for the entire night so you're options then are to either wait for the next taxi or start walking. Unfortunately walking will involve having to go through the middle of the dangerous streets (you'll be lucky to even make it through with your wallet).

It's a win win situation for the rail commuters and buffs. People can board and disembark trains in a safer place and buffs can watch trains with the sense that most people walking by them won't attempt to inflict harm. Jack London Square is a great example of where street running turned out to be good thing rather than a nuisance (for the most part).
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Re: Why do we still have street running?

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:27 pm

For what consolation it may be worth, the present stations at Sacramento and San Jose (Diridon) are very similar to the old Oakland 16th St. and I'm fairly sure were done by the same architect, so at least that much remains. The last time I was out there (around 2010) the Western Pacific station on 3rd Street was still in existence as an office building, but the railroad heritage is evident. (Imagine the California Zephyr stopped on the single track in the middle of 3rd Street loading passengers coming from the building and crossing the sidewalk, much like the South Shore in Michigan City. For the westbound arrival, the car attendants would scrupulously wipe down the handrails with paper towels before setting the stepbox down on the pavement.)
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Re: Why do we still have street running?

Postby trackwelder » Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:16 pm

mtuandrew wrote:
CPSK wrote:
Desertdweller wrote:New Albany Indiana is not the only place. It also happens in New Albany, Mississippi.

Les

But probably not in Albany NY <g>

One problem with street running is that when the ties get rotten and need to be replaced, the road has to be dug up. That said, the same might be true if utility lines need to be repaired/replaced. Either situation becomes an issue for both the RR and the public. That said, I suppose that railroad ties which are covered by asphalt will last longer than those that are not. Same reason crossings don't get replaced every time new ties are installed on the track.

I don't think any railfan will disagree with the fact that street running makes for great photography and video.

CP

I'd guess that ties buried under the street don't last longer, actually, and that having (particularly) wooden ties under a roadway is a quick way to ruin both the road and the railroad. Not only are the ties buried entirely and subject to constant water saturation from all four sides, salt corrosion, and freeze-thaw action, they aren't visible to inspectors except through core samples or physically removing the pavement. They're probably just less visible, and I suspect many railroads take a "see no evil" approach to their terminal-area street running. CSX in either New Albany and NICTD in Michigan City may be a different matter altogether, since those lines are so major.

That said, concrete ties or concrete panels probably wouldn't have the same issues.


paved track often has steel crossties in place of wooden ones, and it's buried in concrete, so even if there are NO existing crossties, the concrete is still holding it somewhat in place.
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