Alaska Railroad Television Show

Discussion concerning the Alaska Railroad. The Wiki page is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Railroad and their web-site is here: http://www.alaskarailroad.com/

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Re: Railroad Alaska reality TV show

Postby Engineer Spike » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:48 pm

I think the off crusaders are nuts. The couple with the baby went to town for a doctor appointment. The guy said that he couldn't wait to leave the rat race. Rat race in a one horse town? I spend half my time in Montreal. I'll bet an urban area like that would blow his mind.

If I had as many stops for sticking brakes as they play up, I'd likely be invited to a discussion with the roadforman.

The last show I saw, the MOW was changing a broken rail. They made it out that the train would hit them if they didn't clear fast enough. No one wants to delay passengers, but they are over the top.

The guy with the hook is a real trip! "You can't fix stupid."
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Re: Railroad Alaska reality TV show

Postby jogden » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:59 pm

Engineer Spike wrote:The guy said that he couldn't wait to leave the rat race. Rat race in a one horse town? I spend half my time in Montreal. I'll bet an urban area like that would blow his mind.

The guy with the hook is a real trip! "You can't fix stupid."


I remember talking to a guy who lived off grid a bit, though not near the railroad. Officially, his address was in Trapper Creek, AK, but in reality, he lived six miles down a dirt road from town, and then two miles down a trail through a swamp. Trapper Creek is a small town, just a couple hundred people, and he didn't like coming into town much. He only did because he had to every couple of weeks, to pick up the mail and supplies. I asked him what he thought of Talkeetna, and by his reaction, you would have thought I had asked about New York. He started on a rant about how it is too big and too crowded for him. In the summer, the Talkeetna population swells to somewhere around 800 people, if I remember correctly. When he was finished his rant about the big city, I commented that he must not like visiting Anchorage much (population ~300K) and he said he tries not to as much as possible.

As for the guy with the hook, he is just as much a trip in real life as he is on the show. He actually got that hook from an incident that occurred on one of our trains. I am not sure of all the details, as it was before my time with the railroad, and the story has been related to me a few different ways. Apparently he was fiddling with his gun on the train, back when we had Budd Cans making that run regularly, and in the process of whatever he was doing, the gun was accidentally discharged with his hand in front of the muzzle. He lost his hand, and the RDC got a hole in the floor.

Anymore the railroad really frowns on people bringing firearms on the trains, unless they are locked up in the safe in the baggage car. There have been too many mishaps with people accidentally firing guns, sometimes without injury and sometimes with serious injuries. No one has been killed to my knowledge, but there have been some gnarly accidents. I guess years ago, particularly on that local train, guns in the passenger areas were pretty commonplace.
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Re: Railroad Alaska reality TV show

Postby Engineer Spike » Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:18 pm

I saw the show where he tells the story of the accidental gun discharge. That was when he said,"Can't fix stupid."

They just put too much emphasis on the off gridders, and the problems on the railroad. The railroad could be entertaining enough without dramatizing it. I say this for two reasons. I work in a northern territory. This winter has been really tough to work in. If the show was more of a true documentary, then people could see what we go through.

There is also plenty of drama on the railroad. It could be a soap opera. If any incident happened in Whittier, then a version would no doubt be in Fairbanks within minutes. When my uncle was still a fireman, his engineer had a good quote:"Not only do we get to see the circus for free, but also get paid to participate!"
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Re: Railroad Alaska reality TV show

Postby Freddy » Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:50 pm

I watched 1 episode and that was it. Sort of hard to get excited about a stuck backhoe. I get more drama painting my back porch.
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Re: Railroad Alaska reality TV show

Postby jogden » Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:01 pm

Freddy wrote:I watched 1 episode and that was it. Sort of hard to get excited about a stuck backhoe. I get more drama painting my back porch.


Agreed. The other thing I don't like is how much conflict they try to stage between crews. They were out filming the passenger train this past weekend, and telling their actress Conductor (she really is a Conductor, but was not assigned to that train for any purpose other than filming) that she had to chew out another crew because the train was hot and had to get through. Most of us are pretty easy going. Everyone knows the p-train is hot, so that rarely starts any heated exchanges. I guess the general public likes watching conflict on television though.

That said, if they enjoy filming conflict, they should have been in Anchorage Yard today! We went to dog catch the southbound freight, coming in from Fairbanks. There was a distributed power motor 67 cars deep, which we had to set out when we broke up the train. The Conductor and the Engineer got in a rather heated exchange over whether to put the locomotive in "Set Out" mode or end DP altogether. The topic was discussed at length during the dog catch, then again just before that move in the yard, and the Engineer still chose to do it his way, despite the disagreement from the Conductor. Well, that really got the Conductor worked up, and he called the yard office asking for a manager to meet us at our lunch break because he wanted to set out the Engineer for insubordination!

Later on, after we had finished breaking up the freight, we had to do some chores around the yard, but first we needed an engine. Usually, the engines we use in the yard face north. I have no idea why, it is just the more common way things are done. It might be for no other reason than to let the Engineer sit in the sun! We went to the roundhouse to get an engine, and the one they had for us was facing south. As we departed the roundhouse, the Engineer asked if I wanted to wye the engine. Our work was near the wye anyway. I wanted to get the work done, and I really did not feel like going around the wye, so I said, "No, it'll roll both directions, so we don't need to." Shortly after that, we got to where the work was, and I hopped off to go check out the ice situation in the industry track and inspect the cars before pulling them. We were waiting on the dispatcher anyway, so the Conductor took the engine up into the yard to get all the switches lined up for us. I guess after I got off, the Engineer asked the Conductor if he could take the engine around the wye, but rather than get in another argument, the Conductor turned it to the Brakeman, and asked her if she wanted to go with him around the wye. She didn't either. I wasn't on the engine, but I guess he looked real disappointed when she told him no too!

On top of all that, the dispatchers had a bit of a meltdown today, and stopped answering the phone or the radio. We needed one pass at CP 1140, at the south end of the yard, but we couldn't them to answer us. By the time we finally did get them on the line, my Conductor was just beside himself. He was ready to head back to the yard office and go upstairs to their office and pound on the door until someone answered!
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Re: Railroad Alaska reality TV show

Postby swing brakie » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:00 pm

Like all the reality shows on the tv, it doesn't have much to do with reality.
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Re: Alaska Railroad

Postby swing brakie » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:24 pm

nessman wrote:Watching the show on Animal Planet tonight.



And the Animal Planet will have Animal on that show.
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Re: Alaska Railroad

Postby MaineCoonCat » Thu Oct 30, 2014 8:18 pm

It appears we have a new season on Destination America.

Saturdays at 2200 eastern time. Check your FiOS, cable or satellite listings. http://www.destinationamerica.com/tv-shows/railroad-alaska
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Re: Railroad Alaska reality TV show

Postby mmi16 » Tue Nov 11, 2014 11:33 pm

jogden wrote:
On top of all that, the dispatchers had a bit of a meltdown today, and stopped answering the phone or the radio. We needed one pass at CP 1140, at the south end of the yard, but we couldn't them to answer us. By the time we finally did get them on the line, my Conductor was just beside himself. He was ready to head back to the yard office and go upstairs to their office and pound on the door until someone answered!


I have no idea of the territory that your dispatchers cover or how many active Trains, MofW Personal (Track & Signals) and Yardmasters your Dispatchers must conduct business with. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY TRAIN ON THE RAILROAD. Whenever a train dispatcher has to slow their job down to conducting verbal permissions and directives it take a lot of time to issue the directive and listen to the directive being repeated by the party it was issued to. Failure in these areas of understanding the directives issued can lead to catastrophic results. The way radio towers are segmented, you can't hear the Dispatcher when they are conducting business on a radio tower that is outside your geographical reception area.
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Re: Railroad Alaska reality TV show

Postby GOLDEN-ARM » Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:51 pm

mmi16 wrote:
jogden wrote:
On top of all that, the dispatchers had a bit of a meltdown today, and stopped answering the phone or the radio. We needed one pass at CP 1140, at the south end of the yard, but we couldn't them to answer us. By the time we finally did get them on the line, my Conductor was just beside himself. He was ready to head back to the yard office and go upstairs to their office and pound on the door until someone answered!


I have no idea of the territory that your dispatchers cover or how many active Trains, MofW Personal (Track & Signals) and Yardmasters your Dispatchers must conduct business with. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY TRAIN ON THE RAILROAD.


wait a sec. you have no idea of the territory, or how many trains are are active on his road, then you "YELL AT HIM" for not being the only train?

let's keep it civil here. it's his railroad. he's aware of the operations. whatever works on your road, doesn't apply to anyone else's. capiche?
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Re: Railroad Alaska reality TV show

Postby mmi16 » Thu Nov 20, 2014 5:36 pm

GOLDEN-ARM wrote:
mmi16 wrote:
jogden wrote:
On top of all that, the dispatchers had a bit of a meltdown today, and stopped answering the phone or the radio. We needed one pass at CP 1140, at the south end of the yard, but we couldn't them to answer us. By the time we finally did get them on the line, my Conductor was just beside himself. He was ready to head back to the yard office and go upstairs to their office and pound on the door until someone answered!


I have no idea of the territory that your dispatchers cover or how many active Trains, MofW Personal (Track & Signals) and Yardmasters your Dispatchers must conduct business with. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY TRAIN ON THE RAILROAD.


wait a sec. you have no idea of the territory, or how many trains are are active on his road, then you "YELL AT HIM" for not being the only train?

let's keep it civil here. it's his railroad. he's aware of the operations. whatever works on your road, doesn't apply to anyone else's. capiche?


Train Dispatching is my PROFESSION - Radios are segmented. Just because you are not being answered immediately doesn't mean that the Dispatcher is not busy transacting required business with others that are desiring track time on other portions of the Train Dispatchers territory. The most common complaint from ANY person in the field is that Dispatchers are f'n off and ignoring 'ME'. They aren't. Dispatchers can only speak so many words per minute, the personnel they transact business with can only speak so many words per minute - and those communications must be full and complete so each party knows what is expected of each other. Establishing protection on the Main Tracks for ALL USERS of the Main Tracks is the function that the Dispatcher must perform flawlessly for the protection of all users of the Main Track.

In CTC territory, Dispatchers can line signals on a thousand or more miles of track with a keystroke or a flip of some switches. Establishing protection for trains and on track personnel where signals are not use is much more involved and time consuming than lining signals and requires communication time (radio or telephone) with all the parties involved.

These functions are common to ALL Main line railroads that operate more than a single train on their lines.
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Re: Railroad Alaska reality TV show

Postby jogden » Sat Dec 06, 2014 5:19 pm

mmi16 wrote:
GOLDEN-ARM wrote:
mmi16 wrote:
jogden wrote:
On top of all that, the dispatchers had a bit of a meltdown today, and stopped answering the phone or the radio. We needed one pass at CP 1140, at the south end of the yard, but we couldn't them to answer us. By the time we finally did get them on the line, my Conductor was just beside himself. He was ready to head back to the yard office and go upstairs to their office and pound on the door until someone answered!


I have no idea of the territory that your dispatchers cover or how many active Trains, MofW Personal (Track & Signals) and Yardmasters your Dispatchers must conduct business with. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY TRAIN ON THE RAILROAD.


wait a sec. you have no idea of the territory, or how many trains are are active on his road, then you "YELL AT HIM" for not being the only train?

let's keep it civil here. it's his railroad. he's aware of the operations. whatever works on your road, doesn't apply to anyone else's. capiche?


Train Dispatching is my PROFESSION - Radios are segmented. Just because you are not being answered immediately doesn't mean that the Dispatcher is not busy transacting required business with others that are desiring track time on other portions of the Train Dispatchers territory. The most common complaint from ANY person in the field is that Dispatchers are f'n off and ignoring 'ME'. They aren't. Dispatchers can only speak so many words per minute, the personnel they transact business with can only speak so many words per minute - and those communications must be full and complete so each party knows what is expected of each other. Establishing protection on the Main Tracks for ALL USERS of the Main Tracks is the function that the Dispatcher must perform flawlessly for the protection of all users of the Main Track.

In CTC territory, Dispatchers can line signals on a thousand or more miles of track with a keystroke or a flip of some switches. Establishing protection for trains and on track personnel where signals are not use is much more involved and time consuming than lining signals and requires communication time (radio or telephone) with all the parties involved.

These functions are common to ALL Main line railroads that operate more than a single train on their lines.


Well I wasn't trying to suggest that I was on the only or most important train on the railroad. Actually I was just trying to tell a story. I am well aware of that fact...I go out there and line switches at meets and see other trains. At any rate, I don't remember all the details of what happened that day, but there was some legitimate screw up in the dispatch office that caused delays for several trains, including us. Now, I didn't particularly care, but my Conductor that day was fit to be tied over it. He and the Engineer had already had a heated disagreement (to put it mildly), and I think the Conductor was just wound up still.

I know what the dispatcher does, and I know it can get pretty hectic in that office at times. I've been in there and seen what goes on, and while I do not profess to know how to dispatch a railroad, I do have some idea of the environment. Generally our dispatchers are pretty good about keeping things moving and responding in a timely manner. For the most part, we have a pretty good group of dispatchers and they usually take pretty good care of their train crews.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...
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Re: Alaska Railroad Television Show

Postby RussNelson » Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:53 pm

I enjoyed watching the culvert repair episode. Looked like a real headache.
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Re: Alaska Railroad Television Show

Postby nessman » Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:55 pm

Last year's Railroad Alaska was alright... but this year - the scripting and manufactured drama is quite obvious.

This week - a piece of track equipment "broke down" on a trestle. So they pull it back off the bridge. A crew member is moaning and groaning they have to clear the track for the freight ASAP. Really? They were on a *siding* and in the clear. Just stupid.
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Re: Alaska Railroad Television Show

Postby Zeke » Sat Jan 03, 2015 11:21 am

Just happened to be lurkin on this thread and don't watch too much TV. So I dug up the times and watched an episode a few days ago. The train crews scripted dialogue can get pretty corny but I do find the off gridders interesting. That old goat with the hook was carrying a shootin iron and said " Gotta be carful dem bears are wakin up now, it is spring, but I'm ready. You know them damn things move fast as hell so you got to be wattchin all the time." That synopsis of being on the ground with a hungry, ornery 1000 pound animal was priceless. Liked that story of the Big C fighting with the Engineer. I bet the very first train that was ever made up in a yard they were going at it. It's like a cat and a dog, they don't know why their fighting, its just a time honored tradition.

The scenery is breathtaking. What a place to run trains. That roadbed is in top notch shape and I was surprised to see a CTC type signal system as I figured traffic was not busy enough to warrant the cost of a first class signal system. How many trains a day between Anchorage and Fairbanks I wonder ? The trains seem to be moving along pretty good on the straight line. What's the MAS for freight and passenger ?
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