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Confessions of a Train Geek by Steve Boyko - 8M ago

Monday, August 6th 2018 was a holiday here in Manitoba. It's called a "Civic Holiday" here, other provinces call it "Family Day" and it's not even a holiday in some provinces. Anyway, I had the day off.

I went out to catch VIA's "Canadian" leaving Winnipeg. It turned out that the first train I saw was CN 8906 West - see above. I elected to catch it at Carman Junction at the curve, to get the head on view above.

The train had CN 8906 / CN 5694 / CN 8823 on the head end.
Westward ho!
After the train passed, I went west to Diamond to set up for VIA. I caught up with some of the train so I amused myself by taking a few shots of the old wooden "Diamond" sign.
Diamond signs are forever, apparently
I hope nobody steals this sign.

VIA Rail Canadian heading west
I got what I came for - VIA 6455 leading the "Canadian" with two other units and 20 cars.

"Glacier Park" was on the tail end.
Prairie Streamliner
Central Manitoba Railway
4002 and 4004 parked on the Carman subdivision
Two Central Manitoba Railway GP9s, 4002 and 4002, were parked on the Carman subdivision.

I noticed this shiny new equipment box in the gap between the main line and the track to the CEMR Carman subdivision.

CN actually owns the first little bit of the track - from the Rivers sub across Wilkes Avenue - before it becomes the CEMR Carman sub.

I didn't see anything happening after that on the CN Rivers subdivision, so I headed for home.

As I drove around the Perimeter Highway, I spotted a southbound CN train on the Letellier subdivision. That would have been CN 532, heading down to the Canada-US border at Emerson to interchange with BNSF.

Bonus train!

CN 532
The dark side of CN 532
I gave chase as best I could. It was hard to catch up to the train through St. Norbert, given the 50 and 60 km/hr speed limits, but eventually I got ahead of them south of the town to get the shot above.

I was on the "dark side" of the train and I wasn't super happy about that. Fortunately, they weren't going very fast, so after they passed by, I gave chase again... this time, at 100 km/hr!

Near Ste. Agathe, I was far enough ahead of them that I felt I could leave the highway and drive the 2 km or so to the track for another round of photos. As it happened, I had enough time to get both my cameras out... one with the 70-200mm "long" lens and the other with the wide angle.

First the long lens. There was a combine working a field nearby, so I included that in the photo. You can see a bit of heat haze, so the shot isn't as sharp as I would like, but I like what's in it!
CN 5693 and a combine
A few seconds later, I took another photo as the train approached.
Storming south
The right of way looks very clean and well maintained, doesn't it?

I love that 70-200mm lens.

I "dropped" that camera and picked up my older T1i with the wide angle lens to capture the train as it went by.
Going wide
The train had a friendly crew who both gave me waves as they went by. Thanks!

One going away shot, with the Viterra elevator at Ste. Agathe just to the left of the train, and the G3 SD40-2 locomotive at far left, on the loop track of the G3 elevator at Glenlea / Saint Adolphe.
Heading south
Here's the video showing all three trains, with a "clickbait" title just for fun.
You'll Never Guess What Train Came Next - YouTube

You might want to read Busy Day - same play, VIA 1 then CN 532, back in 2012!

PS - Important NewsIt's the end of an era.

This was the last full post that I will write on blog.traingeek.ca.

I've been on the Blogger platform for many years, since my first post in July 2005. After 13 years and 3 months, it's time to move on.

From now on, I'll be writing on my main site - www.traingeek.ca - and the posts will appear there on the home page.

I like the WordPress platform a lot more for writing. I've been thinking about this for a long time, more than a year, and now I'm making the change.

I hope you'll follow me there.

All of my old posts will remain where they are. I am not interested in moving them over!

By the way, there will be one more post, a placeholder to direct visitors to my main site.
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A tram near the Colosseum in Rome
This post is the last of a series on trains I saw and/or rode while on vacation in Italy. Start at the beginning if you like.
Trams in RomeI saw a number of trams / streetcars while my wife and I were in Rome. We never had a reason to ride one, but I made a point of photographing them on a few occasions.

There are four types of trams running in Rome: ATAC 7000 series, SOCIMI, Cityway 1 and Cityway 2. The lead photo and the one below are Cityway 2 trams. These were manufactured by Fiat Ferrovia (now part of Alstom); the Rome Transport Company (Azienda dei Trasporti di Roma, ATAC) placed an order for 50 trams in 1998. They are bidirectional, full low floor trams operating on 600V DC and running on a track gauge of 1445mm (close to 4' 8.5").

Cityway 2 tram in Rome
The next tram is a Cityway 1 tram, at the Termini train station in Rome. 28 of these were ordered by ATAC in 1996; they are partial low floor trams and are the same type of trams that were ordered by Turin, Italy in 1989.

Cityway 1 tram at the Termini station in Rome
The next tram was built by Italian tram manufacturer SOCIMI, which went bankrupt during the production run.

Here's one more tram, another Cityway 2 tram.

Trams in Florence
There is one tram line in Florence. It was recently rebuilt (opening in 2010), long after it was closed in 1958. The line runs 11.5 km from Careggi, north of the main train station (Florence Santa Maria Novella), to Scandicci in southwest Florence.

I did not take any photos of this, as the only portion of the line I would have seen was right by the train station. The tram line does not go near the Duomo area, where most tourists go.

Trams in Venice
A tram in Venice, Italy
Believe it or not, there is tram service in Venice, Italy. The tram system is mostly in the mainland portion of Venice, but it does operate over the causeway to the island portion to a spot near the train station.

These are Translohr rubber-tired trams, originally developed by the French company Lohr and now built by a consortium that includes Alstom.

Although they run on rubber tires, they use a single rail to guide the tram along the route.

We did not ride these trams.

P.S. A Few Buses
A bus in Rome
Here are two photos of buses, for those who like them!

A vaporetto, aka a water bus, in Venice
That concludes my series on trains (and trams) in Italy. Thanks for reading!

See Also

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This post is part of a series on trains I saw and/or rode while on vacation in Italy. Start at the beginning if you like.

After a few days in Florence, it was time to move on to our final Italian stop - Venice.

Florence StationOf course, I had to take a few photos around the train station in Florence before we left...

Lots of bustle in the Florence train station

I like the raised pantograph in this photo

En Route to Venice
Our train - a Frecciargento train
We took a Frecciargento train between Florence and Venice. Frecciargento means "silver arrow" in Italian, and these trains can reach speeds up to 250 km/hr. Zoom zoom!

My wife and I both had window seats, facing each other. I was facing backward, but that didn't really bother me. The other two seats in our little group of 4 contained two loud Russians. My wife slept much of the trip and I kept my headphones in.

I snapped a few photos along the way with my cellphone.
Meeting another Frecciargento in Bologna
I'm not sure what this structure was in Bologna - another tower, maybe - but it was impressive.
Track-straddling structure in Bologna
I spotted this EuroSprinter (Siemens ES 64) locomotive later on. It's owned by Interporto Servizi Cargo, an intermodal railway in Italy. They own their own locomotives - electric and diesel - and about a hundred well cars for carrying containers.
Interporto Servizi Cargo locomotive
I like seeing the European rolling stock - wagons - as they are very different from North American freight cars.
Empty autoracks
Check out these two different kinds of "trucks on flatcars" (TOFC):
Railway trucks on flatcars

Highway trucks on flatcars
Of course, I always have a soft spot for small diesel locomotives.
Diesels in Italy
After two hours, we were on the causeway linking Venice to the mainland. This causeway carries both road and rail traffic to the city. Transportation in Venice is by foot, or by canal. Cars and trucks arriving via this causeway can basically only drive in a small portion of the city (Santa Croce, the port area).

The Death of Venice
Cruise ships, the doom of Venice
Much has been written about how tourism is destroying Venice. The city was obviously not built for the volume of tourists that stay (4.6 million people stayed at least one night in Venice in 2016), never mind the huge number of day-trippers by bus or cruise ship. In 2015 it received 30 million visitors.

Services like Airbnb have resulted in landlords jacking up rents to force residents out, so they can sell their apartments to short-term rentals for much higher prices. This is not limited to Venice, as other cities like Barcelona have the same issue.

I don't know what the solution is. The population of Venice is shrinking, the buildings are falling apart (and sinking), and there's no end in sight. Get there while you can, before Venice turns into an unoccupied museum.

Venice's Station
The Venice train station
We stayed in a hotel near the train station - the excellent Ca' Pozzo - so we didn't have far to haul our luggage. That was good, because if you walk any distance in Venice, you're going over a bridge.

The nice thing about being near the station is that it was easy to walk over to take a few photos now and then!

Here's a few trains I saw at the train station in Venice.
Trains in the Venice station
The below two trains were interesting. Italo is a privately owned company, in direct competition with state-owned Trenitalia on the Milan-Naples and Turin-Venice routes. ÖBB is the Austrian national railway (see my Austrian railway series).
Italo and OBB trains in Venice
I liked this bilevel train too.
Bilevel train in Venice
 I ended up going to the train station two mornings to record trains.

One more train...
Something a little different
Getting Around Venice
Many boats in Venice
There are so many boats in Venice. This is to be expected, given that it's the only motorized way to get around the city, but it's still surprising to see so many of them. From vaporetti (water buses) through water taxis to gondolas, there is a lot of passenger traffic on the Grand Canal and smaller canals.
A vaporetto in Venice
These are real city buses, with schedules, electronic displays, bus passes, the whole shebang.
Vaporetto / Water bus departure board
Of course, the city needs food, water, and many other goods, and those get around in various sizes of cargo vessels.
Cargo transport in Venice
Gondolas are for tourists, not for transportation. We did take a gondola ride and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Gondolas in Venice

A Few Tourist Photos
A vaporetto passing under the Rialto bridge at night
The Rialto bridge and St. Mark's Square are well known Venice landmarks. However, I'd say the whole city is a landmark and deserves to be explored. We could honestly have spent another week in the city and not finished wandering its twisty streets and canals.
Venice from up high
I was surprised to see a Canadian connection!
A Canadian in Venice?
The most beautiful part of Venice, in our opinion, is the island of Burano. This place was picture perfect.
Burano beauty

Leaving Italy
The water bus dock at the Venice airport
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and so our visit to Italy had to end. We took a water bus from just outside our hotel to the airport. I'd say this is one of the few places in the world you can take a boat to a major airport...

After waiting in a long line to pass through Customs, we headed out to our Air Canada Rouge plane for the long flight over the Atlantic toward home.
Air Canada Rouge plane
But Wait, There's More
This isn't the end of the series, though. I have one more post to make about the trams I saw in Italy. It'll be relatively short.

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Panorama of Florence, Italy
This post is part of a series on trains I saw and/or rode while on vacation in Italy. Start at the beginning if you like.

Next on our itinerary after Riomaggiore was a few days in Florence, capital of the Tuscany region and the birthplace of the Renaissance. We rode the local train from Riomaggiore to La Spezia, transferring to a high speed train for the trip to Florence... after I took this selfie with another "Steve".

(CoSteve is a restaurant in Riomaggiore)

You'll notice I was wearing sunglasses there. I rarely wear sunglasses because I usually either lose them or sit on them. At least I am treating my progressive glasses a lot better than I treat sunglasses!

Anyway, here's a train we saw, at La Spezia I believe.

The train we took to Florence was bi-level. I honestly don't remember if we went up or down. I imagine we went up.
You must choose
There are electronic signs at Italian stations announcing what train is next. Note the pins sticking up to discourage pigeons from roosting and, er, fouling the signs.
Firenze SMN or bust!

TowersThere are a lot of interesting towers along the rail lines in Italy. Most look abandoned, maybe junctions that used to be controlled from here. I really like the look of the towers. They remind me of the conning towers of submarines or the islands on aircraft carriers.
Junction tower?
Here's another one.
A lot fewer windows in this tower
One more similar to the others. I like how they are similar but not the same.
This one was quite different... and covered in ivy.
This looks like some kind of bomb shelter more than anything
I loved those towers... very different than North American towers used to be!

Little Critters
Big critter, little critter
I like industrial switchers. I was fortunate to spy a few of them along the route between La Spezia and Florence. Note the two above - one much bigger than the other!

Little yellow diesel
 These little critters probably don't pull much, but they'd be perfect for maintenance of way work!

Another little yellow diesel
Here's an older but larger diesel I spotted through the window as we rolled along. It looks a bit like the German DB Class V 200 locomotives. Indeed, 13 were sold to various small Italian railway operators.
A CLF locomotive in Italy
If you squint really hard, and have the original photo, you would see that the blue logo on the side is "CLF". This stands for Costruzioni Linee Ferroviarie, which I think is a subsidiary of Strukton Rail.

More Trains
All that Jazz
Here's another ETR-25 "Jazz" trainset, built by Alstom.

I really liked the next train. It looks fast.

Frecciarossa ETR 500
This is the Frecciarossa trainset, pride of the Italian fleet, capable of reaching speeds of 300 km/hr.

There are actually two different Frecciarossa styles, the ETR 1000 and the ETR 500. The ETR 1000 is newer, capable of 400 km/hr. It has four classes of service onboard, power at every seat, onboard wifi with Internet... a pretty sweet way to travel.

The ETR 500 has similar capabilities, but can "only" reach 300 km/hr. In reality, both classes only reach 300 km/hr as that is the practical speed limit on the Italian railway network.

Below, an ETR 1000 at the Firenze Rifredi station. There are four train stations in Florence, with the Santa Maria Novella (S.M.N.) being the main station.
Frecciarossa 1000 at the Firenze Rifredi station
Just to break things up, here's a more conventional train. I like those blue doors.
Colourful coaches

Your standard loco-hauled train
Back to the high speed trains for a moment, a Frecciarossa ETR 500 coming into the Firenze S.M.N. station. We were also coming into the station to end our trip from La Spezia to Florence.
Frecciarossa ETR 500 at the main Florence train station
Yet another "464" class locomotive - the SD40-2 of the Italian railway system. ;)
Another Italian 464 class locomotive
Italian track bumpers
I liked these track bumpers - very different than the North American variant, due to the different bumpers on the end of rail cars. In North America, the couplers are the only contact point between cars, whereas European cars have spring loaded buffers and chain couplers.

In Florence
Oh David, you're so fine, you're so fine, you blow my mind hey David, hey David.
Again, this isn't a travel blog, but I'll include a few photos from Florence to give a taste of the area. Michelangelo's "David" is of course a highlight of Florence. I hadn't realized the statue was so big - it's 17 feet tall.

There was a giant toy store a few doors down from our hotel. This store, Dreoni, was founded in 1923 and has a large presence in the city block. I was particularly interested in the model train section, of course.

Check out that Bachmann CP Rail grain hopper in the middle!
Finally, here's a selfie in front of the "Duomo" (Duomo di Firenze, aka the Cathedral of Florence or Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore). The cathedral, with Giotto's bell tower beside it and the Baptistery of Saint John in front of it, is a major tourist attraction. Its dome was the largest in the world for some time, and remains the largest brick dome in the world. You can see a photo of the dome at the top of this post, taken from the bell tower.
Me and the Duomo
So that was Florence. After a few days, we boarded yet another train and headed for our final stop in our Italian tour - Venice.

Back to the beginning
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This post is part of a series on trains I saw and/or rode while on vacation in Italy.

After we had settled down in our hotel apartment not sure what it was for the evening, I went back out to the train station in Riomaggiore, Italy to do a little late night railfanning.

The Riomaggiore Train Station
The train station is pretty small - one two-story brick building - with two platforms, one on each side of the two tracks through the town. Both ends of the platforms end in tunnels, as the rail line between La Spezia and Levanto runs along the coast and through numerous tunnels.

The station itself has a small ticket counter, a few vending machines and a rather small waiting room. I don't know what's on the second floor but it didn't appear to be open to the public. There's a building on the opposite side of the tracks, which is just a waiting room. The two sides are connected by an underground tunnel.

Have a look at the photo below, taken late in the day of May 31.
Train station in Riomaggiore, Italy
The station is the salmon-coloured two-story building partly hidden by the tree in the foreground. The train is stopped on the platform opposite the station. Note the tunnel at the north end of the platform.

This is another view of the station area, looking north. The station is on the right.
Riomaggiore station platform
Railfanning by NightI arrived at the station area at 21:52 and took this (shaky) photo of the arrivals board.

There were five trains due: three southbounds to La Spezia, one northbound to Levanto and another northbound all the way to Genoa. My memory is a little fuzzy on how many I saw. I definitely photographed two passenger trains and recorded one on video... as well as a few freight trains.

Green signal!
I don't claim to know Italian signaling at all, but green seems a pretty universal "train is clear to continue" signal.

I had a quick look inside the north tunnel - from the platform, thank you. It's not long. You can see from the lines on the platform that passengers are not permitted to walk through the tunnel.

This is a view looking south, showing the train station to the left and the south tunnel in the distance. The walkway from this area to the rest of the town goes over top of the south tunnel, and you'll see later that I took some photos from up there.
Riomaggiore station platform at night
Note the speed limit sign by the station - 100 / 110 / 115 km/hr! I'm not sure what the different limits are for. In Canada we have two limits, one for freight and one for passenger trains.

The First Train
Freight train on the move
The first train I saw that night was a northbound freight train, towing tank cars. It did not stop.

There was an automatic announcement that was broadcast, perhaps 30 seconds before the train arrived. It warned of an express train passing platform 2 and told people to stand back.

A snake of tank cars
Even at a shutter speed of 1/4 second, the train is a continuous blur. It's a good thing I had my tripod!

Seven minutes later, the second train arrived, and this one stopped.

The Second Train
Passenger train at night in Riomaggiore
This was a locomotive-hauled passenger train. Note the "1" and "2" on the sides of the cars indicating first and second class seating.

Passenger train at night at Riomaggiore station
That was interesting to see.

After that train departed, I left the station and went "up above" on the path so I could take an overhead shot of the station and the next train.

The Third Train
Train in Riomaggiore
Here you can see the train stopped on platform 2 in Riomaggiore.

I also recorded a few freight trains on video. You'll see them at the end of the post.

Railfanning by Day
Train board for Riomaggiore
We had tickets for the 12:57 train to La Spezia, connecting with the 13:35 train to Florence (Firenze). We got to the station at 12:10, a little early, as you can see in the display above... which meant railfan time for me! At least it was a nice day to sit and wait for our train.

First up was this graffiti-covered train, heading south. It may have been the 12:03 train, running late.
I guess the word "graffiti" IS Italian, but I don't like it
Next was another southbound passenger train, led by one of the ubiquitous E.464 locomotives.
Yet another E.464
Here's a better look at the speed limit sign on platform 1.
Italian speed limits
The third passenger train was a northbound electric multiple unit (EMU) train. Not all of these passenger trains stopped in Riomaggiore.
Heading north
The next was the northbound 12:24 train from the schedule, stopping at platform 2.
Northbound train at Riomaggiore
Next, a southbound train stopped at our platform. It was a little maddening to have trains stop, going to where we wanted to go, yet our ticket was for the 12:57 so we had to wait. In the end, it didn't really matter whether we waited in Riomaggiore or in La Spezia - we would have had to wait somewhere for our connecting train to Florence.

Geez, guys, can't you see I'm railfanning here? ;)
Here's the 12:35 train arriving in Riomaggiore... pushed by another E.464 unit.
Right on time!
Next was the 12:38 train, seen here departing north from platform 2. Note the graffiti.
So many trains through Riomaggiore!
The next train I photographed was a southbound freight train on track 1, pulled by an E.652 unit and hauling a string of what looked like covered gondolas.
Locomotive E652 050 southbound through Riomaggiore
The tail end of the southbound freight train through Cinque Terre
Finally, our train showed up, right on time, ending a very fruitful Italian railfanning session.
The 12:57 - let's go!

Here's the video I took at night and the next day.

Trains in Riomaggiore, Italy - YouTube

On to Florence!
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This is part of a series documenting the trains I saw in Italy in late spring 2017.

We left Rome on May 31 and headed to Cinque Terre. This set of five fishing towns is becoming a popular tourist destination. To get there by train, one has to first go to La Spezia, then transfer to a local train that runs through all five towns.

Onboard the TrainHere's the interior of the train we took to La Spezia.

The train had a snack bar on board, but it was closed when I walked by.

Here's a view of a "2nd class" car.
2nd class car on Trenitalia
It was pretty comfortable, if basic.

The View
Some kind of concrete tie train at the Follonica station
I amused myself by taking lots of photos out the windows. Since the train wasn't crowded, both my wife and I had window seats. Of course, I was a lot more interested in photographing the trackside equipment and structures than she was!

I'm fascinated by European diesel locomotives. The "form factor" of these locomotives is so different than current North American locomotives. In many ways, they are more reminiscent of early North American diesels.

The diesel below is a centre cab - not done now but GE certainly had centre cabs in their early diesels.
A diesel switcher in Italy
The locomotive below (one of two on the concrete tie train seen above) vaguely reminds me of an early Fairbanks-Morse unit - squarish, with a small cab.
One of two paired diesel units at Follonica, Italy
A little research shows that it is an ex Czech diesel - I spotted one like it a few years ago.

I think the key difference is that European diesels are just small, because European trains are shorter and lighter than North American trains. Also, most European trains are pulled by electric locomotives, so the diesels are used more for branch lines and maintenance trains.

I don't know what this is, but man, it's a cute little locomotive!
I'm not sure what industry this was, but those are certainly cooling towers.
Cooling towers and containers
We had glimpses of a lot of Italian train stations. Some were pretty modern but some had some nice touches, like the Rosignano station below with the patterned arch above the doors.

Rosignano station
Some stations are little more than platforms - at least from the view I had. Presumably there is a nice station building... on the other side of the train.

S. Marinella train station
Naturally, wires are everywhere since most trains are electric.
Livorno Centrale
We had power at our seats, which was great for keeping cell phones charged. I had a very bulky international adapter plugged in, to adapt the standard North American plugs for Italian/European plugs. It doesn't convert voltage but most DC adapters can handle 120V through 240V. Read the label!
World's bulkiest power plug adapter
The train stopped at Pisa on the way. Before the trip, my wife and I had discussed whether we should go see the famed Leaning Tower, but we decided against it. We figured that it wouldn't be a good use of our limited time to go see the tower, take a photo, then leave. I did snap a photo from the train as we crossed a river in Pisa itself, hoping to catch the tower in the photo. I didn't get it in the photo below, but I think we did catch a glimpse of the tower as we left the town.
Crossing the Arno River in Pisa, Italy

La Spezia
La Spezia Centrale
We arrived at La Spezia, and left our train. Looking at the handy displays, we found the platform for the train to Riomaggiore (technically, you look for the train to Levanto) and went there to wait. Of course, I spent my time photographing trains while we waited.

Train at La Spezia - with a Bombardier E.464 class locomotive
Another train at La Spezia
I was pretty fascinated by this little diesel switcher in La Spezia. Clearly it has sat there for a while to get such a graffiti treatment.
Graffiti infested diesel locomotive

The Train to Cinque Terre
The train to Cinque Terre
Our train showed up, pretty much on time, and we boarded. The interior of the train was pretty spartan, but that's OK. It's a short haul train - it's only an hour run between La Spezia and Levanto. Since we were getting off at the first of the five towns - Riomaggiore - we would barely sit down before we arrived.
Basic coach
There's not much to share from a 7 minute ride. I remember that we went through a couple of short tunnels. The line through Cinque Terre hugs the coast and definitely goes through a lot of tunnels. The track in Riomaggiore is only exposed for a few hundred feet and goes into tunnels on both ends of the station.

Riomaggiore, Italy
Again, this isn't a travel blog, so I won't write much about the non-train stuff. The town of Riomaggiore is simply gorgeous and well worth a visit. It's small and quaint, but touristy.

We enjoyed a lovely sunset down by the water.
iPhone photo of the sunset at Riomaggiore
We woke up the next day - June 1 - and, after having breakfast, got on a train back to La Spezia to connect to Florence, our next destination.
More to come!
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Back in late May 2017, my wife and I went to Italy for a lovely spring vacation. It was our first time in Italy and we enjoyed it immensely. We definitely want to go back. Since this is a train blog, I'm not going to talk about all of the vacation aspects, but instead cover the train-related parts of our trip... and there were a lot!

Getting to Rome

We flew in three phases - Winnipeg to Toronto (YWG-YYZ), Toronto to Frankfurt (YYZ-FRA), and Frankfurt to Rome (FRA-FCO). It's always a little sobering to think that you are flying 10 km above the ocean, hundreds if not thousands of kilometres from any land, at a large fraction of the speed of sound. I often take air travel for granted, but it's pretty amazing when you think of it.

In Frankfurt I saw these little automated airport trains zooming around.
Airport trams in Frankfurt
We arrived in Rome - but my wife's suitcase did not. We had to spend some time in the airport at the lost luggage counter, filling out forms and so forth to arrange to get her bag. It wasn't totally lost, just lagging a little behind us. It would end up being delivered to our hotel that evening.

To get from the airport (the Leonardo da Vinci!) to downtown Rome, we took the airport train, the Leonardo Express. The station is in the airport itself, which is common in Europe and very convenient.
Train station in Leonardo da Vinci airport
I really enjoyed some of the signs on the yellow posts.
Pericolo di Morte
"Non Touche - Pericolo di Morte" translates as "Do Not Touch - Danger of Death".

After a little wait in the airport, our train arrived.
Leonardo Express train
This is an ETR-25 "Jazz" electric multiple unit (EMU) train, built by Alstom. It is very comfortable and whisked us downtown. It's all coach seating, of course, with no service on board, but it doesn't take too long so there's no need for drinks or anything like that.
Inside the Leonardo Express
I managed to grab the window seat (sorry, honey) and took a lot of photos of the trackside structures, maintenance equipment, and whatever else I could see. It's always interesting to see the railways of other countries and see how they differ from North American railways.
Maintenance equipment at Ponte Galeria, Italy
One thing I noticed quickly is that there is a lot of graffiti on the maintenance equipment. Also, the graffiti increased as we approached Rome. As you may know, I hate graffiti and it saddened me to see it here. I shouldn't have been surprised, since the word derives from the Italian "graffiato", meaning "scratched".

We passed a few small diesel locomotives.
Diesel locomotive in Italy, with graffiti (sigh)
Like Belgium, Italian trains are mostly electric, but there are some lines that are not electrified, and of course if you are doing maintenance on the wires, you need another way to move your equipment.

There are several train stations on the line between the airport and Rome, including Roma Trastevere, seen below. We didn't stop at any of them.
Roma Trastevere station
After about 40 minutes, we arrived at the Roma Termini station, the main train station in Rome.

Trains at Roma Termini

My long suffering wife was OK with me spending a few minutes photographing the trains in the station before we set off to find our hotel.

(Above) Locomotive E464-226 is a Bombardier E.464 class, the most common locomotive in service in Italy. 728 were built. It's capable of 4700 horsepower and a maximum speed of 160 km/hr. On that train, it was coupled to a regional train of passenger coaches. I've tried to find some information on those coaches but I can't find anything. My Google-fu has failed. :(

(Below) This is a "Vivalto" train set, manufactured by Hitachi. This is a six car consist, with one motor car and five trailers, with a total of 725 seats and a total capacity of 1,300 people including standing passengers.
Trenitalia "Vivalto" trainset in Rome
 Check out that sweet streamlined train in the background below!
Trains in Roma Termini
We left the station, and after a bit of wandering around, found our hotel.

We stayed in Rome from the 28th to the 31st of May, hitting the highlights, like the Colosseum, the Forum, the Vatican, and so forth. Rome is a marvelous city. I remember that it was very hot and I was glad that Rome has many free water fountains scattered around the city that you can refill your water bottle from. We drank a lot of water!

I did take a few photos of the outside of Roma Termini, but to be honest, it's pretty boring, in my opinion. The station was built in the 1950s and definitely has a modern look to it.
Roma Termini - exterior
I took a photo of the arrivals and departures board in the station during our stay in Rome. There are quite a few trains through here!
Trenitalia arrivals/departures board
I'll have a separate post about the trams we saw in Rome.

I won't bore you with a bunch of vacation photos, but here are two that I like.
Panorama of the Colosseum (L) and Arch of Constantine (R)
How could you not like the Colosseum? I liked it so much that I went back at dawn the next day to photograph it again.

My wife and I in the Gallery of Maps in the Vatican
That Gallery of Maps was definitely our favourite part of the Vatican - even more than the Sistine Chapel. Oddly enough, when we were in the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel was closed for a few hours. It turns out that our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, was visiting the Vatican at the same time that we were, and they cleared the chapel out so he could be alone in there.

Let me tell you, it was pretty crowded when we went in! I have no photos, because photography is not allowed in the chapel, even though a lot of people were sneaking photos. sigh

Coming UpAfter Rome, we boarded a train to take us to the Cinque Terre area of Italy, which is a set of five ("cinque") small fishing towns. This is a beautiful area of Italy, and although we only spent one night there, we fell in love with it. It was also a great place to do some railfanning!

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British Columbia Railway, by J.F. Garden
I recently borrowed the book "British Columbia Railway: From PGE to BC Rail" by J.F. Garden from the Winnipeg public library. I would freely admit that I didn't know much about BC Rail (as I refer to it) and I looked forward to learning more.

This is a fantastic book.

It's quite an imposing book. Weighing in at about 3.5 pounds and 456 pages, this is not a light read in any meaning of the phrase... but it is highly readable.

The book starts with a foreward by M.C. "Mac" Norris, former CEO and President of the British Columbia Railway.

The history of the Pacific Great Eastern, the British Columbia Railway, and BC Rail is intertwined with the history of politics in British Columbia. The railway has always been owned by the government and subject to the whims of whatever political party was in control, so Mr. Garden goes into considerable detail on the history of the railway and how it was affected by the parties in power.

This sounds really dry, but it isn't. The author writes in a fairly tongue-in-cheek style, and the text is liberally decorated with high quality photographs of the railway. British Columbia is incredibly scenic, and the photography in this book is outstanding.

60 pages are dedicated to the Pacific Great Eastern, and another 118 pages are devoted to the successor, the British Columbia Railway.

My favourite part of the book is "A Tour of the Line: BC Rail", showcasing numerous locations on the BC Rail network from North Vancouver through Prince George and Chetwynd, with branch lines well represented as well.

This book's first printing was August 1995, so it doesn't cover the end of passenger service on October 31, 2002, nor the 2003 sale of BC Rail to CN. It would be interesting to see another edition of the book that fills in that 8 year gap, but perhaps it's best that the book ends on an optimistic note, full of hope for the future of the railway.

"British Columbia Railway" is chock full of excellent photographs by the author, as well as many, many photos by outstanding railway photographers such as Steve Smedley, Greg McDonnell, Dave Wilkie, Roger Burrows, Nils Huxtable and Ken Perry among many others. The caption information is generous and really adds to the photographs.

I can't say enough good things about this book. If you have any interest in the PGE, British Columbia Railway, BC Rail, or even CN's operations on the former BC Rail territories, you should get this book. Used copies are available on Amazon or you may be able to find it in your local library.

If you purchase the book from Amazon using the link provided, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Just for something a little different, let's look at some of the cars found on CN 2329 East, spotted on September 13, 2018.

CN 2329By the name I've given the train, obviously CN 2329 was on the head end. 2329 is a GE ES44DC locomotive, built in mid 2010.

I first spotted this locomotive on train 404 on April 4, 2011 (see "404 on 4/04"), several hundred feet further east from the photo above. The second time I spotted 2329 was on October 9, 2012, pretty much at the exact same location. I might take a lot of photos in the same area... what do you think?

There was another locomotive on the train. You'll see it soon...

MGLX 625056
MGLX 625056 in Winnipeg
The first freight car I photographed was this Saskatchewan! car now owned by MobilGrain, MBLX 625056. The taggers have been all over this car, unfortunately. I always liked the green SK cars.

GTW 138205
Long live the Grand Trunk
The next car I photographed was heavily weathered GTW 138205, sporting the giant white "GT". It even has its multicolour ACI label visible to the right of the "T". I can't quite read the built date but it looks like "11-76", which is comparable to the dates on other GTW cars like this that I have photographed. 40+ years of working... too bad rail cars don't get a pension when they are retired.

CN 395299
Faded glory
Next up is highly faded CN 395299, with its Canadian Wheat Board logo and lettering barely visible. I remember it being almost pink in colour to my eye. Another car on borrowed time...

CGEX 1085
Cargill's CGEX 1085
I see a lot of Cargill grain cars. CGEX 1085 here is one of the common types, but I also see a lot of Cargill cars with external, vertical ribs. The reporting marks tend to be CGAX, CGEX or CGOX. I don't know if there is any reason for the difference in reporting marks.

You'll see another Cargill car shortly.

EFNX 160760
A truly boring car
I took a photo of EFNX 160760 not because there was anything interesting about it, but because it is a prime example of today's truly boring rail cars. This 5200 cubic foot car was built in September 2016 and is one of many cars in Element Financial's fleet of rail cars available for lease.

In "days of yore", railroads owned a lot of rolling stock. Not any more. I believe the majority of today's rail cars are owned by lessors like Element who lease them out to customers. It probably makes a lot of financial sense for the railroads to be out of the lease market, but I miss the corporate logos on rail cars. This car is truly and literally the beige among the rapidly disappearing GT blue, the UP yellow, and the rainbow Canadian grain car fleet.

OK, rant over. Incidentally, another photo of this very rail car is available on RRPictureArchives.NET.

CNA 385112
What's that in the top left corner?
CNA 385112 looks like a pretty ordinary 4740 cubic foot rail car, with external ribs, built in March 1972 and still sporting its ACI label. However... what's that in the top left of the car?

Aha! Cargill!
This was a Cargill car! Also note that it used to be NAHX 5xxx3 before CN acquired it.

These little details keep me watching the train after the locomotive(s) go by.

The FURX Cars
I saw a string of these gray FURX cars on the train next. You can see they are three bay open top hopper cars, 2400 cubic feet. I can see external controls to open the doors, so they must be pneumatically controlled. I see the pistons to operate the doors and there are nozzles on the cars labelled "AIR". It's weird how the middle door is "C" and the "A" and "B" doors are on the ends.

FURX was First Union Rail, recently renamed to Wells Fargo Rail. It's another railcar and locomotive leasing company.

The 86 Foot Boxcars
PHRX 4794
The real "win" on the train for me was this pair of 86 foot boxcars, with the PHRX reporting mark. The PHRX reporting mark is owned by Premier Horticulture Ltd., a company founded in 1923 around sphagnum peat moss. Their head office is in Rivière-du-Loup (Québec).

I remember seeing 86 foot boxcars on the New Brunswick East Coast Railway in northern New Brunswick. There is a lot of peat moss on the Acadian peninsula, and in fact the former Caraquet and Gulf Shore Railway (and later CN Caraquet subdivision) hauled a lot of peat moss.

Eric Gagnon has an excellent article on 86 foot boxcars hauling peat moss.

PHLX 206036
I'm sure you noticed the locomotive...

CN 3826
CN 3826
This shiny locomotive, CN 3826, is one of the 260 new Evolution-series locomotives GE is building for CN to ease its power shortage. I imagine this was one of the first revenue runs, as the locomotive is still clean!

Shiny new loco
Note the CN Aboriginal Affairs logo that these new locomotives wear. I love how there are labels with tiny letters along the frame edge... someone is very optimistic that these will be readable! My guess is that they will become covered in grime and be unreadable within a month.

Canadian Grain Cars
A rainbow
There was a rainbow of Canadian grain cars near the tail end of the train to finish things off.

I hope you enjoyed this little rolling stock review. Let me know what you think in the comments!
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