Sunday, August 21, 2016
A bit of Ferroequinology...
Many of us on the US East Coast are Pennsylvania Railroad fans...it is one of my two favorite railroads. The first two pictures were taken in Altoona, PA. I was visiting their Altoona Railfest back in October of 2001. Except for the NS unit in the left background of the first picture, these could have been taken back in the 50's, or any time up till things went south for the PRR.
The E-units were beautifully restored by a private party in Philadelphia, and Railfest arranged the use of some commuter passenger equipment through Amtrak, along with restored private cars, for several runs each day around Horseshoe Curve, through the tunnels, around the loop near Gallitzin, and back around the Curve in the other direction. It was a fun train ride...too bad those trips are no longer possible.
Following is a picture I took while in Europe back in 1981, from a tour bus. My notes are incomplete, but it's a diesel powered mixed passenger train operation, and as I recall it was in Switzerland. The architecture on the building in the background appears somewhat Alpine...and there is still snow on the mountains in the background.
Wish I knew where it was taken...oh well!
Now, for those of you wondering about the following, and how it fits into the realm of ferro-equinology.
It's called a Hovercraft, as "while in operation it hovers over the water." When it was christened in 1969, SeaSpeed Hovercraft GH-2007 (Princess Anne) and its sister craft (the Princess Margaret) began to ply the English Channel between England and the Continent - fast and frequent. And they were initially operated by British Rail, complete with the BR logo on their upright rear stabilizers! (That's their link to ferroequinology.)
These wonderful machines, powered by gas turbine engines, could make the crossing at 65 knots and in under a half hour, reportedly with 78 crossings per day between them. They were expanded size-wise in the 1970's, and could then carry in excess of 400 passengers and 50+ automobiles. Unfortunately British Rail got out of the business early on, and the Channel Tunnel opened in 1994, dooming these unique machines, which were retired in 2000.
As of January 2016, they are now in danger of being scrapped at a museum in the UK. I hope at least one of them can be saved intact...
During my visit to the UK in 1981, I had the pleasure of making a one-way crossing (or "flight" as they called it, since they ride on a cushion of air between the craft and the water) on the Princess Anne. I took the two pictures above on my flight.
The sea that day was choppy, and the ride was very rough. Before I left home, I had obtained some seasickness patches from the doctor, and wisely used one that day (as well as omitted breakfast.) The combination of the two saved me from getting sea-sick. Many folks had gone way beyond "turning green at the gills." Barf Bags were in short supply. I felt bad for the many folks who had a hearty breakfast before departure (including some on my tour), and then lost it all enroute. A half hour can seem like an eternity when you're sea-sick.
But the overall experience was fabulous, and will live on in my memory banks...like my many rides behind various steam locomotives, and flights in the old Lockheed Super G Constellations. Too bad it can't be re-created (on a smooth-water day!)
Stay tuned...more later!
PS: Sue Richmond: enjoy! Did you ever get to try riding the Hovercraft?