Saturday, January 15, 2022

Thieves are robbing Union Pacific trains in Los Angeles to such an extent that . . .

 the railroad is considering ceasing to serve the city.

News footage shows the rail line littered with the packages of thousands of stolen items.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

2021 Reflections: The Transportation Edition.


We don't tend to post original commentary on this blog, but on our others, but given the topics, it's appropriate here.

And this will be a dual post, appearing on both Railhead and The Aerodrome simultaneously.

Like some, as in all, of our reflection posts that have gone up on our companion blogs, this entry is impacted by COVID 19, as everything is. 

It's also heavily impacted by politics.

And of course, COVID 19 itself has become strangely political.

The onset of the terrible pandemic shut down nearly every economy in the world, save for those in areas with economies so underdeveloped that they couldn't shut down.  That impacted the world's transportation networks in a major way, and it still is.  COVID 19 also became a factor in the last election, with a large section of the American public becoming extremely unhappy with the Trump Administration's response to the pandemic.  Added to the mix, heightened concerns over global warming have finally started to accelerate an American response to the threat.

All of which gets us to transportation, the topic of these blogs in some ways.

For at least a decade, it's been obvious that electric automobile are going to replace fossil fuel powered ones. There are, of course, deniers, but the die is cast and that's where things will go.  

It's also become obvious that technology is going to take truck driver out of their seats, and put a few, albeit a very few, in automated offices elsewhere where they'll monitor remote fleets of trucks.  Or at least that's the thought.

The Biden Administration, moreover, included money for railroads in is large infrastructure bill.  This has developed in various ways, but the big emphasis has been on expanding Amtrak.

Amtrak Expansion. Cheyenne to Denver, and beyond!?


I have real problems, I'll admit, with the scope of the proposed infrastructure spending proposals that President Biden is looking at, but if they go forward, I really hope we do see rail service restored (and that's what it would be) between Cheyenne and Denver.

The plan proposes to invest $80B in Amtrak.  Yes, $80B.  Most of that will go to repairs, believe it or not, as the Amtrak has never been a favorite of the Republican Party, which in its heard of hearts feels that the quasi public rail line is simply a way of preserving an obsolete mode of transportation at the Government's expense.  But rail has been receiving a lot of attention recently for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that in a now carbon conscious era, it's the greenest mode of transportation taht we have, something the commercial rail lines have been emphasizing.

Indeed, if the American public wasn't afraid of a nuclear power the same way that four year olds are afraid of monsters that live under their beds, it could be greener yet, and there's some talk of now supporting nuclear power among serious informed environmentalists.  A campaign to push that, called the Solutionary Rail, is now active.  We'll deal with that some other time.

Here we're noting that we're hopeful that if this does go through, and as noted we have real reservations about this level of expenditure, that Amtrak does put in a passenger line from Cheyenne to Pueblo.  

A line connecting Ft. Collins to Denver has been a proposal in Colorado for quite a while and has some backing there.  The same line of thought has already included Cheyenne.  This has a lot to do with trying to ease the burgeoning traffic problem this area experiences due to the massive population growth in Colorado.  Wyomingites, I suppose, should therefore approach this with some caution as it would tie us into the Front Range communities in a way that we might not want to be.  Still, it's an interesting idea.

It's one that for some reason I think will fall through, and I also suspect it'll receive no support in Wyoming. Still, it's interesting.

During  the past year, locally, flights to Casper were put in jeopardy. This was a byproduct of COVID 19, as air travel dropped off to nearly nothing, nationwide, and that made short flights economically iffy.

Before the pandemic, Delta had cut back its flight schedule to Salt Lake, which is a major Delta hub. This caused its bookings to drop down anyway.  I used to fly to Salt Lake in the morning, pre COVID, do business, and then fly back that evening.  Once Delta cuts its flights back, however, that became impossible.

That meant that Delta, at that point, had aced itself out of the day trip business market, which it seemingly remains unaware of for some reason.  COVID hurt things further.  At that point it threatened to abandon its service unless it could receive some assistance.  The county and the local municipalities rose to the occasion.

Delta receives a subsidty to continue serving the Natrona County International Airport

 I'm really not too certain what my view on this is.  Overall, I suppose it's a good thing.


Delta is one of the two carriers, relying on regional contractors, serving the Natrona County International Airport, and hence all of Central Wyoming.  It flies to and from Salt Lake, while United flies to and from Denver.  

It used to have great connections.  A businessman in Casper could take the red eye to Salt Lake and then catch the late flight back. That's no longer possible  Frankly, depending upon what you're doing, it's nearly as easy to drive to Salt Lake now.

And perhaps that's cutting into their passenger list, along with COVID 19, although I'm told that flights have been full recently.

Anyhow, losing Delta would be a disaster. We'd be down to just United.  Not only would that mean that there was no competition, it'd place us in a shaky position, maybe, as the overall viability of air travel starts to reduce once a carrier pulls out.

A couple of legislatures ago there was an effort to subsidize intrastate air travel, and I think it passed.  While Wyomingites howl about "socialism", as we loosely and fairly inaccurately describe it, we're hugely okay with transportation being subsidized.  We likely need to be, or it'll cut us off from the rest of everything more than we already are, and that has a certain domino effect.

I don't know what the overall solution to this problem is, assuming there is one, but whatever it is, subsidies appear likely to be part of it for the immediate future . . . and maybe there are some avenues open there we aren't pursuing and should be.

At the same time, infrastructure money became available for the state's airports as well.

Wyoming's Airports to receive $15.1M in Infrastructure Money

The Federal funds can be used for terminals, runways and parking lots and the like.

Of Wyoming airports, Jackson's will get the most, receiving $3.38M.  Natrona County International Airport gets the second-largest amount at $1.34M.  Natrona  County's airport will use the funds for electrical work.


So flights were kept and improvements will be made.

Recently, pilot pay has been tripled, albeit only for one month.

United Airlines Triples Pilot Pay for January.

This due to an ongoing pilot shortage, which has been heightened by the Omicron variant of COVID 19.

I.e, United is trying to fill the pilot seats this month.

So, that's what happened.

Now, what might we hope will happen?

1.  Electric Avenue

Everything always seem really difficult until its done, and then not so much.

Which doesn't discount difficulty. 

The Transcontinental Railraod was created in the US through the American System, something that's been largely forgotten.  Private railroads didn't leap at the chance to put in thousands of miles of rail line across uninhabited territory.  No, the Federal Government caused the rail line to come about by providing thousands of acres of valuable land to two start up companies and then guarding the workers with the Army, at taxpayer expense.

We note that as, right now, railroad are already the "greenest" means of transportation in the US.  They could be made more so by electrifying them, just as the Trans Siberian Railway is.  At the same time, if a program to rapidly convert energy production in the US to nuclear was engaged in, the US transportation system could be made basically "green" in very little time.  Probably five years or less.

If we intend to "build back better", we ought to do that.

This would, I'd note, largely shift long transportation back to its pre 1960s state.  Mostly by rail.  Trucking came in because the US decided, particularly during the Eisenhower Administration, to subsidize massive coast to coast highways.  

For the most part, we no longer really need them.

Oh, we need highways, but with advances in technology of all sorts, we need them a lot less than we once did.  And frankly, we never really needed them way that the Federal Government maintained we did.  It's been a huge financial burden on the taxpayers, and its subsidized one industry over another.

Yes, this is radical, but we should do it.

Now, before a person either get too romantic, or too weepy, over this, a couple of things.

One is that we already have an 80,000 teamster shortage for trucking.  I.e., yes, this plan would put a lot of drivers out of work, but its a dying occupation anyway.  Indeed, in recent years its become on that is oddly increasingly filled with Eastern Europeans who seemingly take it up as its a job they can occupy with little training.  The age of the old burly American double shifting teamster is long over.  

And to the extent it isn't, automated trucks are about to make it that way for everyone.

The trains, we'd note, will be automated too.  It's inevitable. They'll be operated like giant train sets from a central location. Something that's frankly easier, and safer, to do, than it would be for semi tractors.

2.  Subsidized local air travel

It's going to take longer to electrify aircraft, particularly those that haul people, but electrification of light aircraft is already being worked on.  The Air Force has, moreover, been working on alternative jet fuels.

Anyhow, if we must subsidize something in long distance transportation, that should be local air travel.  Its safe, effective and vital for local economies.  I don't care if that is quasi socialist.  It should be done.

3. The abandoned runways.

Locally, I'd like to see some of that infrastructure money go to the extra runway or runways at the NatCo airport being repaired.  I know that they were little used, but they're there.



Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Lex Anteinternet: Pandemic Part 7. The Litigation Edition

Lex Anteinternet: Pandemic Part 7. The Litigation Edition:   November 10, 2021

The Union Pacific and the Burlington Northern have gone to court to determine if they can impose mandates on their employees, which they wish to do. Their unions are resisting the efforts on the basis that the railroads didn't negotiate first. That is, the unions support vaccinations, but they wanted the railroads to negotiate on the incentives first.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

South Torrington Railroad Station, Torrington Wyoming (Homesteader's Museum).


Above is a fisheye view of the South Torrington Railroad Station.  I used this view as its a long station, and to get the entire station in otherwise I would have had to walk across the highway, which was busy.


This station is unusual in that it was designed by noted National Park lodge architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood in the Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival Style.  Originally built in 1926, it was extended in order to accommodate both passenger and freight service, with its original purpose being reflected in the fact that it remains right across the street from a sugar refinery.


As with so many other depots, this one is no longer used by the Union Pacific, but it's well-preserved and now used as the Goshen County Homesteader's Museum.



Saturday, July 10, 2021

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Lex Anteinternet: Subscribe by email "gadget" going away.

Lex Anteinternet: Subscribe by email "gadget" going away.: Google seems pretty intent on destroying the Blogger format, which means that for people like me, who have blogged on blogger, we have a cho...

Friday, April 2, 2021

Amtrak Expansion. Cheyenne to Denver, and beyond!?


I have real problems, I'll admit, with the scope of the proposed infrastructure spending proposals that President Biden is looking at, but if they go forward, I really hope we do see rail service restored (and that's what it would be) between Cheyenne and Denver.

The plan proposes to invest $80B in Amtrak.  Yes, $80B.  Most of that will go to repairs, believe it or not, as the Amtrak has never been a favorite of the Republican Party, which in its heard of hearts feels that the quasi public rail line is simply a way of preserving an obsolete mode of transportation at the Government's expense.  But rail has been receiving a lot of attention recently for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that in a now carbon conscious era, it's the greenest mode of transportation taht we have, something the commercial rail lines have been emphasizing.

Indeed, if the American public wasn't afraid of a nuclear power the same way that four year olds are afraid of monsters that live under their beds, it could be greener yet, and there's some talk of now supporting nuclear power among serious informed environmentalists.  A campaign to push that, called the Solutionary Rail, is now active.  We'll deal with that some other time.

Here we're noting that we're hopeful that if this does go through, and as noted we have real reservations about this level of expenditure, that Amtrak does put in a passenger line from Cheyenne to Pueblo.  

A line connecting Ft. Collins to Denver has been a proposal in Colorado for quite a while and has some backing there.  The same line of thought has already included Cheyenne.  This has a lot to do with trying to ease the burgeoning traffic problem this area experiences due to the massive population growth in Colorado.  Wyomingites, I suppose, should therefore approach this with some caution as it would tie us into the Front Range communities in a way that we might not want to be.  Still, it's an interesting idea.

It's one that for some reason I think will fall through, and I also suspect it'll receive no support in Wyoming. Still, it's interesting.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Lex Anteinternet: March 24, 1941. The "Wild West Cowboys"

Lex Anteinternet: March 24, 1941. Reversal of fortunes in North Afr...

The last of New York's "Wild West Cowboys", mounted men who rode in front of the city's urban freight trains in Manhattan to clear pedestrians, made his last ride. After this date, the mounted riders were retired from that service, there being at that time only one left.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Lex Anteinternet: November 23, 1920. Empires

Lex Anteinternet: November 23, 1920. Empires

November 23, 1920. Empires

* * *

Anchorage Alaska, which had been founded in 1915, was incorporated.


Anchorage was, and is, as the name indicates a port city.  And today its a large one, much like any other large port city, all of which have a certain universal character.  It was also, however, right from the onset a railhead, which made it all the more important.



Monday, October 5, 2020

Lex Anteinternet: October 5, 1920. World Series begins, Russo Polish War ends, Railway reopens

Lex Anteinternet: October 5, 1920. World Series begins, Russo Polis...

October 5, 1920. World Series begins, Russo Polish War ends, Railways reopen.




 The 1920 World Series started on this day, in 1920.

Crowd in Ebbets Field.

Cleveland won the first game, 1 to 0.

New York City Mayor John Hylan throws ball to open World Series at Ebbets Field

Poland and the Soviet Union signed an armistice to end the fighting between their countries.  Fighting would stop on October 18.

In Egypt, the American University in Cairo opened.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, a new railroad opened up.  Or rather a rebuilt raiilway.

The opening of the Jaffa-Jerusalem Railway was attended, as all such things were, by the senior British official.


The line had originally been a narrow gauge railway, but  the British reconstructed it to a new, more useful, wider gauge.
While it has been closed from time to time, updates and reconstructions have meant that the rail line remains in use today.