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Sunday, July 11, 2004

Rail News 

I have been working my way through a large quantity of Rail News magazines that were given to me by a long-time subscriber. The main subscriber for this magazine is a die-hard rail fan. The issues focus on current operations by the large railroad operators in the US - including Amtrak. Each major rail line has a chapter devoted to its own information. The reports are laced with photos and offer real insight into the problems and services that the lines have. Many reports feature financial information as well as equipment additions, trades, donations and scrapping. It may seem interesting to read about the minute goings on of the rail lines but I find myself skimming over much of the material.

There is a feature story each month and several columns that are quite interesting. One column is called "From the Cab" as I recall. This is a recent Amtrak locomotive engineer who writes about things that he has done or seen. My personal opinion is that he is a talented writer and after reading a few of his stories, I was wishing he had written a book of these stories. He has and it is available from Pentrex.

The feature story is usually loaded with pictures and detailed in its subject matter. It may be about a place where there is a main line that crosses another or perhaps a story about a valley in an Eastern state where the railroads have to cross a river and each others lines routinely.

One further point is that a section of the magazine is devoted to "traction". This is the broad class of vehicles that encompasses subways, elevated, trolley and light rail. There are many cities and metropolitan areas that are starting, operating, planning or overhauling traction. This section abounds with stories about these and other subjects.

Advertisements fill this book and they plug magazines, timetables, videos, books and other magazines as well as train travel and tours. If it is rail connected, there are ads about it. Sometimes I find the ads almost as interesting as the stories.

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