The home of The Rip Track podcast, disseminating information about model railroading and worldwide railroad history.

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First fatal accident on a maglev

Sad news coming out of Germany today. The first fatal accident on a maglev occurred this morning on the Transrapid demonstration system near the Dutch border. The train left the station at 9:30 local time and sped up to about 200 km/h (120 mph) in the short distance of 1 km (0.6 mi) before colliding with a maintenance of way vehicle on the track. Reports so far indicate that 19 of the train's passengers plus two maintenance workers have died in the collision. The system where the accident occurred has been in operation four days per week since 1984, so this is proven technology. So far, analysts are pointing to a failure in communications between the train's operators and the maintenance crew. So this was the first accident, here's hoping we don't see another for an extremely long time.

Modeler's Moment - Go when you can

Triple-headed mainline steam!

I've learned long ago that if you're ever given a chance to go out railfanning, do it. It seems that every time I go out to shoot trains, I see something special. To use today as an example, I had an opportunity to go to the Quad Cities to see the double-headed special pulled by the two Chinese steam locomotives on Iowa Interstate. When I finally got to a good photo location, another railfan told me that 261 was coupled into the train too. The train pulled into the town and all three were steamed up and working! Bonus!

Modeler's Moment - Happy 999 day!

999 at the Chicago museum

Today is the 115th anniversary of the record-breaking run of New York Central's Empire State Express. On September 14, 1891, the Empire State Express, pulled by 4-4-0 locomotive number 999, ran from New York City to Buffalo, a distance of 436 miles, in 7 hours and 6 minutes, an average of 65 mph. Officially, the train's top speed was 82 mph, but unofficial reports put the top speed as high as 112 mph. 999 is preserved on static display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Wot doth myne ies doe see?

So the September issues of MR and Trains arrived in my mailbox over the weekend. It took a few days for me to find the time to start reading through them, and only today do I notice a distinct lack of greengrocer's apo'strophe's in either issue. I had to read it again to be sure I wasn't seeing things. Someone got out his MLA Handbook (ISBN 0-87352-986-3) and turned to section 3.2.7 (page 91) and took its advice to heart: "Do not use an apostophe to form the plural of an abbreviation or a number." If only I could be sure it was my writing that contributed to this wondrous occasion.

The railway trip I most want to ride next is...

Durango & Silverton (Colorado)
20% (1 vote)
Copper Canyon (Mexico)
60% (3 votes)
Qingzang Railway (China)
0% (0 votes)
Indian Pacific (Australia)
0% (0 votes)
something else...
20% (1 vote)
Total votes: 5

Trip report - A quick tour of Colorado

We just got back from a short vacation in Colorado. What is a railfan to do when surrounded by some of the best known narrow gauge railroading in North America? He goes to the museums and rides the trains, of course. On this trip, we visited the Colorado Railroad Museum, and rode Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Here's a little bit of a photojournal documenting the trip (39 photos, dialup users beware)...

Modeler's Moment - Little railfans

little railfan


Sure, you like to go out railfanning, but what about the little people on your layout? Think there might be a railfan among them? My guess is that there probably is, just like this adventurous photographer in G scale who climbed up the mountain to get the wide shot.

Modeler's Moment - Another aspect of railroadiana

Sheet music: Hold Dat Train!

Need something else to liven up your railroadiana collection without spending an enormous amount of money? One modeler I know added sheet music with railroad related themes to his collecting activities. There's quite a lot out there, even some referencing specific railroads and trains. In this image of "Hold Dat Train!" a minstrel from around 1918 is running to catch L&N's Dixie Flyer as it leaves the station.

Modeler's Moment - Every layout should have a castle

A castle...

Some modelers just don't have the time to build the exquisitely detailed castle including every last brick in the walls and a drawbridge made from individual planks. If you look at it right, you can see a castle in the most mundane of materials like this packing remnant. Remember rule number 1 - "This is my railroad" - and never forget the unwritten rule number 3 - "Always have fun with the hobby."

Terminology specific site feeds

There's a feature on this website that might not be very obvious to the casual reader; but if you use an RSS aggregator, you might find it helpful. On the majority of the posts that I make here, you'll see a little subtopic heading under the post title. For example, if you look at the post titled "Modeler's Moment - Micromodules", you'll see a subheading labeled "Layout planning". Go ahead and click on that then come back here to read more...

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