Sunday, June 14, 2009

Operation Life Saver, June 13,2009.

The placing of photos on Blogspot has a mind of its own, thus the need for an introduction so the viewer knows what the photos, which moved themselves to the top, have to do with the main part of this article.
A camera is aimed at the track as the train proceeds. This camera, taking images on a loop digital recorder, records the daily travel. If all is well, it recdords over the prior day. Thus if something does happen, it may be reviewed.
In fact, a black box, as on airplanes, does exist.
The camera's images are sent back to
a television inside train cars for
passengers to watch as the train
travels forward.
Signal lights are easily seen.
In the photo of the signal light, top,
the red tells the conductor,
"Don't travel on the siding rail."
The yellow light indicates a train is
traveling the section in front of the
locomotive, in the same direction,
therefore it tells the train that
follows, to wait until the light
turns green. The high yellow
light is called the "cab red zone"
a reason to heighten awarness.
a time in the cab that no one does
any unnecessary talking. The train
must be prepared to stop
if called to do so.
Pieces of metal track are
pulled out by track crews
and lay aside the tracks
until the maintenance
crew gathers them.
These are the joints that
have been
replaced by the welding
crew for a
now, smooth ride. These
joints wear
from tons and miles of train
cars travel
over them. A welding crew
has been busy
laying new, replacement
joints and
welding them for a much
smoother ride.
a train waited on the side
rail as the
Operation Life Saver
passed by.

Riding a train is definitely
safer than driving your
car as evidenced by the
careful, thoughtful, and thorough
handling of the locomotive with
engineers and a conductor present,
listening to constant updates
from the controller.

Steve, with the handle bar mustache,
is welcoming everyone aboard the
"Operation Life Saver"
ride on the trip to Westwater
and back.

Leaving from the train depot in Grand Junction, a good-sized crowd had boarded the "Columbine," a restored,
1940's train with cars and engine.
The Heritage Engine UP1989 was newly painted, a sight to thrill railroad buffs' hearts.
In this article are included two photos copied from framed posters which provide a brief history of the original train and cars.
The train sported air-cooled, observation-club and dining cars. The Columbine ran between Chicago-Omaha-Denver. Radio provided entertainment as well as current magazines of the time. There was a soda fountain, a barber shop and bath facilities, dining car with "meals that appeal." The deluxe coaches had reclining chairs. The advertising promoted visiting "the glorious Colorado Rockies this summer on the train that carries the cool,clean, healthful and friendly atmosphere of Colorado with it-THE COLUMBINE," named for the State flower of Colorado.

According to one of the engineers on the train, this particular ride has been offered in the Grand Junction area for around 4 or 5 years now.
"More and more people gather as they hear about it," said.

The object of the trip is to teach safety, especially to those who drive cars over rail road crossings.
One of the engineers noted that since the beginning of the ride, "Operation Life Saver" in Idaho nearly 10 years ago, the number of accidents at railroad crossings has decreased significantly, by over 50 percent.
Many of us are aware of the shocking deaths publicized in the media which have taken place when a driver is on a cell phone and doesn't stop at the sign before crossing a line, or when a truck or car is stopped on the tracks, stalled or trapped by vehicles in front of in back of it.
One death near Fruita was the result of a cell phone conversation. There are other distractions as well.
Engineer Paul Connors pointed out a close call in Steamboat Springs.
"The police car just made it, crossing in front of the train," he said. " The chief even waved at me. We've seen guys speed across even though the lights are flashing and the gate is just beginning to drop down."
Engineer Cheryl Willcoxon, who travels out of Omaha, remembered having a Top Hat Truck wrap itself around the engine at Austin, Colorado.
"I saw the driver stop," she said, "then he just pulled on out like he didn't see us. The truck ended up wrapped around my engine."
Scott Morrison, conductor for the trip noted that the most dangerous vehicles are gas tankers and other vehicles which carry explosive or hazardous materials.
"The law requires that such vehicles stop at every railroad crossing, whether or not any signal is flashing, just like school buses have to." he said. "Drivers need to pay attention to what they are doing. Cell phones are one of the other hazards if used while driving."
As the train pulled out of the station, the engineers and conductor pointed out the signals and the switches. There are so many things to take care of and to constantly call out, such as approaching signal lights, markers and more. They are constantly talking to each other as the track curves, as switch locks are near, as conditions are noted. They leave no room for error.
If drivers on cars and trucks did the same, there would be no accidents.

Major crossings have the gates that come down when trains approach. These crossings always have flashing lights and bells at the approach of a train.
On smaller crossings, such as on a crossing to a house or farm, there are stop signs clearly posted.
A train, going at the regulated speed for that area, say 60 mph, cannot stop as fast as a car or even a semi trailer truck. Probably close to a mile of track is needed.

As the train headed for Ruby Canyon and Westwater, passengers were treated to beautiful scenery. And, as is the custom, rafters on the Colorado River gave the "moon salute" the Colorado River salute, both cheeks.
The black rocks and Jesse James' Roost were some of the sites.
A big geological fault dips down into the earth on the south side of the river, near Ruby Canyon, and re-surfaces miles to the east, near Grand Junction.
A rock formation, similar to the Colorado National Monuments standing bear, stands at the east end of Ruby Canyon. Supposedly this rock formation is viewed by many as an Indian maiden with a jar of water on her head, her story giving the canyon its name. There are other stories or folklore as well.
Bald eagles, deer, coyotes and other wild life provide inspiring sights. The light poles still hold old, antique, bluish glass insulators keeping the wires in place. Rock walls of red and gold grace the tracks as they travel through the canyon, truly a magnificent view.
Arriving back Those tracks had been laid by the Rio Grande in the late 1800's. The east track, a mile down the line, was built in the 1950's. Here you find the locomotives parked.
Operation Life Saver will travel to Delta on Sunday and then come back to the Valley to give several more rides on Monday, June 16. Even if one life is saved, it is worth the time and effort on the part of the railroad. The trip will head to DeBeque and later in the week, to Glenwood and back.
After I figure out how to publish a slide show of the scenery along the route, it will be published. You will find it under the heading "Operation Life Saver" in the index of this news blog. Remember, comments are very welcome.

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