This post is a little about Passenger Rail and a lot about what you can learn by simply taking a vacation once in a while. Okay, I'll admit that the vacation was rail oriented, but that doesn't matter. Railroads are everywhere, and you will encounter them even if your vacation plans don't include any. If you are a "traveler" or a "vacationer," that's okay, too. If you keep your eyes open, you'll start to enjoy railroads.
Now to this vacation just completed: The objective of the vacation was to travel from our home in Albuquerque, NM, to see UP 844 in Ogden, UT. The special Union Pacific train has been traveling a lot this year, celebrating the 150th anniversary of UP and doing public relations with shippers and employees and just making friends. And boy does UP know how to make friends.
First, UP is safety conscious above all else. Their steam crew courteously keeps the unaware and the innocent from getting hurt. They make friends while doing it. They do not order people around, but they do make sure that everyone that gets near this big steam engine and its train is safe. Second, UP is generous. Sure, they want to sell souvenirs in the gift shop, but they gave away a helluva lot of stuff, and they did it willingly and freely. Third, if you have never seen UP's train, to see what passenger railroading once was and could be again, you've got to get a look at it. Granted, UP will not give public tours of the whole train, but the outside speaks of the opulence and grace within. Fourth, for the tree-huggers among you, they run the steam locomotive on biodiesel. UP is environmentally conscious.
Aside for those of you who have ever been tempted to protest a new rail line due to how ugly it might be: A trip up Route 6 over Soldier Summit with the old Denver & Rio Grande (now UP) reminds one how beautiful a railroad snaking through the mountains can and will always be. The highway paralleling the railroad is far uglier and takes up far more of the limited area between high canyon walls.
On the way up to Ogden, we decided to "surface road" it through Salt Lake City and the large metro area that appears to run from Provo all the way up to Ogden and beyond. We got to see the latest in light rail systems in Utah Transportation Authority's TRAX system, which is expanding quickly. And, right up the way from where UP parked the steam loco, FrontRunner, which reminds me of Albuquerque's RailRunner Express, made its northern terminal stop.
I hope I've given some of you reason to believe that rail, and Passenger Rail in particular, is on its way to new and better things.
©2012 - C. A. Turek - firstname.lastname@example.org