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Old 09-10-2008, 03:17 AM
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Default Railways Recovery In TW2000

Poor Merchant 05-31-2008, 02:45 AM I've been thinking about railways in TW2000 and reading through the archive it seems they do not get much consideration. While I can see that getting some massive diesel rail engine back up and running would be a major task (and feeding it fuel would be a job on its own) I would think that using trucks mounted on the rails would have a number of advantages:


1) The rules in Going Home give an improvement in load capacity of 1.5x for vehicles and 2x for animal hauled loads. Now I'm assuming that this improvement is based upon the lower resistance of a steel wheel and a steel rail compared with road transport which leads on to....


2) Vastly improved fuel consumption for a given load. Searching through various websites most say that rail compared to road transport is vastly more fuel efficient (from 4x - 9x more efficient). Now my assumption for why this is so is an amalgam of several factors (in no particular order):

(i) Most road journeys are short, in urban areas and hence have a lot of start/stop element to them versus railways where journeys are further with less hold ups. The lack of resistance in the rails means trains are more efficient once inertia has been overcome requiring little energy.

(ii) Railways are graded routes and so the engine does not have to struggle on steep grades (I guess you'd say the energy investment had been made grading the railway rather than in the train hauling the wagons).

(iii) Railway engines are huge compared to their road counterparts and are simply more efficient in hauling each kilo of mass.


3) Converting a lorry or bus to run on rails would seem to be a relatively straightforward (allbeit permanent) task (I'm not thinking making it a hybrid - but mounting railway wheels on a truck) assuming access to a machine shop.


So rail would appear to be the obvious option for transportation under certain circumstances:


1) Large bulk cargoes (at least large in T2K terms - for instance the ten 10,000 litre lorries in Pennsylvania Crude would constitute a large load in game terms but very small in railway terms - typical modern tanker wagons hold between 60,000 and 125,000 litres) to be carried over long distances (again in T2K terms).


2) Obviously if the rails run where you want to go to


3) The ability to secure the permanent road from marauders


Now the way I see it our modern society has decided that the convenience of road transport outweighs the benefits of rail resulting in a more dispersed industrial distribution but if you look at history the industrial economics of basic industries resulted in concentrations of factories which specialised in certain goods - along with transport hubs to serve them.


Now on a national basis in the US a number of these hubs have been taken out of the equation by the same bombs that hit the POL capacity of the USA. Therefore, the US rail system would be initially fragmented on a national basis and would need to "work around" the holes in the network (which may well be very difficult if there are no secondary links to back up the main route between two points). Given the state of North America post Twilight War I think we can take it as read that a national transport system would simply cease to exist.*


On a local basis though it may be perfectly feasible to restart rail operations using converted trucks to connect communities along a rail network (for some reason Scranton, PA sprang into my head as a candidate for long term regeneration with rail featuring early - possibly because SteamTown NP in the middle of Scranton might give the opportunity to get proper steam engines a la Going Home into the mix). In my mind's eye I see these early trains being a Semi with a number of trailers hooked on to it (a bit like those Australian road-trains), or an old school bus converted to rails carrying peasants and their chickens to market in the next town over.


The TW2000 rules in Going Home re hauling capacity sound like a GDW fudge to me - but I didn't seem to be able to find anything else when searching the Net (I'm one of those irritating people who like the numbers to stack up and be "real" wherever possible but don't want it to interfere with game play). Does anyone have any better numbers for road v rail hauling efficiency?


And if you wanted to complicate things more I don't recall Going Home including any detail on Grades reducing hauling capacity (ie a 1% grade reduces load capacity by x% etc) - a 3% grade is pretty steep on most railways but some light rail nets within cities have not been graded - with obvious implications for what can be hauled.


Sooooo..... in my mind I see a period after the bombs drop of relative calm as people wait for radiation levels to fall, use up local supplies and wait for national assistance. When the supplies run out and no assistance is coming ("you're on your own") I see rioting in those areas without strong local government / military forces present with many supplies wasted by fire and exposure to the elements. I see movements of people seeking food and shelter. I see the growth of insular communities who seek to protect their foodstocks and farmland. I also see a widespread distrust of regional and national government ("these are the idiots who got us into this mess") from both the population and elements of the military and civilian administration - I don't really see MILGOV and CIVGOV, more a case of NOGOV at anything more than local level. I see the kind of world the players find themselves in in TW2000.


Now this can go a couple of ways: pessimistic - the human race becomes extinct; less pessimistic - we're still here but wearing animal skins again; optimistic - a temporary reversion to an intermediate period in our history. Our governments consist of local warlords enforcing a feudal system, our agriculture is largely subsistance farming, populations tend to remain small because of this and specialisation ceases.


But that is to ignore everything we have learned in 6,000 years or so of history (as an aside I recommend "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond to everybody). We know that the basis of modern society lies in agriculture (ie a food surplus allows individuals to specialise in what they are good at, which kickstarts trade and larger political groupings), we understand about the importance of currency as a means of exchange, we know that joint stock companies and limited liability encourage investment by those who have a surplus of resources etc etc. In short we have 6,000 years of history to learn from so it is not going to take 6,000 years to come back.


I think that quite early communities will start to link up for trade and administrative purposes, to fight marauders etc. Once they have that agricultural surplus going the next thing to improve would be security and transportation, and once you have that then recovery of resources should allow the bootstrapping of society with all that goes with it (I kind of see it like droplets of water on a smooth surface - initially seperate but slowly coalescing into a whole). Given that fuel constraints are so important post TW2000 and the relative fuel economy of trains I'd expect rail transport to be an early and important candidate for recovery.


Sorry this has turned into a long and meandering post!


* Of course the long term results of this might be that the Post-Twilight conurbations (say 100 years after the war) aren't where they are now but that is another whole issue.

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copeab 05-31-2008, 03:24 AM 3) Converting a lorry or bus to run on rails would seem to be a relatively straightforward (allbeit permanent) task (I'm not thinking making it a hybrid - but mounting railway wheels on a truck) assuming access to a machine shop.



It need not be permanent. In WWII, both the Japanese and Russians operated armored cars that could be converted to operate on rails and back to roads.


Brandon

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Targan 05-31-2008, 03:40 AM Here in Australia I have seen (in the flesh so to speak) Land Cruiser 4WD vehicles fitted with front and rear hydraulic-activated kits for running on rail lines. You just drive the vehicle up on the tracks, activate the rail kit and a couple of seconds later your four wheel drive car is a train. The mining companies up north use them and they are not all that uncommon over here.

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Raellus 05-31-2008, 04:47 PM Yeah, I can see stretches of railroad being rebuilt, maintained, and utilized in the T2K game world. It makes quite a lot of sense. The main enemy of rail networks- in wartime, at least- is air interdiction. After about '98, that threat would be negligible at best. Without attack aircraft dropping bridges and switching yards, or hunting engines and rolling stock, trains would be relatively free to operate in secured areas.


Finding enough gas for or converting/rebuilding diesel engines to run on other types of fuel would probably be more cost effective in the long run than converting, fueling, and maintaining fleets of trucks (or finding fodder and providing veterinary care for herds of draft animals) to haul the same (or lesser) loads.


Maintaining railroad tracks would probably be less difficult that maintaining hard-paved roads. Plenty of ties and track could be stripped from unused stretches of track for use in keeping other sections in good repair.


Of course, the functioning rail system would be a mere shadow of itself. I'd say only 10-20 percent of the pre-war European network would be viable. Only major sections running through secured areas along MSRs would be working. The rest would lay dormant or be cannibilized to maintain the working sections.

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Raellus 05-31-2008, 04:54 PM I once saw a photo of a BTR-40 with drop-down rail-kits like Targan mentioned for use in patrolling rail lines. I wish I'd kept the link. I'm sure that with a little work, other light, wheeled AFVs could be outfitted and employed in the same function.


Also, if armies were to invest in repairing, maintaining, and using rail lines, I can see a renaissance in armored train cars like the ones used by Germany and the Soviet Union in WWII.


The main enemy of railroads in T2K would be partisans or raiding groups (a-la Sherman's march to the sea).


This thread is getting me pumped to eventually run a variation of "Going Home" with choo-choos!

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Poor Merchant 06-01-2008, 04:38 AM Yeah, I can see stretches of railroad being rebuilt, maintained, and utilized in the T2K game world. It makes quite a lot of sense. The main enemy of rail networks- in wartime, at least- is air interdiction. After about '98, that threat would be negligible at best. Without attack aircraft dropping bridges and switching yards, or hunting engines and rolling stock, trains would be relatively free to operate in secured areas.


Finding enough gas for or converting/rebuilding diesel engines to run on other types of fuel would probably be more cost effective in the long run than converting, fueling, and maintaining fleets of trucks (or finding fodder and providing veterinary care for herds of draft animals) to haul the same (or lesser) loads.


Maintaining railroad tracks would probably be less difficult that maintaining hard-paved roads. Plenty of ties and track could be stripped from unused stretches of track for use in keeping other sections in good repair.


Of course, the functioning rail system would be a mere shadow of itself. I'd say only 10-20 percent of the pre-war European network would be viable. Only major sections running through secured areas along MSRs would be working. The rest would lay dormant or be cannibilized to maintain the working sections.


I agree that in the long run getting pre-war diesel engines back into operation would be more fuel efficient - but the way I see it you're slightly into a chicken and egg situation here. You need huge (in game terms) amounts of fuel to run one of those big engines, and that rather means you need a working refinery to supply diesel fuel - and to get a large modern refinery to run you need to deliver a huge amount of crude oil - which will probably need to be delivered by train...(possibly a campaign where an armoured steam train heads to an oil producing region to bring back a trainload of crude for the barely working refinery...).


In many respects lots of our basic industries (oil, steel etc) have become so large for economies of scale that they will be difficult to "fire up" again post war. If you look at "Pennsylvania Crude" the very maximum the players could have got out of that well in one visit was 100,000 litres - that is about 380 barrels. Not far from Titusville is the tiny Bradford, PA refinery - with a capacity of 10,000 bpd. Now I know next to nothing about refinery operations but I can't help feeling that 380 barrels wouldn't even be enough to "prime the pumps" as it were, and that these places probably work most efficiently with a continous process of production. So even if the Bradford refinery was in pristine condition it would be unusable because you couldn't supply enough crude to "charge" the system (and finding the energy to run it would be another whole problem).


Good link for refinery size and location within the US:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_names_of_all_the_oil_refinery_plants_ in_the_US


So, one can let the crude oil settle, skim off 40% for diesel (and do what with the balance?) or one can take a step backwards to 19th Century technology with the contruction of a small scale relatively simple refinery such as this:

http://www.scvhistory.com/scvhistory/ap2926.htm


This would give you the fuel that you are looking for, plus the other heavier oils down to bitumen - a much more efficient use of your crude. The modern figures for the crude from the East Coast of the USA are (as a percentage of the original charge):

LPG 1.9%

Gasoline 45.5%

Jet Fuel 4.8%

Distillate Fuel Oil 31.2%

Residual Fuel Oil 8.6%

Others 13%


Source: http://www.petrostrategies.org/Learning%20Center/Refining.htm


(And before you add it up that number comes to more than 100% - which I didn't really get - and also you need some quite complex machinery to get those numbers, but they'll serve for the big picture).


This fuel would provide the energy to get other small scale operations off the ground - and maybe at that point you can start to think about getting some large-scale prewar industries back online. But for that I think you would need a wide region of organised secure territory.


I see this sort of thing being quite a widespread problem postwar so in my mind I rather see a return to smaller "intermediate" industrial production processes (weaving mills powered by water wheels as they were in the early stages of the industrial revolution, simplified processes such as the refinery above and so on) before we can return to the big industry of today. I'm not suggesting a wholesale return to the 18th Century but simply that lack of energy will require a return to energy sources that we have largely abandoned - of course we have the knowledge to utilise such energy in ways unimaginable to our 18th Century forebears.


In the short term (and I'm leaving my definition of "short" elastic!) without organised government on a wide scale I just don't see anyone running diesel rail engines soon (can you imagine how much methanol one of those bad boys are going to need?). But, I can see smaller communities and groups running converted trucks and buses on a local scale using the rails - they would lose the flexibility of the truck being able to go anywhere but gain big-time on fuel economy.


I've seen the hybrids road/rail vehicles but to me they look rather more complex mechanically than simply putting a truck on a new set of rail wheels. I think you're quite right and for escort/patrol vehicles it may be the solution (the Germans in WWII actually carried small French tanks on some trains in Russia that they could quickly offload and send after partisans).


As I say, in my mind's eye I just don't see central governments holding much sway outside limited areas after a nuclear war. People may well pay lip service to the ideals of the United States (substitute country of your choice here) but want little to do with the people whom they perceive got them into this mess. I rather see a move to local government be it on a town or county level - small enough so the individual can see what's being done for him, and the results of his labour. Because I rather think that people will take the attitude that unless they can see a benefit for themselves in doing something they won't co-operate - unless forced.


I guess a lot of this depends upon the level you want your campaign to run. And over what time frame.


I kind of see the recovery process as being:


1) Agriculture & Security

Somewhat symbiotic - agricultural surpluses allow permanent militia / military personnel to do their job. Militia allows security so farmers can grow crops in safety. High potential for de facto feudal relationship between farmers and military.


2) Small scale industry / reclamation

The agricultural surplus allows specialisation in civilian "industries" - initially this involves scaled down production to fit available resources and reclamation of prewar equipment (in secure areas I would expect government to protect locations that had the potential to be brought back into production later). Potential for political struggle between military rulers and industrial specialists?


3) Transportation Improvements

As agriculture and small scale industries produce surpluses trade picks up as these surpluses are exchanged. This will require security along MSRs and investment in maintenance of road and rail routes - navigable rivers will be extremely important initially.


4) Large Scale Industry

Once supplies and transport become regular enough some large industries can be brought back into production. As time goes on more industries are added - each "new" industry is a step back towards the prewar economy.


Each of the above stages requires more resources drawn from a wider area giving issues of ownership and security at every step.


Now just how long this process takes I leave to your imagination - if I'm feeling optimistic I see areas of postwar America in a situation somewhat analogous to that of Northern Italy in the late 1400's, and if pessimistic more like England after the Romans left.

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thefusilier 06-01-2008, 08:05 AM On the topic of refinery lists, here is a better one. Its global, lists the output, and some have write-ups about them...


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_refineries


You can also get a highly valuable google earth listing for these as well to view each and every one of them here...


http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/showthreaded.php/Cat/0/Number/142111/page/

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General Pain 06-01-2008, 10:52 AM In our campaign we have "used" trains


Airmarshal Willis has his own Panzer-train....


there is a small number of dox regarding panzer trains

on the big book of war

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Poor Merchant 06-01-2008, 02:14 PM Now I had got the idea that Pennsylvania's oilfields were played out but evidently this is not true:


http://www.redorbit.com/news/business/1279066/oil_wells_still_pumping/index.html


http://www.thederrick.com/Business_Review/Section_B/150.shtml


http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07203/803518-113.stm


I was frankly pretty shocked at the idea of a guy owning eight wells that produced a few barrels a day between them. I was even more shocked at the government allowing drilling for oil in a National Forest - here in the UK it's pretty difficult to get planning permission to even build a house in a National Park let alone drill for oil.


But oil wells that produce a few barrels a day in the backwoods - now how TW2000 is that? It kind of makes you think that area needs a more serious look, doesn't it?

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kato13 06-01-2008, 02:46 PM There are tens of thousands of wells that produce a few barrels a day in the US. There are 5000 in Illinois alone.


http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petrosystem/petrosysog.html

is a good source.


Here is my T2k resource map again for anyone who has not seen it.


http://maps.juhlin.com/maps/map_elements.html


you can check the locations of refineries active in 1997 and T2k nuclear strikes. It also has Counties which have ever produced oil or natural gas as well as a few other useful things (like nuclear/ hydro plants, military bases, ethanol plants, etc)

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Raellus 06-01-2008, 04:24 PM Poor Merchant, I'm of much the same mind in regards to the state of western civilization c. T2K. I've long been a proponent of the "New Dark Ages" were the modern nation-state devolves into autonomous principalities, feudal fiefdoms, or loose confederations of city-states. Industry would revert to its embriotic stages or largely replaced by its precursor, cottage industry.


I was not advocating a large-scale, government-run railroad system. I was thinking that large military units (Corps and Armies/Fronts) might find the means to operate a small number of trains in lieu of the fleets of trucks or draft animals needed to haul the same quantities of supplies along secured MSRs. Perhaps fuel for diesel engines would not be readily available but I can see engines being converted to run on steam (or scratch built from diesel engine parts). There are probably a few functioning steam engines about, having hauled pre-war tourists through scenic mountain vistas or something along those lines.


As for wheeled vehicles running on rails, it's not a matter of replacing the tires with locomotive wheels. It really is as simple as installing a set of small rail wheels to bear most of the vehicle's weight. There's no need to tinker with the vehicle's drive-train, suspension, transmission or anything like that.


As an annecdotal aside, last year, the Union Pacific railroad company replaced all the of the ties on the tracks running parallel to the 15-mile stretch of highway I used to drive every day. It took about three weeks to do the job. To resurface the Highway in both directions along the same stretch it took about three months. I'm sure several factors are involved but this would seem to suggest that railway maintainance is simpler than roadway maintainance.

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Brit 06-02-2008, 01:36 AM Poor Merchant, I'm of much the same mind in regards to the state of western civilization c. T2K. I've long been a proponent of the "New Dark Ages"...


Have you read this book? 'The Coming Dark Age' by Roberto Vacca. It has society falling apart nation by nation, the world going more with a whimper than a bang...

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simonmark6 06-02-2008, 11:41 AM In a face to face game I recently had in school, my players escaped from Kalsiz and then rescued the Black Madonna whilst keeping Major Filipowicz alive.


They made the connection between the mental Para Major and the Margrave of Silesia and took him to his brother. Margrave Filipowicz was suitably impressed and offered the party cushy jobs. One task they had was to help the Margravate's attempts to get locomotives running in the pocket country.


The next session, after the enormity of getting locos running had hit home on the kids one boy came back. His dad just happens to be an engineer for Great Western and had said, "Don't bother with engines, stick trucks on the rails and they'll haul two or three times their normal load for half the fuel use. Apparently if you use the full capacity, the vehicles have trouble coping with inclines and braking.


The plan worked like a charm.


The point of this charming little anecdote, I think that what you are saying is spot on, local networks will be simple to set up much of the time and will help the local economies a lot. They will also make them more self-sufficient and independent from the Big G Government.


The boys now have the headache of keeping the lines clear of anti-Filipowicz partisans and much fun is being had by all.

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Gen.Lee 06-02-2008, 11:58 AM Yay! I'm a huge railfan, and "Going Home" became one of my favorite mods. IMO, rebuilding the railnet is one of the best things a government could do for itself (rebuilding an electrical grid is probably more important).

As for rail vs. road efficiency, I would need to get back to you on that, but I've seen the numbers recently. Something like teaspoonful of diesel = dozens of ton-miles. And trains move ridiculously large amounts of bulk cargo in 2008: 130 cars of coal, at 122 tons each, hauled by two 4400hp diesel-electric locomotives, are reputed to be the norms for the West.

Probably more important than oil refining, from a civil PoV, would be coal mining and power generation therefrom. Most power plants in the US are coal-fired, and coal is more commonly found than oil. I believe (with no hard data to back it up) that making a coal-fired boiler for a railroad locomotive, cargo ship or power plant has got to be easier (more labor-intensive, certainly, but lower-tech) than a modern computer-controlled gas/diesel/nuclear one.


As for reviving the steam locomotives in various museums, that's a short-term solution at best, as those are already nearing 100 years old, and quite a lot of that has been active. Making copies would be one of my priorities, if I were a regional governor or king-to-be. China has only very very recently retired its last steam locomotives, Eastern Europe wasn't long ago. Two Chinese locos are now in Iowa, being readied for tourist service. These were built within the last 20-30 years, I think.

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Poor Merchant 06-02-2008, 03:38 PM In our campaign we have "used" trains


Airmarshal Willis has his own Panzer-train....


there is a small number of dox regarding panzer trains

on the big book of war


If you scroll down this page you'll find a rather English alternative "panzertrain" :


http://www.narrow-gauge-pleasure.co.uk/rlyromney.html


SimonMark6

I'll have to root around for Going Home but I don't think the rules made provision for inclines or braking (and you're quite right, while the truck might be able to haul the load, brakes designed to stop 40 tons of mass will struggle with 120 tons or whatever).


Genl Lee

Obviously long term and on a large scale you are quite right, historic locos are a stop-gap solution at best for the reasons you give. And I would agree that copying steam locos would be the easier option. Oddly, most of the trains at Steamtown in Scranton (a US National Park Service attraction) are actually Canadian Pacific engines. But, short term, historic locos and lorries converted for rail use would pretty much be the only option. I agree that a couple of big diesels would be the ideal solution for hauling large cargoes but the trains you are referring to are carrying more than 15.5 thousand tons of coal.


When you consider that the mines would be mostly using manual labour (with production per worker of 1 - 2.5 tons per day using figures from coal mines of 100 years ago) with possibly steam engines to provide compressed air for tools then you can see that one modern trainload of coal would take some time to produce. The Steel Waseca power station in North Dakota consumes 18,000 to 22,000 tons of lignite coal per day (to generate 1,116MW), in Japan a smaller station produces 280MW from 2,800 tons of coal per day.


Again we seem to be in the chicken and egg situation where the sheer scale of our modern technology would cause us problems in kickstarting it again.


Here is a slightly disturbing article about Mexican mines - 30 tons a day with a Dodge car engine providing the motive power:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06254/720848-357.stm

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rcaf_777 06-02-2008, 03:47 PM Seem to me the US and Canada would have rebuild their railways so they can move men and supplies around the country. Both nations I think would have many rail gangs around the country rebuilding the raiways, Also many railway troops would be rasied to provide security for rail movements and the rail gangs as well, Canadian Army has a sample unit that we came up with, also I have these pics which are rail road equipment used my the US Army

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Poor Merchant 06-03-2008, 06:57 AM RCAF

Actually the US Army maintains two railway battalions:


1205th Transportation Railway Operating Btn is tasked with operating the railways at Sunny Point, NC in wartime (I'm a bit shocked Sunny Point isn't on the T2K target list - is it just me who thinks the Morrow Project list a bit more likely?):

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/1205trans.htm


757th Transportation Btn (Railway) has a more general role (I seem to recall one article that said it would be sent to Europe in wartime to work on the rails there):

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/757trans.htm


One thing that both these battalions do is train on heritage railways within the USA, so I guess when the big one drops they'll be fully up to speed on the care and use of steam engines!


And of course if there's a unit there's a manual:


FM55-20 Rail Transport In A Theatre Of Operations

FM55-15 Transportation Reference Data

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Neal5x5 06-05-2008, 11:49 AM I’ve looked at making trains a part of a Western US sourcebook and agree with most of what’s been said. Trains are the best way to move large quantities of personnel and material across the large open distances of North America and other lands. A resurrected small railway system running on a weekly or even monthly schedule could lead to the reconstruction of a large area, possibly a whole region.


Of course, watching those rails would be a major task. An overturned car or truck is one thing, a derailed train is quite another. If anyone here is an American Civil War buff, they might be able to provide some insight into the use of steam-age trains (IIRC, primarily by the North) in warfare.

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Hangfire7 06-06-2008, 01:15 AM Well, I can think of four railroad museums within an hours drive that I have personaly been to that have running steam locomotives, spares, tools, machineshops and personel to operate and maintain them. And I know of a dozen more. This includes track that is connected to a main grid. And then there are lots of privatly owned and operated trains, used for rides, minning, tours, and even what are called "garden trains" these could prove very useful. Maybe the PCs are hired to hunt down some guerilla group that is harassing the trains, or have captured the technical speiclaist.


With the ideas of the 2 US Army railroad BNs. Maybe someone could steal the idea of the train from the Going Home scenario. But say a Master Sgt who has the critical skill has been captured and needs to be rescued, or, he was last seen in location X and it is the PCs job to track him down and find him.

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Poor Merchant 06-06-2008, 04:11 AM Or you could just work the railway into encounters. Characters meet some platelayers checking the track with military escort, or meet group cutting back the brush either side of the track with escort, or just a patrol moving along the line.


I was thinking that I'd be inclined to have (from front to back):


1) Trailer loaded with sandbags (maybe fixed to front towbar of next vehicle with a long steel pole) to set off any mines.


2) Either an LAV or a gun truck (in many ways I think the gun truck would be the better option) to provide the motive power for this little train.


3) Trailer to carry additional men, possibly with motercycles to pursue small groups of marauders or to act as flank guards / recon.


The actual train proper could follow along behind.

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Poor Merchant 06-09-2008, 02:45 PM If this article is halfway correct America might need the Twilight War for its railways to collapse:


http://www.theledger.com/article/20080530/NEWS/805300419/1003/NEWS0101&title=Congested_Rails_Near__Calamity_

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Raellus 06-09-2008, 04:46 PM If anyone here is an American Civil War buff, they might be able to provide some insight into the use of steam-age trains (IIRC, primarily by the North) in warfare.


From my rather casual ACW knowledge...


I believe that the Confederates were the first people to employ a rain gun in battle (Savage's Station), in defence of the railroads in Virginia. The CSN helped design and build it. It looks like it was a 24 pounder muzzle-loader on a 12x flatcar, emplaced behind an angled mantle of thick wood (I've got a pic here in a book).


Sherman employed a steam engine dragging a large steel hook for tearing up railroad ties during his "March to the Sea". The broken ties, I believe, were called "Sherman's toothpicks" (or something like that) but I may be thinking of something else.


Aside from that, trains were mostly used for rapidly transporting troops and supplies. There were at least a couple of instances where troops deployed straight into battle as soon as they'd hopped off the train.


Both sides did a lot of raiding of rail-lines (notably Confederate cavalry leaders Jeb Stuart and Nathan Bedford Forrest).

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Old 03-06-2010, 09:18 PM
sic1701 sic1701 is offline
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Lots of interesting rail discussion here. I didn't go over it all with a fine-toothed comb, but some non-EMP-damaged locomotive sources may be...

(1) Hybrid diesel-electric

(2) the few extant steam locomotives, such as the Union Pacific Challenger, as well as museum exhibits kept in lovingly good order

(3) old-school locomotives that aren't as reliant on computers and electronics as the newer diesels

(4) newer diesels stashed by the government in sealed tunnels for just this sort of thing. (yes, I guess Morrow Project boltholes DO come to mind...)

In addition, EMP is likely to immediately shut down the entire modern U.S. rail network leaving hundreds of trains stranded on the rails, several miles apart, with no motive power. If you are able to somehow get a few modern diesels running and siphon diesel fuel from locos that are kaput, you might be able to pull the defunct locos off the stuck trains, pull them into a siding or shove them into a spur, then return to the train in question, bringing it somewhere where it can be put to use, stashed out of the way in a yard, or otherwise given space to unload into smaller vehicles (such as using a crane or pair of cranes to take the intermodal containers off so they can be unloaded or used for other purposes).

I can see coal plants being able to retool around EMP-incurred damage, and if they could receive coal from trains stranded on the main lines, they could contribute heavily to making a geographical area livable again. Going full-tilt-boogie, it takes a 120-car coal train a day to power a modest-sized modern coal plant.
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Old 09-08-2012, 09:02 PM
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In all the discussion of getting trains back onto the tracks, I have seen little or no discussion of a vital aspect of running the rails--signals and switches. Modern railway has become entangled with sensors and remote controls and other electronic goodies; EMP damage was mentioned in passing but what does that damage _mean_? It means that highballers will need to be sure of the position of every switch they cross. So outriders or scouts would need to be ahead of the train to verify or change the setting of each switch in their path. And if they run through something like the Enola, PA switching yard, they will definitely have their hands full.
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Old 09-09-2012, 04:43 AM
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In all the discussion of getting trains back onto the tracks, I have seen little or no discussion of a vital aspect of running the rails--signals and switches. Modern railway has become entangled with sensors and remote controls and other electronic goodies; EMP damage was mentioned in passing but what does that damage _mean_? It means that highballers will need to be sure of the position of every switch they cross. So outriders or scouts would need to be ahead of the train to verify or change the setting of each switch in their path. And if they run through something like the Enola, PA switching yard, they will definitely have their hands full.
Not sure how much of this was in place by 1995, in the UK branch lines were still using mechanical switches for at least some at this point. Failing that a big crowbar to physically move them?
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Old 09-09-2012, 09:19 PM
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In all the discussion of getting trains back onto the tracks, I have seen little or no discussion of a vital aspect of running the rails--signals and switches. Modern railway has become entangled with sensors and remote controls and other electronic goodies; EMP damage was mentioned in passing but what does that damage _mean_? It means that highballers will need to be sure of the position of every switch they cross. So outriders or scouts would need to be ahead of the train to verify or change the setting of each switch in their path. And if they run through something like the Enola, PA switching yard, they will definitely have their hands full.
Its not as bad as you might think. In the mid-90's a lot of the hardware that was used to actually control traffic was electro-mechanical, and very resistant to EMP effects. All the high tech doodads are pretty much a product of the last 15 years - and even now, are not in total use. Positive Train Control for example is something that was looked at in the mid 90's to be sure, but its still over a decade from fielding. Signalling in the mid 90's wasn't much better than the most basic of electrical circuits. Yes, computer traffic control centres was being introduced in the 90's, but they wasn't widespread, and the vast majority of the railroad workers was still trained up on systems that date back to the 40's and 50's. Which isn't much better than slips of paper being passed around.


Seriously.

Up until the late 80's early 90's, traffic on the railroads was handled by basic telephone coms between blocks, with info being passed to trains by a combination of lights displayed at the blockhouses, and pieces of paper held out a window for the passing train to grab on the way by.

Into the 70's, a lot of roads used timetable and train order systems: Basically, Train X, has seniority over Y, as long as it was rolling according to schedule, with a series of if-then's built in if it wasn't.

All these are more manpower intensive than the late 90 to today's systems, which is why they moved to other less intensive operations. But, in the late 90's, with war on the horizon, railroads would have moved to ensure that they would be ready for issues. After all, the railroads have memories when it comes to what happens when war comes: they had barely recovered from the damage done by nationalisation by the US government during WW1 when the depression/WW2 twofor got them. To this day, the railroads have very thick contingency plans for wartime: all with the efforts to A: Deliver the goods, and B: not get nationalised in the name of 'government managed efficiencies and mandates'.

In fairness, I don't blame them in the least. President Wilson was big believer in progressive politics, and felt that big business (And in the first two decades of the 20th, none was as big as the railroads) was drag on the economy, and that it would be more... equitable, and fairer, if government employes, who would be much better at running such business, took over. He used the storm clouds of WW1 to do just that to the Railroad companies, and mandated not just what prices they could charge, regardless of costs, but what sorts of trains, to where, and when - even the style of engines and hardware was all decided in DC. It *destroyed* the railroad infrastructure to the point that in the 20's, the government was forced to let loose the strings on the RR's. But only loosened those strings: till the 70's there railroads still had to get permission from DC to build or abandon lines, change the prices they could charge, buy equipment, hire and fire, or even merge/purchase other companies.

So... back on point, the Railroads are probably the one part of the US that is more than prepared for anything - they have long, and very bad, memories of when they wasn't!
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Old 09-10-2012, 12:11 AM
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Of course at least in the first few years, trains are going to be few and far between so signals aren't going to be particularly important - a train simply slows when approaching a switch or other danger area long enough to do what's needed/verify it's safe to proceed and then move on.
You might see some very strict timetables initially to minimise the problem of limited signalling too.
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Old 09-10-2012, 12:37 AM
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Of course at least in the first few years, trains are going to be few and far between so signals aren't going to be particularly important - a train simply slows when approaching a switch or other danger area long enough to do what's needed/verify it's safe to proceed and then move on.
You might see some very strict timetables initially to minimise the problem of limited signalling too.
Exactly, TimeTable and Train Order (Form 19 if I recall correctly) is still in the Rule Book here in the states as something they have to train on.

Now, this is for a model RR, but they are doing a nearly perfect reenactment of how it works:

http://virginian.mdodd.com/ttto-tutorial.html
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Old 09-10-2012, 06:07 PM
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This is just an opinion, but I have a very hard time believing that most rail transport will be more than an older diesel or steam locomotive with a half-dozen cars...maybe more, maybe less, but probably not more than a dozen at most for the first few years.

Most of the diesels you will see will be switching units including units taken from gravel pits, cement plants, and idle large industry, including steel mills. These will all be at least a generation old or older, dating back until the early to mid 1950's and some back until the WW2 era. These are all so crude that EMP will have little to no effect at all, are easy enough to maintain and tolerant enough of green operators that they are still in use today even in wide numbers in the US. They can burn the crudest diesel you can find, are light on the weathered track structure, and for what they are, maneuverable.

Steam locomotives will come from operating museums (think Steamtown in Pennsylvania) here and there....not many, and they too will be small to mid size units, but their contribution will be significant in those first few years.

The big diesels are common but most will be inoperative due to maintenance, high fuel consumption, high weight, and EMP damage. You don't need a 3000-4400hp diesel and all of its fuel consumption to move a dozen cars or so...maybe 800 to 1000 tons of car and cargo.

Bseides, until you can get people out to survey the condition of the roadbed and bridges along the routes used, you wouldn't want that anyway!

Where you don't have access to a locomotive, you'll see people use tucks in the 5+ ton range (or large airport tugs even) with wheel spacers, rigged flanges, and/or guide trucks. There will be plenty of scrap to take them from where you find trains in any quantity. A semi tractor or 10 wheel truck can pull 3-5 partially loaded cars at 10-20mph pretty well.

I see crews with such trucks pulling a couple of maintenance cars on the Canadian National every so often by the house here.

On that note, I can see local governments using people from refugee camps in the US to help with getting the rail networks back together after the war. I have photos of the Rock Island in the 1950's and with the exception of some drills and powered wrench rigs, the bulk of it was done with hand tools and sweat. On smaller scales, that's the way it's still done!

-Dave
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:45 PM
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But, bear in mind most of the old pre-70's era motive power has been scrapped by the time the 90's roll in (mainly because of fuel efficiency and maintenance issues). I think the -2's will be fine, as well as the U-Boats and the Century Series. Dash 8's a maybe, 70's very iffy. The handful of Alco's will still go like gangbusters, but thats about it I think. I think the SF will regret scrapping the Alligators.
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Old 09-14-2012, 08:29 PM
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Most of the more obscure models will have been scrapped, but there are still quite a few 600hp-1500hp yard switchers and road switchers in regular use even today, in branch line roles and industrial switching service. You will also be able to find a sizeable number of GP30/GP35/GP38/GP40 general purpose road units as well.

For what we are talking, there will be plenty available. There are plenty of these units in the large BNSF and CN/CP yards in the Chicago area, some still wearing their pre-1987 Milwaukee Road paint.

I'd recommend the rail classifieds at www.railswap.org -You can see a number of these units for sale as well as pictures of the other types of equipment needed.

Occaisionally you even see stuff for sale abroad-
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Old 09-14-2012, 08:57 PM
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True- I didn't even think about the jeeps.


Good catch.
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Old 09-14-2012, 10:27 PM
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Old 09-15-2012, 11:24 PM
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I agree there will be limited use of rail initally, but I think it will be the first industry to be put back 'on line' since it is critical to recovery. As has been siad it IS the best for land travel in ton-mile per gallon of fuel. And the diesel can be fueled with biodiesel..

Operations will be with train order until such time as there are suffieicent trains running to warrent timetables. Bidirectional traffic will be closely watched you can bet. Land line and radio will be used, forget the block systems initally I think. And the inital rails will be run by the government. It will be a while before commercial traffic as we know it will be running again post strike. There will not be a shortage of labor for the refurbishment of the tracks.. many roads are multi-tracks, and the second set will be sacrificed for material to get one good track going. Yes it will be grunt work, for food and security as much as anything else. The use of highway equipment for use as motive power is a possiblity, but stop gap only and perhaps for local divisional use on 100 miles of track of the rail division.

I would see each train with some cars designated as 'passenger' types too, no dedicated passenger service probably, but it will come back faster than bus or highway traffic if for no other reason than fuel constraints.

Yep the Jeeps will see a lot of service as will like sized engines of other manufacture. The 5000 hp bemoths will come back into service, especially hauling coal I think. Coal from western pits will help put the coal power plants back in operation, which will power the industry to rebuild with imo.

A thought on the highway truck as a power source.. if you use a gas engined vehicle, and fabricate a wood-gas generator, you power with wood. I'm not sure how good wood-gas would be in a diesel or if it would even work though.

Rails will be polished again with in due course, faster than I think many think possible. Food needs to be moved from the areas of surplus to other areas, rail is the best method. Fuel from the wells to refineries, and refineries to the 'front' also, and rail will fill the gap in pipelines with diminished supply. Military movements long distance are best put on rails, saving wear and tear on equipment and using less fuel. I think the limited supply of fuel will be allocated in a large part towards the railroads along with the military.

While I REALLY like steam engines, I think they will play a minor role overall in the rail operations. From a maintenance perspective and special needs, especially in the form of water for their operations, they are a pain.. one of the reasons the railroads jumped on dieselization so rapidly in the prewar, and after ww2. It was economics that made it happen. And economics will make it happen post strike in twilight as well, perhaps not the monitary aspects as much as resouce allocation and the best use of resources for the recovery.

Just some thoughts.
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One of the MANY MOS I aquired in the army was a 65K.. Rail Movements Coordinator (dispatcher, station agent, etc) while assisgned to the T-school in the mid 70s. It was a WAR TIME only mos designation too. Nothing like playing on a full sized model railroad system inside the fort. But I digress in my memories...
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:43 AM
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Is this possibly to do in a Twilight world on a lower scale?


http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdiges...d-locomotives/
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Old 10-21-2012, 11:42 AM
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There's been some work done on my nearby rail system since Florida is bound and determined to have itself a boondoggle in the shape of a "light rail" commuter transport system...but that aside...what I've seen a lot of are trucks fitted with fold-down bogies that drive up and down the railroad track. I wonder if a few of those, towing light trailers of freight, maybe a few passengers (going to work in fields, etc.) wouldn't be the start of a "rail recovery". Of course there's going to be hundreds (thousands?) of rail lines with abandoned trains both passenger and freight just sitting there due to EMP damage to spark systems, etc. - you'd have to find a way to move those depending on where you were and what you needed the rail system for.

But yeah, I could see a rail service truck with bogies hauling a few trailer-fulls of oranges to a central location to convert to fuel or food here in Central Florida.

Come to think on it, maybe the 1st JMC has gotten one up and going to recover fuel from the Sanford Intl. Airport...hmm...
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Old 10-21-2012, 12:27 PM
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some interesting facts about Ethanol fuel and rail transportation.




http://www.aar.org/~/media/aar/Backg...d-Ethanol.ashx

http://www.ncdoi.com/OSFM/RPD/PT/Doc...uctorGuide.pdf


http://ethanolrfa.3cdn.net/6a072e57b..._18m6bccx5.pdf

http://www.chemkeys.com/blog/wp-cont...el-Ethanol.pdf
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:29 AM
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An intersting historical note on the use of highway trucks for use as motive power on rail. When the Allies started the Italian Campaign, the rail system in Italy was scrap from both bombings and the German destroying everything as they withdrew up the boot. The first MRS had no motive power to speak of when they landed in Naples. What they did initally is take the wheels off a rail car and mounted them on a 'duce' within a day or so, and had the first trains moving north with supplies. Each day they increased the number of trains and tonnage hauled.

This is a very interesting story/history of the 1st MRS from North Africa to the end of the war. Some interestesting insight that MIGHT be applied to Twilight 2000.

http://www.milhist.net/history/mrs-soloc.pdf
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:11 AM
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http://www.railmuseums.com/index.html

Interesting site of all the rail museums in the world that might have spare rolling stock.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:21 AM
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I'm not sure how reliable that website is, according to it there are no railway museums in the UK when I can visit five within a fifty mile radius.
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Old 10-23-2012, 06:26 AM
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I'm not sure how reliable that website is, according to it there are no railway museums in the UK when I can visit five within a fifty mile radius.
I don't think it's all inclusive Simon. If you know of places not on the web, there is a place at the bottom of the select a section in which it says suggest rail museum. I think there are some in the US that are not listed as well. I know there WAS as logging rail in Cass WV way back. It might have shut down over the years though, but doubt it since they have an active web still advertising it.

Last edited by Graebarde; 10-23-2012 at 06:34 AM. Reason: Cass, WV
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Old 02-13-2014, 05:13 PM
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...what I've seen a lot of are trucks fitted with fold-down bogies that drive up and down the railroad track. I wonder if a few of those, towing light trailers of freight, maybe a few passengers (going to work in fields, etc.) wouldn't be the start of a "rail recovery"....

But yeah, I could see a rail service truck with bogies hauling a few trailer-fulls of oranges to a central location to convert to fuel or food here in Central Florida....
Raketenjagjpanzer, those trucks-with-bogies are apparently called "high-rail" trucks and come in multiple sizes, styles and functions--with cranes/jibs, water tanks, dump buckets, or tool boxes. The bogies are after-market additions to commercial truck models. ISTR an action/crime dramafilm where the crooks' getaway included one of these speeding down an unused subway line.
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Old 02-14-2014, 07:00 AM
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Raketenjagjpanzer, those trucks-with-bogies are apparently called "high-rail" trucks and come in multiple sizes, styles and functions--with cranes/jibs, water tanks, dump buckets, or tool boxes. The bogies are after-market additions to commercial truck models. ISTR an action/crime dramafilm where the crooks' getaway included one of these speeding down an unused subway line.
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Old 02-21-2014, 10:13 PM
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In all the discussion of getting trains back onto the tracks, I have seen little or no discussion of a vital aspect of running the rails--
Actually, I'd be a lot less worried about the signals and such, and a lot MORE worried about the condition of the ties, ballast, and rails themselves.

Wooden ties generally last 8-10 years, at best, on main line track. Yeah, you'll find places where they've been in the ground for 50 years, but that's on little-used sidings and industry tracks, not main.

I'd also be concerned about jointed rail. ANY rail, really, but moreso jointed than welded.
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Old 02-22-2014, 12:00 PM
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Actually, I'd be a lot less worried about the signals and such, and a lot MORE worried about the condition of the ties, ballast, and rails themselves.

Wooden ties generally last 8-10 years, at best, on main line track. Yeah, you'll find places where they've been in the ground for 50 years, but that's on little-used sidings and industry tracks, not main.

I'd also be concerned about jointed rail. ANY rail, really, but moreso jointed than welded.

Depends on how long the track has been out of service, but mainline rail should be in fairly good condition even after two to three years: A lot of the tricky bits - turnouts, and the like - might need some attention, but the bulk of the major mainlines even in the 90's was being converted over to concrete ties and welded 130 pound or higher rail in the US, and nearly all of Europe was converted over on the mains with the same as well. I would still take a gauging party down the tracks to confirm, especially where there might have been tracked vehicle activity on or near tracks, but I would feel reasonably confident to run down the tracks - slowly.
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:01 PM
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Depends on how long the track has been out of service, but mainline rail should be in fairly good condition even after two to three years: A lot of the tricky bits - turnouts, and the like - might need some attention, but the bulk of the major mainlines even in the 90's was being converted over to concrete ties and welded 130 pound or higher rail in the US, and nearly all of Europe was converted over on the mains with the same as well. I would still take a gauging party down the tracks to confirm, especially where there might have been tracked vehicle activity on or near tracks, but I would feel reasonably confident to run down the tracks - slowly.
I guess it must depend on the location and possibly RR, because in five different states the places I generally see concrete ties are on curves. Concrete come with their own set of problems as far as maintenance goes, and they cost a lot more than wood. They're a pain to replace or change the hardware out on, compared to wood. I friggin hate concrete ties.

The condition of the rails themselves isnt the only concern I'd have. I prob should have gone more into detail, but I kinda got caught up playing World of Tanks.

Without maintenance crews, the natural cycles of hot and cold are going to play merry hell on the lines. Especially hot. Welded rail isn't immune to that, either. You're right in that sending a vehicle to check gauge ahead of the train would most likely work, esp if you've got nothing against moving your cargo slowly. It'd suck to hit a spot where the heat made the track all wonky, doing it's best impersonation of a sidewinder snake, at 55 mph when you're hauling a couple hundred thousand tons of coal. Or, you know, ANYTHING for that matter.

After seeing what a week of 95-105 degree temps can do with rail (it's fun to cut when it's 105 degrees out), I hate to imagine what several years without maintenance would result in.

After a winter or two with no maintenance, I'd definitely be sending someone who knew what they were about ahead of any traffic on jointed rail. But I really dislike jointed rail. So that could be my personal opinion creeping in.

Also, the welded vs jointed is greatly dependent on the RR. I've seen one that has jointed (I'm pretty sure 115 lb) rail on their mains. And not some "corn field to grain silo" RR, either, they've got track through about half of one of the biggest states in the US. 'Course, they seem to exist more as a tax write-off for a certain mining billionaire more than anything else, so it doesn't surprise me that their track is....eh....."unsat" (In my opinion, of course).
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:39 PM
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I watched a really interesting documentary just the other day, it was from series 2 of Strip the City, episode 3: Chicago Swamp City. The main topic of the program was the amazing shared cooling system for buildings in downtown Chicago, but part of it was also about how Chicago's elevated rail system is maintained and the systems in place to mitigate against the buckling of rails during extreme heat.

As the Aussie members of this forum have testified many times before, Australia is well accustomed to extreme temperature swings, mostly in the hot direction. We don't have anywhere near as many rail lines as the US and Europe do, but some of the ones we have are very long and some were built to support absolutely massive loads for the remote mines across the country. Heat buckling can be a real problem here too.

The question I have is can welded rail be adversely affected by extreme cold? Do rails contract in the cold as much as they expand in the heat, and if so, do the welds crack?
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Old 02-22-2014, 07:54 PM
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The question I have is can welded rail be adversely affected by extreme cold? Do rails contract in the cold as much as they expand in the heat, and if so, do the welds crack?
Yes, but not to the extent that they are affected by heat. There's no cold equivalent to the pic you shared.

Welds can crack, yes. That's probably a combination of several factors. I've seen a few broken welds, but thus far breaks have usually been somewhere else.
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Old 02-22-2014, 10:28 PM
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The other thing here is how fast you intend to run on those tracks?

I mean in open country, unsecured areas, I doubt you will be running at high speeds. I would think slow enough to be able to see things ahead of you pretty easily.

Speed on damaged or poorly maintained tracks would be important as well...
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Old 02-23-2014, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by stg58fal View Post
I guess it must depend on the location and possibly RR, because in five different states the places I generally see concrete ties are on curves. Concrete come with their own set of problems as far as maintenance goes, and they cost a lot more than wood. They're a pain to replace or change the hardware out on, compared to wood. I friggin hate concrete ties.

The condition of the rails themselves isnt the only concern I'd have. I prob should have gone more into detail, but I kinda got caught up playing World of Tanks.

Without maintenance crews, the natural cycles of hot and cold are going to play merry hell on the lines. Especially hot. Welded rail isn't immune to that, either. You're right in that sending a vehicle to check gauge ahead of the train would most likely work, esp if you've got nothing against moving your cargo slowly. It'd suck to hit a spot where the heat made the track all wonky, doing it's best impersonation of a sidewinder snake, at 55 mph when you're hauling a couple hundred thousand tons of coal. Or, you know, ANYTHING for that matter.

After seeing what a week of 95-105 degree temps can do with rail (it's fun to cut when it's 105 degrees out), I hate to imagine what several years without maintenance would result in.

After a winter or two with no maintenance, I'd definitely be sending someone who knew what they were about ahead of any traffic on jointed rail. But I really dislike jointed rail. So that could be my personal opinion creeping in.

Also, the welded vs jointed is greatly dependent on the RR. I've seen one that has jointed (I'm pretty sure 115 lb) rail on their mains. And not some "corn field to grain silo" RR, either, they've got track through about half of one of the biggest states in the US. 'Course, they seem to exist more as a tax write-off for a certain mining billionaire more than anything else, so it doesn't surprise me that their track is....eh....."unsat" (In my opinion, of course).

I'm not a pro on railroads - my knowledge comes from modelling them - but I think these days Jointed is just a bad thing altogether. It was different back in the day (Up until, oh, the 50's perhaps) when the railroads could hire swarms of crew to make sure the lines was as in good a shape as you could possibly get from what I understand - I've seen period pics of double tracked mainlines where even the ballast was trimmed up in a neat perfectly straight line by crews as part of their job.

But speaking of ballast: this is what I think would doom most tracks without steady maintenance. Lack of traffic will help in keeping it together, sure, but weather is gonna do number on it - especially with washouts.

For example:

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Old 02-26-2014, 03:58 PM
stg58fal stg58fal is offline
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I'm not a pro on railroads - my knowledge comes from modelling them - but I think these days Jointed is just a bad thing altogether. It was different back in the day (Up until, oh, the 50's perhaps) when the railroads could hire swarms of crew to make sure the lines was as in good a shape as you could possibly get from what I understand - I've seen period pics of double tracked mainlines where even the ballast was trimmed up in a neat perfectly straight line by crews as part of their job.

But speaking of ballast: this is what I think would doom most tracks without steady maintenance. Lack of traffic will help in keeping it together, sure, but weather is gonna do number on it - especially with washouts.

For example:

Damn. At first I thought that was a serious mudhole, and I was going to say that track really needs to see an undercutter crew. Then I scrolled down a little bit.

Washouts are a real PITA, and I would imagine they would be one of the more difficult maintenance projects (aside from bridges) post-Apoc, since most of the machinery for dealing with them and getting the track back how it needs to be is going to be rusting in a siding somewhere. Yeah, ballast can be transported by wagon and dumped, spread, and tamped by hand, but damn that's going to suck. Guess that's what slav.....er, I mean, criminal and POW labor is for.

There are still crews that make the ballast neat, it's just usually reserved for main lines and sidings that see a lot of traffic, and it's not something that most maintenance personnel do since there are dedicated crews for it. Backtracks and industry tracks have a lower priority. There is a surfacing crew (who tamp the ballast between the ties and clean everything up) with the other maintenance crews, like the big tie gangs or rail gangs. The machines are kinda cool to watch when they're doing their thing, too. Just don't stand behind the ballast regulator when it's brooming the track. ANYWHERE behind one, I mean. They can throw rocks with a pretty good velocity a fair distance.

Jointed rail is OK I guess....it works for slower trains or on track with lower volume of traffic (from what I've seen....there's probably a formula somewhere that says whether jointed is OK for X tons of trains at Y speed or something). I just don't like it because it seems like the joints are generally where things go wrong, I'm pretty sure that trains have to run slower on it, and welded just looks neater.
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