Thursday, March 31, 2011

Union Pacific is Fortune magazine's most admired transportation company

Not an airline, shipping company or trucking company, but a railway: Fortune named Union Pacific the most-admired company among major transportation providers in its annual list in its 21 March edition. Webpage

UP ranked first in seven of nine attributes Fortune ranked: people management, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, quality of management, financial soundness, long-term investment, and quality of services. It is a sizeable business in anyone's terms: UP's route map covers most of the central and western United States west of Chicago and New Orleans and operates on 32,012 miles (51,518 km) of track, of which it owns outright 26,171 miles (42,118 km).  UP is also the largest landowner in the USA after the Federal government.   UP website

BNSF Railway parent company Berkshire Hathaway ranked No. 3 among all companies, behind Apple and Google.

1938 Ford fire truck

A photo of the real thing in the lettering of Hampstead (Hew Hampshire) Fire Chiefs Association, and a 1:24 scale model of the open top available from Yat Ming.  We have one as an office ornament.

Our American distributor still has 6 copies left of our book Chariots for Fire (we have none).

the lavish interiors of Emirates new Airbus A380s

It is always tempting to fly at a higher class than economy or coach, but unless you earn what a bank executive or big lawyer does, it's hard to justify the extra expense.  Most of those who travel business class have their fares paid for them. 

Regardless, here are the upper class interiors of the Emirates A380 fleet (and as you can see, they serve alcohol and hostesses aren't dressed in burkas).

effective advertising

for the Vienna Airport train service to and from the city.

Are there any such airport trains in New Zealand? No.

Alfa GT coupe

A nice car displayed at the Frankfurter Automesse or Frankfurt car fair. (Yes, guys, the accessory is nice too, but like the car won't be cheap.)

a good reason to keep the North Wairarapa railway line open

Apart from the Wairarapa freight that could be moved over it, if it wasn't for Steven Joyce, the line serves as a good detour line for North Island Main Trunk trains when the line between Wellington and Palmerston North is closed for track maintenance.  Here is a diverted NIMT freight train seen near Eketahuna recently.  (Marty Melville photo)

train time at Whangarei

Two views of Whangarei Station from about 90 years ago.  In the first passengers are walking to the main platform area although the train isn't yet in sight.  An old 3-rigid axle composite first and second class passenger car can be seen two tracks over. The second view taken a few years later shows a southbound passenger train - probably the express for Auckland from Opua - sitting at the platform while a couple of tank engines haul goods trains in the yard; the centre one has a couple of passenger cars in the consist.

Surprisingly, given that regular passenger cars haven't run on the line for over 30 years, the station is still there, but is now used for other purposes.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

the cog wheel tramway of Trieste

The Tranvia di Opicina (locally "Tram de Opcina") is a 5.175 km long tramway in the Italian city of Trieste with the particularity that the trams overcome the steepest section of the line -- with gradients of 26% -- with the help of a funicular. The tram is operated by Trieste Trasporti as line 2 and connects the port of Trieste with the suburb of Opicina (340 metres altitude). It is the last remaining line of the former Trieste tram network.

The Tranvia di Opicina was commissioned on 9 September 1902 and in July 1906 an extension  was opened to the government railway station of Opicina. The steep section was first overcome by a cog wheel railway over which two locomotives pushed the tramcars with a speed of about 8 km/h of the rack rail. On the adhesion sections the tramcars managed a speed of 15 km/h.

Due to an increasing number of passengers and the limited capacity of the cog wheel section this was dismantled in 1927 and replaced by the funicular, which began on 26 April 1928. In 1978 the funicular was replaced; the new cars did not have a box-shaped structure like the pioneers, but only a small cabin for the operator. In 2005 the funicular railway cars were again replaced; the latest generation of funicular had no cabin anymore, because the system is now remotely controlled by the drivers of the trams. Further, the overhead contact line was dismantled on the steep section.

standing up to the bullies

One of the stories on today's 60 minutes on TV3:

"Mikayla Edwards, just 13 years old, was beaten senseless by four schoolmates - hit with fists, feet and a toilet door. Today she is under 24-hour care at home and she doesn’t know when, or whether, she will ever go back to the classroom.

"Mikayla is just one of a number of victims of girl-on-girl bullying in New Zealand. She and her mother talk to 60 Minutes reporter Karen McCarthy." Stuff website story

There isn't anything new about this type of incident of course; it has existed for many years. The problem is that it gets worse as the people who ought to be doing something, do nothing.  Adults may say, "yeah well that's the way kids are" and the Principal of this school, Morrinsville College, when interviewed on TV was a typical example of the "why are you talking to me for, what do you expect me to do?" dull, reluctant middle manager, the sort of person that most of us have experienced at some time when dealing with officialdom. 

He claimed that the school has a duty to educate pupils - he also has a duty to enforce rules and provide a safe environment for his pupils, something he has clearly abrogated by not removing the young criminals.  "They will go on to haunt the streets and end up in prisons if we don't provide education," he said.  He didn't seem to realise that by not teaching these little brats a hard lesson they will probably end up in prison anyway.

More often than not school bullies if unreformed will go on to be vandals, burglars, partner-abusers, road pigs, and workplace bullies - and that affects the population at large.

One of the things you realise fairly quickly when you stand up to them, is that most bullies are also cowards; and when you put them on the receiving end instead, they will leave you alone - although sometimes you will need help doing that.  There are plenty of legal ways available of putting bullies in their place.

the Kingston Flyer is now on TradeMe

Further to previous posts, the whole Kingston Flyer operation - train carriages, locomotives, buildings and land - is now on TradeMe online auction site (the New Zealand equivalent of eBay) - "Price by Negotiation".  The previous news was that the mortgagee was holding out for its full debt, but now seems to have accepted that no-one is going to offer that much.  Follow the auction here.

1949 Buick Estate Wagon

Perhaps 'Estate Wagon' sounded classier than station wagon.

diamond encrusted Ferrari books for sale

Alas not a book published or stocked by us, this mammoth book (in every respect) is the Ferrari official Opus  and only 20 are being produced, one for each of 20 countries (NZ is not among them, but one is going to Australia, valued there at $US/A 275,000).  Even for lawyers and bank executives that price tag may be a little steep, so cheaper books - at only a few thousand dollars each  - are also available. Apparently the proceeds will go to charity.  More info on this webpage

Wellington trams, 1950s

The Trams Down Under website has a big archive of tram photos from Australia and New Zealand, and is thus a good site for those interested in historic city transport. Below are just three of the scenes of Wellington trams found while trawling through it.  Although technically deficient - much better scenes will be found in the books Wellington: a Capital Century and Wellington Transport Memories - they evoke a past era for those who grew up in the city.

Lambton Quay, the well known Kirkaldie and Stains department store across the street.  Judging from the lack of traffic, this was almost certainly taken on a weekend.
A crossing in Kent Terrace, not far from Courtenay Place
The corner of Johnston Street with Customhouse Quay. Both trams seem to have the same route number 9, rather unusual for this location.  The cars are quite typical of 1950s NZ.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

80 years ago on the South Island Main Trunk

Those who have the book New Zealand Railway Memories have information about what is in this scene.

what's with the TranzCoastal?

While the TranzAlpine passenger train began running again on Monday 7 March following the disruption of the 22 February earthquake, the TranzCoastal (Christchurch-Picton) was given a bus replacement.  We understand that when (or if) it resumes running will be put to the KiwiRail board next week.  We hope that the result will be an immediate recommencement - it certainly makes no sense to do otherwise, but with the present anti-rail Minister of Transport Steven Joyce in charge, nothing, least of all common sense, can be taken for granted.

Obviously the number of people wanting to visit Christchurch itself will be reduced at present, but there is plenty of available accommodation outside the affected area, and Christchurch remains a hub for travel in the South Island.  Fingers are crossed!

1961 AMC Rambler

Three pieces of publicity art for the 1961 AMC Rambler station wagon and one for the Ambassador V8 saloon.  As those who have the book 50 Years of Volkwagen in NZ know, they were assembled at the same plant in NZ that assembled VWs.

the old bridge of Mostar

Mostar in Bosnia was named after the bridge keepers (natively: mostari) who guarded the Stari Most ("Old Bridge") over the Neretva river.

You only need to look at what buildings are in the background to realise some of the ethnic tensions that have existed in Bosnia-Herzegovina which flared violently in the early 1990s and led to the infamous war.  The landmark footbridge was destroyed in the war on 9 November 1993 and rebuilt in 2004.

The caption on the postcard from the 1900s calls it the Römerbrücke or Roman bridge - actually it was completed in 1566. Probably the attention that resulted from its destruction and rebuilding has now made it one of Europe's most famous.

Hump-backed, 4 metres (13 ft 1 in) wide; 30 metres (98 ft 5 in) long, height 24 metres (78 ft 9 in).
Two fortified towers "protect" it: the Helebija tower on the northeast and the Tara tower on the southwest, called the bridge keepers (natively mostari).
The "arch" of the bridge was made of local stone known as tenelija. Instead of foundations, the bridge has abutments of limestone linked to wing walls along the waterside cliffs. Measuring from the summer water level of 40.05 m (131 ft 5 in), abutments are erected to a height of 6.53 metres (21 ft 5 in), from which the arch springs to its high point. The start of the arch is emphasized by a molding 0.32 metres (1 ft 1 in) in height. The rise of the 'arch' is 12.02 metres (39 ft 5 in).

Hirschberg, Poland

Well, having mentioned it, here is a view of the town's main square.  One of the area's former tramcars can be seen further along, now serving as an information booth.  The Poles translated the name to Jelenia Gora, and both simply mean 'deer mountain'. A statue of a deer's head is also in the square, erected to mark the town's 900th anniversary in 2008.  Although like much of Poland, the neglect of the communist years is still very evident, it and the neighbouring towns are places worth visiting.

Germany's highest signalmast

We found this on the Verein Schlesische Gebirgsbahnen website mentioned in yesterday's post; not the highest signal mast in terms of altitude but the height of the mast itself, faithfully modelled on their layout. Today the site is no longer part of Germany, and the signal, which was at the entrance to the Nieder Schreiberhau station, has probably gone.