Thursday, May 31, 2012

San Francisco's historic rail vehicles - today a civic cash cow

a preserved Pacific Electric PCC car on the 5-mile (8 km) F Market line, seen here on Embarcadero.
although most of the fleet on the F Market line comprises PCC cars, it also has some ex-Milan trams and even a Melbourne tram in original livery.

If you think the $5 or $US 4 it costs to ride the historic Wynyard Quarter tram in Auckland is dear, the one-way fare on the San Francisco Cable Car lines of $6 is even higher, although you can substantially reduce that by buying a 1, 2 or 3 day "go as you please" city Muni pass.

It was fortunate that San Francisco's railed public transport vehicles were spared the "if it runs on rails close it and rip it out" thinking that prevailed 50-60 years ago, and which is still found among politicians like NZ's Steven Joyce.

One of the things that a dummkopf like Mr Joyce and his sycophants fail to appreciate is that having visitor attractions will attract visitors; even if something doesn't make a nominal bean-counter profit, it can be considered a tourism"loss leader" with overall spending on other things more than compensating for it.

the first Renault car

The first Renault car, the Renault Voiturette 1CV, manufactured in different models 1898 - 1903.

the Gare de Limoges-Bénédictins, France

Work on this - often considered the most beautiful train station in all of Europe - lasted from 1924 and 1929 and the station was inaugurated on 2 July 1929.  Bénédictins station was designed by architect Roger Gonthier and one of its particularities is that it was built over the ten railway lines rather than next to them. A large 90 by 78 metre platform was built over the lines to support the station building.

The building is made of a concrete bone structure, filled in with limestone. The dome which covers the passenger concourse is made of a metallic framework, covered in copper.

The 60 metre tall clock tower in the southwest corner is a composed of twelve levels. It is mounted by a dome itself mounted by a five metre tall vase. Below these are four four metre wide clocks.

The station was listed on 15 January 1975 and work to restore the Great Hall ended in 1979. On 5 February 1998, a fire broke out under the station's dome. The city's population was upset and the dome was rebuilt to its original design.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

car accident, 1912

Location not given, possibly north-eastern USA.

new Mercedes truck designs

No further info. Thanks to Bert for sending these in.

a 2-goatpower vehicle

Seen in Aurillac, France, 1900s.

Roma Termini station, Italy, 1953

This major building, inaugurated in 1950 and today one of the busiest in Europe with 31 tracks in use, is characterized by the extremely long, modernist façade in travertine and by the double curve of the cantilever roof in reinforced concrete. Because of these, it carries the nickname Il Dinosauro (the Dinosaur). It has famous anodized aluminium friezes, the work of artist Amerigo Tot: the composition is about capturing the dynamics in sound and speed of a train.

the capital connection, California version

Known here as the Capitol Corridor, primarily a service linking the state capital of Sacramento with Oakland and San Jose: 8 trains a day in each direction with an early morning train also running from Auburn in the northeast; all up a 168 mile (270 km) route operated by Amtrak in association with Union Pacific and Caltrans. website

traffic in Toulouse, France, 1960s

or Toolooz as Fox News spells it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Guiné Bissau transport stamps commemorating Jules Verne

Stamps commemorating the centennial in 2005 of the death of Jules Verne who wrote about space, air, and underwater travel before air travel and practical submarines were invented, and before practical means of space travel had been devised. He is the second most translated author in the world after Agatha Christie.

traffic in Berlin's Kurfürstendamm, early 1960s

Including a Mercedes Ponton (outside an appropriately festooned building), VW Beetle/Cox, Oldsmobile 88, Porsche 356.

'Capital Connection' train funding

The Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council (Horizons RC) is keen to subsidize the existing service provided the NZTA does the same.

However, the news item on Radio NZ implies that the NZTA will not even consider subsidizing the train as "it does not reduce congestion" [nonsense]. The Greater Wellington Regional Council has indicated it may help out.

Berlin to Postdam railway opening 1838

Nowadays a relatively short trip on the Berlin S-Bahn. A maxicard issued in 1988, a year before the fall of the Berlin wall

'who puts transpress nz books on the top shelf?'

1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale Coupe

Now estimated to be worth $1,000,000 - $1,300,000. Appropriately named "Bumblebee". From

early airplane over Geneva, Switzerland

With the jet d'eau visible; probably a montage.

Monday, May 28, 2012

50 years of the Seattle, Washington, monorail

While the Sydney monorail is coming to a controversial end after 24 years, the one in downtown Seattle has celebrated its 50th anniversary with no apparent likelihood of demise.

It runs for 1.2 miles (1.9 km). The line has 2 stations and consists of two parallel tracks with one train riding each track. The two trains constructed by Alweg in 1961 are still in service.  Each train is powered by four 750 hp DC motors from a 700V two-tiered electric rail that is aligned with the side of the track. The top rail is ground, with the live rail suspended beneath it.  The motors are controlled by a mechanical motor controller that adjusts the position of the motors and number of resistors in the circuit. The motors run into a standard truck differential, with one side blocked off and the other running to the driving wheel, which runs a standard truck tyre. 

The monorail uses dynamic braking for higher speed braking (over 10 mph or 16 km/h), and has drum brakes for lower speeds. website

Great Northern switcher 181 from 1942

This 1000 hp EMD diesel switcher (shunter) model NW3 was one of 7 ordered by the Great Northern Railway, the sole original purchaser, which were built over November 1939 - March 1942.  It consisted of an NW2 hood, a 2-stroke, V12 EMD 567 prime mover and main generator on a long frame with road trucks (bogies). The extra length was used for a large cab and an additional, full-width hood section, which contained a steam generator for passenger service. The boiler's exhaust was in the front center of the cab, between the front windows and exiting at the middle of the roof front.

The locomotives were delivered in GN's black diesel paint scheme of the time, but were later repainted in the bright, orange and green "Empire Builder" scheme. The short exhaust stacks as delivered were at some point replaced by standard conical EMD switcher stacks.

The first four units were traded in by GN to EMD for new locomotives in 1965. The remaining three were sold to other railroads: number 179 was sold to A.E. Staley Co. of Morrisville, Pennsylvania, keeping the same number; number 180 was sold to the Clinchfield Railroad as their 361 - and 181 went to Anaconda Aluminium as their 100.

It is now on display on BNSF's line at Whitefish, Montana, in its GNR "Empire Builder" colours as seen above.  (Geoff Churchman)

Chicago's Navy Pier

The Navy Pier on Lake Michigan, close to Chicago's downtown was originally known as the Municipal Pier number 2,  one of two piers called for in a 1909 Chicago plan, but the other pier was never built. Construction started May 1914 and in 1916 it was opened to the public.  At the time it was the world's largest pier, 292 ft wide and 3000 ft long (89 x 914 metres). It was designed as a shipping and entertainment area and in its first decade, the Municipal Pier successfully attracted both. It was also temporarily used as a military facility during WW1.

In 1927 the pier was renamed Navy Pier in honor of World War I veterans. It would turn out to be a prophetic name change.  By the end of the 1920s, the Navy Pier's success started to decline. The introduction of cars and the opening of movie theatres created more competition for the Pier and the number of visitors dwindled. Shipping started to decline in the 1930s due to the Great Depression and the competition of road transport.

After WW2 it served as the Chicago branch of the University of Illinois. In 1965 the university moved to its new location and the Navy Pier started to decay. The first step in its redevelopment   was the 1976 restoration of the Auditorium building at the eastern end of the pier. One year later it was designated a Chicago Landmark. Another step to the redevelopment  was taken in 1989, when the city of Chicago and the State of Illinois installed the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, an organisation responsible for the management of the pier. At the same time they committed $150 million for reconversion of the pier as a recreational center. The renovation started in 1992 and was completed in 1994. The result was a very successful recreational centre next to Chicago's downtown area. Thanks to its many attractions and 50 acres (20 hecrares) of parks and gardens it attracts more than 8 million visitors each year.

tram in Margate, England

A postcard from about 1910.  Info on the Isle of Thanet tram system, which ended in 1937, here

the old tramway of Alger/Algiers

Kursaal is German for a bath house/spa/treatment room
The old Algiers system seen above was given Steven Joyce style treatment in the 1960s, but a new 8-km standard gauge line was opened a year ago on 8 May 2011 - map below of the Metro, RER (suburban trains) and tramway.