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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Too much information

Date: 05/24/20 16:47
Too much information
Author: cewherry

Continuing the comments of eminence_grise regarding wildlife along the right of way;

One of the features of Amtrak's Superliner equipment that had not existed on
their 'heritage' fleet upon start-up in 1971 was a public address, 'PA', system
whereby the conductor could make announcements throughout the train.
When the first F40PH locomotives were delivered, access to this 'PA' system
was extended to the engineer in the cab by means of a two-position 'rocker' switch
incorporated into the cab radio. In one position of the switch the radio was just that, a radio. 
In the other position, any comment into the handset went only to the 'PA', a nice touch--maybe.

One day while working in Seattle I was called for Amtrak No. 8, the Empire Builder which,
at that time was routed over the former Northern Pacific line over Stampede Pass
and through Washington's Cascade mountains via Ellensburg. We had two F40PH's this day.
After leaving Seattle, the route traveled southward to Auburn before turning eastward.
Once east of Kanaskat we entered the Green River watershed which provides a major
portion of the city of Tacoma's domestic water supply.  Many parts of the reserve are closed to
development and human habitation. This lack of human interference has long been noticed
and taken advantage of by, among others, the magnificent Roosevelt elk, aka Olympic elk
whose population has thrived as a result. 

On this beautiful summer day, as we wound our way eastward, several herds of elk
could be seen grazing on the lush vegetation of the western slopes of the Cascades,
serenely unmolested and at peace.

The fireman and I were enjoying the view when the thought occurred that it would be
a great idea to share the joy with our passengers. I positioned the 'rocker switch' to 'PA' 
and in my finest tour-guide voice announced: "Folks, coming up on the left side of the train
you will see a large herd of Roosevelt elk". To punctuate my remarks, I followed this with
a mighty blast of the whistle.

When we got to the crew change point at Ellensburg, I asked the conductor how my remarks
over the 'PA' had been received. He told me it was "OK,---but in the future please don't add the
whistling part"; adding that when I made the noise, about half the herd had 'relieved' (No. 2), themselves
just in time to be viewed by the paying public aboard the cars!! Bad form.

I never touched the 'PA' switch again.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/24/20 22:39 by cewherry.

Date: 05/24/20 16:53
Re: Too much information
Author: spider1319

At least you didn't leave the button stuck on, like I did one trip to San Diego.Lucky for me one of the trainmen allerted us to the error before too much was transmitted. Thanks for posting.I always enjoy your narratives.Bill Webb

Date: 05/25/20 18:31
Re: Too much information
Author: rob_l

I remember riding the Coast Starlight up to Portland shortly after the PA system was installed. As we neared the Steel Bridge in Portland, the engineer came on the PA. "This is your engineer speaking. We are now arriving in Portland, and arriving on time. Thank you for riding with us, and remember, you can always set your watch on Amtrak."

My, how times changed. After Amtrak negotiated away the incentive payments it was giving the freight railroads, the Starlight became the Starlate.

Best regards,

Rob L.

Date: 05/26/20 10:59
Re: Too much information
Author: SPbird

rob_l Wrote:
> My, how times changed. After Amtrak negotiated
> away the incentive payments it was giving the
> freight railroads, the Starlight became the
> Starlate.
> Best regards,
> Rob L.

Or the Stoplight

Posted from Android

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/26/20 10:59 by SPbird.

Date: 05/26/20 11:27
Re: Too much information
Author: 3rdswitch

Once on the westbound "Harbor" train descending Cajon Pass, the caboose radio became stuck on transmit. From Summit down past Cajon there was a constant narrative coming from the rear brakeman and conductor much of which was rated R or worse. After stopping at a red signal at Keenbrook, the head brakeman went to the phone and was told by the DS you aren't going anywhere until you walk back to the caboose and let those guys know that the whole railroad was hearing theit conversation. Fortunately we were a short train this day and the last we heard from the stuck radio was "what the hell are you doing back here? Oh sh*@!".

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