Old 12-01-2005, 10:02 PM   #1
UP5799
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Default SUV's following trains

Ok another weird question, In january 2005 I drove from LAX to Dallas via AZ, UT, CO, NM. While driving through New Mexico I saw a BNSF double loco pulling about 25 boxcars all with the same logo and same colours. What suprised me was that following the train was a white SUV on the tracks

Firstly, why? why would a SUV follow the train, could the train have been carrying a high value cargo and the SUV following to make sure that nobody stopped the train to hijack the cargo.

Secondly, surely a caboose would have been more economical than a SUV as the suv would have had to fuel up several times while following the train.

Hope someone can answer my queries.

Cheers

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Old 12-01-2005, 10:18 PM   #2
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Default Coincidence most likely

My guess is the SUV probably was unrelated to the train's cargo. More likely it was a track inspector or road foreman following behind the train doing an inspection under a track warrant.

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Old 12-01-2005, 10:24 PM   #3
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During the summer (speaking specifically in MN) the fire risk is extremely high. A track inspector will follow to watch for sparks.
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Old 12-02-2005, 01:43 AM   #4
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Did it look something like this:

Image © Chris Paulhamus
PhotoID: 115930
Photograph © Chris Paulhamus
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Old 12-02-2005, 02:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
Did it look something like this:

Image © Chris Paulhamus
PhotoID: 115930
Photograph © Chris Paulhamus
That would have been one long trip!
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Old 12-02-2005, 04:01 AM   #6
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Not to make fun of any statement but we are not in the cowboy days here. Like stated before, i am sure the track inspector was unrelated to the train movements. He probably waited for the train to clear, then hopped on the rails to do his job. Fire danger isnt that big of a deal, espacally since there is ballast around the rails to put out any sparks. I have never seen that kind of operation because of sparks. I doubt the shipment was really 'valuble' because shippers can load things in containers and nobody would be able to tell the differeance between valubles and junk. But this was an interesting question, i would love to see pictures.
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Old 12-02-2005, 02:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by This Week Online

http://www.thisweek-online.com/2004/april/30fires.html
Eagan grass fires likely ignited by train
Fires burned more than 700 acres of Minnesota River bottom in Eagan
Posted: 4/30/04


by Erin Johnson
Thisweek Newspapers

A spark from a train is the likely cause of grass fires that erupted in the Minnesota River bottom in Eagan on April 16, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

“We’re pretty confident it was a train that started it, but we’re still tying up some loose ends,” said Bob Grindy with the DNR. “The investigation is still open.”

What’s not yet clear is from what part of the train the spark originated, whether from the wheels or engine or another source, he said.

It took about 70 firefighters from Eagan and surrounding communities to quell the flames, which burned three miles long and almost a mile wide, ultimately scorching more than 700 acres.

Grass fires in that area are not uncommon, said Eagan Fire Marshal Dale Wegleitner. Two years ago a fire burned through 500 acres of the river bottom in Eagan. Three Eagan firefighters received minor injuries in that blaze.

“We’ve had fires before down there,” he said. “This wasn’t the worst one.”

Sparks from trains are a common cause of grass fires in Minnesota, Grindy said. Conditions that day were very dry and windy, which helped fan the flames.
This is Minnesota, and everything can be prevented! This was all I could find in an Internet search. Most may not get to news worthy proportions but in the prairie, grass is closer than one thinks. That is why I stressed
Quote:
Originally Posted by busyemt
(speaking specifically in MN)
Regarding the container thing, I can't recall the last "Great Train Robbery" rail-jacking.
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Old 12-02-2005, 05:34 PM   #8
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I was doing some night railfanning with a friend over the past summer. A railgrinder came by, afterwards we went out to the tracks and were very surprised to see more lights coming up behind it. It turned out to be a truck on rails that seemed to be inspecting the track and switches that the grinder had just passed over.
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Old 12-02-2005, 08:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golden_spike
I was doing some night railfanning with a friend over the past summer. A railgrinder came by, afterwards we went out to the tracks and were very surprised to see more lights coming up behind it. It turned out to be a truck on rails that seemed to be inspecting the track and switches that the grinder had just passed over.
Cuz if grinder wheels meet asphalt--defect detector--etc--it's not a pretty picture.
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Old 12-02-2005, 11:02 PM   #10
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How about another possibility? In north Texas, there is a DOD storage facility with extremely high security-- Trucks are utilized to haul materials into this facility-- These trucks are escorted, front and rear, by heavily armed security personnel riding in SUV's-- There is also rail access into the facility-- It would be interesting to know what the reporting marks on the cars were-- The SUV on the rails could have been security, which is more flexible than the personnel riding in a caboose-- Just a thought--
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Old 12-02-2005, 11:08 PM   #11
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Sorry, my train of thought derailed-- I was going to include this in my other post-- I've watched the rail grinders many times, and the truck following has been a fire truck looking for hot spots and tie fires-- If their grinding operations start a fire which causes damage(s), the grinder outfit is liable, including suppression costs if a fire department has to respond-- These folks are very careful, and do a good job-- They can't afford not to--
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Old 12-04-2005, 05:06 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by busyEMT
During the summer (speaking specifically in MN) the fire risk is extremely high. A track inspector will follow to watch for sparks.
As the first poster metioned, wouldn't a caboose and a couple guys on the back with hoses be more economical?
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Old 12-04-2005, 11:26 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamD
As the first poster metioned, wouldn't a caboose and a couple guys on the back with hoses be more economical?
Probably not. Where is the water/dry foam supply coming from? On a railgrinder however, that's actually part of the machine. Besides, the chances are good that a grass fire takes a while to start even when dry. I could be wrong on this, though.

Usually when you see a hi-rail following a train, it's a track inspector who has a block permit behind that train. On NS, you'll usually hear the dispatcher say "Restrictions behind engine XXXX north/east/south/west" when issuing a 23-A (block permit form). This means that after that train passes, the inspector or whoever requested the form can occupy that track after that train passes.

There's only a minor variation with TWC territory. In that, the requestor will sometimes have a box 7 along with a box 3 (Work between X and Y). Box 7 is "Do not foul limits ahead of engine XXXX north/east/south/west". When the requestor has finished his work, he'll clear his form with the dispatcher to allow trains to run again.
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