The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, dealing as AMTRAK (reporting marks AMTK, AMTZ), is a passenger railroad service that offers medium and long-distance intercity transportation in the United States and nine cities in Canada. Founded in 1971, AMTK began as a quasi-public corporation to operate U.S. passenger rail services. While it is managed as a for-profit organization, AMTK receives state and federal subsidies. Amtrak is headquartered in Washington, D.C, and serves more than 500 destinations in 46 states and three provinces in Canada; and operates more than 300 trains daily over 21,400 miles (34,000 km) of track. Approximately 623 miles of this track are owned by Amtrak, as it operates an additional 132 miles of track. Trains are allowed to run as fast as 150mph (240 km/h) on some track sections (


The name Amtrak was formed from the combination of two words, America and track; the track is a sensational spelling of track. At its inception, Amtrak received no rail tracks or right-of-way. Although Amtrak pruned almost half of the passenger rail network, all of its routes were continuations of previous services. Amtrak continued only 184 of the 366 trains which operated previously (Cook, 1971). On the continued routes, schedules remain the same with only a few minor changes from the Official Guide of the Railways and under the same names.


As required by law, Amtrak operates a national route system. Amtrak is present in 46 of the 48 contiguous states (the states missing are Wyoming and South Dakota). Amtrak’s services can be categorized into three; short-haul service on the Northeast Corridor, state-supported short-haul service outside the Northeast Corridor, and medium- and long-haul service known within Amtrak as the National Network. For a large portion of its operations, Amtrak receives federal funding. Some of these operations include the northeast corridor and the National Network routes. Amtrak collaborates with other transportation companies in 18 states to run other short and medium-haul routes outside the Northeast Corridor in addition to its federally funded routes. Amtrak, in addition to its inter-city services, operates commuter services for three state agencies, including MARC in Maryland, Shore Line East in Connecticut, and Metrolink in California.


In 1972, Amtrak’s first full year of operation, Amtrak carried almost 15 million passengers. Ridership has seen steady growth since then, with a record 31.7 million passengers in the year 2017, which was double the figure of its first year. Additionally, through its various commuter services, Amtrak serves up to 61 million passengers annually in a joint effort with state and regional authorities in California (through Amtrak California and Metrolink), Connecticut (through Shore Line East), and Maryland (through MARC). In some cases, Amtrak will share trackage rights with independent commuter services. Examples include California (through Caltrain), and Illinois (through Metra).


  • “ – Amtrak’s Track”. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  • Cook, Louise (May 1, 1971). “Many famous trains roll into history”. Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. p. 1.

Small Business Saturday


Hello. I’m Phil from Arizona Rock and Mineral Company. We’re going to show you how to apply stucco to a carb matte Board building. This is a real old one. I’ve had one of these on the layout for over 40 years.

A couple of decades ago, I thought no matter what color I painted, it still looks like cardboard. So I stuck it up, turned out pretty good. I sold it on ebay. Well, I want another one, so I bought this one. What you do is you assemble it so you just have the shell.

No windows, signs, nothing, just a shell. And what we use for Stockhol in it, we use that water glue mixture. I use carpenters wood glue, one part glue, two and a half parts water. You want to have it a low viscosity so it comes out to spray jet. Then for small repairs, patches, bear spots.

I have the same mixture in an eyedropper bottle. The product we’re going to use is my pink granite powder. And it has a little bit of grit to it, so you’ll wind up showing some texture on your job. And for applying the powder, I use this strainer. Pour the powder through a strainer to disperse it, and then you shake it off.

So what I do is I wind up spraying the building first, one side at a time. If you get too much, if you get puddles, tip it off, get rid of the puddles. There’s going to be some soap oils because you put a little bit of soap in there and you pop the soap owls with your finger because those are the bear spots if you don’t. And make sure that the glue mixture falls back in there for that bear spot. So once you get it wet, like I said, you take the powder, sprinkle it through your strainer, shake it until it’s all covered with that.

All covered. And then what you do is you’re going to have extra. So you tip it off on some newspaper and you can reuse the stuff. Now, if you have a bare spot, you have to do this. Here was a bare spot and I did it wrong.

I put the powder down first, swept around a little brush, and then I wet it with the dropper. Don’t do it that way. Take your eye dropper, get it wet, sprinkle some powder on it, tip it off. What you’re trying to do is attach the stucco powder from the bottom side up. That way you’ll wind up with a nice dry look to it and just do the same for all four walls.

I started the backside first, trying to develop a technique, and it’s a little bit heavy places. So I got a little bit more cautious when I did the very front wall. Now this is ability with a flat granite end scale for a pitch and gravel lock. And flat roofs. You want them to drain off.

So you have these little scuffers that are made out of brass tubing, and you want to get the water off the roof as fast as possible. So you build these little slope areas in the corners. We call them crickets. It gets the water out of the corners. Then I added a little more detail.

We see our roofs more than anything else. I put a doghouse on top. That’s a stairway coming up so men can service whatever needs the vents, the cooling tower, whatever. Then I added a couple Campbell Skylights to the roof. And when you like a building, they’ll blow a little bit.

Then after that’s all done, one last thing. The pair fits on the inside. You’d want to brush out some black acrylic, paint it’ll look glossy, like real tar. I have yet to do that. So then you go ahead and install your signage and stuff.

The building comes with some real El cheapo cardboard gang planking. So I went and used some real wood gang planking, chipped it, weathered it, stained it, and canopy the overhang for the loading dock. Comes with some real sticky aluminum, cardboard, aluminum. So I used canvas, corrugated aluminum for that and weathered it. So that’s it.

CSX Transportation


CSX Transportation (reporting mark CSXT) is a Class I freight railroad operating in the eastern United States and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The railroad operates approximately 21,000 route miles (34,000 km) of track. The company operates as a subsidiary of CSX Corporation, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. CSX Corporation was formed on November 1, 1980, by combining the railroads of the former Chessie System with Seaboard Coast Line Industries. CSX Corporation was formed on November 1, 1980, by combining the railroads of the former Chessie System with Seaboard Coast Line Industries. The name came about during merger talks between Chessie System and SCL, commonly called “Chessie” and “Seaboard”. The lawyers decided to use “CSX”, and the name stuck. In the public announcement, it was said that “CSX is singularly appropriate. C can stand for Chessie, S for Seaboard, and X, which actually has no meaning (Dolinger, 2006).

CSX Transportation



CSX operated the Juice Train which consisted of Tropicana cars that carry fresh orange juice between Bradenton, Florida, and the Greenville section of Jersey City, New Jersey. The train also runs from Bradenton to Fort Pierce, Florida, via the Florida East Coast Railway. In the 21st century, the Juice Train has been studied as a model of efficient rail transportation that can compete with trucks and other modes in the perishable-goods trade. All Tropicana trains are now added to other Trains such as Q442 and Q032. CSX also runs daily trash trains Q702 and Q703 from The Bronx to Philadelphia (via Selkirk Yard) and then Petersburg, Virginia, where they interchange with NS. These trains consist of 89-foot (27 m) flatcars loaded with four containers of trash. Another pair of trains, Q634 and Q635, operate between Selkirk, New York, and Columbus, Ohio.


CSX has been significant in rebuilding locomotives. CSX has 3 rebuilds of its 4 axle EMD Locomotives. The EMD GP38-2, GP40-2, and SD40-2 have all been rebuilt to then Dash 3 standards with updated Wabtec Electronically Controlled Air Brakes, Electronic bells (E-Bell), electronic handbrakes with a mechanical backup, an airstarter on the motor with an electric start backup, a new designed crash safe cab, a new electronic control stand, YN3B paint job, and Positive Train Control (PTC) computers. They became EMD GP38-3s, GP40-3s, and SD40-3s respectively. In 2015, CSX traded its 12 EMD SD80MACs for 12 SD40-2s from Norfolk Southern. They have all since been rebuilt as SD40-3s. Most are also Positive Stop Protection ( PSP ) equipped Remote Controlled Locomotives (RCL) and have amber strobe lights on each side of the cab, a Cattron Locomotive Control Unit computer, an Air Brake Transfer Valve ( that transfers brake control from manual to computer control), a speed transponder scanner on each end, and a GPS Receiver on the cab roof to pinpoint the engines location.


Because of Ross Rowland running C&O 614 above the speed limits, in 1995, CSX started a new liability insurance requirement of $200 million to introduce their official policy, “no steam on its own wheels”, banning the operation of steam locomotives and other antique rail equipment on their trackage due to safety concerns, and increased risk (Spradlin, 2010).


  • Spradlin, Kevin (June 24, 2010). “CSX disputes claims it pulled support for Petersburg festival in ’11th hour'”. Cumberland Times-News. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  • Dolinger, Milt (2006-05-01). “How CSX got its name”. Trains.


The following are the business cars of the southern pacific railroad:

99 “Houston” was built by Pullman in November 1926.

110 “Los Angelese” was built by Pullman in December 1925, #4923, as Pullman Co “Monte Leone”,  It was sold as SP 110 “Los Angeles”, business car and sold to Ferrocarril del Pacifico.  It was sold to a private owner.

121 “Western” was built by Pullman in 1903 as Chicago Indianapolis & Louisville Ry.  It was rebuilt in 1926 and became SP 121 “Western”.  It presented to City of Oakland for display and acquired by Pacific Locomotive Assn in July 1990.

127 “Alamo” was built by Pullman in June 1926 as Galveston Houston & San Antonio 999 “Alamo”.  It became Texas & New Orleans 999 “Alamo” in 1931 and air conditioned on May 29, 1937.  It was renumbered 127 in 1960 and became SP 127 “Alamo” in 1966.  It was recommended for retirement on November 24, 1975, and retired in March 1982.  It was sold and plynthed at Houston.

128 “Santa Rosa” was built by Pullman in 1917 as El Paso & Southwestern 500.  It became SP 128 “Santa Rosa” in 1924 and rebuilt in 1937.  It was sold as Yreka Western 68 on March 18, 1968, and was transferred as Kyle Ry 13 in May 1993.   It was sold to an individual in 2004 and moved to Port of Redwood City.  It was repainted as Pullman and renumbered RPCX 415, “Niles”.  It was sold to Oregon Pacific RR as 128 “Santa Rosa” in 2011.

400 “American Milemaster”, observation, was built by Pullman-Standard on April 20, 1939, #6567.  It was renumbered 9500 in November 1949 and rebuilt in 1957.  It was sold to General Motors Corp as ET800 (locomotive test car) in 1965 and became Consolidated Railroad Corp 22, rail analyzer car, in February 1985.

2212 was built as Chicago & North Western 3478.  It was transferred as SP 2212 and became National Railway Passenger Corp 4466 (800161).  It was sold as Columbus & Greenville 3 “John H Hough Jr”.

2445-2446, was built by Pullman Standard Co, as Texas & New Orleans 504-505.  It was transferred as SP 2445-2446 and sold as Yreka Western RR 2445-2446.  It was resold as Grand Traverse Train 300A-300B, and resold as Central States Rail Association Inc as CESX 300A-300B. in February 2011.

3000, parlor car, was built by Pullman-Standard in 1937.  It was rebuilt in May 1955 as 3604, dome lounge, and rebuilt in 1968.  It was retired in 1970 and leased by Amtrak as SP 9373 in 1971.  It became Amtrak 9373 in 1972.  It was retired in 1981 and sold to Standard Industries in May 1981.  The owner, J R Reed, died and it was sold to Jim Stephenson.  It was then sold to David Paredeau in June 1987 and rebuilt as Minnesota Zephyr Limited “Grand Dome”.

3712 was built by American Car & Foundry in 1954.  It was sold as Alaska RR 600 in 1990.  It was sold to Alaska Metals Recycling in November 2005 and sold to Al’s Alaskan Inn in 2006.

6009, RPO-baggage, was built by Pullman in 1911 as Houston & Texas Central 251, RPO. Class 40-P-1.  It was rebuilt as RPO-baggage in June 1925 and became Texas & New Orleans 251, Class 40-P-1, in 1931.  It was transferred as SP 6009 in 1944 and remodeled as caboose 475 in 1956.  It was retired in 1972 and acquired by Pacific Coast R&LHS.  It was purchased by California State Railroad Museum in 1979 and stored.

9110 “Golden Mission” was built as 211.  It became 9110, “Golden Mission” and sold as Vinewood Management Co as 800144 “Golden Mission”.

10259-10260-10261, articulated three unit diner, was built by Pullman-Standard in 1941.

10277-10278-10279, articulated three unit diner, was built by Pullman-Standard in 1941.  When it was retired, it was sold to Garrett Ranch in Texas.  In April 2013, it was sold to Grapevine Vintage RR.


A circus train is a method of conveyance for circus troupes. Circus trains began in the 1870s, by replacing the shows that moved by slow animal-drawn wagons.  Over the years these trains grew in length as the train cars switched from wood to steel construction.  Circus trains typically consisted of three types of cars: large animal cars, flat cars loaded with colorful wagons and passenger cars for the workers and performers.  They were usually found in the train in that order.  Circus cars were generally longer than normal freight cars because the railroads charged by the car & mile.  They were painted very colorful to attract attention.  The greatest number of circus trains operated between 1920 and 1950.  Over those years many merged and others went broke. One of the larger users of circus trains was the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (RBBX), a famous American circus formed when the Ringling Brothers Circus purchased the Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1907.

When the circus switched to travel by train, they began by using flatcars from the Pennsylvania Railroad, which turned out to be hazardous because the Pennsylvania Railroad’s cars were in poor shape. In mid-season it was decided that they would buy their own cars, and when the P.T. Barnum Circus left Columbus, Ohio, it traveled on the first circus-owned train. It was made up of 60 cars, including 19–45 flatcars carrying about 100 wagons. Circus trains have proven well-suited for the transportation of heavy equipment (tents, rolling wagons, vehicles and machinery) and animals (elephants, lions, tigers and horses), despite tragic accidents over the years.

It is common practice for model railroaders to enact the operation of the circus train on model railroads using the O scale layout with an operating circus train, several displays, and a parade staged in a town.

Track cleaning


A dirty track can be a frustrating problem for many modelers. As dust settles on the rails and oil and other dirt accumulate, electrical conductivity between wheels and rail deteriorates to the point where reliable current supply to the motor and onboard systems is no longer possible. The result is inevitable; jerky running, flashing lights and generally disappointingly poor performance.

Here we explore ten top tips to model railway track cleaning:

1. The first thing to do is check if your track is dirty by taking a piece of white kitchen towel and simply run it along the rails. If it picks up what appears to be dark grey greasy muck, it is safe to assume that the track needs cleaning.

2. Traditional track homasote is great as a model railway track cleaner and ideal for picking up tough dirt on the rails, including paint following track detailing. Try to choose one that has a soft texture and make sure you don’t rub too hard to avoid eroding the rail top.

3. If the layout has not been used for some time, tarnish could be a problem. Rub a homasote. gently on the rail surface and the inside edge, because model locomotives will pick up electrical current from the side and the top of the rail.

4. Another method for cleaning railway track is using a lint-free cloth soaked with isopropyl alcohol. This is the gentlest method of cleaning model railway track for removing oil and dirt without scouring it.

5. If your layout is DCC, a track cleaning car can be a useful tool and there are several available. They are designed to be filled with model railway track cleaning solvent and either pushed or hauled by a locomotive around the layout until all the track has been cleaned. The cleaning action is achieved through a soft pad on the underside of the track cleaning car, which is fed with a steady stream of solvent as it is used. There are similar track cleaning cars which rely on abrasive action on the rails and these are also very successful.

6. Dust, fluff, hairs, and dirt all make a layout look uncared for and untidy. Vacuum the layout regularly and use a small clean paintbrush to dust scenery and buildings.

7. Paint and glue left on trackwork can collect on the rail edge and is best removed with grade 1200 wet and dry paper.

8. Make sure you check the turnout switches and clean where appropriate. Look for tiny pieces of wood splinters in the hole that may be enough to prevent the point motor from doing its job properly.

9. Following a deep cleaning session, apply a rail head treatment such as ‘Track Magic’ or ‘Rail-Zip 2’. Apply in small amounts using a clean soft cloth and leave overnight. It should improve electrical conductivity too, plus helps prevent the effects of dirt contamination due to arcing between locomotive wheels and rail together with corrosion and tarnishing.

10. Simple soft covers light enough to avoid damage to trains and structures are a great idea for protecting the layouts. Fit portable layouts with hardcovers that not only make handling easier but will protect structures and scenery from damage during transport.

Maintenance, together with careful design, are two important factors in achieving a good running layout. Routine maintenance will help deliver smooth and trouble-free running most of the time and model railway track cleaning is an important consideration.



Ice houses were a new concept when the country’s railroads finally began to use them to replenish the ice necessary to keep their customers’ perishable items from spoiling in transit. Railroads were reluctant users of refrigerated cars in the first place, but large shippers such as meat packers, breweries, and produce suppliers demanded they use this method to ship perishable goods. Railroads maintained ice houses for the purpose of filling refrigerated freight cars and providing ice for early passenger car conditioning. These operations were usually at major terminals.


Icehouses hark back to the era before railroads began using diesel to refrigerate freight cars. In those days, the only way perishables could be kept cold was by loading ice into bunkers at either end of the car. It is difficult to find the exact year the first icehouses were built. However, in a July 26, 1907, Sentinel story it was reported that the Grand Junction ice plant was running low on ice for domestic use. (Before electric refrigerators were available, “the iceman” made daily deliveries of blocks of ice from that plant to residents, most of whom had “iceboxes” on their back porches.) Arrangements were made with the railroad company to borrow 30 to 35 tons of ice to get Grand Junction residents through the remainder of the summer. The local plant promised to replace the ice during the next winter. A fire destroyed the ice houses, freight depot and merchandise cars with all the merchandise inside on Sept. 23, 1918. According to the headline, the entire city of Grand Junction was endangered. With the booming fruit industry, the railroad quickly built four new icehouses to keep pace with the growing number of packing sheds on the western slope. One of those four was destroyed by a fire on Aug. 30, 1947. When one of these icehouses went up in flames it was one heck of a fire to fight. The icehouses were constructed of two sections six inches apart, filled with sawdust. The roofs were covered with tarpaper. These icehouses were gigantic; each one measured 120 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 40 feet high and stored up to 33,000 tons of ice.

Hundreds of men were employed in producing the ice and packing it in the bunkers. A slide with chutes at different levels was located at the rear and center of each building. Blocks of ice would go down the chute to a platform outside, where the workmen would load the ice into the bunkers. One car could hold 10,000 pounds of ice. Railroads would have man-made reservoirs, usually around 14 inches deep. Each winter, workers would flood the reservoirs. When the water was frozen, the ice harvest would begin. Among the tools used were jig saw, circular saw and large tongs. The men would cut the ice into large slabs, which were then floated through the water to a spot where they were plucked out, placed on a conveyor belt and planed into 300-pound ice blocks. These blocks were then loaded onto a rail car in layers of ice and sawdust and transported to the railroad, where they were transferred from rail car to the icehouse. The last ice house was demolished in 1972 with the introduction of artificial refrigeration.


The following ice houses and icing operations have been noted:

  • Detroit – Michigan Central Junction Yard. A large icing facility for railroad refrigerated box cars. Located on the property south of the MCRR main line, between Greenfield Road on the west, and Miller Road on the east.  This is the triangle area bordering the main line, the junction yard branch, and the old and new wye to Town Line. Operations here likely began about 1900 and operated through the 1950’s.
  • Durand – Grand Trunk Western. Photographs of this icing facility are located at the Michigan Railroad Museum at the Durand Union Station. [Robert Conrad]
  • Elberta – Ann Arbor Railroad. The AA apparently had an ice house in operation at Elberta which was reported to be located east of the roundhouse.
  • Melvindale – Wabash Railroad. An ice house was located in the Wabash Yard in what is now Melvindale. This area is now NS’ Manifest Yard. [Greg Degowski]
  • Niles – Michigan Central. This icing operation was build and operated by the MC in their yard here. [Gary Schoenleber] This building still stands as of 2002.
  • Port Huron – Grand Trunk Western. See the photos below.
  • Shanghai Pit (Ypsilanti) – The Michigan Central harvested ice from the Huron River here around 1900.

Here in the UK ice houses for the fishing industry go back several centuries. Here is an example from Haven Bridge, Great Yarmouth, (herrings). 1840 or thereabouts the fish could travel by rail to London’s Billingsgate Market in hours. Link