Saturday, November 20, 2010

A railroading letdown

While stopped at the Q Street railroad grade crossing in mid-town Sacramento yesterday afternoon, I waited for the train to appear.

No roar from of a pair of EMD diesel-electric locomotives or train horn warmed me of an approaching train. I wondered if the crossing gate had malfunctioned.

After several minutes a lone Union Pacific hi-rail truck rambled up the Sacramento Subdivision, the old Western Pacific line that slices mid-town Sacramento in two between 19th and 20th streets.

The crossing arms on P Street dropped then shot back up as if the signal grew impatient. As he approached the crossing, the driver braked to give the gates time to activate again.

It was a railroading letdown. Like the scene in one of the Lethal Weapon films, I expected a northbound freight to come barreling up the tracks, right on the bumper of the hi-railer!

In the photograph, a Union Pacific Chevy hi-rail maintenance-of-way pickup truck escorting a Dakota Helicopters spray rig through the Sacramento Amtrak depot in May 2006. Dakota Helicopters & Air Service is a company that specializes in railway vegetation management.

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