Roundhouse Ramblings
January 2005

Non-NERR News -  23 Jan.
Other Downloads -  22 Jan.  

Fun Page -  23 Jan.
Railroad Slang -  4 Jan.

Send news, articles & other material to us.
All contributions used with gratitude!!

11 Dec. - Claude's Corner
 27 Dec. -
Taz's Tales
  22 Jan.  - Old Heading


29 January
  •  Handy Hint:  Do you have a locomotive that does not have a head-out view? You can add one yourself without much difficulty.

    • Look though your roster for a locomotive of the same type  that has a head-out view. If you have one, open the engine file (?????.eng) and look for the HeadOut line. It should be right below the CabView line. Copy-and-paste this line to the same place in the engine file of your locomotive that does not have the head-out view. Save the file, and try it out.

    • You don't have another of the same locomotive in your roster? That's OK. Create your own. Open the .eng file and go to the CabView line. Directly under this add: HeadOut ( 1.8 3.3 5.1 ) This will give you the head-out view.

    • Warning: You must use a unicode editor to open the engine files. This includes such programs as WordPad. You can adjust the view by changing the values. The first value (1.8) will move the view left or right. The second value (3.3) will move the move up or down. The third value (5.1) will move the view backward or forward.

  • On 25 January, I asked how long it would take for someone to produce a BNSF locomotive in the new livery? The answer was over at yesterday/today (depends on where you live in the world!).

  • On the  Other Downloads page:   Route-Riter version 6.2.27 - "Added a new button to the Miscellaneous tab -  'Fix Bad .S File Format' to re-save .S files which have been incorrectly compressed. Also improved Check Route so that .sd files in the Route's Shapes folder with an ESD_Alternative_Texture entry of '2' are automatically changed to '1' ('2' is only valid for shapes in the Global\Shapes folder). This patch also includes a new version of TsUtils which cleans up some bugs and some messages which were still in the German language."


28 January
  •  Handy Hint:  Are you happy with the amount of smoke that your steam locos produce? if not, the following tip might help:

1. Open your steam locomotive engine (.eng) file.

2. Scroll down to the "steam special effects" section, as below:

0 5.05 0.648
0 1 0

Set that last number to 0.08 - or you can experiment to see what number produces the best effect for you!

  • Following yesterday's news item from the 1890s, Mike Martin (ID# 219, mmartin) sent in the photo of the  deliberate locomotive crash  in the box below. The story of the entrepreneur who set it up is told in the story below.

Most people have seen films of head-on train collisions. Ever wonder why there happened to be a movie camera right at the site of a train wreck?

Locomotives wear out and have to be scrapped. In 1896, William Crush, vice-president of the Katy (MKT) Railroad, came up with a more entertaining and lucrative way of disposing of old locomotives - charge people admission to see a head-on collision. (That was yesterday's story.) Unfortunately, he underestimated the power of the explosion when the boilers burst. Two spectators were killed, many injured, and the railroad was in litigation for years. That was the last time that a railroad company staged a train wreck.

Watching the event was farmer Joseph Connolly, who saw a potential for a tremendous spectacle if it was done properly. He plowed most of his savings into the attempt and submitted his idea to the organisers of the Iowa State Fair, who at first were horrified and turned him down. Connolly finally prevailed by assuming all the risks and liability. The event drew 35,000 spectators and was a complete success. From that day on, Connolly was known as "Head-on Joe." Over the years, his wrecks got more spectacular; he took to dousing railroad cars with kerosene to make a more spectacular crash. His last wreck was in 1932, involving two locomotives nicknamed "Hoover" and "Roosevelt." In 36 years he staged 73 wrecks using, predictably, 146 locomotives. He earned over a million dollars, had millions of spectators, and not a single spectator was injured. Can you imagine the cost of public insurance for that sort of stunt today? Click on the photo on the right to view a larger version.


27 January
  • On the Other Downloads page:  In the ConBuilder section - SFVkyrm - "I have updated this too. It now not only removes the keys from the registry, but it also removes dll/ocx files from the system32 folder. "

  • News item from the 1890s:

Crash at Crush, 1890

It was a slow day at the office, and George Crush, a passenger agent for the Katy railroad, was thinking about train wrecks and how they never failed to draw a crowd. George knew that even the slightest collision would have people coming from far and near to see derailments, explosions and steam-scalded victims.

If accidents drew crowds of hundreds, how many would come to a deliberate, heavily publicized crash? Crush bet the numbers would be in the thousands, but no one in Texas in the 1890s was stupid enough to take the bet. George ran the idea up the MKT (Missouri-Kansas-Texas) flagpole, and his superiors saluted it. The railroad laid a spur off their main tracks north of Waco in September of 1896 - a four mile spur with a grandstand, press offices, a bandstand and a "depot" marked Crush, Texas.

The "Monster Crash" was advertised for months in advance, and newspapers kept readers updated on preparations. Two obsolete engines were given a reprieve from the scrap furnaces and reconditioned to the point where they could build up a good head of steam. Painted in contrasting red and green, and pulling boxcars covered in advertising, the locomotives were displayed in various towns before the event.

The half-town, half-carnival that became Crush, Texas was set up with restaurants, game booths and "lemonade" stands. The railroad offered $2 round-trip tickets from anywhere in the state, and the first of 33 excursion trains began arriving at dawn on September 15, 1896. Some of the trains arrived with passengers riding on top of the cars. About 40,000 men, women and children were given until late afternoon to spend their money and be subjected to the speeches of politicians, the warnings of prophets and the light fingers of pickpockets. Children sat on their father's shoulders, and ladies were politely asked to remove their hats. At 5:00 p.m. the engines nosed toward each other and "shook hands" before backing into position.The Crash at Crush  event

Agent Crush, riding a borrowed white horse, threw down a white hat as a signal and then got out of the way. The engines headed toward one another, while the crowd roared their approval over the locomotive's death-whistles.

Railroad officials had taken the precaution of asking their best mechanics about the chances of the two boilers exploding. The officials were reassured that it would never happen. But the mechanics were wrong, and the boilers exploded on impact, sending shrapnel into the crowd and killing several spectators.

Railroad cranes removed the big iron, and souvenir hunters took away the smaller pieces. By nightfall, all that was left was mud, red and green chunks of iron, and pools of warm lemonade.

The Katy did have some claims by irate relatives of the victims, but refunds, cash payments and lifetime passes took care of them. A lifetime railroad pass in the 1890s was like winning the lottery. George Crush was fired (with a wink) and was rehired as soon as the press moved on to other disasters. Some accounts say that he was given a bonus.

Although the "town" only existed for a day, the event was certainly remembered by the local residents.


26 January
  • On the Other Downloads page:

    • Route-Riter version 6.2.26 - "Fixed the Internet Browser page under Help\Check for updates option. Corrected a bug which deleted ingame.sms while compacting a route."

    • ConBuilder is available again - version 2.3.24.

  • From the  Guinness Book of Records : Cóndor station, on the Rio Mulatos-Potosí line in Bolivia, is the world's highest, at an altitude of 4,786 m. (15,700 ft.).


25 January
  • How long will it take before someone repaints a vloco in the new  BNSF  colours with the new logo? The BNSF website has the details for anyone interested.

  •  ConBuilder : downloads have been suspended for a few days until the most recent errors have been fixed. We 'll post the next version as soon as Joe publishes it.

  • The final part of the series on the  types of steam locomotives  will be published next month. This month's newsletter is getting rather long (almost 80 screens). For the rest of this month, only news items will be published.

  • On the Other Downloads page:

    • Route-Riter version 6.2.23 - "Fixed an error which could occur if Fix .act files was run immediately after Fix .con files."


24 January
  • On the Other Downloads page:

    • Route-Riter version 6.2.22 - "Fixes problem in 'Check Route' where .sms/.wav files could be reported missing if several routes were checked consecutively. Also fixed 'Error 9 in GetLooseConsists' where routes were saved using Train Store."

  • NERR Excellence Award:   Eric Swenson (ID# 150, Buttercup) has been awarded North Eastern's Award of Excellence. Eric has been with us since September 13, 2003. He has developed 23 Work Orders for the NERR, as well as creating 8 route maps at the time this award was given. Thank You for all the hours of fun!  As a reward, a special refrigerated boxcar has been created for use on the NERR network - picture on the right. It can be downloaded from the Downloads page - log in through NETS. Click here to view the Awards page for Eric.


23 January
  • We hear that the Great Lakes & Allegheny Railroad will be adding a new route to their network - the newly-released Arkansas & Ozarks, from VScaleCreations, which previously produced the St Louis & North Arkansas RR.

  • On the  Other Downloads  page:

    • Route-Riter version 6.2.18 - "Fixes the Package Activity option. Fixes a problem with the 'Fix .eng files' whereby changes could be made to the comments at the end of the file. Corrected a message box on 'Compress .W files' which displayed as 'Compress .S files'."

  •  News item from RW Canada  (sent in by Don Drummond, ID# 209, droom):

The Whistler Mountaineer

The passenger train service from North Vancouver is back on track. The destination: Whistler.

Rocky Mountaineer Vacations is launching their new service, the Whistler Mountaineer, after being chosen as the successful applicant to operate along the old BC Rail route. If all goes well, the privately-owned B.C. company's latest tourist train will be departing North Vancouver May 1, 2006.

The new venture is a $30-million investment for the company, which already operates the Rocky Mountaineer. "It's a significant investment for a privately-owned British Columbia company," said Graham Gilley, vice-president of marketing and communications. "But it's something we are pretty passionate about and have been successful with it for 15 years."

The new service will be a three-hour, more upscale journey than the old BC Rail train that would usher skiers to and from Whistler. "It is a tourist train. There's no question. That's the business model we were asked to submit on," Gilley said. "That's the model that will be successful rather than point-to-point transportation."

The starting price for the train ride, Gilley said, is about $99 one way, including food, interpretive commentary along the route, and an open-air observation car. Travellers will have two choices of service: riders will be able to travel in a single-level full-length dome coach where guests get a 360-degree panoramic view and access to an outdoor vestibule that will connect travellers to an open-air observation car.

The other service is the coast classic, a traditional type of rail coach. The company has a 50-year-old reconditioned coach with picture-postcard sized windows and riders will have access to an open-air observation car, Gilley explained. The type of upscale train travel that Rocky Mountain offers continues to grow in popularity and Gilley believes that the Whistler Mountaineer service will appeal to travellers.

Since the announcement on Sept. 3, the privately-owned B.C. company has been working to find a location to operate from in North Vancouver. Using the old BC Rail station is not in the cards for the company. "It's not a possibility simply because of the purchase price," said Gilley. The company is currently looking at various spots. "Hopefully in the next few weeks we will come up with a location," Gilley said.


22 January
  • The third and final section of  Bill Prieger's article  on locomotive braking systems and how to use them is available if you click on the Old Heading link above to the right. He will be back next month with another article - maybe another lesson for us about how to get the best out of driving in MSTS or maybe another story from his RW engineer days.

  • And  Claude's Corner  will be back next month with another article in his inimitable style!

  • On the  Other Downloads  page:

    • Route-Riter version 6.2.15 - "Improves the file requester in the Write .bat option and cleans up a few errors." I had just uploaded this version to the NERR website when the next version was available!! So:

    • Route-Riter version 6.2.16 - "Removes the part of Check Routes which also checked the case of .sd files, as this did not work correctly. To fix the case of .sd files, please use the 'Fix .sd files' option. "


21 January
  • Another Fallen Flag: On the  Virtual Full Bucket Line  website today - "It is with sad regrets that the vFBL will be closed in the next few days. I have enjoyed my time and work with the few people who made it work. The reason for closing? Well I just don't have the time or the fire in the belly too continue. Stuart Mitchell CEO." The NERR people would like to thank Stuart for all his work and for helping to keep the VR and MSTS worlds alive for a lot of people. We hope that he maintains his connection with the NERR and that he continues to enjoy running trains! Best wishes, Stuart.

  • Don't forget that you can get a  random work order  "assignment" from NEAWOS (North Eastern Automated Work Order System). The 8th menu item on the NEAWOS main page will give you some filters to narrow down the system's range of choices; in any case, when you press the 'Submit' button, the system will open a new screen with the full description of the "assigned" work order. Try it one day when you have some spare time to run a work order but are not sure which one you want to choose. The NERR doesn't offer a work order assignment option, but this is the next best thing.

  •  Other Downloads  page:

    • Route-Riter version 6.2 is now available. From the developer's website: "Virtually the same as v6.1.109 with a couple of small bug fixes. Included with this version is TsUtils v3.1, which includes an option to merge two MSTS routes. This version is being released as a full release. "

    • Route-Riter version 6.2.11 is now available. You need to install the full 6.2 version before you update it to 6.2.10. Mike Simpson (the developer) found a small error in the 6.2 version and has already issued a fix for it. "Fixed an error I introduced into the 'Check\Fix Rolling-Stock' option while rushing to get v6.2 out. Sorry."

    • If you downloaded v6.2.10, you will notice that the latest version is now 6.2.11. There was another small fix release today.


19 January
  •  Diesel Certification Course  - the latest crop of graduates from this course, run by the NETA team led by taz (Jeremy), received their Graduation Certificates today. The graduates are:

Engineer ID# Certificate No. Name/Handle
269 04-1-NERR269D Bill Prieger
131 04-1-NERR131D Bo "slowtrain" Sondergaard
133 04-1-NERR133D Buddy "cbf33" Ramstetter
201 04-1-NERR201D Cliff "arch" Bishop
15 04-1-NERR015D David "DavidH" Horton
152 04-1-NERR152D David "dross" Ross
150 04-1-NERR150D Eric "buttercup" Swenson
73 04-1-NERR073D Fred "Mr. Fred" Lauritzen
179 04-1-NERR179D James "jlloydroca" Lloyd
8 04-1-NERR008D John Hodgkinson
63 04-1-NERR063D Lloyd "Archer01" Shinkle
147 04-1-NERR147D Mike "HHackman1" Hackbarth
107 04-1-NERR107D Rob "cliffra" Clifford
126 04-1-NERR126D Robert "rlbarr" Barrows


18 January
  • Stuart (ID#56, Auzze) posted  a link  in the NERR forums to a video clip about intermodal transport in Florida. On the website, click on the Intermodal menu item and then select Video. "It's a neat little presentation with lots of great intermodal action," says Stuart.

  • Apart from the NERR  forums , which are obviously the best around, there are a couple of others that can be useful to visit occasionally, or more often if you have time and are interested in more than North American railroads/railways. These links will be added to the Non-NERR News page at the end of the month:

    • Railpage Australia - RW and MSTS and other simulators and modelling.

    • UKTrainSim - MSTS and RW, 3D modelling, commercial suppliers, other simulators.

  •  New work orders  - available through NEAWOS (link on the website main page):

    • NELV-152-07 - Good morning, it's 9.00am on a fine Spring morning, and you're assigned to take a cross country passenger train from Jim Thorpe station to Bethlehem. It is a sunny, warm, spring morning. There is a lot of traffic today, but none of it should interfere with your schedule. You want to stay on schedule, because a commuter train will be waiting for you at Bethlehem to take you back to Jim Thorpe. It will take you about 1 hour 20 minutes to complete this run. Take care not to upset the passengers - some of them are grouchy this morning!

    • NEFB-045-DV&W - It's 4.00pm, and you have to work your heavy freight train from Dunktown to Simonville, where a relief crew will be waiting for you. You need to be there before 5.15pm. This is the first work order for the DV&W.

    • NEMN-120-BR01 -  After a weekend of local MOW work, the MOW Supervisor has dropped you off at St Joseph at 8.30am to pick up the Crane set so it can be returned to the Yard. This job will only take you about 20 minutes, so don't rush with the crane set. This is the first of a number of MOW work orders being developed to help Brian maintain the high level of route maintenance on the NERR network.


15 January
  •  New work orders  - available through NEAWOS (link on the website main page):

    • NENE 110-SF02a - part 1 of a 3-part series, taking you across 3 sub-divisions - Radford Army facilities at East River, had requested from Aberdeen Depot, a shipment of heavy aviation bombs and other assorted ammunitions, to be sent outside the country. It's a heavy train. AI traffic is almost inexistent, due to the type of the freight you transport and because of the heavy winter storm. You have a very precise schedule to fill. You start work at 0300, so get out of bed early and get moving! This one will take you about 2 hours.

    • NENJ-110-SF02b  - part 2 of the 3-part series. This one will take you about 40 minutes.

    • NEER-110-SF02c -  part 3 f the 3-part series. You have one helper waiting for you at Glen Lyn. Probably, you will find problems due to the main line being flooded.  This one will take you about 2 hours 45 minutes.

  •  New route available  - The new version of the Chicago Great Western (CGW) - Chicago to Oelwein - route is now available for download from Virtual Railz. Go into the Chicago Great Western forum, and you will find the 250Mb file there. To get the route to work, you will need to install the Scale Rail add-ons (the main file plus the additional texture files) from 3DTrains and the New Roads add-on from the Other Downloads page on the NERR website. "The reason for the large size is that I did not compress the route. There is no batch file to run. I hope to upload a spanned zip version in the near future of this same route. There is one activity here which runs a default freight train from Oelwein Iowa to Stockton Illinois. I hope to add more activities soon." Initial reports about the route are very favourable - check the NERR Screenshots and Support forums for the comments.

  • Rick Moss (silvermeteor, ID# 42) has taken on the role of Human Resources Director at the P&A VR. As a result, he is unable to continue writing the  Rick's Rantz  column. We would like to thank him for his contribution to getting this News page up and running. Thanks, Rick, and best wishes for your work at the P&A - it will keep you busy!

  •  Other Downloads  page:

    • ConBuilder version 2.3.22 is now available - it replaces ConBuilder version 2.3.2 - minor update.

    • Route-Riter version 6.1.109 is now available - "Fixes a lot of problems with 'Check all Activities' which occur under Windows 98SE but not under Windows XP SP2. Fixed a lot of the Fix .sms files option problems. Fix .eng files - now adds quotes around Sound entries if they are missing. Added link to my site from the Help menu."


16 January
  •  News from the Bison Rail System  from the CEO, Paulo: "The BRS has just sold 2 HiRail trucks to NEARS. They were numbered #30 (see the picture on the right) and #31 and were repainted in NEARS yard yellow." We believe that they will be leased to unnamed vrailroads in the near future. Watch this space for further information. An earlier press release from the BRS, released on 4 January, contained sample photos of a range of HiRail trucks being developed by the BRS workshops.

  •  Media Stars!  Let's Talk Trains is a weekly show on the World Talk Radio network on the internet. Let's Talk Trains is available on the internet both live at 10am (US Pacific Time) on Saturdays, and in the Archives all day, every day. You can listen to the show any time you like by using the Listen Now! link on the navigation bar at the top of the main page on their website. If it is show time, you will be linked directly to the live show. If they are not on the air, it will begin playing the latest show for you. If you want to listen to any of the other shows in the archives just click on the Show List button at the top of the main page on their website.

That's all very well, but what does it have to do with the NERR? Well, Bob and Jim (#1 and #4) were the star guests on the show today for about an hour of on-air time. There are four segments on their website that you can listen to. Just click on the links MP752 to MP755. Your sound player should open (I use Windows Media Player v9), and after a minute or so, depending on your internet connection speed, you should hear the show start. A World Talk Radio Banner should appear in the media player and then the sound will start.

Bob and Jim were joined online by a number of people who phoned in, including Dan (#10), MR (#3), Kip (57), and Paulo (#198, from Portugal). And the show's hosts had received a few emails with questions. It went very well. Congratulations on giving an excellent insight into the VR world!

As a result, Bob and Jim have been asked to go on the show again - probably 12 February. We'll let you know more details before the show goes to air.

  •  More on NETS:  When you log into NETS now, you will see even more statistics about the performance of NERR engineers. Take the time to see what your colleagues at the NERR are doing, and how your Division is performing. And Brian is working behind the scenes to put even more features into our automated time slip system!

  •  Are you keeping yourself safe?  Hackers are using the newest technology in Microsoft's Windows Media Player to install spyware, adware, dialers and computer viruses on unsuspecting PC users. Security researchers have detected the appearance of two new Trojans - Trj/WmvDownloader.A and Trj/WmvDownloader.B - in video files circulating on peer-to-peer networks. According to Panda Software, both Trojans take advantage of the new Windows anti-piracy technology to trick users into downloading spyware and adware applications. "When a user tries to play a protected Windows media file, this technology demands a valid license. If the license is not stored on the computer, the application will look for it on the Internet, so that the user can acquire it directly or buy it," Panda Software explained. An unsuspecting user attempting to download the digital rights management license will instead be redirected to a website that loads a large number of adware, spyware, modem dialers and other viruses onto the user's computer, the company said in an advisory notice to the public. "It's pretty ingenious," said Patrick Hinojasa, chief technical officer of Panda Software. "To take an anti-piracy feature and use it to feed spyware is extremely ironic." Hinojasa told the use of Windows Media files as a spyware vehicle is another sign that virus writers and companies supporting spyware are looking for new entry points to infect computers. "In this case, they're using technology meant to secure content. It just shows that the more bells and whistles you add to the technology, the more you open doors for the bad guys," he added. "All told, the infection added 58 folders, 786 files, and an incredible 11,915 registry entries to my test computer. Not one of these programs had showed me any license agreement, nor had I consented to their installation on my computer," he added.


15 January
  • Go to the  Google  search engine and type in "railroad slang". When the results come up, scroll down a bit. Our Slang page shows up as about #6 or #7! Very strange!

  •  Vscalecreations , the payware website run by Andrae Ming, has released a second route - the Arkansas & Ozarks, set in the late 1980s. This follows the route set in about 1902 that he released last year - St Louis & North Arkansas. Read more about the routes on the Non-NERR News page - payware sites are at the bottom of that page.

  • Have you seen the  train crash scene  in the 1993 movie called "The Fugitive", starring Harrison Ford? The crash was filmed on the Great Smoky Mountains Railway in North Carolina. The lead unit is ex-CSX U18B #1901, the "slug" is a flatcar with some boxes piled on it, and the third unit is ex-N&W GP30 #536. Both of the locomotives were nothing but empty shells purchased by the movie company for scrap value. The wreck was the real thing, only a one shot take, with the train pushed along by GSMR GP7 #777. All units (including #777, which did not actually appear in the film) were painted in the Illinois Southern red-gray-yellow paint scheme. Modifications to #1901 included a camera mounted in its cab, a studio floodlight mounted in its old nose Mars light casing (which was used as the "headlight" in the scene), and a liberal application of a napalm-type gel smothered over its nose and sides to produce the pyrotechnics. In order to improve its nighttime appearance the #536's headlight was moved to the center of the high nose, and a Mars light was installed over the number boards (didn't help though, as only one of the sealed-beam lights was on during the crash). The scenes where Harrison Ford jumps off the bus, and when he's chased along the ground by the derailing #536 required a new, very convincing, type of cinematic superimposition.

  •  Ever wanted to own your own  RW railroad? You could have had your chance a month or so ago, when the Bush Mill Steam Railway in south-eastern Tasmania (the southern-most state of Australia - the island off the bottom end) was up for sale by auction - click on the photo to the right to see a larger version. Included in that sale was an 0-4-0+0-4-0 Garratt “K1” coal fired steam locomotive, ½ size replica of the first Garratt design, with rail gauge scaled to 15 inches, built locally in 1990. Also a coal fired 0-4-0 industrial design tender locomotive “Mountaineer”, originally built in Holland in 1964 and brought to Australia in 1986. The third locomotive was a small 0-4-0 mechanical-drive diesel shunting locomotive built locally in 1986. The rolling stock consisted of 5 double-bogie semi-open 16-seater carriages. Approximately 2.3 miles of single track steel rail complete with fishplates. Curved sections are formed up to 50-foot radius. 7 sets of turnouts, standard radius. Lots of other parts and accessories were included in the sale. (Item sent in by Mike Martin, mmartin ID#51 - his friend in Tasmania thought that he would be interested!)

  • Apologies for the very short list of  songs  about, related to, or mentioning railroads that was published yesterday. If you want to see a much longer list, click here - it's the best list that I can find, so far.

  • And taz (ID# 9, Jeremy) sent an addition to yesterday's song list - Train Kept a Rollin': originally by the Yardbirds, later by Aerosmith. He also included the lyrics for Train, Train by Blackfoot:

Oh, here it comes ...

Well, train, train, take me on out of this town
Train, train, Lord, take me on out of this town
Well, that woman I'm in love with, Lord, she's Memphis bound.

Well, leavin' here, I'm just a raggedy hobo
Lord, I'm leaving here, I'm just a raggedy hobo
Well, that woman I'm in love with, Lord, she's got to go.

Well, goodbye pretty mama, get yourself a money man
Goodbye, pretty mama, Lord, get yourself a money man
You take that midnight train to Memphis
Lord, leave me if you can
Oh, take that midnight train to Memphis
Lord, leave me if you can
Oh, take that train, baby.


14 January
  • They bred them tough in the old days! I came across this story from a ganger (track maintenance worker) on the railway in far northern Australia, in the tropics: "When I was a ganger, I was going along the Darwin line on my trolley on a Saturday, and I did a piston in. So I fixed it to run on one piston. When I got to Adelaide River, I borrowed another piston to help me get home. But it was out of alignment, and I didn't find out until it threw me. Off we went into the rocks and sand, the motor and me. So I got a long stick and a big stone and levered her back on the line, and off we went again.

"Got to Pine Creek, and we're going up the grade and hit a kangaroo. He catapulted up into the air. I saw that. I don't know what I did. When I came to, I saw the trolley upside down at the side of the track. I tried to heave myself off my face, but it seemed to me that my collar bone was out of joint. I lay still for a while, but I knew I'd better do something, because no one was likely to come along. So I gave a mighty heave to get me off my face.

"When I came to again, I was on my back, and my collar bone seemed to be in its proper place once again, so I got up and walked a bit to where a gang had been working and had a drink from their water bag hanging in a tree. Then I went to sleep beside the track for the night. In the morning, I got the telephone working - this was hard to do because by now my ribs were aching, and the bruises were getting sore, and my head ached, and the telephone line had to be unscrewed and telescoped up to contact the overhead wires. By the time I got through and help came down to get the trolley, it was time to go to work on Monday morning.

"So I went." I was in that area a couple of months ago, but I was travelling in an air-conditioned car. It was early  Spring, about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, about 85% Relative Humidity, and the ground burnt the feet. Adelaide River is now a small settlement; it would have been even smaller back then - and there are still crocodiles in the river. Pine Creek is a couple of hours further inland to the south by the modern road - it's another small settlement. Conditions in the 1950s, when the guy telling the story was working in the area, would have been much more primitive.

  • Got some spare time, and you want to read or listen to music or watch a movie? Well, here's a list that will allow you to do those things and still be involved with trains.

Railways in the arts

Books, Plays, Films:

  • The Great Railway Bazaar - Paul Theroux (travel story).

  • Kingdom by the Sea - Paul Theroux (travel story).

  • The Great Train Robbery - Michael Crichton (Cape, 1975/Panther, 1976. This was later made into a film).

  • Anorak of Fire (BBC).

  • Fairy Tale - A True Story - The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway was the location for all the railway scenes in the film.

  • From a Railway Carriage - Robert Louis Stevenson (poem).

  • Adlestrop - Edward Thomas (poem).

  • The Bridge Over the Silv'ry Tay - William McGonigal (poem).

  • Brief Encounter - Noel Coward (play).

  • Starlight Express.

  • Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat - T.S. Elliot (poem) (later set to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber in Cats).

  • Ghost Train - Arnold Ridley (play, later made into a film).

  • Train Wreck - Jeremiah Jack (Manor, 1975).

  • Imperial Express - James Bellah (Jove, 1982).

  • The Man on the Train - W.J. Chaput (Worldwide/Harlequin, 1988).

  • Chaos - William K. Wells (Doherty, 1987).

  • The Great Railway Adventure - Christopher Portway (Coronet, 1983).

  • The Great Railway Bazaar - Paul Theroux (Hamilton, 1975/Penguin, 1977).

  • Von Ryan's Express - David Westheimer (Pan, 1965. Later made into a film).

  • The Green Train - Herbert Lieberman (Arrow, 1987).

  • A-Train - Roger Williams (W.H. Allen, 1985. About a British train, carrying nuclear waste, which is sabotaged).

  • Electric Train - David Beaty (Coronet, 1977).

  • Transcontinental - Gary McCarthy (PaperJacks, 1987).

  • Train to Hell - Alexei Sayle (Methuen, 1984/Mandarin, 1991 A comedy/mystery about a British football special to Italy for the World Cup).

  • The Railway-Lover's Companion - Ed. Bryan Morgan (Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1963, includes 29 verse items and 8 items of fictional prose - all railway-related).

  • The thriller The Magnet had a long sequence filmed on the Liverpool Overhead Railway not long before it closed.

  • Some years ago there was a series on children's BBC called God's Wonderful Railway, set on the Severn Valley Line. The early episodes were set mostly at Highley, the later ones at Arley.

  • La Bete Humaine - a French novel by Emile Zola first published in 1890. There is an English translation in the Penguin Classics series. It is a good account of the operation of the Paris to Le Havre line in the 1870s, woven into an account of sexual infidelity and murder. It has been made into a film three times: in 1938 under the original title; in 1954 as Human Desire (transposed to contemporary US locations); and the 1995 TV-movie called Cruel Train (transposed to WW2-era Britain).

  • The BBC produced a play in the mid-1980s called Song of Experience. Set in West Yorkshire in 1960, it follows the exploits of three young train spotters on a day out at the main line station. These are a stereotypical mix of "bad lad" (into rock 'n' roll, women and "don't tell me mates what my hobby is"), "good lad" ("should we be doing this lads?"), and a stereotype (sickly child, wearing school uniform -shorts, cap, satchel - who knew all the shed allocations of by heart, etc). It was filmed on the Keighley & Worth Valley and Severn Valley lines for the train travel scenes, and the filming was very realistically done. A highly risqué drama but a hugely enjoyable one.

  • Several Sherlock Holmes stories (by Arthur Conan Doyle) feature railways, including one where Holmes estimates the speed of the train from observing the telegraph poles.

    • In The Bruce Partington Plans, the Metropolitan Railway plays a significant part. Also, in the final story of the third collection, where Holmes escapes from London to the Continent. It includes an account of a railway chase.

    • Doyle's Round the Fire stories include one concerning the total disappearance of a train and its illustrious occupant. That was The Lost Special, which would have been huge fun to make a film of. A short special was hired at short notice in Liverpool to go to London, and somewhere along the route, it totally vanished. Eventually, inspection of the signalmen's logs isolated the section it had disappeared in, but there were no junctions, only a number of closed colliery branches with the connecting track lifted. The dénouement was years later in the form of a confession (the film would have to change that). The baddies knew a special was likely and had a gang of men large enough to rush a piece of curved track into place between trains. The special was diverted down one of the disused colliery lines, and the main line was then immediately replaced. Accomplices on the train tied the crew up and slowed the train enough to jump off a few hundred yards from a large shaft to which the track had been moved. The entire train was swallowed up with a tremendous crash, and that was that. Nowadays, you'd have to tidy up a bit more carefully than Conan Doyle did - what about the marks on the branch rails ? And the steam rising from the shaft?

    • There was also the Seven-per-cent Solution, a Sherlock Holmes novel written by Nicholas Meyer. Included a train chase filmed on the SVR.

  • Agatha Christie also wrote stories featuring railways, the most famous of all (indeed, perhaps the most famous detective story of all time) being Murder on the Orient Express, also a major film.

  • Charles Dickens often wrote stories including railway travel: too many to list here.

  • Trainspotting - for having no trains in it, apart from a sole SuperSprinter!

Music inspired by railways:

  • The day we caught the train (Ocean Colour Scene, 1996).

  • Long train running (Doobie Brothers, 1973) Lots of American locos in the video.

  • Something about you (Level 42, 1985) which seems to have been filmed in a Mk 1 coach.

  • Princess of the Night by Saxon (heavy metal rock group).

"She used to be an iron horse
Twenty years ago
Used to bring the mail to me
Through the ice and snow
I sat alone and watched her
Steaming through the night
Ninety tons of thunder
Lighting up the sky
She was the princess of the night...... "

  • Chant des chemins de fer (Railway Song) by Hector Berlioz.

  • Vergnuegungszug (Excursion Train) by Johann Strauss Jnr.

  • Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin was inspired by a train ride.

  • Pacific 231 by Honeger (231 is French notation for a Pacific 4-6-2).

  • There are two CDs called Locomotiv-Musik, A Musical Train Ride vols I and II. They are released on the Marco Polo label (catalog nos. 8.223470 and 8.223471) and distributed by HNH International.

  • Coronation Scot  - Little Train of the Capira  - Antonin Dvorak was a great railway enthusiast. On one occasion, he was too busy to pop down to the local equivalent of the Cross, so he asked his future son-in-law to go and get the loco number. The young man foolishly returned with the tender number, and Dvorak's comment to his daughter was "So this is the sort of man you intend to marry!"

  • Isn't Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture supposed to have some sort of railway connection?

  • Morningtown Ride (Seekers).

  • She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain (Trad.).

  • Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash).

  • Canadian Pacific (George Hamilton) (IMHO one of the best musical stories of a train journey).

  • Rock Island Line (Johnny Cash).

  • City Of New Orleans (Johnny Cash).

  • Underneath The Arches (Trad.).

  • On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At (Trad.) (Well, it has railway connotations in that the title is the rhythm traditionally used by express drivers on the horn!)

  • Blur's album Modern Life Is Rubbish features a painting of an A4 on the cover.

  • The Slow Train (Flanders and Swann) In the preamble to live performances, Michael Flanders used to say "If God had meant us to fly, he would never have given us the railways."

  • Abba's Waterloo.

  • This Train is Bound for Glory (Trad. Gospel).

  • Casey Jones.

  • The Gambler (Kenny Rogers).

  • Homeward Bound (Simon & Garfunkel).

  • The Boxer (Simon & Garfunkel).

  • Marrakesh Express (Crosby, Stills & Nash).

  • Chattanooga Choo Choo (Glenn Miller).

  • Peace Train (Cat Stevens).

  • Last Train to Clarkesville (The Monkees).

  • Last Train to London (Electric Light Orchestra).

  • Train Leaves Tonight (The Eagles).

  • 9 to 5 (Morning Train) (Sheena Easton).

  • Wabash Cannonball.

  • Orange Blossom Special.

  • The Wreck of Old '97.

  • The Train I'm On.

  • Ticket to Ride (Lennon/McCartney).

  • Freight Train (Nancy Whisky, c.1959).

  • The Runaway Train (Burl Ives?) .

  • The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

  • The video clip of Breakthru by Queen was filmed on a train, a steam locomotive hauling a single flat car with the band on it. It was filmed on the Nene Valley line (Peterborough to Wansford).


13 January
  • Wow! What a busy 48 hours in the MSTS world! 3 new or updated routes on today (see story on the Non-NERR News page). 90 new locos and rolling stock items on Steam4Me released today (see story on the Non-NERR News page). The Pacific Surfliner route yesterday (click here for the story). That should keep people busy for a few days.

  •  Handy Hint:  Many of the newer routes require the installation of XTracks. The latest version of this package of additional track sections - 3.12 - is available on the NERR Other Downloads page. If you are not sure which XTracks version that you have, there is a quick way to find out, if you used the auto-installer version to install it. In the MSTS folder, you will find an XTracks folder. This is not the package; it is a folder set up by the auto-installer. In it is a file called file_id.diz which reads: "XTracks v3.12 standard edition setup (xtrack, x-track, x-tracks) Automatic installer for end users. Those wanting to get their hands dirty should get the files only instead (''). Includes build 27 of the standardized tsection.dat. This is all that is needed if you don't build routes (route builders get the 'extras' package also). Works for any route requiring version 2.0, 3.0 or later. By Okrasa Ghia and contributors (see"

  •  Reminder:  There are maps and schematics available for most of the NERR network routes. You will find them on the Routes page on the NERR website -there is a link on the NERR main page. The table below shows the ones that are available. The links in the right hand column are live, so you can download them directly from this page. "The following maps and schematics were done by several talented engineers at NERR, namely Buttercup, Rick Foss and Kevin W-S.  Each schematic/map represents one of the routes in use at the NERR ." Other maps and schematics can be downloaded from They are very useful for finding your way on our routes.

Route Creator Map Name
Whitefish Buttercup

Whitefish Schematic

Lehigh Valley V.2 Buttercup

LehighV2 Schematic

ADFRR Buttercup

ADFRR Schematic

Seattle Buttercup Seattle Schematic
Hamilton Norfolk Buttercup

Hamilton Norfolk Schematic

East River Buttercup

East River Schematics

Full Bucket Line Buttercup

Full Bucket Schematic

Central Wisconsin Rick Foss

Central Wisconsin Map

South Rail Rick Foss

South Rail Map

East River Rick Foss East River Schematic
NERR Hoodoo Pass Rick Foss NERR Hoodoo Pass
Newark & Jersey City Rick Foss & Industry List by Alan Oats Newark & Jersey City
Chippewa Valley Kevin W-S Chippewa Valley
Full Bucket Kevin W-S Full Bucket
Glorietta Pass Kevin W-S Glorietta Pass
San Diego & Arizona Kevin W-S San Diego & Arizona
Raton Pass Kevin W-S Raton Pass


12 January
  • Part 1 of Bill Prieger's  Old Heading column  for January is now available by using the link above to the right. This month, Bill is giving us a lesson on braking - how to do it most effectively and most realistically.

  •  Reminder to all NERR and P&ARR engineers. If you have made an error in a time slip, there is a form linked to the NETS menu to be able to request a change in any of the details on the time slip. There is no penalty for making an error on a time slip (yet!).

  • The big news in the MSTS world this week has been the release of the long-awaited US West Coast route -  Pacific Surfliner . Reports from those who have a copy of the public release version of the route indicate that there are some excellent aspects (e.g. the passenger locos and rolling stock, track work, audio accompaniment) and that there are some areas that appear incomplete (e.g. unnamed sidings, sparse scenery in parts). The level of demand from customers to download the route has now caused the servers to overload and shut down (that was at 6am GMT, but they are back up now at 10am GMT)), causing considerable unhappiness among a proportion of the customers. It is hoped that these problems are overcome quickly, and that the route has a long and useful life, so that the reputation of MSTS and its vworld community remains high. The shut-down also caused problems for and VScaleCreations, as they used the same servers for their businesses. The route is now not available by download, according to the website: "Due to circumstances beyond our control, Surfliner v1.0 cannot be offered via download at the present time. We anticipated a very strong demand for the download, and our web host was entirely prepared; with the purchase of additional bandwidth and a brand new server, we expected a smooth release. Unfortunately, because of the tremendous amount of data we transferred, the data center in which our web host locates his equipment has made a decision to break its contract with our web host and evict our servers, leaving us temporarily homeless and without the ability to offer a downloadable copy of the Surfliner route. We are beginning the process of relocating our servers, and we anticipate being able to restore our download capabilities in approximately one week. In the meantime, we are accelerating our efforts to have the CDs pressed, with the first batch being shipped to customers later this week, with all orders being shipped within the next 14 days. We'll continue to keep you posted as developments unfold, and we sincerely apologize for the unfortunate circumstances that have led to this situation."


11 January
  •  Other Downloads  page: ConBuilder version 2.3.2 is now available - it replaces ConBuilder version 2.3.1, which was released earlier today. For version 2.3.2: "Because of some problems people were having with Shape Viewer and V2.3.1, I have fixed that, and V2.3.2 is the result. I also added a separate small utility ( to clear the registry keys for Shape Viewer, for those who do not like to edit the registry themselves. Paul Gausden (developer of Shape Viewer) has checked this one out. Read the included readme.txt first."

  •  Other Downloads  page: Route-Riter version 6.1.99 is now available. "Cleaned up a bit more code and placed some more informative help messages. Fixed error in 'Check All Activities' whereby the Player Service was not being shown. Fixed Compact Route where there were aliased shape files in the ??.w files."

  •  P&ARR statistics  up to a day or two ago: 28 engineers had submitted 388 time slips totaling 584.5 hours, averaging 1.5 hours per work order. The average engineer wage per work order was $45, which makes a total of $17,535 earned by the engineers.

  • Bob Artim and Jim Vaughan will be interviewed on "Let's Talk Trains" on 15 January. " "Let's Talk Trains" is available on the Internet both Live, 10am pacific time Saturdays, and in the Archives 24/7. You can listen to the show anytime you like by using the 'Listen Now!' link on the navigation bar . If it is 'show time', you will be linked directly to the live show. If we are not on the air live, it will begin playing the latest show for you. If you want to listen to any of the other shows in the archives, just click on the 'Show List' button." Jim and Bob sent the show's host the following information about VRs, and the NERR in particular, as a pre-show briefing. You might not have thought about the NERR in this way.

”In the later part of the evening and occasionally into the wee hours of the morning, a group of individuals, most of them seemingly rational, grown men, sit perched in front of computer monitors with sweaty palms tightly clenching keyboards or other input devices. The familiar cry of "Honey, come to bed" is no longer recognizable as it is drowned out by the click-clack of a virtual train traveling across a digitized route. These virtual engineers anxiously work the controls of their favorite locomotive as they diligently attempt to complete their assigned work order. The late night silence is finally shattered by the application of the train’s brakes as it is brought to a halt as its load of passengers, freight or both, are safely delivered to their scheduled destination. Just another routine day in the life of a locomotive engineer working for a virtual railroad.”

A virtual railroad is a place for people who own MSTS to enrich their experience with it. MSTS out of the box is pretty plain. However they have given us the ability to change it. We can actually change parameters dealing with horsepower, weight, friction, brake forces and braking forces, and quite few other items. We have attempted to change the settings to match real world values, but only to the point of keeping it fun. For instance, to recharge the brakes with air on a real train may take several minutes. Virtually, it only takes 10-20 seconds - just an amount of time so you realize something is happening.

Using the MSTS simulation requires something to do. True, you can just drive around without purpose and look at things. But what it requires are called activities. Basically they are scripts that tell you what to do, a plan, if you will, for you to follow. In the VR world we call these work orders, as that's what they are. Creating work orders can be intimidating, as the tools MS gave us are not the greatest. People who have mastered the Activity Editor have been able to create very entertaining as well as taxing work orders. Writing a work order is similar to playing with your HO set up. The track is already there with your sidings and stations. You start your train, and your imagination, and move some cars or go around a loop a few times to emulate 100s of miles. In MSTS you do the same thing, except you do not need as vivid an imagination as you have all the imaginary trackage, hundreds of miles of it, that you don't have on your HO setup. The activities, or work orders, are the life of MSTS. This also makes them the life of a VR. North Eastern (vNERR) has over 750 work orders designed for 29 routes. New ones are constantly being developed.

When you join vNERR, you fill out an application as if you were applying for a job. You then get to take an open book test about MSTS and things you would find on the web site, a very basic test anyone can pass, but it makes you commit a small amount of time and verifies your email address. We do this because we get a lot of people who are just collecting downloads.

Once you have finished the entrance exam, you are taken to a Welcoming Committee (WCN), which is a small group of people who help you get started, as well as weed out the bad eggs. The WCN is basically new engineer orientation. You are explained how to download routes and equipment and install them, how to log into the forums, how to enter a time slip, and a few other things. A person who is new to computers as well as MSTS gets a valuable lesson from the WCN. Experts usually breeze through it in a few hours. We strive to help new people as much as they will let us. After graduation, we give them a certificate and a big welcome to the main vNERR.

vNERR is quite huge and has been broken down into divisions, similar to real world railroads. A new engineer picks a division as a "home" division, or their starting point. Then they begin the process of obtaining the routes and equipment needed for work orders from their division. Once the routes and equipment have been installed, they then pick a work order to run. Upon completion of the work order, they log into the site and enter in a time slip, sort of like a time card. They report the time it took to drive the work order, whether it be switching, a long haul or a passenger run. Their time is tallied on the Callboard showing how many work orders they have driven and how much virtual pay they received. We have also made up a ranking structure that is purely for cosmetic purposes.

You can download the work orders (activities) from quite a few places on the internet. But there are also literally 10s of thousands of trains out there. To run someone's work order, you need to have the required equipment. This can be a chore searching for the right stuff. At the VR we have everything you need available, so there is no searching for anything - well you may have to search our site, as I say it is quite huge, but it is there.

As vNERR grew, we let the engineers became more involved. Anyone who had an idea, we would try to implement it. One idea was continued education or training. This developed into an actual training academy that has become a huge success. The academy not only teaches you the ins-and-outs of MSTS but also teaches you real world ways, following the NORAC rule system used by several RW railroads. We teach how to drive steam, diesel and electric engines, along with the rules of the road. How to negotiate signals and switches. Everything a good engineer needs to know

A forum was set up to answer questions on just about anything. The forum has to be one of the most amazing parts of vNERR. Having 250 members world wide, you can post a question and get an answer within minutes at just about any time of the day. From the forums have come multitudes of ideas as well as teaching people how to work in the editors to create new work orders. This brought the problem of too many work orders hitting us at once. We put together a testing team called the Feasibility Team, who test each new work order to make sure it can be completed the way it was intended, and that it is fun.

Everything at vNERR is free; no one has to pay for anything or buy anything. But there are several companies out there who make add-ons for MSTS. We wanted to use some of these products as they are really nice. From this idea came Great Lakes & Allegheny (GL&A) and Pacific & American (P&A) virtual railroads.

Members of both of these VRs have to make the commitment of spending a few bucks on the commercial add-ons. These add-ons consist of routes, trains and work orders. Since there is a limited supply of work orders for the commercial products, that is the main focus of GL&A and P&A, to continue to have new work orders so you can use the wonderful products you have purchased. We are giving them more purpose that just looking at them for a few hours. GL&A and P&A are more on the serious side of virtual railroading. Whereas at vNERR all you have to do is ask for help, at the other two you are expected to already know the ins-and-outs. We figure if you are serious enough to make the purchases then you are serious enough to join in.
  • Bison Rail System has received approval to use the logo for  Operation Lifesaver  on one of its locos, which will be released to its members in the next few days. The logo is shown on the right.

  • Press Release: "The  Bison Rail System  would like to inform all readers that the Wentachee and Cashmere sub-division has been added to its route network. Bison Rail System would like to thank Shawn Becher for letting us enjoy his route and his trains. This route is subject to some rules that will certainly increase the fun. Check Bison-Rail for more details. Let's have fun !!! Paulo Sousa, CEO Bison Rail System, Division Director NERR/CT."

  • Gaetan Belanger : If this name doesn't mean anything to you, you're missing out on one of the "greats" in MSTS modelling. Gaetan has two sites. A public one with free downloads and a Club site with more downloads and a forum. Gaetan needs more contributing members to buy some extra web space. If you are not familiar with his superb photorealistic models, most of which come with stunning cab views and excellent sound, then pay a visit to the public site and try a few models for starters.  COMING SOON? Check out the picture to the right. In action, these locos are very noisy, very dirty (plumes of black diesel exhaust that make some kettles look clean) and styling that owes much to the 1950s. If you haven't done so already, send Gaetan a contribution. It's a top site with top models. There is another link to his website at the bottom of our Non-NERR News page - the link to that page is at the top of this one.


10 January
  •  Announcement to members : There is now a form in NETS  for you to use if you make an error in the Time Taken section of a time slip that you have submitted. Example - if you accidentally enter a time of 15.3 instead of 1.5 on a time slip, you can submit this new form with 1.5 in the Adjusted Hours box. We also ask that you put a reason for the adjustment. When you press the Submit button, the form is emailed to the Human Resource Director, who will then check the time slip and make the adjustment.

  • On the  Other Downloads  page: Route-Riter version 6.1.95. From the developer's website: "Cleaned up a bit more code and placed some more informative help messages." By the way, don't forget that, if you have any questions about Route-Riter, there is a forum in the NERR forums dedicated to Route-Riter that is moderated by the program's developer, Mike Simpson.

  • Here is the third of the series on the  types of steam locomotives , categorised by their wheel arrangement as defined using the Whyte system - these are the locomotives with  4 leading wheels . I am aware that almost all of the information relates to North America. The only justification for that is that most of our members live there. We will publish any information sent to us about other parts of the world.

Wheel Arrangement

Common Name Notes
4-2-0 Six-wheeler, Jervis The first was the Experiment (later named the Brother Jonathan) for the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad in 1832 by the West Point Foundry based on a design by John B. Jervis. The builders patterned the boiler and valve gears on locomotives built by Stephenson of England, as a few examples were already in operation in America. The design is a modification of the 0-4-0 design, which proved to be too rigid for the tracks, often derailing on the tight curves and quick elevation changes. For this, Jervis designed a four-wheel leading truck under the smoke box, that swiveled independently from the main frame. The pistons powered a single driving axle at the rear of the loco, just behind the firebox. This design resulted in a much more stable loco that was able to guide itself into curves more easily than the 0-4-0. It was so effective that many of the early 0-4-0s were rebuilt as 4-2-0s. The 4-2-0 excelled in its ability to stay on the track. But with only one driving axle, the loco's weight was spread over a small proportion of the powered wheels, which meant its total power was substantially reduced. In the late 1830s, more American railroads were experimenting with the new 4-4-0, so the 4-2-0 fell out of favor - the 4-4-0 could pull larger loads. 4-2-0s were built into the 1850s, but their use was restricted to light-duty trains.
4-2-2 Bicycle US example and a UK example.
4-2-4 - -
4-2-4T - Inspection locomotives.
4-4-0 American, Eight-wheeler Almost every major railroad that operated in North America in the first half of the 19th century owned and operated locos of this type. The famous loco named 'The General' was a 4-4-0. First developed by Henry R. Campbell, chief engineer for the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railway. He received a patent for the design in February 1836 and built the first one. His was a giant among locos. Its cylinders measured 14 inches in diameter with a 16 inch piston stroke. It had 54-inch driving wheels, could maintain 90 lb/in² of steam pressure and weighed 12 tons. It was estimated to be able to pull a 450-ton train at 15 mph on level track, beating the strongest of Baldwin's 4-2-0s in tractive effort by around 63%. However, the frame and driving gear of his loco proved too rigid for the railroads, and was too prone to derail. Eastwick & Harrison was building its own 4-4-0, named Hercules - completed in 1837 for the Beaver Meadow RR. It had a leading bogie separate from the loco's frame, making it much more suitable to tight curves and quick grade changes. The company remained the sole builders of this type of loco until 1839, when William Norris built their first one, followed by Rogers, Locks & Canals, and Newcastle in 1840. Henry Campbell sued the other manufacturers and railroads for infringing on his patent. Baldwin settled with Campbell in 1845 by purchasing a license to build 4-4-0s. Through the 1840s and 1850s, they grew larger in size and capacity. In the 1850s they began to look like the locos that are preserved today; less than 40 survive, not counting reproductions. 60% of Baldwin's locos from that era were 4-4-0s, and about 85% of all locos then in operation in the USA were 4-4-0s. But they were soon replaced by bigger ones - 2-6-0s and 2-8-0s, even though the 4-4-0 was still favored for express services. The widespread adoption of the 4-6-0 and even larger locos quickened its demise. By 1900, the 4-4-0 was obsolete in the USA, although they continued to serve branch lines and private industry into the 1950s. The last built was a tiny Baldwin in 1945 for the United of Yucatan Railways.
4-4-2 Atlantic 2 examples were built in 1887 and 1888. In 1895 this arrangement was used on the 70mph express train of the Atlantic Coast Line.
4-4-2 Chautauqua Brooks Locomotive Works.
4-4-2 Milwaukee Milwaukee Hiawatha.
4-4-4 Reading 1915 - Reading.
4-4-4 Jubilee Canadian Pacific.
4-4-4 Lady Baltimore Baltimore & Ohio.
4-4-4-4 Baltimore & Ohio The only 4-4-4-4s ever built were duplex locos, with two sets of cylinders driving two sets of driven wheels in one rigid frame. First was the Baltimore & Ohio's only class N-1 #5600 'George H. Emerson' in 1937. To reduce the fixed wheelbase, it had the two sets of cylinders at opposite ends, so that the rear pair were beside the firebox - a poor design, as it restricted the firebox size and exposed the cylinders to dust and dirt, causing premature wear. The loco was not considered successful enough to duplicate. Next were the Pennsylvania Railroad's 52 class T1s. They had the cylinders in front of the wheels they drove, so that the rear pair were between the two sets of drivers. They were impressive performers but suffered from wheel-slip and severe reliability problems, and did not last long in service.
4-4-4-4 Duplex 1942-45 - 52 examples by the Pennsylvania Railroad.
4-4-6 Four-coupled double ender -
4-4-6-2 - 1909 - Santa Fe (two examples).
4-4-6-4 - -
4-6-0 Ten-wheeler First built in 1847 by the Norris Brothers - the 'Chesapeake' - for the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. Baldwin's first was not until 1852. Through the 1860s and into the 1870s, demand grew as more railroads switched from purchasing a single, general-purpose type of loco (then, the 4-4-0), to locos for specific purposes. Both the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore & Ohio were early adopters of the 4-6-0, using them for fast freight and heavy passenger trains.
4-6-2 Pacific

1901 - built by Baldwin for New Zealand Railways; 1902 - Missouri Pacific & St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern. Pacifics were the predominant steam passenger power in America in the 20th century. They were the main passenger locos, although they were replaced on the premier services on many RRs later on by larger 4-6-4s, 4-8-2s, or 4-8-4s as train weights increased. About 7000 built for US and Canadian railroads. The largest user was the Pennsylvania Railroad, with 697, including 425 class K4s, the largest single class of loco built in the USA. The success of the design can be attributed to the presence of a 4-wheel leading truck, which made for stability at speed, six driving wheels allowing the application of more power compared to the earlier 4-4-2 design, and a two-wheel trailing truck which permitted the firebox to be behind the high driving wheels, allowing it to be both wide and deep. It was developed into the 4-6-4 and the 4-8-2. The NERR has one.
4-6-4T - Two converted in 1902 from 4-8-0s; 70 built in New Zealand 1910-1919. Canadian National Railways (6) and Central of New Jersey (6) had all-American examples. A number of 4-6-4 tank locos were built for British railways. The London, Brighton & South Coast Railway built seven Remembrance Class tank locos between 1914 and 1922; these high-speed tank locos hauled the famous 'Southern Belle' until electrification in 1933, after which they were converted into N15X class 4-6-0 tender locos, remaining in service until 1957.
4-6-4 Hudson It was best suited to high-speed running across flat country. It had fewer driving wheels than carrying wheels, and so a smaller % of the weight was available for traction compared to other types. For starting heavy trains and slogging on gradients, it needed a booster engine, and for sustained long grades, more pairs of driving wheels are better. First built in 1927 by Alco for the New York Central Railroad, and to the NYC's design. It was very successful and was named after the Hudson River. The NYC bought 275 Hudsons, the largest fleet in North America. The second-largest buyer in North America was the Canadian Pacific Railway, with 65. They were highly successful on the transcontinental routes. The newer CPR Hudsons were called 'Royal Hudsons' and were semi-streamlined. Royal permission was given for these locos to bear the royal crown and arms after one of them hauled King George VI's train across Canada in 1939. 20 railroads in North America owned 4-6-4s; including the Santa Fé, Baltimore & Ohio, Boston & Albany, Big Four, Canadian National, Chesapeake & Ohio, Burlington, Chicago & North Western, Lackawanna, Illinois Central, Maine Central, Michigan Central Railroad, National Railway of Mexico, New Haven, Nickel Plate, Frisco, and Wabash.

The only 4-6-4 tender loco in Great Britain was LNER #10000, built in 1930 as an experimental high-pressure compound loco with an experimental water-tube boiler, and known as the "hush-hush" loco because of the great secrecy with which it was built. It was not very successful. In 1936 it was rebuilt as a streamlined LNER Class A4 Pacific, though it kept its wheel arrangement - the only one in class W1.
4-6-4 Baltic, Milwaukee Milwaukee Railroad. The Milwaukee Road could have produced the first 4-6-4; its design was earlier than the NYC's, but financial constraints delayed the project, and Milwaukee's emerged later - the Baltics. The initial order of 14 class F-6 was joined by 8 more of class F-6a in 1931, and in 1938 the road acquired 6 streamlined F-7 Baltics with shrouds designed by the industrial designer, Otto Kuhler. These took over the Milwaukee's crack Hiawatha expresses from the A-1 class 4-4-2s and were among the fastest steam locos ever. Schedules of many of them required extended running above 100 mph.
4-6-4 Shore Line New Haven.
4-6-4-4 Duplex drive 1942 - Pennsylvania Railroad (one built).
4-6-6 -
4-6-6T -
4-6-6-2 Cab Forward 1911 - Southern Pacific.
4-6-6-4 Challenger 1936 - Union Pacific.
4-8-0 Twelve-wheeler, Mastodon 1882 - Central Pacific (one built, named Mastodon). Also built in Australia and New Zealand.
4-8-2 Mountain

1907 - New Zealand. This type, a development from the 4-6-2 Pacific, was first built by Alco for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in 1911. It combined the traction of the 2-8-2 Mikado with the excellent tracking qualities of the Pacific. The C&O named the class after the Allegheny Mountains it was built to tackle. Although intended for passenger service, they proved ideal for the new, faster freight services. Many were built for dual service. They were built for 41 American railroads; approximately 2200 were built. The largest users were the New York Central Railroad with 435 of what they named the Mohawks; the Pennsylvania Railroad with 224 class M1 and M1a locomotives, used for fast freight service; the Florida East Coast with 90 passenger locos; the New Haven with 70; and the Southern Railroad with 58. Outside of the United States, they were rarer. Britain had two 15-inch gauge examples on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, though a number of double-Mountain (4-8-2+2-8-4) Garratts were built for export. In France, these locos (known as the 241 type) were more common. The Czech railways also employed a 4-8-2. The NERR has one.
4-8-2 Mohawk New York Central.
4-8-2 New Haven New Haven 3-cylinder.
4-8-4 -

1921 - Santa Fé. The 4-8-4 was a development from the 4-8-2 and the 4-6-4 types, combining the 4-8-2's ability to have more weight on the driving wheels (leading to greater traction, and allowing a larger, more powerful loco) and the 4-6-4's larger firebox supported by a 4-wheel trailing truck, allowing for freer steaming, particularly at speed. First built in 1927 by Alco for the Northern Pacific Railway, and so named the "Northern" type. Southern railroads didn't like this name, so they chose other names for their 4-8-4s. This type was the best choice of for both express passenger and fast freight service, but not heavy drag freight. Given that the 4-8-4 was a late development, and Northerns were often the 'name' passenger power at the time of steam's demise, many were saved from the scrapper's torch and are now preserved in museums, or in the case of a lucky few, kept in running condition. The NERR has one.
4-8-4 Northern 1926: Northern Pacific.
4-8-4 Confederation Canadian National.
4-8-4 Dixie Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis (and other Southern Roads).
4-8-4 Golden State Southern Pacific.
4-8-4 Greenbrier Chesapeake & Ohio
4-8-4 Montana Great Northern.
4-8-4 Niagara New York Central.
4-8-4 Pocono Lackawanna.
4-8-4 Potomac Western Maryland.
4-8-4 Wyoming Lehigh Valley.
4-8-4 Generals, Governors Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac.
4-8-8-2 Cab Forward 1928 - Southern Pacific.
4-8-8-4 Big Boy

This was the nickname universally applied to the Union Pacific Railroad's 4000 class built by Alco in 1941-44. Often said to be the largest steam locos ever built - that title is quite controversial as there were heavier locos and possibly more powerful locos. However, without tender, the body was the longest ever, and fully loaded with water and fuel it was the heaviest. It certainly could be said to be the most successful of the giant locos. They were the only locos to have the 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement in the Whyte notation. Their purpose was power at speed. They were created because of Union Pacific's need for a loco that could pull a 3600-ton freight train over the long 1.14% grade of the Wasatch. Helpers were needed for this grade, but adding and removing them, crewing them, etc. slowed the movement of trains. However, for such a loco to be worthwhile, it had to be more than just a slow mountain lugger; to avoid loco changes, it would have to be able to pull that long train at speed - 60 mph - once it was past the mountains. They were designed to be stable at 80 mph, so they were built with a heavy margin of safety. Few previous articulated locos were capable of such speed. 25 were built, split into two groups (of 20 and 5). All were coal burners, with large grates to burn the low quality Wyoming coal. One loco, #4005, was temporarily converted to oil firing, but unlike the experiences on the smaller Challengers, oil firing was not successful, and it was soon rebuilt back to standard. They did very good service in World War II, especially as they proved so easy to fire that even a novice could do a fair job. Since many men who were unsuited to combat service were instead drafted into railroad service to replace crewmen who joined up, this proved essential. Like all steam locos, postwar increases in the price of both coal and labor meant that their life was limited, but they were among the last steam locos taken out of service. The last train hauled by a Big Boy was in July, 1959. Most were stored operational until 1961, and four remained in operational condition at Green River, Wyoming until 1962. It is one of the best represented of preserved steam locos in the USA. 8 of the 25 still exist, but there are currently no serviceable Big Boys and no plans to restore one to operating condition. Even if one were restored, its size and weight mean it would be very hard to find anywhere to run it. The giants of steam produced near the end of the steam age were not general purpose machines; they could not roam whole railway systems but were generally confined to certain routes that could handle their size and weight. Overall length: 132' 9¼". Total weight with tender: 1,200,000 lb (540 tons). Tractive effort: 135,375 lb (600 kN). Cylinder dimensions: 23¾ inches (600 mm) diameter × 32 inches (800 mm) stroke (4 cylinders). Boiler pressure: 300 lb/inch². Driving wheel diameter: 68 inches. Tender coal capacity: 28 tons. Tender water capacity: 24,000 US gallons. Top speed: 80 mph. The NERR has one.
4-10-0 Mastodon 1883 - Central Pacific (1 built, named El Gobernador).
4-10-2 Southern Pacific 1925 - Southern Pacific (#5000).
4-10-2 Overland 1925 - Union Pacific (#8800).
4-12-2 Union Pacific 1926 - Union Pacific (88 built)


9 January
  • Have you checked out the 5  divisional website pages  today? They have been re-designed in the divisional colours and now show a range of statistics for the division and its engineers - the 5 top engineers by time slips submitted in the current and previous months, the last  5 time slips for the division, statistics for each route in the division (work orders, hours, time slips, salary, and royalties), as well as the usual statistics for the NERR itself (the statistics that are shown on the NETS page). It is another excellent piece of programming by Brian, based on the work done by Bob in setting up the NETS. Check it out for yourself!

  • Kingsport routeAnother new route on Train -Sim today - version 2 of the  Kingsport Subdivision . It comes in 5 files, totaling about 90Mb - the route was packaged by Route-Riter. Click on the small map to the right to view a larger version of the map of the route.

From the documentation files: "The Clinchfield Railroad was completed in 1915 from Elkhorn City, KY to Spartanburg, SC and consisted of two divisions, divided at Erwin, TN which was also the railroad headquarters and shops. This simulation is of the Northern Division, now the Kingsport Subdivision of CSX. ... Generic activities have been provided, which will allow you to test all 3 possible westbound routes. The main route is the CSX Kingsport Sub. from Elkhorn City, KY to Erwin, TN. Today, this subdivision also includes about 15 miles of the former C&O Big Sandy Subdivision and crews are changed on the northern end at Shelby, KY. This route covers the Clinchfield pretty much as it was until 1980, but I have included some C&O branches as well - all that coal you are going to haul has to come from somewhere. ... This version 2 is a rehash of version 1. There are no dramatic changes except that I corrected my sin of omission and added siding names, stations, etc. Jerry H. Sullivan, January, 2005."

And "This simulation comprises the Kingsport Subdivision (KP) of the Appalachian division of CSX Transportation. It is the north end of the former Clinchfield Railroad, built between 1905 and 1915 between Spartanburg, SC and Elkhorn City, KY. The final spike of the CC&O was driven at what is now the south switch at Trammel, VA. just outside the north portal of Sandy Ridge Tunnel. The route is a cross between the current route and what existed around 1945. Thus the Haysi & McClure branches are included, although they were not constructed until the late 60s and early 70s, while the Nora Branch is detailed as it was up until about 1988. The mines around Dante, VA, were the first coal mines on the Clinchfield, dug before the Elkhorn extension was built between 1912 & 1915. These mines, as well as Roaring Fork and Mine No. 9, were gone by 1950. There also existed several mines at Clinchco, but no data exists as to where they were located. CTCKingsport route trestle was installed in the 1950s, and today's installation is essentially unchanged from then, except that dispatching is now from Jacksonville, FL. A short piece of the C&O with 3 coal originating branches and a short piece of the Southern Rwy (NS), as well as the InterPlant RR at Kingsport, are included. It is quite a bowl of spaghetti. J. H. Sullivan."

I have installed this route - Route-Riter found only one missing non-default file, which I copied from another route. I ran a couple of the short activities supplied with it. The track looks fine. The scenery objects are rather sparse in some of the parts that I saw, but that might not be typical.  The screenshot to the right shows a very good-looking trestle on the route (click on it to see a larger version of the screenshot).

  • And just for something completely different!

From a Railway Carriage
Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart runaway in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!
Robert Louis Stevenson
from "A Child's Garden of Verses", 1874


8 January
  •  Other Downloads  page: Route-Riter version 6.1.91. From the developer's website: "Added the option to save lists of unused files (srv/con/tfc/pat) in the 'Unused Services/Consists' option. Fixed a problem when checking certain BATS .eng files which were extremely long. Fixed a problem when a user had over 50 locos with common.crews installed."

  • Another  possibly useful tweak  to help you improve the frame rate in MSTS. It does not work on all computers, but it just might work on yours. We usually run MSTS in full-screen mode - that is the default setting. As a test, go into window mode and leave the resolution and colour depth settings the same as they have been. Some people are reporting a significant increase in the fps in MSTS - no one knows why, as far as we know. if it doesn't help, just close MSTS and run it normally next time. For reference, the command line syntax (and you have to replace the three dots with your path to MSTS) is:

C:\...\Train Simulator\train.exe -vm:w

  • The second installment of the story of the  types of steam locomotives  looks at those with 2 leading wheels. If you would like to add to this information, please send it in to us - words and/or photos, information and/or stories.

Wheel Arrangement

Common Name Notes & First Built
2-2-0 Planet, Bury, Vauxhall
2-2-2 Single, Adler, Firefly, Beuth
2-2-2-0 Teutonic -
2-2-4T - -
2-4-0 John Bull, Norris Example.
2-4-2 Columbia Two built in 1877 and six in 1878 by Rogers for New Zealand. First shown at the 1893 Columbian exposition in Chicago. ("Columbia" is the poetical name for America - named after Christopher Columbus - 1893 was the 400th anniversary of his sighting of the Americas.)
2-4-4T - -
2-4-4-0 - -
2-4-4-2 - -
2-4-6T - -
2-6-0 Mogul First rigid frame - 1852; First swiveling frame - 1864 (L&N). Being the largest locomotive at the time, it was named after the Mohammedan Empire (India).
2-6-2 Prairie In 1885 six were built by Baldwin for New Zealand Railways. In 1900 Brooks built them for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy for use on the mid-western prairies. Last built in the 1920s. Example.
2-6-2T - 1880s - Central Pacific; 1902 - Central of New Jersey and Long Island Railroad.
2-6-4 Adriatic None in North America; very rare.
2-6-4T - Used in suburban service. Example.
2-6-4-4 - -
2-6-6T - -
2-6-6-0 - 1909 - Virginian.
2-6-6-0T - 1905 - New Zealand, one built, not successful.
2-6-6-2 - 1906 - Great Northern; Last - 1949 for the C&O. Example. (Also used on the Sumpter Valley route in MSTS.)
2-6-6-2T - Two examples built by Baldwin for the Uintah RR (#50, #51) in 1926-28 (later sold to Sumpter Valley) were the largest narrow gauge locomotives ever built.
2-6-6-4 - This was a fairly late development, a product of the superpower steam concept, introduced by Lima, which encouraged the use of large fireboxes supported by four-wheel trailing trucks. Such a firebox could sustain a rate of steam generation to meet any demands of the locomotive's cylinders, even at high speed. High speeds were certainly among the design goals for a 2-6-6-4; most were intended for use on fast freight trains. The first 2-6-6-4s built were for the Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railroad, and these were not high speed locomotives but rather heavy mountain luggers - three in 1934 and four more in 1937. The next were a successful class of ten ordered by the Seaboard Air Line in 1935-37. They were high speed freight engines and were very successful. Upon dieselisation, the locomotives were sold to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1947, who operated them until 1953. The final class of 2-8-8-4s was the Norfolk & Western Railway's Class A, built starting in 1936. 43 were built until 1950. They were the largest and most powerful 2-6-6-4s, capable of 6,300 drawbar horsepower at 45 mph  and able to run at over 70 mph. They were used until dieselisation in 1959. The Class A is believed by some to be the best class of steam locomotive produced in North America. In all, 60 2-6-6-4s were constructed there. Example - model.
2-6-6-6 Allegheny 1941 - Chesapeake & Ohio.
2-6-6-6 Blue Ridge 1945 - Virginian.
2-6-8-0 - The Southern and the Great Northern had the sole examples of this type.
2-8-0 Consolidation First built by Baldwin in 1866 for the Lehigh Valley (which had recently been created by the merger of several smaller railroads). Most popular wheel arrangement in the U.S.A. Only a few railroads purchased this locomotive type upon its introduction by Baldwin. Even the Baltimore & Ohio, which had nearly 180 of this locomotive type in regular service by 1885, didn't purchase any until 1873. The 2-8-0 design was given a major boost in 1875 when the PRR made it the railroad's standard freight locomotive. 1875 was also the year that the Erie Railroad began replacing its 4-4-0s in freight service with 2-8-0s. The railroads found that the 2-8-0 could move trains twice as heavy for half the cost of their earlier types.
2-8-2 Mikado

1897 - built by Baldwin for export to Japan for the Japanese Government Railways. "Mikado" = "Emperor of Japan". Re-named the "MacArthur" during World War II. The 2-8-2 was one of the more common configurations in the first half of the 20th century before diesels. They were built by ALCO, Lima and Baldwin based on designs of the USRA between 1917 and 1944. Of all of the USRA designs, the Mikado proved to be the most popular, mostly as a freight locomotive. Over 11,000 were built in total. The NERR has one - screenshot on the left.
2-8-4T Berkshire Tank One built 1904 by Baldwin for the Wellington & Manawatu Railway in New Zealand. Scrapped after merger into NZR because it was an orphan.
2-8-4 Berkshire

1925 - Class A-1 demonstrator designed by W. E. Woodward of the Lima Locomotive Works. Early tests were on the Boston & Albany which crossed the Berkshire Hills. This wheel arrangement, the first with the 4 trailing wheels allowed a much larger firebox. Last built in 1949. The NERR has one - screenshot on the left.
2-8-4 Kanawha Built for the Chesapeake & Ohio.
2-8-4 Lima Built for the Boston & Maine and the Illinois Central Railroads.
2-8-8-0 - -
2-8-8-2 - They usually had a swinging front engine and a rigidly attached rear engine. The 2-8-8-2 was a design mainly limited to American builders. The first was built in 1909 by Baldwin, two for the Southern Pacific Railroad, and then three each to the Union Pacific and UP-owned Oregon River and Navigation Company. Baldwin thought of the type as an expansion of the 2-6-6-2 with a greater tractive effort. The next order was from the Southern Pacific; these differed in being cab-forward locomotives, so that the crew could have better visibility and breathing in the SP's long tunnels and snowsheds. They were very successful, and SP continued to order cab-forward locomotives, building an eventual fleet of 256 of numerous classes; later cab-forwards were 4-8-8-2s. The 2-8-8-2 proved itself to be a capable hauler on mountain grades, enabling the replacement of several smaller locomotives and hauling longer trains than before. They were not fast; they hauled at drag freight speeds, up to 25 mph. The locomotives were adopted by a range of mountain railroads, including the Norfolk & Western, Southern, Virginian, Clinchfield, Denver & Rio Grande, Reading, Western Maryland, Missouri Pacific, Frisco, and the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range. Example.
2-8-8-2 Chesapeake 1924 - Chesapeake & Ohio.
2-8-8-4 Yellowstone The type name was given it by the first owner, the Northern Pacific Railway, (first ones were built in 1928 by Alco), whose lines run near Yellowstone National Park. 72 were built for four different American railroads. The 2-8-8-4 turned out to be the common choice of arrangement for the very largest steam locomotives when the speeds required were only moderate. All classes had fairly small drivers of 63 to 64 inches. For greater speeds, the Union Pacific Railroad chose a 4-wheel leading truck and 68 inch drivers for its Big Boy class. Several classes of Yellowstone, especially the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range's locomotives, are among the largest steam locomotives of all time.
2-8-8-8-2 Triplex (top of linked page) 1913 - Erie (3 in total); rear drivers under the tender.
2-8-8-8-4 Triplex (bottom of linked page) 1919 - Virginian (1 built); rear drivers under the tender.
2-10-0 Decapod First built in 1867 by Norris Brothers for the Lehigh Valley. Popular in Europe, particularly in Germany and Russia; British use of the type was confined to during and after World War II. In the USA, the 2-10-0 was not popular except in mountainous terrain. Their main advantage was that five out of six of the axles were powered, meaning almost all the weight was available for traction rather than being wasted on guiding axles. This long rigid wheelbase caused problems on tightly curved track. They were not very well balanced at speed and rode very roughly; they were generally not permitted speeds of greater than 50 mph. The type was almost universally seen in freight service, although some pulled passenger trains in the UK and Germany. The first great boost in the number of Decapods in service was thanks to an order for 1200 from Imperial Russia during World War I. The Pennsylvania Railroad became the biggest user of the Decapod in the United States. It was ideally suited to the Pennsy's heavy graded Allegheny Mountains routes; power and lugging ability, not speed, was what was called for. The PRR bought 598 of the engines, building 123 itself and ordering the rest from Baldwin - one of the biggest locomotive orders ever. The PRR decapod, the Class I1s, were huge, with a fat, free-steaming boiler that earned the type the nickname of 'Hippos' on the PRR. Giant cylinders enabled the I1s to put down that power to the rails, and giant tenders allowed them to work hard and long between stops. Their power and sheer brute force was undeniable, but they were not popular with the crews, because they rode very hard at anything above a low speed. Following that, a small number of other Decapods were ordered by other railroads; those built for the Western Maryland Railroad were the largest ever built, at almost 200 tons in weight.
2-10-2 Santa Fé 1903 - Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fé, built by ATSF & Baldwin. Mainly built between 1915-1920. The 2-10-2 is a development of the Mikado, with a bit more tractive effort, and sharing many of the advantages and disadvantages of that type. Like all ten-coupled designs, the long rigid wheelbase of the driving wheels presents a problem on curves. So the driving wheels were generally small (up to 64 in). 2-10-2s were used in a number of countries around the world, including those in North America, Western Europe, China and others. About 2200 were built.
2-10-2 Central Built for the Illinois Central.
2-10-2 Decapod Built for the Southern Pacific.
2-10-4 Texas The first 2-10-4 was a 2-10-2 Santa Fé type with a bigger trailing truck. In 1919 the ATSF built one of its 2-8-2 locomotives, #3829, with a 4-wheel trailing truck to see if there were any advantages. However, no attempt to expand the locomotive to take advantage of the larger truck was made, and the locomotive remained a one-off, although it carried the 4-wheel truck until its scrapping in 1955. The 2-10-4 type was revived in 1925 by Lima, and this time it was an expansion of the 2-8-4 Berkshire type that Lima had pioneered. The four-wheel trailing truck allowed a much larger firebox and a greater ability to generate heat (and thus steam) - the Superpower design, as the marketing department called it, meant a locomotive that could develop great power at speed and not run out of steam-generating ability. A version of the Berkshire with ten driving wheels instead of eight was an obvious development, and the first delivered were to the Texas & Pacific Railway, after which the type was named. Another link.
2-10-4 Central Built for the Illinois Central.
2-10-4 Decapod Built for the Southern Pacific.
2-10-4 Colorado Built for the Burlington.
2-10-4 Selkirk Built for the Canadian Pacific.
2-10-10-2 - 1911 - Santa Fé (rebuilt from 2-10-2s); 1918 - Virginian. This wheel arrangement was rare and unsuccessful. They were rebuilt back to 2-10-2s in 1915-18. Example.


7 January
  •  Saying for today : "On ne va pas réinventer l'eau tiède" (posted by Chris, ID# 66, Christian Defer). For our non-French speakers, that can be translated as "we are not going to re-invent lukewarm water".

  • A new wholly-owned NERR subsidiary has been established: the  Death Valley & Western RR , based in the NERR's South-Western Division. The new railroad has purchased nine locomotives - 4 x SD40T-2, 2 x SD60MAC, 2 x SD402, and 1 x MP15AC. It will continue to use NERR rolling stock for the time being. The railroad's logo and name board are shown below.  The DV&W becomes the sixth railroad in the NERR network - the NERR itself, the Bison Rail System, the Blue Ridge & Tidewater, the Pacific & American, and the Great Lakes & Allegheny, and now the DV&W.

DV&W RR logo & name board

  •  Reminder : if you have been running work orders and saving them with the F2 key as you go, don't forget to empty out your Saves folder in your MSTS installation every few weeks. You might find that there are a lot of files adding up to a large number of megabytes in that folder. Don't remove any of the files relating to work orders that you are part of the way through, but you can delete the other files. In these folders you will also find any of the work order evaluation files that you have saved. It is up to you whether you want to delete them or not.

  •  Handy Hint : if you are having difficulties with the sound in MSTS, the following tip might help you get more out of your sound card. The full details of this are in the Tutorials section of the Steam4Me website - click here to go to that tutorial. Please check out the tutorial before making any changes - and you might not notice any difference; it depends on the components in your computer. The basic instruction are: "Go to the Global folder and make a backup copy of soundcfg.dat. Open the original one for editing (using WordPad or another unicode editor). Look for this line near the bottom - SoundSystem ( 5, 40, 20, 31457280 ) - the 40 sets the 3D buffers, the 20 sets the 2D buffers. Leave the 20 as it is, as the cabview sounds all require 2D buffers. Increase the 40. I have been using 200 for a good few weeks without any problems and no noticeable loss in performance. My line is SoundSystem ( 5, 200, 20, 31457280 ) " Again, please read the tutorial in full, and there is no guarantee that the change will improve your sounds at all. However, it has helped a lot of people - and you can always change it back again if it does not work for you.

  •  Steam locomotives are classified  in many countries, especially the UK and the USA and the countries which bought their locomotives from these two countries, by the arrangement of their wheels. This system was devised by a Dutch-born New York engineer, Frederick Methvan Whyte in the early 20th century. Previous to the development of this sort of classification, each locomotive was named, e.g. "The Governor", "The Duchess of York".

The Whyte system counts the leading wheels (not axles, as in France), then the driving wheels, and then the trailing wheels, starting from the headlight end of the locomotive. So a locomotive with two leading wheels, six driving wheels and 2 trailing wheels is designated a 2-6-2. A "T" at the end indicates a Tank engine, otherwise a locomotive with a tender is assumed. Different patterns are used for locomotives such as the articulated ones (e.g. 2-6-2+2-6-2) and the geared locomotives such as the Climax and the Shay (e.g, geared with 4-wheel trucks).

The number of leading wheels gives an idea of the service for which  the locomotive was intended. No leading wheels indicate a slow speed where all the adhesive weight is on the driving wheels. On these locomotives, there is no guide at the front or rear to keep the driving wheels centered so they won’t climb off the rail. Two front wheels indicate a medium speed locomotive such as a freight locomotive, but there are many fast exceptions.  Four wheels in front indicate high speed service like passenger and priority freight. The number of trailing wheels indicates the steaming ability - the ability to run at sustained full throttle operation without loss
of steam pressure. No trailing wheels indicate a low power or a low speed capability only, such as in switching
engines. Two trailing wheels indicate a moderate level of steaming ability. Trailing wheels also help guide the locomotive in reverse.

There have been basically four major categories of steam locomotive - with 0,  2, 4 and 6 leading wheels. Let's look today at the ones with no leading wheels. There are links in the right column to some examples of most of the locomotives.

Wheel Arrangement

Common Name Notes
0-2-2-0 - Mt. Washington Cog Railroad. Articulated.
0-4-0 Four-coupled A switching locomotive.
0-4-0T - A switching tank locomotive.
0-4-2 Lion A working model is shown here.
0-4-2T - A UK switcher, and also on rack railroads.
0-4-4T Forney four-coupled Example.
0-4-4-0 - Articulated. First built by Fairlie. Example.
0-4-6T Forney four-coupled Example.
0-6-0 Six-coupled

A switching locomotive. The NERR has one.

0-6-2T - Several were built by Baldwin (25896, 25953) for the Uintah Railroad. UK example.
0-6-2 - -
0-6-4T Forney six-coupled Model.
0-6-6T Forney six-coupled -

1904, Baltimore & Ohio. It was the first Mallet articulated built in the USA. Example. The NERR has one.

0-8-0 Eight-coupled; Monster A switching locomotive.
0-8-2 - Many of the US examples were 2-8-2s that had been modified for yard work.
0-8-8-0 - Angus 1907: Erie 1910: D&H 1922: B&M, B&O, N&W, NYC. Model.
0-10-0 Ten-coupled; Decapod (UK) A switching locomotive. A UK example.
0-10-2 Union Five were built in 1936 for the Union Railroad of Pittsburgh. A German example.
0-12-0T - One was built in 1863 for the Philadelphia & Reading.


6 January
  •  Other Downloads  page: Route-Riter version 6.1.87.

  • I was in a second-hand book shop this morning and found some interesting railroad books/magazines. One was a copy of a book, published in 1981 by Atheneum, New York, called  The War Train: a novel of 1916 . It is historical fiction. The story was told to the author by her "grandfather, Frank Leo Moore, who, in March 1916, as a young man fresh out of baseball and then employed by the Pullman Company, escorted elements of the 12th Cavalry from South Dakota to New Mexico in support of the Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa." The expedition was led by General Pershing.  For $2, I could not resist buying it. The locomotive on the first section of the train was a Baldwin (No. 506), as was the locomotive on the second section (No. 799). ... more in future days, as I read the book.

  • We have been contacting the engineers who have not submitted time slips for a few months and those who have been on leave for an extended period of time. A few have decided not to rejoin us for a range of reasons including one who has just had a new baby join the family and another who bought a new laptop (an Apple). They all said that they had really enjoyed being part of the NERR (one said that it had been "a great experience, and a lot more fun and more educational than I had expected"). We are always sorry to lose even one engineer, but I guess that sometimes the RW must take precedence. They have all been transferred to the Inactive listing away from the main Crew Callboard. So far, we have not had to delete anyone completely, but this could well happen soon, as we might soon run out of spare numbers on the callboard. And there are  34 rookies  working through the WCN induction program.

  •  Trivia  item for today: "When building the Transcontinental Railroad across the barren Nebraska plains, the Union Pacific Railroad had endless problems in obtaining railroad ties. The only timber available was the pulpy cottonwood tree, which grew along the edges of Nebraska's rivers and streams. The UP managed to use this poor quality timber by preserving the cottonwood tie with a solution of zinc chloride. These treated ties were interspersed with oak and cedar ties, that were brought into the area, on a ratio of four "junk" cottonwood ties to one good cedar or oak tie.

    Getting timber for the trestles was an even bigger problem. There was no room for junk timber in a railroad trestle! Therefore, trees were felled in Minnesota, floated down the Mississippi to the confluence with the Missouri, then barged to Omaha, where they were milled and cut to the specific size for the specific part of the specific trestle, then transported as far as possible by rail, then by horse-drawn wagons to the location of the trestle, which was usually many miles ahead of the track-laying crew. One historian claims that the wood for one specific trestle was cut to fit in Michigan, then shipped to Omaha!"

  •  Handy Hint  about improving frame rates while using MSTS (from a thread over at Be careful what you do. make sure that you remember what your settings were before you made any of the following changes. Apart from your graphic card features (which seems to be the biggest influence on frame rates), there are other things that help you save resources and use more memory for your video - none are guarantee to work on your computer - they are all different:

    • Before running MSTS, try to close all the other programs as possible.

    • Physically disconnect your computer from the internet and turn off your firewall and/or antivirus software. Remember to switch them back on before you re-connect the internet connection!

    • Once in MSTS, go to Options/Advanced video, and customize your options. You can reduce quality in some controls to increase performance, always trying to suit your needs in one way or another.

    • Have the latest DirectX-9C.

    • In video options, re-set your resolution: you can see nice pictures with 800 x 600 (16 colours) and with 1024 x 768 (16 colours), but using 800 x 600 increases fps some more.

    • In the advanced video options you can play with the values until you find your best frame rate, but it may vary for each route. If you're driving in a city, you don't need to use the "distant mountains" option, so you can disable it to save memory.

    • Reduce the terrain texture quality.

    • If you're driving in rural areas, you can disable other details, such as certain shadows, etc...

    • Don't reduce the World Objects Density, for you will miss many important images that make the game beautiful.

    • This method uses the ability of Windows XP to assign a priority to each process. The higher the process priority, the faster a program is bound to run. The downside is that, under certain circumstances, a certain lag on keyboard input. How to do it:

      • Launch MSTS as usual.

      • When it is loaded completely, minimise it and launch the Taskmanager through the "CTRL + ALT + DEL" keys.

      • You will see a couple of areas/tabs there. Go to the one called Processes.

      • Look for "train.exe".

      • Right-click on it to open the context menu.

      • The lowermost choice says Process Priority. Set it to high (NOT REALTIME!!!).

      • Finally, go back to MSTS.

      • You have to do this each time you start MSTS.

    • Do a hard disk defrag.

    • Do a diskcheck.


5 January
  • A number of the MST routes that have been released recently have been packaged as  spanned zip files . You can tell which ones these are by the naming of the installation files - they usually are named using the pattern of, file2.zo1, file.zo2, file.zo3, and so on. Most of the time, these will install without any problems, as long as you use a recent  extraction program like WinZip 9.0 or later. However, some reports of problems have been made in recent weeks, where one or more of the downloaded files have shown up on people's hard drives with an extra extension, e.g. This file will then give an error message when the installer tries to use it. The solution is very easy once you know to look for the problem. Just rename the problem file to show only or file.z00 or file.zo1, wherever it fits into the set. It should then work without any difficulty.

One recent route where this happens is the shortline Wenatchee & Cashmere route. This problem was discussed today in thread in the NERR forums by Archer01 (ID# 63, Lloyd): "This route comes in 4 small download files -, wcrr.z01, wcrr.z02, and wcrr.z03. The problem with the download is that wcrr.z01 is downloaded as a .zip file and will show up in your download folder as - this will lead the installation process to give a file corruption message. Nice thing is it's an easy fix , just simple rename to wcrr.z01 , and the installation works smoothly." BTW, this route is worth trying out. It is a small download, with one simple activity using default equipment. More activities are on the way. If you download and try it, keep it somewhere safe for later.

  • Track Hazard Warning: In work order NENE-177-20b, be aware that the deer are active around MP31. One was squished by a locomotive yesterday, causing a lot of extra work for the cleaning staff. The local animal protection group has been notified. Engineers are requested to take evasive action, if possible.

  • We have heard that there has been a  new issue of the MSTS  v1.2 CDs. The producers of the package is Atari. This is good news for the continued growth in the number of people using MSTS.

  • Two  new New Zealand routes  are currently under construction that we know of. Both developers are involved with the developer of the South Rail route, part of the NERR network.

    • The North Rail route - the Wanganui section from Marton Junction to Waitotara, in the south-west of the North Island. The route has two large tunnels, a loop, and a branch line to Castlecliff. The package will also include the tramway route around the Wanganui area as a separate sub-route.

    • The Rimutaka Incline route, to the north of the capital, Wellington on the southern end of the North Island. The Rimutaka was the longest-lasting line in the world that used a Fell centre-rail system of track for adhesion as well as for braking. The line closed in October, 1955. Click here to view a map of the real route. It should be a most impressive route. An explanation of the Fell system, with photos from the route, can be viewed here. From a press release on the MSN New Zealand MSTS group: "The route is from Wallaceville to Upper Hutt, on the Wellington to Upper Hutt line, thence Upper Hutt to Cross Creek, via Maymorn and Kaitoke, to Cross Creek, to Summit via the world-famous Rimutaka Incline, thence on to Featherston. The route features many default MSTS scenery models, plus NZRail scenery objects. No route that includes the Rimutaka Incline could possibly work without the right locomotives - the omnipresent, and unique, Fell 0-4-2T locomotives, which will be represented by the two Neilson-built variants, # H203 and H204, neither of which were preserved. The other 4 locomotives were built by Avonside and had a very complex motion setup, which is the main reason why a model will not be included with the route release. H203 is the test model locomotive. It takes some very concentrated driving skills, but I'm pleased to say that a working incline, with excellent prototypical loading and running characteristics, is a fact."


4 January
  • In a press release from the  Bison Rail System  today, their CEO, Paulo Sousa, announced that: "Bison Rail System is pleased to advise that our subsidiary, BRW (Bison Rail Works), has acquired a new group of Hi-Rail trucks for our fleet. This is another step in our effort to offer BRW clients the best support and services and continue to show BRW is the leader in MOW services to the vworld."

  • This is a list of the  existing prototypical Australian and New Zealand routes  that we can find. The list was compiled by Ozrod (ID#204, Rod Broune). There are a number of fictional routes available as well, including Dragon Rail (Australia) and Taieri Gorge (New Zealand).





Approx Length (miles)


Web Site


Coals to Newcastle


Newcastle / Port Waratah


Part of the Main Northern line from Sydney to the north in New South Wales (NSW). Hornsby is a suburb of Sydney. Port Waratah is part of the export coal complex at Newcastle.

Railpage site


The Coal Road


Werris Creek


Another part of the NSW Main Northern line. Maitland is about 20 miles west of Newcastle. There are a number of coal mines, served by rail, between Maitland and Werris Creek.



La Perouse

Sydney (Circular Quay)

La Perouse


A tram line route, part of the Sydney tram system (which was once the world's 3rd largest). This line was the last to be closed, in February 1961.

Steam4me site


Blue Mountains




Part of the Main Western line from Sydney to the west of NSW. Penrith is an outer suburb of Sydney. The line includes extensive 1 in 33 (3%) grades facing westbound traffic.

Steam4me site


Sydney West

Seven Hills



Part of the Sydney suburban rail system. Now electrified throughout, it was operated by vintage rail motors in the 1970s and steam in the 1960s, before the area was urbanised.

SydWest Project






The southern end of the Illawarra line south of Sydney, and still untouched by electrification. Traffic is generally not frequent on the line, serving a relatively light passenger traffic and a few industries. Dairy products were once a key part of the line's traffic.

Steam4me site


Melbourne - Ballarat

Melbourne (Footscray)



Part of the main line between the state of Victoria's capital, Melbourne, and one of the largest provincial cities, located on the line to Adelaide.

Steam4me site


Mornington Tourist Railway




A former branch line on the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay (on whose northern side Melbourne is situated), part of which is now operated as a tourist line.

Steam4me site




Middlemarch / Milton


Part of the main trunk railway in New Zealand's South Island, centred on the city of Dunedin on the East Coast, plus the Central Otago branch line which runs inland from Dunedin.

  • Last month, we published an article about the major diesel locomotive builders. Today, here is an article about the major steam locomotive builders.

The Steam Locomotive Builders

When steam was at its peak, the three big builders of steam locomotives were Alco, Baldwin, and Lima.

American Locomotive Company

Alco - the American Locomotive Company - came into existence in 1901 when eight companies merged as a way of competing against the ever-expanding Baldwin company. These eight were Brooks Locomotive Works of Dunkirk, N.Y., Cooke Locomotive & Machine Works of Paterson, N.J., Dickson Manufacturing Company of Scranton, Pa., Manchester Locomotive Works of Manchester, N.H., Pittsburg Locomotive & Car Works of Pittsburgh, Pa. (the city's final 'h' was added to the company name at a later date), Rhode Island Locomotive Works of Providence, Richmond (Va.) Locomotive Works, and Schenectady (N.Y.) Locomotive Works.

Two additional companies joined Alco not long after it was set up: in 1902 the Locomotive & Machine Company of Montreal, and in 1905 the Rogers Locomotive Works of Paterson, N.J. Many of these companies continued to build locomotives at their previous locations, until Alco consolidated its manufacturing facilities at Schenectady in 1929. The production of locomotives at Schenectady almost stopped during the Depression of the early 1930s, but then it started again in the mid-1930s in the last major era of steam power on the railroads.

Alco's last steam locomotives for the domestic railroads were seven Pittsburgh & Lake Erie 2-8-4s, built in 1948. Probably its most famous steam products were the 4-6-4 Hudsons and 4-8-4 Niagaras of the New York Central and the 4-6-6-4 Challengers and 4-8-8-4 Big Boys of the Union Pacific.

Alco had begun building diesel locomotives in the 1920s and enjoyed more success in the field than the other two major steam builders, gaining fame with such models as the PA streamlined passenger cab unit and the RS-series road-switchers. But Alco never successfully challenged the dominant market position of the Electro-Motive Division and stopped producing locomotives in 1969.


Baldwin was set up in Philadelphia in 1831 by Matthias W. Baldwin, a jeweler. The company became the largest, longest-lived, and most successful of the steam locomotive building companies. Baldwin produced its first steam locomotive in 1832. By the late 1800s Baldwin was producing about 500 locomotives a year, about 30-40% of the market.

In 1903 the company began building a new plant in Eddystone, Pa., on the Delaware River, about 12 miles south-west of Philadelphia. It used the original facility in Philadelphia for another 25 years, before closing it and moving all the business to Eddystone.

The company suffered greatly during the Depression, going into bankruptcy in 1935. World War II gave Baldwin some prosperity for a few years, but after the war, the company went into a further decline. Lima-Hamilton - the successor to Lima Locomotive Works - and Baldwin merged in 1951 to form a new company: Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton.

Baldwin began producing diesel switchers in the late 1930s and then road diesel locos in 1945. But their market share was never more than about 15%. It stopped producing diesel locomotives in 1956. Their last steam locomotives for the domestic market were the ten 2-6-6-2s of a 1910 design built for Chesapeake & Ohio in 1949. Santa Fe was among Baldwin's biggest steam locomotive customers - the huge, magnificent 4-8-4s and 2-10-4s.


Lima Locomotive Works began as the Lima Machine Works, which was set up in 1869 in Lima, Ohio, to produce agricultural and sawmill equipment. In the 1870s Ephraim Shay, a Michigan logger, developed a geared locomotive for logging tramways, which used wooden tracks. In 1878 Lima built a locomotive to Shay's design for one of his neighbours. The company went on to build and market the 'Shay' locomotives as a stock item.

By 1900, the company had built a new production facility. They began building conventional locomotives as well as the Shay locomotives. In 1911 Lima began building locomotives for Class 1 railroads.

During the early 1920s, railroads came to understand that speed was as important as locomotive efficiency in freight service as well as in passenger service. The different railroads and locomotive builders took different approaches to the problem, including using high-pressure boilers, three-cylinder locomotives, articulation, water-tube fireboxes, and even just larger locomotives. William E. Woodard, Lima's chief engineer, approached the matter from the viewpoint of the boiler's capacity to generate steam. In 1922 Lima built an experimental 2-8-2 based on the NYC's H-7, but with a larger grate area. The locomotive, Michigan Central's H-10 No. 8000, could out-pull the H-7, and could do it using less coal.

The H-10 was the first in a series of further developments of the type. Its firebox, having a grate area of 66.4 square feet, was at the limit of the load that a two-wheel trailing truck could bear. Woodard added another axle to the trailing truck to support a 100-square-foot grate, creating the 2-8-4 wheel arrangement, which became known as the 'Berkshire'. Lima's first 2-8-4 was numbered 1 and was designated A-1.

The A-1 was the pioneer loco in what became known as the Super Power movement, which revolutionised steam locomotive design. Baldwin and Alco also ultimately embraced many of Lima's design principles, and the four-wheel trailing truck became the standard for large locos. Although there were many successful designs in this period, the most famous were probably Lima's 2-8-4s for Nickel Plate, streamlined 4-8-4s for Southern Pacific, and the enormous 2-6-6-6 Alleghenies for Chesapeake & Ohio and Virginian railroads.

In 1947 the firm merged with General Machinery Corporation of Hamilton, Ohio, to form the Lima-Hamilton Corporation. In 1951 it merged with Baldwin to form the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation. Its successor - Baldwin-Hamilton - still exists.

(This information is derived mainly from an article by Kevin P. Keefe.)

  • For  users of Windows XP  only. Some users of the Shape Viewer utility have been reporting recently that they have had problems running this program. In the forums, the program's developer, has offered the following solution. It is published here as a suggestion. No liability will be admitted if something goes wrong (dx8vb.dll is installed as part of DirectX 8.1 and higher) !

From the Start Menu Select RUN


REGSVR32 /v dx8vb.dll

All versions of Shape Viewer should then work.


3 January
  • When you visit the  Non-NERR News page , you will notice that the structure has changed. The other websites are now in three groups. The update notice at the top of this page will not indicate which of the groups have been updated - sorry.

    • Useful MSTS Sites - new information 1-2 times each week.

    • Other VRs - new information when something significant occurs in the VR. VRs that are part of the NERR network are not listed on this page.

    • Payware Sites - updated as new ones are added or as something significant occurs on the payware site. Example: a new site is added today.

  • Our  first interview  for 2005 is with MickyT (ID# 102, Michael Thomson), from New Zealand.

1. How did you start getting involved with MSTS? Tell us some of your early experiences - good and bad.
Would like to have brought MSTS when it first came out; didn't because people kept telling me my computer was not up to it. Kept looking at it on the shelves, then two Christmases ago my wife brought it for me ('though she claims I told her to), so my Grandson and I could play it together - so it was really for my grandson. First steps with it were to run the Flying Scotsman the full length of the Settle route. Failed. The next night, a friend and I managed it at speeds in excess of 10mph - after reading the manual. Pity we hadn't read the manual a bit more! Went straight through the Settle station at 90 to 100mph! Then we read the bit about brakes.

2. How did you find out about the NERR? Why did you join?
Once Christmas was over, got on the 'net and did what most of us do, I suppose. Found Train-Sim, and Railserve, downloaded anything and everything - mainly British steam. I'm a Pom by birth (POM  = Aussie and New Zealand slang for British. Played with the AE enough to make a consist. Then saw vNERR mentioned at Train-Sim. Spent a bit of time trolling round the forums and site, and joined up. Fortunately, I had a hernia operation around the time I joined, so I did 90% of the diesel training course while I was off work. Enjoyed it and stayed on, mainly because all the work orders, routes and equipment worked together.

3. Did you have any experience with other VRs before the NERR?
Naw! Looked at the others afterwards, joined the forums, but stuck to vNERR (spelt correctly, or Bob will growl). Have joined P&A and GL&A since though. Always liked the look of MLT and 3DTrainstuff routes, but was too tight (Aussie and NZ slang for 'miserly', not for 'drunk' in this context!) to buy them. Have now though. This year's Christmas pressie (from wife) were the add-ons to Cajon and TEH2. Birthday will be MLT stuff (wife does not know yet! Well, she didn't for Christmas either. I told her after I had bought the stuff).

4. Do you have any connection with railways (railroads) in the real world? If so, would you tell us something about those connections?
Grandfather was an engine driver for the LMS (London Midland & Scotland) and BR (British Rail) in the UK. My interest in trains came from there. Every young boy of my generation wanted to be an engine driver, so I was as proud as Punch that my Grandfather was one. Supposedly, during WWII he outran a Focke-Wulf while hauling passengers. By the same token, he also told us Gary Cooper (High Noon fame) was a relative of ours - Cooper being his family name.
5. What part of the VR world and MSTS do you enjoy the most - running trains, doing work orders, or ...?
It would have to be doing work orders. I've delved into the AE and will continue to do so. 3D modeling and painting I've toyed with. Route building? Only with Trainz; my grandson can build a route in Trainz, so it's easy.
6(a). Where do you think / hope MSTS will be in 5 years' time?
I'd like to hope MS will sell the licence to another company to develop it further, but it's a big hope.

Since writing the above, I have been and seen the movie Polar Express. The computer graphics of the train were fantastic, so if I did have a hope, it would be for MS or anyone else to match those. OK, so you'd need a super-computer, and you still would not be able to couple at the front of the loco, but wow, what a thought!

6(b). Where do you think / hope the NERR will be in 5 years' time?
MSTS is static, but vNERR (keep Bob happy) can keep expanding. New work orders, routes, locos and rolling stock will keep appearing. Most of the other VRs use NETS, and that looks like it's being added too (Thanks to Bob and Brian). The vNERR and OVS are to be the training grounds for P&A and GL&A, so the future looks bright. As long as the members keep joining, then vNERR will keep going.

6(c). Where do you think / hope that you will be in the VR world in 5 years' time?
With a lot more work orders behind me and a lot more payware stuff (5 Christmases and 5 Birthdays, plus a credit card and Internet and with my wife not standing behind me!). I am happy and enjoying where I am for now.
7. If you could add or change two things to the VR world and/or to the NERR, what would they be?
First change: the occasional bitch sessions in the forums for what ever reason; we should always look for the positive.
Second change: more bitch sessions, they can be fun!
Realistically: make the Home Page similar to P&A and GL&A. They just seem a bit more professional.
8(a). What is your favorite NERR route? Why?
Full Bucket - runs really well on a low specification computer - then you just get to like it. FB3 adds to it with a decent hill. I'm in the South West division, so try to only run their work orders. The scenery ain't flash, but who looks at the scenery when driving anyway.
8(b). What is your favorite non-NERR route? Why?
Another plug for P&A and GL&A: MLT and 3Dtrainstuff routes. I have not been running them long, so don't have a favorite yet, but it's heading towards TEH2 (reason I keep using TEH2 is that I can't spell Tehachapi, let alone pronounce it. Come to New Zealand and try pronounce some of our place names!)
9. What is your favorite NERR loco? Why?
Hard one to answer. All the big colourful American diesels - you know the story - they all look the same to me. But USRA Mountain steam locomotives are another story; really will have to get back into steam. How about a vNERR Thomas the Tank engine?
10. What is your favorite type of activity / work order? Why?
Any type of freight work, with or without yard work. Passengers are a pain in the butt. When was the last time anyone heard of a load of coal complaining?
11. Where do you live? Can you tell us your three favorite things about the area where you live? How long have you lived there? Have you moved around much during your life?
Hamilton, New Zealand (a bit over an hour's drive south of Auckland) for 12 years. Prior to that, in various hydro-electric power station villages in New Zealand. I came to New Zealand 32 years ago after 22 months in the British Merchant Navy, met a girl here, and came out to marry her (to those of a romantic bent, I am still married to her).

Favorite things: too many.

Hamilton is large enough to have everything you might want (a casino even, Via Las Hamilton) and a short drive (15 minutes) puts you in the middle of Waikato countryside. You remember Hobbiton in the "Lord of the Rings" movies? It was filmed an hour away; then you get the idea.

To give you an better idea of Hamilton and the Waikato, the local rugby side are called the 'Moo Loos', and the side is spurred on by the sound of cow bells. From my living room window, I can see horses grazing in a paddock (field) and beyond that the Hamilton Gardens. Anyone can enter ,and it is free (said I was tight earlier in this interview somewhere!). Nicest thing about the gardens is a group of small gardens themed for different countries - China, Japan, England, America, etc. We also have the Waikato River flowing through the city, and the walks along its banks are really good.

Climate is what you would call moderate (you might dispute this today - it's rained all day, and I'm wearing jeans in summer). I can no longer relate to snow and all it brings (sorry, Claude), but if I ever feel the need, can travel to the ski fields (a 3 hour drive to the south). The beach is less time - 45 minutes to the west coast for black sand and 90 minutes to the east coast for white sand.

Have I moved around much? I was a service brat. My father was in the RAF, so try England, Scotland, Germany, Singapore and now New Zealand. Better idea - try 11 schools and 2 technical colleges.

12. Tell us some things about the railways in New Zealand.
I'll cheat here and give you a link or two.

3 feet 6 inches gauge - narrower than most countries. Build up in parts over a number of years. First rail was for the forestry and gold rushes. As the main centres expanded, passenger and freight routes were added. The main centres never got joined up until late in the 1940s or early 50s. The main line from Wellington to Hamilton was electrified in the 1980s. Presently owned by the Aussies (the Toll company) 'till they go broke. The Americans did. The main highlight is the Raurimu Spiral (as recently see in Billy Connolly's "World Tour of New Zealand" on English TV).

Links - enjoy:

13. Is there anything else that we should know about you?! Family, pets, hobbies (other than MSTS), job, holiday places, ...
Family: wife, two sons, daughter-in-law, and grandson, granddaughter (arrival date - a few months from now).

Pets: cat Levi (please note: anagram for evil), a vicious thug, originally belonged to a niece who stayed with us. She left; cat didn't want to and kept coming back (4 times in one week). A red-eared American turtle, named Shelly; he also bites.

Along the way, we host overseas students for the local University - mainly Japanese, a few Chinese and a couple of Saudi Arabians. The fun side of this is spending a hour explaining the English/NZ phrase "I'll pick you up outside the University at 5 o'clock". Think literally now.

Hobbies: possibly house renovation, although I'm coming to the end of that. I do have a small OO British outline train layout, mainly Hornby stuff. A few years ago, I would have said brewing beer, but I gave that up. Could not keep up with brewing 5 gallons a week. You just have to have enough empty bottles ready! And I still have a bow hanging in the garage from my target archery days. Oh, and taking the micky out of Kiwis when one the NZ sporting teams loses yet again.

Job: I always say "Doing as little as possible for as much as I can get". The reality is that I work for the National Grid company of NZ, Transpower. I've worked in the control centre for just over 20 years, so if I do anything, it's to keep NZ's lights on, or make sure they come on pretty quickly after they go out. American power companies call the same job "Dispatcher".

Travel: I guess, in the last few years it's been possible to travel overseas. Las Vegas (5 cent machines only), 3 small Pacific Islands (Cook, Fiji and Australia) and Bali.

14. What are two pieces of advice that you would give a new engineer at the NERR?
1. Read the vNERR forums and the FAQ. The answers to all your questions are there somewhere. Failing this, ask on the forums, 'cos there will be an engineer out there who will know.

2. Search the net for articles on the Art of Zen. You will need this when you experience problems with MSTS (failing Zen, Valium/Alcohol is an alternative), then re-read Advice 1.

3. Buy the NERR set of discs.

  •  New work orders  - available through NEAWOS (link on the website main page):

    • NENE-177-20a & b from Mike Spinelli (Spin). part a is "the first part of a two part intermodal run from Philly to the nation's capital. You are assembling the train in Philadelphia. Some cars are in the trucking terminal (Snyder Ave), and some are on the dock (Navy Pier). And the train must be assembled in time for the power to be attached, brakes charged and tested, and out on the main before 14:00. Any delays hurt on-time performance and customer satisfaction. Delays here are magnified down the line. So work safely, but don't waste time. The cars must be picked up in order; they're blocked for delivery at nine points along the various routes."

      Part b:
      "Your run is from Philadelphia to Washington over NEC Division Freight Line (the CSX main). Your train is assembled at Penrose Yard; your run is into Benning Road Yard in "The DC". It's not a heavy train, and the dispatchers like to keep these priority trains rolling, so it should be an easy run. It's important to keep the train on schedule, to keep our customers happy and to gain new customers with our on-time performance. You gotta reach Baltimore before 15:30 and Ivy City yard in Washington before 16:15."

    • NEMM-110-SF01a to NENJ-110-SF01h - an 8-part series from Robert Van Sawthumb & antonio miranda. It crosses 4 routes. Part 1, which starts at 0600, has you assembling the main consist. "The purchasing agent from Anheuser Bush brewery has contracted with Container Corp Factory 25 boxcars loads of packaging. Also, Bethlehem Shipbuilding needs several carloads of specialized fittings and valves, from Addica Foundry in Brewton." Part 2 is to "continue the forwarding of those wagons through the CSX Montgomery, East Metro, and East River, then into the N&NJ, where you will have to deliver the consists to various yards to complete the contract." . Parts 3 and 4 continue the journey. In part 4, there are several tasks to be completed, including changing helpers and refueling the locos. In part 5, there are several switching moves.  In part 6, there is a pick-up task. In part 7, you set out some of the wagons onto various yard tracks. Part 8, which you should finish by about 1730, involves setting out the rest of the wagons and parking your loco. So this is another series that should keep you busy for a while. You can run it in one day, to simulate a long day's duty - as long as you ensure that you finish within the 12 hours! Or you can run it however you like.

  • Two good sites for learning more about  Australian railways  are:


2 January
  •  New work orders  - available through NEAWOS (link on the website main page):

    • Wupper Express 8 route: NEWE-092-01 - this work order is the first developed by Geront (ID# 92, Pavel). As he states: "The W/O  is created for newbies to the WUPPER EXPRESS 8 route. It will familiarize you with aspects of the WE8 route. In this first part we begin at Moenchengladbach, and we will proceed to Essen via Duesseldorf and Duisburg. Try to keep speed limits to about 80% of posted, so that you can look around as you go along. The schedule has been set up with a couple of stops at larger yards." Congratulations, Pavel, on joining the work order developers' group. I have run this work order, and it does exactly what Pavel set out to do, with good use of AI trains and eye candy along the way. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

    • South Rail route: NESR-260-Lo1 - Climb into your assigned loco - a BR&T EMD GP38 - at Burnside and "run this load of lumber down to Milton for forwarding on to the FHSR. The lumber is destined for Florida, where it will be used as building material after the hurricanes there. Don't forget: rain = slick rails, so watch your step. Not much traffic; things aren't back together down south yet."

    • Florida Funnel route: NEFL-260-Lo2 - Today, you have been assigned to the 23-ton Box Cab in Orlando, Florida. "This is the final leg of the lumber run. Things have cleared up quite a bit here now that the storms are gone. You've got one drop-off of the cars onto the two sidings, then you can park your engine on the siding near them. Don't forget that you're underpowered, and your braking and acceleration will reflect that. Special Order: Due to recent rains, the roadbeds are soft. 50mph is the maximum allowable track speed. Be aware that there are MOW crews working on the line, so be careful."

  • Some more statistics for  December 2004  - today, the table shows the  Top 25 Work Orders  as measured by the number of times a time slip for the the work order has been submitted since the NETS was implemented in January 2004. In the Times Run column, the number inside the brackets shows how many time slips were submitted for that work order in December 2004. In the Rank column, the number inside the brackets shows the work order's rank in the previous month.


Work Order Name Type Operations Length Developer Times Run (Dec) Rank
383 NEWC-1-Grainmove Diesel Freight 1:00:00 artimrj 60 (8) 1 (1)
595 NECV-007-03a Diesel Freight 0:45:00 elementb 55 (4) 2 (2)
81 NENE-KA-001 Diesel Freight 2:45:00 Kevin Arceneaux 48 (1) 3 (3)
411 NEWH-100-01 Diesel Freight 1:18:00 GaryH 46 (2) 4 (4)
483 NEFB-045-01 Diesel Freight 1:30:00 Mont Denver Gold 42 (4) 5 (7)
596 NECV-007-03b Diesel Freight 1:30:00 elementb 42 (2) 5 (5)
106 NEER-110-01 Diesel Freight 1:00:00 antoniomiranda 40 (2) 7 (7)
371 NEWH-150-01a Diesel Freight 0:30:00 Buttercup 40 (2) 7 (7)
412 NEWH-100-01a Diesel Freight 2:15:00 GaryH 40 (3) 7 (10)
414 NEFB-100-05A Diesel Freight 0:50:00 GaryH 39 (0) 10 (6)
623 NECV-010-BR2 Diesel Freight 0:20:00 dandy1 39 (5) 10 (15)
372 NEWH-150-01b Diesel Freight 1:35:00 Buttercup 38 (2) 12 (11)
531 NEFB-045-02 Diesel Freight 1:50:00 Mont Denver Gold 38 (6) 12 (18)
240 NENE-018-1a Electric Passenger 0:30:00 gwgardner 37 (2) 14 (12)
373 NEWH-150-01c Diesel Freight 1:20:00 Buttercup 37 (2) 14 (12)
552 NENE-163-01a Diesel MOW 1:10:00 Stumbl 37 (2) 14 (12)
434 NEMM-110-01 Diesel Freight 1:40:00 antoniomiranda 35 (2) 17 (17)
622 NECV-010-BR1 Diesel Freight 0:40:00 dandy1 35 (4) 17 (19)
124 NEDF-109-X01 Diesel Freight 1:50:00 RobertR 34 (1) 19 (17)
380 NELV-260-01 Diesel Freight 1:00:00 Intelvet 34 (0) 19 (15)
597 NECV-007-04 Diesel Freight 1:30:00 elementb 34 (3) 19 (19)
299 NENE-061-01 Electric Passenger 0:35:00 Firsty 33 (?) 22 (-)
374 NEWH-150-01d Diesel Freight 3:20:00 Buttercup 33 (2) 22 (19)
413 NEWH-100-01b Diesel Freight 1:00:00 GaryH 33 (1) 22 (18)
  •  Dekosoft  has a new pack of Missouri Pacific locos and rolling stock available for purchase from their website. The pack (their 5th) recreates some of the mid-western MoPac (now part of UP) equipment from the 1970s and 1980s: 4-axle road switchers (1 x MP15DC, 2 x GP15-1, 3 x GP35, 1 x GP38, and 2 x GP50), 6-axle road locomotives (2 x SD40 and 2 x SD40-2), a 100 ton covered hopper, an 89' autorack, a 50' general purpose boxcar, and a 50' gondola. The price is between $US15 and $US20, depending on how you buy the pack and on whether you have been a previous purchaser from them. (Item submitted by Mal)

  • When the time countdown at the top of the page starts to annoy me, I'll shift it!


1 January
  • I hope that you have had a good start to 2005. Your Editor was up all night gathering material to keep you informed and entertained during January, so he had no time to celebrate! The last two items from 2004 have been repeated below to ensure that they have proper exposure for a reasonable period of time - they were there only for a couple of days at the end of the month.

  •  Time slip statistics  for December 2004 - more active engineers and more time slips (with a higher proportion of NERR time slips to non-NERR time slips), but shorter work orders and, therefore, lower wages for the engineers this past month:

  August September October November December
No. of active engineers 124 109 112 105 116
No. of time slips submitted 795 772 716 721 774
No. of NERR time slips 652 606 643 561 697
Total hours 1443 1264 1234 1569 1203
Average hours per time slip 1.8 1.6 1.7 1.6 1.55
Total wages $43,290 $37,296 $37,014 $47,070 $36,117
Average wages per time slip $54 $48 $52 $49 $47
  • The  Fun page from 2004  has been archived, and a new page has been started. The previous page can still be accessed by clicking on a link at the top of the new page - the link is there now.

  • The  December 2004 News page  is still available for reading, as can all previous issues of Roundhouse Ramblings, by going to the Archives page - use the link in the menu to the left.

  • Here is  a story from another of our RW railroad men , grpabear (ID# 119, MJ Hess):

John and Cedric have both asked for some stories from my Railroading days. 'Though I'm like most Rails, I love to tell long tales, and I'm quite full of BS in my own right. I'm also a little uncomfortable re-telling stories in such a public forum. I know the carriers do not have too keen a sense of humor. But be that as it may, here's a story for you I like to call

Negative Reinforcement

In the early 1980's, I owned a regular assignment on the eastern end of my seniority district that ran across southern Minnesota. It was a nice little night job that had an extra engine turn in the rotation versus the two ground crews who worked every day. So I worked two 12 hour days (one out and one back), then had 24 hours off before coming back to work at 0130 on the fourth night.

We were really no more than a glorified way-freight, handling tonnage to an intermediate terminal and connecting with a southbound transfer run to Mason City, Iowa. We setout most of our train, swapped power, switched the yard, & spotted some industries before continuing eastward towards our away-from-home terminal, doing as much way-freight work as possible with out dying. The next night we reversed the process. The track speed was fair (30mph), the terrain challenging ( 5-1% grades and 1-1.9% hill ), and power was adequate. We had all second-hand equipment in the forms of ex-BN SD45's and Southern SD24's that had their turbochargers and dynamic brakes removed and reclassified as SD18's. These units worked quite well together - the SD45's performing best between 20-30mph and the SD18's working best under 15mph, which covered all our needs. An added bonus was that some of the SD45's still had operating dynamic brakes.

So one frosty January night, we are ordered about 0100 at our away-from-home terminal. As we are discussing our train orders and the work to be done en route, at the yard office, we see we have a chance for a quit (tie-up early before we go on overtime), because we have a straight shot to our home terminal. An early quit is quite rare for us but does sometimes happen if everything goes just right. We face that possibility tonight, but for our train size. We are over tonnage for the 1.9% hill which is rated at 2 horsepower per ton. Standard Operating Practice is to try the hill and, if we stall, double to the first siding on top of the grade (we don't reduce tonnage). We don't really want to screw around on the hill because we all want this early quit. So we agree to let the power decide for us.

As we leave the river bottom, we encounter a small 1% grade, which is 3 miles long. If power does really well on this hill, I may decide to tackle the hill to save time. If not, we stop at Stockton, the last town near the base of the hill to cut and double to the top. My call either way. I sure wish the SD45 wasn't in the lead but nestled back against the train, where it wouldn't slip as much. Well, to make this part of my story shorter, the SD45 slipped like crazy, and I had problems making 16 mph on the smaller & shorter of the two hills. We have to double.

I drop the head man off at Main Street and pull the prearranged cut pass him. Now SOP from this point is for the head Brakeman to make the cut and then find a safe place to ride, preferably inside a cover hopper end well. This gets him out of the wind (remember it's January and about 10 above) and gives him a nice stable place to ride the 7 miles up the hill.

My head brakeman finds a nice hopper end to ride. So he signals me to take off, and I pour the coals to her as fast as possible but not so fast as to knock him off the car. Before too long I'm doing the speed limit in my run for the hill. I enter a long sweeping right hand curve at the base of the hill and then out under a highway overpass on the other end of the curve. As I come out the other side of the overpass, I see an obstruction about an 1/2 of a mile dead ahead of me. It's a 1500+ lb bull that's grazing just on the right of way nearest to my side. Damn! There goes our early quit!!

I can't stop without hitting him, and If I spike the air, I could knock my brakeman off his perch or maybe tear something apart, and then we end up tripling the hill! So I lay on the whistle and bell, even flash my headlights to get this damn bull to move just a few feet from the tracks.

Well, he acts as if he doesn't have a care in the world, but he does seem to be moving. Oh SH*T, he's crossing the tracks for the other side. This is going to be a mess. The bull is definitely moving, but I'm getting closer, too. Will he clear? I'm thinking out loud to myself: "Keep going, you sob, or you'll be on the menu at McDonald's next week."

I stand up to see what's happening, but the nose of the engine is in the way. I can't see. I feel more than hear a slight thump over the noise from all the engines, the bell & the whistle. Did we hit him or just graze him?

Can't stop now, I'm starting to lose momentum. The lead SD45 is slipping, but the SD18s are coming into their own. I got other things to occupy myself for the next 30 minutes. So I call the head brakeman to watch for any sign of the bull as we continue up the hill. The brakeman sees nothing, but it's dark, and I'm sure he was more concerned with hanging on and keeping warm than looking for any damn' animal.

After stopping at the siding switch, the brakeman unlocks and cleans the switch so we can put away this half of our train in the siding, and I inspect the head end power. There are no signs of a collision with the bull, but the fireman's side of the front snow plow, the knuckle & drawbar, the air hose & angle cock are all covered with what appears to be fine hair that was sticking straight out in the moonlight. We set out the cars and change ends to return to our train.

On the return trip down the hill the trainman and I are looking for a possible wounded animal in the ditch. We found nothing! As the train charges up, I call CX tower and report a possible livestock hit. Tower said that the Track Jockey would look for the animal on his morning patrol, and we can fill out any paper work at our home terminal. The rest of the trip is uneventful, and we did get our early tie-up. There was no paper work to be filled out for the claim's agent when we tied up. But we would most likely hear more about the incident should the owner claimed we killed his prize bull.

On my next trip east, I had a new head brakeman who was covering off the extra board. As we start down the 1.9% grade, I'm telling him about my last trip and our hitting the bull just outside of Stockton. So he come over to my side as we slow and start to search the ditch for any signs of the bull.

No bull, but wait! What's that grazing in the field? It's the damn bull! I had a hold of the whistle for the next crossing and for some odd reason, I don't know why, I blew two short toots. That damn' bull's head came up like a shot, and he took off running full bore across the field for the gate to the stock pen. It was the funniest sight to see that huge animal, who two nights ago had no desire to move very fast at all, moving like it was running in the Kentucky Derby. Do you suppose that, after that, the farmer wondered what was wrong with his bull every time a freight train came thru town?

How's that for Reinforcement??? Well Pavlov had his dog, and I had my bull, and McDonald's did without."

  •  Bison Rail System  - an announcement from Dan, Director of the Central Division: "This is working towards becoming a true subsidiary within the NERR. Unlike the others, the BRS is still attached to NERR and part of the entire system.

    It is called Bison Rail System due to BRS having separate side business adventures such as Bison Rail Narrow Gauge (BRNG), Bison Rail Transit, and a few others surprises being added onto it.

    Bison Rail System will still improve upon the Bison Rail in the Midwest on Midwestern routes and continue those services. The Blue Mountain sub-division has been sold, and the Frisco - Fort Smith sub-division was added to continue towards a more mid-western feel.

    I encourage the CT Engineers to join the BRS - Paulo is taking in a limited number of new applicants to start with. What will be unique is that after all of the CT engineers who want to join are processed, it will open up to the rest of the engineers at the NERR to have the chance to join and run on a Narrow Gauge route as well as others.

    We are trying to bring you a complete package. You have the NERR being just that - the best VR out there. Also, you have 2 excellent payware VRs for the more serious engineers. You also have a couple of other VRs such as FBL and OVS to enjoy, and now you have a VR subsidiary inside the NERR itself.

    BRS will have some trains and work orders that will not be displayed at the NERR itself. We will still try to utilise most of NERR equipment to get the most out of them in revenue. Our main agenda is to Have Fun."

The views expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the NERR Administration. They are the views of the author of the particular news item.

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