Tips for Planning a Train Ride There are many exciting train ride adventures you can plan for you and your family. Taking the time to see what your options are will help to ensure you all enjoy it. There are train rides you can take to get to various destinations such as AmTrak. This the most popular type of passenger train available. They offer day trips as well as long distance rides that span several days. There is plenty of room to move freely on these types of train rides. You will also find dining cars and sleeping cars so you can be comfortable. You may discover that there is not train route heading in direction you want to be traveling. If this is the case you can look into other types of train rides that may be more recreational. There are several options that you will have depending on where you travel to. For example in Colorado there are wonderful train rides that take you through the mountain areas. Before you commit to a train ride, think about what it is that you want to experience. If you are looking for a historical venture than look for older steam locomotives that are still being used. If you want to enjoy the sites while on the train consider what types of landscaping you are interested in seeing. Find out how long the train ride is going to last so you can be prepared for it. Children may have a harder time spending hours on a train ride so make sure you pack them snacks, drinks, and fun activities to help pass the time. Pay close attention to departure times and find out if you need to check in prior to boarding the train. Some train terminals are very large and it can be difficult to figure out where you need to be. Always arrive early and give yourself plenty of time to find out where everything is. You don't want to get stressed out or end up missing your train ride because you were having trouble getting to the departure area. Most train rides have guidelines about what you can carry on with you. Make sure you pay attention to this information because you don't want to be told you can't board the train with the items you have brought along. Try to limit you carry on items to one or two small bags. Some people discover they get car sick when they ride on a train, even thought they have never experienced this before. This often happens when the individual is watching the landscaping rapidly moving by as they look sideways out of the windows. It can also happen if you are riding in sits that face backwards of the direction that the train is traveling. Bring along crackers to settle your stomach and ask to change sits if you think it will be a problem for you. The cost of tickets for various train rides depend on your travel plans. Some of the recreational trains have a constant price while AmTrak and other types of train rides vary depending on where you are traveling to and the travel dates. You can check the prices of train rides online in order to get an idea of what the prices are. It is a good idea to reserve your tickets in advance. This way you can be sure there will be enough room on board for those in your party. If you aren't comfortable ordering tickets for your train ride online, you can get a phone number to place the order over the phone. Make sure you inquire about refund policies in case you need to reschedule your train ride for any reason. Riding a train instead of driving to your vacation destination can be a great way to ensure that the parents get to enjoy it too. It can be hard to meet the needs of children while traveling while you are driving. A train ride helps you avoid such issues so everyone can relax. Taking part in a train ride at various destinations while you are on vacation is a great way to spend some time relaxing and getting to see the area. With so many train ride options you are sure to find something that will fit your schedule and your budget. Ways to Save Money on Train Rides Riding on a train can be exciting, but it can also be expensive. There are plenty of ways you can get the train ride you want for a great price. This doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality or comfort either. Before you start shopping around identify what you expect to get from the train ride. This will help you plan what you want to have as part of your ticket price. If you are taking a ride on AmTrak you need to consider how long of a ride you plan to be on. If it will be for several days then you need to look into purchasing a sleep car. Some people are content to just sleep in their seat in order to save money. However, this can quickly become uncomfortable and you have to remember that other people around you will be awake. Only purchase the size of a sleeping accommodations that you will need. Some of them hold two people while others hold up to four adults. Consider sharing the cost of a sleep car with a friend or acquaintance that will be traveling as well. Keep in mind that many of your meals come with the cost of the sleep car so you won't be spending too much on meals. You may find it is to your advantage to pay for a quality place to rest. The seat you select on many train rides is going to affect your price. There are business class, first class, and coach options. If you really want comfort than you will be better off with one of the more expensive options. Yet coach really is comfortable as well and you can get a better rate on an upgrade when you arrive than if you purchase it in advance. Some train rides charge more if you want to have a window seat as well. Take along your own drinks and snacks if you want to save money on Amtrak or any other type of train ride. You will find it quickly adds up when you start buying sodas and chips from them. Many train rides offer you the chance to buy alcohol, but you can expect to pay a high price for it. You will save plenty if you refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages on the trip. Sorry, they generally won't allow you to bring your own beer! Look for discounts offered online and in magazines as you will be surprised by what you find. Recently AmTrak offered $100 towards food and drinks, including alcohol for specific travel arrangements. Sometimes they offer free rides for children under a certain age or you buy one ticket for full price and get the next one for half price. Many of the recreational train rides offer discounts if you take the earlier trains of the day. This will mean you also beat the crowds for the busier departures of the day. Weekday tickets are often less expensive than those for the weekend so try to be flexible with the date of your travel plans. Avoid train rides around the holidays and during peak tourist seasons as you will pay more for your tickets. Some train rides will come with discounts if you are a frequent rider. This information can be looked into at the time when you plan to buy the tickets. Sometimes there are discounts if you belong to particular clubs or you are in the military. You may be able to get a family discount if you buy several tickets at one time. There are many great ways you can save money on train rides so look into it before you pay full price. It is silly for you to get the same experience as someone riding on the train next you for a lower price but that is how it works. Contact the railway directly and ask about such offers available. The internet is also a great resource for finding ways to quickly save money on the cost of the train ride you wish to experience. Traveling by AmTrak The most common way for people to travel by train is with AmTrak which was established in 1971. Many people think AmTrak is owned by a particular railway company. However, the 21,000 miles that it travels across are owned by various railway companies. AmTrak is actually owned by the United States government and they contract with the various railways to use their tracks. They offer a comfortable way for people to travel to various destinations without having to drive. There are sleeping cars and dining cars for long trips that you can take advantage of to make the trip more enjoyable. More than 25 million people travel each year by AmTrak. The routes are offered through 48 states and some areas of Canada. Even though traveling by AmTrak takes longer than flying, many consumers find it to be less hectic. Since you can get up and move around it is a great way to travel with children. The cost of traveling by AmTrak varies by the route and the time of year when you want to buy tickets. Many frequent travels by railway take advantage of earning points each time they travel. This reduces the cost of future tickets they buy to rid AmTrak. The internet is a great place to take a look at the various routes offered by AmTrak. You will find many holes in their service areas so it may not be possible for you to use this mode of transportation for particular trips. Other locations offer everything you need including rental car services from the train station should you need it. You can purchase tickets to ride AmTrak at any of the different train stations or online. The more flexible your travel dates are the better price you can get on the tickets. Generally you will pay less for AmTrak tickets during the week and more on the weekends. Around the holiday season you will find prices generally increase as well. There are several different classes of seats available on an AmTrak train, and you will pay more for the most comfortable. First class and business class seats offer you the most room but they are the most expensive. Coach seats can be reserved if you want a specific area such as a window seat. The cheapest AmTrak fares are on the unreserved coach seats. The sizes of the sleeping quarters are also different prices so you want to take a look at them in advance. There are only a set amount of sleeping quarters available and you don't want to end up without one or one that is too small. You also don't want to have to pay for a larger sleeping area than you need because it is just a waste of your money. AmTrak offers sleeping quarters that comfortably fit two adults, four adults, or two adults and two children. Your purchase of sleeping quarters on an Amtrak train include various meals. Make sure you take a look at the meal options so you can select the right travel package to meet your needs. If you don't purchase sleeping quarters you can purchase a variety of different meals while on board. Many people pack snacks and sandwiches to help reduce the cost of meals during this mode of travel. It is important to check in for your AmTrak departure approximately one hour in advance. This gives you time to figure out where you need to be, get through security, and check in your luggage. You can have a maximum of two carry on bags so make sure they meet the size guidelines. AmTrak is very strict with these carry on guidelines due to the limited space available in many areas of the train. If you have never traveled by train, you may want to schedule your next trip aboard the AmTrak. You will find it a comfortable way to travel but not always the fastest. Still, if you have plenty of time to get to your destination it is more relaxing than driving. Training Crossing Safety Tips One of the most common types of train accidents happens when vehicle are attempting to cross the train tracks while a train is in the area. There are signals that are to be activated when a train is approaching a crossing, but they have been known to malfunction from time to time. Many people don't pay attention to them either as they assume if they can't see the train they still have time to get across the tracks. It is a good idea to always stop at any train crossing just in case the signals aren't working properly. Take the time to look and to listen for a train approaching. If you have any indication that one may be coming your way, don't attempt to cross the tracks. You don't want to take such a risk. If there are no gates present at the train crossing you should stay behind the painted line on the road. This way you aren't in the line of rocks or other debris being thrown your way as the train passes by. The number of people who don't pay attention to the signals at a train crossing is unbelievable. They often believe they can beat the train and they don't want to be held up waiting for it to cross in front of it. While some people have been able to successfully beat the train, others aren't so lucky. The impact from a train in that type of scenario is too much to walk away from without injuries or death occurring. Your life if worth more than a few minutes of your time. It is important to realize that there may be a second train closely behind the first. Many train related accidents occur when people at the signal lights decide to go forward even though the lights are still flashing. They assume that since the train has completely gone by them they are safe to proceed. Don't put yourself at risk of being hit by another train that my be following behind the other one. You may think it only happens in the movies, but occasionally vehicles due die out as a person is going across the railroad tracks. Don't sit there and try to get it across. Instead you need to get out of the car and a safe distance away. Use a phone to call the local police department so they can notify the railway company about the incident. Approximately every 90 minutes there is a train wreck in the United States involving a train and a vehicle. Don't let the next one involve you when it is very easy to protect yourself against such accidents. Remember that it takes a train approximately one mile of distance to be able to stop when they are traveling at a speed of 55 miles per hour. It can be frustrating and annoying at times if you frequently have to wait for trains before you can continue on your way. Yet it is important to plan ahead for such delays and to be prepared for them. It isn't an event match up when you consider the power and strength behind a train compared to your vehicle. Always pay attention to the signal lights when they are on at a railroad crossing. You also want to go the extra mile and pay attention just in case the signals aren't operating correctly. The Rail Tracks for Trains to Operate Along Trains are a very resourceful type of transportation that move thousands of tons of materials annually. There are also trains that transport people to various locations for business or leisurely travel. This is all possible with the use of rail tracks that guide the train along the determined route. In order to ensure a smooth ride for the train as well as one that is safe for the passengers, ballast is laid which looks like gravel. Some people think this is used to give it a nice look because it is a shade of light pink, but the ballast serves a useful purpose. It allows water to drain from snow and rain to keep it off the tracks. Railroad ties are placed on top of the ballast which look like long wooden planks. They go across the train tracks in the opposite direction of the rails. This helps to keep the rails in place properly so that there isn't any risk of the trains being pushed off the rails due to inaccurate alignment. The rails can contract and expand due to the weather and the ties help them maintain their shape. Many railways are switching from wooden ties to those made out of concrete. The wood is known to rot out and this means a great deal of time has to be spent repairing them. Even though the concrete ties are more expensive than those made from wood, they don't have to be replaced very often so it does save money in the long run. It is believed that these concrete ties provide the train with a smoother ride and that protects the freight as well as keeps all of the train cars in good working condition. They are heavier than the wooden ties though so it takes longer to get them in place. It also requires heavy duty devices to secure them in place that won't break the concrete. The rails must be placed the exact width from each other necessary in order for the train to be guided along them. They are made from a very heavy type of steel and held in place with long spikes. The steal has to be heavy in order to be able to hold up to the heavy weight of the loads the train carries. Many railway companies invest in welded track because this allows them to place more weight on the rails with less damage. In the long run it will cost them less in repairs and maintenance. In many instances these welded tracks also allow for the trains to move along at a faster speed. Switches in the rail tracks allow for a train to move from one set of tracks to another. They are commonly used as a type of bypass when you have two trains on the same stretch of track but heading different directions. The switch allows one train to go around the other while the other continues in the normal path. This type of rail design allows several trains to be on the same tracks at the same time. It is important for switches to work properly or the risk of two trains crashing into each other is possible. Some areas of the train tracks feature built in signals that activate the safety signals at the upcoming railroad crossings. These areas of the track are insulated to help prevent any malfunctions in the signals. When cars are ready to cross the railroad tracks it is these signals that will prevent them from going across when it isn't safe. It is vital to the railway industry that the tracks are always ready to for trains to safely move across them. Regular inspections of each section of the tracks helps to ensure this process. Various railroad companies have gangs that work to offer regular maintenance for the train tracks and to take care of any emergency repairs that need to be made. Statistics Relating to Train Accidents Most trains go about their travels without any incident. They are responsible for transporting equipment, goods, food, and even dangerous chemicals and weapons. Trains offer a reliable mode of transportation that has been in place for decades. It is one many people don't often think about because so much of what happens takes place behind the scenes. Trains are made from durable steel so being involved in an accident with one can be deadly. Too many times drivers of cars don't pay attention to the signals at the crossings or they think they can beat the train. Since a train can't slow down and stop immediately, there is nothing that can be done to avoid the accident. The train isn't able to move from the trains in an effort to go around the vehicle. This type of accident can also result in the trail derailing, meaning it leaves the tracks. This can result in damages to what they are hauling and to the crew on the train. If the train is carrying dangerous materials or harmful chemicals then the risk of damages to people in the area also increases. Train accidents also occur due to errors made by the engineers, inclement weather, excessive speed, and worn out tracks. In order to help reduce the amount of train related accidents, the FRA has been working hard to educate the public about the dangers of trains. Ironically, you can hear a train coming from a mile away when you aren't in the area but believe it or not you may not be able to hear it if you are right by it. This is because of how sound travels. Never walk along the railroad tracks. It is important for those in vehicles to closely monitor railroad crossings. Too many people assume that because they can't see the train coming they have the ability to make it across. The more modern railroad crossings include gates that come down in a way that cars can't go around them to take away this option. Railroads have to be committed to providing save railcars to be traveling. They need to properly inspected and weight limits need to be followed. The tracks also need to be inspected on a regular basis and the necessary improvements made. This will prevent derailments which can be very dangerous and even fatal. The FDA also looks into all train accidents to find out what could have been done in order to prevent it. They log all train accidents to look for patterns of the crew, speed, what was being hauled, and the location where the accident took place. Being able to identify patterns in such incidents in a great way to help make positive changes to prevent future train accidents from taking place. Another reason why the FDA looks into each train related accident is to determine who is at fault. The railway company will be liable if it is determined they were at fault. However, a railway company won't be liable if individuals failed to stop at railroad crossings that were working properly. Hopeful as awareness of train accidents continues to increase there will be less of them. The technology that is available to help monitor train locations will also reduce the number of trains wrecking into each other, help monitor railroad crossings and keep tracks in good condition. We rely heavily on our trains to carry goods, people, and hazardous materials to various locations. It is important though that every effort is make to make that journey a safe one. The Threat of Trains being Used for Terrorism Trains carry goods and materials to various locations around the world and it is considered to a very safe mode of transportation. Yet there is the possibility that trains could be used for terrorism. This is because they often engage in transporting thousands of tons of chemicals, explosives, and nuclear waste as well as items that consumers want to be able to purchase from retailers. In the wrong hands these types of items being transported by train could be disastrous. Experts in the field of terrorism and chemicals have been able to estimate that the access of certain ones from train cars could kill millions of people in the area within minutes. You can be that terrorists may well be aware of this information as well. There is also the risk of terrorists bombing various train locations carrying these types of materials or people. In the past there have been some types of these incidents involving trains that are credited to acts of terrorism. You may not realize it depending on where you live, but that are more than 300,000 miles of train tracks in the United States alone where materials travel along on a regular basis. The biggest concern in the amount of chlorine gas that is routinely moved by train because it is toxic. Trucks carrying this particular type of gas have been targeted in Iraq and that has alerted the government and railroad companies to the heightened risk of it in the United States. This particular gas could result in the death of thousands of people within a ten mile radius of any such spills or leaks so it needs to be closely protected. This type of chlorine gas is commonly used at water treatment plants to make water safer to drink. To help reduce the amount of it on the trains, the government has been implementing safer alternatives. Many water treatment plans have switched from using chlorine gas to either liquid bleach or ultraviolet light. Both of them seem to offer a very effective way to treat water without the risk of traveling hundreds of miles with chlorine gas on the train cars. The Transportation Security Administration has taken significant measures to reduce the risk of trains being accessed by terrorists since the attacks on 09/11/01. Yet the cost of placing security on trains with hazardous materials is very expensive. The cost of re-routing the materials so that they aren't in the vicinity of residential and business locations is also expensive. That particular idea doesn't necessarily mean that terrorists can't get to the chemicals and then use them where they please though. The Department of Homeland Security has implemented changes though that require further investigation of those who work on the trains as well as maintain the tracks. Background checks are to be conducted before a person is allowed to work in such areas. They have also implemented saver containers to help protect the materials from being easily accessed. The major railways including Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific work closely with the Federal government to ensure various safety requirements are in place at all times. The goal of both agencies is to effectively transport materials via train without leaving any opportunities for terrorists to take over control of them. This is an ongoing line of defense that continues to be closely monitored and updated. Types of Trains There are many different types of trains that are in use today. They all serve different purposes in order to meet the needs of various industries. Regardless of the type of train it is, there is a need for a powerful engine with a skilled engineer to keep it moving along as it should. There is also the need for railway tracks so that the train is able to move along it. Early trains operated with the use of coal and steam but since the 1950's they have been powered by diesel fuel. Some of them in various locations now operate using electricity in order to reduce the amount of pollution they offer to the environment. The first trains were freight trains, and created to haul various types of materials from one location to another. Each year freight trains haul thousands of tons of materials so that businesses can use them to create products. The railways where the majority of freight is transported is very heavy and durable so that it can hold a large amount of weight at any given time. It isn't unusual to see freight being hauled by more than one engine at a time in order to effectively haul it. To help reduce the amount of time it takes to load and unload freight hauled by train, the use of piggybacks is common. This concept involves placing a semi trailer on the back of a flatbed railcar. Once the freight train has reached its destination the semi trailer is removed with heavy equipment and it is ready for a semi truck to hook up to and take it to the final destination. This process helps to keep the problem with not enough truck drivers to keep up with the transportation demands in prospective. Millions of people travel each year by the use of passenger trains. The most popular is Amtrak which moves travelers from one location to another. There are sleep cars and dining cars on the Amtrak for travelers to be able to spend their time in. This is a very comfortable form of travel and one many people seem to enjoy. Other types of passenger trains are used for people to commute from one location to another. Large cities such as New York have the subway which is a type of underground passenger train. Many other cities offer passenger trains that are above ground that get them to and from their place of employment instead of battling with congested roads. There are three types of speeds for passenger trains. Some of them stop at every station along the way for people to get on or get off. Others travel at top speeds and only stop at specific locations. Trains can have a regular schedule they adhere to for passengers such as those someone would take to get to work. They pickup at the same location at the same time daily. That is unless there are delays. Depending on what your individual travel needs are and the location where you live, you may be very familiar with freight trains and passenger trains going through your area. For other people though they live too far away from any railway tracks to notice what is being transported through their town. As a result they may not be too familiar with the amount of services these various types of trains offer. Trains and the Environment While trains do offer a necessary service because they haul materials and people, there are plenty of concerns about the damages they do to the environment. As with any other type of industry there seems to be controversy about where to draw the line. People in society definitely want the benefits that come with trains transporting goods and people but are they willing to sacrifice the quality of the air they breath in order to have it? The biggest concern with trains and the environment is the amount of pollution they create. Designs have come a long way on train engines in order to reduce the amount of pollution they release. Many railway companies also continue to plant new trees in the areas along the train tracks. These trees help to remove the amount of carbon monoxide in the air. You may have seen pretty flower gardens next to train crossings and they are there to help the environment as well as to give you something nice to enjoy as you drive by. Another type of pollution that trains are labeled with is noise pollution. People who live in areas where trains frequently pass through often complain about the noise. This is one of the biggest issues that has to be dealt with when a railway company is considering laying new railroad tracks. Businesses complain about the noise level as well because they feel it often affects productivity and it can be annoying to potential customers and prevent them from coming in. Changes are being implemented by many railway companies to reduce the amount of noise and vibrations that come from the trains. Trains consume large amounts of natural resources that can't be replaced. This is a concern because so many trains are in operation each day. Alternatives for creating the necessary energy are being evaluated. Some of the commuter trains in many cities operate on electricity instead of diesel fuel. While this helps reduce the amount of pollution in the air, it still depletes the natural resources we have available. However, research has shown that mass transit services such as trains in large cities significantly reduces the amount of pollution in the air because it removes so many individual cars from the roads each day. Instead of thousands of people using their own vehicle to commute to and from work they all ride the same train transit system. Environmentalists become very upset when forests and other land areas are cleared in order to lay new stretches of railway tracks. While the additional routes help get materials and people to their destinations, it removes trees and robs animals of their natural habitat. Most railways do all they can to live the area intact and to only remove what is necessary for the train to get through the area. Railway companies are often accused of wasting materials that have to be dealt with. In the past couple of decades though most railway companies have become quite conservative with their materials. The steel they use for the railroad tracks and trains is recycled. They also reuse up to 60% of the ballast that is placed underneath the railway tracks. The Federal government keeps a close eye on the activities of all the various railway companies. They understand they are an essential piece of keeping our economy strong, but they expect the railway companies to do their part for the environment as well. New areas of technology are continue implemented in order to benefit the railway companies and the environment. It is important to understand that it takes time to develop such changes though. Research has to be conducted to measure the actual benefits that will be offered. The research is very expensive and implementing the changes is expensive as well. The railways struggle to offer low prices for passengers as well as hauling freight, but as their own expenses continue to increase with efforts to protect the environment a large portion of those expenses will be trickling down. Train Museums The emergence of trains played a significant role in the industrial revolution. With the advances in technology that took place over time, trains have become faster and more fuel efficient. Yet there is a place in our history books for those older model locomotives. It is also very interesting to discover the history behind trains in more ways than just reading about them. If you are interested in the history of trains, you may find a visit to one of many train museums offers you plenty of information as well as great pieces of older equipment to look at. Technology has come a long way in regards to trains, and it can be fascinating to take a look back at the various types of tracks and trains from a century ago. In addition to seeing those old time locomotives, you can see the actual materials that they train tracks were once made from. Hours and hours of hard work went into men digging the area with shovels to lay the materials for the train tracks. While the process is somewhat easier today, there is still plenty of hard work that goes into building, repairing, and maintaining railroad tracks. If you live in the California area, you will find many of the very best train museums are featured around the state. The Golden Gate Railroad Museum, located in Redwood City, is a non-profit museum dedicated to preserving the history of steam locomotives and the history of trains around the San Francisco area. In the heart of Golden, Colorado you will find another one of the best train museums. They offer more than 100 different historical locomotives and boxcars from various eras. This is also one of the oldest train museums as it was established in 1959. One of the oldest and largest train museums is found in Cairo, Egypt. It is simply called the Rail Museum and it was founded in 1933. This particular train museum continues to be upgraded and expanded to offer as much history about the train industry as possible. There are more than 700 items on display here including locomotives, train parts, rails, documents, and early maps of the first railway routes. Taking a close and personal look at the history of trains on display at the various museums will give you a new appreciation for this particular mode of transporting both people and materials. It is hard to believe when you look at the trains of today that that the concepts behind them almost didn't get off the ground in the 1800's. No one really believed it would become a viable way to get around the world. Today more than 60 million people travel on trains annually and there are more than 300,000 miles of track. The internet is a great resource for helping you to locate the different train museums you may want to visit. You can find out about the various exhibits they offer, the cost of admission, hours of operation, and directions. If you travel often for business or pleasure you may want to choose a couple of great train museums to see during your free time. There are hundreds of great train museums located around the world so it is nice to know you won't have to travel to just one specific location in order to take a trip back in time. Train Movies One of the most magical movies featuring at train is the Polar Express. It brings back the joy we felt as children waiting for Santa Claus. This makes it a remarkable movie that appeals to people of all ages. Even though it is a Christmas time movie, many people enjoy watching it anytime they want to feel carefree and happy. The movie is computer animated which gives it a very unique design. The film Polar Express features one of the best actors around, Tom Hanks who plays five different characters. This film tells the story of only those who truly believe in Santa Clause can help save his ability to bring presents to children all over the world. The boy is asked to go to the North Pole with Santa Claus in an effort to show him what really exists there. A great deal of the movie takes place on the Polar Express, the name of the locomotive that magically takes Santa Claus to and from the North Pole. The steam engine featured in the movie is based on a real one that is in a train museum known as the 1225. Tom Cruise has been well known for various movies over the years, but none of them compare with the popularity of Mission Impossible. In fact, it has two very successful sequels under its belt. There is plenty of action in all of them, but the most memorable takes place in the first Mission Impossible movie. Cruise is seen in some tough stunts that he makes look realistic on the top of a speeding train. Many of the early westerns feature amazing scenes with various types of trains in them. It isn't uncommon for gunfights to be taking place on top of these moving trains. In fact, it is very possible that the scenes for that popular Mission Impossible movie were developed from this core idea that had been in the movies so many years ago. Some movies don't feature the train in them for very long, but the train still plays an important role in the movie. The Harry Potter series is very popular and you will find the children ride the train to and from Hogwarts at the beginning and the end of every movie. In many ways this train has become a trademark of the shows. It also signifies their movement from the normal world to the world of magic. By the title, you may think the movie Derailed featuring Jennifer Aniston is going to be about a train disaster. Yet this is a very intriguing movie that details the delicate webs of lies and deceptions that can take place for money. Her character plays a manipulative woman who pretends to fall for married men on the commuter train. When they meet at a hotel room and intruder rapes her. Later in the movie you find out the rapist is really her husband. Everything is a set up to make the men she meets on the trains feel sorry for her. They are also willing to give her money not to tell anyone about their affair, especially their wives. You will be on the edge of your seat watching the story unfold as it has many twists and turns. Of course we can't talk about train movies without including Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. This is a hilarious comedy with Steve Martin and John Candy. The story is about a businessman who is desperately trying to get home to spend Thanksgiving with his family. There are plenty of movies out there featuring trains. Some people enjoy the entire movie and others place it on their favorites list simply for the action involving the trains itself. Trains are such an important part of our society and our global economy that it is only fitting they find their way onto the big screen to offer us quality entertainment. The Duties of a Train Control and Signal Inspector There is plenty of work to be done behind the scenes to ensure trains are able to operate correctly. One of the jobs with the most responsibility is that of a train control and signal inspector. They work hard to ensure the signals at all of the railroad crossings are working properly. This is to ensure the safety of those on the train as well as those attempting to cross in their path. Regular maintenance and testing of all the different controls and signals for railway crossings need to be completed. Most of the time each inspector will have their own area they are responsible for. They also conduct additional testing when they receive information from the train crews, passengers in cars, or law enforcement that there may be problems with particular signals working correctly. Train control and signal inspectors are also responsible for implementing safety training and education programs for their employees and for those who will be crossing the tracks. Many accidents involving trains can be eliminated if people have the right information about the risks involved in not paying attention to train crossings. Since there are many intersections where there are signal lights but no rails that come down, people often try to beat the trains. The goal of these inspectors is to eliminate people taking such risks. As funding becomes available they make sure the new rails are installed at the most dangerous train crossings. In order to base their training information on, train control and signal inspectors are often called to the scene of accidents to document their findings. All of this information is compiled to offer accurate data that can be used for intervention and prevention of future problems with train controls and signals. As advances in technology allow, train control and signals are continually updated. An inspector in this role has to have the skills and training to keep up on this information. Most employers in the railway industry offer this ongoing training, but certification in various areas is required in order to secure such employment in the first place. In addition, someone in this role needs to be in good physical condition. It can require long hours on the job in order to remedy potentially dangerous situations and to evaluate accident scenes. It can result in long walks along stretches of railroad tracks in the extreme heat or cold. In some areas, the train control and signal inspector will have to climb down into bridge areas to get to the mechanisms they need to test or repair. These types of inspectors also have to be detail oriented because there is plenty of paperwork to complete on a regular basis. The demands of the job can be tough because you really never know how long a particular job is going to take. A routine inspection may turn into an all day event if things aren't working as they should. Paying attention to the little things is very important because lives could be lost if the inspector doesn't take the job seriously. The role of a train control and signal inspector is very important. It allows numerous lives to be saved by ensuring the right equipment is in place and working correctly. They also offer training and education programs to make sure people are aware of the dangers of not obeying these signals. While this type of job is very challenging it also offers plenty of rewards to those who want to make trains save for everyone. The rate of pay for a train control and signal inspector varies by location. It is generally a very high paying job though because of the amount of risk involved in being where the trains pass and being exposed to chemicals and other items during derailments or train wrecks. Most railway companies require an inspector to have a four year degree in some area of science as well as experience in the field of railroad technology. Types of Jobs Relating to the Railroad Industry There are many different jobs that fall under the umbrella of the railroad industry. While we are all familiar with the engineer and crew to move the train, there are plenty of other people that help make sure it all falls into place. It is possible to secure a job in any of these areas as long as you have the right qualifications. There is plenty of paperwork to be completed in the railroad industry. Everything from securing contracts to haul materials to payroll have to be completed. Office jobs like these are generally found at the central office for the railroad. There are also those who operate machinery to load and unload the materials to be transported by train. They often work long and hard hours to ensure everything is securely in place and that the trains are able to leave on time. The tracks for the trains have to be kept in perfect condition to help prevent accidents from occurring. There are many different levels of work that a person can be trained to do. Many employees that work on the tracks have a specific area of specialty. It may be laying railroad ties, welding, supervising a gang of workers, cleaning the tracks, and hauling the necessary materials. Unfortunately, accidents do continue to take place involving trains, and so there are inspectors that work for the railroads to identify the reasons why such accidents occur. This information allows them to make changes to their operations and to provide additional training. Each accident involving a train should be viewed as a learning experience. It is also an opportunity to be able to prevent other train accidents from happening due to the same types of circumstances. In order for anyone in the railroad industry to be able to effectively do their jobs, they have to be trained. There are plenty of great jobs in this field if you have the skills to effectively teach other people. This can be classroom training, on the job training, or a combination of both. The better trained each employee is that works in the train industry, the more efficient operations will flow and the fewer accidents will result. Depending on the size of a railroad company and the areas in which they travel, there will be different jobs available. Since engineers and other crew are only allowed a set amount of hours of operation, it may be necessary for a driver to deliver a new crew to a location and pick up the other crew. These drivers need to be reliable and willing to work any hours or drive in any type of weather conditions. The pay for the different jobs in the train industry vary by skills and education. Entry level positions generally start at minimum wage or higher. As you are able to show your work abilities you should be eligible for periodic raises. Many railroad companies offer their employees the chance for advancement and even offer to pay for the training they need in order to have the right qualifications. The specifics of how to apply for any railroad jobs and the job description can be found by contacting the railway company or visiting their websites. You will find the internet offers you plenty of great information as well as links to training programs you can enroll in. Operating a train or working in another area of this industry can offer you a good paying career.
Qualifications to Operate a Train Being in charge of operating a train is a huge responsibility, and one that requires plenty of training before it is possible. The specific requirements depend on the type of train that is being operated. It may be a cargo train, passenger train, or one that carries hazardous materials. There are commuter trains as well in various cities to help reduce the amount of traffic on the roads. There are some specific requirements though that apply to all types of trains. To help prevent the risk of problems while navigating a train, those on board must pass written testing, continue to engage in training offered by their employer, and pass a complete health exam annually. Those in charge of operating a train must have very good eyesight and hearing in order to fill the requirements of the job. It is now required for all personnel operating a train to pass a background check and to show that they are a citizen of the United States in an effort to reduce the chances of terrorism involving trains. Many employers are also requesting a complete mental evaluation as well. A full understanding of English both in the written and verbal forms are required. There are many different types of crew members on a train with the engineer being the one in charge. It takes more training, education, and credentials to hold such a position. Various tests many be given to determine if someone is a good fit for a job operating a train. These tests are designed to evaluate their ability to make quick decisions, their navigational skills, their ability to follow instructions, leadership, and communication skills. All of these are very important for being successful at operating a train properly. Any individual that wants to become an engineer has to be at least 21 years of age. There are plenty of areas of the job that need to be taken seriously when operating a train as a crew member or as an engineer. The train needs to be carefully inspected prior to taking a trip. The crew has to know how to manipulate the train in response to the load and weather conditions. A great deal of the training for operating a train has to do with technology. Most of the controls are in place with the best possible technology behind them. Having a solid understanding of how a train operates and how to use computers is very helpful for anyone wishing to pursue such a career choice. You will find excellent programs and most colleges to build a solid foundation in the area of engineering. Once you have earned a degree from an accredited school, you can contact the various railroad companies to find out about the available jobs. They will likely have you take part in their own training programs to teach you the specifics of how they operate their equipment. They will also want to ensure you know proper safety procedures to follow. The average annual earnings for a train engineer is $61,850. This is very good pay for a job that requires plenty of attention to details. The forecast for jobs in the area of operating trains is one that is going to be lower in ten years than the demand for it now. While there will likely be more trains in use, it is believed technology will allow them to operate faster and more efficient so fewer humans will be needed in order to operate them. Steam Locomotives The first steam locomotive was introduced in 1804. Everyone was very excited about what it could offer in regards to moving materials and even people. By today's standards though the first steam locomotive was nothing impressive. The top speed was five miles per hour and it could haul up to 15 tons of material. Yet you have to remember that this was before automobiles so the steam locomotive offered fast speeds and more power than anything else during that period of time. As time went buy steam locomotives were able to become more powerful and move faster. This was due to new designs for both the steam engines and the tracks. From observing what wasn't working inventors and scientists were able to implement new strategies that were quite effective. One thing you will immediately notice about the steam locomotives is their unique wheel design. This was done to resolve the problem of keeping a steel train in steel rails without slipping. Each steam locomotive actually features two sets of drive wheels. Even with the usefulness of steam locomotives, it took plenty of time to build them as well as to lay the tracks. The first railroad wasn't ready for operation with the steam locomotives until 1825. Steam locomotives were the main type used for the railways from the early 1800's until the 1950's. It was at that time the majority of them were replaced by engines running off of diesel fuel. Steam locomotives are large, powerful pieces of machinery that were made from steel and heavy iron. The majority of them can only be found in various train museums today. There are still a few early steam locomotives in use for various types of recreational trains out there. If you visit steam locomotives featured in the various museums you will quickly notice all of the differences they offer. Each one was custom made for the railway company it was going to be delivered to. This is way the controls can be found in various locations, the sizes of the smokestacks are different, and even the type of steam whistle to let people know about approaching trains are different. The concepts behind steam locomotives were very advanced for the 1800's, but as technology advanced they were replaced by faster trains that could run on diesel fuel. Still, they are a vital part of the foundation that was built long ago for the railway industry. It is rumored that one day in the future steam locomotives will be making a come back. The cost of diesel fuel continues to rise and it does create a large amount of pollution for the environment. Of course these new steam locomotives would have all of the latest features. Don't expect to see a couple of people shoveling fuel into the compressor in order to generate enough steam to power it. All of the movement would be able to be done by the use of advanced parts that would allow this process to be automated. There is plenty of history to be found in the steam locomotives of the past. They provide us with useful information about the early development of the industrial revolution. The fact that early inventors were successful in building these steam engines with limited technology or information is amazing. It just goes to show you that great ideas can happen at any time. Santa Fe Railroad One of the most popular railways in history was known as Santa Fe even though its official name was Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. From 1859 until 1996 this railway provided numerous services for hauling materials and maintaining miles of railroad tracks. It became one of the largest and most profitable railway companies during its prime. The Santa Fe Railroad took a very entrepreneurial approach to their services. They purchased large areas of land from the government and then built their railroad tracks through them. They took the remaining land and sold it to businesses and individuals looking for a place to build a home or to operate a farm. They knew that by bringing people to these areas they would soon need supplies to be brought to them via the railway. In addition they implemented the concepts of adding buses and ferries to their passenger railway services. Since they couldn't always reach the passengers by train they had locations set up where people could use the ferry or the bus to reach the train as part of the price of the train ride. This idea was an immediate hit and increased the number of people that began using the Santa Fe railroad for their transportation needs. In 1872 the Santa Fe railroad took advantage of the cattle industries in both Colorado and Kansas. They were able to ship live cows on their trains as well as to transport meat from the processing and ship it to other areas. Some businesses felt this concept was a double dip for the railway while others felt it was genius idea that offered them plenty of profit without having to built more train tracks to reach it. Yet the real money for the Santa Fe Railroad came with the discovery of gold in the mountains of Colorado around what is today Leadville and Cripple Creek. The railroad was able to bring supplies to the area for those looking to strike it rich. They also hauled the gold for the various companies mining it and charged a hefty price for doing so. With the earnings that the Santa Fe railroad was making from the gold rush, they decided to expand their railway tracks into new territory. They faced many challenges getting them built along Raton Pass into New Mexico. There were simply too many hills and mountains to make this an easy job. Between 1965 and 1945 Santa Fe had become the most profitable railway in the country. They started out with only 62 miles of track and had grown to more than 13,000 miles. As the years went by Santa Fe continued to be a very profitable company, yet they had many competitors to contend with as well. This bit into their profits and they decided in 1983 to merge with Southern Pacific. The merger was never completed though as it was denied by the Interstate Commerce Commission. They felt that this merger would result in too many duplicate routes being in place by the railways. Many people were surprised when Santa Fe merged with one of its biggest competitors in 1996. Burlington Northern has always been well known for acquiring other railway companies. With this acquisition though their name took a change as well and became known as Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). Yet both of these individual companies found that they were offering the same services, had similar goals, and wanted to offer the best possible training for their employees. They found they both had some strengths and some weaknesses but by joining forces they could emerge as the very best railway company in the world. Today BNSF is the most profitable railway in the business as they are able to offer competitive rates and they have thousands of miles of train tracks to incorporate various routes. They work hard to educate the public about safety issues and concerns. They also offer competitive wages and require all of their employees to engage in regular training. Mystery Trains Trains have a very exciting feeling that comes with them. If you enjoy solving mysteries then you may find a mystery train is a fun way to spend your time. You can make reservations with a group of your friends or you can go alone and meet new people who share your same interests. Mystery trains generally operate at night so that you can spend your time in an atmosphere that fits well with the scenario being played out. Many of us remember the popular board game of Clue where you had to guess who committed the murder, what room it was conducted in, and with what weapon. Many of the mystery trains are set up with a similar type of layout taking place. Some mystery train games only last for the evening while others may last for two or three days. It all depends on how much time you want to invest in this fun activity. Some of these mystery trains take place is places you would love to visit including the Rocky Mountains, Alaska, and even New York. If you aren't interested in helping to solve the crime but you would like to see it take place, you can find mystery trains that offer a fantastic dinner. The murder mystery is performed while you enjoy your food by actors up on the stage. Sometimes they ask for audience participation to help keep everyone interested but it depends on the particular production you are taking part in. In order to get the best prices on mystery trains, look for those that run all year long. This means that many of the local people will have already had a chance to take part in it. It also means not everyone will be fighting for the same tickets on set days. You will generally find mystery trains are less expensive during the week than on weekends. Those that offer a fine dining experience are going to cost more too because of the atmosphere and the food offered. Since there are so many different types of mystery trains out there it is important that you get all of the information in advance. Find out what will be taking place and what your role in it will be. Ask how long the actual mystery takes to unfold so you can plan in advance for it. If the mystery train is several days long find out about the meals and the sleeping quarters. The more information you have the more likely it is that you will thoroughly enjoy your mystery train experience. Taking a train adventure to enjoy a great mystery that you take part in solving can be a wonderful vacation. The internet is a great place to find the various mystery trains that are offered as well as there locations. These types of events get wonderful reviews and the mystery trains fill up fast. You will want to plan your trip and secure reservations early in order to ensure you can attend the one you want. A mystery train can be a great way for a group of adults to spend a couple of days together. It also makes a wonderful birthday or Christmas gift for a friend or family member who is always watching those movies on TV where they solve the crimes. This is one gift that they would always remember. How Fast do Trains Move? When you are running late for work and waiting for the train to finish going by so you can cross, it doesn't seem like they are going very fast. They do travel at fairly decent speeds though when you consider the amount of weight the equipment is hauling. The source they depend on for energy as well as what they are carrying determines their speed. The first trains in the 1800's were only able to operate at a speed of approximately five miles per day. Freight trains and passenger trains such as AmTrak generally operate at a speed between 55 and 65 miles per hour. While they can go faster they don't for safety reasons. The faster a train is traveling the longer it takes it to stop if there is something on the tracks in front of it. Many commuter trains travel at a rate of 65-75 miles per hour. It depends on the amount of distance between each stop. The more stops that they have the slower they operate in order to be able to protect the equipment from unnecessary wear and tear. The focus is always on how fast can the train effectively go yet still offer the highest level of safety at the same time. As new technology offers more safety benefits for everyone, the increased speeds of trains continues to be authorized. High speed rail trains were first introduced in Japan but they seem to be cropping up in various locations. These are often passenger commuter trains that can go up to 90 miles per hour without any difficulty. This concept is just now being applied to hauling some types of freight in Japan. The United States has considered it for hauling the postal freight but it has not been implemented yet. The fastest trains out there are the MagLev, which is short for magnetic levitation. These place magnets to keep the train moving along the tracks. They can go at top speeds of over 300 miles per hour. The MagLev is still in the developmental stages in both Japan and Germany. It is anticipated that the technology behind it could one day find its way to railways that commute both people and materials. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this concept in the future. The fact that trains don't offer the same top speeds as vehicles and airplanes has lead to them losing some of their contracts with businesses over the years. Yet the train industry has proven to be reliable and effective. It also removes the need for more trucks on the highways and more planes in the sky. Even though trains don't offer the fastest mode of transportation, they are still very useful for personal use and to move valuable freight for various types of industries. The internet is a great place to find out how fast a particular type of train moves. Since there are so many variables it is hard to give exact answers here. You can visit websites for particular types of trains or railways. There you will find all of the information that is relevant to the speed of any type of train. Keep in mind that freight trains have the most variables because it depends on how many cars the train has and the overall weight of the materials onboard. Grand Central Terminal In New York City you will find Grand Central Terminal which is a famous landmark in reference to train stations. The terminal that is in place today was built in 1913 and it was built specifically for electric powered trains. Many people visit Grand Central Terminal today not to ride a train, but to take a look at the various architectural designs it has to offer. The most popular features include the marble staircase that never seems to lose its beauty. There are also numerous windows in the terminal that are 75 feet tall. You may end up bumping into many people while you are at the terminal because many of them walk around with their heads facing the ceiling due to the amazing paintings on it. There are plenty of starts up there where you will quickly forget where you really are at. One of the reasons why this is such a busy train station to day is because there are so many large corporate offices and businesses in the area. It is very easy for businessmen to take a train to the Grand Central Terminal and then walk the remaining distance so their place of employment or for a meeting taking place in one of the area business locations. If you find yourself at the Grand Central Terminal for any length of time you can enjoy one of the coffee shops or restaurants. There are also a couple of bars where you can enjoy a drink. There is an excellent selection of casual dining as well as fine dining in the Grand Central Terminal. Don't forget to check out the market offered at the terminal as well. Here you will find an amazing selection of fresh fruits and vegetables for sale. There are also fresh coffee beans, baked goods, prime cuts of meat, quality cheeses, and chocolate delights that are made right in front of your eyes. This is a very colorful and fun place to explore when you visit the Grand Central Terminal. Many people want to the terminal in order to shop as there are over 50 shops featured there. In these shops you will find clothing, shoes, electronics, toys, a small museum, luggage, books, beauty supplies, and even locations to get your hair and nails done. You can literally spend days at Grand Central Terminal doing nothing but shopping and pampering yourself. For some fun while you are visiting the terminal, make sure you visit the Whispering Gallery. Due to the architectural design of the terminal there is a place where you can whisper and it will echo loud like you are shouting. This is due to the various dynamic acoustics in that area of the terminal. The curved layout of the ceiling offers just the right elements necessary to allow this to happen. There are plenty of different events that take place at Grand Central Terminal throughout the year. They offer a splendid holiday decor that you will fall in love with. In addition to the many shops in the terminal, vendors are allowed to set up their booths to sell wonderful handmade crafts and Christmas ornaments. They also offer plenty of free entertainment and host art shows during the year to help support the arts. You can easily access a calendar of events for the Grand Central Terminal online. Today Grand Central Terminal is considered to be a historical landmark. There has been plenty of money invested in it to preserve the beauty of this remarkable train station. If you haven't seen it you need to put it on your list of places to visit while in New York City. If you have ever heard the term Grand Central Station, this is in reference to the subway system found beneath the Grand Central Terminal. This is an icon of the hustle and bustle of New York City. Every effort has been made to preserve it and to honor the vitality of the train industry. Dinner Trains Going out to dinner with your partner or spouse is a great way to spend some time together. If you have jobs and children then you realize just how important it is for you to be able to spend some quality time alone enjoying each others company. To help make these dinners more romantic and memorable, consider a dinner train ride. They are offered from many locations all over the world. If you don't have one close by that you can take advantage of any time you want, plan a special trip to a destination that does offer dinner trains. If you have to go out of town for work or you will be spending time traveling for leisure, look up dinner trains online and see what is available in that area. Most dinner trains offer an early meal as well as a late meal so you can schedule which every suits you the best. The food options are generally limited to a few main entrees, vegetarian meals, salads, and desserts. While you won't find a full menu selection on most dinner trains you can expect to find some of the very best food around. You can call in advance to find out what they menu options are if you have any concerns. Most dinner trains travel along very beautiful and romantic scenery. This should be something that determines which dinner train you want to take. If you enjoy a new adventure now and then take a dinner train along a route you have never been on before. You are sure to find plenty of amazing sites throughout your evening. Some dinner trains are offered all year long depending on the routes they follow. Those that go through extremely cold areas with inclement weather often don't operate in the winter months. They may offer a scenic train route during the day but not the dinner train option. You will need to call for this information or look online for it. It is important to make your reservations for a dinner train in advance, especially if you don't have one locally. This way you won't be disappointed to discover there is no room left on the train for you. Some of them offer wonderful entertainment such as a play or music. Others allow you to simply enjoy the evening so make sure you find out what options you have. This way you can plan the dinner train ride that is going to be the most rewarding for you. You may find a dinner train that offers a romantic terrace for you to view the scenery on or that offers dancing after dinner is just what you are looking for. At the time when you make your dinner train reservations it is a good idea to find out about the attire for the evening. Many of them are casual dress but some of the fancier dinner train rides require you dress nicer for the evening. Finding out this information in advance will prevent you from feeling uncomfortable or out of place when you arrive. The cost of a dinner train often depends on many factors. The more extravagant that they entertainment and the food is the more expensive it will be. Others are more moderately priced and they still offer you quality food and entertainment so you can have an amazing dining experience. If the dinner train is offered nightly then you will likely find the prices to be lower during the week. Most people will try to schedule the weekends and it is likely that the prices will reflect this demand. Look for special offers and discounts for dinner trains as well. They can be found in newspapers, magazines, and even online. You will find dining on a dinner train to be a nice change from your usual evening out at a local restaurant. You may find this is an experience you want to have on a regular basis with someone you enjoy spending time with. There are plenty of great dinner train options so make sure you take your time to find the one that fits your dining needs as well as your budget. Collectible Trains Children of all ages seem to enjoy playing with trains, but may adults do as well. They may not be playing with them though as much as they are collecting them. There are true train collectors and then there are those who want to simply make a fun hobby out of it. Many of them in either category or current railway workers or they have since retired from the profession. There are many great layouts you can create as a hobby for your train. With a flat piece of board that is as large as you would like, you can transform it into your own train area. There are train kits that contain smaller scale boxcars, engines, cabooses, train stations, tunnels, and tracks. You can also buy individual pieces in order to personalize your train collection. Many of the tracks even come with controllers so you can switch the tracks and have more than one train on it. Some of the older Santa Fe train pieces are worth a large amount of money today. This is because it was one of the largest railway companies for decades. In recent years it has merged with Burlington Northern to become Burlington Northern Santa Fe. The pieces of equipment for collecting that say Santa Fe on the sides of them are collectibles that continue to increase in value. Many of the older collectible trains from the late 1800's and early 1900's are extremely valuable. The majority of them are in various train museums all over the world. These early collectibles are quite heavy because they were made from iron. After those came trains made from wood. The majority of the collectible trains offered today are made from various types of durable plastic. There are two types of gauging used for the tracks with collectible trains. If you are planning to buy separate pieces you really need to make sure you get the right gauge of equipment or it won't work on the tracks. Your two choices are O or S scaled items. O scale items measure the distance between the outer two rails of the track. The S scale items measure the distance from the two outer rails so it is slightly larger. Lionel Model Trains continues to be the biggest manufacturer of collectible trains today. Their hottest seller right now is the Harry Potter train that takes him and the other students to their school at the beginning of each movie. The Hogwarts Express is anticipated to sell more than the record holding Polar Express from 2004. Whether you collect trains just to have or you use them to indulge in one of your favorite hobbies, they are delightful to have. The cost of collectible trains depends on where you purchase them and the condition they are in. You can get new pieces from many retailers but the older items you will have to purchase online, at yard sales, and even from antique stores. You may want to check with your father or grandfather though as there is a good chance they may have a box or two of them stored in the attic or the garage. If you have old collectible trains in your home, you may want to find out what they are worth. You may be sitting on a goldmine that is just packed up in a box somewhere. There are some collectors out there looking for rare train collectibles as well as museums who are always looking for more materials to add to their displays. Children and Trains Children have always fallen in love with trains, both boys and girls. They seem to have a type of magic about them. Children often get excited when they see and hear a train passing by. It can be fun to have one going over you on a bridge or passing one on the highway as you count the number of train cars on it. There are many stories and programs that lend trains to the creative minds of children. Most of us can remember reading The Little Engine that Could. This is a timeless story about a train that kept pushing itself to reach the top of the mountain in spite of all the odds being against it. This is a great story to encourage children from a young age to never give up because they can do anything they put their minds to. Thomas the Train has become a very popular icon for children these days. This fun blue train can be found in books and on TV. Thomas the Train is an interactive program that encourages children to learn valuable skills including counting and reading. There are also informative learning opportunities including oral hygiene and getting along with others. What may surprise you about Thomas the Train is that he has actually been around since 1946 in Brittan. Yet it wasn't until the movies and TV shows featuring Thomas the Train in the early 1980's that it became so well known all around the world. The memorabilia associated with Thomas the Train has resulted in millions of dollars in revenue. They include video games, toy trains, piggy banks, back packs, and lunch boxes. You will find the market is full of interactive trains for children of various ages to enjoy. Some of them sing songs or play music. Others allow them to push them along or they go by themselves with the touch of a button. Your child will find hours of entertainment with trains from a very early age. For older children, you may want to invest in a model train set. They can spend hours setting up the track and the train in order to get it to go around and around. There are so many great accessories that they can add to the mix that they can personalize it to fit their style in no time. Chances are that your child may have a particular style of train in mind that they want. They may have a sentimental reason for wanting it based on books they have watched, movies they have seen, or even their experiences with real trains. This can be a great opportunity to help your child forge lifelong memories that include their love of trains. It is not uncommon for fathers or grandfathers to pass their trains on to their children or grandchildren. This can be a remarkable family heirloom that your child will always treasure. As time goes by many of these early models of trains will continue to increase in value. Who knows, this love of trains may result in a very rewarding career for your child when they become an adult. The prices of trains vary depending on the quality and the manufacturer of them. Take a look at any toy store or online to discover what options you have to bring a smile to your child's face by giving them a train. Burlington Northern Santa Fe One of the most profitable railways in the world is Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). They have been hauling goods for more than 150 years and have one of the best safety records in the train industry. They also offer some of the best prices on freight out there, making it very easy for them to obtain new contracts and to maintain those they already have in place. The origin of BNSF is a long journey that involves acquiring many small railway companies over the years. One that took place more than 20 years ago was with Santa Fe, thus the changing of the company name. As a result of these buy outs, BNSF has been able to continually expand the number of miles of quality railroad tracks they have available. They have gone the extra mile on their own to place railway tracks where it is difficult but necessary even though it is expensive and there are plenty of challenges to completing such projects. BNSF combines the very best equipment and technology with highly skilled employees. All of their train cars and engines are in top working condition to help reduce down time and accidents. They also have skilled employees to investigate railway crossings and the tracks themselves. There is always plenty of ongoing training taking place for BNSF employees so they can keep up on the latest technology, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and continue to be motivated to strive for excellence in all that they do. BNSF has a very rigorous employment screening process. They check references and criminal backgrounds. They also contact previous employers to determine a person's level of responsibility and reliability. As a condition of employment, each person must consent to a drug test and a physical exam. Should the drug test come back positive the person will not be hired. They also have a random drug testing policy that all employees must agree to during the term of their employment. If an employee files a workman's compensation claim they are mandated to submit to a drug test as well. The physical examination is required to ensure the individual is healthy enough to take on the responsibilities of working for a railway company. This includes a hearing and vision test as well. There is simply too much at risk if a person isn't healthy enough to be engaging in the various types of employment offered by BNSF. If you are interested in finding out what positions they have available and the locations, go to their website. You will find plenty of quality information about the business as well as an application you can complete online. This is one of the best railway companies to work for because they are dedicated to excellence with their employees, their shipments, and the public. They take pride in offering a diverse group of employees as well. They appreciate the fact that each person can bring unique qualities to the workplace. They encourage suggestions from their employees to make the railway business safer, faster, and more profitable. Today more than 38,000 people are employed by BNSF. Most of them find the experience to be very pleasant. They enjoy being part of the BNSF team. BNSF continues to strive for excellence. They are dedicated to offering quality train services to those businesses that need goods to be moved. They are also dedicated to providing a safe way to do it. They work hard to prevent accidents among their employees, on their train tracks, and with people who happen to be crossing at various train intersections. There is always plenty going on at BNSF to help make their trains operate faster to get the deliveries done in less time. They have won numerous awards for their excellent service, implementing the latest technology, and always putting safety above making a profit. They also give plenty of money back to communities in the way of charitable events that support various causes. The History of Trains Today you see trains carrying cargo and people all over the world. They are also used as efficient ways for people to commute to and from work instead of using the roadways. Looking at the efficiency of trains today, it is sometimes hard to imagine how different they were back in the 1800's. While many different inventors attempted to create a train in the last 1700's they weren't successful. In 1825 the first locomotive was successful in its attempt to safely transport people from two points in England. The popularity of this mode of transportation quickly made its way to the United States in 1830. It wasn't long before the industrial revolution was born since trains could be used to transport materials faster and easier than ever before. By 1833 there were 380 miles of railroad tracks in the United States. Today there are more than 300,000 miles of track around the United States. The United States government made good use of the trains during the Civil War to move troops to new locations and to get them supplies. This was the main reason behind adding more miles of railroad tracks from 1861 to 1865. By the end of the war there were more than 30,000 miles of track available. By this time railroads were considered to be the main means of transportation. Plans were in place to continue building faster locomotives and to clear areas for more tracks to be put into place. These early trains were powered by coal and steam. This process of expansion in the railway industry continued into 1916 with more than 250,000 miles of track laid out in the United States. One of the most historical locations along these miles of railroad tracks is in Utah, and identified by a spike made from pure gold. This was to celebrate the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. This particular location was the connecting point between the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads. This remains a historical site today with thousands of people visiting the very location of that golden spike. Even with all the miles of railroad tracks by 1916, many of them are in poor condition. It is not uncommon for many trails to derail due to these conditions. Private owners of the railroads have invested so much money in expansion they can't afford the repairs. The repairs that do get done are the result of the United States government needing to repair them in order to move men and supplies during World War I. Even so, the growth of the railroad is significantly slowed forever around 1940. The Great Depression has made it difficult for the railroads to survive. There is also competition now with automobiles being manufactured. Yet the railroad industry sees renewed life in the late 1950's when the retired steam powered locomotives and replace them with diesel engines. In 1970 the United States government steps in again to take control of Amtrak. They still oversee it today but most of the miles of track that they operate on belong to other railway companies. With modern technology, trains are able to operate more efficient today than ever. They are used to transport large amounts of merchandise, food supplies, equipment, hazardous materials, and even people. Trains offer a great way to get items delivered efficiently without having to place more of a burden on the trucking industry. Many travelers enjoy the convenience of taking a train instead of driving themselves or riding in an airplane. There have been plenty of advances in the area of trains and the railway industry in the last 100 years. It will be interesting to know how things change over the next 100 years. Luckily there are wonderful train museums that take the time to preserve all of the history of trains from the beginning. This way future generations will be able to look back on it as well. The Future of Trains Trains have certainly made advances since they were first introduced in the 1800's. Many people wonder about the future of trains. There are many different ideas about them. Some researchers believe we will be going back to steam locomotives in the near future as they are better for the environment and we won't be wasting our natural resources. With the technology available today, these new steam locomotives will be much more advanced than those of the past. Others believe trains will soon be something we no longer use for transporting goods or people. Of course this was the thought about trains back in the 1990's when it was believed that by 2000 we would have cars that flew around and space shuttle trips for common folks to the moon and back. The people with this mentality in relationship to trains simply don't realize that they are responsible for transporting thousands of tons of material and millions of people annually. You can be assured that trains will still be with us in the future but as technology continues to grow there will be plenty of changes. There is plenty of focus on making trains safer for hauling dangerous chemicals and nuclear waste. This is to protect people in the event of a train wreck or a terrorist attack. Most of the focus has shifted to providing protective boxcars that won't allow access without codes and that are durable even if the train ends up being in a wreck. All of the railways continue to strive for safer trains on the tracks out there. Even with all we know today there are still numerous accidents involving trains derailing or hitting cars that shouldn't have been crossing at that point. Safety features that ensure all signals are working properly at railway crossings will continue to improve. You will also find technology allows the trains to move faster and haul more materials so that fewer trains have to be in operation in order to meet the issues of supply and demand. As a result of this, the job outlook for train engineers and other crew members will decrease. This is one area of industry that has a ten year forecast with less people being added to the workforce. Computer technology will allow more of the actual train operations to be done by the equipment. The materials used to create the tracks continues to improve so there are fewer repairs that have to be done on a regular basis. One idea that is being used in various areas is the use of magnets to actually hold the train in place above the train tracks. There are test tracks in Germany and Japan that have been able to travel at speeds over 300 miles per hour. There is still plenty of research that needs to be done in this area but should magnetic levitation prove to be safe and efficient it could significantly impact the railway industry. Yet many in the train industry believe the focus should be on being able to haul heavier amounts of material at one time instead of focusing on increased speeds. You also have the concerns that engineers can manipulate the train out of the way of cars, animals on the tracks, or dangerous areas where the train isn't in good condition. The chances of trains being in a wreck at 330 miles per hour without serious injuries or death just isn't practice. There is also the concern about how much damage would be done to the materials on board. It will be very interesting to look at trains 10, 20, or 50 years from now and compare them to what we know now. Trains have a rich history that is a very important part of the global economy. This isn't something that is going to change any time soon. If anything you will find the train industry becoming more successful as they continue to implement positive changes.
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