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The “Dumbing Down” of Smartstart

CN Back to Leaving Locomotives Idling for Hours

Ah, the good old days, when CN’s locomotives shut themselves off when not in use, in ambient temperatures above 5 degrees Celsius. That relief was mostly in part to something referred to as Automatic Engine Start-Stop (AESS) control technology, and in particular, a brilliant system manufactured by ZTR Controls called “Smartstart.”

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A Call For Change: CP Derailment Claims Three Lives


It’s amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in Canada, and some of the most challenging terrain for railways anywhere in North America.

Not far from Craigellachie where the last spike was driven in 1885, completing the CPR railway, tying the country together is the town of Field, BC, and CP Rail’s nearby Partridge Station. 

Three kilometres west of the railway station are a pair of looped railway tunnels, built 110 years ago to help the trains through the treacherously steep Kicking Horse Pass. The area has one of the highest (2.2%) rail slopes on the continent.

The tunnels are a marvel of construction and engineering, even by today’s standards. It is one of the most impressive, beautiful, but challenging lengths of railway infrastructure that I have ever seen firsthand. Read more…

How One Community’s Homeless Problem Has Increased Whistling Complaints

It has always been interesting in that the concerns raised by our readers seem to run in a sort of pattern.

Lately, it’s been complaints about the use of train whistles, especially late at night, disrupting sleep in numerous communities, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

We get asked about whistling frequently, so here are the rules. Note that there is no distinction made for time of day as taken from the CROR, the Canadian Railway Operating Rules, under the “Signals – General” section from which we’ve edited for the purpose of this post: Read more…

How Long Does it Take for a Train to Stop?

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It’s Time to Stop Building Too Close to the Tracks


Cities just aren’t getting it.

The buzzword of the day in civic circles is undoubtedly “densification.”

On that premise, in numerous cities across the country, rapid development has been taking place, packing people into tighter confines, and in areas previously considered unfit or undesirable for housing.

Many people see the onslaught as little more than the destruction of entire neighbourhoods previously filled with homes of character, gardens, yards, and historical landmarks. Yes, I am one of those people.

I’m not a fan, for various reasons, of this approach to community development, especially when it comes to cities and developers making poor choices in converting industrial land over to housing. Read more…

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