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The Ride to Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Robert Filter

During the lunch layover, I returned to Silver Lariat and was met by Robert Filter, another Operation Lifesaver volunteer who invited me to the back of the car where he had a laptop computer set up with a locomotive simulator.  Mr. Filter said this was the "first time he had brought the train simulation aboard" the Operation Lifesaver train.  "I'm hoping to use it to demonstrate that trains can't stop quickly.  The usual result is that the new engineers have the brakes on and the train just keeps going, demonstrating the distances involved in stopping a train."  I ran a simulated coal train with 3 locomotives and was supposed to drop Bob off the train at the radio towers.  I have little experience stopping trains, so I passed the drop off point and he had to walk back to the towers.  The cab control simulator controls are from  It was a genuine feeling of being a train engineer with the scaled down controls and a train simulation program in the laptop computer.  HamWatch, sponsored by the City of La Mirada provides communications for community events such as parades and also back-up emergency communication in case of emergencies.  Mr. Filter further stated that HamWatch has also received an award from the County of Los Angeles for its involvement in the Operation Lifesaver program.  HamWatch has also been mentioned in the California State Department of Transportation (CalTrans) "Making Tracks" newsletter.


Before we departed, an eastbound autorack container freight train met the O.L. train. 
I rejoined the UP crew in 6003 and they contacted UP dispatch for permission to return to Los Angeles.  The crew discussed and agreed on a plan that would get the train to Metrolink Taylor yard, cut off the train and allow UP 6003 to run light back to “the shops” previously known as the Southern Pacific transportation center.  One crew member said the plan would fall apart while another said to think positively.  We were waiting for a few minutes until dispatch called and gave permission to leave.  Dispatch had made us wait because he was upset with us.  The crew told him that we were controlled by Operation Lifesaver forces and could only leave when they were done with their work.  Usually dispatch has more complete control over train movements.  Eventually he let us go and we had to do the reverse movement to trip a fresh green signal, then we were on our way to Los Angeles.


Even though the "official" Operation Lifesaver Officer-on-a-Train was over, violators still crossed the tracks as the above left picture shows two bicyclists.  The one on the extreme left waited while the other biker crossed in front of the O.L. train and a track worker.  The above right picture shows a very strange curve in the track.  Usually railroad curves are almost imperceptible, however this one appears very sharp.  Maybe the optics of the camera lens exaggerate the curve.


Working near the railroad can be a scary experience.  This surveyor had to endure a number of passing trains as he worked. A passing train will shake a survey instrument.   The picture on the right demonstrates parking well away from the track as trains hang 3 feet over the rail.on each side.


This Union Pacific line is nicely maintained.  Looking back, where's our train?


The railroad climbs a slight grade with freeway overpass above.  Another train meets the O.L. train.


The mainlines have unusual crossovers here.  The lines diverge and our track crosses a river.

"Officer-on-a-Train" continued

Set 1   Set 2   Set 3   Set 4   Set 5  

Set 6   Set 7   Set 8   Set 9   Set 10  

Set 11

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