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Monday Train Blogging: Demarcations

by DoDo Wed Dec 28th, 2005 at 11:56:05 AM EST

back from the frontpage

Railroads aren't just trains and rails. For a start, railway property is often demarcated with various fences, gates and barriers. It's Christmas time, so let's start with something in snow and Santa Claus colors:

A classic level crossing in France (photo by Swiss photographer Walter Studer)

That gate allowed trespassing to cautious pedestrians besides road level crossings, even if barriers were closed. This piece of simple but stylish design used to be ubiquitous in France1. One would feel compelled to see those bent bars as a limitation on utilitarianism forced by the stereotypical French longing for style. But, consider the recognition value of such a unique design! You knew where you are even if drunk.

Check out two more examples below the fold.

  1. I hope our French readers are either too young to having had gotten too used to it, or old enough to be nostalgic about it :-)



Hungary

Unlike in Western Europe (especially in Germany, as Ritter wrote), property with houses on it are all fenced in in Central-Eastern Europe – to keep out thieves (at least in theory) and lawn-stompers. Railway stations have lots of fences, too. The Hungarian Railways (MÁV) used to have a standard pre-cast concrete fence – see on the right of the picture below:

MÁV [series] Bzmot [no.] 293 railcar at Zalalövő station (along the rebuilt line to Slovenia), with standard MÁV fence (photo from RailFanEurope.net by Helmut Uttenthaler)

Ironically, a problem for industrial properties is theft of – fences. But, again due to a simple but unique look, MÁV has no such problem – I mean, didn't have it before abandoning this standard. Also, on a personal note: as a small child looking out of the family car window, that up-and-down sinus wave instantly signalled the sights I'd be waiting for on a journey...


Japan

In France, there was the pedestrian gate, at many other places, pedestrians were forced through a mini-labyrinth of handrails, meant to both slow them down and force them to look in both directions. But here is a much simpler version from Japan (I don't know anything about it, just the picture):

A level crossing between Ebisu and Meguro (from Ambiances Nipponnes, a site on Japan with French photographers' eyes)


Previous Monday Train Bloggings:

  1. (Premiere/ modern Austrian trains & locos)
  2. Adventure
  3. Fast Steam
  4. Heavy Haul
  5. Forgotten Colorado
  6. The Hardest Job
  7. Blowback
  8. Highest Speed
  9. New England Autumn
  10. Trainwreck
  11. Bigger Than Big Boy
  12. Tunnels
  13. Failed Designs

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I originally planned to photograph a MÁV fence myself with a camera borrowed from someone I visit for Christmas today. However, I didn't foresee how rare and how decrepit these fences have became - and for some reason there were clouds above me wherever I went... To cut a long story short, I only made crappy pictures today - so I post three just as comments:

Image hosted by PicsPlace.to
Old barrier guard's house at one end of Magyarkút-Verőce station (on a branchline North of Budapest)

Image hosted by PicsPlace.to
EC 279 "Jaroslav Hašek", headed by Slovakian multi-phase locomotive [series] 350 [no.] 017, dashes through Nagymaros station (in the big bend of the Danube North of Budapest)

Image hosted by PicsPlace.to
Back end of [series] BDVmot [no.] 011 electric multiple unit, which just reached Nagymaros station as a stopping train


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 01:16:52 PM EST
allowed trespassing to cautious pedestrians besides road level crossings, even if barriers were closed

We're also the ones who came up with the Maginot line!!

About such suggested barriers, the best notion of one I ever read about is in Ursula Le Guin's "The Dispossessed".

I found an excerpt available on line:

There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. An adult could look right over it, and even a child could climb, it. Where it crossed the roadway, instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a line, an, idea of boundary. But the idea was real. It was important. For seven generations there had been nothing in the world more important than that wall.

Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon which side of it you were on.

Looked at from one side, the wall enclosed a barren sixty-acre field called the Port of Anarres. On the field there were a couple of large gantry cranes, a rocket pad, three warehouses, a truck garage, and a dormitory. The dormitory looked durable, grimy, and mournful; it had no gardens, no children; plainly nobody lived there or was even meant to stay there long. It was in fact a quarantine. The wall shut in not only the landing field but also the ships that came down out of space, and the men that came on the ships, and the worlds they came from, and the rest of the universe. It enclosed the universe, leaving Anarres outside, free.

Looked at from the other side, the wall enclosed Anarres: the whole planet was inside it, a great prison camp, cut off from other worlds and other men, in quarantine.

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 05:22:17 PM EST
Wonderful quote! (...and some say sci-fi can't be literture...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 05:29:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, and some think that only men write cience-fiction!

This book is actually barely science-fictional, apart from the fact that it takes place in a fictional world, (probably) in some unknown future. It's really a political book about utopia, anarchism and the imperfections of any human society, with a Cold War tint added to it.

I didn't know anything about Ursula Le Guin before reading it, and so woulnd't have had the reflex of buying one of her books. I stumbled upon it at a friend's house. It was on his dead father's shelf, and caught my attention because the following was hand-written on the first page: "To the greatest anarchist that ever lived -signed (ps: by someone who's name I've forgotten)". And since my friend's father had been this serious human rights activist, I thought hmmmh. And wasn't disappointed, a very interesting book!!

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 05:42:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here, not that I want to invade this thread, but if you're interested, I was surprised to see that the Wikipedia has an entry on this book:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dispossessed

On a train note, I saw this old postcard of a train in Lorraine at the beginning of the 20th century, which I'm interested in (because one of my hobbies is recreating a 3D model of the area around Verdun in 1916, though I barely indulge in it these days).

I was wondering how I could find out what train is shown on the picture. Any pointers at all? If you don't know any off the top of your head please don't be too kind and waste any time looking for some, as I can also do that on my own, and I'd be embarrassed otherwise! I'm just asking offhand, if you have any snap ideas sort of thing.

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 06:12:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was wondering how I could find out what train is shown on the picture.

I'm not sure what you mean - what kind of locomotive, local/express/special train, train number in timetable?

The locomotive looks like a VERY old piece even at the time of WWI, a simple inside-cylinder machine resembling Stephenson's 1829 "Rocket". It belongs to Compagnie de l'Est, and carries the number 155 - a low number, tough not the lowest, but the locomotive must be from the eighteen-fifties, it could have been 70 years old at the time of WWI!

Unless this was kind of a museum train run already back then, this can only be a local train. Indeed checking a map, Vaucouleurs lies on the long disused Pagny-sur-Meuse - Neufchâteau line along the Meuse river (Southwest of Nancy), incidentally the one touching Jeanne d'Arc's birthplace Domremy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 04:44:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stephenson's 1829 "Rocket"

Sorry, I was thinking of the 1830 "Planet". The locomotive definitely looks like something from Stephenson's factory - and if l'Est No 155 was re-numbered, it may have been even older than 70 years.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 05:29:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo you're the man !!!

If there ever was such a field as astro-trainology, I'd vote for you to get a Nobel.

Thanks for all the information, I was also wondering about this locomotive, when comparing it against other locomotives I've seen in pics of towns of the area, as it didn't quite seem to fit. If it's that old no wonder!!!

So I'll skip this one (so far I've only obtained detailed information, including blueprints in some cases, about locomotives on or supplying the front lines ... and I was beginning to wonder about how and where to start looking for info/pics on normal trains).

I already have way too much stuff to model anyhow, and have really only barely started (but I've been assembling documentation for over a year now, waiting for my software to be finished to be able to indulge in this ... my idea is to complete a realistic model of the area by 2016, for the 100th anniversary, and offer it all to the town of Verdun or to a computer game manufacturing company for free, on the condition that they'll represent Senegalese and Moroccan and other colonial troops as respectfully as they should (instead of only putting Germans and Frenchies, like they would do). Or to both. Probably to both, but I'm not sure in which order ... my head says the town but my heart wants to play the game :))

Again, thanks!

ps: this is really just a hobby, but I think that if I keep on amassing bits and pieces here and there for another 5 years, when my software might/should be earning me a living, I'll be ready to work on it for 5 additional years and get it all out in time (because Verdun is a small town, and the forts etc around it are very well documented).

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 06:14:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was also wondering about this locomotive, when comparing it against other locomotives I've seen in pics of towns of the area, as it didn't quite seem to fit. If it's that old no wonder!!!

So I'll skip this one...

You don't necessarily have to do that. It was very common until the last few decades that mainline locomotives had a longer life because when they got older, and were replaced by faster, stronger, heavier locos on the mainlines, they continued on branchlines until broke.

my idea is to complete a realistic model of the area by 2016, for the 100th anniversary, and offer it all to the town of Verdun or to a computer game manufacturing company for free, on the condition that they'll represent Senegalese and Moroccan and other colonial troops as respectfully as they should (instead of only putting Germans and Frenchies, like they would do). Or to both.

Great idea, I wish you the will to finish it :-)

BTW, I was in Verdun, on my home from Bretagne, in the summer of 2003 - tough I haven't seen much of the WWI memorials, or even the inner town - I only camped there for the night. (Incidentally, the camping was just next to the first strong curve along the route of the 2001 Tour de France team trials, which I had in good memory from seeing on TV.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Dec 28th, 2005 at 12:12:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ps: sorry for being imprecise, yes I was actually wondering about the locomotive
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 06:31:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At the terminal of the Pike's Peak Cog Railway the track just dead-ends at the top of the mountain. I'm hoping to get onto one of the last runs of the year this week; they close down after New Year's Day because of the snow.

A related point of interest is the AdAmAn club, which since 1922 has added one member per year to enjoy the fun of climbing Pike's Peak on New Year's Eve to set off fireworks. Here's a picture of them on the Cog Railway right of way.


by asdf on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 11:54:09 PM EST
A related point of interest is the AdAmAn club, which since 1922 has added one member per year to enjoy the fun of climbing Pike's Peak on New Year's Eve to set off fireworks.

Are you one of those? :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Dec 28th, 2005 at 11:57:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Uh, no, you have to be able to climb Pike's Peak. I'm able climb my stairs, but that's about it...
by asdf on Wed Dec 28th, 2005 at 11:42:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have never been to the crossing. It must be the Tokyu line, I will check this coming weekend.

When I was a kid, elder friends and I often went to the crossings of railway lines. We placed twigs, leaves and other things on the rail to see how they are crushed by the train. Sometimes the train had to stop and the driver yelled at us. Sorry, it was not me; my friends did that.

The picture below was taken about 50 years ago on the Enoshima electric rail (famous for its proximity to houses). The place is very close to where Kurosawa shot "High & Low."


(Source: Mu-san Railway Diary)

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 07:31:54 AM EST


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