Rail Awareness in Nevada

Coffee Tracks - Waltham Way, Storey County, NV


The Starbucks coffee had arrived, our orange safety warning signs had been setup and we were ready to go checkout the crossing at Waltham Way - only to have to wait for an East bound train to travel thru the crossing. (No disappointment for any of us!) As we have been trained to do, we got the number of the leading locomotive, UP 2762.

As the train was passing, our leader, Rich Gent, was pointing out things to look for as we watch trains. For instance, transients - those who illegally ride the train, usually hangout towards the rear of the train on the leeward side - the side with the least amount of wind.

We pulled out our U.S. DOT Crossing Inventory Form for crossing 913207E and began matching the data on the form with what we were observing.

  • ENS Sign – both blue signs are present
  • AWS-10 (Advanced Warning Sign) –two out of the three are present – AWS is missing as you head south on Waltham Way – Storey County is responsible for this sign
  • Pavement Markings – the markings are there, but very faint - Storey County is responsible for painting the RR markings on the road

Next up was the silver bungalow next to the tracks.

  • The DOT crossing number 913207E matched what is on the blue ENS signs.
  • The white light on the bungalow was on – this indicates that all is good in the bungalow at the crossing. If the light is out or flashing, this needs to be reported to 1-800-848-8715, the phone number on the bungalow sign.

One of the members of the RAT PACK noticed wires coming off the tracks just to the East of the crossing and asked about the purpose of those wires. Just beyond the wires is an industrial spur track that merges with the main line. In order to allow for the switching of railcars on and off the main line to and from this industrial spur, the wires shunt the track. This allows the lead locomotive to approach the crossing up to these wires without activating the signal lights and bell. Normally a train triggers the lights and bells about 20 seconds before reaching the crossing.

After checking things out at the Waltham Way crossing, we headed just down the road to the McCarran Ranch Road Crossing and once again matched what we saw with the Crossing Inventory Form. Everything seemed to be correct. As we were looking around, two things were brought to our attention that some RAT PACK members had not seen.

First off was an old box up on a telephone that the railroad used a long long time ago for communicating with the dispatcher. The other interesting discovery was the rock slide protection fence. This consists of telephone pole like structures with wires running from top to bottom and from pole to pole. When a large rock falls and breaks one of the wires, the signal lights turn red before and after the debris on the track so that trains do not go running into the boulders.

We ended our Coffee Tracks time in an appropriate way - one more East bound train traveling thru the crossing!

Hope to see you online or in person for our next Coffee Tracks in April 2022.

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