As nicked from
with his permission.
How did your train addiction begin? What made you interest in this kind of transport?
I would have to say it has a lot to do with where I grew up. Downers Grove IL is on the former CB&Q from Chicago to Aurora, a triple-track high-speed line appropriately nicknamed "The Racetrack". It has about 80 trains/day now, many of them Metra commuter runs. Basically, I was lucky enough to grow up within hearing distance of a very busy line, watching green and white E9s blasting through with expresses to the Loop, along with various freights.
It also runs in the family. My father grew up in Rockford, near the Milwaukee Road line to Janesville, and he's mostly responsible, I suppose. Taking me out to see N&W 1218 and 611, Frisco 1522, UP 844 and 3985 when they would come through the area.
Actually, some of my very earliest memories involve trains. I recall being taken on a bike ride, in the little kiddie-seat, at what I later realized was where the Prairie Path (former Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban) crossed the former Chicago Great Western near Prince Crossing Road. Another one was being carried through what I later realized was a center-cab diesel, I think that Monticello.
As far as why I'm interested? Well, back when I was young, they were the biggest and loudest and therefore the most awesome thing I had ever seen, and I still hold to that statement. I was, and still am, the sort that stands about at construction sites and watches how things go.
Cars are nice, I suppose. I just find them too...common, really. The don't seem all that robust or substantial. Some people spend tens of thousands of dollars upgrading cars, even though they're spending on capabilities that are either impractical or illegal in application, and they either wear out in about ten years, or turn into an expensive pile of junk in a few seconds. And with auto racing, I've never really understood that, myself. Bunch of fiberglass things zipping around in circles yet going nowhere, sounding like a pack of hyperactive weedwhackers, nothing like the soothing chortle of a 16-645E3...
OK. So how does your interest in trains manifest itself?
Modeling, photography, and possible future career and/or volunteer work.
What is your all-time favorite locomotive(s)/train(s) of your country's railways?
This one is hard to say, really...torn between the Milwaukee S-3 Northern, N&W Class A, and SD40-2.
I see. Do you have an all-time favorite foreign engines?
I really like the British Rail Class 9F 2-10-0.
Do you ride a train often or at least regularly?
I often ride Metra into Chicago, and to other points on the multicolored octopus.
When was the last time you went somewhere by train? What kind of train was it?
I've taken the Empire Builder
to St. Paul, the Wolverine
to Detroit, and the City of New Orleans
This is where the harder part begins. Is your train addiction just at admiration level or you're also deeply interested in technical details and stuff?
I'm pretty familiar with much of the engineering involved, and I've actually fired and driven a steamer (a little one, but it was still standard gauge).
What do you find the most interesting/knowledge-enriching fact you've learned about trains?
Probably the engineering, again, both civil/structural and mechanical, as well as the history.
Do you think you know enough about railways to consider yourself a "train expert" now?
In a few limited areas, yes...
Now that you look back at the times you didn't know as much as now do you feel you made a train-knowledge progress?
I certainly have, yes.
Enough with the philosophy stuff. Do you have a train related dream that you want to come true although you don't find it probable?
I wouldn't mind being in operating service.
Have you ever thought about your hobby becoming your job? (being a train driver or so..) Did you do something for it? Confess..
I have definitely considered it, perhaps becoming a signal maintainer or something like that, but I haven't taken any definite steps toward that.
Oh... How do you feel about it now?
I'll try to graduate first.
Now is there something about your country's railways that annoys the hell out of you?
The police, to a certain extent, and the astounding ignorance of some parts of the general public and government officials.
Something more about what do you like? Are you more into older and classic trains or do you like the modern ones better?
I suppose I have a general bias toward older things, but the modern aspects are pretty nice in their own way.
Steam engines are a particular category. How much attention do you pay for those?
A good amount, yes.
Are there some trains/engines you changed your opinion about?
None in particular that I can think of.
It hurts me to ask this but are there some trains/engines you don't like??
Yes, some of the more-recent ElectroMotive models. The SD90MAC was clearly just a byproduct of the dick-waving contest they had with GE ten years ago, and little more. Also, the SD70ACe looks terrible, with that clumsy protrusion around the nose door.
Do you think there is some train stuff other trainiacs should definitely see/hear?
I'm not entirely sure, myself...
How do you get along with train drivers. Do you use to talk to them if an opportunity shows up?
I haven't had all that opportunity, actually, but they are almost always nice to chat with.
Oh yeah .. now that I mentioned it ... have you ever rode in a train cab?
I fired and drove a small steamer, under supervision, so yes.
Are there some special railway events in your country? Do you go on those?
There are a number of them, model shows, special events at museums, things like that. I try to attend when I can.
What's your most treasured train experience?
Probably sticking my head out a vestibule window, watching and listening to the 261 charging through southern Wisconsin at 60mph, cinders plinking off my safety glasses...then going back inside and chatting a bit with a former vice-president of Norfolk Southern my father just happened to sit next to.
What train station have you seen the most interesting trains at?
Chicago Union Station.
And thanks to all of the following for putting up with me.