Nice catch, Rick. I wish we had something around here other than CSX. On rare occasions, I come across a Norfolk Southern, but those are few and far between. It's been years since I've seen BNSF or anything from out west.
Soooo, you are those crazy people I see pulled off the road to take a picture of the trains. I live about 300 yards from a two rail Union Pacific train track. Now, though, I may have to stretch my creative wings and take some photos myself. They do have the most interesting equipment when they repair track...
Rail photography can be challenging, trying to combine the right light, composition and a train .... all while staying safe. But when it comes together, it's highly satisfying. I most enjoy rural rail photohraphy, away from ugly billboards, wires and other distracting elements .... like people who walk up at the worst time to ask what is happening. <g>
While I was out today trying to get some train pictures, I was thinking about how different things are today vs 30 and 40 years ago. I find less to shoot today. Back then interesting structures and lineside details such as signals abounded and could be worked in to shots to improve composition. (Carriers often deployed their own signal designs, making the railroad instantly identifiable even without a train.) Railcars weren't covered in ugly graffiti and older freight cars with classic paint schemes and road names were still in service. Weedgrown branch lines were everywhere and arousing law enforcement wasn't as much of a concern as it is in our post-911 world. Train speeds are so much faster today as well, making chasing nearly impossible.
The bright side is that North America has a much stronger and more profitable rail freight network, and I'll take that tradeoff.
Yep, a ballast tamper it is and it's built in the U.S.A.. These new machines are very sophisticated, with programmable action to optimally profile a line, laser control to set elevation, etc.. Getting track time to work a line is difficult and these allow crews to make the most of it. I like the close up of the wheels -- nice work.
This is why we should stay well clear of tracks while taking photos. These derailed tank cars remain lineside as evidence of an earlier derailment. Even loose steel strapping on a passing freight car can cut you to ribbons if you stand too close.
This is a pusher locomotive helping a fast moving eastbound stack train.