Road Construction Season in Winnipeg

There is an old saying that goes “in Winnipeg you have two seasons winter and construction.” As soon as the intense freeze ends the weather allows for road construction. And do they construct. Many roads, streets and highways are inundated with machinery that tear up the asphalt and lay down new pavement.

Below is Smith Street, a major artery that leads straight into downtown. It’s now down to one lane and the gridlock looks painful.

Fascinating Suspension Railway in Germany  

The Wuppertal Suspension Railway is a suspension railway in Wuppertal, Germany.  Wuppertal is part of the massive metro area that includes, Frankfurt, Cologne, Bonn and Essen. Eleven million people live in the consolidated metro area.

Its full name is “Electric Elevated Railway (Suspension Railway) Installation, Eugen Langen System”, it is the oldest electric elevated railway with hanging cars in the world and is a unique system.

Designed by Eugen Langen to sell to the city of Berlin, the installation with elevated stations was built in Barmen, Elberfeld and Vohwinkel between 1897 and 1903; the first track opened in 1901. The Schwebebahn is still in use today as a normal means of local public transport, moving 25 million passengers annually (2008).

The suspension railway runs along a route of 13.3 kilometres (8.3 mi), at a height of about 12 metres (39 ft) above the river Wupper between Oberbarmen and Sonnborner Straße (10 kilometres or 6.2 miles) and about 8 metres (26 ft) above the valley road between Sonnborner Straße and Vohwinkel (3.3 kilometres or 2.1 miles). At one point the railway crosses the A46 motorway. The entire trip takes about 30 minutes.

atrain

Construction on the actual Wuppertal Suspension Railway began in 1898, overseen by the government’s master builder, Wilhelm Feldmann. On 24 October 1900, Emperor Wilhelm II participated in a monorail trial run.

In 1901 the railway came into operation. It opened in sections: the line from Kluse to Zoo/Stadion opened on 1 March, the line to the western terminus at Vohwinkel opened on 24 May, while the line to the eastern terminus at Oberbarmen did not open until 27 June 1903. Around 19,200 tonnes (18,900 long tons; 21,200 short tons) of steel were used to produce the supporting frame and the railway stations. The construction cost 16 million gold marks. The railway was closed owing to severe damage during World War II, but reopened as early as 1946.

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The Wuppertal Suspension Railway nowadays carries approximately 80,000 passengers per weekday through the city. Since 1997, the supporting frame has been largely modernised, and many stations have been reconstructed and brought technically up to date. Kluse station, at the theatre in Elberfeld, had been destroyed during the Second World War. This too was reconstructed during the modernisation. Work was planned to be completed in 2001; however a serious accident took place in 1999 which left five people dead and 47 injured. This, along with delivery problems, delayed completion. In recent years (2004), the cost of the reconstruction work has increased from €380 million to €480 million.

On 15 December 2009 the Schwebebahn suspended its operations for safety concerns; several of the older support structures needed to be renewed, a process that was completed on 19 April 2010.

On 10 November 2011 Wuppertaler Stadtwerke (Wuppertal City Works) signed a contract with Vossloh Kiepe to supply 31 new articulated cars to replace those built in the 1970s. The new cars were built in Valencia, Spain. When they were introduced the line’s power supply voltage was raised from 600 to 750 V.

In 2012, the Wuppertal Suspension Railway was closed for significant periods to upgrade the line. The closing times were 7 to 21 July, 6 August to 22 October and weekends in September (15/16) and November (10/11).

The modernisation was completed and the line fully reopened on 19 August 2013.

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The cars are suspended from a single rail built underneath a supporting steel frame. The cars hang on wheels which are driven by an electric motor operating at 600 volts DC, fed from an extra rail.

The supporting frame and tracks are made out of 486 pillars and bridgework sections. For the realization Anton Rieppel Head of MAN-Werk Gustavsburg invented 1895-96 a patented structural system. The termini at each end of the line also serve as train depots and reversers.

The current fleet consists of twenty-seven two-car trains built in the 1970s. The cars are 24 metres long and have 4 doors. One carriage can seat 48 with approximately 130 standing passengers. The top speed is 60 kilometres per hour (37 mph) and the average speed is 27 km/h (17 mph).

The Kaiserwagen (Emperor’s car), the original train used by Emperor Wilhelm II during a test ride on 24 October 1900, is still operated on scheduled excursion services, special occasions and for charter events.

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On July 21, 1950 the Althoff Circus organised a publicity stunt by putting a baby elephant on a train at Alter Markt station. As the elephant started to bump around during the ride, she was pushed out of the car and fell into the river Wupper. The elephant, two journalists, and one passenger sustained minor injuries. After this jump, the elephant got the name Tuffi, meaning ‘waterdive’ in Italian. Both operator and circus director were fined after the incident.

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Driving one of these things would be a great job.

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Automobile safety tips from decades past 

Popular Science magazine had many articles devoted to automobile safety back in the 1930’s, 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s.  The car explosion in those decades revealed many problems and concerns as cars became bigger and faster.  Many of the tips Pop Sci brings up from back in the day could be utilized in today’s world of mass automobile use.

Keep your eyes on the road!

If this cover image doesn’t terrify you into driving safely, we don’t know what will. According to the illustrator, driving 30 miles and hour is as dangerous as driving on the roof of a building.

Manitoba Public Insurance should start preaching these same basic rules.  I don’t know about the one of suspecting every pedestrian of suicide.

1. Learn to judge the conditions of the road and the drivers. 2. It isn’t how fast you can go, it’s how fast you can stop. 3. Keep one car length between you and the car in front of you for every 10 miles on your speedometer. 4. Suspect every pedestrian of suicide. 5. Every intersection is a crash point, so slow down. 6. Signal properly. 7. Expect the worst from the other car.

Get those brakes checked regularly

Speed limits in certain States back in 1960 was 30 mph.  That would be about 52 kph.

Keep those tires up to date and checked out regularly

Cities with the worst traffic in the world 

Beijing traffic jam

BEIJING

Claim to fame: A 60-mile traffic jam on an expressway heading into Beijing lasted 13 days in 2015

Life in the slow lane: The 2015 jam on National Expressway 110, which links Beijing and North China’s Hebei province, caused by construction and a number of accidents, shocked the world. But Beijingers are used to epic-scale gridlock. Despite the city’s six surrounding ring roads, numerous expressways, and the government’s restrictions on car use, urban planners simply can’t keep up with the massive influx of new cars that many of Beijing’s approximately 20 million increasingly wealthy people (many of whom have never driven a car before) have recently bought. Some 248,000 new cars were registered in the first four months of 2010, according to the Beijing municipal tax office, a rate of 2,100 new cars per day.

Driving in Beijing, which came in first on IBM’s latest survey of “commuter pain” among major world cities, is a truly frustrating experience: 69 percent of Beijing motorists admitted that on occasion they have just given up and gone home, 84 percent claimed traffic affected work or school performance, and the average commuter suffers through almost an hour of traffic just commuting to work. The city is pinning its hopes on one out-of-the-box solution: an enormous, solar-powered bus that literally drives over traffic.

MOSCOW

Claim to fame: Muscovite drivers face the longest traffic delays in the world, with waits averaging about two and a half hours

Life in the slow lane: Drunk driving, bad weather, streets designed only for military marches and Communist officials in limousines, and well-connected individuals skipping traffic continue to make driving in this city an exasperating — not to mention costly and dangerous — experience. The Russian Transportation Ministry claims that $12.8 billion — more than the GDP of Iceland — is lost every year due to the miserable traffic conditions. Overall, Russia’s road-accident mortality rate is more than twice as high as some members of the European Union — despite the fact that Russians have about a third the amount of cars.

The Kremlin has addressed the traffic issue on numerous occasions, but with the country’s road infrastructure ranked 111th in the world and falling rates of public spending — despite the Transportation Ministry’s pleas to add almost 250 miles of road to ease congestion — Muscovites are not happy. One study showed that over the past three years, two in five residents of the capital have had to wait at least three hours for traffic to clear (an impressively low figure considering there are 650 traffic jams on average every day).

MEXICO CITY

Claim to fame: In 2006, a single political protest caused a backup of half a million cars

Life in the slow lane: Some might think that freeway-clogged Los Angeles is North America’s worst traffic nightmare, but according to IBM’s survey, Mexico City is almost four times as tough for commuters. The Mexican capital has become famous for Darwinian traffic habits (an average of 1,500 pedestrians are killed in accidents a year) and pollution so heavy that it likely shortens life spans. Despite city initiatives to decrease the heavy traffic congestion largely caused by simply too many people and too few roads, more than half of Mexico City drivers said that the traffic has negatively affected school or work while 62 percent said that traffic is getting worse in a city with streets first designed by the Aztecs.

One uniquely Mexican trait is definitely not helping matters: The city averages about eight and a half street protests per day, further clogging the streets with demonstrators from all over the country. The city even has a website specifically designed to note every protest and the likelihood of resulting traffic blockages.

SAO PAULO

Claim to fame: The city holds the world record for the world’s longest traffic jam at over 165 miles on May 9 in 2008

Life in the slow lane: A traveler to Sao Paulo might wonder why so many drivers can be seen doing such menial tasks as shaving, watching movies, or playing video games while at the wheel. Given that Paulistas regularly spend three- to four-hours each day in traffic jams that can be over 100 miles long, it should not be too surprising that motorists are making themselves feel at home. Not only do Sao Paulo roads handle the city’s more than 20 million people poorly, but the city has simply not done enough to fix matters. The fast-growing and sprawling, decentralized megalopolis –spread across more than 3,000 square miles — suffers from extra traffic due to its lack of any fully functional ring roads.

Designated bus lanes, subway additions, and a car-restriction system that allows only a limited number of drivers on the road each day have done little to lessen the massive traffic congestion that costs the city an estimated $2.3 billion a year. The gridlock has gotten so bad that Sao Paulo’s well-connected and wealthy have made the city home to the second-largest helicopter fleet in the world.

LAGOS

Claim to fame: Frequent massive car accidents cause fatalities in the dozens

Life in the slow lane:Driving in Lagos is characterized more by the act of sitting — the standstill nature of driving in this booming city is so ubiquitous that Lagosians have created their own term for their city’s traffic: “go-slow.” Near the top of many lists for fastest-growing city in the world, Lagos for many years lacked any overarching plans for infrastructure, as its infamous traffic attests.

Overcrowding is not the only problem afflicting Lagos’s roads, however– vehicle-wrecking potholes, few working traffic lights, carjacking, corrupt traffic police, and flooded roads are also common. Traffic in Lagos, a coastal city on the Atlantic Ocean, is plagued by the fact that drivers are often forced to take narrow bridges, causing bottlenecks. Worst yet, according to urban lore, it’s dangerous to try to buy any items from street vendors while stuck on a bridge because there is a good chance that they or others nearby — knowing you have nowhere to move — are armed and looking to steal all your belongings.

In Canada Toronto is by far the worst.  An average of 80 minute commutes per day.  Montreal is a close second.  Bangkok and Cairo have notorious traffic.

In the U.S. it is Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Houston and Seattle.

Traffic on interstate outside New Orleans before Hurricane Rita.  All the traffic is going in the same direction.

Morning commute over bridge in Chongqing, China.

Moscow evening traffic jam.

Chicago has the worst traffic jams in the U.S.

Newly restored ‘American Dream’ limo breaks its own record as world’s longest car

‘I found the car ten years ago. It was rotting in New Jersey,’ says Mike Manning, who repaired the ride

CBC Radio · Posted: Mar 11, 2022 6:35 PM ET | Last Updated: March 14

On March 1, Guinness recertified the renovated American Dream limo at a length of 30.54 metres, about 4 centimeters longer than its first record, following its remodel by Mike Manning and his students. (Submitted by Mike Manning)

There is only one car out there that you can take for a spin, then lounge in its swimming pool, land on its helipad and golf on its putting green — and it’s called the American Dream.

The newly restored vehicle, built out of six 1976 Cadillac Eldorado limos, is a showstopper with 26 wheels and space for up to 75 people. Last week, Guinness World Records declared it the longest car in the world.

The American Dream rose to fame in the late 1980s, when it was first assembled by Hollywood’s favourite car designer Jay Ohrberg. But the limo was so long that it soon became difficult to drive and park.

“I found the car about 10 years ago,” Mike Manning, president of the automotive teaching museum Autoseum, told As It Happens guest host Gillian Findlay. “It was rotting in New Jersey.”

That’s when he decided to buy the rusty and long forgotten car — and dreamt of the day he’d bring it back to its former glory.

Just a decade ago, the American Dream was covered in graffiti with flat tires and broken windows. (Submitted by Mike Manning)

A rough road to recovery

Just a decade ago, the American Dream was covered in graffiti with flat tires and broken windows.

“You’d look at it and say this is junk, just call it up and get rid of it,” Manning said. “But I always knew that it had some value. Not so much the money value, but just a history…. I knew it couldn’t be destroyed.”

He started to restore the Caddy with his students at the technical teaching museum, but ran out of money to support the project. Then the museum lost the lease on its space in Nassau County, N.Y.

Manning couldn’t find another place to store the American Dream, so he gave it up and listed it on eBay.

In 2019, a real estate developer with an enormous car collection bought it — and came up with a plan to pay Manning and his students to complete the restoration process in Orlando, Fla.

Michael Dezer owns the Dezerland Park Car Museum and Tourist Attractions, which is where the American Dream will soon be showcased.

Manning and his students had their work cut out for them. The windshield was broken, the dashboard deteriorated and every panel of the car’s exterior had to be reassembled and bent to the shape of the car, before they could even start on the interior. (Submitted by Mike Manning)

The new and improved American Dream

Manning and his students had to replace a lot of the limo with donor parts from Cadillac Eldorados because, over time, the car had become so badly destroyed.

The windshield was broken, the dashboard deteriorated and every panel of the car’s exterior had to be reassembled and bent to the shape of the car.

His team then redid the roof, all the glass, the interior, the tires and the brakes. Once the body was ready, they got the engine running, fixed the gas tank and lights.

“It was something that was impossible and I felt that I could do it,” Manning said. “People said I was crazy for even trying it, but … you see it and you just don’t want to let it go.’

“You kind of look back on things when you grew up; it’s nostalgia. And once they’re gone, they’re gone. So to be able to preserve something like that was very important.”

The newly restored vehicle, built out of six 1976 Cadillac Eldorado limos, is a showstopper with 26 wheels and space for up to 75 people. (Submitted by Mike Manning.)

Manning went on to explain how the lengthy limo was never really built to be driven around, but as more of a showpiece.

Now that it’s fixed, though, he can confirm that it is ready to ride.

“We drive it basically in a straight line,” he said. “We can drive it, but we have to get it to [somewhere] like an airport … because you need a big turn radius.”

The American Dream actually broke its own record for longest car in the world.

In 1986, Guinness measured the newly built limo to be 18.28 metres (60 feet). The original designer later extended it to 30.5 metres (or 100 feet) long.

On March 1, Guinness recertified the renovated ride at a length of 30.54 metres, just under four centimetres longer than its first record.

Mike Manning is the president of Autoseum, an automotive teaching museum in Mineola, New York. (Submitted by Mike Manning.)

Currently, there is a big spot in the Dezerland Park Car Museum waiting for the longest limo to park its wheels.

“I had a very small operation in New York City and people would come see it from all over the place,” Manning said. “I think people will come … it’s something definitely [to] see when you’re down there.”

CN’s Rail Inspection Portals

CN's Rail Inspection Portals near Winnipeg, Manitoba

CN’s Rail Inspection Portals near Winnipeg, Manitoba

In May 2018, CN awarded a contract to Duos Technologies to provide four Rail Inspection Portals (rip®) around Winnipeg, Manitoba to perform automated inspection of passing trains. These portals incorporate high speed cameras and thermal imaging to inspect rail cars at speeds up to 70 MPH (110 km/hr).

These portals are now in operation, and CN is clearly happy enough with them that it placed an order for three additional portals in November 2018. Two of these portals will be built in the US and one in Canada, I believe near Toronto.

How They Work

LED lights
LED lights

The portal has high speed cameras mounted on the sides, top and bottom of a frame that encloses a track. These cameras basically take a series of thin, very tall “slice” photos that are stitched together by the system’s software into a complete picture of a rail car.

The portals are equipped with banks of LEDs to light up the train as it passes through, so they can be used at any time of day.

Rail portal under construction in Winnipeg

Rail portal under construction in Winnipeg

The rail car inspection portal at Vivian, Manitoba

The rail car inspection portal at Vivian, Manitoba

CN 5655 at Vivian, Manitoba
CN 5655 at Vivian, Manitoba

The portal did not light up as the train went through, so I don’t think it was quite in service yet. Before the train arrived, I did hear some fans or something like that, so I think it had heaters running. Still, it was pretty neat to see a train go through it.

Containers going through the rail inspection portal at Vivian
Containers going through the rail inspection portal at Vivian
CN 2314 entering the rail inspection portal

CN 2314 entering the rail inspection portal

Scanning... scanning...
Scanning… scanning…

Here’s a closeup of the train rolling through. The train is lit and photographed on both sides, top and underside.

Closeup of the rail portal in action

Ship carrying thousands of luxury cars sinks in the Atlantic after burning for weeks

Smoke billows from the burning Felicity Ace car-transport ship as seen from a Portuguese navy vessel southeast of the mid-Atlantic Portuguese Azores islands. The large cargo vessel carrying cars from Germany to the U.S. sank in the mid-Atlantic 13 days after a fire broke out on board.

A large cargo ship that was carrying luxury cars from Germany to the U.S. sank Tuesday in the mid-Atlantic — nearly two weeks after a fire broke out on board, according to Portuguese navy officials.

Officials confirmed that the ship, Felicity Ace, lost stability and sank about 250 miles off Portugal’s Azores islands as it was being towed to land. The ship sank in a location outside Portugal’s economic zone in an area that’s nearly 2 miles deep.

In its statement, the Portuguese navy said that only a few pieces of debris and a small amount of oil were visible where the ship sank and that tugboats were breaking up the patch of oil with hoses.

One of the vessels that had been monitoring the Felicity Ace was en route to Ponta Delgada in the Azores to pick up pollution containment equipment, Portuguese navy officials said.

The 650-foot-long vessel is capable of carrying 4,000 cars. It is unclear how many vehicles were on board the ship.

European auto manufacturers declined to comment regarding exactly how many cars and what models were on board the ship, The Associated Press reported. However, Porsche customers in the U.S. were being contacted individually by their dealership.

“We are already working to replace every car affected by this incident and the first new cars will be built soon,” Angus Fitton, vice president of public relations at Porsche Cars North America Inc., told the AP.

The Portuguese navy rescued all 22 members of the crew from the ship, which was scheduled to arrive in Davisville, R.I., on Feb. 16. The crew was taken by helicopter to Faial island in the Azores, the AP reported. None of the crew members was hurt.

Volkswagen confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that insurance has covered the loss of its vehicles, which could be at least $155 million, insurance experts told the Journal. The total estimated loss for all the cargo, which included Porsches, Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Volkswagens, is close to $440 million, the Journal reported.