CSX NO&M Sub Part I - Mobile, AL to Pascagoula, MS
I took a week of vacation while my wife and daughter took a girls trip to the East Coast. During this vacation I made a trip with my uncle Joe Scorsone to a storage unit where he had been saving a number of VHS tapes that I took in 1997 and 1998 when I was working for Amtrak as an intern out of New Orleans, LA.
My internship with Amtrak was probably one of the most fun jobs I ever had, though also one of the least paying. I was assigned to work for the Manager of Safety for the Amtrak Gulf Coast Business Group. Among other things I was trained as an Operation Lifesaver Level II presenter and went all over the system presenting to professional drivers, driver's education classes, and other groups.
Target areas would be where we had a high number of "near miss" incidents and actual collisions. To make the presentations relevant to each audience I would make several trips on the head end of trains in the area with a video camera rolling. Edited tapes showing locations recognizable to the audience from this perspective were quite powerful.
The videos were taken with a Panasonic VHS camera bought by my grandfather, Michele Palmieri. My uncle and I purchased all of the VHS tapes used for these projects so all of the tapes remained in our possession.
Unfortunately, I did video one collision with a vehicle during this exercise. It was a fatality involving Train No. 20 and a Mazda MX3 north of Hattiesburg, MS. This incident and a near miss with an LPG tank truck on the return trip shaped my decision not enter train service with Amtrak as a career choice. Train Dispatching is done from a much more stable environment!
There are probably 200 video tapes that we pried from storage. With the passage of time many of the videos have captured things that have significantly changed. Four of the videos were taken from the head-end of Amtrak train No. 1, the Sunset Limited, between Cantonment, FL and New Orleans, LA.
These tapes are valuable to me since passenger service on this route was discontinued due to damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and has not returned to date. I have decided to add to my list of many projects the editing of these videos for publishing to YouTube as Meridian Speedway Productions.
The first cab ride video has been uploaded to YouTube. It is "CSX NO&M Subdivision Part I - Mobile, AL to Pascagoula, MS." This was filmed on the above mentioned Sunset Limited trip on December 21, 1997. Amtrak P40-8 826 was the lead unit. Tragically, the 826 was destroyed in a collision with a truck carrying steel beams at Bourbonnais, Illinois on March 15, 1999. On this date the 826 was the lead unit on train No. 59, the southbound City of New Orleans. 11 passengers were killed in this incident.
On a more positive note it was refreshing to hear the familiar voice of CSX train dispatcher Jerry Lachaussee at the beginning of the video as we are navigating Mobile, AL. I added some notes including Mile Post locations for reference as the video progresses. Below is the link to my first YouTube cab ride video:
Stay tuned for CSX NO&M Part II - Pascagoula, MS to Bay St. Louis, MS. For this leg we will change trains. Our vantage point will be from Amtrak F40PH 270 on the very last run of train No. 23, the Gulf Coast Limited.
I also found the below video on YouTube. It is collection of new clips documenting the tragedy at Bourbonnais.
Please remember when crossing railroad tracks to expect a train at any time and in any direction.