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Reflecting on Maintenance of Way

March 01, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Track maintenance is a critical part of railroading. Without regular repairs, the railroad would soon fall apart and derailments would be common, as anyone who was around for the last days of the Penn Central or Milwaukee Railroad can tell you.

However, for a railroad photographer, Maintenance of Way, or as the train crews call it, Maintenance "in the Way" equipment on the track usually is a bad thing. It typically means that no trains will be running for a while. 

This night was no exception. The BNSF crews were working on a bridge approach in Everett, WA. The work has the line shut down for now, so my thought of possibly getting a long exposure of a train going by quickly evaporated. However, as I looked at the scene, I realized that there was a good photo to be had right here.

This shot was a bit of a challenge. I had to dial in my exposure, and then I had to time it for when the tamper wasn't moving. When they're working, they stop for a moment, tamp, and then move forward. I discovered, through trial and error, that I had less than 5 seconds to get the shot. That included my reaction time to trip the shutter. Since I was shooting about a 4 second exposure, it was challenging. I finally got a few good ones, and this is one of my favorites.

Reflecting on MOWA BNSF work crew tamps the bridge approach at the Snohomish River in Everett, WA


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