BA Productions/ Donner Rails
Length: 52 minutes + previews
Time Period: contemporary
Locations: Mainline- Roseville to Truckee. Colfax, Cape Horn, Emigant Gap, Donner Pass
Source: BA Productions
BA Productions is producing some cutting edge, modern train videos. Donner Rails titles are now sold under the BA Productions label. Originally, this was a Donner Rails release.
The coverage is a trip from Roseville, CA. to Truckee. This presentation is quite different from what one would expect. Part documentary, part reality… it takes a few chances with it’s style. Let’s see how it works.
Roseville Yard on the Union Pacific is our starting point. A quick look at a simple map will outline the geography. Some extra maps would be helpful, but it doesn’t detract from the show. Some country style music is part of the introductory segment. For those that prefer easier listening music than more rockin’ recent releases, this show is for you.
Some locomotive servicing is performed, and the view is up-close! From this point forward, we have the ‘inside track’ on the Union Pacific’s operation of the line.
Union Pacific employees know their jobs. They will describe what is going on in a scene. An example is onboard Southern Pacific SD45 #8588. J.P. Crayne is a Hostler at Roseville. He checks the circuit breakers and explains some controls.
A brief visit to the tower, with the Yardmaster and on the ground with a switchman. The pace moves quickly.
The narrator will add information, as needed. On screen graphics denote locomotive details and locations. No chapter menu or function on this one.
Union Pacific #9288 is a General Electric model C40-8 locomotive. A 4,000 horsepower engine and was built in 1989. This is our point engine on our trip, up the hill, to Truckee!
Yes! Much of the journey will be in the cab of a locomotive, or two!
Radio chatter (and the graphic) indicates 9288 is departing Roseville with ZOACS Double Stack train. This is a priority move on the railroad. Intermodals will usually get green signals to keep these ‘hotshots’ moving. A Chicago and Northwestern unit is the trailing power. A student engineer, Chris Delgado is at the controls. Engineer George Hanson oversees his work.
Mr. Hanson does his share of talking on the trip. More from him later..
Videography is first rate. The camera will pan around to areas of interest. generally a forward looking viewpoint with a good view of the mainline trackage. We will see points of interest with views out the side windows. Locomotive controls and some watching Engineers doing their daily jobs. Surprisingly, more than one locomotive cab and crew is available to the cameraman.
Great exterior shots of scenery, which is gorgeous. Locomotive helpers are also viewed, in action. Speaking of action, this video is filled with movement. Other trains are also viewed along the Donner Pass route. Tunnels galore! Snowsheds and heavy mountains grades make for a fine show.
Soundtrack is a nice mixture of elements. Employee discussions, sparse narration, natural train sounds, and some calming piano musical interludes, create a well balanced program.
George Hanson really keeps the interest level high. He describes operating trains and has a wealth of historical information. The segments on single tracked lines that were formerly double tracked are fascinating. Why they were 2 tracks, why they were single tracked, operational advantages, and weather related disadvantages, of track number one. Do they need 2 tracks now? The man has it covered. He knows his railroad line.
Suddenly, we are transported into another Donner area train. Engineer Instructor Ted Vasquez is aboard #8141. He is in a serious mood, but keeps his cool. The situation is under control, but no guarantee. He relies on his experience as he deals with a malfunctioning diesel in his lash-up. Looks like a pair of SD90MAC’s. A helper is shoving all out, on the rear. Speed is down to around 8mph as the freight struggles upgrade. “We are in trouble”, he states. Omaha gets a report, via radio. We should be alright.. More explanation to the viewer of his judgement call.
Back to the 9288 with George Hanson. Higher elevation with some lingering snowcover. Conductor David Thorton explains track detectors and FRED. So it goes with the friendly crew. George continues with more engaging railroad talk. Other items of interest are interpolated. Lake Spaulding and Donner Lake are beauties.
Tunnels and snowsheds are abundant. At Donner summit, sunlight passes through the wooden, heavy timber entrance into tunnel. At 2 miles long, and called, The Big Hole. Out the other end and onward to Truckee.
We detrain at Truckee. Some friendly waves from the crew, on the departing train.
A top notch presentation. It compares favorably with the recently released, The Spreader Part One. This initial release was by Donner Rails, now BA Productions, is outstanding.
Roseville to Truckee is also a pretty good one for the women. They will like the fantastic scenery, music, and some storytelling by George Hanson. Any railfan would find this a very enjoyable train video.
Rating: 5 Stars