Tag Archives: ruby junction

In with the new, disregard the old

Due to popular demand, here are more construction photos showing the work being done at the Jackson turnaround and the facility expansion at Ruby Junction.

First, the work being done by Ruby:

And Jackson, where Orange Line trains will continue to Milwaukie:

And while it’s great and all to see the work for the Orange Line coming along, I can’t help but wish the same focus was put on maintaining the existing alignment. Remember that big to-do this past March? Long story short, frontline workers had been trying to address long-standing safety issues at TriMet, including damage to the alignment that had gone unrepaired for months (example – the switches just west of the Lloyd Center platform, pictured here in July of 2012 and again in January 2013 with no repairs made). Nothing was being done internally, so the union brought it to the media, which then led to ODOT announcing an inspection. Cue a flurry of activity at TriMet which largely consisted of throwing asphalt on everything to patch the alignment up before the inspection (here are the same switches in mid-March 2013). As a result, the ODOT report didn’t find any major safety concerns. TriMet claimed this as a victory and accused the union of making up safety issues to draw attention away from the negotiations. Though really, it’s a dubious victory if you have to do a bunch of last minute work right before an inspection to fix problems that had been around for months – doesn’t that just mean the union was right?

But, see, asphalt doesn’t last forever, especially if the underlying problems weren’t actually fixed (as a MOW commenter said, that kind of damage could be due to broken rail near the heel block of the switch, or waterlogged rotted ties underneath, neither of which are fixed by a fresh coat of asphalt). Check this audio from June 2013 about the same switches west of Lloyd Center, and here’s how that area looks as of this month. In other words, no, it hasn’t been fixed yet.

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August2

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Remember those yellow cones denote a slow order – that is, a reduction in speed through this area because going full speed through damaged track would be dangerous. So, as I said earlier, while it’s nice that the work for the Orange Line is coming along, I don’t think that’s really a valid reason to neglect maintenance on the existing alignment in the meantime. You know, safety being a value and all.

At Ruby Junction

Looking down from the operator report area at Ruby Junction

It’s been a weird week and I haven’t had much time to post. So in the meantime, here’s a view of the tracks leading to the shop/maintenance area at Ruby Junction. Some points of interest:

  • the manual switches visible towards the top of the picture (click on it for a larger version)
  • the section isolators in the overhead, which might be hard to see – follow the wire over each track to the white break in the line. Because of where these are placed, if you’re taking a train car into the shop, you can’t stop at the shop entrance because your pantograph would be in that unpowered section. So you do not stop at the shop door before you go in – instead a flagger will make sure the way is clear and then direct you inside. Always safety first.
  • the track designations/fouling markers – these are little yellow tents in the tracks, sort of like the decision point markers found on Burnside. Fouling markers are always yellow and show you where you cannot stop a train beyond. Trains are wider than the tracks they are on, which was a factor in this recent heavy rail fatality, so if you stop a train beyond the fouling marker, you can collide with a train on the next track because of the space you both take up. All fouling markers here double as track designations, but not all track designators at Ruby are fouling markers.