The Black Rock Railroad

Which would be the best place to run the rail?

Along the Esplanade
Along E from 2 to 10
Gate to Walk-in-Camping
Gate to the Man via Center Camp
Within its own enclosure in deep playa
Total votes: 52

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The Hustler
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Postby The Hustler » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:00 pm

andy wrote:All right, the idea is pretty cool but I also think is best done without the tracks.

I don't think laying 6 miles of trench is reasonable. Yes, DPW has a power grid trench but center camp is pretty small - also PDW works for weeks beofre the event and has a staff around 200 or so. LNT would be a very large undertaking and if your volnteers bag on you (clean-up is NEVER as much fun) then the Playa restoration crew will be stuck with it.

Also, while it's a great gift to the BM community, it also claims alot of that communal space we call open Playa. You would need to light the entire non-trenced portion and probably the trenched portion too - I ride a bike on the Playa at night and even with my headlight (BTW less than 50% of playa bikes use headlights) could easily miss an unlit trench or rail.

Finally ask yourself what the rail accomplishes - yes, it's more authentic but it's by far the largest part of the project. Why not spend that money and effort on more cars, better stations, etc.

I still think it was a rad idea and worth exploring more.
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Re: The Black Rock Railroad

Postby no playa name yet » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:59 pm

I am sorry to see that this art piece did not go ahead. It would have been nice to lay the tracks for grander things in the future.

I am not sure anyone is still reading this thread, or if everybody here had already thought of this idea, but there is a real functioning rail way much closer to Black Rock City than the length of this track has been proposed.
The rail lines that run through Gerlach, cross the playa less then 3 miles from the city.

I am trying to connect with anyone already working on the idea of running rail service to the burn. Failing that I am putting it out there that I am willing to work on making this a reality.

The benefits would be huge. It would be the biggest greening of the burn ever to take several thousand cars and busses out of the migration. The party could start right on the train ride, and would be much safer for the participants. But perhaps most of all would be a simplification of the lineups for the gate, and particularly exodus.

Just imagine a trains starting in New York, Seattle, and LA. There could be a connection to Reno for the people who must fly. Whole camps could arrive in inter modal shipping containers.

If this ever could be done, the Black Rock Rail Station could be the busiest station in the US for the one week of the year. And set a shining example.

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Re: The Black Rock Railroad

Postby BBadger » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:43 pm

Not going to happen, and no net benefit. Laying down rail has a very high infrastructure cost, even as a run from Gerlach to some location close to the gates (can't go right on the playa). The infrastructure cost will not be offset by transporting 50,000 people to the playa for one week, even if they were able to board and depart from the same location, avoiding the need for transport to the boarding location. I also can't imagine people being willing to pack their minimum car-worth-of-shit into a cargo crate at some specific boarding cities, hitch a ride for half a day on a train, wait another half a day as the cargo is unloaded, sift through the crates to find stuff, and then rely on some city-based transport system to deliver them and their stuff to their camping spot. I know I certainly wouldn't bother.

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Re: The Black Rock Railroad

Postby motskyroonmatick » Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:45 am

There is by my estimation and google maps a large multi track siding in Gerlach. There even is an old actual passenger train station there as well. Utilizing existing infrastructure there makes more sense than building new facilities.

It would be really great to ship by rail to Gerlach and have a short haul by truck to the playa for shipping containers and semi trailers......But it has to pencil out. It has to be something that will make someone $$$$$. It would be one hell of a fucking gamble to set up intermodal capabilities there on the basis that it could be used by a substantial number of burners and camps. Is it a nice idea? Hell Yeah. It won't happen until demand is substantial and shipping by over the road truck becomes much much more expensive.

Imagine the impact of say even 1000 burners arriving in Gerlach by passenger train on Monday of the event. How many busses does it take to get 1000 people to the event site? How badly will the town and traffic capacity on 447 suffer with hundreds of burners milling around waiting for busses to take them to gate and in to the city?

Create wide scale demand and it will happen but until then personal vehicles rule by keeping people with their stuff and supplying transport to the exact location of ones camp.
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Re: The Black Rock Railroad

Postby theCryptofishist » Sat Sep 10, 2011 9:27 am

BBadger wrote:Virtually every aspect of BM is a statement pitting man versus nature. If a "green" BM were a high priority, the event would've been canceled altogether long ago.

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Re: The Black Rock Railroad

Postby whiskeywhore » Thu Sep 15, 2011 5:32 pm

Intermodal shipping delivered to the Playa is already happening. NYContainer Camp ran 3 containers from NYC to 715 and C this year, returning them to New York this Saturday. Other groups are doing the same. The containers are trucked from wherever you load to a local railyard, then go by rail to Reno. Trucked again from Reno to the Playa.

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Re: The Black Rock Railroad

Postby Johnny Payphone » Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:14 am

I'm revisiting this idea for next year's grant process. Clearly there are some issues with the track and the playa, but I don't agree that "This project has challenges" should equal "this project should not be attempted because it has challenges". This year I'm refocusing on placement and safety, that is to say art car and pedestrian safety. I have a few ideas.

For the third year we offered train service on the playa, and this time I've built the locomotive as a concept of what the BRRR will look like:


The people who think that I want to run REAL rail onto the playa, to run REAL trains, are "on the wrong track". I think a train could go to Gerlach with a few hundred folks and be profitable, but that's another project entirely.
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Re: The Black Rock Railroad

Postby Sham » Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:30 am

This is an event that lasts 2 weeks if you count set-up and clean-up on both ends. Who wants to invest a million dollars on a temporary project to try and save driving the last 12 miles to an event.
A good option would be to get some older train cars and mount them on some trailer frames and pull them along the playa like a real train. You can even make choo-choo sounds if you want. This way, when the event is over, you can drag all that stuff off the playa and prepare for the next year.

What would happen to all those tracks if---let's say, they decide to move the event to a private piece of land someplace else? Or, if in a few years they decide that 10 smaller burns are better than one big burn? I've heard people talk about buying land or houses in Gerlach to be close to the event, but what do you do with the place for the other 51 weeks of the year? Again, what if the event moves? What do you do with the house and land.

Really, it's best to keep things temporary and mobile.

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