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Inside the Belt Railway of Chicago
 4 of 5 (1)

Inside the Belt Railway of Chicago Midwest Video Productions MVIBRC 601577879947
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This documentary style program gives us a rare look at a self-contained railroad. Every railroad that runs in and out of Chicago interchanges with the Belt Railway of Chicago (BRC). We'll see hump yard action and watch cars being humped from the control tower. We'll go inside the tower and the full service engine house. We'll get some cab views and visit the dispatching center.

And, of course, we'll see the trains! Transfers, yard jobs and mainline trains. We'll visit Clearing Yard and use maps to get a better idea of the flow of cars through Clearing Yard.

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DVD Item#:MVIBRC
Runtime:56 Mins ($0.40/min)
Producer:Midwest Video Productions
Aspect Ratio:Full Screen
DVD UPC:601577879947
Shrink Wrapped?:NO!
Disc Type:DVD
Region Code:0 Worldwide NTSC
Inside the Belt Railway of Chicago
Steamboy (Revere MA US) on 2020-03-15 19:40:19.

  •  4 of 5


In this 50 minute program from 1996, it starts with a look at an SW9 number 502 with slug unit 514 passing by a pair of southern Pacific diesels. During the title sequence, another set of southern Pacific power is shown with some blue and yellow Santa Fe units. Next, Canadian national 5202 is being refueled, followed by a hump yard as multiple boxcars are moving to their assigned freight trains. Did you know that in one day there was 4500 cars switched every day? As we get a brief look inside the shop, the Chicago belt railway has 48 locomotives from both alco and EMD. Back outside, SW9 number 503 is being refueled. Other road names are also mentioned such as southern Pacific, csx, union pacific, Wisconsin central, Burlington northern, conrail, Norfolk southern Canadian Pacific Indiana harbor belt, and Santa Fe. Another SW9 uncouples the train, then we see a workman uncoupling the cars. Next, a map of the united states and Chicago is shown. The yard is located near Bedford park. A detailed map of the clearing yards are shown. Back outside, a visit to the dispatching center is shown, which is inside the building. Look carefully for a household fan on top of one of the computers. The dispatcher for this program is Jake mastnee. He joined the belt in 1980. There are 280 trains that are dispatched every 24 hours. Afterwards, a tour of the West receiving yard is included. Here we see a 3 unit southern Pacific ore train. This is operating from mentac Minnesota to Geneva Utah. After uncoupling the ore train, the trio heads for a crew change. These 3 diesels are Dash 9-44 CW's. Next up is a 3 unit General merchandise train from the SOO line with red nosed unit 4452 in the lead, while engines 2045 and 2057 are in the black and brown livery. There are 16 tracks in the West side of the yard, and 22 tracks on the eastern side. Moving into the freight car classification, let's go to the hump. A repeat from one of the opening clips are shown. The hump tower is 20 feet above ground level. After that a brief look at 491 is shown as the camera pans to the West classification yard. 2 more diesels are waiting for a crew, followed by a quick pan of the East classification yard. On the catwalk of the hump tower, one of the belt railway diesels number 484 runs light. There are 56 tracks in the east, and 36 tracks in the west. 3 boxcars are uncoupled, as they head for its assigned freight to its new destination. Moments later, a CSX boxcar is also uncoupled, followed by a tank car, another boxcar, a covered hopper, and a flat lumber car, plus another trio. At the same time, The narrator does a brief history of the Chicago belt railway. Moments later, the camera cuts to the cars about several seconds later, then it pans to the covered hopper with 2 tank cars, followed by a pan shot of a single covered hopper. As the camera pans again, 2 more tank cars are heading for its assigned train. Then it pans again for 3 more tank cars. When the camera zooms out, 2 more tank cars are going away, as the narrator does a little bit more history. 2 more tank cars are under the cameraman. Back on the ground, a SOO line boxcar rolls by, followed by it's identical sibling, as well as pair of flatbeds with their identical loads. Afterwards a look at the special track that made the cars slow down automatically when going downhill is included. In the early morning a close up look at number 493 is shown as it heads for its assigned job. Behind 493 is an unidentified unit. Next, there is a tour of the control room in the hump tower. The first hump yard master is Jim Piper. He worked for the belt since 1960. The second hump yard master is Nick Zingard. He worked for the belt since 1977. A look at the indicator maps are shown. Back outside, 8 cars are heading for its assigned freight as the camera pans to engine 501 and booster unit 510 switching tracks. 2 more lumber cars are under the cameraman, as 491 and 490 switches back and forth. Both of these Along with others are GP38-2s. At the same time, a boxcar and a lumber car move down the track as the camera makes an extreme close up of the roof, the southern Pacific diesel storage yard is shown. As the camera zooms out and pans to the right, 2 more boxcars are running alone. Next up is an auto carrier car with 2 boxcars and another auto carrier car. The hump movement is over as 495 pushes the rest with another unidentified unit. On the CSX side of the yard, diesel 5914 is alone as the camera pans to the containers. There are 19 tracks on the intermodal facility, as well as parking for over 3300 big rigs. Back on the catwalk, a workman uncouples the cars while walking. They are called pin pullers. The workman on the ground is Jim Gibbons. He worked for the belt since 1971. At the same time, a Quartet of CSX units are shown running light with engines 8312, 8135, 2304, & 6445. Both sides of the hump are working now as a pair of SOO line hoppers are slowing down to its assigned train, followed by a trio of hoppers, while Jim is still pin pulling the cars, and the diesels are being refueled. Another pin puller is Paul Misette. He worked for the belt railway since 1984. In the soundproof hump conductor's office, Jim Grant is the operator. He worked for the belt since 1969. Moving onto the West departure yard, an extended repeat of the opening title is included as the camera pans back and forth to a truck crossing the tracks. Moments later, Sw-9 number 522 is switching tracks. As 522 goes backwards, a hopper train arrives as the camera makes a quick pan. Next up is SOO line 2064 with 2041 on a mixed train as it leaves Chicago for the mainline to Craigen. The West departure yard has 21 tracks, while the east departure yard has 24 tracks. Afterwards a tour of the locomotive shops are included. Beginning with the belt/CN combo, as an extended repeat of CN 5202 and the SW9 units are shown. 4 belt units arrive, followed by a trio of SP power waiting for its assigned freight. CSX 5910, 8017, and SP 9365 are shown. More SP power are on the ready tracks. The freight is on the hump track as GP7 number 473 runs light long hood forward. More SP power are shown on the ready tracks as one of the units are still wearing its cotton belt logo. A tour of the cab of the Dash 9-44 CW number 8144 is shown. Look carefully for a grand trunk freight leaving. Afterwards a tour of the cab of an EMD unit is shown as well. Comparison of these 2 cabs are included. Back outside, a tour of the engine house is shown with a big sanding tower, and more SP power with some blue and yellow Santa Fe units. On the platform of 492 is Ronald Wanda. Ronald worked for the belt from 1963 to 1994. Moments later, the belt's chief locomotive Ken Smith is on the same platform as well as Fred Crothers. Ken worked for the belt in 1976, while fred joined the railroad a year later. Back in the maintenance shop, most of the locomotives are being serviced and rebuilt. Service crews took care of 40 Belt locomotives as well as other road names. Alco C424 number 604 and SW9 number 521 are facing the turntable from the steam years. On the right of the screen is SP 8605. It is a rebuilt SD40M-2. More diesels are also being serviced as cotton belt 8053, SP 7763, and Santa Fe 8140 with SP 8011 leave the maintenance yard. Outside the roundhouse, the camera pans to Mp15 number 533. The overhead crane inside the shop weighs at 150 tons. Back outside, SW-1200 number 524 runs light, then we see the wheels of the trucks of the diesels. SP 8658 is waiting for its sand to be refilled. With the sand filled up, 8658 leaves the yard with 8607, 8608, and 3 more units on the rear. A workman walks up to the front end of 8608 as it passes by the shop with 8607 and 8658 after switching directions. Once switched again, the trio heads into the workshop for a mechanical inspection. Listen to the horn on 8608. Some Chicago and northwestern power are in the background as a Quartet of SW9 units 501, 510, 515, and 500. Followed by SW1200 number 525 running light, then concludes with 503 and 513 as more switchers are moving cars in the background. Before the closing credits, a dedicated message to former belt employee and chief of police for the railroad Franklin brown. He worked for the belt in 28 years until his early 1996 death.

This is an interesting look back to see what the everyday operations on the Chicago belt railway has to show for railfans everywhere.

Additional remarks by Steamboy:
Narration: Just enough.
Would kids enjoy this? Definitely!
Image quality: Excellent!
DVD Value:: Fair.
Recommend to others? Yes.

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