There are several construction projects going on at the Niles Canyon Railway whether it is at the Brightside yard west of Sunol or somewhere on the Right-of-Way. By far our biggest project is the volunteer building of our track eastward toward Pleasanton. Our lease with the County of Alameda covers the old former Southern Pacific rail line from Niles (MP 29) to just west of downtown Pleasanton (MP 40.6), a distance of 11.6 miles. Our volunteer crews have rebuilt track that was removed in 1983 from Niles currently east to near MP 39, just short of the Happy Valley Road bridge and adjacent to I-680. That gives us another 1.6 miles of track to rebuild to the limits of our lease.
Unlike our Wednesday Maintenance-of-Way (MOW) volunteer warriors who repair and maintain the existing track and structures, and our signal maintainers, our east track building crew concentrates on the construction of new track east, closing the gap to Pleasanton. The east track building takes place the first Saturday of each month. We meet in Brightside yard at 8am, load the MOW train, have a safety meeting and head east.
Volunteers need not be experienced as we have jobs and tasks for everyone, regardless of what physical shape you are in. Examples of the typical track rehab work includes the setting of track panels in place using our Burro Crane, setting crosstie spacing, repositioning crossties, spiking rail, setting track centerline and tightening rail joint bolts just to name a few.
Standard work clothes and personal protective equipment (PPE) includes hard hat, orange or green reflective safety vest, work boots with steel shank (steel toed preferred), work gloves, hearing protection and safety glasses (dark safety glasses from Home depot OK).