Railroads: Amtrak, etc

Google StreetView etc. might even have images along the gravel road to your grandma’s house. Four times already over the years.

But there’s one gaping lack in all their tons of images: railroad right of ways.

You know, what you see when you are looking out the windows of the observation car on Amtrak’s California Zephyr, etc.

I would say it is the largest gap in … well it’s just like if the president was missing a front tooth.

And we all know there is no way to get a word in edgewise to Google.

So this is where Mapillary can fill the gap.

Yes, remapping some road is important, however attention should also be turned to filling in those missing railroad views. USA and rest of world. Thank you.

See also Capturing side view whilst on a train

Best would be to sign some deal with the Department of Transportation, to mount some professional equipment, on their so-called DOTX measurement cars, which are often attached to Amtrak trains right behind the engine. Or perhaps even better would be an external rear mounted or even front mounted camera. Yes, right on the very back of the train, or on the very front of the train, without any glass in the way. Like Capturing side view whilst on a train - #9 by dave683 YouTube video.

This is a pretty good idea, however there’s a few more problems.

For starters, Amtrak coverage kinda sucks. A LOT. There’s no service in the entirety of some states such as South Dakota or Wyoming and barely any in many more such as Idaho or Tennessee. This leaves us with freight railroads which have many of their own problems. It would be much easier to attach a camera device to the back of a mainline intermodal train, but eventually the train cars have to be moved around in a yard to get to their final destination. It would be an even worse issue on local trains which have to do a lot of switching around on the spurs they serve.

Plus the railroads would most likely be disinterested if it doesn’t give them money.

As well as these issues, you also have the problem of the time of day. Cameras at night are not very good at capturing good images. Freight trains also usually run without any schedule. And Amtrak tends to be many hours late and they also run at night.

In conclusion, this is a cool idea and I like the idea of being able to see images coverage from the tracks. However it’s not going to be very easy to accomplish this, hence why nobody has done it in a large scale before.

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