by Keli Ratcliffe

DinkyTrainAnderson & Associates is known for our involvement with rail projects, from surveying and design, to checking tunnel clearance tolerances along the Heartland Corridor, we combine old experience with new innovation. This is all spurred along by CEO Ken Anderson. A well-known supporter for rail transportation; he even serves on the Board of Directors of the Virginians for High Speed Rail; a non-profit that educates and advocates for fast, frequent and reliable rail service connecting the Commonwealth to the entire East Coast. Ken has an affinity for rail that goes back to his childhood.

malletIt’s no wonder that the railroad has made such an impact on Ken. One of his earliest memories is of being in a train wreck on the Richmond Main Street Station in Richmond when the gas-powered “Dinky”, as the two car passenger train was called, backed into a passenger train sitting at the station and was derailed on the platform high above Main
Street.

Ken-on-a-trainHis father worked for the C&O Railroad in the Fulton Shops in Richmond, and his grandfather was a locomotive engineer operating out of Clifton Forge. At one time, his grandfather was the engineer on one of the larger locomotives, called a Mallet, in the fleet on the C&O.

Ken recalls traveling between Richmond and Clifton Forge with a tag around his neck that read ‘put this child off at Clifton Forge’. “My fear was that they would not, and I would travel forever west. I always related to the Kingston Trio song about traveling forever on the MTA.”

Ken worked as a laborer, equipment operator, and surveyor for the C&O between high school and college. One of his jobs was a motor grader operator, which he describes as one of the best jobs he ever had. He surveyed on the “viaduct” along the James in Richmond and remembers moving to the small side platforms when a train came by. He observes, “Safety was not as big an issue in those days as it is today. Since the James River line was built on the tow path of the James River-Kanawa Canal, in surveying we often had to cross over the canal. I remember using the level rod as a vaulting pole to get across. That would not be an approved practice today.”

Ken, who was skeptical that passenger rail would have a place in today’s transportation system, is pleased that the numbers are proving him wrong. Ken and Anderson & Associates were happy to make a donation to Virginians for High Speed Rail, in support of improving Virginia’s rail network.

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