Oct. 2016: BBC’s “Great American Railroad Journeys” series host Michael Portillo traveled to Champaign on 23 September to film part of the series’ second season. Portillo and his production crew visited local railroad sites including RailTEC’s Research & Innovation Laboratory (RAIL). While at RAIL, Portillo was filmed learning how to apply a rail strain gauge to capture the loads from trains that are being imparted into the track, first by cleaning the rail and then by tack welding the gauge onto the rail. Click here to see photos from their visit.
Portillo has been using an 1879 copy of Appleton’s Guidebook to the railroads of the United States and Canada, and is traveling across the U.S. by train, making stops at important historical sites and learning about influential historical events and famous Americans. In Season 1 of this travel documentary series, Portillo travel down the East coast from Niagara Falls to Jamestown, Virginia. This season he is on a journey from St. Louis, MO to the Grand Canyon. Season 2 will debut in the UK in early 2017 after which the BBC will open up the series to other networks. Last season’s episodes may be watched on YouTube.