In a years-old video that may foreshadow the near future, a cabling crew works aboard a train to dig a trench and bury duct just a couple feet from a set of railroad tracks. Presumably preparing to install fiber-optic cable in the railroad’s right-of-way, the crew can be seen hopping on and off the train multiple times during the 12-minute video to work with equipment.
The YouTube account “30secondfail” posted the video in 2015, describing the scene as “An Ontario Northland train laying fibre optic cable for Bell Aliant along the Ontario Northland Railway right-of-way. This particular piece of work occurred at the Glencore-Xstrata Kidd Creek Met Site Hoyle rail yard, about 10 km east of Porcupine.”
In the video, an engine pulls two railway cars. One car, which prominently features “Henkels & McCoy” on its side, contains a trenching device that digs through the ground approximately a foot from the track. Immediately behind the trencher is an apparatus that feeds orange duct from a trailing car into the just-dug trench. Partway through the video, the train approaches a roadway crossing, and the crew jumps off to cut the duct and prepare it for when the laying process begins again.
While the idea of crossing train tracks to install fiber-optic cable has become a debatable legal issue recently, the use of railroad rights-of-way for laying fiber has been common for years. As broadband service providers make plans to install fiber-optic cable to fulfill the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, we may see more projects like this one being carried out in rural America.