Andrew Fox walks away without a scratch

Categories: Spring 2024

Andrew Fox’s lifetime love affair with trains has provided him with a vocation, an

IMG 4586 page 6A or IMG 4545
A lifetime love affair with trains.
©Andrew/Susan Fox


avocation, and plenty of adventures. Andrew grew up in northern California and from an early age was fascinated by trains. He got his first job with the railroad one week after graduating from high school. Later, after completing a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and an MBA at Northwestern, Andrew continued his career with the railroad. Andrew met his wife Susan while both were working for the Southern Pacific Railroad in San Francisco. They both continued their work in the industry in many locations across the country. Susan‘s career spanned 30 years, while Andrew has been working for the railroad for 53 years; currently serving as a consultant.

In 2015, after a history of high and fluctuating PSA scores, Andrew was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Dr. Catalona performed nerve-sparing surgery. Since his successful radical prostatectomy, Andrew has continued on many life adventures. He feels it is important to get the word out and for people to continue doing PSA tests and requisite follow-ups so they can continue to lead their lives.

IMG 4595 P6 B Train and Mountains
©Andrew/Susan Fox

In retirement, Andrew and Susan focus many of their travel plans around trains, railroads, and traveling with other railroad enthusiasts. They recently traveled in Argentina on a 250-mile-long narrow-gauge line in Patagonia. Typically, tourist trains in the area run short intervals. This journey was unusual in its length. The scenery was spectacular; the train traveled about 10-11 miles per hour. On the sixth and last day of this segment of the journey, the engineer saw an uneven spot in the track and braked. The train did stop, but it was too late and due to the system of couplers and safety chains, the train derailed. Within moments, cars flipped over. One train car (the one Andrew and Susan were in) broke apart. Amazingly, both Susan and Andrew escaped unscathed. No fatalities occurred as a result of the derailment. The majority of people were not hurt, though a significant number of people were injured, with black eyes or bruised ribs, and 3-4 people were seriously injured. The most severely injured was a person from the U.K. who had a fracture in his neck.

IMGP0546 Page 7A Andrew Fox
Andrew and Susan Fox at the site of the train derailment.
©Gene Hamon

After the derailment, the staff removed chairs from the dining car and injured individuals were able to sit while awaiting rescue. As the train was in a very remote area at the time of the derailment, the first individuals who came upon the accident were a pair of Argentinian cowboys (gauchos) on horseback, who were traveling with a satellite phone. They contacted emergency personnel who came to evacuate injured passengers. As the area was rugged and remote, a proper ambulance was not able to access the site.

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No fatalities occurred as a result of the derailment. The majority of people were not hurt, though a significant
number of people were injured.
©Andrew/Susan Fox

Injured individuals were evacuated in the back of a pick-up truck. The closest village, Rio Chico, contained a clinic where medical care was given to individuals and where the seriously injured were moved by ambulance to larger treatment centers. By and large, the travelers were complimentary of the medical treatment they received at the clinic. Passengers who were not injured were sent to the community center for a large Argentinian lunch. Eventually, most passengers (40+

IMG 4612 p 7C people at site of train derailment
Waiting for evacuation
©Andrew/Susan Fox

people) continued on their journey; even people who had been hospitalized linked up with the rest of the group when they were able to travel. The journey included two more train trips (22 hours and 5 hours) from Bariloche to an area near Buenos Aires, as well as several days touring railway museums in Buenos Aires. Andrew and Susan shared that they have learned since the derailment, that the local government in Patagonia has suspended all passenger train travel until they conduct a safety review. This perilous derailment has not discouraged the couple from further train adventures.

Previously, Andrew and Susan had traveled by train across Canada many times. Almost every year they travel from Vancouver to Toronto (and sometimes back again). This 4-night, 3-day journey highlights the enormous size of Canada even though this trip doesn’t encompass the entire country. This trek has become an annual pilgrimage, as many as 100 retired and active railroaders reconvene and catch up on each other’s prior year’s adventures.

Susan commented that Chicago is a railroad hub and many people in Chicago have relatives who worked for the railroads. While the railroads are now more lean and automated, there is still a pretty good presence of railroad people in Chicago. In fact, in late April and early May Susan and Andrew in a group of 9 (primarily railroad enthusiasts) are scheduled to be traveling in southern Africa for an 11- day train trip from Namibia to South Africa. A wildlife safari in Zimbabwe completes the journey and also ticks off one item from Susan’s bucket list.

The summer will be spent in the US, largely in Chicago, but also planned are visits to Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. Susan and Andrew are enjoying each adventure that awaits them and it’s a sure bet that upcoming trips will include rail travel.

QUEST readers may enjoy learning about other travel adventures experienced by Andrew and Susan Fox. The Winter 2019 QUEST (online at highlights a few of these, including a perilous dude ranch incident.

Paul Theroux’s popular books about train travel are enjoyed by many readers. Susan is currently reading The Old Patagonian Express which is an account of a journey taken by the novelist. He starts from his home in Massachusetts, via Boston and Chicago. He is determined to travel as far as he can by train. In his quest, he takes trains in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Columbia. He finally reaches the small town of Esquel in Patagonia. The book has been praised for its depth and understanding of the people, and the culture, giving a flavor of various South American countries.

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