As railroads developed the problem of maintenance also surfaced and required attention. Getting a workcrew to the site was a problem as there were rarely roads near the adjacent track. In the 1850s a human powered wooden car was invented to haul crew and tools to the needed work site and could be pulled off the track for passing trains. The first cars used cranks but that caused fatalities.  The pump car proved to be much safer and was used until small gas engines became available.

A vintage pump car.  As wood usually deteriorates this is very rare.

An NP workcrew in the Yakima Canyon below the abandoned tunnels.

Yes, women, families….

…and children can operate pump cars.

Pump cars are not the only human powered vehicles

Human power had a limitation in that personnel had to expend energy to do the necessary maintenance but to get to and from the the work site. As gas engines became available they were mounted on existing equipment. Now the crews could get more work done and travel further than before.

The velocipede, albeit also a bicycle, for rails was a 3 wheeled track car pumped by hand.  It is supposed to be a one man vehicle but on occasion men would dress up in their Sunday best, anything to get their picture taken.

NORTHERN PACIFIC RAILWAY MUSEUM PUMP CARS AND PAGE