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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

17-05-16 PHOTOS: New York Ave

If you are ever in Washington DC with a few minutes to spare before your train departs Union Station, consider taking the Red Line for an additional stop and spending your layover at the DC Metro New York Ave metro stop instead of the Union Station holding pens. Built in 2004 as an infill station between Union and Rhode Island Ave with some of the funding provided by nearby development interests, NY Ave offers unrestricted views of the Union Station trunk line between the J and K signal bridges of the terminal interlocking. With both revenue and deadhead trains from MARC, VRE and Amtrak in addition to the steady flow of WMATA trains, there is almost always something going on.

You can find the full set of photos here.

Thanks to the purge, the only electric locomotives being operated by Amtrak are of the ACS-86 variety, so that can get a bit monotonous, but LD trainsets can spice things up. Here #626 passes under the K Bridge en route to New York Penn.

#659 at the same location shoving a Regional trainset towards one of DC Union Station's stub end platforms.

As this was the weekday PM rush, WMATA trains were passing through every couple of minutes. One of these contained 3000 series class car Mr. 3000!

VRE train heading to one of the lower level tracks with MP36PH-3 #V66 and ex-Metra Pullman gallery car #V427.

Here we see a deadhead MARC trainset with bi-level K-Car #7857 and MP36PH-3C #22 passing an outbound Brunswick Line train with MP36PH-3C #33 and Bomber split level cab car #8056.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

17-04-20 PHOTOS: RBBX

In spring of 2017 the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus (reporting mark RBBX) packed up its tent for good. Attendance had been slowly declining for years, however the bottom fell out when the iconic circus elephant were retired due to pressure from PETA and other animal rights wingnuts. However RBBX's most enduring legacy was its fleet of performing heritage railcars organized into two touring productions, Red and Blue. While the railcars were never under threat from protest groups, the severe revenue shortfall made running two mile-long trains full of people and equipment unsustainable. Fortunately, fans were given several month's warning and thanks to the folks at Trains magazine, who published the schedule and route in advance, I was able to position myself in the Baltimore area to catch the Blue Unit train while it was berthed for a performance and later when it departed for Charleston, WV.

After the final performance I was fortunate to catch what was referred to as the "funeral train" wherein all cars not already sold and transferred would be combined into a single movement to be run down the East Coast to the RRBX compound in the Tampa area. To round out the photo set I have also included some pics of MARC and CSX operations in the Baltimore region. You can view the entire set of photos here.

We begin with a westbound MARC Camden Line train arriving at the Dorsey station from Baltimore with Bombardier split-level cab car #8048 in the lead. This is the first westbound train of the afternoon as the Camden line runs a peak only service in both directions.

Located off Maryland Rt. 100, the large park and ride facility makes the Dorsey Station a popular stop for both DC and Baltimore commuters.

Here MARC Mp36PH-3C #25 pushes the short split-level consist towards Washington DC, knocking down the Clear signal indication at DORSEY interlocking. The full crossover was installed in the early 90's to allow MARC trains to duck and weave around slower CSX freight trains on the Capitol Sub.

A few minutes later the "new" Dorsey Short Turn pulls into the track #2 platform from Washington, DC. A year or two ago, MARC was able to stretch its budget to include an extra early PM round trip originating in Washington, DC. To make everything work with their limited number of trainsets the round trip would have to turn at Dorsey, instead of running all the way to Baltimore. This isn't a huge deal as very few Camden Line riders continue beyond Dorsey. Today MARC MP36PH-3C #15 has the honors of leading the eastbound train.

This train consisted entirely of single level K-Cars with MARC #7762 leading the movement back west.

A little less than a month before the final performance on May 17th, the RBBX Blue Unit pulled into Baltimore for a week long engagement. The train was stabled at the typically vacant Mt. Claire Yard, which is located on the original B&O alignment that leads to the present site of the B&O museum and the Mt. Claire shoppes. The long string of heritage passenger cars was divided between two tracks. Performers traveling by road also had space in the yard to park their RVs.

At some point a shuttle bus arrived to ferry the performers to the Royal Farms arena in Downtown Baltimore. Before PETA threw a fit, the elephants and other equipment would parade down surface streets to reach the area from the rail-head.

I'm sure a website somewhere has a detailed history about all the RRBX cars, but I couldn't find it and it ultimately doesn't do you much good to hear me rattle through a list of dates and builders. The passenger cars served as dormitories for most of the performers and stage crew for the RRBX production. Previously all the animals would also ride the train, however the large cats were moved into trucks and, as I said, the elephants were retired.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

17-03-23 PHOTOS: Dallas-Fort Worth

Ten years ago I traveled to Dallas-Ft. Worth and was shocked to see that the region had an extensive rail transportation network, since typically public transportation in Texas consists of hopping into the bed of a passing pickup truck. Although in 2017 I had much less time to explore the system, I did manage to squeeze in a ride between both cores of the metroplex on the Trinity Rail Express commuter line in addition to a short DART trip from Luv Field. While in Fort Worth I also managed to pay a visit to the famous Tower 55, the busiest at-grade rail crossing in the United States.

You can find all the photos here.

Traveling on the DART Green Line to get to Union Station is not as simple as it sounds. Neither of the two "new" DART lines (Green and Orange) serve Union Station directly and require a change of train at West End. The DART LRV's have been expanded with a new center section, however they kept their classic analogue rollsigns in the rebuild process. Here Green Line LRV #186 departs West End inbound.

Here inbound Blue Line DART LRV #238 enters Union Station. The square sealed beam headlights and American designed Tomlinson coupler just scream 1980's tech.

The Dallas Union Station sits adjacent to the Hyatt hotel and convention center, which, for security reasons, has been equipped with some sort of adaptive camouflage. Attached is also Dallas' very own version of the Knoxville Whigsphere, which I have to assume holds thousands of boxes of unsold cowboy hats.

Two TRE trains sit side-by-side at Dallas Union Station with former GO Transit F59PHs #125 and #120 as power. TRE runs full trips between Dallas and Fort Worth as well as short turns to Centreporte and West Irving, which sit upon either end of the yard. F59PH #120 was pulling out short turn train #2525 toward West Irving.

As I waited for my train to Fort Worth to depart I noticed a Diverging Clear signal pulled up at JFK JCT and soon enough a westbound Union Pacific doublestack train rounded the bend with ET44AH #2695 and ES44AC #8033 coupled elephant style.

DART Red Line LRV #159 at Union Station. DART uses Union Station tracks 1 and 2, TRE tracks 3 and 4 and Amtrak's Texas Eagle uses track 5.

TRE Bomber Coffin Cab Car #1004 on track 4 at Union Station. After retiring their fleer of RDC's, TRE makes exclusive use of octagonal GO Coaches. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

17-02-18 PHOTOS: Schenectady Stuff

Well the second part of my 2017 trip to the NY Capitol District is focused on the Schenectady area due to the ongoing re-signaling efforts and replacement of the Amshackle downtown passenger station. In addition to those photos are also included some shots of the Albany-Rensselaer Station I took on my way back south. You can find the full set of photos here.

First up we have what I believe is Amtrak Train #63, the northbound Maple Leaf, led by Amtrak P42DC #96 as it passes the MP 161 automatic signal at Scotia, NY.

The Schenectady Station it had just departed is currently in the midst of getting a new high level island platform amoung other upgrades.

Back in the day the station used to have two island platforms, 4 tracks and also served the D&H.

The old waiting room and ticket office, dating from the Amshack era, will be replaced by a completely new building.

The northbound Adirondack, with Amtrak P42DC #105, pauses at Schenectady before switching over to the former D&H route for the trip to Montreal. 

Video of Train #69 departing Schenectady.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

17-02-16 VIDEOS: Hudson Line North

Like the photo surveys, I have also done a number of rear and front facing video surveys of the Hudson Line. Last year I documented the entire Amtrak section north of CP-75 and south of DV. Previously I had done the MNRR portion between Croton-Harmon and GCT. All that remained was the MNRR section north of Croton and as you can surmise from my photo set, I was indeed able to capture it.

In fact, since the weather was so much better than 2016, I just kept the camera rolling all the way to Albany! This section covers Amtrak Train 281 traveling Poughkeepsie to Rhinecliff. By this point Train 281 was running about 15 minutes late due to a delay at Poughkeepsie because Metro-North did not have a platform available for the train.

Here we have Rhinecliff to Hudson. A recent storm had dumped some snow, but warm day temperatures prevented it from blowing, a phenomena that has ruined survey attempts in the past.

Finally we have the final part between Hudson and Albany-Rensselaer. Note the new CP-138 and the rebuilt Albany terminal interlocking. Our train even platforms on the brand new 4th track!

Well that's it for this week. Next time we'll stay in the Capitol District and check out the work going on around the Schenectady station.

17-02-16 PHOTOS: Hudson Line

In recent years I have had paid a number of visits to the former New York Central Hudson Line both on the ground and on Amtrak Empire Service trains. A good number of them have enabled me to take video and shoot survey photos, but so far those efforts have been hampered by poor light, weather conditions or both. For this year's trip I tried to do better by booking and earlier train and bringing a DSLR camera. I also got lucky with implied verbal concert to ride in the rear vestibule and I took advantage of the opportunity to survey the Metro North portion of the line, something I had not done until now. You can view the full set of photos covering everything on the Hudson Line from the West Side through to Albany here.

Crossing the Harlem River via the Inwood movable bridge, my Empire Service train enters Metro North territory at the old DV interlocking.

MNRR P32AC-DM #205 was doing some extreme wrong railing all the way over on track #1 to avoid delaying our movement.

Passing an inbound MNRR M7 trainset at Ludlow and an M3 trainset at Hastings-on-Hudson as my train proceeds north on Track 2.


Outbound push-pull train led by MNRR P32AC-DM #224 making a stop at Dobbs Ferry.

 Surviving New York Central signal gantry just north of Ardsley.

Old OW tower under the new Tappen Zee bridge.

MoW work at CP-26 through Philipse Manor. 

Inbound push-pull train led by MNRR P32AC-DM #219 stopped at Ossining.

 Sing Sing trench.

Friday, January 20, 2017

17-01-20 PHOTOS: Amtrak New Englande

Back in January I ventured up to Boston via Amtrak and despite the short days and crummy weather I managed to generate a little bit of rail related content. The northbound trip was on the notorious Train 94, however southbound I decided to splurge on an Acela Express. Not much else to say except you can find most of the photos here.

We start in Penn Station where my phone camera can really show off its low light capability with ACS-86 #605 at the head of my train #94. T94 is usually perpetually late due to its counter-peak time slot into Penn, but today it was doing alright.

NJT split level cab cars #7039 and #7023 sitting at the east end of the platforms.

Nighttime at New Haven.

Clear signals at ORMS interlocking, Providence, RI.

Hyundai-Rotem split level cab car #1800 in Back Bay station.

 Type 7 and Type 8 LRV's coupled at Coplay on the Green Line subway trunk.

Type 7 LRV #3659 at Mountfort St.