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Saturday, July 8, 2017

17-07-08 PHOTOS: Metro Detour

So last summer someone I know from the UK needed to catch a flight out of International Airport Dulles and I suggested that we make a day out of it and visit the Udvay Hazy Center before his late afternoon flight. To somewhat complicate matters another friend who had offered to actually do the driving wanted to spend three additional hours after the Dulles trip to go and see his horse. I made a counter proposal that he just drop me off at the Wiehle-Reston Silver Line stop and I'd make my way home via the Metro and MARC Weekend Service. unfortunately things turned out to be a little more complicated than I had anticipated.

I'll start with a few photos from the Udvar Hazy center.  First a Vought F4U Corsair.


The B-29 Enola Gay.


Me 163 Komet with an HWK 509 rocket engine.


A PBY-5A Catalina sitting next to the Apollo 11 spacecraft in the restoration hanger. 


Upon leaving the museum I got this photo of an Air France A380 #F-HPJD landing at IAD.


Catching a waiting METRO train of the classic style at Wiehle-Reston.


Unfortunately the Blue/Orange trunk line was shut down somewhere between Roslyn and Metro Center so Silver Line trains were having to turn at Ballston Spa. This would force a transfer to an Orange Line train, but that would get me only as far as Roslyn where I would need to transfer to a Blue Line train to take me to Pentagon where I could finally get across the river on a Yellow Line train. The closure basically turned a 2 seat ride into a 5 seat ride!!




I was able to get some rear railfan window video while on the Blue line between Roslyn and Arlington Cemetery.



Monday, July 3, 2017

17-07-03 PHOTOS: Pennsylvanian

As you have seen I have been desperately trying to document the PRR signals on the Main Line before they are replaced in over the next year or two.  In the summer of 2017 I had the opportunity to ride the Pennsylvanian eastbound from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, which would supplement my 2009 photo survey of the line in the opposite direction. I even booked Business Class to make sure I would get a view out the back.  Unfortunately, despite booking on a Monday Morning, my train attracted a PV out for a short joy ride over the curve to Harrisburg and back and was denied a view of the most important part of the line :-(  I did my best out the side window and I got rear shots east of Harrisburg, but all in all the trip was a bust.

If you are interested in the full set of photos I did manage to get, they are here.

The business class car was at the front of the train so I had the time and opportunity to get some pictures under the Pittsburgh train shed. Here we see Amtrak P42DC #89 on one of the two stub end tracks used by the Pennsylvanian.


The old PITT tower is visible through the trainshed columns. Built in the early 1950's, the tower housed one of the last and largest US&S Model 14 machines ever installed. Today the tower functions as a Port Authority police station with operational responsibility over the adjacent east busway that took over half of the former PRR Main Line right of way.


Here we look westward down the main station platform. Mainline track 1 is used by the Capitol Limited with a midnight westbound departure and an 5:30am eastbound departure. To the right of that is the old 3000' long Pitt controlled siding that used to store helper sets. In the 2000's, the west connection to the siding was removed leaving it as an infrequently used stub track.


Some railfans out to catch the PV movement at Latrobe.


A couple of views of Johnstown, PA. The first is a view from the Stone Bridge of the the Conemaugh River, channelized to prevent a recurrence of the deadly flood of 1889. The Stone Bridge, built in 1888, survived the flood unscathed and continues to serve in its original capacity. The second picture shows the top of the surviving PRR Johnstown Station.



Here we see the rear end of NS SD70ACU #7326. These were rebuilt SD90/43MACs purchased from Union Pacific over the last few years.


The offending private car was RPCX #2263 "Berlin", seen here rounding the horseshoe curve.


The viewing area was well patronized that day with fans seen here with PRR GP9 #7048.


Passing another train, the head end lashup included NS #6752, a former Conrail SD60I and NS #9250, an operation Lifesaver painted C44-9W.



Thursday, June 29, 2017

17-06-29 PHOTOS: WIING

When it comes to documenting what is left of the Old PRR Main Line, I am burning the candle at both ends. From the east I have worked from Harrisburg to Huntington as this is all within day trip distance of me. However some friends I made in the Pittsburgh area has allowed me to open up a second front so to speak and since 2015 I have been systematically knocking off those signaling locations at last somewhat adjacent to the South Pennsylvania Railroad Pennsylvania Turnpike. In 2015 I visited CP-RADE at Radebaugh, PA, in 2016 CP-TRAFF in Trafford, PA and this year I swung by the next interlocking down the line, CP-WING in Wilmerding, PA. Formerly known as WG interlocking, it controls the west end of the PRR's one great Pitcarin Yard, now serving as an intermodal facility under NS and Conrail.

Today CP-WING consists of a 3-track full crossover with an extra yard lead on the east end. The northern two tracks belong to the NS Pittsburgh Line while the southern track runs out of Pitcarin Yard and straight through to become the Port Perry branch. This line bypasses downtown Pittsburgh along the southern banks of the Monongahela River. The interlocking features a full 3-track PRR signal bridge at the west end and two PRR position light masts on the main tracks along with a Unilens Dwarf and a target type color light mast for the yard tracks at the east end. All the switches are still pneumatically operated. If you are interested in the full set of photos, they can be found here.

So as I rolled up in the car I had to scramble to capture NS C44-9W #9945 and a 27xx series SD70ACe leading an eastbound doublestack trains past the westbound mast signals at CP-WING. This is a popular railfan location due to the ease of access and interesting background items.



WING tower was replaced by this double-wide relay hut in a ~1970's CTC project between CP-CONPIT and CP-HOME. Note the air line running out to supply the pneumatic switches.


The air compressor was located in this classic structure that pre-dated the CTC project. When I arrived at the site I found two people who appeared to be railroad workers in NS style high visibility yellow safety vests. After making some small talk I soon realized that they were actually municipal utility workers using their official vehicle to harvest scrap metal from the right of way. This sums up the situation for your Simpsons fans out there ;-)


It's such a shame that non-solid state technologies are becoming so rare these days. Here we see the air plant outside the compressor house at CP-WING. Although the pneumatic point machines here are likely to be retired in the near future, NS had to fabricate some new housings for the mechanisms since US&S stopped supporting the product around 10-15 years ago.


Shortly thereafter another eastbound doublestack train appeared off the Port Perry branch, crossing over to Pittsburgh Line track #1. NS ES44AC #8131 was in the head with C44-9W #9325 running behind.



Shortly thereafter an NS "helper pack" of two SD40E's (rebuilt SD50's #6332 and #6310) that had been waiting for the stack train to clear up, got it's signal and proceeded eastbound behind it. With the popularity of distributed power arrangements out west, the PRR main line is probably the most active helper districts left in the United States with pairs of SD40E's helping trains get up and down the Allegheny summit between Altoona and various points between Johnstown and Pittsburgh.



After a few minutes observing the local wildlife, a westbound showed up, passing under the classic PRR signal bridge with NS C44-9W #9904 and #9875 in the lead.



A fourth westbound movement soon materialized with another NS C44-9W (yawn) on point, but a significantly more interesting standard cab SD70 #2532, following behind.



Saturday, June 24, 2017

17-06-24 PHOTOS: Denver RTD

Let's see now.  I've flown in and out of Denver, I've taken Amtrak through Denver...twice, I even know three different people who would put me up for the night in Denver, however until this past summer I never bothered to actually visit Denver for more than the time the California Zephyr was laying over in the station.  That makes this really strange is that Denver is a major metropolitan area with an extensive light rail network and a brand new electrified commuter rail system that uses Philly's own Silverliner V's.

Typically when I cross the country on Amtrak I, well, cross the country and also spend a night in Chicago.  This time I cut the train trip short and spent three days in the mile high (and then some) city riding transit and seeing the sights.  The full gallery includes RTD light rail, commuter rail, more Amtrak and a few BNSF freights.  Check out the link or keep reading below for the highlights.

So no sooner had I arrived in Denver when I saw a special passenger being attached to the rear of the eastbound Zephyr.  It was C&O #3, the Chapel Hill.  The well heeled passengers were eager for a photo and were nice enough to give me some schwag for the service.




Also at the station were one of the spiffy new RTD Silverliner V's (#4004).


Denver Union Station has been fully re-opened and the restoration job was magnificent.  Not only does it support both Amtrak and intercity bus services, but it also has a plethora of food and drink options and ample seating.




The new Amtrak ticket window was also open for business.


So the following day I set out for a round-the-city light rail trip on an affordable ~$5 day pass.  Unfortunately, this normally arid city had chosen to have a rare rainy day.  Here we see RTD LRV #316 at the Littleton - Mineral station. 


Riding all the way downtown to Union Station more RTD Silverliners were lined up on track #3, including #4029 which was wrapped for the Colorado Rapids, what I assume is an MLS team.



While there the westbound Amtrak Zephyr was sitting on Track #4 with  P42 #150 in the lead.



Thursday, June 22, 2017

17-06-22b PHOTOS: Colorado Carcass

I'm calling this a "transcontinental" Amtrak trip, but as I said before, the destination was Denver and I had taken the California Zephyr twice before.  Past Grand Junction, CO, the line had already been re-signaled prior to 2014, so I could sit back and relax a bit with my mom in the sleeping accommodation instead of standing at my perch by the rear facing window.  However between the junction with the old Tenessee Pass route at Dotsero and Bond my coverage could use a bit of a refresh and furthermore I wanted to check out two islands of searchlight signaling between Bond and the Steven Moffat Tunnel.

Not to keep you in suspense, the searchlights were all gone and after Bond I didn't have much to do besides enjoy a nice steak dinner in the dining car as we descended towards Denver. You can view the full set of photos here.

Like the west end of the yard seen in the last set, the east end of the yard was full of stored power.  However instead of UP GP15-1's, this time it was HLCX and GATX SD40-2's.


The line soon passes the High Line Canal diversion, that diverts Colorado River water for agricultural uses around Grand Junction.


Our power, Amtrak P42DC's #124 and #172 as seen from the dining car around a bend in the river.


Colorado River gouge as seen approaching Glenwood Springs.


This Union Pacific fixed blade plough was one of the few pieces of equipment in te Gleenwood Springs Yard.


The old DRG&W searchlight signal bridge had been replaced by this new structure :-(


My perch from the rear of the Zephyr.


Beyond Glenwood Springs, the route switches onto the Moffat Tunnel route, following the Little Colorado River into the Rockies.


To the west of the railroad bridge, a new concrete road bridge replaced an old timber span that allows for recreational access to the valley.


The river cuts through time and exposes the red rock strata below.