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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

17-06-20 PHOTOS: Bay Area

Since I had such a good time riding Amtrak's California Zephyr back in 2012 I followed that up by taking my father on a cross country trip in 2014 and after that went well I decided to do the same with my mother in 2017. As we have family in the Bay Area and she has a close friend in Denver, the Zephyr actually made logistical sense to transport us between two groups of people she had not seen in a while as well as from a scenic entertainment point of view. As usual, the time zone difference combined with an early flight would mean that we would have a day to enjoy San Francisco before traveling to Emmeryville to catch the Zephyr. We flew into Oakland, so the transport modes included BART and Caltrain with a hint of MUNI on the outward leg and then just BART and Caltrain to get to Amtrak.

You can find the full gallery of photos here.

Getting off the plane in Oakland, instead of having to take a special premium fare bus to connect with BART and the Colosseum station, one can now take the premium fare AirBART elevated people mover.  

The line uses unmanned pods to transport passengers between the two endpoints. 

The line was built by ski lift manufacturer Doppelmayr, because the Bay Area just can't get enough of cable cars. The power house is located in the middle of the line and uses two tow ropes per direction.  Vehicles stop at the power house and change from one rope to another.

Westbound AirBART pod on the viaduct over Hegenberger Rd.

The Oakland Colosseum where the Las Vegas Athletics baseball team currently plays.

BART C car #2545 platformed at the BART Colosseum station.

While on BART I caught a Capitol Corridor train rounding the bend between Emmeryville and downtown Oakland. Power was being furnished by P42DC #43.

Cab of a C car showing the restricted forward view for passengers.  The new rolling stock should substantially improve this situation.

My BART train at the Embarcadaro Station.  Sometimes its easy to forget how large the BART windows are.

MUNI LRV #1460B on an N routing at the upper level Embarcadaro station.

Here is another MUNI N-Line LRV, 1508A, approaching the Branna St Station on the Embarcadaro.

Caltrain gallery cab car #4024 lined up at King St. Station with the rest of the trainsets ready for the evening rush.

Because the Bomber sets are mostly used for peak period express trains they tend to hand out at the terminals all day.  Here we see sister coffin cab cars #117 and #116 standing next to eachother.

Power for the gallery trains consisted of F40PH-2CAT #904 and #909.

My train had its route lined up through the 4th St terminal interlocking.

That day the yard power at South San Francisco were a pair of GP60's, #1092 and #1096.

Caltrain Bomber cab car #116 at San Carlos.

Soon after I continued the streak when cab car #115 appeared on a northbound train.  Note the former Metrolink coaches that have been leased by Caltrain to increase the length of their "Baby Bullet" express trains.

Caltrain MP36PH-3C pushing the long express train northward out of San Carlos.

Caltrain uses an interesting system of limited express trains, each of which serves a different basket of stations.  Therefore to connect with BART at Millbrae, we had to catch a train from Redwood City.  While waiting for our train a number of others passed through, some stopping and some not.  Trains that did not stop continued through at the line speed of 80mph.

Our northbound limited express was powered by F40PH-2CAT #919, seen here departing Millbrae.

BART tries to provide an accross-the-platform transfer for northbound riders at their Millbrae Station.  We would be catching a Red line train for a one seat ride to the Ashby Station.

Roof of BART car #1593 seen here at the Ashby station.  While the Emmeryville Amtrak station was theoretically within walking distance, the 1-2 mile distance would have cut the connection too close so I just called an Uber.  Technically the connection point between BART and the Zephyr is the Richmond Station.

A Southbound Amtrak Capitol Corridor train is scheduled to arrive right before the Zephyr pulls in.  This was being powered by a typical Amtrak California F59PHI (#2010), however behind it was brand new SC44 Charger #2104.

These units were being run in tandem in case there was any sort of failure that might delay a revenue train.  You can see how short in height the new units are.  I suspect that the cramped interior will lead to maintenance issues that will ultimately impact reliability.

In our last photo today we see Amtrak California cab car #8307 departing the Emmeryville Station.

Next time tune in as we take yet another Capitol Corridor trip between the Bay Area and Sacramento.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

17-06-18 PHOTOS: Baltimore Link

When the surprise Republican governor took control in Maryland in 2014, one of the first things he did was cancel the ambitious "Red Line" light rail project that would have created an east-west rail corridor to compliment the existing North-South Baltimore Light Rail line.  Not wanted to appear completely hostile towards the urban voters who would never ever support him, he offered a low cost alternative Bust Rapid Transit system that pretty much amounted to a rebranding of the existing bus network as the "Baltimore Link".  Select bus lines would be shifted from their historic numbers (some of which have been in place since the trolley era) to color names and their routes shifted slightly.  Both the Metro and the Light Rail would also get the "Link" moniker for....reasons.

To sell the public on this lipstick the MTA (Maryland) offered two weeks of free rides in the later part of June.  I was happy to jump on the opportunity to save $4 and took an excursion on the Metro Subway, which will soon be losing its Budd built rolling stock. I also took a side trip to visit an the remains of an old Western Maryland RR interlocking near Millford Mill.  You can find all the photos here.

Sign advertising the free ride period at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Station fare lobby.

MTAM UTV car #108 at JHU.

The 1980's vintage Budd cars will seen be replaced by a Breda product, so I took some interior photos.

Single tracking was in place between the tunnel portal and Reisterstown Plaza due to direct fixation repairs on the viaduct section.

Due to it being a Sunday, there was actually quite a lot of track work being carried out on the Baltimore Metrorail line. Here is a compilation of crossover movements taken at Charles Center westbound, Rogers Ave eastbound and the Portal eastbound. Note the flashing lunar white "diverging cab" wayside signal.

The yard and shoppe complex is located between Rodgers Ave and Reisterstown Plaza.

Eastbound trains run over this flyover so trains can enter/exit the yard via this tail track without obstructing the main line.

Eastbound train waiting at Reisterstown Plaza for my train to clear the single track section.

Between Orchard Court and Owings Mill the trains run in the median of I-795 at speeds of 70mph.  Here are a pair of videos showing this median run.

MTAM UTV car #175 at Owings Mill.

MTAM UTV car #108 at Owings Mill.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

17-06-11 PHOTOS: Middle Division West

With the NS re-signaling project on the PRR Main Line (Pittsburgh Line) dragging on into a second year, I I scheduled a second outing with the site owner of to document the western end of the old PRR Middle Division between Huntington, PA and Lewistown, PA with intermediate stops at Mt. Union and McVeytown. I was not quite as lucky as I had been on my first trip, but I was able to document a lot of classic signaling and caught more than a few NS freight trains.  You can see them all right here.

Driving direct to Huntington involves passing through Chambersburg, PA gave me the opportunity to make a brief stop at Chambersburg Cold Storage to photograph their EMD SW1 shop switcher, #8411. 

The cab interior really shows off it's 1950's vintage.

We then proceeded to Mapleton where we were just in time to catch Amtrak Train 42, the eastbound Pennsylvanian, pass under the vintage PRR position light gantry with P42DC #98.

CP-HUNT in Huntington, PA is one of a swindling number of surviving interlockings with pneumatic point machines powered by small air compressor plants such as this.

The Amtrak station at Huntington is located within interlocking limits.  It's smaller the old the PRR facility, but it gets the job done.

HUNT tower is one of the few PRR Main Line towers between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh to have survived into the 21st century.  This is due to the tower being of brick construction when most of the other towers were wood.  It was also purchased by the town for use as a museum/chamber of commerce clubhouse.  HUNT closed in the 1980's, when Conrail re-signaled the line for the first time.

The eastbound signals at CP-HUNT are a trio of position lights masts, seen here being split by NS C44-9W #9240 and SD70M-2 #2774 and #2749.

Here we see NS C44-9W #9626 passing HUNT tower.  The trailing unit

The trailing unit, running elephant style, was UP SD70ACe #8472.

A few miles down US 22 we caught a westbound train with a pair of C44-9W's (#9438 and #9494) on the head end.  In the background a large sheet of clear plastic had gotten tied up in a random steel coil car.