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Sunday, September 17, 2017

04-04-01 CLASSIC PHOTOS: Martinsburg Trip

Back in 2004 I was living in Baltimore without a car and was looking to visit a friend in the Chambersburg, PA area. The closest railheads were in Frederick, MD, served by a new MARC commuter service, and Martinsburg, WV, served on the weekends by Amtrak. So I put together a little trip wherein I would take MARC outbound from Baltimore to Frederick, (something MARC would actually sell you a ticket for) and then catch Amtrak's Capitol Limited back on Sunday from Martinsburg. Of course this allowed me to get photos in both directions that you can view here, along with some guest photos of NA cabin I happened to include , but more on that later.

Here we see MARC GP39H-2 #74 at Washington, DC. As of 2017, these 2300hp M-K rebuilds continue on in MARC service on typically shorter B&O division runs.

Golden Hour at Union Station with MARC Kab Car #7758 and K-Tower in the background.

At the time, the mainstay of the MARC fleet were 19 GP40WH-2's re-manufactured by M-K in 1993. Here #61 sits under the parking deck at Union Station with the front porch door open. Today only #68 remains in service, the fleet having been replaced by MP36PH-3C's.

My train to Frederick was led by Kab Car #7747, seen here at the terminal after sunset.

Martinsburg was once home to a major B&O shoppe complex. Today the shoppes are being converted into a historic attraction that features an 1850's vintage covered roundhouse.

NA Tower (Cabin?) had only been closed by CSX within the last year. Prior to 2000, almost the entire B&O main line was still managed by a series of 8 manned interlocking towers, but by 2004 only 3 remained. NA had been closed later than the two immediately to the west as CSX wanted the State of West Virginia to foot part of the bill for the CTC upgrade between Martinsburg and Brunswick to support the extended MARC service.

As of 2017 NA cabin still stands, although it is in increasingly rough shape. The rail heritage site across the tracks actually hosts the preserved 'R' tower from Cherry Run, WV.

Steam rises from the rails as the electric point heaters do their job to fend off a mild early spring snow event.

Still new CSX SD70MAC #4706 rolls through Martinsburg ahead of Amtrak Train 30. 

Amtrak P42DC #49 arriving on Track 1 with the eastbound Train 30.

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.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

17-01-01 PHOTOS: Aberdeen and Charles Towne

Aberdeen, MD, that annoying stop on the NEC that adds 5 minutes Washington bound train's journey time for no appreciable reason. Aberdeen, MD, that low level stop where passengers have to walk forward or back to the cafe car cause that's the only place where the crew opens the doors. Aberdeen, MD, a very interesting 1940's station design that marked the last hurrah before railroads went into full on Amshack mode.

With the B&O Philly sub completely stripped clean of anything interesting, I have started to visit various points of interest along the NEC. On New Year's Day, 2017 I decided to stop by the Amtrak Station at Aberdeen, MD, conveniently located just off US 40, and although the train traffic was a bit sparse, the station itself proved to be quite interesting. Also included in this post will be some additional photos I took on a trip to Charles Towne, WV. You can see both sets of photos here and here.

Here we see a non-stopping Amtrak Regional train pulled by ACS-86 #646 as it passes under the MP 65 automatic signal situated just north of the station.

Rear of the single story brick station building built in 1943 the PRR. Note the architectural elements on the chimney including a fun 40's font. In addition to the waiting room on the north end there is a disused baggage and express facility on the south end. 

Front of the station as seen from across the tracks. The waiting room is open on weekdays for MARC commuter passengers, although a room with a QuikTrak machine is available at all times.

The station is served by both an overpass and a pedestrian tunnel. The tunnel is far more convenient and involves about half the number of steps. 

Here we see Amtrak Train 91, the southbound Silver Starve as hauled by ACS-86 #621.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

16-12-27 VIDEOS: SEPTA Mid-Winter Trip XVI

Since I got my go-pro it's become a habit for me to accompany the Mid-Winter photo post with a special video post and this year is no different.

Due to the ongoing PATCO refurbishment project, I was extra keen to get another video from the front seat. Unfortunately, while I was able to get an unrebuilt trainset, it had decided to rain again so the video is somewhat marred by raindrops on the railfan window. I did take the extra time to ride the train all the way to 15th/16th and Locust as most years I jump off at 8th and Market to proceed directly to Market East. Also, this year's commentary was provided by special guest, Fred G.

My next long format video comes from my GoPro being mounted on the rear of a SEPTA Rt 34 trolley as it runs from the Angora loop to the 33rd St Subway Surface station. Please excuse the GoPro popping off the window from time to time.

The next two videos were taken on the Fox Chase line and show a student engineer being instructed on how to deal with the new ACSES PTC system, now in service on SEPTA. Because the cab door was open on this Silverliner V I was able to document exactly how much this hunk of junk gets in the way of the engineer. As promoted by safety scolds a PTC system should only intervene if a train is going to enter an unsafe condition, however we can see that the braking curves are ridiculously conservative as the engineer is able to easily get back below it with what could be described as mild braking.

Moreover, the way the information is displayed makes the engineer very timid as he approaches the various restrictions. Finally, the system fails to take into account the existing safety margins that were already built into the speed restrictions, resulting in the margin for error being doubled. This is the reason SEPTA recently had to increase the scheduled runtime of its trains by 4-5 minutes.

Finally, here's a little MFL railfan window action with a run from 46th St to 8th and market.

Well that's all the video content from the 2016 MWT. Hope to see you all again next year!