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Thursday, April 19, 2007

07-04-19 PHOTOS: Dallas and TRE

In this final installment of my trip to Dallas back in late April I bring you perhaps the most exciting part of my journey. Here are photos of the downtown Union Station where the famous TRE Budd RDCs hang out. TRE also makes use of push-pull trainsets mostly bought from GO Transit making use of GO vintage EMD F59PH's and new bought F59PHI's. Amtrak also stops at the station and I missed the Texas Eagle by about 5 minutes as I was walking back from the station area. Well, I guess one can't catch 'em all.

Of course I also visited the nearby 6th Floor Museum which is located in the former Texas School Book Depository building. The museum was a bit pricey and didn't allow photography, but it was sort of obligatory that I go. It was interesting to see all of those famous locations up close. The distances involved were much shorter than they had seemed in all those documentaries, well within the range of a basic marksman.

On my last day in Dallas I took the TRE out to the Airport station and was able to take pictures out through the railfan view. The line is being upgraded with new stretched of double track, especially at some stations and where they augmented some old single track bridges. The Budds run all day. In the mid-day they run the short turn trains to the airport. These run every other hour with Bomber sets going to Ft Worth in the gaps. There are additional RDC sets running all the way to Ft Worth during the peak periods.

You can find all the pictures of the downtown Dallas area as well as some railroad pix I took in Garland at:

Here is a select sample:

Here is a TRE Bomber set pulling into Union Station with cab car #1002 in the lead.

And a group of Budd cars departing.  Budds tend to be used on locals to the DFW airport mid-mine terminal while the Bomber sets go all the way to Fort Worth.

Flat nose F59PH #568 of GO vintage pulls into with the rhomboid Bombardier split-level cars also of GO vintage.  The F59's came on the used market after GO went all in with MP40PH-3Cs.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

07-04-17 PHOTOS: McKinney Ave Transit Authority

Look! It's a trolley museum, NO, its a transit line! Actually, it's a little of both. The self styled McKinney Avenue Transit Authority is a heritage trolley operating in Dallas along, you guessed it, McKinney Ave. It runs from the Arts district on St. Paul St to the West Village, which is a trendy area fully of shoppes, restaurants and residential buildings. The line has been expanded several times including a spur to the DART Cityplace station, for which DART can provide the trolley museum with a subsidy as a part of a "contract" to provide a connection to DART. Just this year the FTA provided funds to allow the McKinney Ave Trolley to expand into the arts district, possibly as far as the DART surface line. Just this year a bond issue for matching local funds was passed and construction is set to begin this fall.

The McKinney Ave trolley has grandfather status when it comes to the ADA and its status as a Museum, instead of a "real" transit system expects it from all sorts of other regulations so it can keep its operating costs low. All of the operators appear to be trolley foamer volunteers and I am sure that most of those keeping the cars in working order are as well. The rolling stock comes from a variety of systems including Melbourne, the Tandy Subway in Ft Worth as well as local Dallas traction companies.

I rode and photographed the line on two separate afternoons and was able to experience all of the cars in regular service. Typical service is done in a loop fashion with 3 cars in operation running on 20 minute headways. Cars must change ends at both the St Paul and Cityplace terminals. The three cars in regular service are the single trucked #122, the large 369 Melbourne car (which is also the one used for parties, the floor was redone so that it can be hosed out easily) and the hometown 636 car, which is interesting in that the operator sites in a passenger bench while operating the vehicle.

All in all the McKinney Ave Trolley is a quality operation providing a good experiences for both transit riders and railfans alike. Much like the CMSL, the McKinney Ave trolley shows one how much can can be done for amazingly small sums of money when you don't have to worry about paying your workforce or building your LIGHT Rail lines to freight railroad standards.

You can view all of my trolley pictures at:

If you don't wish to view them all, here are a select few.

Pole being change on #122 in the rail at the St Paul terminal.

Inside #122.

#369 ready to depart Cityplace.

#636 getting the old switcheroo at Cityplace.

Monday, April 16, 2007

07-04-16 PHOTOS: Dallas DART!

Back in late April I was sent to a conference in Dallas, TX and I had the privilege of riding their DART light rail system. Traveling to a Red State I was expecting a generally hopeless transit system. Poor service outside of rush hours, early closing hours, awful Sunday service, LRV's sharing the RoW with pickup tracks, routes that can't compete with spral and don't take people where they want to go, etc. Boy was I surprised when I found a Light Rail that was leaps and bounds better than Baltimore's and far faster than all of the old school systems in Philly, Boston and San Fran.

DART is a wonderful system for both riders and railfans. My hotel room overlooked the Pearl St station and even into the late hours of the night there always seemed to be a train either coming or going. The fares are bone cheap, I think a full system day pass was something like $2.50. While you could buy a single trip ticket, the TVM's didn't even talk about them or list them as an option. If you wanted a Day Pass to cover your trip on TRE the cost rose to only $4.50. I was astonished.

The DART LRV's are basically just like the Baltimore cars with hi-level seats, articulated design and they ran in two car trains. However they are faster (65mph vs 55mph) and the operators don't pull up to the mini-hi platform so the front door is usable (Hello MTAM, are you listening?) When a handicapped passenger was on the min-hi, if there was a supervisor or ticket inspector on the train that person would assist the T/O in preparing the mini-hi flap thing. In Baltimore those folks just sit around and watch. DART still suffered from a lack of traffic light preemption in the downtown, but that was one of the few flaws.

DART has chosen to stick with wayside automatic block signaling. All of the lines are bi-directional, so this means back-to-back block signals on the main line. At interlockings DART uses the NYCS route based aspects with the top head indicating the route and the bottom the block status of the route. DART also had a an approach diverging aspect with a flashing yellow light. DART uses equipment from Union Switch and Signal. In the tunnel they use the transit style heads with LED lamps and on the main lines they use US&S modular stack lights. One odd thing is that they use blanked light modules as spacers on the signal masts so you get something like L/S/S/L/L/L/S/S/L/L/L with L's being lamps and S being spacers. No wonder US&S has a reputation for really gouging folks who contract them for a signaling system.

In my travels on DART I route out to both Plano and Garland. I was unable to explore the southern end of the system due to time constraints. I will have later posts on my ride on TRE and the McKinney Ave Trolley line.

You can find the current DART pix at:

Of course here are some teaser pics.

Your basic DART LRV #142 trundles down the Downtown RoW.  This one is running on a Blue Line routing.

 DART makes an across the platform transfer with TRE at Union Station.

DART LRV #116 disappears into the transit tunnel at Mockingbird Station. The transit tunnel runs for several lines under one of the superhighways leaving downtown Dallas. The only underground station is Cityplace.