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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.

The junction at mockingbird with one of the super-tall stacks of US&S lamp modules.  This is one of many examples I have encountered where the signaling consultants are clearly padding out the job with unnecessary hardware.

 At the other end of the platform we have a transit type head as seen in the tunnel section.  DART uses NYC Subway style signaling with the upper head for block occupancy and the lower for diverging or straight routes.  So something like G/Y would be Diverging Clear.

Outbound DART train takes the diverging route to Garland at Mockingbird with LRV #180.

 At the other big junction down by Union Station a DART LRV #125 moves through the wye where the future Green Line will branch off.

The Cityplace station is deep underground with 213 steps being needed to reach it from the headhouse. Here is a pic of some bi-directional signals in the tunnel. Note the 55mph speed limit. Come on NYCS, even Dallas is faster than you.

 DART LRV #198 heading through what is known on the railroad as JFK Jct. The RESTRICTING signal is for a TRE train about to depart.

The Pearl St station where I caught most of my trains.  Here seen with LRV #115.

 LRV #152 running down the brick paved right of way in the downtown corridor.

Out away from the city at the Parker Rd station at the northern end of the Red Line.

 One more shot at Perl St with LRV #124.

 Well, that's it. Like I said, stay tunes for more pics of TRE and the trolley line.

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