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Monday, December 28, 2009

09-12-28 PHOTOS: SEPTA Mid-Winter Trip IX

One advantage to being about 11 months behind in photo processing is that the pictures from the previous years' SEPTA Mid-Winter trip can act as a promotion for the current year's trip (Dec 27th @ the SEPTA Market East Station, 8:55 AM). Anyway the 9th Annual SEPTA Mid-Winter trip was one of the more successful trips with excellent weather, a fantastic turnout and lots of great action. It was also the first ever trip to include a Trackless Trolley and also the first trip where a sizable portion of the attendees actually missed a connection (more on that later).

You can see a Google Map of the trip route here and at 63 miles this is one of the shorter Mid-Winter trips. This was because instead of traveling long distances I decided to include a pair of extended photo stops on the Regional Rail in the hopes of catching some Silverliner IIs and IIIs. While we were to be a bit disappointed on that front it was still a great trip.

You can view the entire set of photos in chronological order here:

The Trip started off with a little informal event. I was looking for a way to get some front end video on a PATCO Express run without getting bitched at by the operator. The solution was to involve team play where strategically placed railfans should block the view of the operator with a newspaper allowing the railfan with the camera to shoot unmolested. That part of the plan worked like a charm, but unfortunately PATCO had canceled all of its express services in the week between Christmas and New Year. Anyway, here is the result, a video of a standard local run between Woodcrest and Haddonfield through a very dirty window.

So while PATCO was a bit of a bust the official trip began with a Regional Rail ride to Jenkintown where we would hang out for a bit to photograph the parade of RRD trains passing through the busy junction there. While out on the 4-track Reading trunk line I began to take some photos out the front window before opting to get some video through 16th St junction as we paced another RR train. Unfortunately an asshole trainee in hanging out in the front cab had other ideas.

See why I might be a little hostile to the "concerns" of SEPTA crews about half-width cabs on the S-Vs?

JENKIN interlocking at Jenkintown is the junction between the SEPTA Main Line (R's 1,2 and 5) and the Neshaminy Line (R3). Even though it was recently rebuilt and outfitted with useless Metro North style signals. Here is our R5 train, jerk crew and all, departing Jenkintown taking the left hand route on a Cab Speed signal.

JENKIN tower still stands and there is more than ehough hot SEPTA MU action. One can consider Jenkintown as the Mineola or South Norwalk of the SEPTA system.

As the former movable point diamond was replaced by a pair of turnouts just about the only interesting bit of signaling left at JENKIN is this twin mast of Safetran Unilens solid state searchlight signals needed to fit under the platform canopy.

Jenkintown could also be considered the Metro Park of the Reading, providing an important Suburban stop for its premier Philadelphia to New York train, The Crusader. As such the station was fitted with full length covered platforms, a handsome granite station building, and convenient facilities for drop off and pick up. BTW can you spot the railfans in this photo?

There was some weird single tracking going on on the R3 so here we see SEPTA S-IV #170 arriving inbound on the wrong platform.

 Front view of JENKIN tower. The tower had its top floor replaced around 1990, but had probably been closed as an active tower sometime before then. It's functions were transfered to the WIND panel in WAYNE tower.

SEPTA S-IV #446 brings up the rear on an outbound R2 train. About 2 miles up the Main Line it will diverge at CARMEL interlocking onto the Warminster Line.

Here S-IV #452 brings up the rear of an R3 train running on the proper track outbound from Center City as it takes the right hand route at JENKIN.

SEPTA S-IV #294 arrives from the Main Line with three SEPTA crew-members stuffed into the front cab.

SEPTA S-IV #128 then showed up next on the train we would need to take to Fern Rock. There was some sort of service disruption going on so these trains were pretty full. Of course the front cab had its usual compliment of three SEPTA crewmembers. Does anyone notice a pattern here?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

09-12-27 PHOTOS: Nostalgia PATH

Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Railfan, I ride it so you don't have to!

While the fate of the 2010 Nostalgia Train is still in flux I thought I might usher in the holiday season with a few photos from last years Nostalgia Train. After I had so much fun riding the 2008 train I returned in 2009 partly to complete a full set of videos of the shortened V route in the Southbound direction. I was also lucky enough to draw a set of the older cars on PATH both in and out of the city and yaddie yaddie yadda I have stills and video of the above ground segments.

Anyway, without further McAdoo you can find all of the Nostalgic photos here.

We begin on a classic PA-1/3 pulling out of Newark Penn Station. Early on a Sunday morning there were hardly any riders in the rear car who could might be in a position to object to someone taking photos out the back. Also, sitting in the real railfan seat there was, and I kid you not, a dude dressed in Wahhabi Islam garb (white robe, red checked head thinggie) with a long beard and reading a Koran. I figured that next to him even a railfan taking photos wouldn't look suspicious XD

Anyway, as we pulled out onto DOCK draw an inbound PA-1/3 trainset was pulling in.

Departing Harrison I noticed Amtrak has installed a brand new signal gantry for westbound trains into DOCK interlocking. It was not yet in service and it seems that Amtrak still can't gets its act together on the proper shape of the lower head backings for PRR type signals.

Caught an AEM-7 hauled regional passing under the signals for the newish REA interlocking.

A single unit PA-1/3 car was trundling around the Harrison yard under the care of a hostler.

The diamonds on the PATH main line that are interlocked as part of Amtrak's HUDSON interlocking. NJT #4303 sits patiently in Hudson Yard.

Moving onto the old PRR branch to Exchange Place we pass one of the PATH substations and the Karny pocket track with the NEC flyover in the background.

A CSX lashup was hanging out in the intermodal yard.

PATH is probably one of the last railroads to employ smashboards at its movable bridges. Here are the eastbound pair at the HACK movable bridge. 

And another set of old cars heading down the ramp to cross the Jersey flats.

That blue bridge cabin in HACK tower which controls not only this drawbridge, but the one next to it and several other nearby interlockings.

Rounding the curve through the west end of the Bergen Hill cut we pass yet another train of old cars.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

09-12-23 PHOTOS: PAOLI Snow

Last December the Northeast got a little preview of the massive blizzards that would paralyze it later in the next year. The December blizzard dumped a lot of snow, but it was mostly powder that mostly dissipated, but there was enough to give the region a nice coating of white for a week or so. This combined by my need to gain some more Amtrak Guest Reward points gave me the idea to take an Amtrak Keystone round trip between Philadelphia and Paoli (total cost $13) with a 1 Keystone Headway wait at Paoli where I could take photos of the interlocking, station and half hourly SEPTA action.

Later, still trying to round up some AGR points I took another trip out to Paoli to rendezvous with a friend to drive me south after Christmas. Again I got some pictures of the station and interlocking, but this time they were at night to offer a contract to my previous mid-day photos.

The full set can be viewed here.

So I caught a Septa RR train to 30th St where I would pick up the Keystone and I was surprised to get a S-II/III set consisting of S-III #225, Reading S-II # 9008 and S-III #229.

With some time to kill I went to the Circa Center garage and caught the inbound Keystone with Metroliner cab car #9643 on the point.

Arriving at Paoli Metroliner cab car #9651 had a Clear indication displayed on the 12L signal. Power was provided by AEM-7 #924.

The still active PAOLI interlocking tower (built 1896) provided a nice backdrop for the departing Keystone train. The snow covered rails on the center tracks shows just how much they are used.

 Expecting to just lark about taking pictures of the old PRR signals I was very surprised when a SEPTA Bomber set showed up on a deadhead move to the mantanence facility at Frazer. It was led by AEM-7 #2306.

Friday, November 27, 2009

09-11-27 PHOTOS: Black Subday

Every Black Friday it has become a tradition for me to journey to the Windy Apple to take a ride on the NYC Subway system. With the retirement of most of the fun vehicles just about the only thing left to do is scout out the interlocking towers and ride the (7), which is exactly what I did for Black Friday 2009. My journey consisted of taking the 'C' train down to Lafayette Ave to take some pictures of the IND interlocking tower at the end of the side-wall platform there, then continuing to catch the Franklyn Ave Shuttle to Prospect Park. From there I somehow got on the (7) train to Roosevelt Ave where I could transfer to a Queens Blvd train back to Manhattan.

That's pretty much it, you can see the whole set of photos which are heavy on the Flushing Line here.

So anyway we begin at Chambers St with R32 #3664.

AVE interlocking controlled a singe crossover on each of the local express pairs as well as a pocket/turnback track between the two express tracks. Here is the #31 signal next to the tower displaying an Approach Medium indication after my departed C train while a westbound train passes on the express track.

A bit later the signal turned Clear and a captured it with another westbound express train passing. Here you can see the single local to express turnout.

Slightly different angle of the riot proofed interlocking tower, a single green lamp visible on the mode board. The tower is normally closed and left in automatic mode when not needed for exceptional circumstances.

A (Q) train of R68's at Prospect Park.

Monday, November 23, 2009

09-11-23 PHOTOS: Middletown and Lancaster

One easy way to earn Amtrak Guest Rewards points it to take a number of short trips on the low cost, unreserved Amtrak Keystone Line. To this end I partnered with the Xen Master of AGR points, Chuchubob to take a milti-part trip on the Keystone line over last year's Thanksgiving Week. The trip would check in on what was up at the Middletown and Hummlestown's Middletown yard and then travel to Lancaster to check out the recent re-signaling of CORK interlocking.

It's a pretty simple concept so I might as well get started. You can find the entire set of photos here.

We start with our first westbound Keystone trainset as it departs Middletown with Metroliner cab car #9638 on the rear.

 A few minutes later an arrived with cab car # 9646 also on the rear. Here we see it getting under way after its station stop.

Here we see it from a distance as it takes the signal at ROY interlocking.

The M&H still has its stock of SEPTA PCCs.

Western Maryland #151 was hanging out next to some old coaches.

I believe that this old double ended PCC #605 used to operate in Toronto due to its destination sign. 

I was unfamilliar with the original of this old steeple cab freighter.

Former CTA Rt 100 car #476.

Alco switcher #1016 painted in actual M&H colors.

Cab car #9636 returned to us for our short hop back to Lancaster...earning another set of AGR points ;-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

09-10-24 PHOTOS: Ivyland Fall Foliage

 The New Hope and Ivyland seems to be in the process of turning a yearly ritual into an annual tradition by running its Fall Foilage Express trains all the way from the R2 station in Warminster to their usual base of operations in New Hope, PA. The trip is not cheap, costing about $40 per person for a round trip, and it is also not steam, normal motive power being a GP30, however it is still a great ride and the GP30 is more classic than a lot of diesels.

These photos were taken in 2009 in conjunction with an informal West Jersey Chapter NRHS trip. Unfortunately the weather was somewhat dismal, but at least the precipitation stayed in the mist category instead of outright rain and drizzle. Despite the grayness this was the last possible week for the trip so I pressed forward with taking pictures in the less than ideal conditions.

The all day event consisted of riding the FFE to New Hope, then taking a steam round trip to Lahaska and back, then catching the last return FFE back to Warminster.

You can see the full set of photos here in chronibetical order.

We begin with a shot of SEPTA S-IV #308 which delivered the majority of the informal trippers to the Warminster station.

It happened to be operated by the last former Reading RR employee still serving with SEPTA's T&E department.

Also hanging out at Warminster was single unit S-IV #298.

The Fall Foilage Express soon arrived, backing about 2 cars into the high level platform.

Departing Warminster we passed the turned signals for the new STREET interlocking that would be placed in service in March 010.

Not even the crappy weather could keep local railfans at home.

The bad light encouraged me to take more videos such as this one of the train as it hit the Alhouse Rd grade crossing. The horn on the Gp30 is clearly no K5LA.

Despite the gray weather the leaf color was as advertised, in this case overlooking the Little Neshaminy Creek.

Here is the semi-preserved station at Rushland.

Monday, October 19, 2009

09-10-19 PHOTOS: Southern to Southern NEC

The Southern Serves the South is how the saying goes and while I normally prefer to have nothing to do with the Confederacy, when a friend of mine moved to Georgia I decided to make lemons out of caustic soda and travel there via Amtrak's Crescent. I have since made multiple trips there, one every six months or so, and have found ways to shake up the itinerary beyond a straight shot on Train 19 and 20, but for my first trip I just took a straight coach seat down and got a roomette back. While the sleeping accommodation turned out to be a partial waste of money seeing as how I got screwed out of BOTH dinner and lunch, I was able to enjoy use of the rear facing railfan window to take a full survey of the Southern Main Line north of Charlottesville, VA and the southern portion of Amtrak's NEC to Baltimore.

Because some people complain about large quantities of signaling photos I will leave most of them featured on my website so I urge everyone to please go and check out the full set here in chronibetical order.

Because Train 19 runs mostly in darkness below Washington late in the year I didn't really bother with photos on the southbound trip. The generally rainy weather didn't help matters any, but I did fool around a bit with video. Here is a video of my GPS rolling over to a 100mph average speed as my train blitzed south toward Washington.

And another side video of my train passing through New Carrollton at Speed.

I did catch HHP-8 #655 hanging out on the lower level of Washington Union Station.

And he soon took off lite into A Interlocking in order to run back to Ivy City or another station track. At the same time a northbound VRE commuter pulls in on an adjacent track.

4 states and about 700 miles later my train dropped me off in Gainsville, GA at about 7am. It were there I was able to capture that epic "Double Rainbow" shot, but there were a couple others that ended up on the cutting room floor. Anyway, here's the good one again.

Hanging out at the station (which was also an NS crew base and local freight yard) were a number of high-hood SD40-2 of former Southern RR heritage. Here is number 3262.

And Conrail Blue painted unit #3371.

The Gainesville station sees far more use by freight crews than passengers which is a useful flip from the normal case of old passenger stations being seen as liabilities for freight railroads. On this trip the station still had a QuikTrak machine, which it has since lost. BTW, the station is located near a number of disused and collapsed factories and is served by local Bus 22-A after the Little Newark and Crackton stops.

Again we skip ahead to my night of departure. The local NS crews were just getting to work and after being started #3371 was exhibiting a slight emissions control problem. d.d b.b