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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

Sunday, October 4, 2009

09-10-04 PHOTOS: Downeaster Durham

Last October I attended a Wedding in New Hampshire and I was pleased to discover that the venue would be in walking distance of the Amtrak Downeaster station at Durham, NH. For those of you who don't know this is the station that serves the University of New Hampshire's flagship campus. I also met up with a friend who lives in the area and he was gracious enough to provide me a ride to the Downeaster station in nearby Dover, NH. I guess you can see where my focus was at one of my best friends' wedding. d.d b.b

Um, not much to really explain here. You can see the whole set of photos here and let's begin.

I will begin with the station at Durham. Years ago when the Boston and Maine ended passenger service the station building was eventually purchased by UNH or a related interest and turned it into a Dairy Bar for students in the vicinity of the athletic fields. When the Downeaster service was restored a small partition was added to house the QuikTrak machine. Frankly I see a lot of synegery in being able to order both Amtrak tickets and frozen snack treats from the same window.

The station still had a few nifty flourished such as a slate roof, copper trim and a classic train order semaphore signal.

NEPRA was cleverly able to save money on station construction by using the highway overpass as shelter the mini-high platform from rain.

If you noticed the Clear signal two photos ago that means a train is approaching the station as otherwise it would be dark. In this case I did indeed time my visit to coincide with a northbound Downeaster arrival. Here Amtrak P42 #25 pulls in at the end of a standard trainset.

In order to avoid interfering with wide freight loads the high level platforms had to be set back from the train by a foot or two. This requires the use of special bridge plates. Here the conductor checks his watch before giving the signal to depart.

The train departed with Cabbage Car #90214 bringing up the rear.

Here is a video of that departure and the train knocking down the MP 429 automatic.

Unlike the controversial 115lb rail the Downeaster project did end up upgrading the signals along this part of the line. While always bi-directional the new signals used LED target type color lights to replace the old GRS model SA searchlight signals. The signals use a triangle of modular units and can be seen elsewhere on the NEC.

Here we have the 249-1 automatic signal close up still displaying Stop and Proceed until the Amtrak train leaves the block in front of it at which point it will go dark again.

Moving back to the previous day we come to Dover, HN. Unlike Durham, this town is much larger and can support an Amtrak station without the need for a large college campus. Unlike Durham the station at Dover was rebuilt new for the service and also serves as a multi-modal transportation center.

The platform follows the same model as the other Downeaster stations having both high and low level components. You can see here the amount of offset for the high level portion and also the presence of low level bits on either side of the mini-high.

Directly east of the station is controlled point CPF-244 on the Guilford Rail System's Freight Main Line (that's its name) between Mechanicsville, NY and Brunswick, Maine (approximately), via Lowell and Ayre. This is a holdout signal for movements making flat switching movements into and out of the small yard about 1/2 mile to the east. Like the other signals this one is also approach lit and provides timely warning of approaching trains as it did in this case for another eastbound Downeaster. Also note the Delay in Block rule signal due to the push-pull operation and lack of cab signals.

As the westbound signal is neither a distant nor displays its lower head is an interesting version of the GRA model SA searchlight, chopped down to eliminate the moving filter element inside. The eastbound signal has two searchlight elements as it displays Approach Medium for the diverging movement into the controlled siding at the yard.

Of course the train soon arrived once again pulled by P42 #25.

Off-peak trains only open up one door on the high level platform to deal with any ADA or baggage issues. Peak trains will often open one additional car on the low level platform. Here we see one of the volunteer(?) train guides (old guy with ID badge) helping passengers board the train. These "guides" work both the train and the stations to help with customer service functions. A similar system is used by Vermont for its station agents.

While cabbage cars are attached I am unsure if they can be used by passengers with large amounts of baggage. The Cabbage cars used on the Downeaster service are decked out with the Downeaster logo.

Cabbage car #90214 again brought up the rear as the train cleared the controlled point, the signal now displaying Stop.

Well that's pretty much it for this set. Next time stay tuned for a tour of THORN interlocking and/or a trip to Georgia on Amtrak's Crescent.