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Saturday, July 3, 2010

10-07-03 PHOTOS: Philly walk-A-Thon

I am sure those who read this enjoy rail transportation and as anyone who has attended my Mid-Winter trips knows in Philly there are many different modes to choose from. However I am also not afraid of physical activity and again as anyone who has attended a Mid-Winter trip knows you can double your fun in Philly with a bit of walking. Last July 3rd was an absolutely marvelous day, sunny and not to hot, it proved the perfect opportunity to get in a bit of railfanning with Chuchubob and later hang out with a friend to take in the various Welcome America 4th of July festivities that were in full swing that day. What started out as a loose plan to head out to the Route 11-CSX Darby diamond crossing eventually morphed into an epic voyage around University City.

Part one of the plan worked out well as Bob and I caught a Rt 11 out to Darby and proceeded to photograph the diamond crossing. I then walked a few blocks to fully document DARBY interlocking and its CPL signals. We then caught an 11 back to the Woodland trolley depot where we disembarked for more photos. Then, instead of getting back on the trolley we walked across the Grey's Ferry Bridge to Grey's Ferry to get some photos around the railfan hotspot over the old B&O tunnels and even tried to get close to RG tower and the CSX yard. After that we returned via the University Ave Bridge before walking along the NEC past Arsenal Tower, then up the SEPTA line past University City station and Franklin Field before getting back to 30th St station.

At that point I switched Bob with a non-railfan friend and we walked back down to his Brothers place also in Grey's Ferry via the new bike path along the Schuylkill river (and happily adjacent to the CSX Philly Sub), then walked back up to 22nd and Market, took the MFL out to Spring Garden (via Frankford Terminal d.d b.b) and then walked down Delaware Ave to Penns Landing where we good pictures of the USS Bulkeley (DDG-84) which was in port for the holiday. Then to kill time before the fireworks we walked down to about 9th and South to find a non-crowded cheese steeak place, then back to Independence Mall for some Frisbee then finally back to Penn's Landing for the fireworks before I walked back to 8th and Market to catch PATCO home.

All in all by the end of the day I had walked a total of 11 miles and to visit all of the above locations I only needed two SEPTA fares. Just goes to show what one can accomplish with a little physical activity in place of either a car or transit day pass.

Well for those of you who are interested here is the full log of my travels in chronabetical order. For those who prefer to be spoon fed their information here is a narrated highlight reel.

Having taken us from Center City SEPTA K-Car #9026 departs westbound towards the Darby loop across the CSX Philly Sub.

 The 2x1 diamonds were updated a few years ago replacing the standard type of diamond with flange riding crossings. This eliminates the maintenance intensive flangeways on the mainline CSX track at the expense of the SEPTA trolleys having to take the crossing at low speed.

Another disadvantage is that with all the weight of the vehicle being applied through the flanges, they begin to slowly eat into the railhead which may or may not cause problems with metal fatigue in the future.

Another awesome feature of the crossing are the pedestrian walkway crossing gates which were made from recycled GRS semaphore signals. This was a pretty common B&O practice with a large number of of these gates in service in Cumberland, MD for example.

Of course there was a good amount of return traffic such Rt 11 K-Car #9086 shown here negotiating the diamonds.

DARBY interlocking, which is just visible from the crossing, is the start of the double track segment that runs all the way to VINE interlocking across from 30th St Station.

It features a CPL Combo-mast which combines a high CPL signal with a dwarf CPL signal mounted in a semi-bracket configuration. These were popular with the B&O as they single-tracked a number of their main lines with CTC.

The crossing also features a number of old school school short-arm grade crossing flasher cantilever masts. This freshly painted example is standing next to K-Kar #9042 as it heads westbound.

 Moving on to the Woodland depot we find the Woodland Diamonds, where the Rt 11 splits from the Rt 36 which also serves the Elmwood Depot which is the major carbarn on the south side. While not a Grand Union, the diamonds at Woodland are impressive nonetheless. 

Here 9086 on an 11 routing waits on Wooland Ave for the light to change.

Here is a video of 9086 as it crosses the diamonds headed towards Darby.

Hanging out in the Woodland front lot were a pair of PCC-IIs, numbers 2334 and 2328. Woodland is the heavy overhaul shop, but I was not aware of the problems that were affecting these two trolleys.

Normally the Grays Ferry bridge is a pretty popular location to take pictures of NEC traffic, but today there was nothing scheduled to run close to the time we were walking across the bridge so Bob and I made the decision to just punt and keep walking across the Greys Ferry to another popular railfan location overlooking the "tunnels" on the CSX Philly Sub. The reason for the quotes is because the tunnels are more of a cut and cover substitute for a typical road bridge.

There are three tunnels here, a stone lined original probably built in the 1890's when the line was built and another two built in 1918 as traffic expanded. The tunnels are within the limits of GREYS FERRY interlocking which is completely signaled with CPL dwarf signals.

We probably could have gotten closer to RG tower with some better views of the yard, but the neighborhood was pretty sketchy and I was on the clock as my friend was catching an R5 to meet at at 30th St so I just took this zoom shot and decided to catch more another time.

Crossing the University Ave Bridge and its pretty awesome views of Center City. After crossing the bridge the University of Pennsylvania makes sure to remind everyone that they are now in University City by means of the complex of PRR bridges there.

The newly constructed "health Sciences Drive" provides wonderful access to the long closed ARSENAL tower and still active signal gantry spanning both the NEC and SEPTA West Chester Line. ARSENAl tower was the sister to ZOO on the south side of the 30th St Station complex and it handled the West Chester Junction and the elevated freight Y connecting the routes south along the PW&B, east to Greenwich Yard and north along the West Philadelphia Elevated.

 On the signal gantry we have a pair of original PRR amber PLs as automatic exit signals on the SEPTA tracks.

With a pair of recently colourized PRR PLs for the Amtrak tracks.

Partially scaling the fence along Health Sciences Drive I got this nice shot of some Amtrak action in the form of HHP-8 #652 headed towards its scheduled stop at 30th St station.

On the other side of the gantry we again have recently colourized PLs on the Amtrak tracks, but on the SEPTA side the westbound PRR amber Pl signals for CP-ARSENAL have been replaced and upgraded with brand new PRR amber PL signals!!! Similar to the ones installed at the new K interlocking near ZOO this photo shows off that she are indeed LED based. While close up the case of this LED Amber is much more yellow than classic PRR amber, it is still distinct from Yellow and seen from the proper angle and from a proper distance the amber does match up quite well. 

 ARSENAL tower, the signal gantry and an inbound R3 train with Silverliner IV #129 in the lead.

Here is that distance view I mentioned showing the Arsenal gantry with both colourized and amber LED based PL signals next to each other as well as the position of the road and fence from which you can take pictures over. As I said from a distance the LED Amber looks less orange and more like the original type amber.

Just a few seconds later I was further rewarded with a solid trains of Silverliner IIs on an R3 routing lead by #201...

...with #209 on the rear. Keep in mind this is a Saturday so at the time I was not expecting any Silverliner IIs and IIIs to show themselves. 

A few minutes later as I passed Franklin Field I caught Silverliner IV #364 on an R2 run passing under the two track PRR signal gantry at CP-WALNUT. No II's or III's in this consist however.

Not to be outdone Drexel University made sure to paint up the railway bridge girders on the High Line just so that it wouldn't be overshadowed by nearby Penn. Here we look down Chestnut St with a superb view of the Philly skyline.

Just because Drexel is a second tier school doesn't mean it can't have some first tier architecture.

Arriving at 30th St I proceeded up to to the platform to wait for my friend who was due to arrive on the next R5. Bob disappeared off somewhere (probably being questioned by Amtrak police) leaving me alone on the platform to catch Reading Silverliner II #9010.... the end of a mixed Silverliner II-IV consist!!

Next to Arrive on track 5 was another train of Silverliner IIs, fresh from an R2 run from Wilmington and with another Reading unit, #9008, on the front.

The train was solid II's with #217 on the rear.

And here is a video of that train arriving.

The fun didn't stop there. My friend had called to give me a head's up that he was on one of the "plush" S-IIIs #233 which was at head of a mixed II-III set.

Here we see an elderly unit still soldiering on well past its intended retirement despite declining reliability and appearance. Next to Chuchubob is Budd Silverliner II #218 which is still going strong after nearly 50 years in service and it still looks pretty spiffy to boot.

And here is another video of that train departing.

Fed up with harassment from Amtrak police and myself Bob caught the L back to 8th and market while I traded off to my friend for mostly non-railfan related activities for the rest of the day. However that didn't stop me from manipulating our walking route and while trying out that new river walk bike train I got this shot of 30th St Station and the adjacent Circa Center.

Crossing in front of LOCUST interlocking a CSX train tied up on the running track could be seen with a long train of empty garbage containers headed back to New York City.

Seeing as we had a good deal of time to kill in the afternoon my friend hit upon the idea of checking out The Yards brewery near Delaware Ave and Spring Garden. This of course required an MFL ride and I used the occasion for some videos. Here is one taken from the head end between 2nd Ave and Spring Garden St.

As we had quite a bit of time to kill I convinced my friend to ride all the way out and back to Frankford. Here is another video taken between Spring Garden and Girard.

After getting off the MFL at Spring Garden the walk to the brewery took us past the Philadelphia Greyhound Bus maintenance depot. in yet another win for rail transit I spotted this burned out wreck in the back lot. Mmm, that just warms me up inside :-)

No PATCO trains were crossing the BFB, but I took some photos anyway.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG-84) was making a call to Penns Landing for the July 4th festivities. While we arrived just a little too late to get a deck tour I was able to use my 10x zoom to take a virtual one. While this photo set is already long enough I will post this pic of the bridge of the Bulkeley framed by the massive concrete support pier for DARPA's failed aerial tramway project.

Well that brings us to the end of the Philly portion of the events, however there are two honorable mentions that those of you who have read down this far will appreciate :-) First I departed to head back to where I work on a weekday and as such I was able to capture a nice video of a PATCO express train blasting through Haddonfield Station at 65 mph. Instead of slowing down and creeping through the stations like is done at most transit systems, PATCO operators just lay on the horn and barrel through.

Finally back in Baltimore we see the baton being passed from one generation to the next with MP36PH-2C #12 coupled ahead of GP40WH #60.

Well I hope you enjoyed this little walk around Philadelphia. I know there were a lot of photos this time around, but I think the subject matter was worth it. Tune in next time as we head out to the rural country of Western Maryland and explore the B&O Main Line from the ground instead of the train.