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Sunday, October 24, 2010

10-10-24 PHOTOS: Farewell II the Silverliner II - Part 2

Previously on the Friends of Philadelphia Trolleys Farewell to the Silverliner II Fan Trip...

One bite from this radioactive squirrel and I'll have a new recruit for my army of zombie railfans...

I sure picked a hell of a day to stop drinking...

What do you mean the Silverliner V test train took our slot??

Ooh, once again my underwear has become tangled in a cow-catcher...

You've gotta stop that charter train!! If it hits the bridge with the steel eating ivy everyone will be killed!!

Where's the train going? I thought this was a photo stop.

No pictures! I told my girlfriend I had to attend a funeral!

With these pictures nothing will be able to stop our terrorist attack.

What do you mean the train's broken and we have to switch to a new one?

If CSX doesn't move the bulldozer off the tracks soon this trip will be over!!

Everybody hurry up and use the bathroom. We'll only be in the relay track for a few minutes until the next R3 arrives...

And now the conclusion....

Well we pick our charter up at West Trenton where an hour had been budgeted for lunch and a bathroom stop. The train had relayed on Track 2 next to TRENT tower so that the next local train could lay up on track 1 allowing the charter to pull out and stay ahead of it for a nice express run. Here we see Vince standing in the cab of replacement Silverliner II #252.


Because SEPTA trains do not have bathroom, the single stall in TRENT tower had to make do for the entire group. TRENT tower is currently used as a crew room for the R3 service and despite having closed as an interlocking station in 1994 it retains most of its old US&S CTC console which controlled this and other area interlockings.

 It's always amazing how minimalist the S-IIs are. The roofs of Modern EMUs are always covered with all sorts of cutouts for the HVAC and humps for electric equipment. Here we see the B end of 9009 coupled up to fellow palindrome car 252.

Here we can see the SEPTA conductor waiting by his equipment off in the distance next to the SEPTA West Trenton Yard. The dwarf signal on track one has already been displayed for the next R3 local to journey up the single track from CP-WOOD.

The reverse direction dwarf signal on track #1 is displaying a Medium Approach indication, R/*Y*. It is displaying this over a non-diverging route because under NORAC there is no dwarf aspect for plain Approach so Medium Approach must do for all situations.

Later the signal upgraded to Approach Limited which meant the CSX dispatcher in Albany had cleared the signal at CP-WING to give the approaching SEPTA local a better shot through the interlocking. Like Medium Approach this normally two headed indication was displayed on the dwarfs single "head".

Now after the local came we were all expecting for our charter train to pull out, re-board everyone and then depart back for center city. Unfortunately due to our delay with the broken train and all people were still in the bathroom and the local had to depart first. Not a big deal, but then due to a shift change at 1234 Market the new Desk 2 dispatcher forgot about it and cleared a CSX freight train through after the local. YARG!! In this busy pic we can see the charter group lining up for a photo of the CSX freight passing the Silverliner IIs, in the far background you can see the R3 local departing towards Center City and then the westbound signal for CP-TRENT displaying a Restricting for the freight.

The photo line grew as the signal upgraded to approach. The freight train had long since appeared and was coasting/waiting for its signal and some people wanted me to get out of the way. As far as I was concerned they had their backs to the real action :-P

The train consisted of a pair of CSX SD40-2s and a short mixed freight train.

The ordeal was not yet over because now we had to wait for ANOTHER R3 train to pull in before our train could be release. This consisted of the 157-158 SL-IV pair.

10-10-24 PHOTOS: Farewell II the Silverliner II - Part 1

What a better way to advertise the upcoming Philadelphia Chapter NRHS Silverliner II/III excursion coming up on September 25, 2011 than to roll out the photos I took at last year's Farewell excursion sponsored by Friends of Philadelphia Trolleys. This was one of the best railfan events I have ever been on as over 100 area railfans turned out to say goodbye to the Budd built railcars that have been plying the rails in the Philly commuter zone for nearly 50 years. I know that a lot of other folks have posted their photos months ago, but as I like to say its hard to stand out by being in a crowd ;-)

For those of you who don't remember the trip was to consist of The first Reading Car #9001 and the last Pennsylvania car #269 that, as you all know, is still emblazoned with "Pennsylvania" on its letterboards. The trip departed 30th St Station and headed west along the West Chester Branch with a photo stop at Gladstone, then Media, before turning at Elywn and having another photo stop at lcifton-Aldan. Then it was back through the Center City Tunnel and then all the way to West Trenton before turning again to head back to Wayne Junction where another reverse move was made up the CHE before finally returning to 30th St. This Part 1 will cover everything up to West Trenton.

Unfortunately the trip it not go exactly to plan because #9001 had been in pieces at either Overbrook or Wayne up until a few days prior to the excursion. It was only the efforts of dedicated SEPTA employees intent on getting that unit out for the excursion that resulted in #9001 getting put back together. Unfortunately there wasn't much time for testing and an electrical fault caused the train to need to be stopped a reset every time it got above 40mph (or 50mph with 269 leading). This not only resulted in delays in travel, but a request for a new pair of Silverliners for us to swap over to at Wayne Junction. After only a modest delay the yard crews found another PRR/Reading pair and presented our charter with #9009 and 252 which gave flawless service for the rest of the day.

You can see the entire batch of excellent photos, which also contain line surveys of the West Chester Branch, SEPTA Reading Main Line and former Conrail Trenton Line to West Trenton, right here.

Anyway I know that you should be all excited about these photos so on with the show. We begin at 30th St station with the Maryland Division platform packed full of railfans waiting for the Charter to roll in. Unfortunately we have to wait for a few bog standard S-IVs to pass through like #279 here.

Finally #9001 appears with everyone's favourite SEPTA engineer, Vince, at the controls. 

The train quickly fills up with more than a few familiar faces on board.

Departing a few minutes late insult is added to injury when we get stopped at ARSENAL in order for a Silverliner V test train to clear up so we can wrong rail down the West Chester.

Our first stop was Glafstone where we would get out for a photo opportunity with the train on the Darby Creek trestle.

This gave me a chance to photograph the most distinguishing feature on a Reading SL-II, the mini-cow catchers in front of the trucks. Brilliant!!

It made for a great photo, but there is something to be said about pictures that aren't the same as everyone elses.

Now do to our initial delay, the SL-V test train, out limited top speed and a couple stops to reset the electrics we did not make our slot and ended up having to wait at CANE interlocking for the R3 local with SL-V #159 to pass us. As we took the restricting signal to drop in behind the outbound local we also passed an inbound local that we had delayed. Oops :-(

Unfortunately this stuck us on Approach all the way to Media where some of the railfans got off in order to photograph the train returning from Elwyn.

In the Media Yard that day were SL-IV's #410, 282 and 278, which were soon joined by #159 again returning from Elwyn on its inbound journey.

Our charter wasn't far behind with #269 in the lead for the return trip back to Philly.

After loading back up it was off to Clifton-Aldan where another staged shot with Rt 102 trolley #124 was provided.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10-10-10 PHOTOS: Athens Crossing

My trip to Georgia in October 2010 didn't end with a lackluster ride on Amtrak. Here in Part 2 we will examine some notable points of interest in the Athens, GA area located along the CSX Abbeville Sub, which is the former Seaboard Air Line route between Wilmington, NC and Atlanta, GA. This line is cleared for double stacks and also sees a significant amount of Autorack traffic so there are usually a good number of freight trains hanging around and to put a cherry on top the line was re-signaled in the 1980's with classic US&S colour light signaling.

Today's trip will focus on three main areas. The first is the diamond crossing between the Abbeville Sub and the former Central of Georgia branch to Lima. Second is the MP 511 intermediate signal that I have featured in the past and third are the MP 515 and 517 intermediate signals that I went on a little road trip to document.

You can locate the entire set of photos right here.

I'll kick things off with a video taken at the MP 511 automatic showing a short doublestack container train heading north on the Abbeville Sub lead by ES44AC #759 and C40-8W #7873.

Here we watch as a southbound doublestack train pounds the insulated rail joint at the 511 automatic. That train was lead by C40-8W #7715.

Next we move downtown where we see CSX GP38-2 #2768 sitting across from the old Athens Station on an industrial siding.

The old station building itself is pretty impressive and today is used as a CSX maintenance and crew base.

The crossing with the CofG is non-interlocked, relying on electrically locked derails on the former CofG line and Rule 293 "Stop and Check" signals on the Abbeville Sub. Beyond the crossing is a long viaduct over Sandy Creek.

A signal equipped with a (C) plate means that when displaying an all red indication, Rule 293, Stop and Check, applies instead of Rule 292 Stop or Rule 291 Stop and Proceed. Trains making a stop and check must...stop and....check that the derails or movable bridges the signal is attached to are in their properly locked position. In this case if the derails on the CofG line are in the proper place it is safe to proceed over the crossing at Restricted speed. Here we see the southbound mast signal equipped with the appropriate (C) plate.

The SAL/CofG diamond has since been fitted with flange riding crossings to eliminate the maintenance intensive and speed reducing flangeway gaps on the main line. Similar to the Darby Rt 11 crossing this shows you do not need a sharp angle to make flange riding diamonds work.

One good thing about the crossing was that unlike the other interlockings and block signals, these were not approach lit. Unfortunately that also meant that just because traffic was flipped and one of the signals displayed a Clear indication a train was not necessarily approaching.

The Abbeville Sub is easy to railfan because a good deal of it parallels the Atlanta Highway so it was not hard to find and photograph the intermediate block signals such as this one at Milepost 518. Here you can see the US&S style N cast iron integrated color light units which were dropped from production for their current line of modular stack signals. This intermediate signal is also the southbound distant for the siding at HARPER.

At the Milepost 515 intermediate I was quite fortunate to have the southbound signal light up indicate an approaching train.

This turned out to be a mixed freight with another C40-8W #7809 and followed by C40-8 #7571 and SD40-2 #8020

Thursday, October 7, 2010

10-10-07 PHOTOS: PV Screwjob

When traveling Amtrak Long Distance with a plan to get photos out the back of the train there are a number of irritations that can interfere with this plan. Your train might not be configured with a real facing window, the last cars could be non-revenue, it could be dark or raining out, a member of the crew might take it upon themselves to ruin your day, but perhaps the most annoying is when some plutocrat attaches their rolling museum onto the back of the train without any advance warning.

On my first trip down the RF&O and A-Line to visit a friend in Georgia I was partially thwarted by a combination of lackluster weather and a grade crossing accident induced bustitution. This time everything was set to be perfect. Wonderful sunny weather, no derailments...but then in DC I was served up with a wonderful surprise that not only turned a fun jaunt down the eastern seaboard into a 6 hour slog, but also nixed my ability to gather more material for these photo essays you are all so fond of. Oh, and to emphasize the reason I care about these things so much, by the time I took this train again CSX had decided to replace most of the signals on the Richmond Belt line so here today, gone tomorrow.

Anyway, you can find the entire set of photos on this second attempt to take the Scenic Route to Georgia right here in chronological order.

We begin our trip as always at Baltimore Penn Station where the old...MARC GP40-2W #62 was hanging out on #4 track.

While the new, MP36PH-3C #15, pushed in on a train from Perryville.

As we got under way my instinct told me that this nice sunny day would make for a good oppurtunity to document some of the southern NEC and I proceeded to the rear of the train where I caught an AEM-7 double headed Regional train taking the signal at BRIDGE interlocking.

You can see some of the work being done for the new 10 car high level platforms at Halethorpe.

Here is a MARC trainset I like to call The Camel as it heads toward its stop at the BWI Airport Station. I am not sure why MARC keeps a mixed set like this in service, but it has been making the rounds for years.

Just south of Odenton is the only curve re-alignment that Amtrak ever completed on the NEC. It had been said that this one modification was required to allow the Metroliner service to claim a sub 3 hour (2'59") trip time between NY and DC. Only the two "express" tracks 2 and 3 were re-aligned with track 1 and the power transmission line supports being left on the old alignment. Here you can see the degree of the banking added to the track to allow for the highest possible speed.

Here we have an HHP-8 hauled Regional on the two track section between the Washington Terminal and LANDOVER interlocking. To the left are the brand new 25Hz transmission lines that deliver power to the new Ivy City Substation. 

Old and new again in the form of 1950's vintage Pullman gallery cars and brand new VRE MP36PH-3C #V50 sitting in Ivy City Yard.

MARC split level K-Car #7847 on an outbound train at Washington's C interlocking with an outbound Red Line train over to the left.

'K' signal bridge on the approach to Union Station.

When I caught this bright orange former Milwaukee Road car sitting in the middle of the terminal approach at first I was pleased for getting a cool shot, but then I got this sinking feeling in my stomach. :-(