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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

11-08-09: PHOTOS: Caltran Caltrain IV

I get out to the Bay Area once a year or so on work related trips and each time I always make sure to include a ride on the Caltran Caltrain that runs between San Jose and San Francisco. Like I have said before it is easily the best commuter operation west of the Mississippi that was rebuilt in 2005 with new track, signals and a peak period express service that cuts 30 minutes off the normal trip time and completed the 50 mile journey with only 3 or 4 intermediate stops. Furthermore, the use of gallery cars provides a superb railfan view, although it is now quite frequently marred by bug splat.

Anyway this would be by 4th "survey" style photo set of the Caltrain system starting out from the Milbrae Station, which connects with the San Francisco International Airport, heading to San Jose then taking the train all the way back to San Francisco. Since I had already completed my standard def video compilation of the line I opted for only a few short clips on the return trip which is generally too backlit for standard photography at 4:30 in the afternoon.

New this year was an extended wait at the Millbrae station because BART eliminated the direct SFO to Millbrae connection during the day instead forcing people to connect with a Red Line train at San Bruno that in turn caused me to miss the hourly headway southbound Caltrain by 2 or 3 minutes. Yup, it seems like even out west public transit agencies can't seem to co-ordinate their schedules.

Anyway, you can view the entire set of photos here. What differentiates this set from those that came before is that I FINALLY got sunny weather for the initial southbound trip.

We begin at San Francisco International Airport where I get to sit around while a poorly scheduled BART service is screwing me out of my Caltrain connection. Here we see a 'C' car #430 sitting at the outbound end of the stub terminal.

After getting off BART, which is practically useless to railfan we see the still newish Millbrae intermodal transportation center, which was constructed in conjunction with the Caltrain rebuild and BART extension to the airport. 

The granite benches were pretty cool with various images of rail transportation etched into them.

While burning through my small-large lateness penalty I managed to photograph Rohr 'A' car #1263, which are rather uncommon outside of peak periods. The streamlined nosecone of the 'A' cars are a BART trademark which have been increasingly marginalized since the delivery of the flat cabbed 'C' cars, that are preferred due to their ability to be used in the middle of a consist. This car was originally numbered 263, but had a 1 added when it was rebuilt with AC traction in the 1990s.

Being extremely bored I wandered over to the old Southern Pacific train station which is now a local transportation museum. 

On display was some old signaling equipment and some locomotive know...for kids.

After about 40 minutes a "Baby Bullet" trainset finally showed up with Bombardier split-level #115 leading and MP36PH-3C #923 providing power on the rear.

Here is a photo of #923.

Finally after nearly an hour a southsound set of Gallery cars arrived with F40PH-2CAT #904 providing power.

Once on the road my train encountered #919 pushing another local northbound south of San Carlos.

Finally got a nice sunny picture of the truss bridge at Palo Alto.

Here we see some VTA LRV's at the Mountain View Station.

Another Baby Bullet trainset with #924 at Sunnyvale.

Crews were out building the new platform and pedestrian duckunder at Santa Clara. The new plotform which has since opened will eliminate the older holdout style platform as well as allow ACE and Amtrak trains to make stops here.

#907 is in the wash stall at the Caltrain San Jose maintenance depot. 

#920 and some friends are hanging out in the layover yard for the evening rush. Trains like these used to layup at the San Jose station, but the storage yard there is being converted into new station platforms.

Here we see the two new platforms being constructed adjacent to gallery cab car #4026. Caltrain is installing stunted mast signals at the end of the station tracks instead of the more sensible dwarf signals present on the existing tracks.

#904 again after having pulled into San Jose on track 3.

Amtrak Superliner cab car #8303 laying up on station track #4 on the head of a Capitol Corridor trainset.

Skipping ahead a few hours I returned to find Amtrak P59PHI providing power for another Capitol Corridor trainset this time accepting passengers on track 1.

Caltrain #920 was now on track 3 with the 4:24 departing northbound "baby bullet" express train. This train is special because it makes baby bullet stops, but uses gallery car equipment with a railfan window.

Amtrak Superliner cab car #6963 on the head of that Capitol Corridor train on track #1.

For my trip north I would be on Cab Car #4008 which is equipped to hold a great many bicycles.

The Amtrak trainset pulled out just a minute or two ahead of us on track one. Here you can see the Clear indication on our track #3 drawf signal. The Amtrak train was getting an Advance Approach on its signal on the gantry at CP-JULIAN.

We on the other hand had a Clear indication on the same signal bridge, shown here framing a Southwest 737 on final approach to San Jose international.

The original Caltrain engine #900 waiting for a track slot at San Jose after having pulled out of the yard.

The extreme backlighting compromised the quality of all of my late afternoon northbound pictures, however video was less affected so here is a short clip taken through the Santa Clara terminal area showing the new platform work there.

Here we see the run on the southern 4-track segment that was constructed to allow express trains to pass locals. Each segment is about 4 or so miles long.

Here we are passing a southbound train with #922 south of San Carlos.

Here we are just north of San Mateo passing southbound #903.

After a little while the train running ahead of us was delayed so we became stuck running on signals for the northern half of the trip. Here we are, crawling along as we are passed by southbound Baby Bullet with #924 at Burlingame.

Riding his tail was a local or limited with #901 on point passing our train around milepost 15. Note the advance approach signal in the first few seconds indicating our train is still stuck behind that local.

You can see the frequency of peak period service as we pass yet another southbound train with #916 in the San Bruno station area.

To help expand capacity a new crossover called CP-BRUNO was under construction north of the San Bruno station. The signals were in place and functional (with LED lamps), but the interlocking was still not fully in service. Again note the Advance Approach signal.

In this last video we see the entire northern 4-track section along with that irritating local that had been delaying my train so long finally pulled over to let us pass. This clip covers the entire segment from CP-SIERRA to 22nd St station which had been interrupted twice before on previous video attempts due to battery or memory card issues. The voices you hear belong to some hippie types that had been standing behind me since Menlo Park. Second half of the clip features the tunnel section of the line including the passing of a southbound train in the tunnel.

Backtracking a bit to South San Francisco we passed UP GP40-2 #1355 along with some friends at what is San Francisco proper's freight yard.

Pulling into the 4th and King Street Station in San Francisco we pass the famous Southern Pacific style cantilever mast complete with searchlight signals...

Pneumatically operated double slip switches...

A Budd SPV which apparently can still function in a self propelled fashion along with the Caltrain cabeese....

...and some adorable little searchlight signals.

Finally before reaching the bumper block we pass one more trainset this time with #913 in the lead.

Well I hope you enjoyed this little trip on Caltrain. Next week its time for your daily recommended dose of vitamin Double C, as in Cable Car.

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