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Friday, November 25, 2011

11-11-25 PHOTOS: West Trenton Lunch (Holiday Extra Dinner)

Every Thanksgiving week I have a little tradition wherein I head out with Chuchubob and see what is plying the tracks on the day after or day before Thanksgiving. 2011 would be no different, but unlike previous years this would probably be the final Thanksgiving for the Silverliner II's and so instead of camping out at Bristol or some other NEC location we decided to hit up West Trenton during the lunch period to see if we could catch anything there, either in the yard or in service.

When that strategy didn't prove to be successful we fell back on the NEC with a stop off at Bristol, and while in 2010 we had managed to catch some II's and III's, this year turned out to be a disappointment as well although there was more than enough Amtrak traffic to make up for it.

Finally in a bonus segment I return to Baltimore's Penn Station to catch the annual arrival of a 3000 series Amtrak Holiday Extra with leased NJT Arrow III equipment. I also manage to catch a northbound 3000 series train with leased MARC equipment...but catching a MARC trainset in Baltimore Penn Station isn't a huge deal.

You can see the entire set of photos here as usual.

I arrived at West Trenton to find new signal footings and a new crossover being put in place at TRENT interlocking. While TRENT is controlled by SEPTA, it and the Trenton Line is owned by CSX and SEPTA regional rail trains must share it with a great deal of CSX freight trains, which has been a source of friction for some time. TRENT interlocking's sole purpose is to allow SEPTA trains to get in and out of the West Trenton yard and conduct end of run turns. It consists of a single trailing point crossover and yard lead.

This has lead to problems when one of the two tracks SEPTA shares with CSX between here and CP-WOOD are out of service due to the lack of a universal crossover between the limits of the double track that stretched from CP-WOOD to CP-WING, two miles east of TRENT. Anyway it appears that CSX or SEPTA or someone is planning to rectify this problem by installing a second crossover and re-working TRENT interlocking. This will probably mean the replacement of the Conrail signals (that in turn replaced the Reading signals in 1994) with CSX style Darth Vadar signals. :-(

Of course the closed TRENT tower won't be going anywhere as it still serves as the SEPTA crew base, but what will be missed is the eastbound three lamp dwarf stack governing wrong direction movements on 261 track with an innovative use of lamp position that uses Approach limited as its least restrictive aspect for straight moves (with medium clear for diverging) and Medium approach for both straight and diverging movements as dwarfs can't display straight Approach.

Anyway, back to the trains. SEPTA Silverliner IV Pair 438/437 were sitting on the first yard track waiting to pull out and head back to Center City.

Also in West Trenton yard was SEPTA AEM-7 #2303, which I later ran into during the Mid-Winter trip.

Also laying over in the yard was SL-IV #434.

#438 soon pulled into the West Trenton station to pick up passangers for its on time departure, while a Clear signal was pulled up on the eb TRENT mast signal indicating an approaching freight movement that was being slid in before the next SEPTA local was scheduled to arrive.

CSX freight train symbol Q418 soon arrived on the scene with CSX GP50 #8550 and former UP C40-8 #9026 towing CSX GP38-2 #2516 behind them. The UP unit had been sighted the previous day by Chuchubob in Pavonia Yard or at Cove Road.

It didn't take long after the freight train had passed for the next outbound R3 local to arrive, a Restricting signal into the yard already displayed.

The three car local with SL-IV's #401, 402 and 184, then took the signal and headed into the yard.

At this point it was time for lunch at a nearby establishment frequently used by railfans and when we returned a full headway had passed with a new SEPTA two car local with SL-IV's 124 and 125 in consist seen here departing for the yard past the same Restricting signal.

After emerging from the restaurant we found some fellow West Jersey railfans (including the omnipresent Dave Homer) milling about seen here as #124 relays into the yard. Also note the position of the new crossover and the existing signals in this zoom view.

At the other end of the interlocking one can see how SEPTA has recently extended the overhead wire to allow trains to more easily relay on the main tracks with the new crossover and extended interlocking. This extended several carlengths beyond the old Reading signal bridge that used to be the old AC Motor Stop point.

Moving on to Bristol we find Amtrak ARM-7 #927 with an extended holiday Regional consist bowling along westbound towards Philly.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

11-11-19 PHOTOS: High Line Extended

Three years ago I headed up to NYC to check out its brand new High Line linear park (not to be confused with the "real" High Line that is still carrying freight trains in West Philadelphia). Well last year I had tickets for War Horse on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and it seemed like a perfect time to take a side trip to explore Phase II of the High Line which runs up to the blip out around the West Side Yards.

In addition to the High Line I managed to snag some great photos out the front of a NJT Arrow III train on the NEC, which prompted the conductor to demand I delete the photos or he'd call the police. Long story short I have the photos and the police never showed up. if you would like to see said photos, "illegal" and otherwise, click the link here.

We begin the day at the Hamilton NJT station with Amtrak HHP-8 #663 hauling northbound with a Silver Service train.

If you didn't see it the first time I posted the video there was also a bit of ticket drama where a family in a hurry forgot to let all of their $20 a pop NJT tickets print out prompting this kind soul to run after then...and then run after them again (too late that time) to give them the tickets. BTW I was skipping a headway due to an early arrival at the station and not wanting a local. In the photo you can see the family rushing past ALP-46 #4649, and then the consequences in the video.

During the wait a southbound train with #4603 pulled into the opposite platform.

Not sure why NJT is using the Push-Pulls on the local trains and the Arrow III's on the express trains, but whatever. Here A-III #1424 pulls into the Hamilton Station.

So what happened on the Arrow III is that the crew forgot to close the door to the vestibule cab allowing me to take some really nice photos of the NEC signals as well as the occasional Acela Express trainset.

Approaching Princeton we see the relocated 472 automatic signals which allows trains stopping at the station to clear the block behind them, which had been a bottleneck before. Yes, the top PL LED lamp has failed.

NASSAU tower just north of the Princeton Station.

Amtrak AEM-7 #934 with a southbound regional.

MIDWAY interlocking and its pneumatic point machines.

Alright, at that point the disk conductor decided to intervene so we now get to skip ahead to the High Line. Here we see some cargo containers on the un-rehabilitated section north of 30th St that the Parks Department are trying to protect from German submarine attack.

The High Line was pretty crowded that day. Here we are looking north at 28th St.

11-11-19 PHOTOS: Streetcar Santa

Ah the BSM...that place down the street that I don't go to as much as I should because its just down the street. Well last December I had two good reasons to head down to the old BSM. The first was a special event day in November that drew in folks from the Philly area like Chuchubob and the second was when a bunch of friends from Hopkins revealed themselves as closet trolley buffs and we all took a spin on the trolleys in December when the special Santa trips were running. This set of photos combines both of those trip and you can see them all, right here.

My apologies to Dan Lawrence as I do not know the intimate details about each car. He can feel free to fill in any gaps, but the writeup will mostly focus on the pictures and not the cars' backstories.

Anyway we begin with a MARC single level coach #7755 hanging out in Penn Station waiting for the state to get its ass in gear and fund weekend service.

The special Saturday event was a PCC celebration which had the BSM's whole collection out on display like ex-Baltimore care #7303.

The day was also to celebrate the newly restored SEPTA PCC #2168, seen here on one of the car barn tracks.

The former SEPTA work-car #2187 has been painted out of its SEPTA orange and into a red scheme that promotes the Streetcar Museum.

Prior to it going into service we see the freshly painted PCC being backed out of the carbarn reversing through a wire frog.

#2168 sitting under the CSX freight line bridge.

Snow sweeper C-145 was also out n display. 

Each sweep brush is actually attached t a complex motor-gearbox setup which i why one used special cars for this activity.

C-145 from the opposite end which currently lacks a brush unit.

The BSM's flagship PCC #7407 which has been joined by #2168 on the loop track.

Car #417 was originally built as a Baltimore city horse (or cable?) car in the 1870' and then was eventually converted to electric operation in the 1890's. On the verge of being furry restored to operation, #417 will be the oldest operable streetcar IN THE WORLD using its 187's build date. I believe the BSM also lays claim to the world's oldest non-operable car, a 1850's horse car. If that is ever restored I know some ppl at a draft horse rescue that might be interested in providin motive power for it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11-11-14 PHOTOS: Georgia on the 1'S

I have a friend in Georgia whom I visit twice a year, typically in May and October as those dates avoid the nasty southern summer heat. However this year schedule conflicts pushed back my October trip to the Armistice Day Weekend in November. Well this turned out to be a mistake which I hope to avoid in the future as not only did I get hit with bad weather again (not the date's fault) the late date and Daylight Wasting Time absolutely destroyed most of my ability to take photos on the RF&P and CSX A-Line from Amtrak's Train 79, the Carolinian.

Therefore this photo set is going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel for those photos still acceptable for public display. To compensate for the lack of light I took a lot of video so this will also be a video heavy post. Also this set will cover both the trip down, my time in Georgia and the trip back. For the trip down you can view the entire set here and for the Georgia and trip back pics you can find those photos here.

We begin North of Washington DC where one advantage to taking the Carolinian is that it runs express between Baltimore and Washington skipping the BWI and NCR stops. In this video Train 79 rockets through CARROLL interlocking and then the New Carrollton Station, southbound on track 3.

A bit south of there we pass through LANDOVER interlocking where the former PRR freight branch to Potomac Yard splits off. Notice that it is not possible for passenger trains out of DC to access Track #1 at LANDOVER. Instead they must cross over at CARROLL.

On the two track segment just before the Union Station complex we can see that the new 138Kv circuits to the new Ivy City substation have been completed.

While we were getting out power swapped from electric to diesel, a northbound Regional was having the opposite operation applied with AEM-7 #946 shown here coupling on.

Video of same.

Our Heritage baggage car #7232 waiting P42 #16 to couple on.