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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.

SEPTA R& local with Silverliner IV #290 departing westbound.

Amtrak Acela Express power car #2002 rounding the curve west of the Bristol Station.

 And #2037 bringing up the rear on an eastbound train.

Speaking of eastbound here is AEM-7 #906 with 8 cars.

And HHP-8 #663 eastbound with 9 cars.

Westbound SEPTA R7 local with #117 ad 118.

And finally a westbound Regional lead by HHP-8 #653.

On the way home Chuchubob just couldn't resist checking out Pavonia yard with its soon to be removed hump yard. The General Railway Signal built electric car retarders were sourced from the Reading railroad's Rutherford Yard near Harrisburg when it was closed in the late 1960's and the equipment made available for the PRSL.

The entire sorting infrastructure, including this hump tower has since been demolished.

Former Hi-Hood ex-Southern Geep #5017 was poking about the new flat switching yard, with sister #5016 sitting north of the yard office. (NS has a thing for keeping "sibling" units together).

It was at this point that a nasty Conrail employee in a transport van stopped on the overpass bridge to call Bob and I terrorists and inform us that we were violating the Reversal of Freedoms act of 2001. Bob took the lead in informing this person where he could shove it.

A few days latter I found myself back in Baltimore on the platform at Penn Station shooting the post-Thanksgiving rush including AE #2005 pulling in on its Southbound run.

MARC service on weekends??!! Oh, that's just an Amtrak Holiday Extra heading northbound with MARC cab car #7745 on the rear.

The NJT Arrows were significantly late so here's a random shot of a Baltimore light rail train at Mt Royal.

Acela's were as thick as flies that day. A second southbound with #2026 less than an hour after 2005 went through.

MARC #4910 not working that weekend.

Ah here we go. It's a bird, its a train, its an Amtrak Holiday Extra with NJT Arrow III's. #1445 leads the way into the main platform at Baltimore Penn.

It was following another train and sort of creeped into the station on Approach or Restricting cab signals.

#1430 was on the rear.

And here we see it as the train continues south toward Washington, DC.

Well that's it for today and its also it for my absolutely fantastic Olympus 510UZ camera. This camera made its debut in 2006 for SEPTA MID WINTER TRIP VI, which interestingly enough included a trip to West Trenton, and nearly 20,000 photos and 174 sets later it was time for an upgrade so next week tune in for a Nostalgic trip on the NYC Subway with a not so Nostalgic new camera.

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