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Monday, May 28, 2012

12-05-28 PHOTOS: Southern Memorial Day

Just in case you were wondering this is not some photo set documenting some long standing commemoration of Confederate civil war dead. No, it's just me happening have been booked on Amtrak Train 20 (northbound Crescent) on Memorial Day 2012. I've taken this trip before, but this was the first time that my train was substantially late before it reached Gainesville, GA. There had been a disabled freight train west of Birmingham and it took several hours to not only clear it, but then to clean out the resulting log jam of trains. The result was that my train was just about exactly three hours late by the time it reached my station.

Now part of this initial delay was eaten up by my ability to hang out with my Georgia friend a bit longer, but I still wound up waiting at the station for a good hour before my train showed up. Anyway, even a three hour delay on Amtrak is a funny thing. Because my train lost no more time between when I got on and when I arrived at my destination, my section wasn't so much late as it was time shifted. One huge benefit of this is that useful daylight was also shifted by three hours so instead of only being able to take photos starting at Charlottesville, I could start as early as Danville.

So anyway I got another good set of out the back photos on the southern end of the Crescent route between Danville and Orange augmenting a pair of somewhat more grainy sets of photos I had taken on previous tripe.

We start off in Gainesville where I had some time to take some photos inside the NS freight office, which the evening crews soon closed up for the night, which was new for me as I had never had my train this late before.

I was a bit confused by this safety banner. If they go injury free does every employee get a model train set or do they just get one set for the office? Also it seems that the only quarter worth not getting injured in is Q4 as you can always play with model trains as long as you have one engine.

The Conrail painted unit was nowhere to be seen, so here is random SD40-2 #3425.

Gainesville Station at night with a mostly full moon.

While waiting for my train to arrive I was treated to a southbound NS mixed freight, shown here in a video passing the station and knocking down the Approach Diverging signal at MIDLAND interlocking.

When Train 20 finally did arrive I was surprised to find Phase III Heritage P42 #145 on the front. I guess it was sort of a consolation for the three hour delay.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

12-05-24 PHOTOS: A-Line Again

Note: At the time of writing my web services provider is experiencing some availability issues. If the photos have trouble loading try back in a few minutes.

So every 6 months I travel down to Georgia by train to visit a friend and to get to Georgia I take Amtrak's Train 79, the Carolinian and then change to Train 19, the Crescent, in Greensboro, NC. For the last three years I have had notorious bad luck with weather when taking this train as I am always presented with overcast skies that render photos taken through the double set of windows at the back of an Amfleet dark and grainy.

Well it seemed that the 5th time was the charm when last May I was presented with generally clear sunny weather along the route of the Carolinian with the exception of isolated T-Storms in the Richmond area. Unfortunately the old trope of be careful what you wish for raised its ugly head because instead of dark and grainy photos I suddenly had to deal with catastrophic color correction problems which were compounded by the fact I was using a new camera, whose tint and color properties I was still somewhat unfamiliar with. Well, at least the grain issues were largely ameliorated.

On the plus side CSX has already caused so much damage to the line that I wasn't missing much on the RF&P and Richmond Belt Line. On the minus side it appears that they are gearing up to do more damage to the A-Line between Petersburg and Rocky Mount, even thought that section was previously re-signaled in the 1980's.

You can see the entire photo set here and hopefully I'll get another bite at the apple some October.

We begin on Amtrak Train 79 as it approached Washington Union Station on the NEC. Passing the Ivy City yard some of the brand new VRE diesels can be seen including #V63, V58 and V50, which I caught several years ago on delivery.

Passing the 'K' bright I caught Amtrak P42 #130 heading back to the yard.

Pulling into the lower level tracks at WAS my train passed an outbound MARC solid bi-level trainset hauled by an HHP-8 and with cab car #7850 on the rear.

MARC HHP-8 #4915 was also hanging out next to K-TOWER.

A lineup of spare P42's for power changes sat on the ready track down on the WAS lower level including #65.

AEM-7 #942 on the front of a northbound Regional.

Side view of the cab on new MARC MP36PH-3C #30.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

12-05-05 PHOTOS: Farewell II the Silverliner II II

After that rousing rush hour spent at the Temple University Station it was time for that weekend's main event, the second of what turned out to be three Farewell to the Silverliner II (and III) events. While this trip was intended to be much grander than the original trip a number of factors contributed to having it be less than it could have been. The first, that nobody could control, was the weather. This trip was significantly more gray and dreary than the first, but you can't win them all. The second major problem was the lack of a proper railfan crew which severely put a damper not only on fun things like runbys and modifying the schedule to get in better photo ops, but also such crucial elements like vestibule and cab rides and out the window shots that make a fantrip stand out from an event day revenue run. Finally the route of the trip was to go to Chestnut Hill West, then through the tunnel to Fox Chase, then down to 16th St and out to Norristown and then finally out to Cynwyd before returning to Market East. The trip organizers never considered going from Hill West to Cynwyd through the NY-Pittsburgh Subway because they thought it didn't have wire and was not available for revenue moves when in fact revenue SEPTA trains had been using it a few months prior due to a switch failure.

Anyway, I guess I should feel lucky that the trip happened at all due to the fact that their first effort to put it on back in September '11 was canceled due to a general lack of publicity. This trip was really cutting it close with only about 8 or so Silverliner II's and 2 Silverliner III's left in service. As I mentioned in the last photo set I properly identified the three cars selected for the trip. The first was Reading Silverliner II class car #9001. The second was PRR Silverliner II and SEPTA camera car #266 (as 269 had already been retired) and between the two was Airport Silverliner III #235, which had also been retired, but then brought back due to the Hurricane Irene cars flooded at Trenton.

With the gray weather and new HD video capable camera I took less photos this time around and much more video, so hopefully I should be able to cover this trip in a single part. You can see all of the photos right here.

We begin with a video of #266 arriving on the 0 track at Suburban Station.

#9001 with a spike of railfans waiting to board.

Quasi group photo with Phil, Fren, Alex and Bob.

Video from the side window as the trail pulls out of Suburban Station and climbs the ramp to 30th Street.

The westbound cantilever mast for the re-signaled K section of ZOO interlocking.

Voyage through the 39th Street connection at ZOO interlocking to head up to the Main Line to New York taking the Medium Clear signal at GIRARD interlocking.

Taking the Slow Approach indication on the 2E signal at LEHIGH interlocking for a route onto the Hill West branch.

Heading through LEHIGH interlocking on the slow speed route onto the Chestnut Hill branch which involves crossing over two main line tracks and then rounding the sharp curve before passing through the former CHW section of NORTH PHILADELPHIA interlocking and ending at the proposed site of the Swampoodle connection.

Allen Lane station with its new High Level platform. We'll end up back here later.

AUSTIN tower at Chestnut Hill West.

#266 at Hill West.

#9001 with one of its SL-V replacements at Hill West.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

12-05-03 PHOTOS: Temple University Rush Hour

If you were to subscribe to a certain railfan's e-mail feed you might think the SEPTA system consisted of exactly two stations, 30th St and Temple University. Well I'm always one to try anything once so as I had never actually been to Temple University Station before I contacted Chuchubob and he agreed to accompany me there on the Friday afternoon before the last official Farewell to the Silverliner II/III trip. The premise of this set of photos us fairly simple. I went out to Temple University at about 4pm and stayed there until 6pm with the idea that in such a span of time all of the remaining Silverliener II and III cars would at some point pass by.

Of course were lots of other equipment heading through there including SL-IV's, SL-V's and the Bomber sets. These and some photos of the signal bridge at the north end of the station can all be found here.

In addition to photos I took some video to, but since there isn't much special about any one particular Silverliner IV pulling into the Temple station I arranged all of the dull ones into this nifty montage.

We begin with a three car SL-IV train inbound with #352 on point.

Another three car train with 157, 158 and single unit 409.

R7 train with #338 in the lead.

If you take your picture at just the right time you can catch some of the MP 2.4 automatic signals displaying a rare double green clear during the switch between Approach Medium and Clear. 

So you don't have to go out there yourself I grabbed some video of this phenomena.

The SL-V's were also out in force such as this 4 car example with one married pair and two singles including #716.

Finally, about 30 minutes in, the first train of Silverliner II's appeared, but it was a mixed set of 3 II's and 2 IV's with 9013 in the lead. The reason for this strange mashup can be surmised by the fact that the second SL-II has its pan dropped and was running dead. SEPTA could not afford the loss of even this one unit due to its car shortage and thus attacked a IV pair to provide some extra pushing power.

All three of the II's were Readings with 9009 and 9006 joining 9013. 0009 was the one with its pan dropped.

A short while later the first of the Bomber sets showed up with the AEM-7 that seems to be stalking me, #2303.