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Thursday, December 26, 2013

13-12-26 PHOTOS: SEPTA Mid-Winter Trip XIII

So the 13th Annual SEPTA Mid-Winter Trip was built around the opening of the new Pennsauken Transportation Center which would enable direct transfer between the RiverLINE and the NJT Atlantic CityLINE. One of the hallmarks of Philly transit is that most lines cross over and connect with other lines allowing for a large number of "circle" style types and MWT 13 would combine this newest circle with two of the more well worn ones.

The basic schedule was as follows. We would begin with a trip out on a Rt 13 trolley to Darby and then return on a Rt 11 with a stop off at the famous CSX/SEPTA grade crossing. From there it was back to 30th Street Station where we picked up the NJT ACL train to the new Pennsauken Transfer. The connection to the RiverLINE was a bit tight and some of the participants who happened to bring small children got left behind, but due to a surplus of time the advance section of the trip returned to and picked them up. After a brief trip back across the river on PATCO we had lunch then made a Broad Street Subway loop to Fern Rock, returning to City Hall for a transfer to the MFL which we took to 69th St in order to transfer to a Rt 100 car to Bryn Mawr. Finally we took a walking transfer to the Bryn Mawr R5 station for a photo op before returning on an R5.

If that was a bit confusing here is a little map.

If you are interested in the full set of photos you can find them here

As always the MWT tries to kick itself off with an informal trip on PATCO for those who can be bothered to roust themselves out of bed in the morning. I have been wanting to capture a railfan window video of an express run in from Lindenwold and MWT 12's attempt was a bit rainy. This year there wasn't any rain, but being 8am in December it was of course cold and grey. Still, if you have 20 minutes check out the whole thing and if you don't just watch the express portions.

Skipping ahead to the Yeadon loop we find SEPTA K-Car #9029 which had just dropped us off after a trip from downtown. Only a few Rt 13 trolleys continue through all the way to the Darby TC, but we didn't mind the transfer as it allowed for more photo ops.

Trolley bunching with #9040 pulling into the Yeadow loop and #9021 continuing to Darby TC.

K-Cars #9062 and #9011 hanging out at the Darby loop/Transportation Centre.

The level crossing between the Route 11 and the CSX Philly Sub is still conducting its ongoing experiment with metal fatigue, but the replacement of the traditional diamonds with flange riding diamonds did not seem to fix the problems with localized pavement subsidence.

BTW note this is 5'2.5" PA trolley gauge crossing standard gauge tracks.

Here we see K-Car #9045 approaching the crossing.

Provide some of the sounds and sights of trolleys crossing the big boy railroad tracks I switched to shooting videos that I then arranged into a little montage.

Using the converted semaphore signal as a foreground prop we took an early group photo since some of the people would need to leave early. No need to enumerate everybody since you know who you are ;-)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

13-12-22 PHOTOS: Nostalgia Day

After, year absence I returned with much fanfare to the premier holiday event in the New York City Area, that's right, the Holiday Nostalgia Train. By now everyone here should know the details. Train of R1/9's running between 2nd Ave and Queens Plaza on a (V) (M), yaddie yaddie yadda. What really surprised me after my absence was 1) how much more crowded things were even at 10am when usually one could have a bit of personal space and 2) he seems to have been taken over by 1930's cosplayers who are either in the Steampunk set or the Hipster set...I couldn't tell.

Anyway, I didn't come all the way to NYC just to go and fight with people for space at the railfan window. This year I had a bit of a secondary mission planned in that I would visit and document the 51/52 automatic signal bridge on the LIRR Main Line just south of the Woodhaven Blvd station. Assisting me with both the Nostalgia Train and the LIRR excursion was fellow Subchatter and Nuclear Power gadfly, Phil Nasadowski.

All the photos of the Arnies and the Posities can be found here.

I begin my day at Chambers St where I shot a video montage of A, C and E trains until a northbound R32 trainset arrived to transport me to W. 4th St.

I eventually made my way to 2nd Ave where the Nostalgia Train arrived a bit later than it had in years past allowing only a few minutes before its 10:02 departure.

Even on the first trip of the last day some transit museum busy body violated the First Come First Serve system to let a bunch of kids stand at the front window and what was worse was that a number of parents used their little fuck trophies as shims to snag the remaining video capable positions so the best I could get on the northbound trip was this shot of the train relaying at Queens Plaza.

Here is the accompanying still.

At this point it was time to hit the LIRR. At the risk of spoiling the next few photos there were many trains, but they were all just plain old boring M7s. I swear they must be part of some MTA plot to deter photography.

There was this strange pattern of constant trains for 20 or so minutes, then nothing for 40.

Since all the trains looked the same I stopped taking pictures and just went with a video montage.

Arriving back at the station in time for the next southbound departure the Nostalgia train appeared to be experiencing some delays, but eventually showed up.

Due to the aforementioned problems with the front window I settled for an uninterrupted rear window video when I eventually got back to Queens Plaza.

Back at 2nd Ave I finally managed to get a proper still portrait of car #100.

Around the conductors position some of the better cosplayers had attracted a literal photo mob.

On the rear car of the train some joker had hung a CTA destination sign on car #1300.

I actually bothered to record a full walk through the train and then back up along the platform to capture the crazy mood of the whole event.

On board the train I caught this guy giving Phil's Bolex a run for its money with a 1950's Polaroid equipped with a flash that could send King Kong on a rampage.

On the trip back to W4th St I hung out at the conductor's station to grab some video of the classic method of door operation.

Conductor hanging out between cars #1802 and #1000.

In our parting shot we see the conductor closing up at W4th and watching out to make sure that nobody is being dragged.

Well thanks for watching and tune in next time for my coverage of SEPTA Mid-Winter Trip XIII.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

13-12-14 PHOTOS: A BSM Christmas

As we face what looks to be the final major snowstorm of the season, looking back three months winter was just getting under way and a good coating of the white stuff was cause to fire up the old point heater and roast marshmallows. Every year during the month of December the Baltimore Streetcar Museum attempts to attract some visitors under the age of 65 by offering a special Santa car to the "North Pole" with all the related holiday pomp and circumstance.

Since there's not much else for me to railfan during the dark days of December I have made it a habit to go on down and ride the trolleys, even if I had been there only a few weeks earlier for the 50th Anniversary of the end of Baltimore's streetcar service.  You can see all the Holiday streetcar photos in addition to some shots of N&W signals here.

As always car #264 was working for the non-Santa crowds. Not the asymmetric trucks which only contained one motor each.

PCC #7407 was sitting out, but went unused as Philly car #2168 was flying the PCC flag that day.

Here we see a PA Streetcar gauge truck awaiting the 1" shims that will expand it to the 5'4.5" Baltimore Streetcar Gauge.

The repainted Philly work car #2187.

1930's car #6119 sitting on the loop in direct sunshine.

On my trip on #264 I grabbed some video of the operator's movements on the inbound trip.

PCC #2168 was being used for the Santa trips and was signed specially for them.

Heading out on the Santa run we waited for #6119 to clear the section of single track.

Oldest operating electric streetcar in the world #417 was in the mix, but for testing purposes only.

#264 soon departed again on another non-Santa run.

As the day wore on it was time to put everything away. Here is #264 again having its poles changed before reversing into the barn.

Cars #417 and #6119 didn't bother with a pole change and just backed in to the barn pushing their poles ahead of them.

That's all for now. Tune in next week for trip back to New York City to rise the Holiday Nostalgia Train.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

13-11-27 PHOTOS: Thanksgiving Transfer

Every year on the day before thanksgiving I go out with Chuchubob for some area railfanning. This always includes at least an hour along Amtrak's NEC to catch whatever extra trains and expanded trainsets they are operating, but also includes trips to various SEPTA or NJT locations. Unlike previous years Thanksgiving Wednesday 2013 was marred by a constant drizzle so Bob and I figured we should hit up Bristol and West Trenton due to the guarantee of good action and passenger shelters to keep the rain off.

While this plan was somewhat successful two day later on Black Friday Bob found himself available and we set out again to check out Cove road and the newly opened Pennsauken Transportation Center so the two trips combined yielded a fairly descent photo set which you can find in its entirety right here

So we begin trying to locate the Bristol train station in the city's maze of one way streets. After making a wrong turn we happened to catch an outbound R7 train lead by Silverliner IV #417 passing under the 67 automatic signal.

Not to worry, with 30 minute headways another R7 showed up with SL-IV #387 in front and #406 on the rear.

A 5-car inbound R7 also went by with SL-IV #163 on the front and #407 on the back.

For the Amtrak stuff I stuck to video since still was going all blurry. We were there for a little over an hour and saw quite a few trains, but due to a service disruption on the Shore Line southbound Boston trains including T95 and an AX were no-shows. This montage includes:

Northbound Keystone with AEM-7 #952.
Northbound Silver Service train with HHP-8 #650, 3 sleepers and an extra baggage car on the rear.
Southbound Regional 1195 with AEM-7 #932.
Southbound Amtrak Pennsylvanian with AEM-7 #907.
Southbound Silver Service train with HHP-8 #657, 3 sleepers and 5 Amfleet II coaches.
Northbound Acela Express with power cars #2010 and #2015.
Northbound Keystone with AEM-7 #949.

We arrived in West Trenton in time to catch an R3 in the act of departing towards Philadelphia with SL-IV #309 on the rear.

The inbound was soon replaced by an outbound R3 with SL-IV #361.

The proper route under the tracks is long and cumbersome so the entire train of people just cross the tracks. While this might not look safe the train was facing a Restricting signal.

SL-IV #132 was on the rear as the train pulled into the yard.

After Bob, myself and a second friend ate lunch at Freddies, we noticed that the track #2 dwarf signal was lit up with a Clear indication for an approaching freight train which turned out to be a North Dakota special complete with BNSF runthrough power including C44-9W #5295.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

13-11-03 PHOTOS: BSM Antiversary

While most railfans in the Northeast were enjoying themselves on a rare millage excursion courtesy of Amtrak on the first weekend in November, 2013, a small group of non-conformists decided to sit out the festivities in Baltimore and celebrate what they considered to be a somewhat more important milestone. The Baltimore Streetcar Museum was founded in 1966, got its stuff in 1968 and started operating in 1970, so one might wonder what they would be celebrating in 2013. Well this is the 50th anniversary of the cessation of streetcar operations in Baltimore City by the Baltimore Transit Company in 1963. While celebrate might not be the right word for this unfortunate, but by no means unique event, the BSM was not going to miss the opportunity for a special shindig.

I believe that the date of the last run was on Nov 3rd, 1963, but the interesting things was that it took place around 6:30am instead of something like midnight and that was because while official scheduled service ended at the time you would expect, trolley enthusiasts had chartered a special last run car which stayed out until just before sunrise. Now I am not sure that I would count a charter as "service", but the BSM seems to and 50 years later they reenacted the event by having a simulated last run at the appointed time before continuing on with a full day of Streetcar Museuming in conjunction with a Maryland Classic Car enthusiasts group to provide additional "atmosphere".

You can find all the roadcar and streetcar photos here.

I am going to start off with this photo of a classic Baltimore Transit Company GM bus #1426 because I think the BSM missed a wonderful opportunity to have a little fun. Instead or commemorating the last run then having a normal museum day they should have converted the Baltimore Streetcar Museum into the Baltimore Bus Museum, declaring that the trolleys had been retired from service because they were too "old fashioned" or something. They then could have kept up the charade for the remainder of the day giving rides in this and other buses until some pretext brought the trolleys back.

Anyway, the coolest piece of equipment on display was this yellow 1970 Pontiac GTO. This is one of the first road cars to be outfitted with a modern solid state AC propulsion package...or at least that's that Wikipedia's disambiguation page seemed to imply. It would take over two decades before this technology made it to rail vehicles.

Here is Baltimore's very own PCC #7404 sitting out on the loop under the fall leaves and sun.

 One special treat was the car #417 was finished its restoration work and ready for limited service. #417 is the oldest operable electric streetcar in the world having been built around 1880 as a pre-electric horse car then later fitted with electric traction. Unfortunately while riding #417 I missed my chance to ride in the GM Bus :-(

Business end of #417.

1959 VW Bug.

I should know what this is, but I don't. Perhaps one of the folks who had one of these as a kid could help me.

BSM workhorse #4553 with a 1980's Corvette in the foreground.

1970's flame painted GMC van that did not happen to be a-rockin.

It was warm enough for open car #1164 to be out, seen here at the 28th St loop.

Full house on #1164.

While I didn't get to ride the evil GM Bus #1426, I did snag a few photos inside it.

One wouldn't think that a streetcar rail designed to be used in the street would present a hazard to road vehicles, but while exiting the event this Ford Falcon ripped off its oil pan and exhaust system. One of the major disadvantages to low riding.

The BSM did have two work cars on hand to tow the hapless Falcon, but there was no room in the carbarn to perform the needed repairs.

Well that's it. Next time tune in for some Thanksgiving stuff.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

13-11-02 PHOTOS: Amtrak Fall Foliage Express

In 2013 Amtrak added something new to its fall foliage excursion offerings, which had previously consisted of attaching its remaining great dome car to various trains such as the Adirondack and Cardinal. Marshaling spare cars from across its system, Amtrak assembled an 18 or so car special excursion train to run a rare milage trip starting at Philadelphia's 30th St Station, running down the NEC, up the Port Road, around Enola Yard, over the Rockville Bridge, back down the Royalton Branch and across the Columbia Secondary before finally returning to Philadelphia via the Harrisburg Line.

While the trip was great and offered some excellent scenery, it was somewhat marred because the actual photography options were a bit limited thanks to being stuck inside an Amfleet car with tinted windows (I was in one of the Amfleets instead of the Horizon cars which made up the bulk of the train and I think offered clearer windows).

I won't try to bore you too much with a lot of nasty side window shots with all the reflection and color balance issues, but if you want to see the full set you can find them right here.

It was clear that the best photo opportunities were afforded those persons who chose to chase the train instead of ride the train so I wound up with more photos of railfans than railcars. Here we see a group at the point of the wye in Perryville, MD as he turn off onto the Port Road.

Now on the Port Road we soon passed under the former B&O Philly Sub bridge over the Susquehanna River.

Crossing the Octararo Creek on the Port Road south of the Conowingo Dam.

Flock of about 15-20 vultures (or Eagles?) perched in trees along the Susquehanna River. 

New and old powerhouses at the Holtwood Dam.

Approaching the new signals at CP-WEST HARBOR under the A&S Viaduct that I visited last week via bicycle.

Mann's Run Shoo Fly (flume) that I had also visited a few weeks prior from the other side.

Railfans at the Walnut St crossing and Route 30 bridge in Columbia, PA.

Looking north up the Susquehanna River towards Three Mile Island at the Shocks Mill Bridge.

Site of the old PRR Electrification substation at Enola Yard.

NS SD40-2 #3353 and GP38-2 #5004 sitting at Enola Yard framed by the old school PRR catenary supports.

C40-9W #9730 and C40-10W #7668 at the Enola Yard engine terminal.