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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

13-05-22 PHOTOS: California Sunset

San Francisco has a lot more to offer than just Caltrain and while I didn't have a lot of free time on this trip I did manage to get away for a trip down the F market to the Castro terminal, an early morning ride on the California Cable Car Line and finally a trip out the L Travel to the pacific Ocean to catch a California sunset.

You can find the complete set of photos here.

We begin at the Powell Line >Market St turntable, where MUNI has decided to install a dwarf signal to help the cable car operators know when the turntable track is spotted in the correct location. Here we see MUNI cable car #10 taking a spin on the turntable and showing the operation of the signal.

Here we see former NJT NCS PCC, now MUNI #1076 in a DC Transit paint scheme approaching the Powell St stop on the F market heritage streetcar line. Unlike the former SEPTA cars, the NJT PCC's still have openable rear windows with allowed me an unobstructed view out the back.

Eventually I realized that taking still out the back was sort of pointless so I switched to video for the ride between Gough St and Castro.

MUNI #1076 at Castro.

Wide view of the Castro station with potted plants. Castro St was renamed after the Cuban revolutionary by local counter-culture sympathizers in the early 1960's and I am sure that 50 years later he would be honored by everything the area now stands for.

The dark side to the new Urbanism...the trolley tracks connecting the F Market to the Twin Peaks tunnel have been paved over by a pop-up park!! Note all the wire diamonds where the single trolley wire crosses several lines of trolleybus wire. BTW a trolleybus line was also cut by the park.

Both the diamonds and frogs were able to support both pantograph and trolley pole operations. 

Old meets new. LED street lamp mounted on a trolley wire support pole.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

13-05-19 PHOTOS: Caltran Caltrain VI

Well I managed to get out to the Bay Area yet again which means another installment of Caltrain photos due partly to its irresistible railfan window. You should know the story by now. I fly into SFO, take baRT to Caltrain at Millbrae, then Caltrain to San Jose and then back to San Francisco.

On a typical trip I will aim to catch the 4:45 "Baby Bullet" express run from San Jose, which always runs with Gallery Car equipment allowing for sweet end to end video opportunities. Unfortunately this time around I was traveling on a Sunday and while Caltrain does offer twice daily weekend express service the times weren't going to work out for me. one silver lining to weekend travel was that I no longer had to make a time consuming baRT transfer at San Bruno because weekend service to the Airport directly serves Millbrae, although unlike past years my plane was so early I not only made my Caltrain connection with planet of time to spare I actually made a train a whole hour earlier.

Also included in this set are pictures from the San Jose station including Amtrak California service and the Coast Starlight. You can find the entire set of photos sitting right here so knock yourselves out.

Like I said baRT was running its weekend service pattern which meant that trains were pulling into and reversing out of the 3-track stub-end SFO station as part of a typical run. Trains to SF would use the southern track and Millbrae trains the northern track. Here is a video showing each of the two services arriving. SFO is used as a crew change point so the front end operator doesn't have to walk the entire length of the train to change ends.

baRT 'C' Car #2515 was on the out-facing end of my train to Millbrae.

MPI built F40PH-2C #920, which happens to be the Caltrain Operation Lifesaver unit, was powering my southbound local.

I believe this was my first time ever stopping at the Broadway Station. This is one of the few instances anywhere where a station is only open on weekends due to low ridership. This counter-intuitive situation arose due to the desire to save time on the busy weekday schedule by eliminating a stop with low patronage. Broadway passengers are instead offered a shuttle bus to the nearby Millbrae station. On weekends when there is not so much of a crunch the station is open and money is saved on running the shuttle buses which themselves would not be justified due to the even lower weekend ridership. SEPTA could really learn a thing or two from this practice. Broadway is also a holdout station which would further complicate the weekday schedule with its many limited stop trains. 

Caltrain has also started a programme to replace the incandescent bulbs in its wayside signals with LED's which one can see at the brand new MP 19.3 auto.

Passing a northbound local with F40PH-2CAT #904.

High rail truck making an inspection run following the northbound local.

Video of same approaching the MP 22.9 autos displaying Advance Approach. You can hear the group of teens who were occupying the rear seats of the bicycle car next to me. They were drinking rather heavily in anticipation of some event, but were nice enough to offer my some vodka infused gummy bears.

Historic Menlo Park station building. No, the other one.

Passing another northbound local with F40PH-2CAT #906 at San Antonio. No, the other one.

Rear facing video of the run between Sunnyvale and Lawrence, where the train takes the 50mph turnout onto the local track in one of the 2 4-track sections used during the weekday peak periods for the express services. On weekends all trains used to pull over on this route, but today it seems that something has been cleared through on the express track. Also notable is the Conductor who asks me what I am doing, but doesn't threaten to call the police. Astonishing!

The reason for the Clear signals at the southern passing section was because one of the brand new weekend express trains was approaching with F40PH-2C #921 providing power.

Caltrain F40PH-2CAT #900 in the wash stall at the San Jose maintenance facility. 

Caltrain F40PH-2CAT's #909, #912 ad #918 hanging out at the San Jose maintenance facility backlot. 

My cab car for the southbound trip, #4021 at San Jose station track 4.

Unilens dwarf signal at the end of track #5 displaying Clear for Cab Car #4005 at the head of the next northbound local train. What used to be CP-JULIAN has been split into CP-SHARK and CP-ALAMEDA with the San Jose station platform expansion project. CP-SHARK is named for the adjacent NHL franchise and CP-ALAMEDA for the famous CTU agent.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

13-05-11 PHOTOS: SEPTA Control

While other people were braving crowds in an ultimately futile attempt to see a bunch of private cars in New York City, I glommed on to a tour organized by the Baltimore NRHS chapter to get a tour of SEPTA's 1234 Market St control center as well as other parts of the system. SEPTA is surprisingly good about these sorts of things and most railfans in the Philly area have probably attended several, but i had as of yet never been available for one so I leaped at the chance even though I would have to attend with a bunch of out of towners.

The tour would convene at 10am, but due to some other plans that got made and then canceled I found myself at 30th St station at 7:30am with not much to do. As the local NTD exhibits were not yet set up I made my way to the trusty old 30th St parking garage to get some photos of what was in the yards that day. Later the tour would get back to 30th St en route to 69th St for a shoppe tour, but due to some delays I had to pack it in early in order to make some scheduled appointments.

You can find all of the photos of the tour and related explorations here

We begin at the Race St engine terminal with Heritage painted B32-8W #512 in the dock behind P42DC #160.

NS GP40-2 #3029 was hanging out for some reason.

 AEM-7 #950 was there with a Keystone trainset. In a previous photo I caught it in the act of lowering its pantograph.

The whole menagerie out of "yard" power at Race Street including the afformentioned Geep, Amtrak GP38H-3 #523 and GP15 #578 a the Juniata Terminal road slug pair with 9725 and 8850.

Juniata Terminal SW1500 from above.

PRR #120 in Penn Coach Yard.

Metroliner Cab Cars #9638, #9644 and #9645.

Moving on to 1234 Market the group was given a comprehensive introduction to the SEPTA system in a 10th floor meeting room by one of SEPTA's community relations manager. After that we were taken up to the top floor where the operations center for all of SEPTA's divisions is located. After another briefing in the operations conference room, with its flat screen monitors set to display the entire Market Frankford Line. Unfortunately almost all the "big boards" were down for some sort of maintenance :-( Here is the Heavy Rail dispatch desks covering the MFL and BSS.

VDU display for the dispatcher handling the north end of the Broad Street Subway. Click for a larger view.

MFL dispatching desk showing the model board VDU and display screens for CCTV cameras. Click for a larger version.

Friday, May 3, 2013

13-05-03 PHOTOS: Planes, Trains and Ferrymobiles

I had so much fun riding the $2 Far Rockaway Ferry on my last visit that I just had to do it again, this time unencumbered by heavy bags and a travel deadline. On the second go around the weather was gorgeous and with no ancillary LIRR trip I could take full advantage of the temporarily "free" JFK Airtrain, which would save me the normal $10 fare or the hassle/indignity of having to take a Bus to the Federal Circle station.

After Lunch I traveled back to the Rockaways to catch the 4:30 ferry inbound to Manhattan, this time in wonderful sunny weather. I also discovered that the boat contained an outside upper deck from which I could drink my $3 16oz beer and take all the unobstructed photos I wanted. With A Train service set up resume later this week I urge any and all persons to take advantage of this amazing bargain before it goes away.

All of the photos can be found right here so make sure you go nuts after reading the whole post.

I am going to start things off at Chambers St where I caught the trifecta of an R32 departing, an R160 arriving on the adjacent WTC tracks and then an R46 A train arriving. I stopped filming at that point and missed another R46 A arriving from the opposite direction, but so it goes.

Flagging down an oddly clean R32 on the C I got some head end video between Chambers and Hoyt to fill a hole in my collection.

At Hoyt I took this photo of R32 #3929. It's amazing how someone in the NYCTA got it looking almost like it had just rolled out of a factory? Not many 50 year old pieces of rolling stock that could pull that off! A testament to the Budd company.

Video of the same train departing Hoyt St and crossing over to the local track in front of Hoyt tower.

R46 #5936 sits at Howard Beach ready to take the Diverging Approach Restricting signal into the turnback pocket track there.

R46 #5838 returns to the inbound platform past construction workers there to repair the signaling and track damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

A flexible A train shuttle bus sitting outside the Howard Beach Air Train station.

Here is the inside of the Howard Beach station. Because the JFK "AirTran" Air Train is little more than a glorified elevator there wasn't really much to photograph in terms of signaling or infrastructure, so I mostly got video of the entire route and a few other select photos. 

Here is a route video of the AirTran AirTrain as it runs from Howard Beach through Federal Circle and then Anti-Clockwise around the terminal complex back to Federal Circle. The PA was doing a lot of trackwork so the AirTrain was running on a 20 minute headway with several en-route delays. Wonderful for a system that is trying to get people to their flights in a timely manner. This did mean several good shots of wrong railing. Due to a bit of a miscue the first part of the route from Howard Beach to the next station is the last part of the video and is taken in the outbound direction.

BTW Pigs and I were bothered multiple times about taking photos by PA security and attendants, but it was a pretty soft bother due to the whole tourist zone thing and we didn't protest. The good news was the reliance on ZPTO was that nobody was ever around to stop us from taking photos and video on board the trains so every time we were bothered we simply clicked ignore.

Oh, after a while Pigs got tried of being quiet and we began to engage in a running commentary partly about the airport, but mostly about Seinfeld and TV Tropes.

AirTrain car #209 departing the Federal Circle station for the JFK Terminal complex. For those of you who don't know the AirTrain us a fully automated system that uses Bombardier's Advanced Rapid Transit concept. One of the hallmarks is the use of linear induction motor technology that requires an aluminum slab to be run down the center of the track to eliminate the "need" for old fashioned rotational motors. Yeah, this is much simpler.

Well the title promises planes so here you all go. Here we see an Asiana Boeing 777 #HL7791 about to land on Runway 13L.