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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.

 Caltrain F40PH-2's #913 and #920 sitting side by side on platform 3.

Operation Lifesaver unit #920 showing off the goods.

Amtrak F59PHI #2013 on track #3 waiting for its next Capitol Corridor departure.

The northbound local departing track #5 through CP-ALAMEDA with #913.

Amtrak California Superliner cab car #6961 waiting on track #3. The second coach back was actually a standard Amtrak Superliner #35003.

Cab car #4021 from the side on track #4.

The station expansion project has been completed and the number of tracks has been expanded to 9, although I don't quite care for the stunted mast signals.

F40PH-2CAT #911 arrives at San Jose with another southbound local.

Quiet, Teamsters need their rest. 

Amtrak Pacific Parlour car #39973, Santa Lucia Highlands was included in that day's southbound Coast Starlight arrival. These were former Santa Fe Budd Hi-level cars and are the last such cars still in Amtrak service.

Difference between a Superliner and a Hi-level. The Pacific Parlour car's serve as an additional first class lounge on the Coast Starlight trains and come with a theater for watching movies and their own special meal service.

Southbound Coast Starlight departing San Jose about 2 hours late. The Starlight's on time performance has improved remarkably in the last few years, but today was delayed due to a grade crossing accident (or something) north of Davis. The Starlight trains have become so popular that they now run almost year around with 4 sleepers and 4 coaches. Amtrak is also planning to add a business class accommodation for the regulars who choose to take the train on shorter distances in the populated corridors in California and the Pacific northwest.

On the move north pulling over onto the local track serving the Lawrence station and then pulling back out again. Video covers the entire 4-track segment. At the northern end we pass one of the official Baby Bullet trainsets with an MP36PH-3C hauling Bomber bi-level cars.

Here we are stopped at South San Francisco (The Industrial City) with a view of the 8-track super-gantry left over from the original Southern Pacific signaling scheme, pressed back into service with new bi-directional LED signals.

While there was no way in hell I was going to try to video a 90 minute local run, north of San Bruno the additional time penalty was minimal so here is a front railfan window video showing the run from that station all the way to the 4th and King St terminal in San Francisco. Of special note is the shoo-fly track used as part of the San Bruno grade crossing elimination programme. The shoo fly was retired and the new elevated line was cut over just a few days after I shot this video. Also of note is the southbound train that emerges from the tunnel at CP-TUNNEL shortly after my train makes its stop at Bayshore.

With Caltrain when you are done you are not really done as one must still transfer to the MUNI for the final ride into downtown. The 4th and King terminal is served by both the N and T lines, but as they use different platforms it can make catching the "next train" a bit tricky. Here is an outbound T Third train making the turn onto 4th St. with Breda LRV #1423B that has been wrapped to promote the new Samsung Galaxy S4.

 Tune in next week for more photos covering historic MUNI cable cars and PCCs.

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