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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

13-06-18 PHOTOS: Ride to the Border

As far as I am aware there is exactly one rail transit system where one can ride to an international border and that's the San Diego Trolley's Blue Line. Because Los Angeles is on my black list of cities with poor urban planning that I will never set foot in, this year's cross country Amtrak trip began with a 24 hour stay in San Diego where the weathermen have the easiest job in the universe. Seeing as I have been to San Diego before this time it would not only be something different, but also somewhat symbolic to begin my cross country journey from the San Ysidro International Transportation Center, connecting to Amtrak's Surfliner Service at the Sanfa Fe Depot before finally catching Amtrak's Southwest Chief at the LAUPT.

As always the weather was NICE and despite having to take a bus in from the Airport, San Diego is bustling with both light and heavy rail transportation ranging from the aforementioned trolley to Amtrak and Coaster passenger services and a healthy dose of BNSF serving the local post and industry. I also paid a visit to the USS Midway (CV-41), which is docked downtown as a floating museum, but those photos will have to wait for another time.

You can find all the photos right here.

After getting off the airport bus I found Amtrak F59PHI #450 seemingly bad ordered at the ATSF Depot. It remained there the next day with the blue flags in place so something was clearly wrong with it.

Behind #450 is the the Cyrus K Holliday, which had made the run down to San Diego with a bunch of mid-whigs which were discussing some future station improvements. The car was made for the president of the Soo Line railroad and named after a former official of the Santa Fe railroad.

There is usually a coaster trainset laying over at the santa Fe depot and today was no different with Bomber cab car #2003 on the south end. 

During the peak periods Coaster trainsets head in from the yard south of the city. Here is F40PH-2 #2101 crossing Broadway into the platform area.

Wrapped Bomber Cab Car #2310 promoting unnecessary medical spending.

The former ATSF main line between LA (Fulelrton) and San Diego has split ownership between Metrolink and San Diego county. Due to it being a primarily passenger route it is still equipped with Intermittent Inductive Automatic Train Stop between MP179 and 249 allowing 90mph operation. All leading locomotives and cab cars must be equipped with an IIATS pickup receiver. All the adjustment screws are because the receiver must pass within 1.5 inches of the track mounted shoes.

Since the SDT re-arranged its routes a few years ago moving the major transfer point from Old Towne to the more logical ATSF depot now Green Line trains travel through all the way to 12th and Imperial with Orange Line trains terminating at the station. Blue Line trains now terminate across the street at American Plaza. This results in both Orange and Green line trains having extended layovers at the ATSF depot to allow passengers to transfer. Here is one of the brand 57 new 4000 series Siemens S70 LRV's which were purchased to phase out the original Duewag U-2 trams. The 4000 series are shorter than the earlier 3000 and can operate on the tight curves of the downtown street running.

The old 1000 series U-2's were still plentiful with 1047 here on a Blue Line run to American Plaza. The 1000 and 2000 series high floor trams are still used on the Orange and Blue lines because, ironically, the low floor trams need higher platforms for ADA access than the high floor trams which are equipped with lifts that can service zero height platforms.

Video of #1047 with new #4024 at American Plaza.

Three car train of U-2's consisting of #'s 1043, 1042 and 1035 heading into the SDT yard south of Petco Park.

San Diego is also the site of a major naval base with a constant stream of ships heading in and out of the port and helicopters flying overhead. Here we see USS Rushmore (LSD-47) heading into port past the Convention Center.

#4005 at the Convention Center station.

Compare with the longer 3000 series here passing in front of the Santa Fe Depot.

Here we are headed south on the Blue Line at the Bayfront station. As the first of the newfangled "light rail" systems, the San Diego trolley kept costs down by using existing freight rights of way and not building fancy stations, a lesson today's light rail systems could stand to learn. The platform is zero height and the tracks are paved over as well. Like I mentioned before the SDT is embarking on a project to raise the platforms so that the new low floor LRV's and their new self-service ADA ramps can be used instead of the current operator assisted lift. The 2000 series consist of Siemens SD100 LRV's and #2027 is seen here at the Bayfront station.

Wrapped SD100 #2045 at the San Ysidro International Transportation Center.

If you follow the sign you can quickly find the new and improved pedestrian route to Mexico. Because I did not have my Uncle Sam Card with me I chose not to leave fare control at this time.

Also present at the border is the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway, which was built in the early 20th Century to provide San Diego with a direct eastward rail link to avoid having to send traffic north 200 miles through LA. The only way to build the line through the impassible terrain east of the City was to go into Mexico and over the years as this sort of local rail traffic fell and short lines took over there is no longer any cross-border rail traffic, at least at the San Diego end. What does exist is a huge fortified gate that looks like something from a dystopian Sci Fi novel. Interesting to note that the San Ysidro freight station has a box car pulled up to the platform.

Mexican Flag flying over the border crossing. I thought I was going to get all kind of harassment trying to take pictures from the end of the SDAE rail line, but when I approached a Border Patrol vehicle to ask permission there was nobody inside and I was able to take all the pictures I wanted without incident. Compare to earlier this week in Newport News, VA where a local cop bitched me out for taking pictures from a public grade crossing because of "terrorism".

New Toll booths and vehicle inspection areas were under construction at the San Ysidro border crossing. This is where Interstate 5 begins/terminates.

SD100 #2013 back at the San Ysidro International Transportation Center.

Some C&S guys at work that one of the new interlocked crossovers on the Blue Line. Again, to save costs, the Blue Line was original completed with a simple ABS signaling scheme with few interlockings. In order to increase the amount of freight traffic that can be run each night after the Light Rail trains stop running the MTS spent a fair chunk of change to add more crossovers and some form of CTC,

USS Essex (LHD-2) was being refit at the San Diego naval shipyard.

#4019 at the Green Line terminal at 12th and Imperial.

End on view of #4019 at the Convention Centra station.

While waiting for the 1pm departure I went out and got some photos of my Pacific Surfliner train. F59PHI #454 would be providing power that day.

Pacific Business class Surfliner #6804. The Pacific Business class much better than Amtrak's usual take on the subject with a complimentary newspaper, snack pack and beverage which can include wine. Yum yum.

Surfliner cab car #6906. Yes that is a normal Superliner coach back in the consist.

I will leave you with this nice Santa Fe tilework inside the Santa Fe depot

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