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Sunday, November 30, 2014

14-11-30 PHOTOS: Halethorpe Holiday

While the day before Thanksgiving 2014 brought cold wet and snow, the Sunday after brought sunshine, extra trains and NJT Arrow III trainsets venturing well south of Trenton. Previously I had looked to a field adjacent to the NEC at the end of Runway 10, but recently Airport police have started kicking people out of that area so I needed to find a new location. The obvious choice was the new MARC Halethorpe station that now features long high level platforms, signals at one end and weekend commuter train service.

You can check out the full set of photos here.

I was on station from about 2:30 PM to 5PM in order to catch both NJT trainsets. A group of young railfans was also on hand to check out the action. First up is some sort of southbound Regional hauled by ACS-86 #611.

A 100mph PSR "scab board" was hanging in the catenary for a curve south of the station.

WINANS interlocking is in service on tracks 1 and 'A' and marks the southern end of the 4-track section between here and BRIDGE. Previously most MARC trains would stay in track 1 and platform across track 'A', which was mostly used by local freight and some MARC locals. With high level platforms this move is now impractical and all stopping trains must negotiate the 45mph diverging move at WINANS and the associated 2 mile speed penalty approaching it. The smart thing would have been to install an 80mph turnout, but as you know there's never enough $$ to do things right the first time.

Passing northbound Acela train #2248 with power cars #2023 and #2025.

Southbound Regional with AEM-7 #921 on track 3.

Southbound MARC local #487 with bi-level cab car #7854. MARC service on Sundays is on a 2 hour headway.

ACS-86 #606 with southbound Norfolk Regional #157.

Holiday Extra #1057 showed up only about 20-30 minutes late with NJT Arrow III #1462 leading. Unfortunately I blew the subsequent meet with a northbound MARC local.

 MARC MP36PH-3C #23 and cab car #7855 on either end of northbound MARC local #486.

Southbound AX #2251 approaching with #2017 on track 3.

Followed shortly by northbound AX #2266 passing by on track 1 with #2016 on the rear.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

14-11-26 PHOTOS: Levittown

It has been a long running tradition of mine to head out with Chuchubob for some NEC railfanning on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Typically there are some Amtrak extra trains running along with generally increased consists. Unfortunately this year an early winter storm created hazardous driving conditions so I hit upon the idea of taking SEPTA Regional Rail to the Levittown (Pennsylvania) Station on the NEC to catch the mid-day parade of trains.

Originally planning to stay for two SEPTA R7 headways, the cold and general miserableness caused Bob to throw in the towel after just a single hour. Also the poor photographic conditions resulted in most of my product being in the form of a video montage. Still I have enough photos to throw up a full set. You can find the link to the full gallery here.

We begin at Levittown having just slighted from SEPTA Silverliner IV #352 as it stares at the 632 automatic signal.

Bringing up the rear was Silverliner IV #421.

The Levittown station was built along with the stereotype suburban community in the 1950's.

Tunnel bored under the NEC. I still don't see why this method of crossing the tracks is less preferable than building those stupid overpasses with the elevators on each end. 

The station interior was already in the holiday spirit. Unfortunately SEPTA can only afford to staff the station for a single shift and the agent was already in the process of locking the place up a little after noon.

One headway later outbound SEPTA R7 pulls in with SL-IV #458 in the lead.

The slanted platform canopy shares a design with the Curtis Park station on the R2.

Having laid over in Trenton, our outbound trainset returns with SL-IV #421 now in the lead.

Like I said, due to the poor weather conditions, all of the Amtrak action was captured on video that I then spliced together into a handy Montage. Sorry I don't have information on which train was which, but Amtrak was running out of order so Bob was only able to figure out what was what after the fact. Note the amount of snow on the front of the now training Metroliner cab car that was leading in from Harrisburg. This illustrates the location of the rain-snow line west of the city. Also note the difference in brightness between the AEM-7's traditional headlamps and the new LED headlamps on the ACS-86.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

14-11-08 PHOTOS: Rockville Round Trip

When Amtrak announced it's 2014 Fall Foliage Trip to and from the Rockville Bridge via the Conrail Harrisburg Line I was on board immediately. However this year riders were presented with a choice of days (Saturday or Sunday) from the beginning. This year I decided to go with Sunday with a plan to drive up to Rockville on Saturday to photograph the excursion train from the ground before returning to Philly to ride it. This would also provide me the opportunity to undertake some critical signalfanning.

You can find the full set of photos covering both Saturday and Sunday's activities here

I should also mention that this set of photos marks the debut of my GoPro Hero 3+ capability for railfan purposes.

We can start off with a stop at HARRIS tower in Harrisburg, PA. The tower wasn't officially open, but a number of Harrisburg Chapter fans were inside to watch the Amtrak special. The big Model 14 interlocking machine wasn't on for playing with, but I took a photo anyway.

Outside an NS freight was passing by on the Harrisburg Line led by C40-8W #8439 and C40-8 #8714.

I wanted to get some photos of STATE interlocking before it was re-signaled, but due to a road bridge replacement project all I could get was this external view of the tower.

Amtrak P42DC #71 was that day's protect engine.

Driving on US 15 gives one a great view of the PRR style slide fence when passing through the Blue Ridge water gap. Here you can see the whole thing in video form before pulling into the Appalachian Trail parking lot at CP-SOUTH FERRY.

At CP-SOUTH FERRY I encountered an NS freight tied up on the Ferry siding on the Buffalo Line. Power consisted of C40-8W #8442 and C40-9W #9009.

The PRR PL signals at CP-SOUTH FERRY had been replaced by Darth Vaders, but the interlocking itself did not appear to have been replaced as evidenced by the original 1950's vintage CTC hut. Fortunately CP-NORTH FERRY was still in its original configuration.

My ultimate destination was CP-NORTH MILLER since not only did it feature some interesting PRR PL signals, but I had located a phone number for the relay hut while searching Google and I was hoping I could get a video of making the internal phone ring. No Dice :-(

The vintage signals had been refurbished by NS to give a few more years of faithful service.

At CP-SOUTH MILLER a pair of Conrail hacks had been preserved for an unknown fate.

At Rockville the Amtrak extra was delayed waiting of a westbound NS stack train to pass through. C40-9W #9686 and SD60M #6775 were providing power.

When the Amtrak special showed up it pulled out onto the Rockville Bridge before reversing back into the Wye.

The 4W PRR dwarf signal displaying Slow Clear for the reverse movement at CP-WYE.

A spike of railfans forming a photo line.

Conference Car #9800 rounding the curve into CP-WYE.

Amtrak Veterans P42DC #42 along side Phase II Heritage unit #156.