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The PRR PL signals at CP-SOUTH FERRY had been replaced by Darth Vaders, but the interlocking itself did not appear to have been replaced as evidenced by the original 1950's vintage CTC hut.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

Here is a GoPro video of the Special shoving onto the Buffalo Line.

#42 and #156 leading the special back towards the Pittsburgh Line.

Here is another GoPro video of the special departing the Buffalo Line.

Amtrak #42 and #156 passing the 12E Medium Clear signal at CP-ROCKVILLE.

So perhaps the biggest the selling point of the 2014 Excursion was that the train would traverse the West Philadelphia Elevated (aka High Line) en route to the Reading Main. However due to MoW work the High Line would not be available. As an alternative CSX offered an alternative routing via the 58th St connector to the Philly Sub. From there the train would run up the B&O route on the east side of the Schuylkill River, through the Art Museum tunnel and then over the Columbia Bridge to CP-BELMONT.

Starting off this little detour the train had to pull past the old ARSENAL tower that used to control the whole interlocking complex.

Then we moved out onto the Arsenal bridge in order to clear CP-ARSENAL and reverse back down the connector.

Passing by RG tower in South Philly.

 30th St Station from the B&O route. People on the adjacent bike path were about ready to shit themselves seeing an Amtrak train on the east side of the river.

CSX GP40-2 #6409 sitting between CP-BELMONT and CP-RIVER with the offending MoW train.

NS GP38-2 #5359 and SW1001 #2101 at Abrahms Yard.

CP mixed freight train waiting in the hole at CP-VALLEY after the special passed through downtown Reading.

The Reading Railroad's own CAPITOL tower in Harrisburg, PA.

HARRIS tower from the other side.

 Shrink wrapped GG1 #4859.

 On the Rockville Bridge looking north towards the Blue Ridge gap along the Susquehanna River.

The 4E signal at CP-ROCKVILLE was installed around 15 years ago when the interlocking was reconfigured to prevent doublestack containers from being blown into the Susquehanna River.

Ex-Southern SD60 #6699 waiting at CP-WYE.

The NS Operation Lifesaver GP38-2 #5669 waiting in the Harrisburg relay yard.

Pennsy Supply B23-7 #250 is working the Annville Quarry along with SD40-3 #6251

What would be a photo set of an Amtrak Fall Foliage trip without some fall foliage.

Due to the early morning detour our train was running well over an hour late. To help us get back on time the NS Dispatcher routed us back over the Reading Belt Line, avoiding the 10mph running downtown. Here is a view of the former PRR Schuylkill Branch arch bridge over the Schuylkill river south of the city near Cumru. Today the bridge and RoW have been preserved as part of a bike path.

Well that is it for the photos. Here is a GoPro video taken from the side of the Amtrak train showing the Philly Skyline as we slowly move past on the High Line. The video covers the entire transit of the High Line from ZOO through ARSENAL.

And as a little bonus here is rear-view RFW GoPro video taken from a PATCO train running from Haddonfield to 8th and Market. I was still learning how to use the camera so forgive the muted sound and annoying rattle.

That's the end of the show! Tune in next time as we travel out to Levittown on an absolutely nasty Thanksgiving Eve.

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