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Saturday, May 23, 2015

15-05-23 VIDEOS: Caltrain Morning Express

For years I had been trying to get a good railfan video of a Northbound Caltrain Baby Bullet express. Usually I catch the 4:45 train departing San Jose as it consistently runs with gallery car equipment instead of the railfan un-friendly Bombardier coffin cars. However, on two previous occasions my video attempts were less than successful. Between 2006 and 2012 I was limited by my standard def camera. When I upgraded that I was thwarted by dirty front windows that made for generally poor videos.

This time I was catching a flight out of Oakland which provided me with an opportunity to catch a morning express run. However, as I mentioned before, I had no idea which of the trains would run with Gallery Car stock. For two mornings I staked out the San Jose Diridon Station, watching the morning rush and each time I encountered only Bomber trainsets. On the day of my departure I was down to the last run of the morning and I had to make a choice between catching a limited stop semi-express train or rolling the dice on the lst Baby Bullet. Failure would mean no railfan window (and a wasted trip) or an all-stops local. Still, Caltrain only has so many Baby Bullet trainsets so my luck had to improve.

Desperate for some degree of inside information I asked the conductor of the fimal semi-express train if the next Baby Bullet would have Gallery car or Bombardier equipment. He didn't know, but went ahead and made a call, informing me that the last train of the morning would indeed have Gallery Cars. So nearly 7 years after I first started trying to make a quality Caltrain RFW video I finally succeeded. Enjoy.

After transferring to BART I rode across the bay to the Coliseum station where instead of transferring to the AirBART bus, I would complete my journey on the $400 million AirBART...cable car? That's right, it looks like that someone in the capitol planning department used the April 1st version of the RPF because instead of building some sort of monorail or people mover to connect the rail transit station and the Oakland Airport, AirBART is a modern day cable car built by a European ski lift maker. Here is a video of the complex switch mechanism throwing over at the Coliseum terminal.

The AirBART cable cars work just like most other airport people movers, just instead of using electric motors, it uses a cable running between the rails. Cars automatically change cables at each end of the terminal and then again at the power house in the middle of the run. You can see how it works in this 8 minute video that captures a westbound run.

Well, that's it for my supplemental video post.

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