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Saturday, June 20, 2015

15-06-20 PHOTOS: Worcester

Derived from the Latin root "Chester" meaning castle, the pronunciation of Worcester has been twisted over time from Wor-chester into Wor-cester, Wooster, Woostah and finally, it's current pronunciation, Gritty Old Mill Town. Located about an hour east of Boston, Worcester used to be a center of new Englande industry, pumping out both textiles and precision products. Today little of that is left, the mills converted into community colleges and inexpensive lofts for people who can't afford to live in Boston. Still, one indication that Worcester is on the rebound is its fabulous downtown train station, rehabilitated in 1999 for both the extended MBTA service and as a civic event space.

Today I will take a look at the Worcester Union Station complex including both CSX, MBTA and P&W services. You can find the full set of photos here

Worcester Union Station was built in 1911 by the New York Central railroad with the Providence and Worcester and New Haven being other important tenants.

The main hall can be reserved for events like this wedding that was underway behind the white curtain.

Just south of the station, Conrail established an intermodal terminal on its Boston Line. Today the terminal is operated by CSX and I found AC4400 #439 idling ahead of a cut of doublestacks.

At the western end of the station platform are the signals for Boston Line interlocking CP-45. The 'C' lamps are for the Rule 562 cab-signal only operation which is in place between Framingham and CP-187.

When I got up to the platform level it started to rain, slightly degrading this shot of SRS Doodlebug #125 that was hanging out west of the station.

Behind it was CSX ES44AC-H #736.

Part of the B&A platform was raised when MBTA service was extended. The P&W platform is now used for outdoor restaurant seating.

CSX AC4400 #439 was occasionally making some odd chugging noises.

The old platform and Amtrak station is still in place and perhaps still used by longer MBTA trains.

Hanging out in the ready yard were three generations of MBTA power. Oldest was F40PH-2C #1029.

On the adjacent track was GP40MC #1122.

And finally brand new HSP-46 #2032 was on the far track.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

15-06-09a PHOTOS: Humid Air Line

Well, we have come to the end of my 2015 Amtrak Transcontinental trip. After the stop in Houston all that was left was a run along the gulf coast to New Orleans, with a scheduled arrival of 9pm. Due to costs and other considerations I choose to forgo continuing the trip onto the Crescent.

Again the private car on the rear of Train 2 drastically limited my abilities to take pictures, but I was able to grab a few shots at stations, from the side window and of a number of drawbridges that went up above the private car. Also included a number of photos from New Orleans. You can view the entire set here. If you'd like to see some photos of the line without a private car in the way you can see them here.

We begin with the smoke stop in Beaumont, TX. Let me tell you this was the hottest and least comfortable weather I have ever been exposed to. Afternoon temperature on the golf coast was well over 100 degrees with humidity easily in the 80-90% range. It baffles me why humans would willingly live in such a place. Here a member of the crew walks back from the P42DC engines #85 and #39.

Rare transit style signal in railroad use at the KCS/BNSF/UP crossing complex in downtown Beaumont.

Amtrak P42DC #85 and #39 snaking along the viaduct through downtown Beaumont. This portion of track is maintained by the Kansas City Southern and features rare GRS type 'MF' triangular dwarf signals.

Looking back through the Neches River verticle lift drawbridge.

 Gulf coast refinery.

The former Southern pacific drawbridge over the Calcasieu River running parallel to the fix Interstate 10 bridge.

Train 2 making a stop at Lafayette, LA. Between here and New Orleans the former Southern Pacific route is run by BNSF with the Union Pacific maintaining traffic rights. A few minutes before our train had been hit by a tremendous line of thunderstorms with high wind and hail. It provided a nice show from the safety of the lounge car.

The setting sun as our train passes by a train of wind turbine components.

Crossing the Atchafalaya Canal on a fixed truss bridge.

 Atchafalaya River vertical lift drawbridge and parallel highway bridges. Without human intervention, the Atchafalaya River would eventually become the new outlet of the Mississippi, leaving New Orleans without its most valuable resource.

Pulling into the Amtrak owned and operated New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal about an hour late. Despite the lateness the train still pulled into the wye track and then backed into the station.

P32-8WH #500 was on hand for switching duties. 

Amtrak P42DC #85 after it's run.

I guess this could be considered a payoff due to the lack of photos. My friend talking to Dan Akroyd, who seems to have scored a hat from the DHS swarm back in Houston. A doubt the fare paying passengers who were inconvenienced got hats.

15-06-09 PHOTOS: Planet Houston

Last we left my 2015 Amtrak Transcontinental Trip, my Sunset Limited trainset was rolling across the West Texas scrub land at a speed comparable with the posted limit on the parallel US Route 90. Upon waking the next morning, I discovered the train to be sitting at San Antonio, where cars had been cut off for the Texas Eagle to Chicago. This is the point where the extra two hours added to the schedule would be made up, so Train 2 departed at it's originally scheduled time towards Houston.

Because of all the single track running there was even less for me to take photos of than the day before where a two track main line allowed for a few somewhat reasonable angles. Still, with the station stops and some aggressive side window action I managed to gather enough content for a photo set, which you can view here.

We begin in Engle, TX, waiting on the main line for a westbound UP intermodal train to finish taking the siding. Leading power was UP SD70ACe #8824. This siding was actually recently constructed to help ease congestion on the line, which was killing the Sunset's OTP.

Historic water tower in Wiemar, TX.

UP C40-8 #9125 sitting in the yard at Gliden, TX. Gliden isn't a huge town, but the yard is what gives this subdivision its name.

Former Southern Pacific station at Eagle Lake, TX.

At the East Barnardo siding we were passed by another westbound intermodal train with UP SD70ACe #8806 in the lead, NS C40-9W #9297 running second and UP AC4400 #6349 running third.

The Gliden Sub was largely equipped with Souther Pacific vintage target signals.

The TOWER 17 museum in Rosenberg, TX. This classic tower was in service until the early 2000's, when it was moved to a nearby railroad museum and preserved. Fun Fact, the Texas railroad commission used to heavily regulate all railroad interlockings. When interlockings were approved they were given a unique sequential number.

From Rosenberg to Houston, a second track was being installed to again, relieve congestion. 

Amtrak P42DC's #85 and #39 standing at the Houston, TX station platform. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

15-06-08a PHOTOS: Texas 75

On my cross country Amtrak Trip via the Sunset Limited my train had already reached Texas, yet it was only about halfway through its journey. It was after noon when my train pulled out of El Paso heading east towards San Antonia. The great double track main line was replaced by a single track with passing sidings on the former SP Valentine Sub. Without the double track I had little reason to stay at the back of the train with its pathetic view so I retreated to the lounge car to scrap by with some side shots. If you like scenery and related you can view the whole set of photos here.

At the east end of the El Paso station terminal I managed to get a shot of Tower 196 which, until about 15 years ago controlled the entire El Paso terminal area.

In a very forward thinking bit of engineering the Southern Pacific railroad depressed its 3-track main line through the center of town into a trench to avoid traffic tieups.

East Coast visitors in the form of NS C44-9W #9393 and C44-10W #7539.

Following that pair was UP SD70ACe #8588 and AC4400 #6805.

Spotted this UP standard cab GE C40-8 #9317 in the El Paso engine terminal deadline.

Close by was UP SD60 #2207.

Hanging out behind the engine house was UP CCRCL #Y115. A CCRLC is a Control Car Remote Control Locomotive, which is link a slug that provides remote control capability instead of extra tractive effort. 

15-06-08 PHOTOS: El Paso

Over the past 5 years my annual cross country Amtrak trek has resulted in large, often multi-part posts with 30 or so photos each. Well, as I alluded to in last week's post, this year's trip was ruined by Dan Akroyd parking his private car on the back of the train for the entire journey. I tried to salvage things as best I could, but I am going to need to perform a complete do-over next year. Good thing my new Amtrak credit card is giving me 20k free rewards points :-
In this part I cover much of the former Southern Pacific route between Tuscon, AZ and El Paso, TX. Keep in mind my train is actually running ahead of schedule due to anticipated congestion in the San Antonia area. You can view the complete set of photos here.

How the view out the back could have certainly been worse since the bi-level Superliner did quite literally overshadow the heavyweight car attached behind it. However this was the view I was stuck with for the entire trip. Um...I think that's a signal there and there are some mountains in the frame as well.

On the curvier parts of the line I was occasionally granted a reasonable sight line, such as here near Fenner where I nabbed this photo of KCS AC4400 #4550 on the rear of a doublestack train.

S-curves and mountains near Sibyl, AZ.

Out of the mountains and onto the flats near Wilcox.

Wilcox MoW base.

An unidentified CP GE unit hauling ass behind a UP GE near Raso.

These remote signals near the Arizona border are powered by both wind AND solar.

What may or may not count as a mesa.

UP AC4400 #5686 partly seen at Lordsburg.

UP SD70ACe #8312 seen on the end of a double stack train in the Lordsburg yard while Train 2 makes a station stop.

Anything in the Northeast advertising itself as "authentic" Mexican food is a fake.

UP ES44AC #7960 at the head of an intermodal train in Lordsburg Yard.

Southwestern Railway GP40 locomotives #9710 and #9964 at Deming, NM.