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Sunday, November 29, 2015

15-11-29 PHOTOS: Halethorpe Thanksgiving 2016

Railfan Thanksgiving is the day when fans from across the northeast descend on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor to catch not only extra trains and extra cars, but also leased commuter equipment giving fans both north and south coveted photos of foreign power. Also making this year's Thanksgiving Sunday poignant was the presence of now mostly retired HHP-8's on the leased MARC trains and what will certainly be the final Thanksgiving appearance of the venerable AEM-7.

In 2014 MARC opened a new high level platform station at Halethope, MD. Last year a number of mostly young railfans had discovered that the new station was a great place to watch the Thanksgiving Sunday parade. This year even more fans had joined them, with numbers reaching the 20-30 range, making Halethorpe one of the hottest spots on the southern NEC.

While the weather was rather crummy, I was able to use my body mount GoPro strategy from Levittown to capture both videos and stills. You can find the full set of photos here.

One major new selling point for Halethorpe as a venue is that he now hosts MARC weekend service on Sundays. While the 2-hourly headways aren't super amazing, it's a lot better than nothing. Making their debut this year are new MARC Bike Cars made from old single level coaches like #7710 shown here.

MARC MP36PH-3C #13 pushing the shot weekend train towards DC.

In what would become a familiar pattern for the afternoon, new ACS-86 #651 hauls a long southbound Regional on track 3. 

I had timed my arrival to coincide with the scheduled arrival of the first Holiday Extra, #1057, using leased NJT Arrow III.

The second MARC holiday extra of the day, #1064, soon followed in the opposite direction with HHP-8 #4915 in the head.

The second big advantage of Halethorpe is WINANS interlocking located just south of the station along with automatic signals 1031 and 1033 on track 2 and 3. Here the northbound MARC weekend trainset coasts towards its stop with MP36PH-3C #31.

This train was equipped with Bike Car #7713. Use of bike cars on the weekend trains is to facilitate tourists' DC sightseeing. 

Southbound Acela Express #2251 with power car #2037. About this time a local local cop began to cruise the low with the lights on, but he or she did not get out to harass us.

The center track had traffic set for northbound trains, but wasn't seeing much use because most trains needed to make a stop at BWI Airport Rail Station about 1.5 miles to the south. Most LD trains do not stop at BWI and here we see Amtrak's Silver Starve advancing northbound with ACS-86 #622.

The second NJT Holiday Extra, #1099, had Arrow III #1491 in the lead. Those working with their still cameras on tripods were limited to only video.

The downside to the MARC Sunday service is that with only two trainsets in rotation, the same rolling stock shows up for an encore. MARC MP36PH-3C's #13 and #21.

MARC weekend trains are scheduled in such a way as to make meets likely at Halethorpe, however some lateless was involved. Leading southbound is MARC Kab Kar #7845.

With all the railfans hanging about it was somewhat crowded at the ends of the platforms.

Here's a zoom shot of Acela Express train #2215 with AX Power Car #2027. This was the last train I bothered to stay for due to fading light and other obligations. Unfortunately I was unable to catch a single AEM-7 on what would be their final Thanksgiving Sunday :-(

And of course here is the video montage of Halethorpe Thanksgiving 2015. Seen here are...

Southbound Amtrak Holiday Extra #1057 with Arrow III MU's meeting Northbound Amtrak Regional Train 156 with ACS-86 #628.
Northbound Amtrak Holiday Extra #1065 with MARC HHP-8 #4915.
Northbound MARC local with MP36PH-3C's #31 and #16,
Northbound Amtrak Acela Express #2256 with power cars #2015 and #2010.
Southbound Amtrak Acela Express #2251 with power cars #2037 and #2006.
Southbound Amtrak Regional Train #145 with ACS-86 #606.
Northbound Amtrak Regional Train #132 with ACS-86 #603.
Northbound Amtrak Regional Extra Train #1134 with ACS-86 #633.
Northbound Amtrak Silver Starve with ACS-86 #622.
Southbound Amtrak Holiday Extra Train #1099 with Arrow III MUs.
Southbound Amtrak Regional Train #99 with ACS-86 #644.
Northbound MARC local with MP36PH-3C's #13 and #21 passing Southbound MARC local with Cab Car #7845.
Northbound Amtrak Acela Express #2258 with power cars #2012 and #2013.
Southbound Amtrak Acela Express #2215 with power cars #2033 and #2027.

Well that's it.  Next week join ,e in a trip out to Blue Island, Chicagoland. 

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