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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.

Friday, November 27, 2015


I don't get out to Winslow Junction as much as I should, and by "as much as I should", I mean more than once a decade. WJ used to be my go to place for railfanning in South Jersey, usually on random weekends with my father. However in recent years my general unavailability combined with his decreased activity lead to Winslow Junction being that place we'll get around to visiting "next time". Well, finding myself at a severe loss for content in 2015, I decided to take a little detour from my Black Friday shopping to swing by what used to be one of the busiest rail interlockings in the entire world.

You can find the full set of photos of my trek around the old complex here.

Of course the real stars of the Southern Railroad of New Jersey are the two F7A cab units that used to work the Salem Branch between Salem, NJ and Swedesboro, NJ. They are former B&LE units and numbered 727 and 728. #728 is painted in NYO&W colors because the former SRNJ owner had a bit of a crush on the NYO&W.

#727 is painted in a CNJ heritage scheme, but after years out in the elements, some of the B&LE heritage is showing through.


The SRNJ had a couple of old GE 44-toners and NYOW painted #105 is the one that is still around.

This is what happens when you park your locomotive in a bad neighborhood. #1801 is a rare GE U18B U-Boat

CMSL Tony doesn't have a monopoly on RDC's in South Jersey. SRNJ #7 used to belong to the NYS&W running a passenger service in Syracuse, NY. When that railroad's eccentric owner died the service was promptly shut down and the RDC's sold.

Former CN MLW M420 #3519 is up on the good kind of blocks, getting its front truck rebuilt.

Traction motor armature. might want to cover that.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

15-11-25 PHOTOS: Love it at Levit

So it's become a tradition of mine to venture out with Chuchubob each Thanksgiving Eve to photograph the special Amtrak holiday trains running up and down the corridor. Unfortunately last year the weather was not very cooperative and Bob and I were forced to take SEPTA to the Levittown Station in a wintery mix of rain and snow. Once there, conditions were so blah that I couldn't even tempt Bob to stay an additional headway with a free lunch.

This year, on the other hand, conditions were perfect with a bright winter sun and warm temperatures. Of course Amtrak still found a way to run its train late, but no matter, this outing was one of the best that was able to use the Levittown Station location to its full potential.

You can view the entire set of photos here.

First up was what I believe to be Amtrak Train 20, the Northbound Crescent with 4 sleepers in the consist, running behind ACS-86 #623.

A 4-car inbound R7 local lead by SL-IV #459 passes under the MP 63 automatic signals mounted on the Fallsington Road bridge.

Moments later a southbound Acela Express train with power car #2002 blasted through the station, passing the hapless R7

The R7's were times to arrive just a few minutes apart. Here the outbound makes it stop lead by SL-IV #434 and trailed by #171.

Southbound Amtrak ACS-86 #631 with Regional train #141.

This was followed by northbound Axela Express train #2158 powered by cars #2021 and #2024.