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Friday, February 19, 2016

16-02-19 PHOTOS: PORT

Normally when friends want me to go on road trips with them I add railfan stops as a requirement for my participation. So when my friend asked if I would accompany him to the Harrisburg Horse Expo I figured it would be a good opportunity to snag some PRR Middle Division action at the town of Newport, PA about 10 miles up the Juniata River from the confluence with the Susquehanna at Duncannon. This was followed up with a short visit to the Harrisburg fast fuel pad which sits adjacent to the Harrisburg intermodal yard about 2 miles east of the Rockville Bridge. You can view the full set of photos here.

We kick off with a bit of an aside. In Mach, 2016, CSX replaced a landmark 1885 Whipple through truss bridge that spanned the NEC just south of Bayview yard carrying the CSX track to the Port of Baltimore coal export terminal. Aware of this I made sure to get a photo of the bridge from the back of an Amtrak Regional train before the replacement. Fortunately a similar truss bridge still stands about a mile or so further down on the same line.

That Regional trip was also my first opportunity to be hauled by Veterans ACS-86 #642.

Moving on to the non-electrified portion of the PRR, Newport, PA is home to PORT interlocking which consists of a complete two track crossover and a single switch to an industrial track. A classic PRR signal bridge still stands for westbound movements.

Here we see NS C40-9Ws #9714 and #8939 hauling a cut of gondolas down the easy grade towards Harrisburg.

This was soon followed by a westbound manifest train led by SD70M-2 #2683 and standard cab C40-9 #8767.

Included in the consist was Reading and Northern coal hopper #7948.

A short while later aging NS C40-8W #8369 was single haulin' a train of autoracks westbound towards Altoona. 

At the Harrisburg Fuel pad a westbound train had just cleared the MP 107 intermediate signals, not bothering to stop for fuel.

An eastbound loaded coal train with NS C40-9W #9375 and friends had decided to stop and top off while sister C40-9W #9083 looked on from the yard.

So called "Fast" fuel pads located on main line tracks in terminal areas were a feature of the North American Class 1 railroad efficiency revolution allowing road power to be run from origin to destination without needing to be swapped out for servicing en route.

That's all for today. Next week we visit Amtrak at Perryville, MD.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

16-02-06 PHOTOS: Empire State of Mind

The month of February has been an opportunity to travel to the NY Capitol Region for an extended weekend of skiing, college hockey and railfan activities. This year, due to atypically low snow levels in the Adirondacks, I was only able to peruse two of those three, but I didn't mind since that meant more time to railfan ;-)

Most of the pics involve Amtrak's Hudson Line used by the Empire Service trains. There is a general reconstruction project taking place at the Albany-Renssalaer terminal complex to increase both speeds and the number of tracks. I also captured some of the work on the double track project between Albany and CP-169 west of Schenectady. You can view the full set here.

We begin with my last ride behind an AEM-7 in Amtrak service as #915 shows up with my early morning Regional train in Baltimore.

My Empire train suffered an initial terminal delay of about 20 minutes because of work at the INWOOD movable bridge that rendered the switch there non-functional and the Empire Line effectivly a single track railroad.

At Poughkeepie I caught heritage painted P32AC-DM #704 hauling Empire train #242.

Classic New York Central signal bridge at MP 79.

CP-114 at Hudson, NY with a CSX geep in the yard.

Attention Amtrak, I found where all your missing platform stools had wound up.

The Alfred H. Newman Smith Bridge spanning the high speed section of Amtrak's Hudson Line. North of CP-125, where CSX freight traffic departs via the Schodak Branch, speeds increase to 110mph from 95. Prior to Amtrak's lease of the entire Hudson Line from CSX, this section had also been maintained by Amtrak. 

The rebuilt CP-142 at Albany-Rensselaer. LED searchlights have replaced the GRS SA electro-mechanical models. 

Amtrak P32AC-DM #706 headed into the yard at Albany-Rensselaer. Note the new platform extension work as well as the rebuilding of CP-143.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

16-02-04 VIDEOS: Amtrak Hudson Line

Some perks of Amtrak Business Class on Empire Service trains include plush 2+1 seating in former first class cars, adjacency to the Cafe where one can enjoy complimentary beverages and a rear facing railfan window. Moreover, because BC passangers are assumed to have money and clout, the crews are often more accommodating when it comes to taking pictures out of the rear vestibule ;-)

Now last year I had made a similar attempt to video this route, but snow on the track resulted in a completely obstructed view and I had to abort the mission. This year was the exact opposite with so little snow upstate I actually had to cancel a planned ski trip. As I had previously taken video from the front of Metro North express trains I saw little use in re-shooting that part of the Hudson Line. Instead of captured the Empire Line from Penn Station to DV and then the entirety of Amtrak's Hudson line from CP-75 through CP-142.

Here we see the empire Service Train #235 departing Penn Station about 20 minutes late due to a single track condition on the Empire Line due to work in the area of INWOOD interlocking. Thanks to rising property values, most of the RoW in the Midtown area has now been overbuilt for new residential towers.

Jumping ahead to the end of Metro-North territory at Poughkeepsie we look at the back as the train runs from there to the town of Rhinecliff at speeds up to 95mph. Note the former NY Central signal bridges.

From Rhinecliff we pass through CP-90 and then on towards the town of Hudson. We pass the southbound Train 48 Lake Shore Limited about 6 minutes in.

Here the train runs from Hudson to the Albany-Rensselaer metroplex. Max speed on this portion of the line is 95mph below CP-125 and 110mph from CP-125 to CP-142. This was due to CSX, who owned and maintained the line between CP-75 and CP-125, not wanting to keep the tracks at the 110mph standard in the face of daily freight train service.

CSX freights exit the Hudson line via the Schodak Branch which diverges at CP-125, crosses over the Hudson Line and then reaches the Boston Line/Selkirk Branch at the Alfred E Smith Bridge that passes above the Hudson Line at a high level.

Also note the new CP-138, CP-141 and CP-142 that are part of the Albany Terminal reconstruction effort that will add a 4th station track and new engine change tracks. The signals at CP-138 are approach lit and flash on once Train 235 has occupied the block.

Well that's it. Next week tune in as I once again toodle about the Capitol Region.