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Sunday, September 18, 2016

16-09-18 PHOTOS: NYC Medieval Faire

Back in September, New York City held its annual Medieval Festival in Ft Tryon Park at the upper end of Manhattan. I was invited up by a friend so I used the opportunity to grab a smattering of photos along the (A)/(C) line and around Penn Station. You can find all the photos here.

We start at 125th St on the (A)/(C) where I was looking to transfer to an (A) train after riding a (C) train express from 59th due to a GO. While I had had the poor luck to snag an R160 (C), I did see an R32 (C) across the platform.

R68 D trains were also puttering about.

Looking past the 404 signal towards the now closed 125th St interlocking tower. I think there was a service disruption because it took some time for an (A) train to show up.

The 181th St station is either located deep underground, or at street level, depending on one's point of view. It's "lower" entrance is quite the looker, while the station itself has a long mezzanine level worthy of the Blitz.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

16-09-11 PHOTOS: Middle Division East

Due to a re-signaling project on the venerable PRR Main Line in Pennsylvania, I declared a railfan emergency and set out with the guy who runs to document the line between Newport, PA and Lewistown, PA with intermediate stops at Thompsontown, Port Royal, Mifflin and Hawstone. I actually got very lucky that day spotting two heritage units and the usual parade of NS's EMD rich lashups and a private car on the rear of Amtrak Train 43.The downside was having to process over  1500 photos :-\ You can see them all right here.

Starting out at Enola Yard and diesel maintenance facility, we find NS SD70ACe #1183 sitting next to "to be rebuilt" UP SD90/43 #7287.

Here we see a trio (#7225, #7201 #7213) of NS SD70ACu's, what the SD90/43's are being rebuilt into, next to an un-rebuilt example, #7302.

The Enola backlot that day. I would later see some of these units hauling trains westbound on the main line.

New signals in place at CP-PORT, which I had visited earlier in the year. What really annoys me is the placement of the cantilever base within the 4-track right of way, precluding future expansion to 3 or 4 tracks! Note the 'C' boards as NS is taking advantage of the cab signal system to convert the line to Rule 562 operation. 

Even the PRR's pedestrian underpasses were of exceptional quality!

NS C44-9W #9525 and friends (SD70ACe #1095 and ES40DC #7514), passing the MP 142 intermediate at Thompsontown, PA. Looks like #1095 got hit by a paint bomb.

NS Wabash heritage unit #1070 passing the signals at CP-THOMPSON at the head of a 4-unit light engine movement. This lashup had been one of the ones spotted earlier at Enola and was now en-route to somewhere west. Other engines were SD70ACu #7319, Tier IV ES44AC #3610 and C40-9W #9131.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

16-09-01 PHOTOS: Downeaster Dome

Most years, Amtrak's sole remaining Great Dome car gets trotted out in the fall to provide leaf peepers with a better view on the Adirondack and (occasionally) Cardinal services. In 2016, NNEPRA, the governmental organization in charge of the Downeaster passenger service to Maine, hit upon the idea of booking the dome for a few weeks in August. One of the two trainsets would be equipped with the dome and it would be run on about half the weekday and weekend trains. As luck would have it, my annual Labour Day Boston trip involves a Dwneaster journey to New Hampshire, so the only action I had to take was moving back my departure from 5pm to 5:45pm.

If you didn't peek ahead and see all the photos last week, the full set is right here.

Former Great Northern dome car #10031 was one of 6 Great Dome cars ordered by the Great Northern in 1953 to upgrade service on the Empire Builder. It is currently the last dome car on the Amtrak roster, last seeing regular service on the single level version of the Auto Train.

Prior to my trains departure from Boston North Station, a strange Amtrak train consisting of P42DC #205 and a sister sandwiching a single Amfleet car was parked ahead of our trainset on the same track. It departed before ours was finished boarding and I still have no idea what was going on.

Our train was being hauled by Amtrak P42DC #140 and the dome car was placed behind the engine.

On the opposite train Rotem bi-level K-Kab-Car #1802 arrived at the head of an inbound MBTA commuter train.

Seating in the dome was at no extra cost and was first come first serve. The dome was open prior to departure and one did not need to maintain a seat in one of the regular coaches.

For anyone who has never ridden in Amtrak's Great Done, here's a video tour.

Speaking of video, I still had some space on my GoPro memory card so I found a way to rig it to the front of the dome to record a quasi railfan view of the Downeaster route between North Station and Haverhill. The first video includes the MBTA Lowell Line between North Station and the Anderson (Cooper) RTC. The second picks up from there and covers the Wildcat Branch as well as the Haverhill Line to just shy of the Bradford Station.

16-09-01 PHOTOS: Braintree

On my most recent trip to visit Boston, which took place over this past Labour Day Weekend, I found myself with an additional 45 minutes to kill on top of the usual 90-120 minute layover between the Regional arrival at Boston South Station and the Downeaster Departure from Boston North Station. This was because Amtrak's Great Dome was running on the Doneaster and because there is only one of them it was scheduled on the later 5:45 departing train instead of my usual connection of the 5pm departing train. Anyway I decided to use this bonus layover time to rectify a long running problem I had with the MBTA rapid transit network, mainly that I had never been to Braintree on the Red Line.

Now this wasn't because I had never ridden the Braintree Branch of the Red Line, because I had, but only as far as Quincy Adams. Back when I was in Boston more frequently, Wikipedia and smart phones had yet to exist and nobody I was with could tell me if trains arriving at Braintree dumped riders outside with no way to return for free. This was especially important information because the Braintree extension exit fare system was still in effect so getting dumped out a la Wonderland would result in not one but THREE additional fares to get back. This resulted in my choosing to exist at Quincy Adams on my one and only previous excursion down the line.

Visiting Braintree was also doubly important due to the impending replacement of the Classic Red Line rolling stock in favor of Chinese junk. You can find photos from the entire trip here.

The trip began in Baltimore with MARC HHP-8 #4911 still hanging on to life as it arrives with an early morning local train.

My Regional Train 172 was running to schedule and we met a southbound counterpart at Wilmington with ACS-86 #922.

Temporary signals at HAROLD interlocking as it is rebuilt for ESA.

PRR Position light signal bridge at HAROLD.

Additional signs of "progress". 

Providence and Worcester GP38 #2010 hangs out with Amtrak P42DCs #100 and #104 and GP38H-3 #522 at the New Haven motor storage yard.

Metroliner Cab Car #9640 was attached to a Springfield Shuttle trainset.

Amtrak P42DC #108 was shuffling around before or after a power change.

At Boston South Station I caught an Acela Express trainset with sequential power cars, #2012 and #2013.

To escape the heat underground, I hopped an Ashmont train to JFK-UMASS where I caught an outbound MBTA train on the Old Colony with F40PH-2C #1065.

16-09-01 VIDEOS: Amtrak NEC

So since Amtrak moved Business Class to the rear of Regional Trains, I realized I had been rather lax in taking advantage of the previously inexpensive real window access after the point that I became equipped myself with a GoPro. However, all is not lost because thanks to the new Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card I come into regular possession of class upgrade coupons and so I have been provided with a shot at redemption.

This past Labour Day weekend I utilized one such coupon on a trip to Boston on Amtrak Regional Train #172 and was able to capture sufficient rear facing videos to cover the NEC between the Martin Airport and New York Pennsylvania Station. This will nicely dovetail with my existing video covering the Shore Line between Mill River and South Station, which I was able to complete with the Mill River to Old Saybrook segment on this run.

Due to some camera issues the first segment begins approximately at Martin Airport and continues to Wilmington. Interesting points to note includes being sandwiched by an empty NS oil train and a southbound Acela express just south of Newark, DE.

The next video begins at Wilmington with the southbound Train 79 across the platform and continued on to Philadelphia. Due to the TML operating on track 2 between HOLLY and HOOK, we have to cross over to the local track for that stretch, right before passing a southbound SEPTA local just shy of Lamokin.