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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.

Halfway descent view of the former B&M Tower 1, now housing the North Station drawbridge tender.

Departing North Station I got this dome view of the MBTA maintenance facility. 

The former Boston and Maine Lowell Line still included some signaling throwbacks like this double green clear indication.

Newer signaling, like this cantilever mast at FY interlocking south of Lawrence, did not disappoint either, shown here displaying a Medium Approach Medium signal.

MBTA Cab Cars #1809 and #1630 at the Bradford layover yard.

Amtrak Great Dome #10031 departing Exeter, NH.

Unfortunately, my return schedule would not permit a second ride on the Dome. A few days and some better weather later, I am back at Exeter with Amtrak cabbage car #90224 approaching. 

Here we see MBTA F40PH-2C #1057 stitting at North Station in the shadow of the Bill Buckner Bridge.

Here is an additional F40PH-2C #1064, sitting adjacent to Amtrak P42DC #22.

Of course the TOWER 1 Drawbridge was doing its thing going up and down.

While waiting for a Green Line train at the North Station Superstation I shot this little video of some decrepit 01200 series Orange Line cars.

A short while later I found Amtrak ACS-86 #628 at Boston South Station.

Across the way was MBTA HSP-46 #2000.

For all you boat fans, at New London, The USS Colorado (SSN-788) was visible outside the Electric Boat Company construction hall.

For some reason the USS Truxtun (DDG-103) was also parked nearby.

I'm going to finish up with this shot of #628 at New Haven.

Well that's it for this year's Labour Day trip. I was told by the conductor on the Dome Car train that the car had been quite popular and that NNEPRA was looking to book it again next year. Hopefully I'll get a second bite at the apple at least video wise with better weather and sufficient memory card space.

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