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Saturday, October 29, 2016

16-10-29 PHOTOS: HARRIS Autumn Express

So Amtrak scheduling its 2016 Autumn Express on consecutive days earlier in the season had a number of great benefits. The first was that the leaf color was better, the second is that an October date meant that HARRIS tower would still be open and the third is that I could go photograph the train on one day and then ride it the next. The route would have a New York City departure and then make a large circle using the Lehigh Valley/Reading route outbound and then returning via the PRR route through Philly. On the Saturday I drove out to Harrisburg to both photograph the train and visit the HARRIS Tower museum and then on Sunday, as you will soon see, I rode the train myself. This arrangement not only checked off my Amtrak Autumn Express train photos, but also my annual HARRIS tower visit.

You can find the full set of photos here.

I started my day hanging out in HARRIS tower, occasionally pausing to photograph various passing NS trains. At one point I caught this meet between NS C44-9W's #9484 and #9389 and NS ES44DS's #8145 and #8051.

The early afternoon is when both the eastbound and westbound Pennsylvanians. The westbound specifically can tend to hang out for a bit thanks to all the schedule padding. Here we see Train 42 with P42DC #96. Behind it P42DC #92 sits coupled to Metroliner Cab Car #9647 as protect power.

A few minutes later Amtrak P42DC #96 departed Harrisburg with Train 42 through the newly rebuilt STATE interlocking, that had just been cut over a few days prior closing the old STATE tower that had been in service for 79 years.

After Train 42 departed, a mid-day westbound Keystone train arrived with Metroliner Cab Car #9636 and ACS-86 #663.

I had re-positioned myself to the now re-opened Mulberry St bridge in order to get some photos of the Autumn Express as it turned off the Reading Valley Branch at CAPITOL tower. Although it was only a few miles away, it was delayed by congestion and while waiting I caught this light engine move heading off the wye track from the Lugan Branch led by NS C44-9W #9803.

Two of the Three units in the light engine move, #8877 and #8880 were NS C44-9's, the last "standard cab" GE's built. 

The cause of the delay soon appeared in the form of a westbound merchandise train led by NS SD70ACe #1012 and C44-9W #9705.

Following behind was the 2016 Autumn Express powered by Amtrak Phase III Heritage P42DC #145, Veterans P42DC #42 and Veterans ACS-86 #642. This was followed by Metroliner conference car #6800 and about 12-14 coaches. Fun fact, the ACS-86 had more power than the two P42's combined.

After a brief stop to drop off the NS pilot, the train continued on past the former PRR Harrisburg Station.

I returned to HARRIS tower to await the return of the Autumn Express, which continued on to wye at the Rockville Bridge. Because of a track of out service, an NS freight hauled by SD60E #6939, ES44AC #8402 and C44-9W #8402.

When the Express appeared again a spike of railfans was on hand to photograph it.

Passing the tower, the Autumn Express also passed by a resting Keystone set hauled by ACS-86 #641.

Well that's it for the outside perspective of the 2016 Autumn Express. Tune in next time as we traverse the former Lehigh Valley Railroad's main line between Newark and Allentown.

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