The only way for me to get to NYC in time to properly board the 8am departing Autumn Express was to take Train 190, departing Baltimore at 3:50am. This came the day after I had just traveled to Harrisburg to photograph the Autumn Express from the outside and later attended a Halloween Party. This is the first of several posts documenting the 2016 Autumn Express and it will cover the trip over the former Conrail Lehigh Line between Newark and Allentown, PA. Next week I'll cover the Reading Line between Allentown and Reading before finally covering both the NS and Amtrak Harrisburg Lines.
You can find the full set of Lehigh Line Autumn Express photos here.
Starting at Baltimore the track bridges were out for some MoW work on tracks 4, 5, 6 and 7. Unfortunately Amtrak never seems to be able to line up its track bridges properly in the MARC zone. The crew became so confused that at one point opened up on the low level (and out of service) Track 3!
The platforming at New York Penn Station worked a bit better as our train was adjacent to the Autumn Express trainset on track 10. As I was an alighting ticketed passenger I was able to go up for some pre-board photos of the power that consisted of Amtrak Phase III Heritage P42 #145, Amtrak Veterans P42 #42 and Amtrak Veterans ACS-86 #642.
Metroliner First Class Conference Car #6800 was also still on the leading end of the trainset, which would mean I would benefit from a rear facing railfan window!
Over on adjacent Track 8, ACS-86 #600 sat sprawled across A interlocking's #111 switch.
After departure the train stopped briefly at Newark to take on more passengers. The train was so long that my position in the rear was almost sitting on the draw span of the DOCK movable bridge! While waiting a westbound NJT train appeared with ALP-46 #4623 in the lead.
Some lucky railfans at the "Union" (Townley, NJ) NJT station caught a once in a lifetime meet as the Autumn Express passed an eastbounf NS freight with Erie-Lackawana heritage SD45-2 #1700 being transported behind the road engines. Furthermore, at the end of the consist were three NJT split-level cars being delivered new or from Sandy repair.
Just past the Conrail Middlesex, NJ detector we passed another eastbound NS freight with C44-9W #9727 in the third position in the consist.
At some point on the Lehigh Line the group of people standing in the back corridor got full fledged vestibule privileges, which allowed me to shoot this video passing through the famous Pattenburg Tunnel. You can also listen to an example of the narration that continued on for the entire 8-10 hour duration of the trip!
Truss overpass with railfans at Milepost 69.
Preserved CNJ PU Tower in Phillipsburg, NJ.
After crossing the Delaware River on the old CNJ bridge, we passed through the old LVRR Easton Station and under the CP-EASTON gantryleaver signal.
Local freight waiting for us to clear up at CP-EASTON.
Clear searchlight signal for an eastbound movement at CP-RICHARDS, which itself is due to be replaced by a new crossover as part of an ongoing CTC project.
NS GP38-2 #5351 as part of a local freight lashup sitting in the old Bethlehem Steel yard in Bethlehem, PA.
Technically the Reading Line starts at CP-BETHLEHEM, with the Lehigh Line branching off across the Lehigh River to the large Allentown Yard. This interlocking was recently re-signaled with the curving track given a "straight" route to the river bridge and eliminating an equilateral switch.
Before joining the Reading Line proper at CP-BURN, the train traverses a short part of track built Conrail to connect the old LVRR route to the Reading route in order to create an Allentown Yard bypass for run-through trains on the new combined PRR-alternative freight route. This qualified Conrail as one of the fallen flags whose right of way we had run on.
Next week turn in as we continue on from CP-BURN to CP-WYOMISSING JCT.