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Thursday, August 31, 2017

17-08-30a PHOTOS: Shore Line West

My NEC Survey continues. After a brief video episode on the MNRR New Haven Line, I took down the GoPro and went back to work with my camera to get some good photos of the Amtrak Shore Line. While I have been in a position to take shore line photos before, the speed of the train and poorness of the light combined with my use of a mid-range camera has resulted in rather soft and grainy photos. Well this time around I was able to remedy the situation, at least until my train hit the high speed section in Rhode Island where general fatigue caught up with me and I decided to give up.

As is standard practice for my New Hampshire trips I also booked some time at North Station. You can find the complete set of photos here.

We begin with this view of the Metro North New Haven Motor Storage with a couple of M2 trainsets still hanging on.



Amtrak ACS-86 #615 was hanging out in the Amtrak engine terminal for one of the few inland route trains that still perform power changes here.



Here we see New Haven RR painted Shore Line East cab car #1709. This was a weekday so SLE was running its normal weekday schedule.



As seen here by an SLE set led by cab car #1710 and powered by an ex-Amtrak P40 making its way through the trench just past the Amtrak division post.



This next series of photos was taken in the complex of tunnels bored through the track rock ridges east of New Haven. Millions of years ago the Connecticut River valley stretching north of New Haven was where the Eurasian and North American plates first attempted to split and form the Atlantic Ocean. The trap rock ridges in the valley are the lava flows from this event. However at some point the permanent break formed to the east leaving a bit of Eurasian geology on the west side of "The Pond" in the process. Due to steam operation at the time of construction, the tunnel complex features a number of smoke shafts that precluded the need for forced ventilation.





Here we see the new ADA accessible Branford station with high level platforms and an elevated crossover. Again I would love to know the person who decided that elevators and an overpass were preferable to ramps and on underpass. Overpasses are more only more costly but take longer to navigate. Also, ramps don't break down.



G&W painted P&W C39-8 #3908 leading a freight west at Guilford. This must by a scheduled meet as I seem to get a photo of it every year.



New Guilford again with a damned overpass. Previously SLE stations only featured platforms on one side of the tracks which precluded reverse peak operation.



Westward view of the Amtrak Connecticut River Bridge. This long truss bridge was built with a future expansion to 4 tracks in mind.



Passing a westbound regional in Old Lyme.



Passing a westbound Acela Express with power car #2023 also near Old Lyme.



17-08-30 VIDEOS: New Haven Line

On previous trips I had captured rear facing NEC video between Baltimore and New York Penn and between New Haven and Boston. Therefore the 90 or so minute length of the MNRR New Haven Line was one of the last major segments remaining.

Because I was sort of sick of shooting stills out the back, I put up my camera and decided to take a little break. There are three videos, New Rochelle to Stamford, Stamford to Bridgeport and Bridgeport to New Haven. The last video gets a little exciting as we almost got stuck with no power just outside the station, but for more details you'll need to read down.

First up, New Rochelle to Stamford. Around 09:30 we overtake, race and eventually pass an eastbound M8 local. Then there is construction on both track 3 and 2, prompting a crossover from track 2 to 4 at GREEN.



Here we see Stamford to Bridgeport. Here the last of the 1918 vintage New Haven catenary is being removed with track 4 being intact as wire crews work track 2. On the westbound local track 3 we pass at least one train of M8 and an Amtrak Regional.



Finally we have Bridgeport to New Haven. Here note the new 4th track from SS73 through to the New Haven terminal. Sometime around 17:00 a fault in the ACS-86 locomotive cut power and caused the pans to drop. The train coasted for a full 8 minutes, all the way into New Haven station stopping just two carlengths short of the usual spot when the air pressure dropped low enough to cause an emergency application. At New Haven the fault was reset and the train proceeded on with just a slight delay. The long coast was made possible due to a generally descending grade into New Haven from the west.



 I did manage to take a few side window shots including the closed SS45 WALK and SS53 GREENS FARMS interlocking towers.



Hope you enjoyed that. Next week we will return to stills with a trip along Amtrak's Shore Line.

17-08-30 PHOTOS: Rearview NEC - Part 2

Not surprisingly the NEC is a busy place so I had to split my survey trip up over two parts. This one will start from Trenton and continue on through Penn Station and over the Hellgate Line to New Rochelle. All of this was part of my annual summer trip to Boston where I used an upgrade coupon to gain access to the rear facing window and a DSLR to properly document the NEC. Covered in this set is the NEC upgrade project between Trenton and New Brunswick and the East Side Access project in Sunnyside, NY. Also covered is DOCK tower and interlocking before the tower's closure.

You can find the full gallery of photos here. Another NJT Corridor train with ALP-46 #4661 was following closely behind just past the old MILLHAM Tower


The NEC was running with 3 active tracks between New Brunswick and Trenton due to ongoing catenary work that will result in the spending of some $400 million Federal dollars in the Garden State (and little else). Here we see some wire cars spread out through MIDWAY interlocking in sight of the 1940's vintage interlocking tower.




Part of the upgrade included two new high speed crossovers south of COUNTY interlocking to support the NJT zone service pattern with Princeton express trains crossing from the express to local track at 80mph instead of 45mph. Here we see the eastbound crossover within the new ADAMS interlocking on tracks 1 and 2.




And here we see the new DELCO interlocking and it's high speed turnout on tracks 3 and 4 while my Regional passes a train of single level Comet cars headed by Comet V cab car #6019.




Passing another eastbound NJT Northeast Corridor Line train with multi-level equipment at New Brunswick with ALP-46 #4633 pushing on the rear.


LINCOLN tower in Metutchen, NJ.



Getting passed by an westbound Acela Express trainset with power car #2019 at MetroPark.


17-08-30 PHOTOS: Rearview NEC - Part 1

Surprisingly, for someone who is known for standing at the back of Amtrak trains and taking pictures out the rear, I had never conducted a full survey of the NEC. I had done some bits and pieces here and there, but often the high speeds combined with the double window shooting would make the pictures from my mid-range camera grainy and blurry. Also I rode the NEC so frequently that most times I was content to simply sleep because I could always get any pictures I needed whenever I wanted. Well, then Amtrak moved Business class to the last car of the train and getting rear window shots became a major headache. Therefore, when provided the opportunity of my yearly trip to New Hampshire and a class upgrade coupon, I brought along my DSLR and stood the 3 or so hours between the Gunpowder River and New Rochelle getting whatever photos I could out the back of a northbound Regional. Because of the speed and double tinted windows the quality isn't perfect, but it is better than what I was able to take in the past under similar circumstances.

You can find the full set here, but today's Part 1 will cover from Magnolia to Trenton.

We begin at WOOD interlocking in Edgewood, MD. The brick tower was built in the 1930's and at one point had CTC control of several adjacent interlockings up through the 1980's.



Beyond WOOD there are two movable bridges, one over the Bush river and the other over the Susquehanna. Both require special procedures for opening (MoW crew to unbolt the rail), however only Bush is within interlocking limits and has scheduled openings.



Here we see PERRY tower and the southbound interior signal bridge. Amtrak was in the process of instituting Rule 562 operation between BACON and GRACE. Given that PRINCE, PERRY and GRACE interlockings are back-to-back, I am not sure what use the Rule 562 operation would be. On the Shore Line similar circumstances were kept as islands of Rule 261. Note the bagged 'C' boards on the southbound signals to display Rule 280a, Clear to Next Interlocking.



Passing Acela Express power car #2026 near Northeast, MD.


Passing SEPTA Silverliner IV #411 on a Philly run from Newark, DE as it enters DAVIS interlocking.


Between REGAN and YARD interlockings south of Wilmington, Amtrak has been trying to eliminate a 2 track bottleneck for at least the last 6 years. Here we can see the new Shellpot Branch signal southbound at REGAN, the new track finally being laid between the two interlockings and new auto-plates on the signals at YARD as this will result in that interlocking being retired.




SEPTA Silverliner V #713 laying over at Marcus Hook PA waiting to return to Philadelphia.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

17-08-26 PHOTOS: Baltimore Metrorail Shoppe Tour

So here we continue with Part 2 of my Baltimore transit shoppe tours sponsored by the Baltimore Chapter NRHS. In Part 1 we visited the Light Rail's North Avenue Shoppes, which were constructed ~1992 as part of what would be a pioneering light rail system, setting many of the patterns later replicated across the country. However Baltimore's other rail transit system, the Metro Subway, is a much more traditional heavy rail subway system constructed in the old style of transit that quickly went out of fashion as construction costs ballooned in the later half of the 20th century. The Metro Subway yard and shoppe complex, located in the Reisterstown section of Baltimore feels distinctly different from the Light Rail shoppe across town. At Light Rail there is a feeling of agility and dynamicism. At the Metro Subway one can feel the work rules hanging in the air. It's a great example of why heavy rail systems faded from the scene, Anyway, you can find the full set of photos here. The Light Rail pictures are at the top followed by the Metro Subway photos.

To get to the Metro Subway Shoppes, we took mass transit. However the Metro and Light Rail lines do not have a direct connection. The best that is offered are two block long walking connections at Cultural Center / State Center and Lexington Market. Here we see Maryland LINK painted LRV #5019 dropping off tour participants at the Cultural Center station.


The Reisterstown Plaza station offers a sweeping curve west of the platform where one can get entire trainsets in the frame. A similar vantage is offered for eastbound trains at Millford Mill. The Metro runs with 4 or 6 car consists.


Here we see a diagram of the yard on the Yardmaster's console. The yard is a typical storage facility and shoppe combination, however there is a stub tail track at each end with access being provided via a number of main line connections on the north side. Long story short, you aren't getting out of the yard without at least one backup move.


We begin with the replacement truck storage area, which is currently sitting empty because truck rebuilding has been outsourced and most of the spare trucks were currently off property. The area is also equipped with a pair of lifts so that workers can get more easily to under-frame elements.



Spare motors, however, were on hand. They are of the DC variety in the 120hp range. Like the trucks, overhaul of the motors has also been outsourced to the same outfit that rebuild's WMATA's motors.


One thing the Metro Subway shoppe still rebuilds in house are the thyristor chopper motor controllers. By chopping a DC current, the apparent voltage is reduced and fine grain speed control is achievable with a solid state device. Much more efficient than cam controlled resistance drives, however still note the large heat sinks.


Heavy machinery abounds like this turret lathe.


Ground level spare DC motors (info) with the inspection plates removed to show the commutators. What's not to like about a motor system that is easily repairable with domestically sourced components!



The Metro Subway has 100 Budd model Universal Transit Vehicles on the property. These were purchased in 1983 in conjunction with the Miana Metrorail. The cars are 75 feet long and are capable of 70mph operation, which is achieved for a few miles on the far western end of the line. Here we see #138 standing up on jacks for maintenance.


17-08-26 PHOTOS: Baltimore Light Rail Shoppe Tour

In August 2017 I caught wind of a Baltimore Chapter NRHS shoope tour event via Facebook. The chapter had arranged with the Maryland Transit Administration for a guided tour of both the Light Rail Shoppe off North Ave in Baltimore City and the Metro Subway Shoppe in the Reistertown section of the city. As a West Jersey Chapter NRHS member I was able to glom onto the tour in a way similar to that when I was able to accompany the Baltimore chapter on a SEPTA 1234 Market tour in 2013. Transit shoppe tours are always a blast and provide a lot of real nuts and bolts information about how various transit systems operate and what problems are always gumming up the works. A two-for-one tour such as this was a rare opportunity and something that I was sorely needing to do having been in the Baltimore area for over a decade.

 The full gallery covering both tour stops can be found here, but for the sake of space this post will confine itself to the Light Rail shoppes.

Although I lived in walking distance, access to the facility was possible only by vehicle. However after getting picked up at the North Ave Light Rail stop, I was driven by a Baltimore Chapter member to the shoppe facility.



Our tour guide was a project manager for the Light Rail system and was currently working on some of their capitol improvements, most notably the rebuilding of the entire 1992 vintage LRV fleet.


After getting some special VIP day passes, we entered the shoppe where car #5034 in a Frutopia wrap had just entered while a Maryland Flag wrapped car was up on a lift in an adjacent bay.


Each LRV had three trucks, although only the end trucks are powered. Propulsion is AC and these were one of the first transit vehicles in North America with AC drive. Here we see one of the AC traction motors and a disc brake assembly, which is common to all three trucks.



Here we see a space truck, ready to be installed. The truck frames were fabricated by an outfit in Ohio and every axle had a single inboard disc brake assembly, even on the unpowered trucks.


Here we see a lineup of fresh axles, all with discs and a few with a gearbox assembly for the motor.



Like all transit shopped there was a giant lathe capable of turning axles and other cylindrical components.


Although we did not tour the dispatch office, there was a dispatch workstation located in the Yardmasters office right off the shop floor. Here we see a power dispatch screen to the left and a CTC model board on the right.


Here we see the North Ave Yard. Due to the location of the old railroad bulk transfer facility to the north the yard is single ended and movements heading north of the facility need to make a backup move in the North Ave station pocket track.