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Wed, Mar. 25th, 2015, 01:27 am

One might expect that the photos from my annual Labour Day trip to New Englande, but this time I took a side trip to visit fellow Subchatter Lexcieeee who happens to live in Ossining which gave me an opportunity to take some photos and videos of the Metro North Hudson Line. The first photo stop was at Oscawana Island, which is that place in Courtlandt where the 3-track Hudson line bores through a small rock ridge via two tunnels.

The next day while connecting to Boston via Amtrak at New Haven I spend an hour or so photographing the morning rush at Harlem 125th St Station. After that I wandered around the New Haven station complex a little longer than I had anticipated due to my Regional train being significantly delayed.

Finally, I took a few more photos in and around the Portland, NH area. You can enjoy the full set of photos here and also stay tuned for a special video post to follow.

We begin at Grant Central Terminal with M3 #8017

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Sat, Mar. 14th, 2015, 01:23 am

So if you recall my last few posts I wasn't just riding the Coast Starlight for my health. Unlike many of my cross country trips I actually had a genuine reason to head out to the west coast in the form of a computer security conference in San Diego. Now I've been to San Diego before, for about 24 hours in 2013 and then a longer stay in 2009. This time the 4000 series LRV's were really making the old 1000 series U-2s scarce, however I was pleased to find that the MTS was running its PCC trolley on a downtown loop 3 days a weeks.

Unfortunately there was a bit of a downside in that I left my camera on an ISO 800 setting after a round a night photos so all the day photos look like absolute shit :-( I guess these things happen. Anyway, you can see all the photos here

We kick things off with a new 4000 series LRV arriving and departing from the Gaslamp station.

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Sat, Mar. 7th, 2015, 07:40 pm

The majority of the Coast Starlight run actually takes place in daylight hours, with the longest stretch being from the Bay Area down to the LA Basin via the Southern Pacific's Coast route. In our last segment we left off at Gilroy, about 75 miles below Oakland an at the southern limit of the Bay Area commuting area. In this segment I will cover the section between Gilroy and San Luis Obispo, which is at the extreme northern extent of the LA commuting area.

For those of you who are expecting to see all manner Pacific Ocean shots, prepare to be disappointed as those are all between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Now I did take photos along that stretch, but because the Southern Pacific era searchlight signals had all been raped in recent years I decided against my usual survey technique and instead just took side window shots as we went along the coast. While these side window shots show a great deal of scenery and space launch facilities, there is very little railroad related material so I will save that set for some time in the future when I am really hurting for content. :-P

You can see the full set of these photos here.

After passing Gilroy things start positivly enough with a long section of interesting signaling that incorporates both Double Track ABS (a surprising rarity these days in the west) and short section of economy CTC. Here we see CP-CORPORAL at the southern entrance to the northern section of DT-ABS with an automatic signal for northbound trains and spring switch turnout in addition to an AEI reader.

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Sat, Feb. 21st, 2015, 07:37 pm

California's Capitol Corridor extends from Oakland to Sacramento, however there is also a southern section running down to San Jose. I had previously covered the main portion of the Capitol Corridor both in 2012 and 2014, but my Coast Starlight trip provided me with the opportunity to cover the less visible southern portion. Also included in this section is the southern section of the Caltrain line between San Jose and Gilroy.

You can see the full set of photos, which includes a complete line survey, here

We begin at Emmeryville where Train 11 makes an extended, yet non-smoke duration stop.

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Sat, Feb. 7th, 2015, 07:32 pm

So some weeks before my Coast Starlight trip kicked off we got one of those Amtrak e-mails explaining how there would be a surprise service modification in the form of a Bustitution between Portland and Eugene due to a UP maintenance blitz on the Brooklyn Sub. Now I have experienced this type of Bus Bridge before and it actually didn't cost much time since buses, running direct without stops, can usually make better time than the train.

I'll get into the details of the bus ride as I get into the photo part of the post, but suffice ti say we made it to Eugene and got rolling again on our new Train 11 where I was able to document at least some of the former Southern Pacific line to San Francisco. You can see the full set of photos here.

We begin with our original Train 11 trainset waiting under the canopies at Portland Union Station with Amtrak P42DC #167 and Heritage baggage car #1721. This trainset would proceed to wye before picking up the group of northbound passengers.

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Sun, Feb. 1st, 2015, 05:41 pm

Alright, it's time for Part 2 of my trip down the Cascade Corridor on Amtrak Train 11, the Southbound Coast Starlight. We begin at Olympia and continue down to Portland, although there is a fairly large break in the middle where I had to go back to the dining car for lunch. This trip was taken in August 2014 on my way to a conference in San Diego.

Not much need for any additional setup so if you want to find the full set of photos you can do so here.

Like I said we pick up exactly where we left off at the Olympia station with the tail end of a northbound Union Pacific freight train passing on the opposite track. Due to geography only a single rail route existed between Seattle and Portland. Built by BNSF predecessor Northern Pacific the Southern Pacific obtained traffic rights on the line (likely as part of some anti-monopoly regulation) to serve the Seattle-Tacoma area.

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Sat, Jan. 17th, 2015, 05:32 pm

2014 was a special year because I took not one, but two big Amtrak trips, the second of which was a unique opportunity to ride the Coast Starlight on a trip from Seattle to San Diego. Unfortunately there was a small problem with Union Pacific track work that would result in a bustitution between Portland and Eugene, Oregon, however this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as our trainset that departed Seattle wound up lacking a Pacific Parlor amenity that I came to appreciate in the second half of the trip. Still, despite the lack of Parlor Car I had great fun as you can see below.

You can see the full set of photos from Seattle to Portland here. Part 1 will cover the line from Seattle to Olympia.

After departing King St station we passed under the retractable roof of Seattle's Safeco field, home of the Mariners.

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Sun, Jan. 4th, 2015, 05:29 pm

Last August I was planning to attend a computer security conference in San Diego. I had already completed that year's coast-to-coast Amtrak trip and was basically looking forward to some fun in the sun eating fish tacos, but then a travel buddy suggested that we could use this as an opportunity to take the Coast Starlight. Checking the airfare I determined that it would only cost 2$ more to fly out to Seattle and then back from San Diego so after that a call to Amtrak Guest Rewards set up the sleeping accommodation and I was off to collect another leg of Amtrak's national rail network.

I had been to Seattle once before in 2011 prior to my Empire Builder trip and found it to be a wonderful city (seeing as how I went during the 3-week long Sunny season). This trip would present me with far less time due to the Starlight's morning departure, but I would still have about a day to see some old school friends and ride around on transit. I also was able to see the completed King Street Station, which had just been beginning its refurbishment when I was there 3 years ago.

The complete photoset is right here

Flying in via Southwest I took this photo of Mt. Ranier, which will one day erupt and destroy the SeaTac area.

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Sat, Dec. 27th, 2014, 05:22 pm

CSX has been on a tear ripping out its classic B&O signaling all up and down the East Coast and for the last 4 years or so I have been trying to stay out ahead of the wrecking crew documenting the setup as well as I can. One of the last CPL locations on the Capitol Sub between Baltimore and Washington is JD TOWER, in Hyattsville, MD, at the point where the Alexandria Extension wyes off from the Capitol Sub proper. The Extension is used by CSX trains heading up from the south via the RF&P route.

The current signals were put into service in 1992 when the tower that stood there was closed. More on the history of the tower can be found at this website here. As far as I can tell these were some of the last B&O CPLs installed new by CSX before they began to change over to color lights. For example when VIADUCT JUNCTION tower was closed in 1994 it received color lights.

Until about 10 years ago most railroads would have left the CPLs with their entirely modern masts and gantry structures in place, but since then labor costs have changed resulting in it being cheaper to install and test brand new hardware in parallel than to cut things over and then test it.

Anyway, this isn't one of my long and involved signaling posts because JD TOWER is also a fairly well known railfan hotspot since it serves as a nexus for both east-west and north-south CSX traffic. I'm going to post most of the train photos here, but if you care about the signaling you can find those photos here.

I'm actually going to begin things with an aside. I went on another signal photo trip to ELISMERE JCT in Delaware back in July.

A Clear signal on the eastbound bracket mast was soon followed by a mixed freight train lead by AC6000 #689.

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Sat, Dec. 20th, 2014, 05:15 pm

Over the last 10 years SEPTA has been systematically re-signaling its entire Reading side which up through 2005 was still using hardware that was effectivly unaltered from the days of the Reading. Today the project is almost finished with the last line still waiting to get upgraded being SEPTA's black sheep, the lowly old Norristown Line.

Once known for being the slowest commuter rail line in the country the Norristown Line has been seeing a bit more investment in recent years with new rail, slightly faster speeds and station upgrades. The re-signaling project will bring bi-directional operation, a new midpoint CTC crossover and cab signals. Because the Norristown area has a number of Reading era interlockings in easy walking distance from at least three SEPTA stations I decided to head out there to document them. Don't worry, there was a lot of non-signaling things out there as well so keep reading :-P You can find the full set of photos here.

Heading out onto the Reading viaduct we encounter the Phase Break indicators where Amtrak supplied power is replaced by SEPTA supplied power.

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