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Thu, Dec. 31st, 2015, 11:43 am
And That's a Wrap! (See you on my Blog)

Way back in 2006 a friend encouraged me to post my rail photos essays and other thoughts on a service a little less ad hoc than a rapid transit forum with 1990's web design. Social media was still in its infancy and Live Journal was a pretty happening community where I could post not only my rail essays, but other thoughts and photos.

Well since that time Facebook and Twitter both happened. I stopped posting non-rail content here and stopped trying to participate in the LJ community, gathering and cultivating followers and such. In 2011 I started my railway signaling blog on Blogger, which is a far superior platform that doesn't required a paid account for features like basic statistics. In fact the only paid account Blogger has is the one that pay ME for my content! Imagine that.

With friends increasingly making fun of me with my Live Journal links, in May, 2013 I began a project to transfer over 7 years of content from my LJ account to a second Blogger blog, Jersey Mikes Rail Adventures. To build readership and to keep myself from going insane, I transferred one post every 2-3 days. To support the move I also uploaded all of my photos into Google's photo service to mirror my sometimes flaky private housing solutions.

Two and a half years later, the project has reached its conclusion. Right as the calendar is flipping over to a new year, my effort to upload old posts has finally caught up with my effort to generate new ones. The post about my trip to Battleship New Jersey will therefore be both my last completed essay of 2015 and my last posted here on Live Journal.

My friends know I'm big on sentimentality and tradition, and I could have continued on cross-posting my content here just for the sake of continuity of operations, but I think it's time to stop. Over the past year I have found myself constantly begrudging the minute it takes to get the posts over here resulting in back dated binge posting. To the three people who still view my posts on LJ, you can continue to see my posts on Subchat or on my Rail Adventures blog. I may still write them on Subchat and then post them on Blogger or the other way around if that is more convenient. LJ will always live on with all the bogus tags it dumped into the HTML I transferred over to Blogger ;-)

So long, and farewell.

Sun, Dec. 27th, 2015, 01:40 am

I'll admit that the main subject of today's photo set is more boat than train, but since like most rail stuff I like the Battleship New Jersey was built in the 1940's and I took rail transit to get there I'm posting the photos in my main sequence instead of an OT aside.

Thanks to Groupon I was lured back to take another Battleship New Jersey tour about a decade after my last visit. I heard that the fire control room was now open with its old analogue computer and figured it was worth a visit. As the groupon was basically a 2 for 1 deal I hooked up with fellow Subchat participant Phil Nasadowski who was interested in using the ship as a subject for some medium format photography.

You can find all of my photos here

We begin with "classic" PATCO car #271 arriving at Haddonfield.

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Sat, Dec. 19th, 2015, 06:40 pm

The Rebel Yell is a section of the Baltimore Light Rail line where it transitions from street running along Howard Street to the Northern Central right of way. The term, used by local fans and employees, is a reference to a wooden racing roller coaster in Kings Dominion park in Virginia, due to the undulating profile of the light rail line as it first drops under the Howard Street Bridge, then up over the CSX Baltimore Belt Line and then simultaneously under the US1/North Ave bride and over the Amtrak B&P tunnel. I have been told that at one point the pans are only about an inch from their lockdown position.

Anyway, I was in the area for Artscape, America's largest free arts festival and decided to take some photos from the Howard Street Bridge as it crosses both the light rail and Amtrak's Baltimore Terminal complex. You can find the full set of photos here

With 300,000 people attending over three days, the MTAM runs three unit light rail trains throughout and also employees transit police to clear the way of pedestrians at the Mount Royal crossing.

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Sat, Dec. 12th, 2015, 06:35 pm

This summer I had the opportunity to take a road trip to Pittsburgh and as usual I was able to convince my ride to throw in some railfan stops along the way. These consisted of a number of locations along the former PRR Main Line / Conrail Pittsburgh Line as well as some stops in downtown Pittsburgh. This was my first visit back to Pittsburgh since 2010 and I was also able to try out the new North Shore light rail extension, which is part of the downtown free travel zone.

You can find the entire set of photos here.

On the way to my first stop I got lucky and caught some road power laying over on the Radebaugh Secondary. It consisted of new SD70ACe #1145 and C40-9W #9652, along with CN SD75I #5639.
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Mon, Dec. 7th, 2015, 06:32 pm

When Conrail was forcibly removed from the commuter rail business by Ronald Regan in 1983 the result in most places was a clean divestment of hundreds of track miles with no practical value to a freight railroads. However in a small handful of locations, main line freight operations continued to share track with full service commuter rail lines. One such location was in Philadelphia where parts of two SEPTA Regional Rail routes ran on Conrail's Trenton Line. Whereas prior to 1983 when Conrail commuter trains were run in between Conrail freight trains by Conrail tower operators, after 1983 Conrail trains were suddenly being dispatched by SEPTA operators whose primary focus was making sure commuters got to their destinations on time. The situation was further complicated by further agreements regarding track and wire maintenance. The result was that nobody was happy with freight sitting around waiting for slots and commuter trains sometimes left waiting for slow moving freights.

In 2008 CSX convinced SEPTA to split off its R8 Fox Chase service from the Trenton Line between CP-NEWTOWN JCT and CP-CHELTENHAM JCT by converting a shared two track line into two non-shared single track lines. This left only the 6 miles of R3 West Trenton trackage between CP-WOOD and CP-TRENT as the only shared section between SEPTA and CSX. In 2013 SEPTA sensed an opportunity provided by the ill-conceived PTC mandate to claim that their trains would not be able to run on a line equipped with CSX's PTC system. When the State of PA increased transit funding, SEPTA promptly used the windfall removing the operational inconvenience despite the fact it would reduce capacity for both passenger and freight by creating stretches of single track operation.

With the project nearing completion in the summer of 2015, I ventured out with Chuchubob to not only document some of the to be decommissioned Conrail era signaling, but also SEPTA and CSX operations on the shared Trenton Line.

We begin with CP-TRENT itself, here showing the northbound track 1 dwarf signal displaying Medium Approach for an approaching SEPTA R3 train. Work can be seen in the background on the right of way for the relocated CSX single track which would loop around the SEPTA yard. The main line crossover outside of interlocking limits was installed in 2012 as part of SEPTA's original plan that either involved a shared interlockings both here and at CP-WOOD, or didn't involve any separation at all since, unlike say rail gauge, PTC systems are not mutually exclusive. However, I guess when you're playing with house money, why not spend it.

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Sun, Nov. 29th, 2015, 10:26 pm

Derived from the Latin root "Chester" meaning castle, the pronunciation of Worcester has been twisted over time from Wor-chester into Wor-cester, Wooster, Woostah and finally, it's current pronunciation, Gritty Old Mill Town. Located about an hour east of Boston, Worcester used to be a center of new Englande industry, pumping out both textiles and precision products. Today little of that is left, the mills converted into community colleges and inexpensive lofts for people who can't afford to live in Boston. Still, one indication that Worcester is on the rebound is its fabulous downtown train station, rehabilitated in 1999 for both the extended MBTA service and as a civic event space.

Today I will take a look at the Worcester Union Station complex including both CSX, MBTA and P&W services. You can find the full set of photos here

Worcester Union Station was built in 1911 by the New York Central railroad with the Providence and Worcester and New Haven being other important tenants.

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Sun, Nov. 15th, 2015, 10:04 pm

Well, we have come to the end of my 2015 Amtrak Transcontinental trip. After the stop in Houston all that was left was a run along the gulf coast to New Orleans, with a scheduled arrival of 9pm. Due to costs and other considerations I choose to forgo continuing the trip onto the Crescent.

Again the private car on the rear of Train 2 drastically limited my abilities to take pictures, but I was able to grab a few shots at stations, from the side window and of a number of drawbridges that went up above the private car. Also included a number of photos from New Orleans. You can view the entire set here. If you'd like to see some photos of the line without a private car in the way you can see them here.

We begin with the smoke stop in Beaumont, TX. Let me tell you this was the hottest and least comfortable weather I have ever been exposed to. Afternoon temperature on the golf coast was well over 100 degrees with humidity easily in the 80-90% range. It baffles me why humans would willingly live in such a place. Here a member of the crew walks back from the P42DC engines #85 and #39.

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Sun, Nov. 8th, 2015, 10:01 pm

Last we left my 2015 Amtrak Transcontinental Trip, my Sunset Limited trainset was rolling across the West Texas scrub land at a speed comparable with the posted limit on the parallel US Route 90. Upon waking the next morning, I discovered the train to be sitting at San Antonio, where cars had been cut off for the Texas Eagle to Chicago. This is the point where the extra two hours added to the schedule would be made up, so Train 2 departed at it's originally scheduled time towards Houston.

Because of all the single track running there was even less for me to take photos of than the day before where a two track main line allowed for a few somewhat reasonable angles. Still, with the station stops and some aggressive side window action I managed to gather enough content for a photo set, which you can view here.

We begin in Engle, TX, waiting on the main line for a westbound UP intermodal train to finish taking the siding. Leading power was UP SD70ACe #8824. This siding was actually recently constructed to help ease congestion on the line, which was killing the Sunset's OTP.

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Sun, Nov. 1st, 2015, 11:37 pm

On my cross country Amtrak Trip via the Sunset Limited my train had already reached Texas, yet it was only about halfway through its journey. It was after noon when my train pulled out of El Paso heading east towards San Antonia. The great double track main line was replaced by a single track with passing sidings on the former SP Valentine Sub. Without the double track I had little reason to stay at the back of the train with its pathetic view so I retreated to the lounge car to scrap by with some side shots. If you like scenery and related you can view the whole set of photos here.

At the east end of the El Paso station terminal I managed to get a shot of Tower 196 which, until about 15 years ago controlled the entire El Paso terminal area.

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Sun, Oct. 25th, 2015, 11:34 pm

Over the past 5 years my annual cross country Amtrak trek has resulted in large, often multi-part posts with 30 or so photos each. Well, as I alluded to in last week's post, this year's trip was ruined by Dan Akroyd parking his private car on the back of the train for the entire journey. I tried to salvage things as best I could, but I am going to need to perform a complete do-over next year. Good thing my new Amtrak credit card is giving me 20k free rewards points :-
In this part I cover much of the former Southern Pacific route between Tuscon, AZ and El Paso, TX. Keep in mind my train is actually running ahead of schedule due to anticipated congestion in the San Antonia area. You can view the complete set of photos here.

How the view out the back could have certainly been worse since the bi-level Superliner did quite literally overshadow the heavyweight car attached behind it. However this was the view I was stuck with for the entire trip. Um...I think that's a signal there and there are some mountains in the frame as well.

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