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Sun, Jul. 20th, 2014, 11:56 am
PHOTOS: VTA EXPRESS

The last time I was in San Jose back in 2008 I made ample use of the region's ample Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail system. Built at throughout the 1990's .Com boom, the VTA Light Rail has seen some of its fortunes decline as the city he was meant to serve failed to see the growth that was anticipated. Even with housing prices exploding in nearby San Francisco, the second tech boom of today has failed to make the city less of a ghost town after hours because for some reason Google workers would want to pay more and drive more to live at the opposite end of the bay.

Well this year a conference that I attended last year moved to San Jose this year to reduce costs and that meant I would have the better part of the week to get out and see what fun I could make a fairly typical and bland light rail system. spoiler alert, there wasn't much I could do, however the VTA did provide convenient connections to the San Jose Diridon Station, home of Amtrak and Caltrain, as well as the Caltrain Tamien station south of the city. The one interesting thing the VTA itself had to offer was an extress service running from the Ohlone-Chynoweth station on the Santa Teresa Line north along the CA 87 corridor to downtown. I was able to try the express run for myself by getting up sufficiently early to make it down to Ohlone-Chynoweth and then catch the express train back.

You can find the full set of photos here

I'll begin at the San Jose Diridon Station which is one of the southern termini for the Caltrain service as well as Amtrak's Capitol Corridor. Here we see Caltrain F40PH-2CAT #901 sitting next to Amtrak F59PHI #2006. Apparently the F59PHI fleet got some sort of ECO Engine rebuilding even thought they were already equipped with 12-710's.

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Sun, Jul. 13th, 2014, 06:40 pm
PHOTOS: NATIONAL TRAIN DAY 2014

I always try to get out and do something for national Train Day, usually because its a great way to earn bonus Amtrak Guest Rewards points. More often than not I usually find myself having to scurry through the top level displays as I wait for my non-excursion Amtrak train to take me somewhere like Pittsburgh or Georgia. Well since I had nothing else planned this year I decided to just head over to Amtrak's 30th St station and check out all the equipment on display on the lower level combined with a quick AGR trip to Downingtown via Amtrak's Keystone service. Accompanying me on this adventure was Sub Chat's very own Chuchubob.

You can find the full set of photos here

We begin with a photo tour of the Penn Coach Yards via the adjacent parking garage. Sir Not Appearing in This Equipment Display was private car Clipper Creek.

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Mon, Jun. 23rd, 2014, 12:31 am
PHOTOS: SOUTHERN MIDLAND

You all should know the deal by now. When I post up some A-Line photos the next set will be Southern Railway photos, often from the trip back up north. This post will be no different, but due to a lack of material caused by Amtrak leaving baggage cars on the rear I'll also be including some photos taken upon my arrival in Gainesville, GA. You can find all the photos in this set here

We begin with my train, Amtrak's Train 19, the Crescent, departing Gainesville, GA for points south. The train waits a few seconds for a more favorable signal indication at MIDLAND interlocking as local light engine move caused the dispatcher to wait and see how late Train 19 would be before setting a route. Upon completing its station work the NS dispatcher lined the route here and at the next interlocking causing the signal at MIDLAND to change from Approach to Approach Diverging.




Hanging out outside the Gainesville station at 7am in the morning was C40-8W #8384 and C40-9W #90233.

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Sun, Jun. 15th, 2014, 09:32 pm
PHOTOS: A-LINE SCRAPS

It is once again time to head down the Eastern Seaboard Coast to visit my friend in Georgia. For those of you who are unaware the process involves a daylight trip on Amtrak Train 79, the Carolinian, all the way to Greensboro, NC where I then change to Train 19, the Crescent, to complete the trip down to Gainesville, GA. This year there was a bit of a hiccup in that my Train 79 was suffering an initial delay of almost an hour which would not be made up throughout the course of the trip. This gave me a little extra time to take videos of the non-delayed trains passing me by at Baltimore's Penn Station.

If you want to see the whole set of photos they are located here

We begin with AEM-7 #928 arriving with a southbound Regional.

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Thu, Jun. 5th, 2014, 11:35 pm
PHOTOS: VALLEY CAMPAIGN

Well over the last year I seem to have been retracing a lot of Civil War history first with my visit to tidewater Virginia last July and just this March with a visit to the Shenandoah Valley. The former was one of those "free" time share weekends and one of the inducements was a free 3 night stay in the Shenandoah National Park area which made the second trip possible. Now March isn't one of the more popular months to visit the park, but thanks to the cold spring and a snow story that closed parts of Skyline Drive, my friend and I at time wound up having almost the entire National Park to ourselves. Without the notorious summer and leaf season traffic jams to content with we were able to drive the 105 mile length of Skyline drive three complete times over the 4 days we were there.

Before, after and in between our visit to the park we also made numerous railfan stops along the NS Shenandoah Branch and the C&O Washington Branch, which is home to Amtrak's Cardinal. We even managed to run into several actual trains, which was good because I am sure that not many of you would be interested in seeing the best of 1100 signal related photos. Of course if you are you can can find them here

The first stop was Shenandoah Junction on the NS Shenandoah Branch that runs between Roanoke, VA and Hageratown, MD. This line still has quite a few classic N&W color position lights along it as when it was resignaled about 10 years ago railroads still bothered to save $$ by cutting the old signals into the new interlocking equipment. Shenandoah Junction was a once busy interchange point between the N&W and B&O that was made largely redundant by the mergers of the past 25 years.

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Tue, May. 6th, 2014, 09:58 pm
PHOTOS: WINTER ROUNDUP

The first third of the year is normally my slow season for photos. Not sure why, but usually its because I am not planning any major trips anywhere and also its cold and grey and wet out so there's no much opportunity for good photos. This year wasn't much different, but I did get a few dribs and drabs in over the months so I am jamming them together into a single post.

We start off in January where I was left with some time to kill while a friend rode his horse. Fortunately he was riding next to the former B&O Old Main Line and I had enough time to run down and catch some CSX action. The OML is popular with coal trains headed to/from the Port of Baltimore and Hazmats bypassing DC.

Here in the first video a pair of CSX AC4400's #135 and #44 lead an eastbound coal train past the Milepost 36 automatic signal with ES44AH #727 and AC4400 #491 helping on the rear.



Still photo of #727 and #491 helping on the rear.

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Mon, Apr. 21st, 2014, 11:16 pm
PHOTOS: HUDSON SNOW

Every February I travel with a friend to the Capitol District of New York in order to spend a day skiing at Gore Mountain and then watch the Engineers of RPI take on some other northeastern NCAA Division I men's ice hockey team in the Big Red Freakout. This trip is naturally done via Amtrak's Empire service and also involves a good helping of supplementary railfanning via car in the capitol region.

Unfortunately due to a severe oil leak I was unable to complete all of the initially planned railfanning activities, but I still got a few in. If you are interested in everything you can see it here

We begin with a shot of HUDSON tower covered in snow from the constant parade of snow storms that hit the Northeast this season.

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Mon, Apr. 7th, 2014, 12:39 am
PHOTOS: SEPTA MID-WINTER TRIP XIII

So the 13th Annual SEPTA Mid-Winter Trip was built around the opening of the new Pennsauken Transportation Center which would enable direct transfer between the RiverLINE and the NJT Atlantic CityLINE. One of the hallmarks of Philly transit is that most lines cross over and connect with other lines allowing for a large number of "circle" style types and MWT 13 would combine this newest circle with two of the more well worn ones.

The basic schedule was as follows. We would begin with a trip out on a Rt 13 trolley to Darby and then return on a Rt 11 with a stop off at the famous CSX/SEPTA grade crossing. From there it was back to 30th Street Station where we picked up the NJT ACL train to the new Pennsauken Transfer. The connection to the RiverLINE was a bit tight and some of the participants who happened to bring small children got left behind, but due to a surplus of time the advance section of the trip returned to and picked them up. After a brief trip back across the river on PATCO we had lunch then made a Broad Street Subway loop to Fern Rock, returning to City Hall for a transfer to the MFL which we took to 69th St in order to transfer to a Rt 100 car to Bryn Mawr. Finally we took a walking transfer to the Bryn Mawr R5 station for a photo op before returning on an R5.

If that was a bit confusing here is a little map.

If you are interested in the full set of photos you can find them here

As always the MWT tries to kick itself off with an informal trip on PATCO for those who can be bothered to roust themselves out of bed in the morning. I have been wanting to capture a railfan window video of an express run in from Lindenwold and MWT 12's attempt was a bit rainy. This year there wasn't any rain, but being 8am in December it was of course cold and grey. Still, if you have 20 minutes check out the whole thing and if you don't just watch the express portions.



Skipping ahead to the Yeadon loop we find SEPTA K-Car #9029 which had just dropped us off after a trip from downtown. Only a few Rt 13 trolleys continue through all the way to the Darby TC, but we didn't mind the transfer as it allowed for more photo ops.

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Tue, Apr. 1st, 2014, 01:05 am
PHOTOS: NOSTALGIA TRAIN 2013

After a...one, year absence I returned with much fanfare to the premier holiday event in the New York City Area, that's right, the Holiday Nostalgia Train. By now everyone here should know the details. Train of R1/9's running between 2nd Ave and Queens Plaza on a (V) (M), yaddie yaddie yadda. What really surprised me after my absence was 1) how much more crowded things were even at 10am when usually one could have a bit of personal space and 2) he seems to have been taken over by 1930's cosplayers who are either in the Steampunk set or the Hipster set...I couldn't tell.

Anyway, I didn't come all the way to NYC just to go and fight with people for space at the railfan window. This year I had a bit of a secondary mission planned in that I would visit and document the 51/52 automatic signal bridge on the LIRR Main Line just south of the Woodhaven Blvd station. Assisting me with both the Nostalgia Train and the LIRR excursion was fellow Subchatter and Nuclear Power gadfly, Phil Nasadowski.

All the photos of the Arnies and the Posities can be found here.

I begin my day at Chambers St where I shot a video montage of A, C and E trains until a northbound R32 trainset arrived to transport me to W. 4th St.



I eventually made my way to 2nd Ave where the Nostalgia Train arrived a bit later than it had in years past allowing only a few minutes before its 10:02 departure.



Even on the first trip of the last day some transit museum busy body violated the First Come First Serve system to let a bunch of kids stand at the front window and what was worse was that a number of parents used their little fuck trophies as shims to snag the remaining video capable positions so the best I could get on the northbound trip was this shot of the train relaying at Queens Plaza.



Here is the accompanying still.

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Sat, Mar. 29th, 2014, 11:42 am
PHOTOS: A BSM CHRISTMAS

As we face what looks to be the final major snowstorm of the season, looking back three months winter was just getting under way and a good coating of the white stuff was cause to fire up the old point heater and roast marshmallows. Every year during the month of December the Baltimore Streetcar Museum attempts to attract some visitors under the age of 65 by offering a special Santa car to the "North Pole" with all the related holiday pomp and circumstance.

Since there's not much else for me to railfan during the dark days of December I have made it a habit to go on down and ride the trolleys, even if I had been there only a few weeks earlier for the 50th Anniversary of the end of Baltimore's streetcar service.

As always car #264 was working for the non-Santa crowds. Not the asymmetric trucks which only contained one motor each.

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