Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak photos’

F40s in Chicago

December 8, 2020

Over the years when I visited Chicago and its adjoining suburbs I often explored the commuter lines operated by Metra.

I spent some time at Rondout, Illinois, which was a junction of The Milwaukee Road, and the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern.

Overhead there used to be a bridge carrying the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee interurban railway branch that operated from Lake Bluff to Mundelein.

The North Shore, which ceased operation in January 1963, was famous for its Electroliners.

Two of those train sets still exist, including Nos. 801-802 at the Illinois Railway Museum and Nos. 803-804 at the Rockhill Trolley Museum adjacent to the East Broad Top in Pennsylvania. 

Also of interest in Rondout was a June 12, 1924, train robbery, the largest in U.S. history.

The Milwaukee Road’s Fast Mail was robbed by the Newton Gang and a corrupt postal inspector.

Over $2 million in cash, jewelry and securities were taken. All of the robbers were eventually caught and prosecuted. The stolen loot was recovered except for $100,000 of stolen goods.

Rondout was a commuter train stop until Nov. 22, 1984.

The top and middle photos were made from the commuter platform in September 1985.

The top image shows a Chicago-bound Amtrak Hiawatha led by an F40PH.

On the left of the photo can be seen the bridge abutment where the North Shore branch to Mundelein crossed over.

A bridge has since been built for the North Shore bike path, which occupies the former right of way.

Also off to the left past the signal bridge is where the Metra line to Fox Lake branches off. 

The middle image shows a commuter train led by an F40C crossing the EJ&E diamonds. It will cross over behind me to get to the Fox Lake branch.

These locomotives were operated by the Milwaukee Road and later Metra on commuter lines to Fox Lake and Elgin. In later years they were renumbered in the 600 series. 

The bottom photo was made from the rear of Amtrak’s Empire Builder at Western Avenue in Chicago during a trip to the Twin Cities on Aug. 27, 2007.

They are F40Cs 614 and 611 and were the last of their kind in revenue service.

I wonder why I find those roster numbers appealing.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas  

An Amtrak Birthday Treat

November 2, 2020

It is Nov. 13, 1998. The eastbound Pennsylvanian is stopped in the Cleveland Amtrak station, having begun service a week earlier.

Photographer Ed Ribinskas is standing in a parking garage overlooking Conrail’s Lakefront Line.

In the background the stadium that will host the expansion Cleveland Browns franchise is under construction.

Ed said getting this photo of Amtrak train No. 44 was a birthday present that he gave himself.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas

The Day the Pennsylvanian Came to Cleveland

October 25, 2020
The first eastbound Pennsylvanian has arrived in Cleveland in November 1998.

It was one of those quintessential November days in Cleveland with gray skies overhead.

But if you were a rail passenger advocate then, metaphorically speaking, the skies could not have been any bluer.

After years of pushing for it, Amtrak was extending its New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian west of the Steel City.

Finally, Northeast Ohio would see an Amtrak train in daylight hours in circumstances other than an existing scheduled train running several hours late.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s Amtrak would put on show to celebrate the inauguration of new service.

On Nov. 7, 1998, it was Cleveland’s turn for that with the Pennsylvanian coming to town.

It was not, though, the first time in the 1990s that an Amtrak publicity train had come to Northeast Ohio.

In fall 1990 Amtrak ran a publicity special through Akron and Cleveland in advance of the rerouting of the Broadway Limited via Akron and the Capitol Limited via Cleveland.

Those publicity trains were greeted by marching bands, speakers and a festive welcoming ceremony.

By contrast, when the Pennsylvanian came to Cleveland the celebration was more subdued.

There was a speaker inside the station and a specially decorated cake. But there were no marching bands and Amtrak did not assign the publicity train an open platform car or a dome car as it had in 1990.

There was a respectable crowd to greet the first No. 44, which arrived on a Saturday from Chicago.

My photographs from that day show people clustered around the vestibules of the Horizon coaches and I’m not sure if they were allowed onboard to tour the train or if some of them were boarding as ticketed passengers.

I struck up a brief conversation with Amtrak conductor George
Sanders, noting we shared a last name in common but were otherwise unrelated.

He posed for a photograph and I got his address and later sent him a copy.

The train rolled into the station with two P42DC locomotives, two material handling cars, a Superliner Sightseer lounge, a Superliner transition sleeper, two Horizon fleet coaches, an Amfleet coach, an Amfleet café car and a string of RoadRailers on the rear.

The RoadRailers were a sign of why Amtrak had extended the Pennsylvanian to Chicago.

The Three Rivers, which had replaced the Broadway Limited in 1995 between New York and Pittsburgh and been extended to Chicago in November 1996, had reached its limit of 30 cars, most of which carried mail and express.

To expand its burgeoning head-end business, Amtrak needed another train to Chicago. That would be the Pennsylvanian.

Amtrak had wanted to extend the Pennsylvanian westward before Christmas 1997 but lacked sufficient crews.

Although new operating personnel were hired in spring 1998, Conrail refused to allow the expansion during the summer track work season.

Because the postal service usually dispatched mail around dawn, No. 44 was scheduled to depart Chicago at 6 a.m. while No. 43 left Philadelphia at 6:30 a.m.

The Pennsylvanian reached Cleveland eastbound in early afternoon and westbound in late afternoon.

It was scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 11:59 p.m. and in Philadelphia at 12:25 a.m. That meant no convenient same-day connections in Chicago and few in Philly.

But passenger traffic was less the objective of the Pennsylvanian extension than head-end revenue.

Then Amtrak president George Warrington said at the time that this would put Amtrak on a glide path to profitability.

Those who understood the realities of passenger train scheduling would have understood that this made the Pennsylvanian’s future in Cleveland rather tenuous.

Nonetheless, there was optimism in the air as Nos. 43 and 44 began serving Cleveland, Elyria and Alliance.

I don’t remember anything the speaker said during the welcome ceremony or even who he was.

I was there primarily to make photographs of Amtrak in Cleveland in daylight.

Except during holiday travel periods, ridership of the Pennsylvanian would prove to be light.

On many days it had only about a dozen passengers aboard in Ohio and Indiana.

Ridership was stunted by chronic delays that occurred in 1999 following the breakup of Conrail by Norfolk Southern and CSX.

The typical consist for the Pennsylvanian was three coaches and a food service car.

A schedule change on April 29, 2002, moved the Chicago departure back six hours to 11:55 p.m., which made No. 44 the “clean up” train to accommodate those who had missed connections in Chicago from inbound western long distance trains to the eastern long-distance trains.

At the same time, the westbound Pennsylvanian began departing Philadelphia two hours later in order to provide additional connections.

No. 43 now was scheduled to reach Chicago Union Station at 1:44 a.m.

A change of administrations at Amtrak led to the carrier announcing in fall 2002 that it would cease carrying mail and express.

As a result the Pennsylvanian would revert to New York-Pittsburgh operation.

On Feb. 8, 2003, I went down to the Cleveland Amtrak station with my camera to make photographs of the Pennsylvanian, the first time I’d done that since the November 1998 inaugural train had arrived.

This time, though, I boarded as a paying passenger, getting off in Pittsburgh and returning on the last westbound No. 43 to run west of Pittsburgh.

There were no crowds, cake or speakers to greet the Pennsylvanian in the Cleveland station on this day.

And that sense of optimism that had hung in the air more than four years earlier had long since dissipated.

Rail passenger advocates in Ohio are still trying to get back that sense of optimism.

Amtrak conductor George Sanders agreed to pose by a Horizon coach vestibule.
Who was that guy who gave the welcome to Cleveland speech? Not only do I not remember his name I also don’t remember anything he said.
What’s a celebration without a cake?
A respectable crowd was on hand to greet the first Pennsylvanian to stop in Cleveland.
Dad is ready to make some photographs but his son is not sure being this close to the tracks is a good idea.
Those RoadRailers on the rear give a hint as to the primary reason why the Pennsylvanian began serving Cleveland. Amtrak expected to make money on mail and express business.

Cardinal Flying Through a Hurricane

October 19, 2020

Amtrak’s eastbound Cardinal is passing milepost 479 on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in Hurricane, West Virginia, on Oct. 18, 1987. The photographer was in Hurricane to photograph the New River Train which in this year was being pulled by former Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765. The distance is measured from Newport News, Virginia.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas

Some Amtrak Favorites from a 1993 Trip

September 26, 2020

On July 3, 1993, Marty Surdyk and myself spent several hours at Princeton Junction, New Jersey, catching action on Amtrak’s ex-Pennsylvania Railroad Northeast Corridor.

On our way back home we stopped at Horseshoe Curve and caught Amtrak’s Broadway Limited.

It was our final stop on the return home on July 5, 1993.

In the top photograph the Silver Meteor comes thundering by.

Next up the Pennsylvanian makes an appearance hauling a deadheading slumbercoach.

The last image from Princeton Junction shows the Silver Star.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Rumbling Into Waterloo on Sunday Morning

August 21, 2020

Amtrak’s westbound Lake Shore Limited is about 20 minutes late as it arrives into the station at Waterloo, Indiana, under cloudy skies.

Somehow that seems appropriate given the future of this train. In another two months you won’t be able to board Amtrak on Sunday morning to travel to Chicago.

The westbound Lake Shore will only be arriving in Waterloo, or in Cleveland and Toledo for that matter, on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

Today’s No. 49 has its summer pandemic consist of two P42DC locomotives, a Boston Viewliner sleeper, Amfleet food service car, four Amfleet II coaches, Viewliner dining car that serves as a sleeper class lounge, two New York VIewliner sleepers, a Viewliner baggage car and a deadheading Viewliner sleeper on the rear.

I didn’t count the number of passengers who boarded or disembarked but it was around 10 total.

The train made two stops, one for coach passengers and another to drop off a couple of sleeper class passengers.

And then it was highball and onto the next station in Elkhart, Indiana.

Early One Saturday Morning

August 13, 2020

It’s a sunny early Saturday morning in western Indiana. Amtrak’s westbound Cardinal was on time leaving Crawfordsville, but has lost about 12 minutes due to a CSX work zone.

Train 51 has its usual consist of a P42DC, two Amfleet II coaches, an Amfleet food service car, Viewliner sleeper and Viewliner baggage-dorm car bringing up the rear.

The image was made from the U.S. Route 231 overpass just south of Linden.

The track No. 51 is traveling is the CSX Monon Subdivision, named for its former operator.

Like Two Trains in One

August 8, 2020

Amtrak’s westbound Cardinal is ferrying equipment from the Beech Grove shops to Chicago today and as a result No. 51 appears to be two trains in  one.

The front half of the train is P42DC No. 77 along with two Superliner cars and two Viewliner baggage cars.

Behind that is the normal consist of No. 51 of P42DC No. 205, two Amfleet II coaches, an Amfleet food service car, Viewliner sleeper and Viewlier baggage-dorm car.

The two trains were combined at Indianapolis Union Station.

The image was made on Aug. 6, 2020, at Cherry Grove, Indiana, on the CSX Monon Subdivision.

The stop sign is for a spur into a grain elevator out of view to the left.

This Time I Got it Right. Or Did I?

July 29, 2020

Back in mid June I stopped in Arcola, Illinois, to photograph Amtrak’s northbound Saluki passing a massive grain elevator complex.

My objective was to recreate an image I had made here of that train in August 2012.

Since then the P42DC locomotives used to pull the Saluki have been replaced with Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives.

My June photograph was not bad but not quite what I had wanted.

I had not spent enough time checking out the photo angles and the arrival of the train caught me by surprise and out of position.

I had to scramble to get across the street and into position and ended up photographing the train a little too soon. It was more grab shot than planned image.

Last Sunday I was again in Illinois hunting trains to photograph. I timed my trip so I could get Amtrak’s northbound City of New Orleans shortly after sunrise in Rantoul and then catch the northbound Saluki three hours later.

This time, I did it right. I checked out various photo angles well before the train arrived.

As is typical, Train No. 390 was running a few minutes late when it left Mattoon, its previous station stop.

Having ridden this train numerous times when I used to take Amtrak from Cleveland to Mattoon to visit my Dad, I knew about how long it took the train to reach Arcola.

Soon there was an LED headlight in the distance and I got into the position I wanted to be in. No. 390 was not going to catch me off guard this time.

The grain complex in Arcola that I wanted to feature is laid out in three rows.

There is a row of silos, some of then concrete, next to the former Illinois Central tracks. There is another row of metal silos to the west of those and a third row on the other side of U.S. Route 45.

Without having a drone you can’t get all three rows of the complex in a photograph with an Amtrak or Canadian National freight train.

The top photograph above is the best of the images I made as the northbound Saluki rushed past last Sunday.

Pleased with what I’d captured, I declared it “mission accomplished” and moved on to find something else.

But a funny thing happened as I was writing this post and started comparing the 2012 image with the photographs I made this year.

That June image is far more similar to the 2012 photograph than is the July image.

You can see for yourself. The middle image above was made in June and the bottom image is the August 2012 photograph I was trying to duplicate.

My opinion of an image can change as I work with it. What looked good on the screen on the back of the camera doesn’t look so good when the image is downloaded onto my computer and projected onto the large screen that I use.

Of course I’ve seen it happen the other way, too. I’ve also begun to warm to a photograph as I processed it in Photoshop and eliminated some of its “imperfections” through cropping and adjusting such things as color, tone and shadows.

In a direct comparison of the August 2012 and June 2020 images, I still give a decided edge to the 2012 photograph in terms of quality.

The 2012 rendition does better at encompassing the enormity of the grain elevator complex and the light is a little less harsh. The latter is probably the difference between photographing in June versus photographing in August at approximately the same time of day.

You may notice that in 2012 the service building to the right had white siding whereas six years later it is tan.

There is another footnote to the comparison of the June and July photographs. In June, No. 390 was carrying a Heritage baggage car in order to meet a host railroad imposed minimum axle count for Amtrak trains using single-level equipment.

But by late July the Heritage baggage car had been replaced by a Viewliner baggage car. In neither case was checked luggage being carried in that car.

All three of the images create a sense of place and do a nice job of contrasting the size of the grain complex with that of the train.

We tend to think of trains as large objects, which they are, but it is all relative to what you compare their size with.

The way that grain complexes loom over trains adds to the drama of the photograph by creating contrast.

My original theme for this post was that last Sunday I got the photo right in a way I had not done it in June.

But once I started comparing the June and July images I began seeing that really wasn’t true. That June photo was more like the August 2012 image than I had remembered.

Ultimately, it wasn’t so much about getting it right versus getting it wrong, but how I felt about what I had just created when walking away from the scene.

Upon further review, there are reasons to feel good about all three images. Although they may be similar all three have their own character that I found pleasing. Each comes with its own set of memories of the trip on which it was created.

20th Century, Whoops, I Mean Lake Shore Limited

May 23, 2020

Penny always gets me up between 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. On Friday morning I checked to see if Amtrak P42DC No. 145, a Phase III heritage unit, was on Train 48. Since it was I figured I would get it at 6:20 a.m. at the Painesville station. With this pandemic 48 is very consistent on being on time.

It reminds me of stories from adults from the past telling stories of the New York Central’s 20th Century Limited. Many said you could set your clocks to its passing their homes. Just about every morning I hear 48 at exactly 6:20 a.m.

Note that the eastbound Lake Shore Limited on this day had two Phase III heritage units in the motive power consist.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas