Posts Tagged ‘Lake Shore Limited’

Meet Me at Interstate 90

May 30, 2018

Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited meets a westbound CSX auto rack train beneath the bridge carrying Interstate 90 over the CSX Erie West Subdivision at the State Line exit on the border of Pennsylvania and New York just outside North East, Pennsylvania.

The auto rack train has Union Pacific motive power and a cut of manifest freight.

No. 48 was operating 43 minutes late when it left Erie, but the New York section made it to Penn Station in New York less than 10 minutes late.

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2 Days Before the Summer Hiatus

May 29, 2018

Due to construction on the Spuyten Duyvil bridge and Empire Tunnel on its route in New York City this summer, the New York section of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited is being suspended between May 26 and early September south of Albany, New York.

New York-bound passengers are being directed to make an across-the-platform transfer at the Albany-Rensselaer station to an Empire Service train that will take them to New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

Of course back in the day the Lake Shore Limited as well as all New York Central Water Level Route passenger trains terminated at Grand Central.

No. 48, shown here near North East Pennsylvania, had just four more trips to make to Penn Station before the summer hiatus was to begin when I made this image from the Bort Road bridge.

And it will be a little over a week before changes are made to the food service being offered to passengers on Nos. 48 and 49.

Reportedly, a new Viewliner dining car will be assigned to the trains, but it will operate as a sleeping car passenger lounge rather than a dining car.

The immediate future of the Lake Shore Limited is as gloomy as the fog shrouding the surrounding hills of the Lake Erie escarpment here.

Amtrak Acknowledges Plans to Temporarily Suspend New York Section of Lake Shore Limited in Summer

April 11, 2018

Amtrak has acknowledged that rebuilding of the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge in New York City will result in the cancellation of the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited this summer.

The bridge joins upper Manhattan with the Bronx over the north end of the East River.

During the bridge work, Amtrak will also rehabilitate the Empire Service tunnel that connects Penn Station with the West Side Line to the bridge.

Although Scot Naparstek, Amtrak’s chief operating officer, did not say during a conference call with news media when the work will be done, he indicated that through late May Amtrak is focusing on concrete demolition, wooden tie replacement and rail renewal for Track 18 used by the Long Island Rail Road at Penn Station.

One more of the three turnouts by Interlocking “C” at the east end of the station is still being rebuilt. Work on the first two are finished as is all work on Track 15.

Workers are scheduled to begin the summer program of renovations at Penn Station beginning May 26 and wrap up by Sept. 4.

Amtrak is developing new timetables for all Empire Service trains to be operated to Grand Central Terminal during the outage.

During the project, the Lake Shore Limited will operate between Chicago and Boston with no through cars to or from Chicago and New York.

Amtrak has been testing the use of cab cars on Empire Service trains. Last year when the passenger carrier diverted trains to Grand Central it placed locomotives on both ends of the trains.

The Spuyten Duyvil bridge was damaged by Hurricane Sandy although some of its problems have been the result of normal wear and tear.

The rebuilding of the bridge involves both mechanical and electrical work that Amtrak engineering has been looking at doing for quite a while.

As for the Empire Tunnel, Amtrak plans to replace crossties, grade crossings and 8,000 feet of continuous rail, including the track between the tunnel and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge.

Double Shot of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

January 8, 2018

Amtrak’s westbound Lake Shore Limited is running seven hours late as it rushes through Painesville, Ohio, on Sunday morning.

Amtrak train No. 48 has some heritage on the point as it passes through Northeast Ohio.

After church on Sunday morning I saw on the Amtrak website that Lake Shore Limited No. 49 left Erie at 8:57 a.m. Under normal running time that would put it at the Painesville station at 9:57 a.m.  Also, No. 48 departed Cleveland at 9:33 a.m., which would put it under normal running through Painesville at 10:03 a.m. It had Phase IV heritage unit No. 184 on the lead. Luck was on my side. No. 49 arrived at 9:50 a.m. and No. 48 showed up 11 minutes later at 10:01 a.m.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Late 48 at 12:35 p.m. on Consecutive Fridays

January 6, 2018

I photographed Amtrak No. 48 at the Painesville station of the former New York Central  running more than six hours late at the same time – 12:35 p.m. – on consecutive Fridays. The top image shows the eastbound Lake Shore Limited on Friday, Dec. 29. The bottom photo shows the train on Friday, Jan. 5 when the air temperature was 7 degrees.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Railfan Incompetence 101

June 7, 2017

The phrase that serves as the headline for this article was uttered by fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler.

Shown is Amtrak train No. 48 crossing Erie Street in Willoughby, Ohio. This isn’t the photo angle that I would have preferred, only the one that was available.

I didn’t know that the Lake Shore Limited was coming and that is where the incompetence comes into play. I could have known that fact had I sought out that information.

And yet three days after I made this image I recognized that while it is not a great image, it tells three stories, two of which are not obvious by looking at it. The third will be apparent only to those who like to look beyond the obvious.

It took an unexpected piece of wisdom from a man I’ve met just once for me to see more than one story and one meaning of this image.

* * * * *

Story 1 is a familiar one to many photographers. Peter and I had plans to railfan in Lake County with a list of objectives we wanted to achieve. At the top of the list was photographing an eastbound Norfolk Southern train passing the Willoughby Coal & Supply Company building.

I had heard a train call a signal on the NS radio frequency and we were standing on the sidewalk of the Erie Street crossing of the NS tracks waiting for that train to arrive.

I didn’t hear enough of the radio transmission to get the train’s location or symbol. I didn’t know if it was an eastbound or westbound.

Peter thought he heard a locomotive horn to the west, but after several minutes of waiting and no train showing up, he concluded he had heard traffic noise.

We waited several more minutes and he heard another sound that he was sure was a locomotive horn.

It was. It belonged to an Amtrak P42DC that Peter spotted shortly before it reached Erie Street.

“It’s Amtrak,” he proclaimed. He later said that as soon as he said that his heart sank. My morale plummeted. We had blown an opportunity and we knew it. All we could do was watch it from three blocks away.

I had thought about Amtrak earlier in the day, but didn’t give it a second thought.

Our outing was to begin 6:45 a.m. at the Golden Gate shopping plaza in Mayfield Heights, a place where Peter and I often rendezvous for photograph outings. I knew that before we even met up that Amtrak train 48 would be out of Cleveland already.

It is scheduled to depart at 5:50 a.m. Of the four Amtrak trains that serve Cleveland, the eastbound Lake Shore Limited is the one most likely to be running on time or almost on time.

It never occurred to either of us to call Amtrak Julie or check the Amtrak website to verify that No. 48 had already departed. That was incompetence on our part.

Had we checked the status of Amtrak 48, we could have been in position to photograph the train coming around a slight curve in really good morning light.

Had we contacted Amtrak we would have learned that No. 48 had left Cleveland an hour and 28 minutes late.

Opportunities to get that Willoughby curve image don’t come along every day for either of us. We had fumbled away a good opportunity and that hurt.

I had been so focused on getting an NS train that I had locked out the CSX radio frequency on  my scanner. Had I not done that I might have heard No. 48 calling signals and we could have gotten into position in time.

As for that NS train I had heard on the radio, it turned out to be westbound train No. 149. But we stayed with the location and got an eastbound around 9:30 a.m.

Although Peter and I achieved our objective of catching an eastbound train at the Willoughby Coal & Supply building, we struck out on all of our other objectives for the day, although that was a matter of fate and lack of knowledge rather than incompetence.

As we drove home that afternoon, we agreed that it had been, overall, a disappointing photography outing with the missed Amtrak photo op casting a pall over the day.

There is a saying that chance favors the prepared mind. We had not done as much preparation as we could have.

* * * * *

Story No. 2  unfolded on the morning of the next day. During breakfast I was reading a column published in the food section of The Plain Dealer by the former restaurant critic of the newspaper, Joe Crea.

I had started reading the column the night before, but didn’t finish it because I was tired.

I have met Crea once, but I doubt he remembers me. Ironically, I met him in a restaurant. My wife knew him because she works as a copy editor for the Plain Dealer.

The column I was reading focused primarily on Crea’s experience of the past year fighting cancer.

He had been diagnosed with cancer more than a year earlier and wrote about how his life had become a series of hospital stays, treatments, consultations with doctors, successes and setbacks.

His doctor is cautiously optimistic that he has been “cured” but that is not a certainty.

There was something about Crea’s column that resonated with me even though I’ve read similar thoughts expressed by other authors.

I’m old enough to know that my being in the same position that Crea is in is not as hypothetical as it seemed even a few years ago.

Like so many people diagnosed with cancer, Crea said he has learned to appreciate that every day is a gift, even a bad day.

As I thought about that, my thoughts immediately went to the “bad day” I had just had and the missed Amtrak photo op.

Maybe it hadn’t been so bad. Sure, it had been filled with disappointments, but it had been another day of living, another day of photography, another day of watching trains go by. Our passion for railroads had prompted Peter and I to get out trackside.

Some day there won’t be any more opportunities to go trackside. Some day my ability to get out and watch a train, even if from a distance of three blocks, may be greatly hindered and I’ll long for the days when I had easy mobility.

I had seen an Amtrak train, even if I hadn’t made the best photograph of it. I can’t remember the last time that I saw Amtrak live. It probably was last year, maybe last September.

* * * * *

I’m a big fan of the concept of framing. It is a practice that all of us do, even if we are not aware of it as we do it or even know the name of the behavior.

I’ve taught the concept in my public relations classes yet many students seem to have a hard time grasping it even though they’ve done it often.

A frame is a way of calling attention to a particular aspect of something, a way of drawing attention to one thing and away from something else. It is the essence of composition in photography.

On what do you focus and what meaning do you seek to make of it?

Joe Crea was framing when he wrote in his column that when you have a condition that could take your life away sooner rather than later even a bad day is a gift

I had been framing the meaning of my Amtrak down-the-street-image from a technical perspective. The meaning I had given to it was “missed opportunity due to incompetence.”

Framed in that manner, it is an average to mediocre image. It has a lot of clutter. The train is enveloped in shadows. There is nothing dramatic that will grab the viewer’s attention and lead him/her to conclude that he/she has seen something special.

It is another hum-drum image that many serious photographers would either have never made or would have deleted from their memory card.

That is one way to frame what this image means, but it is not the only way.

I am, at heart, a story teller. Even an average or mediocre photograph can have a story to tell and sometimes those stories are more compelling than the image might appear to be at a casual glance.

The fact that this photograph is so average is the story it has to tell.

Serious photographers think of trains and locomotives in much the same way that portrait photographers think of people.

They want the object of their desire to be posed in the most ideal manner. For a photographer that means good light and composition.

The ideal way to have photographed this train would have been a wedge view that took advantage of the morning sunlight and the train coming around a curve, thus exposing more of the train.

That is how a photographer sees Amtrak, but it is not the manner in which most people experience Amtrak.

Most people see Amtrak in the manner that I did in this photograph. It is a happenstance occurrence most likely to occur at a grade crossing or while approaching a grade crossing.

It will be a spontaneous moment surrounded by the clutter of the street that we see and hardly pay attention to during our everyday lives.

Even as a down-the-street-shot it would have been better had I stepped out into the street and been able to compose the image to avoid that street sign on the left side. But I didn’t do that because it might not have been safe.

I also didn’t have time to evaluate the setting. All I could do was react.

As it is, this image has already been cropped to eliminate a utility pole on the far left edge of the original image.

We can’t plan every moment of our days. So much of life is about spontaneity and living in and enjoying the unexpected small moments. Life is not always portrait quality and big moments.

The point of this photograph is to show one of those moments. In his column, Crea urged his readers not just to enjoy those moments but to understand that what might seem like a disappointment or setback might be something else.

It might be one of those moments that makes like worth living.

CSX Track Work to Affect Syracuse Station

September 7, 2016

Amtrak said the eastbound Lake Shore Limited (Chicago to New York), Maple Leaf (New York-Toronto) and Empire Service trains 281 and 284 (New York-Niagara Falls, New York) are subject to delay due to track work in Syracuse, New York.

The track work began on Aug. 28 and will continue through Sept. 14. CSX owns the tracks used by Amtrak in Syracuse.

Amtrak Lake Shore LimitedTrains may be delayed between 30 to 45 minutes and on some dates passengers will board at the New York State Fairgrounds three miles west of the station.

Passengers will be transported by a shuttle bus on those days.

The shuttles will operate on Sept. 11 and 12. Amtrak said that even if a train is delayed, the shuttle buses will leave the Syracuse station at the scheduled train departure time.

Those boarding in Syracuse are advised not to use the Amtrak train status information to determine what time to arrive at the station. Buses will depart at the time shown on the ticket.

Passengers traveling to Syracuse on Sept. 11 and 12 will detrain at the fairgrounds and ride a shuttle bus to the station.

If the shuttle bus is not trackside upon arrival of the train, passengers will be directed to remain onboard until the shuttle has arrived.

Checked baggage service to and from Syracuse will be suspended on Train 48 on both days.

Buses Replace LSL Boston Section in July, August

June 30, 2016

The Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited will not operate on certain days in July and August due to CSX track work.

Amtrak Lake Shore LimitedIn a service advisory, Amtrak said Nos. 448 and 449 will not run between Albany-Rensselaer, New York, and Boston (South Station) on the following dates:

  • July 10
  • July 17-20
  • July 31-Aug. 3
  • Aug. 7-10
  • Aug. 14-17

Passengers will ride a bus between Albany-Rensselaer and Boston that will stop at the intermediate Amtrak stations of Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Framingham.

Bus service will not be provided to Boston’s Back Bay station. Amtrak said passengers should contact MBTA for travel information to Back Bay.

Passengers at South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

At Framingham, passengers will board buses at the drop-off/pick-up area track 2 platform (at Waverly Street).

In Worcester, passengers should go downstairs to the intercity bus area and board the bus marked Premier Bus.

Lake Shore Limited Locomotive Order Revoked

May 11, 2016

Although the Lake Shore Limited continues to operate with just one P42DC locomotive on many days, an earlier Amtrak order to isolate a second unit if it has one has been rescinded.

Amtrak Lake Shore LimitedThe order, which had been effective on April 14, had directed crews to isolate trailing units on Nos. 48 and 49 between Chicago and Buffalo, New York, unless operating conditions required it to provide traction.

The order was originally given in an effort to conserve fuel use.

Pair of Good Catches in Lake County

May 5, 2016

DSC_2532

DSC_2538

DSC_2540

Here are a couple of catches I’ve been able to make recently out in Lake County.

I was able to get Erie heritage locomotive No. 1068 last Saturday on 22K just moments before I left for work. The location is at Madison Avenue in Painesville.

On Wednesday morning I was able to get double heritage on a 45-minute late Amtrak No. 48.

I saw last night that the Amtrak exhibit train was going to be combined with the eastbound Lake Shore Limited.

No. 48 being slightly late helped Jeff Troutman and myself get excellent lighting at the new Shamrock Boulevard overpass just west of the Ohio Route 44 overpass.

Leading No. 48 was Phase IV heritage locomotive P42DC No. 184 followed by P40 N o. 822 and NPCU 406, a former F40PH. The latter two units wear the Phase III heritage livery.

The consist of the exhibit train was cars 10020, 10093, 10094, 10095 and 85999, followed by baggage 61032, Viewliner sleepers 62029,62035,62031, Heritage diner 8524, Amfleet lounge car 28004 and Amfleet II coaches 25065, 25117, 25107, 25008 and 25120.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas