Posts Tagged ‘passenger trains’

Plans Set for Annual New River Train

August 10, 2017

Plans have been announced for the annual New River Train, which will roll on Oct. 21, 22, 28, and 29 between Huntington, West Virginia, and Hinton, West Virginia, through the New River Gorge.

New this year will be a consist of all heritage cars from private owners.

Gone are the Amtrak Amfleet and Horizon  coaches that have characterized the makeup of past trains.

All of the 30 cars on the New River Train will come from private owners. Three Amtrak P42DC locomotives will pull the train.

Some of the passenger cars expected to be in the consist include California Zephyr vista-dome car Silver Solarium, Pullman-built Milwaukee Road Super Dome, Budd-built full-length dome car Summit View, the Overland Trail, a former Southern Pacific barber shop car, and Great Northern full-length dome car Prairie View.

Other cars will include lounge and passenger cars built for the New York Central, Pennsylvania Railroad, Baltimore & Ohio and Central of Georgia Railway

Sponsored by the the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, the 51st running of the New River Train will travel CSX’s Kanawha and New River subdivisions, both of which are former Chesapeake & Ohio.

The train has a capacity of 1,200 passengers per day and usually sells out by early September. Some heritage coach tickets remain at $179 per person.

When Varnish Was Common in Massillon

July 14, 2017

Penn Central was still running passenger trains through Massillon, Ohio, in the late 1960s. Here is the westbound mid-afternoon Fort Pitt with PC 4292 on the point racing through the super-elevated curve, which actually comes through the bridge over the Tuscarawas River.

I believe it was October 1969 and the red “P”/white “”C” had only been painted on a handful of E units, making this a rarer photo.

Today a Norfolk Southern office car special sometimes gives a similar scene, but it is hard to imagine even in the late 1960s passenger trains such as this were somewhat common on this line.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas

The Other LSL Did Much Better

July 7, 2017

Sunday, July 2, was not a good day to be a passenger aboard Amtrak’s westbound Lake Shore Limited.

First, the train was delayed for five hours due to flooding and track inspections between Albany and Utica, New York.

Then it ran into a Norfolk Southern work window in Ohio by which it had to make a roundabout detour move that added four more hours of delay.

By the time it reached Chicago at 7:27 p.m. it was nine hours, 42 minutes late.

But those riding the eastbound Lake Shore Limited only had to deal with the “standard” delays.

It was a mere 30 minutes late reaching New York Penn Station although it was over an hour late at some stations in New York state.

It it shown above cruising through Painesville, Ohio, east of Cleveland after departing the latter station 40 minutes off the advertised.

A noteworthy point about this train is that the P42DC locomotives pulling it are consecutively numbered 15 and 14.

Catching Up With Arcade & Attica No. 18

July 6, 2017

Arcade & Attica No. 18 approaches Genesee Road near Arcade, New York, during its last run of the day.

For years the Arcade & Attica has operated its 2-8-0 Alco steam locomotive with its nose facing northward on its excursion from Arcade to Curriers.

The engine runs around the train at Curriers and returns to Arcade with its tender leading.

But on two weekends this year the New York-based tourist railroad has reversed that.

It turned No. 18 on a wye behind its shop in Arcade and ran tender first to Curriers and had the nose pointed southward for the 7.16-mile return trip.

From a photography standpoint, it is better to have the locomotive nose pointed southward because the lighting is better.

One of those weekends when the nose was pointed southward preceded Independence Day. Ed Ribinskas and I piled into Marty Surdyk’s Jeep Patriot to make the trek to Arcade for a day of steam locomotive chasing.

It had been 25 years since Marty had been to the A&A. My last visit had been in September 2012. Ed saw No. 18 pointed southward just over a month ago during Memorial Day weekend.

By the time we caught up with No. 18 it was in Curriers where the A&A excursion train has a layover.

Chasing the A&A is easy because it travels at about 10 miles per hour.

But there aren’t that many places to photograph a train en route because most of the grade crossings are in Arcade.

There is Genesee Road, but not much else. Marty thought he remembered there being two crossings, but other than Genesee Road all other crossings are on private roads outside of Arcade.

Our primary concern in chasing the first return trip of the day to Arcade was cloudy skies. Large, puffy clouds filled the sky and sun breaks were infrequent and short-lived.

Trips leave Arcade at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. After chasing the first of those, we headed for a Subway in a shopping center located next to a Topps grocery store.

Subway is Marty’s official railfanning restaurant so of course that was where we would go. He also got to eat his entire foot-long meatball sandwich.

During the Akron Railroad Club longest day outing in Bellevue Marty had ordered a foot-long meatball sub. He placed half of it on his vehicle as he was eating the other half back at the mini plant.

But the wind blew it onto the ground. In Arcade, we ate inside the restaurant and there was no danger of half of Marty’s sandwich being blown by the wind onto the floor.

Photographing at Genesee Road had reminded me of Genesee beer, a brand I’ve heard about but never tasted.

As Ed and Marty were finishing their sandwiches, I walked over to the Tops grocery store to see if I could buy a couple of “Gennies.” But Genesee beer wasn’t being sold by the bottle there or, or that matter, by the six pack.

I ended up instead buying two bottles of IPA beer from two different Buffalo craft breweries and some large chocolate chip cookies for the guys.

The A&A had already left Arcade by the time we got rolling after lunch.

By now the weather had much improved with the clouds breaking up and ushering in mostly sunny skies.

There had been a pack of railfans chasing and photographing No. 18 earlier in the day, but they were mostly nowhere to be found during the afternoon trip when the locomotive was bathed in sunlight.

We got to Curriers just ahead of the train and got photographs of it coming and going.

Then it was off to do some across the field shots from along Curriers Road.

That was followed by stops at Genesee Road, the Arcade fire station and the street south of the depot where we caught No. 18 going back to the shop.

It was an easy chase that yielded some quite pleasing images.

The train was in the station at Curriers when we first encountered it.

The first photo op at Genesee Road occurred as the sun hid behind a cloud.

Crossing Cattaraugus Creek in Arcade during the return trip.

Doing the runaround move in Arcade. After getting this image it was Subway time.

Patrons are lined up to make a visit to the cab of No. 18 during the layover in Curriers.

A baggage cart load of flowers, a depot and a steam locomotive make for a pleasing sight.

Getting underway at Curriers to return to Arcade while blowing the whistle for Chaffee Road.

Leaving behind a trail of smoke.

Yonder comes a steam train in a view that could have been made several decades earlier.

Skirting the driveway of the fire station.

The train at Curriers as seen in the sunglasses of a trainman wearing a Penn Central conductor hat.

Watching the tracks ahead from the engineer’s seat.

Back in Arcade the locomotive has cut away from its trains as passengers disembark at the station platform.

Heading back to the shop at the end of the last trip.

Yes, it’s an Alco.

At the end of the day at the shop in Arcade.

 

Here Comes Amtrak

June 20, 2017

This time I didn’t miss. More than a week ago I told the story of how I was railfanning with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler in Willoughby when a very late Amtrak No. 48 came charging through town.

We had no inkling the eastbound Lake Shore Limited had yet to come through because we had not bothered to check to see if it had.

A week or so later I decided to make amends for that during a planned trip to North East, Pennsylvania.

I left home to get to Bort Road in plenty of time to catch Amtrak, which was running about 45 or so minutes late.

Here it is passing through the vineyard country near the shore of Lake Erie along the Pennsylvania-New York border.

NARP Planning Rallies for Amtrak Trains

June 9, 2017

The National Association of Railroad Passengers is planning a series of rallies across the country on June 23 to drum up political support for saving funding for Amtrak’s long-distance trains.

The Trump administration has proposed ending funding of long-distance service in the fiscal year 2018 federal budget, which NARP says would end intercity rail passenger service at 220 communities in 23 states.

“If Congress enacts this budget, our national passenger rail network will largely cease to exist,” NARP President and CEO Jim Mathews says. “Communities and rail passengers need to clearly and loudly tell Congress that our communities and citizens rely on trains as important travel options.”

More information about the rallies is available at www.townswithouttrains.com.

South Shore Derailment Snarls Service

June 7, 2017

A derailment in Chicago forced the South Shore Line to temporary suspend service on Tuesday afternoon.

The accident occurred at low speed when Train No. 18 derailed as it was entering Millennium Station.

With westbound trains unable to enter the station, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the South Shore, cancelled service. Metra Electric District trains were honoring South Shore tickets.

NICTD said it was “mobilizing as many trains as possible to minimize this disruption,” but expected long delays for the Tuesday evening commute.

CVSR Now Running 6 Days Each Week

June 3, 2017

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has resumed its summer schedule, operating six days a week, which is a change from past seasons when trains ran five days a week during the summer.

Also new this year is that the National Park Scenic will make just two roundtrips on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The Scenic will make three roundtrips on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Trains will not operate on Mondays.

On Tuesday and Thursdays, the train will depart Rockside Station in Independence at 9 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. Akron departures at 10:55 a.m. and 2:50 p.m.

On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays the same schedule is in effect plus a 4:45 p.m. departure from Rockside and a 6:45 p.m. departure from Akron.

Intermediate stops include the Canal Exploration Center, Brecksville, Boston Mill, Peninsula, Indigo Lake, Botzum and Big Bend.

Coach tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children and are good for travel all day.

Upper level dome tickets are available for $28 for adults and $23 for children. These tickets are good for one continuous roundtrip and passengers may not disembark at an intermediate stop.

The same conditions also apply for first class tickets, which are priced at $23 for adults and $18 for children.

Turboliner Photo Brought Back Memories

April 14, 2017

A photograph that Bob Farkas sent this week of an Amtrak RTG Turboliner at Joliet, Illinois, brought back a lot of fond memories.

I rode the Turboliner when I lived in Springfield, Illinois, in the mid-1970s, but many of my memories involve watching the French-built train.

Sometimes on a late Friday afternoon I would go to the Amtrak station to see the Turboliner from St. Louis arrive en route to Chicago.

During my first semester at the then-named Sangamon State University, I had a class that met in the early evening.

It got out shortly before the evening Turboliner was to leave Springfield for St. Louis. Parking for the downtown SSU campus was in a lot next to the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio tracks, which were Illinois Central Gulf by then.

If it a searchlight signal next to the tracks was green, the Amtrak train was in the station out of sight a few blocks to the north. I’d sit in my car until the train came past and then go home.

My first ride on a Turboliner came in February 1975 when I made a trip to St. Louis to visit my grandparents.

I liked the Turboliner. It was modern, had nice large windows and lived up to its billing in a an Amtrak radio advertisement of the time with a tagline of “hitch a ride on the future.:

But not everyone did felt the way that I did. Many passengers disliked the narrow seats that barely reclined, the narrow aisles and the sometimes hard to open doors. Another drawback was limited seating in the café car.

The Turboliner had a fixed capacity of 296, so some passengers were left standing during peak travel periods.

Those who regularly rode Amtrak in the Chicago-Springfield-St. Louis corridor preferred conventional equipment over the Turboliner.

Some locomotive engineers wouldn’t work on the Turboliner because they didn’t feel they would be protected enough during a grade crossing collision with a large truck.

When they began service on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor on Oct. 1, 1973, Amtrak touted the Turboliner as the greatest advancement in transportation since the 747.

Although much was made of the capability of the Turboliner to run more than 100 mph, the fastest it could sprint between Chicago and St. Louis was 79 p.m.

But the Turboliner schedule was a half-hour faster than trains using conventional equipment and 11 minutes faster than GM&O trains of the late 1940s.

An Amtrak official conceded to Trains magazine editor David P. Morgan that the purpose the flashy-looking Turboliners was to show that Amtrak was doing something to improve passenger service other than making cosmetic improvements to hand-me-down equipment.

Morgan said the Turboliner reminded him of the low center of gravity lightweight trains that railroads tried in the 1950s but which failed to catch on.

The last Turboliner in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor ran on Trains 301/304. It was withdrawn from the route after it struck an asphalt truck at Elwood, Illinois, on Nov. 18, 1975.

About a month later, Nos. 301/304 because the first Midwest corridor trains to receive the new Amfleet equipment.

My last trip aboard a Turboliner came in November 1980 when I rode the Lake Cities from  Chicago to Toledo via Detroit.

The next time I remember seeing a Turboliner was in the mid-1990s at the Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis. One of the Turboliner sets was sitting forlornly off to the side.

I’ve seen photographs of a Turboliner sitting in a junk yard near Dugger, Indiana. One of these days I’ve got to get out there to see if it is still there.

Fundraiser Set for Algoma Central Passenger Service

March 31, 2017

A fundraising campaign to help kick start the return of rail passenger service to the Algoma Central Railway will be held on April 6.

Sponsored by the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains, the event will have folk music and a silent auction at the Algoma Water Town Inn & Suites in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Proceeds of the event will be used to support the efforts of the Missanabie Cree First Nation to create a non-profit passenger train between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst that would be named the “Mask-wa Oa-ta-ban” or “Bear Train.”

Service on the route ended in 2015 when funding from the Canadian government dried up. The Algoma Central is today part of Canadian National.