“USA 2007”

The 100 That Got Away.

By Simon Bennett

The USA 2007 trip visited Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago and New York as well as covering two Amtrak routes: the Capitol Limited between Washington Union and Chicago Union and the Lakeshore Limited from Chicago Union to New York Penn.

Day 1 – Thursday 3rd May 2007.

The group had met the previous evening at the Ibis Hotel at Heathrow Airport as there was an early check in for our American Airlines flight from London to New York JFK Airport. Meeting in the hotel foyer at 4.45am we headed for the night bus to Heathrow Central Bus Station and a walk on to Terminal 3 for the 5.30am check in for the 8.30am flight on American Airlines flight 115. Check in was smooth and we were quickly through security and waiting for the TGI Fridays to open at 6.00am for our breakfast. Generally, flights leaving Heathrow prior to 10.00am are fairly inaccessible to people arriving at the airport by public transport. The early flights tend not to be full and mid week departures can be very pleasant indeed. Our flight was about 50% full and everyone was on board in good time and ready for an on time departure. The flight was uneventful and an on time arrival was made at JFK. After passing through Immigration and Customs without any problems we headed to the Airtrain station where a shuttle takes you to Jamaica station on the Long Island Railroad. The cost of this is $5.00 which you pay as you exit the Airtrain station at Jamaica. We caught the next train into New York Penn station formed of Long Island Railroads new electric multiple unit stock, which operates on a third rail bottom contact system. On arrival at New York Penn it was time to sort out tickets for the next leg of the journey to Philadelphia. These had been pre reserved so we just had to show up and collect our tickets. The process is laborious, as despite the fact that you are travelling on an unlimited ride pass you must obtain a ticket for your journey. The pass is purely a way of facilitating the purchase of a free ride ticket and reservation. The queue at New York Penn was long and we were in danger of missing our booked 2.11pm departure but after 45 minutes of queuing (the British national sport) we got our tickets and we were off to Philadelphia 30th Street behind Amtrak AEM7 no. 941.

The reason for spending time in Philadelphia was to see if we could ride behind the two SEPTA electric locomotives that we had not ridden behind the previous year. Amtrak tickets are valid on the central Philadelphia section of the SEPTA network between 30th Street and Market East stations so it is possible to cover SEPTA using inbound and outbound Amtrak tickets. Arrival off the Amtrak service was at 3.32pm giving time to collect the rest of our Amtrak tickets for the duration of the trip. Reservations are made through Amtrak International and I produced the relevant reservation numbers that I had been given and a copy of the reservation confirmation. At this point the ticket agent started to look uncomfortable. Each reservation had around 60 tickets on it but she could only find 3 of the 6 passengers shown on the reservation. A supervisor was called and I started to become quite frustrated. I had asked reservations to give each passenger an individual reservation number which they refused to do giving two reservation numbers with three passengers on each. The supervisor disappeared into the office and then came out to explain that they would be unable to retrieve the reservations for three passengers as the system had deleted the content of the reservation number. He explained that International reservations should not have put multiple passengers on one reservation number and that each passenger should have an individual reservation. He asked for time to sort the problem out which we were able to give him as we disappeared off to find our electrics. So off we went on the 4.27pm service across town to Market East station where after a short wait SEPTA AEM7 2307 appeared on train 9559 to Thorndale. A short leap was made to Suburban station as this is the departure point for the Great Valley Flyer limited stop train to Thorndale. The train usually sits in the bay platforms at the East side of the station so a quick walk over the bridge was made to view the train. AEM7 2303 was sat at the head of the train and objective number 1 was achieved as we rode train 7565 the Great Valley Flyer to 30th Street Station. We returned to the ticket desk where Mark, the supervisor, was waiting for us clutching three ticket wallets with all our tickets inside. After a brief conversation and plenty of thank you’s we headed for the station bar for a quick drink before heading down to Washington Union on Amtrak train 193 with HHP8 locomotive 662. Arrival was on time and a short Metro ride took us to our hotel for the next two nights. This was the Red Roof hotel in Washington Downtown. Part of the Accor Hotels group we were not surprised to find that it was very similar in layout to the Ibis we had stayed in the previous night. Rooms were spacious and comfortable and the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro station is a short walk away.

Day 2 – Friday 4th May 2007.

A feature of trips to the USA is early starts and this morning was no exception. We were heading down to Alexandria, VA, to watch the morning procession of inbound Virginia Rail Express trains. This we did on Washington’s excellent Metro system, travelling from Gallery Place to King Street, the Metro station next to Alexandria VRE/Amtrak station. Having made two previous trips to VRE most of the party were down to just a few locomotives so it was worth the fester to see what would turn up. We purchased three tickets each, a single from Alexandria to Crystal City, a single from Crystal City to L’Enfant and a single from L’Enfant to Washington Union. The first train in was VRE300 from Fredericksburg, double headed by GP40-2C V21 and ex Amtrak F40PH V33. V33 was required so it was off to Crystal City. After a short wait VRE302 from Fredericksburg arrived with GP40-2C V20. Another required engine, so it was off to L’Enfant. We then watched the hustle and bustle of a morning rush into Washington D.C. unfold before us as we waited for the next required engine. Two CSX freight trains headed north and a couple of Amtrak Regional services made an appearance too but after nearly 1 ½ hours GP40PH-2 V22 turned up on VRE330 from Fredericksburg and it was off to Washington Union for some much needed breakfast. The plan for the next part of the day was to ride some Amtrak electrics on the North East Corridor and to fill in with a few moves on MARC (Maryland Commuter Rail) diesel hauled services until the evening rush when a full assault would be made on MARC trains. Amtrak AEM7 no. 902 whisked us up to Baltimore from where a round trip to West Baltimore was made with MARC GP40WH-2 no. 63 out bound and GP39H-2 no. 71 back in. Then it was back on to Amtrak for HHP8 no. 655 to New Carrollton where due to late running of our train we missed the next northbound Amtrak. Not to worry though as, after a short wait, MARC no. 63 arrived to take us up to BWI Airport station. Amtrak AEM7 no. 940 then took us back to Washington Union where we had around 75 minutes to wait for our first rush hour MARC train. The Capitol City Brewing Company proved to be a good place to waste most of that time and after a few very pleasant drinks we boarded MARC train 530 the 16.24 to Perryville behind HHP8 no. 4913. These 8000hp electric locomotives provide North America’s fastest commuter service at speeds up to 125mph. They were purchased as an add on order to Amtrak’s HHP8 build and are used purely on MARC peak hour trains. The North East Corridor is operated and maintained by Amtrak and so Maryland Transit Administration has entered into an agreement with Amtrak for the National Passenger Carrier to operate MARC trains between Washington Union and Perryville. Bizarrely however, despite the fact that MARC owns six HHP8 locomotives and 4 AEM7’s, not all peak hour trains on this electrified route are hauled by electric power. After detraining at New Carrollton we waited for MARC432. This came in double headed by GP40WH-2 locomotives 53 and 54 on a full rake of double deck coaches. We took these to BWI Airport station and then waited for the next departures. We let MARC434 go, which had HHP8 4914 at the head and caught MARC436 with HHP8 4910 to Halethorpe followed by MARC538 with HHP8 4912 to West Baltimore and then MARC440 with GP40WH-2 no. 59 into Baltimore. We then caught Amtrak train 193 with AEM7 no. 915 back into Washington Union before retiring to the Gordon Biersch Brewpub for our evening meal and a few drinks.

Day 3 – Saturday 5th May 2007.

This morning we allowed ourselves a little lie in. The plan was to spend time on the North East Corridor, covering Amtrak electrics until departure of the Capitol Limited at 4.05pm. We made our way down to Washington Union for the 8.20am departure and having grabbed a take away breakfast we headed for the front of the train to discover a pair of AEM7’s nos. 951 and 950. We took these to BWI Airport station and then headed back to New Carrollton with 929. It was here that we saw the rare sight of an Amtrak train overshooting a platform. The train came hurtling into the station with the brakes well and truly in. The engineer managed to get the back three coaches on the platform and the Conductor came out of the back coach door shaking his head. He turned to see us laughing and said “I knew we were in trouble when I heard the engineer go “Ooops!!!”” We returned to BWI Airport station on AEM7 no. 939 and took following 946 on to Baltimore. Back to BWI Airport with 914 and then it was in to Washington Union with 902. A final visit to the Capitol City Brewing Company was made before we joined the queue for the Capitol Limited departure and our overnight journey to Chicago Union. This was made behind a pair of Amtrak DASH9-P42B locomotives nos. 71 and 144. Departure was on time and after our tickets had been checked we headed for the lounge car. This is a very pleasant place to spend a few hours. The car had a mixture of seats at tables and bench style seats facing the windows. The large windows give a great view of the countryside and also of the many freight yards that are passed. The lounge area occupies the upper level of the double deck car with the cafe service area below. The steward for our journey was a jolly chap named Gerry, who kept us entertained with his welcome messages. He then announced that he would be having a happy hour from 8pm to 9pm where all alcoholic drinks would be $3.00. Full use of this surprise reduction in cost was made and all in the party slept well that night.

Day 4 – Sunday 6th May 2007.

We awoke for breakfast just after 6am to find that the train was around an hour behind schedule. Slow running was the order of the day as freight was given priority over our train on the crowded lines in Northern Indiana. We had planned to catch the 10.30am train out to Aurora to have lunch in the Brewpub next to the station but this began to look more and more unlikely as our train staggered along. We eventually arrived in Chicago Union 2 ½ hours late at 11.00am so we stowed the bags in the locker room and went to explore, before catching the 12.30pm train to Aurora. Here we had an excellent lunch and a few drinks before spending time watching the freight action on the embankment above Aurora station. This included the sight of a pair of SD40’s storming through at full chat on a double stack container train heading into Chicago. We returned to Chicago Union with the same pair of Winnebago’s we had had on the outward journey, nos. 199 and 186 and with an early start ahead of us the following morning we headed to the Congress Plaza Hotel on Michigan Avenue where we were to spend the next two nights.

Day 5 – Monday 7th May 2007.

This morning started with an early ride on Metra’s electric system to Blue Island. The hotel is close to Van Buren station so it was only a short walk to find our 5.17am departure. The electric cars are self powered versions of Metra’s Gallery cars and they operate off overhead catenary. We took the train to 115th Street Kensington and changed for the shuttle down to Blue Island where we arrived at 6.05am. This is some 45 minutes earlier than the first service train from LaSalle Street station and so we could view the first inbound trains and then make our plans from there. Our objective was to ride with Metra F40PH-2 no. 100. This locomotive is the first of the build of 28 F40PH-2’s built for Metra in 1977 and it had proved elusive on previous visits. Now allocated to the Rock Island division it was likely to turn up on one of the short turns between Blue Island Vermont Street and LaSalle Street via the suburban line. The previous year I had stood at Vermont Street station making notes of the trains which turned back to form others so we watched and took notes making our plans and also took photographs and video of the morning’s action. After just over an hour 100 arrived heading towards Joliet with the train which would form the 8.24 return service to LaSalle Street. With this knowledge in mind a plan now formed. We took the next train along the suburban line with F40PH-2 no. 181 at the head and detrained at 119th Street Blue Island. We were chatting on the station platform when a Metra Transit Police Officer approached us across the tracks. His colleague had in the meantime approached us from the road side of the station in a pincer movement. “Are you the guys from England?” asked the Lieutenant who had come across the tracks, obviously aware of who we were. We entered into polite conversation with the two officers who then asked to see identification, which we produced. Our details were taken and we were then allowed to board the next train with MP36 locomotive no. 409. The train pulled out of the station but there was no sign of the conductor who would normally have been straight down to us to view our tickets. We didn’t think too much about this as we were making plans for our next moves that would lead us to 100. At 111th Street Morgan Park station the train stopped and the doors opened. After a short while an announcement was made over the p.a. asking if “the five English guys who are going to this station please get off the train.” Odd as the crew didn’t know how far we were going, but so as not to delay the train or cause any hassle for the crew, we detrained. There waiting for us was the Lieutenant and his fellow officer. “I am sorry but I need to ask you to come with us for further checks to be done” said the Lieutenant and rather than have a confrontation and risk getting arrested we readily agreed to accompany the officers back to Blue Island Transit Police station. After a short ride in a Police car (another ambition achieved) the comfy chairs were brought out in the office and the coffee order taken. The officers were professional in their treatment of us and never did we feel threatened. Each one of us in turn handed over all details requested and we were then allowed to return to the unfolding conversation in the office. The officers handed out badges, hats, notebooks, pens, operation lifesaver goodies and safety leaflets and the banter was good natured. I am sure that they knew exactly what we were doing and also that we posed no threat to passengers or the rail system, however somebody in the Downtown headquarters must have thought otherwise. In this age of computer technology it should not take long to check out a person’s credentials but in total we were detained for over two hours. This I viewed as being unacceptable and representations were made to Metra both directly once we had returned home and also via Trains Magazine. Metra insisted that the officers acted correctly and that the safety of passengers comes first. Any potential threat to that safety must be investigated. That is all well and good, except that we are railfans, not terrorists. Due to the nature of the work that four of the party are or have been involved in, Metra actually removed four pairs of eyes from the property, of people who are trained to notice if anything is out of the ordinary. Just after 10am we were told “now that all the trains have gone you may go” which we all thought was a bit rich but the officers did offer to take us to wherever we wanted to go. In the end we elected to return to Blue Island Vermont Street and wait for the 11am departure back into LaSalle Street to pick up our planned moved on the BNSF route from 12.30pm. 100 had eluded us as it had returned to LaSalle Street and been taken out of service. The following day it was spare power at LaSalle Street.

The early afternoon was spent on the BNSF route moving down the line on each successive train and photographing the many freight trains that move along this exceptionally busy corridor. We rode out with F40PHM-2 Winnebago’s as follows: 200 from Chicago Union to Western Springs, 196 on to Downers Grove Main Street, 192 to Belmont, 198 to Lisle and then returned to Chicago Union with 196 again. This was so that we could take the Heritage Corridor trains during the evening peak. Heritage Corridor has three trains per day in each direction, inbound from Joliet to Chicago Union in the morning peak and outbound in the evening. I was expecting to have F40PH-2 locomotives 117, 118 and 119 on these trains as they were supposedly the pool locomotives for this service and 117 duly turned up on the first train which was taken to Willow Springs. 119 followed on the next service which we took to Lockport and all was looking good for three from three. That is until 120 turned up on the last train. We took this to Joliet and waited for the Amtrak back to Chicago Union which produced P42B no. 56. On arrival back at Chicago Union we headed off to the Rock Bottom Brewery for an evening meal and a few drinks. The conversation revolved around the happenings of the day and all agreed that whilst the “detention” at Blue Island had been an inconvenience and had cost us 100, it had not diminished our enjoyment of the day.

Day 6 – Tuesday 8th May 2007.

Up early again this morning but not as early as the previous day. Our plan was to cover Southwest Service trains looking for F40PH-2 locomotives 106 and 116. Having seen them on stock the night before I knew they would be working and so we arrived at Chicago Union for the 6.26am departure to Orland Park 179th Street. This had 182 at the head and we took it down to Worth. The conductor on this train was one that we had met the last time we had travelled down to Orland Park, in 2005. He recognised us straight away and because the train was quiet he was able to spend a short time chatting. “I hear you guys had some trouble with the Transit Police yesterday” he said. It does not take long for these things to get round but it does show that we had been cleared and people knew about it. The next northbound train was the pair which had dud 101 and 113 on so we waited for the next train which duly arrived with 106 at the head. This was taken to Oak Lawn where 116 then arrived on the next southbound. Down to Palos Heights and then back to Chicago Union with 182. Objective achieved. Next we moved to Ogilvie Transportation Centre which is home to services operated by Union Pacific on behalf of Metra. Breakfast was taken first and then we headed for the 10.30am departure along the Metra North West line. This had 141 at the head and it was taken to Clybourn which is the junction station between the North and North West lines. The North line service follows about 5 minutes behind the North West and this arrived with 154. This was taken to Main Street, Evanston for 176 back to Clybourn and then 161 out to Jefferson Park on the North West line. Back into Chicago with 166 and then out to Clybourn with 130, on to Highland Park with 136 and back to Chicago again with 149. Those moves took us up to 2.25pm and with the evening rush starting at Union station at 3.33pm we moved to our holding position at the steps at the north end of Union stations North Concourse. The Milwaukee District and North Central Service lines have a common pool of locomotives and we were looking for three specific engines, F40PH-2’s nos. 118,(not on Heritage Corridor so must be on North Side services), 121 and 124. We watched the stock and engines arriving for the peak departures and 121 turned up on the stock for the 4.25pm train to Antioch on the North Central route. 124 then arrived with the stock for the 4.50pm Deerfield stopper so that was two from three and we headed for 121 which was taken to Western Avenue. As we were leaving Union station, 118 entered on stock and not knowing what it was doing we had to resign ourselves to letting it live till another day. 124 was taken on from Western Avenue to Glenview with 114 then taken forward to Prairie Crossing. This station has platforms on both the Fox Lake route and the Antioch route and it was this reason that we had detrained here. I had been made aware that the last departure from Antioch, train 120 at 7.00pm, did not return to Chicago via the normal route but did the little used connection linking the Antioch route with the southbound Fox Lake route. It had always stood out in the timetable as it ran nonstop from Washington Street, Grayslake to Chicago Union but I had always assumed that this was just to get the train back to Chicago to form a return service. From Prairie Crossing we took a mixed pair of F40PH-2 115 and MP36 418 up to Washington Street, Grayslake and then waited for train 120 to arrive. The train arrived with MP36 420 as the power and we headed towards the piece of rare track. Rounding the curve we stopped to let a Fox Lake bound train clear and then we headed onto the single track section to Rondout. With clear signals all the way we stormed along and arrived into Chicago Union some ten minutes early. That was the end of our eventful few days in Chicago as we were to leave that evening on the Lakeshore Limited for New York. This train had been retimed to depart at 10pm from the previous departure time of 7.55pm. Sleeping car passengers can board the train from 7.00pm and are offered a wine tasting session in the Dining Car accompanied by a selection of various cheeses. This is as a replacement for evening meal service which has been abandoned due to the late departure time of the train. A note in the timetable said that coach passengers could board from 8.00pm and the cafe car would be open to serve drinks and snacks. I am all for this kind of service and I was disappointed to discover that what the management and customers think is a good idea is rarely implemented by the staff on the ground. Boarding of coach passengers finally started at 9.30pm and once on board it was discovered that the cafe car was shut and it did not open until 30 minutes into the journey. Departure was on time at 10pm with P42B locomotive 199 and 132 at the head end. Sleep soon overcame us and a comfortable night was had by all.

Day 7 – Wednesday 9th May 2007.

I awoke to discover that we had maintained on time status as far as Cleveland, OH, with a departure at 7am. Breakfast was taken in the dining car which had a leaking roof mounted water tank meaning that two sets of tables were out of service. Heritage Dining Cars are long in the tooth and due for withdrawal. I would guess that had the 21st depot in Chicago bad ordered the car then there would have been no food service on the train at all so they decided to return the car to New York and maintain on board service. One of the benefits of the later departure from Chicago is that the train now passes General Electric’s Erie manufacturing plant in daylight. Various models of GE power were seen from the train including locomotives for BNSF, UP and various Mexican roads. The journey was relatively uneventful although due to engineering work being undertaken by CSX on the route East of Buffalo the train gradually lost time. At Rochester, an unusual event took place when a Border Protection Agency officer boarded the train and asked to see identification from all passengers. I can only assume that they were looking for someone but after a short delay they left the train and we headed off. Arrival in Albany Rensselaer was almost 2 hours late. Here the Lakeshore Limited changes power from the pair of P42’s to a P32ACDM. These dual mode locomotives are required to enter the tunnels at New York Penn station where diesels are banned unless there is a dire emergency. They are fitted with third rail contact shoes which are only used for the final few miles of the 140 mile journey. Sadly for me the P32 turned out to be 710. I had had this locomotive on the Lakeshore when I first travelled on the train in August 2001. We had also had the loco for a short trip in 2004 when covering the Hudson Valley route on both Amtrak and Metro North Commuter service. A fast run to New York was had but unfortunately this did not result in us gaining any time. Fortunately we were booked into the Pennsylvania Hotel across the road from Penn station and after checking in we nipped round the corner to Stout for our evening meal and drinks.

Day 8 – Thursday 10th May 2007.

Another early start as we headed out to Hackettstown, NJ, on the first service of the day. Leaving the hotel to catch the 5.12am PATH(Port Authority Trans Hudson) service to Hoboken Terminal we then boarded the 5.38am departure from Hoboken to Hackettstown. This was headed by new Alstom built PL42AC locomotive 4031, a 4200hp machine built specifically to New Jersey Transits requirements. This early train takes the Morris and Essex route through Summit and Dover before arriving in Hackettstown at 7.40am. Turning round the train then forms the 8.10am departure to Montclair State University travelling via the Boonton Line. Two routes covered on one train. Montclair State University to New York trains all appear to be locomotive hauled trains and we changed onto a service hauled by ALP44 electric 4608 which we took to Newark Broad Street station where we changed onto a Dover to Hoboken service with GM GP40PH-2-0 diesel 4103 at the head for the run back to Hoboken. The plan for the rest of the day was to see if we could track down any of the GP40FH-2 diesels which New Jersey Transit have. These are an endangered species and with the delivery of the Alstom PL42AC locomotives the first 4 in the class were withdrawn and despatched to Motive Power Industries at Boise in Idaho for a rebuild.

So, after taking breakfast, it was time to settle down and watch the comings and goings at Hoboken Terminal. If no GP40FH-2’s were seen working then the plan was to take the oldest locomotive seen to the first station and return straight to Hoboken. With the 11.35 Suffern via the Main Line departure having a PL42AC on we decided to take the 11.38 Suffern via the Bergen County Line with GP40PH-2-0 4112 on. This we did to Secaucus Junction for PL42AC 4017 back to Hoboken. Next move was the 12.35 Suffern via Bergen County train with GP40PH-2-0 4105 at the point, again, taken to Secaucus Junction for the quick return with another GP40PH-2-0, no. 4101. Back into Hoboken by 13.05 and then we were in for a wait. The next three departures were either dud or were PL42AC’s however the 14.13 Bay Head train was already in the station with GM F40PH-2CAT no. 4126 at the point. Always a succour for a run behind an F40 this train was taken down to Newark Penn station, the return being via Secaucus Junction with ALP44 4405and then PL42AC 4021 having us back in Hoboken at 15.44. By now we were watching the time as we had arranged to meet others travelling home at New York Penn station at 19.30. We also wanted to have a decent meal before the overnight flight so when GP40PH-2-0 no. 4102 produced on the 15.57 to Spring Valley we decided that we would start to head back to New York. 4102 was taken to Secaucus Junction where a short wait was had whilst we let various New York bound trains formed of electric units or with ALP46 electric locomotives up front, before ALP44 4400 came in. This is the first of this class of electric locomotive so as it was required we could not refuse it. As the train pulled down the platform we realised that there was also a locomotive at the rear with its pan up so on arrival at New York we walked to the back of the train to see that ALP44 4411 was there in lieu of a cab car, another score, having checked with the crew that it had in fact powered the train with 4400. This now gave us two hours to get a meal before meeting back at New York Penn. We decided to revisit Stout for another excellent dining experience then it was across the road to Penn station where the other member of the party was waiting to make the return journey to JFK airport and the 23.30 American Airlines flight back home to Heathrow. We took the first Long Island Railroad service to Jamaica formed again of the new electric units, and then the airtrain to Terminals 8 and 9 which are the American Airlines terminals at JFK. Check in was quick and easy, as was passage through security. A quick visit to the duty free, left time for a drink (or two) at the Brooklyn Brewery before boarding our 777 for the flight home. After we had boarded it became obvious that something was wrong. It transpired that the problem was not with our flight but with the previous 21.30 departure and the airline was trying to get as many people from that flight onto ours. This included the freight and it was the transfer of this that delayed us by over an hour. Normally trans-Atlantic flights make up time once in the air but a long and convoluted route into Heathrow meant we were still an hour late on arrival. Baggage was collected and farewells said as I now headed for Heathrow Express to Paddington and what I hoped would be a fast transfer to Kings Cross for my pre-booked 14.00 departure to Doncaster. Sadly, the underground was having problems and I arrived at Kings Cross in time to see my train disappearing out of the station. As a result it cost me a further £68.00 to get home and as I write this I am still attempting to reclaim this money from the airline which refuses to acknowledge liability. So much for customer service.

In conclusion, after the initial problems collecting reservations and tickets in Philadelphia, the trip was a most enjoyable experience. The issues surrounding our “detention” in Chicago have been aired on both the Trains Magazine forum and also in the magazine itself. I do not intend to dwell on them here other than to say that if you find yourself in the same position, a policy of cooperation not confrontation is the best way forward. If you have nothing to hide there will be no problem and whilst it is inconvenient to be taken away from the hobby for a while, it is better than being arrested.

I would like to thank my fellow participants in this trip who were Steve Bates, Richard Bishop, Tim Howlett, Derek Milby, Richard Morrison and Geoffrey Stratford. I believe all enjoyed themselves and so far I have had nothing but positive comments from all. During the trip I offered a number of options for the 2008 trip and the Grand Canyon Railway, Los Angeles, Albuquerque and Chicago will feature as next year’s trip. I look forward to seeing you on this trip.

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