By Paul Redford.
Another Trans-Atlantic trip doing diesels in the “land of the free”. The aims of this trip were:
Cover the Metro North branches for any FL9’s and P40’s that may be working.
Shore Line East again for P40’s if any out and also for the GP40’s.
MBTA to improve on how many I have had.
Metra/Chicago because you can on an East Pass.
VRE as I have only previously had 4 of their locos.
MARC between VRE moves.
Tri Rail again as I have not had that many.
Cover two pieces of required Amtrak route, namely Boston to Portland, ME and Kissimmee, FL to Winter Haven, FL (don’t ask about the latter, it is a long and painful story).
With the current pound/dollar exchange rate and the price of Amtrak Passes, ours was free with a box of cereals, or at least that is how it felt! I travelled to London and met my co-conspirator Nick Cotton (yes, Dot’s lad had escaped Walford), then we headed for the Holiday Inn at Heathrow for a nights stay before our flight the next day.
Day 1 – Saturday 28th April 2007.
Plan for the first day was to fly to New York JFK, train into New York Penn station to sort out the rovers etc, Amtrak to Stamford, CT, (saving the walk across New York with the luggage), then unit onward to South Norwalk, CT, for the Danbury branch shuttle and then into our hotel for the next two nights. It all worked very well with the added bonus of 834, one of my three required P40’s from the eight being leased by Metro North.
|VS003||9.30am||London Heathrow to New York JFK.||G-VWKD “Miss Behavin’”|
|Airtrain||????||New York JFK to Jamaica.|
|Train ??||????||Jamaica to New York Penn.||LIRR 7553|
|Train 140||4.30pm||New York Penn to Stamford.||AMT 946|
|Train 6544||5.21pm||Stamford to South Norwalk.||MNCRR 8508|
|Train 6846||6.11pm||South Norwalk to Danbury.||AMT 834|
Day 2 – Sunday 29th April 2007.
The plan had been to cover the branches to Waterbury and Wassaic as my previous trip had shown these would get any FL9’s or P40’s out. However an E-mail contact had informed me that Southeast to Wassaic was a bus replacement service, so on to plan B.
Plan B was into New York, then a trip to Montauk on the Long Island Railroad, returning to Danbury by 11pm.
|Train 6813||7.43am||Danbury to South Norwalk.||AMT 838|
|Train 6513||8.39am||South Norwalk to New York Grand Central Terminal.||MNCRR 8910|
|Train 6032||11.04am||New York Penn to Jamaica.||LIRR 9810|
|Train 8710||12.16pm||Jamaica to Montauk.||LIRR 413|
|Train 8705||3.37pm||Montauk to Jamaica.||LIRR 511+517|
|Train ????||Jamaica to New York Penn.||LIRR 7059|
|Train 6562||9.07pm||New York Grand Central Terminal to South Norwalk.||MNCRR 8414|
|Train 6862||10.11pm||South Norwalk to Danbury.||AMT 834|
The other shuttle was playing out on the return with a winning P40. It was my only winner as everything seen working on Long Island Railroad was dud. As a result we made an out and back run from New York to Montauk and went for something to eat.
Day 3 – Monday 30th April 2007.
As we had had both shuttles we got up for the last through train from Danbury to New York Grand Central Terminal, which we took as far as Stamford, where we missed Amtrak 842. I hadn’t realised that one of the ShoreLine East through trains worked back as the 8.10am Stamford to New Haven until it was too late.
We then headed to Boston for the next three nights in a central hotel and the afternoon and evening on the North Side. I managed three new locos including 1027, the only non early series F40 or GP40 seen on the North Side.
|Train 1833||6.52am||Danbury to Stamford.||MNCRR 230|
|Train 170||9.18am||Stamford to Boston South.||AMT 657|
|Train 269||2.20pm||Boston North to Wakefield.||MBTA 1004|
|Train 226||3.30pm||Wakefield to Boston North.||MBTA 1130|
|Train 359||4.20pm||Boston North to Anderson.||MBTA 1004|
|Train 232||5.05pm||Anderson to Boston North.||MBTA 1001|
|Train 281||5.30pm||Boston North to Malden Center.||MBTA 1013|
|Train 282||5.47pm||Malden Center to Boston North.||MBTA 1010|
|Train 237||6.55pm||Boston North to Winchester.||MBTA 1027|
|Train 338||7.17pm||Winchester to Boston North.||MBTA 1004|
Nick is more of a track basher than I am and so he was off doing his own thing. I was looking for new locos but unfortunately the diagrams I had were out of date. This, coupled with the fact that platforms were posted only 5 to 10 minutes before departure and there seemed to be no logic to which train worked the next turn, meant that I found the best approach to be out with the required loco and then straight back to Boston to look for the next one.
Day 4 – Tuesday 1st May 2007.
Today I started on the South Side, picking up a couple before returning to Stamford to cover ShoreLine East’s afternoon rush. Amtrak 842 was clawed back from the previous day and I managed to pick up my last ConnDOT/SLE GP40. Result!
|Train 801||6.25am||Boston South to Route 128.||MBTA 1028|
|Train 806||7.24am||Route 128 to Boston South.||MBTA 1026|
|Train 751||8.10am||Boston South to Readville.||MBTA 1025|
|Train 792||9.00am||Readville to Boston South.||MBTA 1050|
|Train 173||11.40am||Boston South to Stamford.||AMT 662|
|Train 1640||4.50pm||Stamford to Bridgeport.||SLE 6694|
|Train 1644||5.36pm||Bridgeport to New Haven.||AMT 842|
|Train 1646||6.38pm||New Haven to Guildford.||SLE 6699|
|Train 1656||7.18pm||Guildford to Old Saybrook.||SLE 6698|
|Train 94||8.00pm||Old Saybrook to Boston South.||AMT 942+912|
Day 5 – Wednesday 2nd May 2007.
Today’s plan is to cover a couple of MBTA trains on the North Side followed by a round trip to Portland, ME, on Amtrak and then more MBTA North Side on the return. Of the required locos seen I pick up 3 of 4. A good days cranking!
|Train 257||7.55am||Boston North to Reading.||MBTA 1001|
|Train 209||8.49am||Reading to Haverhill.||MBTA 1128|
|Train 681||9.52am||Haverhill to Portland.||AMT 196|
|Train 686||3.00pm||Portland to Boston North.||AMT 153|
|Train 335||5.50pm||Boston North to Anderson.||MBTA 1134|
|Train 336||6.35pm||Anderson to Boston North.||MBTA 1115|
Day 6 – Thursday 3rd May 2007.
More moves on the South Side this morning with three more winners before taking the Amtrak train to Albany to connect with the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago.
|Train 905||7.02am||Boston South to Canton Junction.||MBTA 1126|
|Train 832||7.41am||Canton Junction to Boston South.||MBTA 1062|
|Train 803||8.30am||Boston South to Route 128.||MBTA 1056|
|Train 812||8.59am||Route 128 to Boston Back Bay.||MBTA 1061|
|Train 707||9.20am||Boston Back Bay to Endicott.||MBTA 1064|
|Train 712||9.44am||Endicott to Readville.||MBTA 1036|
|Train 754||9.55am||Readville to Boston South.||MBTA 1028|
|Train 449||12.00pm||Boston South to Albany Rensselaer.||AMT 108|
|Train 49||7.05pm||Albany Rensselaer to Chicago Union.||AMT 204+95|
Day 7 – Friday 4th May 2007.
Our arrival in Chicago was around 2 hours late at 11.00am. Check in to our downtown hotel was followed by a plan to cover the Fox Lake and Antioch lines which worked well.
|Train 2217||12.30pm||Chicago Union to Western Avenue.||Metra 426|
|Train 2117||12.44pm||Western Avenue to Fox Lake.||Metra 212|
|Train 2140||2.45pm||Fox Lake to Prairie Crossing.||Metra 212|
|Train 116||3.18pm||Prairie Crossing to Buffalo Grove.||Metra 420|
|Train 107||3.51pm||Buffalo Grove to Antioch.||Metra 211|
|Train 118||5.07pm||Antioch to Chicago Union.||Metra 211|
The station at Prairie Crossing is essentially one site but the platforms are about 5 minutes apart.You can see the lights of one from the other.
Day 8 – Saturday 5th May 2007
Nick went to do some track with the $5.00 weekend pass while I went into spin and win mode with great success, having 8 new with only 416 dud. It seems that where they have them, lines are using the newer power at weekends so for those wanting the older F40’s a weekday visit is preferable. We leave Chicago on the Cardinal Route which is required by Nick and is one I have not done for a number of years.
|Train 1303||8.30am||Chicago Union to Hollywood.||Metra 401|
|Train 1306||9.08am||Hollywood to Chicago Union.||Metra 185+213|
|Train 509||10.30am||Chicago LaSalle Street to Beverly Hills 103rd Street.||Metra 410|
|Train 510||11.19am||Beverly Hills 103rd Street to Chicago LaSalle Street.||Metra 406|
|Train 325||12.35pm||Chicago OTC to Evanston, Main Street.||Metra 138|
|Train 338||1.02pm||Evanston, Main Street to Chicago OTC.||Metra 136|
|Train 2711||2.30pm||Chicago Union to Western Avenue.||Metra 423|
|Train 2716||2.57pm||Western Avenue to Chicago Union.||Metra 416|
|Train 50||5.45pm||Chicago Union to Alexandria, VA.||AMT 155|
Day 9 – Sunday 6th May 2007.
Lazy day on board the Cardinal heading to Alexandria, VA, where we booked into the Holiday Inn for the next three nights. In the evening we check out routes to the station, ticket availability and bars!
Day 10 – Monday 7th May 2007.
I buy a five day pass for 3 zones on VRE at just over $40.00 which should be much more useful than buying pieces and probably cheaper. As stated at the start of the report, the plan is to do Virginia Rail Express over the next three days filling in with moves on MARC commuter services. This proves successful getting 10 winners on VRE and 6 on MARC.
|Train 324||6.33am||Alexandria to Washington Union.||VRE V20|
|Train 67||7.30am||Washington Union to Alexandria.||AMT 158|
|Train 310||8.54am||Alexandria to Washington Union.||VRE V22|
|Train 414||9.30am||Washington Union to Odenton.||MARC 71|
|Train 521||10.12am||Odenton to New Carrollton.||MARC 60|
|Train 416||10.41am||New Carrollton to Odenton.||MARC 57|
|Train 423||11.12am||Odenton to Washington Union.||MARC 71|
|Train 301||12.55pm||Washington Union to Crystal City.||VRE V07|
|Train 325||1.26pm||Crystal City to Alexandria.||VRE V09|
|Metro||Alexandria to Washington Union.|
|Train 305||4.05pm||Washington Union to Alexandria.||VRE V04|
|Train 307||5.06pm||Alexandria to Franconia.||VRE V03+V33|
|Train 311||6.30pm||Franconia to Quantico.||VRE V01|
|Train 66||7.15pm||Quantico to Alexandria.||AMT 158|
Day 11 – Tuesday 8th May 2007.
More of the same, only different!
|Train 324||6.33am||Alexandria to Washington Union.||VRE V10|
|Train 67||7.30am||Washington Union to Alexandria.||AMT 158|
|Train 310||8.54am||Alexandria to Washington Union.||VRE V05|
|Train 414||9.30am||Washington Union to Odenton.||MARC 58|
|Train 521||10.12am||Odenton to Seabrook.||MARC 66|
|Train 416||10.45am||Seabrook to Odenton.||MARC 57|
|Train 423||11.12am||Odenton to Washington Union.||MARC 58|
|Train 422||1.20pm||Washington Union to Odenton.||MARC 57|
|Train 429||2.03pm||Odenton to New Carrollton.||MARC 62|
|Train 424||2.26pm||New Carrollton to Odenton.||MARC 67|
|Train 431||3.08pm||Odenton to Washington Union.||MARC 57|
|Train 530||4.24pm||Washington Union to New Carrollton.||MARC 4910|
|Metro||New Carrollton to L’Enfant Plaza.|
|Train 313||6.46pm||L’Enfant Plaza to Alexandria.||VRE V05|
The metro move from New Carrollton to L’Enfant Plaza proved to be a bit of a farce. There are no directions from the Metro station at L’Enfant to the VRE station. Pick the wrong exit and you are left with no idea where the VRE station is.
Day 12 – Wednesday 9th May 2007.
Time to pick up some last newies before heading for the B & O museum at Baltimore where a switcher is giving rides. Then it is back to DC to collect the bags before returning to Baltimore for the train to Miami, FL, so that we get the electric loco too.
|Train 328||7.31am||Alexandria to Washington Union.||VRE V23|
|Train 844||8.05am||Washington Union to Baltimore Camden.||MARC 61+60|
|Museum Ride.||B&O 1200|
|Train 429||1.40pm||Baltimore Penn to Washington Union.||MARC 57|
|Train 178||4.05pm||Washington Union to Baltimore Penn.||AMT 911|
|Train 97||3.15pm||Baltimore Penn to Washington Union.||AMT 651|
|Train 97||3.15pm||Washington Union to Fort Lauderdale.||AMT 15+184|
Day 13 – Thursday 10th May 2007.
Another easy day on Amtrak doing mostly nothing, heading for Florida.
Day 14 – Friday 11th May 2007.
Today is spent doing Tri-Rail moves. Of the 8 locos out I require 5.
|Train P604||6.08am||Fort Lauderdale to Pompano Beach.||FTR 813|
|Train P605||6.30am||Pompano Beach to Fort Lauderdale.||FTR 803|
|Train P607||7.03am||Fort Lauderdale to Hollywood.||FTR 816|
|Train P609||7.58am||Hollywood to Miami Airport.||FTR 811|
|Train P612||9.28am||Miami Airport to Hollywood.||FTR 811|
|Train P613||9.58am||Hollywood to Metrorail.||FTR 808|
|Train P614||10.28am||Metrorail to Hollywood.||FTR 816|
|Train P615||10.58am||Hollywood to Metrorail.||FTR 804|
|Train P622||2.35pm||Metrorail to Fort Lauderdale.||FTR 804|
|Train P627||4.13pm||Fort Lauderdale to Hollywood.||FTR 802|
|Train P632||5.54pm||Hollywood to Fort Lauderdale.||FTR 816|
Day 15 – Saturday 12th May 2007.
While waiting for the train to Miami Airport, Amtrak train 98 the Northbound Silver Meteor came in with P32BWH 515 as the second loco. This meant a swap of the Miami switcher but fortunately 515 was not required.
Now for a brief demonstration of the farce that is the airline industry and some of its employees. We arrive at the airport early to find our flight is renumbered and brought forward by 35 minutes, something we had not been informed of beforehand. Our flights were booked with Continental but operated by Delta to New York and Virgin for the journey to the UK. As a result I was unsure of whom to check in with. The Continental representative who was supposed to be helping passengers was pig ignorant but she did eventually direct us to her “intellectual” twin on the Delta Airlines check in desk. We asked for seats near the front of the aircraft, for a quick get away when we arrived in New York, with a window and could we check through for the Trans Atlantic journey too. We were allocated seats near the rear of the aircraft with no window and were then redirected to the AirItalia desk to check in on our code share flight! We went to airport information and were given a free phone number to ring Virgin who confirmed our booking on the flight home. At 11.36 ½, the 11.37 arrival which would form our 12.24 departure to New York was shown as arriving at 12.59 with a departure of 13.15. I doubted Delta’s ability to turn an aircraft round in 16 minutes and I was proved right. We went to the departure gate where the airline representative proved to be far more helpful than her colleagues who we had previously dealt with. She listened to requests and we were reallocated window seats near the front of the aircraft. She also gave us a more realistic assessment of the departure time as 13.45 with an arrival in New York of 16.00. She was polite and helpful and a real breath of fresh air compared to others we had dealt with already. The fact that somebody working for a service industry had given good service rather left us in shock!!
The flight departed at 13.55 and landed at JFK at 16.35. We then had a 50 minute guided tour of the taxi ways whilst ground staff debated whether we would fit on the allocated gate. We were reallocated to the next gate and finally docked at 17.25. Then it was a mad dash off the plane, through the terminal and onto airtrain to the next terminal, up to check in for the Virgin flight and we made it with 10 minutes to spare before it closed. As airlines are a service industry they should not be surprised when complaints are made about poor service.
|Train P661||7.43am||Fort Lauderdale to Miami Airport.||FTR 808|
|DL078||12.24pm||Miami to New York JFK.||N943DL|
|VS004||6.30pm||New York JFK to London Heathrow.||G-VYOU|
Final Notes and Observations.
Overall a good trip, although no FL9’s. We were warned of this in advance and the Amtrak P40’s and clearing ShoreLine East were probably the highlights. The power and services on each system were “as booked” so nothing to report there. The comments about Prairie Crossing station on Metra may prove to be of use to someone else wanting to do the lines. On VRE the purchase of a 5 day unlimited use ticket was something that had not been available before. For the 3 zones to Franconia (where the Metro ends) it was just over $40.00. Single fares are in the region of $4.50 per move and it is possible that this would save you money. It has the added advantage of instant validity on a train and with the $2.00 step up fare it is available for use on Amtrak without a seat reservation, although you must pre purchase the step up fare before boarding the train. This makes doing Amtrak diesels in Virginia possible.
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