Northeast Railroading
June 16-July 2, 2010

Don Winter

Introduction

This trip was to attend the 2010 NRHS Convention in Scranton, PA. We also spent four day riding new (to us) lines on New Jersey Transit. As usual, we traveled out and back on Amtrak.

The Journey East (6/16-6/21)

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

We're leaving for the east on the evening train, as we often do, so we depart from Tehachapi around 1:30 pm, and head for Los Angeles via highways 58 and 14. This is a workday, so we take Interstate 210 from Saugus, east to Pasadena, and then the Pasadena Freeway on into Chinatown and Los Angeles Union Station. There are no traffic problems (but it is windy out on the high desert), so even with the extra distance, we're at the station by around 4 pm. We take two of the bags to the Amtrak counter, and get the two sets of tickets (one heading east, one heading west) that resulted from my routing choices for the outward trip. (There are several short segments of line for which I was unable to do detailed route descriptions on previous trips, due to them being at meal times, etc. that I will endeavor to work around this time, and I want to get to Philadelphia just after midday, so that we have plenty of time to rent the car and drive from 30th Street to Scranton.)

Tiickets in hand, we sit in the north quadrangle for two hours, reading, before returning to the car for the rest of the bags and then heading to Track 11 for our train, whose consist has just arrived. I collect the consist before boarding, and then settle in to our Superliner roomette for the 43-hurs to Chicago.

[consist]

P42                       172
P42                        170
Bagggage              1855
Dorm                  39022
Sleeper                32088    Maryland
Sleeper                32097    New Hampshire
Diner                   38065
Lounge                33023
Coach                  34048
Coach-Bagg.        31029
Coach                  34035
Deadhead Dinerlite37009
Deadhead Coach  34042 (from Albuquerque)

Train 4, 6-16-2010

Schedule

Actual

Los Angeles

 6:55 pm

6:55 pm

Fullerton

7:30 7:38-44

Riverside

8:13 8:24-29

San Bernardino

8:39 8:46-52

6-17-2010

   

Flagstaff, AZ

5:16 am
5:21
6:28 am
6:43

Winslow                             PT

6:19 7:38-40

Gallup, NM                         MT

9:01 10:14-20

Albuquerque

12:22 pm
12:45
12:44 pm
1:46

Lamy

1:50 3:02-04

Las Vegas, NM

3:35 5:01-03

Raton

5:22 6:40-48

Trinidad, CO

6:21 7:44

La Junta                           MT

8:03
8:13
8:57
9:08

6-18-2010

   

Kansas City, MO               CT

7:16 am
7:35
7:48 am
8:10

La Plata

9:47 10:21-27

Ft. Madison, IA

11:01 11:37-43

Galesburg, IL

12:00 n 12:43-48 pm

Princeton

12:50 pm 1:40-43

Mendota

1:11 2:03

Naperville

2:34 2:50-54

Chicago

3:10 3:27

Southwest Chief route description

This is a weekday, so even with our ten-minute-later departure time, there is Metrolink commuter traffic to contend with, and we're delayed for a four minute stop and several more minutes of slow running, between Norwalk and Buena Park, due to a Metrolink train that appears to be having difficulties delaying another one behind it, when then delays us. As usual, we go to bed as the train crosses Cajon Pass, mindful of the time shifts that face us in the days ahead.

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Overnight, there's a 90-minute delay just after leaving Kingman, due to a passenger medical emergency. This means I awake at Flagstaff, not Holbrook (which has been the norm on recent trips), and we don't get a two hour stop in Albuquerque waiting for time. In fact, we're still an hour late leaving Albuquerque, pass over Raton Pass in early evening daylight, and are almost an hour late out of La Junta, after dinner.

Friday, June 18th, 2010

I awake somewhere west of the fuel stop at Argentine. Due to schedule padding, we're only 35 minutes late out of Kansas City, and seventeen minutes late into Chicago. In Chicago, we step out of Union Station for a moment to go to the CVS Pharmacy on the adjacent corner, just around 4 pm, and notice rain start to fall as we duck back into the station's Great Hall. Sitting in the Metropolitan Lounge, I can hear heavy rain falling during the prime commute hours, and it seems there are many delays of homeward-bound trains tonight. When we exit the city on our late-departing train, there are many large puddles along the right-of-way.

Something has delayed the assembly of our train in Amtrak's Chicago Coachyard, and the first-class passengers do not get called for the expected early-boarding and serving of dinner. We don't get to board until after 8:30 pm (for a supposed 8 pm departure), and even when we do, the train is delayed in the platform because the diner and lounge have no food and drink. The sleeping car also seems to have been stocked only at the last minute.

[consist]

P42                       92
Dorm                39042
Sleeper              32026
DinerLite            37013
DinerLite            37014
Coach-Bagg.     31035
Coach                34042
Coach                34024

Train 59, 6-18-2010

Schedule

Actual

Chicago

8:00 pm

9:21 pm

Homewood 8:54 10:13-17
Kankakee 9:23 10:54-56
6-19-2010    
Memphis 6:27 am
6:50
??
7:18 am
Greenwood 9:00 9:20-25
Yazoo City 9:51 10:12-14
Jackson 11:20 11:25-37
Hazelhurst 11:55 12:05 pm
Brookhaven 12:16 pm 12:34-36
McComb 12:40 12:58
Hammond 1:28 1:44-46
New Orelans 3:32 2:56

City of New Orleans route description

When we get called into the diner, it's to be offered a choice of two types of prepared sandwiches, not the cooked dinner that's the norm (for sleeping-car passengers) on this train. No explanation is offered. We go to bed dissatisfied, and much later than we had wished.

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Because we got to bed so late on Friday night, I don't get up and take daylight route notes north of Memphis. I do take detailed route notes between Jackson (which we leave only 20 minutes late) and Brookhaven, even though that time period coincides almost exactly with the "abbreviated" lunch period on this train, due to its mid-afternoon arrival in New Orleans (where we're 36 minutes early). We were in New Orelans more than once in 2009 (and in previous years), so we have no burning desire to head over to the vieux carrι for dinner, so we eat in the hotel, where the food is acceptable but the food service is atrociously slow.

We go to bed before complete darkness has fallen, aware of our early start on Sunday.

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

We get up with the morning twilight, so as to check out and transfer to the station in time for our early-morning boarding call, which occurs before we've even made it into the small first-class lounge here. I do manage to collect the consist as I walk down the platform. We're in a deluxe bedroom, because all of the Viewliner Roomettes on the two sleeping cars are taken up by a large party of African-Americans.

[consist]

AEM-7                        950    (from Washington)
AEM-7                        953    (from Washington)
P42                                76    (to Washington)
P42                                73    (to Washington)
Baggage                      1230
Sleeper                       62009    Evening View
Sleeper                       62000    American View
Diner                            8530
Lounge                       28024
Coach                        25076
Coach                        25119
Coach                        25112
Coach                        25035

Train 20, 6-20-2010

Schedule

Actual

New Orleans

7:05 am

7:05 am

Slidell 8:02 8:00-02
Picayune 8:27 8:25-27
Hattiesburg 9:35 9:29-35
Laurel 10:10 10:04-10
Meridian 11:07
11:12
11:07
11:16
Tuscaloosa 12:49 pm 1:34-40 pm
Birmingham 2:32
2:41
2:37
2:56
Anniston                     CT 4:16 4:30-38
Atllanta                       ET 7:52
8:21
7:59
8:37
Gainesville 9:16 9:33-39
6-21-2010    
Lynchburg 6:03 am
6:07
6:00
6:07
Charlottesville 7:20 7:11-20
Culpeper 8:12 8:09-13
manassas 8:46 8:43-46
Alexandria 9:43 9:17-23
Washington, DC 10:10
 
9:38
10:02
Baltimore 11:12 10:43-47
Wilmington 12:01 pm 11:33-38
Philadelphia 12:25 12:02 pm

Crescent Limited route description

This large party contributes to, but is not primarily responsible for, the excessive time taken by the dining car crew to take orders and serve food on this train. The large party leaves the train in Atlanta, but the terrible performance in the dining car continues north of that location. Although not germane to the two or more hours taken to complete serving breakfast on this first morning, later meals show that the dining car crew refuses to use the reservation system for either lunch or dinner, on this first day, and takes a minimum of two hours to complete our meal service at all four meals we eat in the dining car on this train.

On leaving Meridian, there is a 14-minute delay, first waiting for the NS Dispatcher, and then waiting for time to expire at the stop sign at the KCS Crossing. We lose more time due to a restricting signal about 20-minbutes further east. We meet Train 19 at Fleming, at 1:54 pm. At 3:25 pm, we're informed that the toilets in our car are out due to a "valve open". The attendant is alreay having to restart the air-conditioning every couple of hours. The conductors discuss the toilet problem on an alternate radio channel, and then look for the purported solution at Anniston, but don't find it. The problem is finally solved by pumping the retention tank at Charlotte, overnight.

Monday, June 21st, 2010

I'm up at Lynchburg to take detailed route notes as far as Charlottesville. On the Northeast Corridor, the train is permitted to run early and does so, even though there is a delay passing a work gang relaying the easternmost track just south of the BWI station. We're early into Philadelphia, where we pick up the checked bags and rent the car we need to get to Scranton. Leaving 30th Street Station, we come out of the garage and make four left turns around the station building onto the entrance ramp for I-76 northbound. After some slow driving at the US 1 exit, we make good time up the west bank of the Schuylkill River out to the interchange where we switch to I-476 north (the Pennsylvania Turnpike Eastern Extension) and turn due north. We stop for lunch at the Turnpike Service Plaza (which we're amused to note is laid out so that cars cannot get on the highway going the wrong way), then follow the instructions from our hotel's website into Scranton. The instructions are correct up until the intersection with the hotel in sight, where they fail!

When we check-in, there is still no room available for Friday night (the hotel has heavily overbooked, due to a weekend wedding here), but when Chris gets back from parking the car in the hotel's garage, 10-15 minutes later, there is and we'll be here for the full duration of the Convention.

At the Convention (6/21-6/27)

Monday, June 21st, 2010 (cont.)

In late afternoon, we head down to the Convention Registration Room, where it quickly becomes evident that the management problems we had experienced during the ticketing and hotel reservation period are present in person. There's a long, slow-moving line, and when we do get to the counter, the folks can't find our registration (because they couldn't read my clearly-written name on the ticket form, as I can see when it is shown to me), and then the tickets for the two excursions for which I had tried to buy first class tickets, and later bought standard tickets, are nowhere to be found. The ticket form is produced, and clearly shows the 'downgrade", so Jim Ridolfi (the Convention Chairman) digs our some tickets for those excursions (one of which he has to amend by hand), before we're ready to leave the registration area.

Later, we head to dinner at an Irish Pub right behind the Hilton Hotel, where we run into Ken and Ann Miller, and have a nice conversation. On the walk over to that restaurant, we meet Doug Walsch, who has brought his mother to this Convention (and for a visit to her longtime area of residence in northern New Jersey), and is escorting here and her oxygen tank back to their hotel room after dinner.

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

All of the excursion routes on which Chris and I are traveling at this Convention (and probably all of the others on which we aren't going) are lines built to carry anthracite (hard) coal from the pits and breakers (where hard coal is reduced to domestically usable sizes) in the mountainous region around Scranton to the domestic markets for anthracite in the large cities of the northeast, and the industrial markets for it, mostly in the steel mills of the region. All of these routes thus lead out of the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley area in which Scranton is located (and the adjacent, to the west, upper Susquehanna River valley in which Wilkes-Barre is located), towards the locations of these domestic and industrial markets, via the routes of different historical railroad entrants into the region, including the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Delaware, Lackwanna & Western Railroad, the Lehigh Valley and the Central Railroad of New Jersey, and the Reading Railroad, as well as a few shortlines in the are providing connecting trackage.

In today's terms, the excursions are over the Canadian Pacific (former Delaware & Hudson), albeit starting on former DL&W trackage through the area of Steamtown National Historical Park, which is providing the train, the Delaware-Lackawanna, over the route normally used for Steamtown's excursions, albeit extending somewhat further east, and Reading & Northern, using their own excursion train. Most of this is new trackage for us to ride, but all of its is new as far as detailed route notes are concerned, and I will have to take detailed route descriptions note in at least on direction on each excursion.

The Radisson hotel which forms the second of the two main convention hotels, and at which Chris and I stayed during a pre-Convention event in 1998, is housed on the former DL&W headquarters building, and the Tuesday and Thursday excursions start from the lineside immediately behind that hotel. So, we start the day, after acquiring coffee, juice and bagels, by walking over to the boarding area for the appointed boarding time.

Train preparation is in the hands of the Steamtown folks, not the Convention managers, which seems not to be a good thing, since today's train is delivered to the boarding area over an hour later than the stated boarding time in the Convention materials. (Convention staff indicate that they routinely have this problem with Steamtown when they operate excursions out of the Steamtown facilities, but this does nothing to ease the difficulties experienced by conventioneers waiting for long periods in an area of rough ground with no seating or comfort facilities.)

During the wait, Chris and I meet and greet many old friends, from previous NRHS Conventions and R&LHS Annual Meetings, including a few we had seen just a month previously at the recent R&LHS Annual Meeting. I have a long conversation with Howard Brown, who falls in the latter group, and he and we end up occupying a group of four seats in the combination car, when we finally get to board the train, about 8:25 am. The car host in the combine is Paul Hart, who was the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Chapter's President for many years, and is well-versed in the on-the-ground rail history of the area.

Today's excursion will be through the urban area of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, and then along the former PRR line down the Susquehanna River valley to the junction with the former PRR Buffalo Line just north of Sunbury, PA. The consist at the time of boarding is:

GP38-2    D-L 7312
GP38-2    D-L 7304
Coach      CNJ 1152
Coach       DLW 589
Coach       DLW 550
Coach       DLW 580
Coach      CNJ 1057
Coach      CNJ 1026
Combine    CNJ 303
Sleeper    City of Lima
Lounge       LV 353

Between them, the sleeper and the lounge car have only 22 revenue seats, which goes a long way to explain why no-one outside of a one-day postal trip from Scranton got tickets in them. (We, personally, think that this is far too few first-class seats to be offering at a Convention, since many years of experience have shown a demand for many times that number.)

After the supplies are loaded and the passengers board, the train departs at 8:47 am. From 8:53 to 8:56 am, it stops south of the wye with the CP main line, to get CP clearance, and then at 8:58 am comes to an abrupt stop as the rear truck on locomotive 7312 derails on the switch connecting the west leg of the wye to the main line. At 9:33 am, Steamtown loco 514 connects to the rear of the train, and at 9:36 am, it moves backwards for one minute, then stops from 9:37 to 9:44, and finally moves backwards for another four minutes, stopping across the boardwalk to Steamtown at 9:48 am. At this point, passengers are told it will be noon before the train goes anywhere, so some of them go back to the convention hotels for a couple of hours. Others of us visit the Steamtown bookstore, which occupies 15 minutes or so. While I'm sitting outside at the bookstore, I see Alex Mayes walking away from me on the west side, too far away to call out to.

Some time after 10 am, car hosts start telling people to reboard, as we'll be departing at 10:30 am. It seems the locomotive has been re-railed rather quickly, and the plan is now to connect the two GP 38-2s on the (current) rear of the train, and take it out onto the main line using the east/north leg of the wye, then reverse to head for Sunbury. Soon, however, someone realizes that some people have gone back to hotels, anticipating a noon departure, and so we have to wait until noon. (Yet another management screw-up.) While we're waiting, Jerry Angier passes by, and says that he'll be interested to see my "blog" of this incident (i.e., this report). From 11:09 am to 11:22 am, the train is moved over to the Steamtown platform, adjacent to the trolley stop there. Some of our passengers have apparently gone for a trolley ride. At noon, we start away south, reversing all the way to the Lackawanna station (Radisson hotel), to get access to the north leg of the wye, pull north at 12:05 pm, and stop from12:16 to 12:20 pm, out on the main line, before heading west. At this point, lunches are handed out, with as much management skill as we've come to expect from these folks. (Becky Gerstung later tells us that she was provided with only 18 pastries for 22 first-class passengers!)

Sunbury to Scranton route description

The train now descends the Lackawanna River valley to its junction with the Susquehanna River valley at Pittston, and then the latter river valley, on the south bank, all the way to the junction with the west branch of that river at Sunbury. From 12:31 to 12:34 pm, we stop next to the (now) CP/D&H Taylor Yard, waiting for a northbound local to clear. The photo runby is held at Catawissa, near MP 736, from 2:35 to 3:16 pm. From 3:48 to 4:24 pm, we stop at Banks to run the locomotives around to the east end, from 4:29 to 5:08 pm, we wait for an NS freight (NS 5309) heading for Binghamton to pass, and then back up almost to the junction with the NS line (former PRR Buffalo Line), where a toilet retention-tank cleanout truck services the toilets in each car, leaving at 5:39 pm, and stopping for a couple of minutes to normal the switch at the east end of Banks.

A dragging brake on one of the cars causes a stop from 6:40 to 6:54 pm, at 7:31 pm we meet a southbound NS freight at MP 699, and then from 7:35 to 7:55 pm, we stop at MP 697, because that northbound NS freight has triped a hotbox detector. We watch the sun set over the Susquehanna River, and then as we head for the wye again, some of us realize that darkness will have fallen completely by the time we get to the unloading point, and there is no electricity for the light in any of these cars. the car hosts seem unfazed by this, and in the event it seems not to matter. Around 9 pm, we stop north of the north end of the wye to reverse onto the D-L, and at 9:35 pm, arrive behind the Radisson to unload the train.

The cars hosts have told us they have arranged for nearby restaurants to stay open to serve us, and indeed the Irish pub between the two hotels does so, and has arranged for enough wait staff, but its kitchen facilities are not large enough to handle the sudden rush, and we don't get our food until 11:30 pm. We eat with Ken and Ann Miller and Mitch Dakelman, out on the balcony to avoid the noise inside.

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Fortunately for our sleep quota, Chris and I have booked only a local tour for today, and thus we board a bus that departs at 9 am for the Lackawanna Coal Mining Museum, just out of town on the north side. Here, we board a mine car that carries people 1300 ft. into a seam of the mine, where we're taken on a walking tour that goes another 800 ft. into the mine In common with all the other deep mines in the area, this mine was flooded when the Susquehanna River broke through the roof of a seam at a mine in Pittston, in 1959. However, we can still walk through the upper seams of this particular mine, fifty years after closure.

There are seven seams at this mine, each of which is named (as the xxx Bed), and each of which of which dips down from our entry point to a point below the Lackawanna River, at depths varying from 165 ft. to 528 ft, and then climbs up the other (south) side of the valley. Only the top bed and the upper half of the second bed are above the level of the flooding in the  mine at the deepest point, but we are able to walk around in the Clark bed, fourth from the top, in the area covered by this tour. The seams vary in thickness from 40 feet, past the sixteen-feet of the one's we're walking through initially, to a mere eighteen-inches in height (and yes, the latter were mined, by miners lying prone in the coarse of their work).

Anthracite is too hard to simply have been chopped out of the tunnel walls, so the coal faces were drilled many feet into the coal, and then dynamite is exploded in the hole to break up the coal. The pieces of coal were then hauled out in wooden carts on the mine tramways (pulled by pit ponies to the ropeways (such as the one we had used to descend into the mine), where the coal was transferred to larger wagons for removal from the mine. The chunks of coal were whatever size resulted from the blast, and hence needed to be taken to the specialized coal breakers, located near many of the mines, to be turned into piecs of the correct size for their intended markets.

At many of the mines, including this one, the mine housing was owned by the mine, and if a miner died, the family was given a week to find another member to go down the mine, or they had to move out of their housing. The conditions shown in movies such as The Molly Maguires, which took place in an area not far south of here (which we will pass through on Saturday), were real, in the 19th-century, and led to 20th-century developments in mining unions.

After 90 minutes underground, at a temperature of 53 degrees Fahrenheit, it is quite a shock to re-emerge into the 80+-degree outside world. We spend some time at the small gift shop/cafe, and then are informed the lunches are available at the picnic benches where we came in. Lunch is al fresco, and for some of us, in the sun. After lunch, there's time to go through the Anthracite Heritage Museum, across the way (which is very interesting), before it's time to reboard the buses and head back for Steamtown, where the afternoon will be spent at the Electric City (a nickname for Scranton) Trolley Museum, located in the north side of the Steamtown parking lot. The two bus loads split into two groups, on of which (including Chris and me) goes for our included trolley ride first, and the other of which goes to the museum, first.

The trolley ride is on the former Laurel Line, which starts out on the west side of teh former DL&W, but stays down alongside the Rocky Fork as the DL&W climbs past the Radisson Hotel, turning to cross the river at a low level, and then passing through a mile-long tunnel before joining the right-of-way of a former Erie branch, climbing up the hillside south of town, to reach a terminus at the museum's restoration shop, located across the parking lot from the stadium serving the local minor league baseball team. Passengers have twenty minutes to visit the shop, which for NRHS has some experts on hand and is quite interesting, before returning to the starting point of the ride, where we walk over to the Trolley Museum itself.

Inside its wonderful air-coinditioning, we find a used-book sales stand run by the museum's support group, where I buy a couple of books at only  about on-sixth of what the bookseller at the R&LHS Annual Meeting had wanted for the same books. We also buy some books at the official museum shop. The self-guided tour is interesting, and it's a bit of a surprise to discover that the well-outfitted restoration shop is actually outside, albeit in the shade. The museum does a good job of explaining the requirements of running electric streetcars (generating stations, substations, etc.), as well as displaying the cars themselves. At the end of the visit (and of the second group's trolley ride), the buses take us back to the hotels.

For dinner, we walk two block east to a restaurant that Ken Miller had found out about, and at which Ken and Ann join us later, full of stories about the mishaps of the tour on which they had been bus hosts today. Mishaps continue, as the waitress drops the tray containing their food on the floor before reaching our table, and their food has to be resupplied.

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Today's excursion is headed east on the former DL&W, the opposite way from the start of Tuesday's train, but from the same loading spot. As on Tuesday, Chris and I get drinks and bagels at the hotel, and then walk over to the boarding location, where the train arrives for boarding at exactly the same time as on Tuesday (8:25 am), and is able to depart, after loading of supplies and passengers, at exactly the same tim (8:49 am). Is Steamtown really this inept, or do they think the train is supposed to board at 8:25 am?

[The July 2010 issue of Railfan & Railroad, included in the registration handouts, contains an interesting interview with the Steamtown Superintendant, that address a lot of matters about the park, but doesn't cover operations.]

The consist at the time of boarding is:

RS-3            4118
RS-3            4103
RS-3            4068
Lounge      LV 353
Sleeper City of Lima
Combine  CNJ 303
Coach      CNJ 1026
Coach      CNJ 1157
Coach      DLW 550
Coach      DLW 559
Coach      CNJ 1152
Coach      DLW 335

The promised steam locomotive is 2-8-2 3254, and is facing west, so has already headed for East Stroudsburg, where it will be added to the west end of the train for the return journey.

Delaware-Lackawanna route description

There is a photo runby on the eastbound trip at Nay Aug, from 9:03 to 9:39 am. The train stops at East Stroudsburg from 11:05 to 11:16, adjacent to the waiting steam locomotive, before continuing on past the recently-burnt East Stroudsburg depot. The line east of Cresco is new to Chris and me. The train reaches the Delaware Water Gap, where the temperature is 90-degress F, at 11:39 am, and stops at Slateford Junction at 11:49 am, , where it takes one hour and twelve minutes to run the three RS-3s around the train to the other end and add the steam locomotive, departing at 1:01 pm, and stopping for lunch at East Stroudburg from 1:25 to 2:30 pm. The lunch boxes are served off the train, and just about enough lawn chairs are provided for the passengers to sit down while eating. During this time, the 2-8-2 is added to the east end, with the three diesels in front of it.

Gary Kazin, who had been on Tuesday's train, had been back to New Jersey for his son's high-school graduation on Wednesday night, and is chasing this train as he returns. He stops by to say hello during lunch. At 3:30 pm, the train stops at Tobyhanna for several runbys, one with all four locomotives, and two with just the steamer. I chat with Gary for awhile, and Robby Mesite, whom I had recently "friended" on Facebook, stops by to introduce himself in person. I also chat with Doug Walsch for a while.

 The depot here is owned by another NRHS Chapter, who is selling cold drinks and ice-cream, and, anticipating an imminent reboarding, I buy the last two of the ice-creams. However, the train is backed-up for the locomotive to be watered before we can reboard, so I have to hold the ice-creams for 45-minutes in the 80-degree (up here) temperature. While the watering is going on, the fire-engine suddenly turns on its sirens and light, and departs at great speed. About this time, David Crosby, who is in charge of the train from the Convention's perspective, today, hears that a semi-trailer has struck a wooden bridge that we will have to cross, up ahead, and so we can't go anywhere until the bridge has been inspected. We are, however, allowed to reboard, and I give Chris her soggy ice-cream. She then goes back to the depot, and finds (as I already knew) that the ice-cream is all gone, but does find me some coffee. At 5:55 pm, we're given permission to go. We stop just east of the bridge at 6:20 pm, and have crossed it at "walking pace" by 7:32 pm. The train stops in Scranton at 7:12 pm, a couple of hours late. Passengers in the coaches are civerd in a fine layer of coal smuts from the steam locomotive's exhaust.

Mindful of eating delays when a trainload of people descended two days before, Chris and I go directly to the Irish Pub and eat out on the balcony, near John and Peggy Sweigart.

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Today, there are no excursions, since this is the day set aside for the Board Meeting and Annual Meeting (and, yes, an At-Large Members Meeting), with the banquet in the evening. Chris is the alternate for Bill Gill at the Board Meeting. The Board Meeting starts at 8:30 am, and goes on until almost 2 pm. Most of the business is routine, including taking care of many of the ramifications of decisions taken at previous meetings but includes some preparations for future changes in Board Meeting arrangements by renaming the current Board Meetings to quarterly "Conferences" to which all members are invited. After an hour for lunch, the Annual Meeting mostly meets its corporate requirements, with little of importance to those already well-versed in what has transpired at Board Meetings.At the Annual Meeting, Greg Molloy shows a chart of membership over the decades, showing that membership was relatively flat until the 1960s, then rose dramatically to a peak in 1994, and has since been in a slow decline. Once again, he does not acknowledge (at least publicly) the strong correlation of this membership graph with the operations and then cessation of the (Norfolk) Southern Steam Program; the wonder is that the mebership drop has no been more precipitous the last 16 years!

During the afternoon, Chris goes to get the car its new (due to hotel stupidity) parking pass, and discovers it won't start. Fortunately, there's a Hertz desk right in the hotel, and since it is open this afternoon, we're able to swap the disabled vehicle for another one (on the same rental ticket), right there and then. Had we not found this out until Sunday, untold delays would have intervened.

At the At-Large Members' Meeting, Dan Barnett, a high-school student and Railcamp alumnus who is actually a members of the local chapter, helps the discussion along with some ideas about what would bring more younger members into teh society. This includes mention of a local Facebook page that has grown to several hundred members, and I take the opportunity to tell Greg Molloy that we still need an 'official' NRHS Facebook page, as had been discussed at a previous Board Meeting. (This is created a couple of weeks after the meeting.) However, on looking into it, I never do find a page that matches Dan's claims.

Before the banquet, Gary Kazin and I spend a few minutes discussing next week's New Jersey Transit marathon. The food service (it's a buffet) at the banquet starts 45-minutes late, apparently because the local chapter folks don't see fit to get it started earlier. As a result, several of us duck out of the meeting after dessert, but before the after-dinner speeches start, to ensure a good night's sleep before the early busses in the morning.

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

The Saturday excursion will not start from Steamtown, allegedly because Reading & Northern chief Andy Muller will not pay several thousand dollars to bring his train past his current operating boundaries. Accordingly, the day starts by bussing all the participants over to a street next to an embankment in Duryea, where the reading & Northern excursion train is parked, complete with 4-6-2- 425 and disel helper 426. Many of us board the train well before the intended departure time, and Chris and I find ourselves sitting adjacent to the mileage collectors from the Sacramento area, including Steve Miller, Tom Glover and Stan Hunter. Steve had the consist, and I use his rather than trekking along the embankment to make my own. Barry Smith sits down in front of us, so I take the opportunity to ask him whether a newsletter by and for the alumni of Railcamp might be something worth oursuing (covering another issue that Dan Barnett had raised the previous afternoon).

Before starting, the consist is arranged as:

4-6-2                425
Auxiliary Tender 425T
SD-50               426
Coach                305
Coach                302
Coach                304
Coach                301
Coach                303
Coach                309
Coach                306
Private car              5    Schuylkill River
Private car               1    Black Diamond

Duryea Junction to East Mahanoy route descriptions

Port Clinton to East Mahanoy route description

The train starts away, in reverse, at 8 am, pushing back off the former Lackawanna top Pittston Junction, and then pulling forward onto the trackage now owned by the Reading & Northern, to climb the hill on the south side of Wilkes Barre to Mountain Top, and then turning south down the line cobbled together out of pieces of the former Jersey central and lehigh valley, along (mostly) the east bank of the Lehigh River. The mileage collectors in the rows behind scramble to follow our progress, making the same initial mistakes that I had made when creating the draft of the route description, due to the inaccuracies in the Steam Powered Video atlas of this area. I eventually comment to Steve Miller about the amusement of trying to follow our progress on an inaccurate atlas, and he agrees.

From 10:11 to 10:47, we stop for a photo runby or two on the multiple tracks south of Penn Haven Junction, and then continue on past Nesquehoning Junction into Jim Thorpe. This segment of line definitely differs from the rail atlas, since it includes a bridge that was only recently returned to traffic, without which we could not have entered Jim Thorpe directly from the north. Our three hours in Jim Thorpe start at 11:17 am, providing the opportunity for lunch in one of the many restaurants in this (now) tourist town), where Chris and I eat with Gary Kazin in a Chinese restaurant and then scour the used book stores.

Since our train will be leaving in the reverse direction from our arrival, the train crew re-arranges the train (but not the string of coaches), as well as servicing the steam locomotive. The seats in the coaches are reversed for our change of direction, leading to some confusion as the passengers reboard after lunch. Almost the first thing that happens after our 2:15 pm departure is a pair of photo runs at Nesquehoning junction, the first being across the newly-reopened bridge that we had crossed on the way in, and the second being on the line we are now taking, west towards East Mahanoy, on the former Reading main line into the coal fields. The segment of this line from Nesquehoning to Hometown Trestle is officially "out-of-service'! Again, on this trip, a fine layer of coal smuts descends on everyone in the coaches.

Eventually, after passing through Tamaqua, the train arrives at the Reading & Northern's maintenance facilities at Port Clinton, where we pass 4-8-4s 614T and 2102, north of the steam shed, on the way in. Because of some infelicities about the relationship between the train, the side the doors are opened, and the parking location of the buses, it takes some time to board most of the passengers, Chris and I end up on a bus going to the Radisson, and it proves impossible to get one or two passengers with movement disabilities across the tracks between the train and the buses. Once our bus is fully-loaded, it heads north by way of Tamaqua to I-80, and then northeast to Scranton. Many of those who live in the nearby states are heading directly home, but we elect to eat in the Hilton Hotel, where we have an interesting conversation with Ed Berntsen and Ed Graham before retiring for the night..

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

This morning, we check out of the hotel and go, first, to the Chapter's open house at their Moscow Depot (on the former DL&W line to Stroudburg). We chat with Paul Hart and the Chapter's current President, but I note that none of the Convention team appear to be present. Then we head south via I-380, I-80, and SR-33, to Easton, and continue on, stopping for lunch on the way, to New Hope, in time to ride the 2 pm train on the New Hope & Ivyland. This somewhat disappoints because it is only a five-mile ride, albeit through pleasant scenery.

We then continue south to I-95 and southwest to I-676 in Philadelphia, going first to the Travelodge at which we're staying for the next five nights, to unload the luggage, and drive the car through the city streets, back to the rental slots at 30th Street, where we turn it in. We ride SEPTA back to Market East, and walk back to the hotel. Later, we eat dinner at an Italian restaurant, nearby.

The New Jersey Transit Marathon (6/28-7/1)

Monday, June 28th, 2010

We're stating in Philadelphia, because that's where I booked Amtrak to, for our car rental to get to the Convention. We're staying until Friday, because I want to ride Amtrak's Cardinal, we couldn't possibly have made the Sunday departure, and the Wednesday departure's sleeper was full when I made the trip arrangements. We're riding a New Jersey Transit marathon, from Philadelphia, because that's what I deicded to do with these four days, after making the rest of the arrangements! To get to the lines we want to ride (because they're new to us), we must ride SEPTA to Trenton, and then NJT northeast on the NEC from Trenton, an ostensibly direct connection (since it replaced Amtrak's 'Clockers', a few years ago. Experience will show that, northbound at least, these trains are no longer worked as a direct connection.

After the included breakfast (such as it is) at the hotel, we walk over to the near entrance to Market East station (under the Reading Terminal bridge), and buy eight senior tickets from Market East to Trenton, and eight regular tickets from Market East to Trenton. Watching the displays of upcoming trains, we see that just about all the inbound trains from the former Reading lines are 'On Time" until they get onto the common tracks south of Wayne Junction, and then they start to lose time, usually three or four minutes by the time they get to Market East. Eventually, we go down the stairs to the platform and board our train for Trenton.

[consist]

SEPTA EMU           

Train 4721, 6-28-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Philadelphia (Market East)

8:43 am 8:45-47 am

6:10

6:02

Suburban 8:48 8:50-52 6:05 6:01
30th Street 8:52 8:55-57 6:00 5:57
North Philadelphia 9:02 9:05-07 5:47 5:48
Bridesburg 9:08 9:12 5:40 5:43
Tacony 9:11 9:15 5:37 5:40
Holmesburg Junction 9:13 9:17 5:35 5:38
Torresdale 9:16 9:21 5:31 5:35
Cornwells Heights 9:18 9:24 5:28 5:32
Eddington 9:20 9:26

–

–

Croydon 9:23 9:29 5:25 5:28
Bristol 9:27 9:32 5:21 5:25
Levittown 9:31 9:36 5:17 5:21
Trenton 9:43 9:50 5:10 pm 5:12 pm
      Train 9756

Philadelphia Area route descriptions

As can be seen, the train gradually loses time, to Croydon, and then seems to pick it up again. Presuming there's padding in the schedule going in to Trenton, maybe it might make the 9:50 am connection. (We're not trying for that this morning, but will be later in the week.) However, adjacent to the Amtrak maintenance-of-WAy depot at Morrisville, the train stops for two minutes, and then crosses the ladder connections over to the north side of the line, to stop in Platform 5 at Trenton, across the footbridge from the New Jersey Transit train in Track 1, which doesn't wait. (When we saw this two years earlier, there was a same platform connection on Track 1, but not any longer.)

Chris and I go up into the station, as we'd been intending to all along, and buy weekly season tickets from Bay Head to New York. (Bay Head is the furthest out we want to go, so these will cover every NJT trip we want to make this week.) Having used the facilities and bought drinks and sandwiches (for lunch), we go down to Track 2 and board the 10:16 am NJT train for New York. We're going to the Coast Line today, so we will want to change out of this train at Rahway and cross over to the other platform.

[consist]

NJT EMU           

Train 3836, 6-28-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Trenton

10:16 am 10:16 am

4:30

4:53

Hamilton 10:22 10:22 4:25 4:45
Princeton Junction 10:29 10:27-29 4:20 4:39
Jersey Avenue

–*

–

4:07 4:27
New Brunswick 10:43 10:43 4:05 4:24
Edison 10:47 10:47 3:59 4:20
Metuchen 10:52 10:52 3:55 4:13-16
Metropark 10:57 10:55-57 3:50 4:10
Rahway 11:06 arr. 11:02 3:45 pm 4:02 pm
      Train 3852

*There is no inbound platform for a through train to stop at at Jersey Avenue; only inbound trains that start here can pick up ,passengers.

New Jersey Area route descriptions

This train manages to run to time. At Rahway, we go down to ground level, and walk under the tracks to the southbound platforms, taking the escalator back up and waiting in the (non air-conditioned) waiting are for the next coast-line train to show up.

[consist]

NJT electric loco plus seven single-level coaches           

Train 3235, 6-28-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Rahway

11:17 am 11:21 am

2:51

2:58

Woodbridge 11:25 11:29 2:40 2:48
Perth Amboy 11:31 11:33-35 2:36 2:43
South Amboy 11:36 11:39 2:32 2:38
Aberdeen-Matawan 11:45 11:52 2:22 2:28-30
Hazlet 11:49 11:56 2:18 2:25
Middletown 11:55 12:02 pm 2:12 2:17
Red Bank 12:01 pm 12:07 2:06 2:09-12
Little Silver 12:05 12:11 2:02 2:06
Monmouth Park (flaqgstop) 12:08

–

1:56

–

Long Branch 12:21 12:18 1:54 pm 2:00 pm
      Train 3252

Matawan is where one of my customers on a contract job with Standard & Poor's, 28 years ago, lived. I finally have a real feel for how far out of lower Manhattan he actually lived! At Long Branch, we make an across-the-platform connection to a diesel-hauled train onwards to Bay Head

[consist]

NJT diesel loco plus five single-level coaches           

Train 4235, 6-28-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Long Branch

12:24 pm 12:25 pm

1:49

1:56

Elberon 12:28 12:29 1:42 1:49-52
Allenhurst 12:32 12:33 1:38 1:45
Asbury PArk 12:36 12:37 1:34 1:42
Bradley Beach 12:39 12:39 1:31 1:39
Belmar 12:43 12:43 1:27 1:34
Spring Lake 12:47 12:48 1:23 1:28-30
Manasquan 12:51 12:52 1:19 1:24-26
Point Pleasant Beach 12:57 12:57 1:14 1:17-20
Bay Head 1:06 1:00 1:10 pm 1:15 pm
      Train 4352

Only on this stretch of the line do we actually turn south and run along the coast, albeit inland. My tentative schedule had us spending either one hour or three hours at Bay Head, to permit having lunch. But we have sandwiches with us, and the temperature is over 90-degress F., so we opt to take the next train back north, in just a very few minutes. However, at this point, I level my insulated coffee mug behind on the train. :-(

At Rahway, we use the facilities and stop to get drinks before crossing to the southbound platform, wehre a train is just leaving (at a time there shouldn't have been one). There are officials present, and it transpires that there's an overhead wire down on the southbound track, somewhere south of here, so trains are delayed. the train that has just left is an express to trenton that would not normally have stopped here. The next train is an express to Long Branch that would not normally have stopped here! This is followed by a train going only to Jersey City and then a stopping train to Long Branch. The train after that is the train to Trenton which we had expected to catch at 3:45 pm. It departs a little after 4 pm. We catch the expected connection from Trenton, and at Market East, we go to K-Mart to buy a new insulated coffee mug. This takes unexpectedly long, due to store inefficiencies, so when we're done there, we head through Chinatown, stopping to eat before going back to the hotel.

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Today, Gary Kazin is going to join us when we get out into his part of New Jersey, so our schedule at that point is constrained. As on Monday, we walk over to Market East after the included breakfast, and watch the indicator screens for our train's progress. As before it loses time after Wayne Junction. Today, we have a connection to make at Secaucus Junction, so it matters!

[consist]

SEPTA EMU           

Train 4721, 6-29-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Philadelphia (Market East)

8:43 am 8:45 am 9:06 9:04
Suburban 8:48 8:48-51 9:01 9:00-02
30th Street 8:52 8:55 8:56 8:57
North Philadelphia 9:02 9:06 8:45 8:48
Bridesburg 9:08 9:11 8:38 8:42
Tacony 9:11 9:14 8:35 8:38
Holmesburg Junction 9:13 9:16 8:34 8:36
Torresdale 9:16 9:20 8:30 8:33
Cornwells Heights 9:18 9:23 8:27 8:30
Eddington 9:20 9:25 – –
Croydon 9:23 9:28 8:24 8:26
Bristol 9:27 9:31 8:20 8:23
Levittown 9:31 9:35 8:16 8:19
Trenton 9:43 9:51 8:09 pm 8:11 pm
      Train 5754

Just as on Monday, the train loses time, stops at Morrisville, and then crosses the ladder to arrive in Track 5, in this case after the 'connection has left. So, we go up into the station, using the facilities, get drinks, and then head to Track 2 for the 10:16 am. Today, this is an electric locomotive and bi-level cars.

[consist]

NJT electric locomotive + bi-level coaches           

Train 3836, 6-29-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Trenton

10:16 am 10:23 am 7:57 7:49
Hamilton 10:22 10:30 7:45 7:40
Princeton Junction 10:29 10:37 7:38 7:32-34
Jersey Avenue

–

–

7:26 7:22
New Brunswick 10:43 10:49 7:23 7:16
Edison 10:47 10:54

–

–

Metuchen 10:52 11:00

–

–

Metropark 10:57 11:03-05

–

–

Rahway 11:06 11:11

–

–

Linden 11:08 11:16

–

–

Elizabeth 11:14 11:22

–

–

Newark Airport 11:18 11:27

–

–

Newark Penn 11:24 11:33 6:54 pm 6:56 pm
Secaucus Junction 11:31 11:42    
New York Penn 11:44 11:50    
      Train 3975 (loco + bi-levels)

Nonetheless, the train is late starting and since we now have only a three-minute connection at Secaucus Junction (albeit across the platform, not requiring level changes), it doesn't look likely we'll make it. (The intent was to ride out to Montclair Stae, back to Newark broad Street, and then out to Dover and Hackettstown, meeting Gary at Dover.) I get out my schedules and conclude that the only thing we can reasonably do is simply skip the Montclair Branch (which we'll do when we eventually ride a Boonton Line train, in any case), go on into New York, have lunch there, and then ride out to Dover on more or less our original schedule.

[consist]

NJT electric loco (ALP 4619). and bi-levels7500, 7597, 7285, 7600, 7272, 7565, 7237, 7265, 7031           

Train 6631, 6-29-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Hoboken

–

–

5:58 6:01

New York Penn

1:46 pm 1:47 pm

–

–

Secaucus Junction 1:56 1:58

–

–

Newark Broad Street 2:06 2:06 5:41 5:45-46
Brick Church 2:11 2:11 5:35 5:37
Orange 2:14 2;14

–

–

South Orange 2:19 2:18

–

–

Maplewood 2:22 2:21

–

–

Milburn 2:25 2:23-25

–

–

Short Hills 2:28 2:27

–

–

Summit 2:32 2:32-35 5:23
5:22
5:23
5:21
Chatham 2:39 2:41 5:16 5:17
Madison 2:43 2:46 5:12 5:13
Convent Sttaion 2:47 2:50 5:08 5:08
Morristown 2:51 2:53-55 5:04 5:05
Morris Plains 2:56 2:59 5:00 5:01
Denville 3:04 3:06 4:53 4:53
Dover 3:14 3:11 4:46 pm 4:47 pm
      Train 888 (cont.)

In fact, we ride all the way out to Dover on the Midtown Direct train, taking detailed route notes along the way, that arrives there to connect with the train from Hoboken that we had originally intended to take from Newark Broad Street, thus surprising Gary in the platform. We explain matters, and he says that he has already ordered the pizza at Hackettstown that he and I had talked about last Friday. We all, and his bike, board the Hackettstown train when it arrives.

[consist]

NJT GP40PH-2 4147 and single-level coaches (Comets 6556, 6210, 6532, 5303, 6581, 6020)           

Train 877, 6-29-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Dover

3:19 pm 3:30 pm 4:46 pm 4;47 pm
Mount Arlington 3:26 3:37 4:38 4:40
Lake Hopatcong 3:32 3:42 4:34 4:35
Netcong 3:38 3:48 4:28 4:29
Mount Olive 3:42 3:54 4:24 4:24
Hackettstown 2:59 4:04 4:13 4:13
      Train 888 (sane set)

Gary points out features of interest along the way, including where the Lackawanna cutoff used to depart on the north side (as I take detailed route notes), and meets the pizza delivery man at Hackettstown. Between us we eat about half of an extra large pizza, giving the rest to the crew. Gary leave us at Dover, and Chris and I ride in all the way to Hoboken, taking PATH to Newark Penn (requiring a change at Exchange Place), and then riding an NJT express (which I'm careful to board up near the front, to maximize the probability of finding adjacent seats) out to Trenton and the usual SEPTA connection back to Philadelphia. With the full lunch and the pizza in late afternoon, we don't need dinner, and go straight to bed.

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

I had originally planned this day to start 90-minutes later than the previous two days, since our Raritan Valley line train out to High Bridge originates in Newark Penn at 1 pm. However, since I now distrust any SEPA to NJT connection of less than 25 minutes, I've decided that we should take the slack time at Newark, where we can be sure to find something for lunch, rather than in Philadelphia, before starting. Thus, we start out today on the same schedule as the last two days, walking over to Market East after the included breakfast, and boarding the 8:43 am train for Trenton.

[consist]

SEPTA EMU           

Train 4721, 6-30-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Philadelphia (Market East)

8:43 am 8:45-47 am – –/7:09
Suburban 8:48 8:49-52 6:53 –/7:06
30th Street 8:52 8:53-55 6:46 6:52/7:02
North Philadelphia 9:02 9:06 6:37 6:43
Bridesburg 9:08 9:12 6:30 6;36
Tacony 9:11 9:14 6:27 6:32
Holmesburg Junction 9:13 9:16 6:26 6:30
Torresdale 9:16 9:19-21 6:22 6:26
Cornwells Heights 9:18 9:23 6:19 6:22
Eddington 9:20 9:25 6:17 6:20
Croydon 9:23 9:28 6:16 6:17
Bristol 9:27 9:31 6:11 6:12
Levittown 9:31 9:36 6:07 6:08
Trenton 9:43 9:51 6:00 pm 6:00 pm
      Train 7766

At Trenton, after the "usual" stop at Morrissville and crossing of the entire ladder tracks, we have time for the facilities and buying drinks before making our way to Track 2 for the NJT Train. (The printed lists say this train departs from Track 1, four minutes after an Amtrak Keystone service for Newark and NYP only. The Keystone has not yet been on time this week, and thus the NJT train has departed from Track 2 every day this week. Today, we have a train of single-level EMUs, even though the crew makes a point about this being Matinee-day on Boradway and thus expect the train to fill up!

[consist]

NJT EMU (8 cars)          

Train 3836, 6-30-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Trenton

10:16 am 10:16 am 5:50 5:51
Hamilton 10:22 1:23 5:38 5:38
Princeton Junction 10:29 10:28-30 5:30 5:31
Jersey Avenue

–*

–

–

–

New Brunswick 10:43 10:41-44

–

–

Edison 10:47 10:48

–

–

Metuchen 10:52 10:52-54

–

–

Metropark 10:57 10:57-59

–

–

Rahway 11:06 11:05

–

–

Linden 11:08 11:09

–

–

Elizabeth 11:14 11:15

–

–

Newark Airport 11:18 11:20

–

–

Newark Penn 11:24 11:26 4:56 pm 5:00 pm
      Train 3961 (loco + bi-levels)

At Newark Penn, we have plenty of time for lunch. There are many concession stands in the two cross aisles at street level selling food, but only one place with attached seating: McDonald's. I'm unwilling to take my food into the glorious great hall waiting room on the west side of the station, so we eat at McDonald's. Then we go sit in the great hall, enjoying the passing scene, until it's time to go to Platform 5 for our train. This is the last day of the month, so the line of ticket purchasers at the NJT ticket windows in the great hall is extended by people buying their July monthly season tickets.

[consist]

Diesel locomotive + bi-level coaches           

Train 5725, 6-30-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Newark Penn

1:06 pm 1:07 pm

4:40

4:46

Union 1:15 1:17 4:25 4:33
Roselle Park 1:18 1:21 4:22 4:29
Cranford 1:23 1:25-29 4:16 4:24
Garwood

–

–

4:13 4:21
Westfield 1:27 1:34 4:10 4:18
Fernwood 1:31 1:38 4:06 4:14
Netherwood 1:34 1:42 4:03 4:10
Plainfield 1:37 1:45 4:00 4:07
Dunellen 1:42 1:50 3:56 4:02
Bound Brook 1:48 1:56-57 3:48 3:53-55
Bridgewater 1:51 2:00 3:45 3:48
Somerville 1:56 2:05 3:40 3:43
Raritan 1:59 2:09 3:37 3:40
North Branch 2:05 2:16 3:29 3:31
White House 2:12 2:22 3:22 3:25
Lebanon 2:18 2:28 3:17 3:30
Annandale 2:23 2:33 3:13 3:15
High Bridge 2:41 2:38 3:09 pm 3:10 pm
      Train 5744 (same cars)

I take detailed route notes on the run out to High Bridge, which goes without a hitch, and along the way I see railroad junctions and near intersections that clarify things I have previously only known from a map. Gary had told me there were food outlets at High Bridge, and even though we don't need food, we do need to replenish our drinks. At first we don't see any cafes, but since Gary had said they were here, I persist, and we find they're under the railroad and back up to rail level on the other side. In fact, they're clearly visible from the side of the train away from the station, but I hadn't looked out that way before getting off. The same train consist takes us back into Newark, where we make an easy connection to an express train to Trenton, again being sure to walk to the front of the train to maximize the number of available seats.

After the seven-minute connection in Trenton, during which I make it to the facilities and back, we're back in Philadelphia quite early. This one only goes to Suburban Station, so we have to change trains at 30th Street to get back to Market East, after which we stop at the same Italian place as on Sunday. Unfortunately, they're out of Lasagna, and my second choice isn't nearly as good as what I had hoped.

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Knowing, now, that we can't presume on making the connection to the 9:50 am train at Trenton, and yet needing that to make the rest of today's plans, I revamp them to depart Philadelphia an hour earlier. Careful perusal of the schedule shows that the second NJT train from Trenton is an express, which will give us longer to make a connection between levels at Secaucus Junction, so we will take that one, not the local that departs first. We get up a half hour earlier than we had been doing, have the included breakfast, and walk over to Market East for the earlier train.

[consist]

SEPTA EMU           

Train xxx, 7-1-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Philadelphia (Market East)

7:51 am 7:49-51 am 5:22 5:25
Suburban 7:56 7:53-56 5:17 5:20-23
30th Street 8:00 8:00-02 5:12 5;12-14
North Philadelphia 8:10 8:12 4:56 4:56
Bridesburg 8:16 8:18 4:49 4:49
Tacony 8:19 8:21 4:46 4:46
Holmesburg Junction 8:21 8:23 4:44 4:44
Torresdale 8:24 8:26 4:40 4;40
Cornwells Heights 8:27 8:28 4:37 4:38
Eddington 8:29 8:30

–

–

Croydon 8:32 8:33 4:34 4:34
Bristol 8:36 8:36 4:30 4:30
Levittown 8:41 8:411 4:26 4;25
Trenton 8:49 8:50 4:16 pm 4:17 pm
      Train 4450

This train doesn't lose the same kind of time along the way that the one an hour later does! At Trenton, we have time to use the facilities and get more drinks, before going down onto the platform for our express train.

[consist]

NJT EMU           

Train 3836, 6-29-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Trenton

9:14 am 9:16 am 4:13 4:10
Hamilton 9:21 9:22 4:02 4:02
Princeton Junction 9:29 9:29 3:55 3:56
New Brunswick 9:43 9:42-44 3:41 4:43
Newark Penn 10:08 10:07-09 3:16 3:15-17
Secaucus Junction 10:15 10:15

–

–

New York Penn

–

–

3:01 3:02
      Train 3953 (loco + bi-levels)

We leave this train at the upper platforms at Secaucus Junction, and take the escalator up a level, where we have to run our weekly season tickets through the ticket gates. The concourse here has not external access! We use the facilities and then get drinks and sandwiches from the concession stand before heading down two levels (longer escalator) to the lower-level platforms from which the Suffern/Port Jervis trains depart. We watch the Bergen County Line train pass through the other island platform before our train comes at the platform we're waiting on.

[consist]

NJT Diesel locomotive (4107) + single-level coaches           

Train 1111, 7-1-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Secaucus Junction

10:48 am 10:50 am

 

 

Kingland 10:54 10:56    
Lyndhurst 10:57 10:59    
Delawanna 10:59 11:01    
Passaic 11:02 11:05    
Clifton 11:05 11:09    
Paterson 11:11 11:15    
Hawthorne 11:15 11:19    
Glen Rock Main Line 11:19 11:23    
Ridgewood 11:23 11:27    
Ho-Ho-Kus 11:26 11:30    
Waldwick 11:29 11:33 12:31 13:32-34
Allendale 11:33 11:37 12:28 12:30
Ramsey 11:37 11:41 12:25 12:26
Ramsey Route 17 11:40 11:45 12:22 12:23
Mahwah 11:43 11:47 12:19 12:20
Suffern, NY 11:48 11:51 12:16 pm 12:16 pm
      Train 1110 (same cars)

I take detailed route notes all the way to Suffern, where we eat our sandwiches and board the same train for the short run back to Waldwick. At the latter, we exit and wait until the Bergen County Line train comes out of the sidings and pulls across the double track into the southbound platform, where we board it.

[consist]

NJT Diesel locomotive + single-level coaches           

Train 1270, 7-1-2010

Schedule

Actual

Waldwick

12:44 pm 12:44 pm
Ho-Ho-Kus 12:47 12:47
Ridgewood 12:50 12:50
Glen Rock Boro. Hall 12:54 12:53
Radburn 12:57 12:57
Broadway 1:01 1:00
Plauderville 1:05 1:11
Garfield 1:08 1:14
Rutherford 1:14 1:19
Secaucus junction 1:22 1:29
Hoboken 1:42 1:38

South of Ridgewood, this train departs the main line for the Bergen County Line, and I begin taking detailed route notes again. At Plauderville, one track is closed due to construction of high-level platforms, and we have to wait for a northbound train to clear before proceeding south. (Incidentally, the northbound train is late enough, as a result of this, that it would likely not be able to make the three-minute connection to a main line northbound train at Ridgewood.) In this direction, we take the train all the way into Hoboken, where there is time to look around for a few minutes before we take the PATH midtown train under the river to its midtown terminal at 33rd Street (and 6th Avenue), and then walk the two block north and west to Penn Station (on 7th Avenue, just south of 34th Street). Here, we get drinks and take the mid-afternoon express train to Trenton (the one which we saw stopped at Rahway on Monday), making a quick connection to the Philadelphia train at Trenton and getting back to Market East by 5:30 pm. The scheduled time interval from North Philadelphia to 30th Street is interesting. Conductors say the running time is eight minutes, but here 16 minutes is allowed for the same segment. There must be a lot of interfering traffic in between! (we do make three stops between Zoo Tower and the platforms at 30th Street, suggesting there are other trains stopped on our platform at 30th Street at those times. We also make stops in between 30th Street and Suburban, and between the latter and Market East.)

Walking back to the hotel, we have plenty of time to pack before going out to Chinatown for dinner and an early bedtime. We will have to be up even earlier on Friday, to be able to get to 30th Street and check some bags through to Los Angeles before our train's scheduled 8:15 am departure.

These four days of traveling on the Northeast Corridor between Philadelphia and Newark have been very interesting. On the section from Trenton to Newark, there are basically four different groups of service, run by two operators, at very different speeds: Amtrak's Acela, which basically doesn't stop on this segment; Amtrak's Northeast Regionals and Keystone Service, which provide a few intermediate stops, but are spaced between the Aceals in such a way that one does not need to overtake the other along here (and the few long-distance trains have little impact); New Jersey Transit's express trains, which run on the center tracks (also used by Amtrak) when skipping stations, but have to cross over to the outside tracks when station stops are required, and NJT's locals, which stop at almost every station along the way (all of them, at rush hours), and remain on the outside tracks. There is a factor of at least three in journey time from one end of the scale to the other. A similar speed factor is present in the range from Acela to the SEPTA locals on the Philadelphia to Trenton section (albeit Acela trains do not usually stop at Trenton), where SEPTA runs no expresses. The SEPTA trains on this run are somewhat limited, in that no matter how many cars there are in the train for the former-Reading side of the run, all but two are locked out of use on this line, apparently due to the short platforms at many of the stations east of North Philadelphia..

The Journey West (7/2-7/5)

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

We're up at 6 am, and finish packing. Chris calls a cab for 7 am before we go down to the basement for the included breakfast. We check out of the room, and the cab is waiting before 7 am, so we head on over to 30th Street Station, where we check two bags and then find a redcap to handle the others to the train. He takes us and them up to the mezzanine level, where Club Acela is located, and we settle in for the 45-minute wait.

For once, the redcap doesn't have us fretting about the time before he appears to take us down to the platform, wehre (unusually) the train has not yet arrived. As it draws in, I collect the head-end part of the consist, before boarding our sleeper, which is now near the front of the train (since the addition of the baggage car in may).

[consist]

P42                  193    (from DC)
AEM-7            948      (to DC)
Baggage          1757
Sleeper          62031    Prairie View
Diner             28002
Coach            25049
Coach            25081
Coach            25013

Train 51, 7-2-2010

Schedule

Actual

Philadelphia

8:16 am

8:15-18 am

Wilmington 8:41 8:38-40
Baltimore 9:29 9:24-29
Washington, DC
11:10
10:10
11:10
Alexandria 11:29 11:33-35
Manassas 12:02 pm 12:09-11 pm
Culpeper 12:35 12:42
Charlottesville 1:55 1;59-2:08
Staunton 2:57 3:03-06
Clifton Fotrge 4:05
4:08
5:15
5:20
White Sulphur Springs 5:00 6:33-36
Alderson 5:31 7:08
Hinton 6:10 7:35-43
Prince 6:31 8:13-19
Thurmond (falgstop) 6:47 pass 8:34
Montgomery 7:38 9:24
Charleston, WV 8:10 9:50-10:00
Huntington 9:35 10:53-11:01
Ashland 9:58 11:23-32
    7-3-2010
South Portsmouth 10:41 12:13-17 am
Maysville 11:36 1:04-11
  7-3-2010  
Cincinnati 1:03 am
1:10
2:27
2:40
Connersville 3:05 4:35
Indianapolis 4:44
6:00
5:54
6:40
Crwfordsville 6:58 7:41-43
Lafayette                   ET 7:32 8:23-29
Rensselaer                 CT 7:37 8:19
Dyer 8:27 9:09-12
Chiacgo 10:05 10:12

Once the train is moving, we're called to the diner for our second (and much better) breakfast of the morning. Only after breakfast does Chris walk the train to collect the consist, and meet up with Gary Kazin who is riding coach out to Cincinnati, where he has to parent-sit his elderly mother for the next week. Gary will be eating lunch and dinner with us, at times we will arrange with the dining car staff, for the rest of the day. In Washington, DC, where we arrive an hour before our scheduled departure time and before the Palmetto (which had been 30-minutes in from down the Corridor) has departed. I get out to watch the locomotive change, and Gary joins me. He's expecting two separate visitors here, only one of whom actually makes it, but there's time for a nice chat before we have to be back on board and ready to depart.

I've arranged lunch to be early enough to permit detailed route description note-taking between the junction at Orange and Charlottesville, but even so, I have to get up and take my entree with me to the room to be able to do that. Chris remains with Gary in the diner, and shows up with my dessert just about as I'm done with the detailed route notes. South of Staunton, we have to saw-by a freight-train that is too long to fit in the siding selected for the meet, losing a large chunk of time, and then lose some more leaving Clifton Forge when we have to wait for an eastbound coal train with a short-time crew which is overtaking another eastbound coal train and thus blocking both tracks! We have dinner in the diner, with Gary, at the reservation time we selected, and much good conversation is had. Gary brings his GPS device, which we mount on the window to watch progress down the New River Gorge as the light fades and disappears.

By now, the train is almost two hours late, and at the end of dinner, Gary calls his siter in Cincinnati to tell her this. However, there's 30-minutes of padding in the schedule into Huntington, WV, and some more into Cincinnati, so in the event, Gary is there 25 minutes before his sister arrives to pick him up! (Overnight times from Gary, and from Norman Wilson, via Gary.)

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

We're up before the big turn onto the former Monon, just south of Crawfordsville. With the padding in the schedule overnight, and going into Chicago, arrival is just seven minutes late. After we leave the bags in the Metropolitan Lounge, we go over to CVS, and then to two other pharmacies on the north side of Adams Street, looking for replacement daily/weekly pill containers. Then we continue on the Michigan Avenue, where we discover the Symphony Shop is gone! In Scranton, we had heard good words about the current incarnation of The Berghoff, so we go there for lunch, having to wait until 11:30 am for it to open. I substitute potato pancakes for the mashed potatoes with my sauerbraten, and everything is delicious. Chris has the tasting plate, and finds the schnitzel too tough (but the other two selections are fine). We deny ourselves  the dessert selections.

Chris takes the bread we haven't eaten, and shares it with a selection of the local birds on the banks of the Chicago River, adjacent to Union Station. Back in the lounge, the arrivals screen shows all four major western long distance trains are between 2½ and 3 hours late. Connections to eastern trains other than the Lakeshore are going to be problematical, tonight. Since the other westbound trains are starting to board, the lounge is soon quite empty as we await the call for our train (last of the four). I note that the call for the Texas Eagle includes "Train 421", even though there are no connecting cars for Los Angeles on today's train!

We use the services of the redcaps to get the bags out to the train, which enables me to collect the consist as we go by. I walk the rest of the way to the front of the train to get the rest, noting the presence of a third locomotive and a deadhead full-length dome ahead of the baggage car. Brian, our car attendant, asks if he can help as I return to our sleeper, and I explain what I was doing. I don't think he understands.

[consist]

P42                      170    (to Albuquerque)
P42                        32
P42                        78
Deadehad          10031    Ocean View
Baggage               1132
Dorm                  39022
Sleeper               32088    Maryland
Sleeper               32110    Tennessee
Diner                   38000
Lounge                33009
Coach                 34064
Coach-Baggage   31017
Coach                  34035
Coach                  34057

Train 3, 7-3-2010

Schedule

Actual

Chicago

3:15 pm

3:15 pm

Naperville 3:50 3:44-50
Mendota 4:38 4:37-39
Princeton 5:01 4:58-5:01
Galesbug 5:53 5:55-59
Fort Madison 6:57 6:59 - 7:19
La Plata 8:06 8:24
7-4-2010    
Dodge City 6:00 am 7:15-20 am
Garden City                CT 6:45 8:07
Lamar                        MT 7:06 8:30-33
La Junta 8:15
8:30
9:23
9:35
Trinidad 9:50 10:51
Raton 10:56 11:48-54
Las Vegas, NM 12:38 pm 1:41 pm
Lamy 2:24 3:30-35
Albuquerque 3:55
4:45
4:45
5:40
Gallup                    MT 7:08 7:58-8:04
7-5-2010    
San Bernardino       PT 5:32 am 6:24-29 am
Riverside 5:53 6:45-50
Fullerton 6:34 7:34-37
Los Angeles 8:15 8:09

We're out of Chicago on time, and start losing a little time before Galesburg. We meet both Train 4, which has had weather and related issues, and Train 6, which has had locomotive problems and says he has only "half" a locomotive pulling the train. Our lounge-car attendant makes lengthy announcements about the rules, including specific rules limiting how many boy scouts can take up tables in the lounge car at any one time!

We lose a little more time by Fort Madison, where we hear the crew talking about needing new General Track Bulletins due to a "derailment out west," and La Plata. From CA Junction, we take the former Wabash (now Norfolk Southern) line into Kansas City, with a pilot crew, and then (presumably) back into Kansas City Union Station from Santa Fe Junction.

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

I awake somewhere west of Hutchinson, and am able to get detailed route description notes for over fifty miles east of Dodge City, where we're 80 minutes late. At breakfast, we hear the dining car crew talking about a week or more's suspension of service between Albuquerque and "Raton", and having to fly to "Raton" to start the outward leg of this trip, three days ago. However, the route has now been re-opened, in the last couple of days. South of Las Vegas, NM, but north of the horseshoe curves at Ribera, we see where there has been new construction to replace a washed-out bridge (with a current 25 mph slow order through the area).

The boy scouts get off at Raton, leaving large swathes of coach empty. We meet Amtrak 4 at the west end of Gise, at 2:46 pm. At Albuquerque, the inbound locomotive crew takes the front locomotive off and places it on a yard track, so we continue with only two locomotives. This is a Sunday, so there is no RailRunner activity. As usual on this trip, we eat dinner as the sun sets, west of Gallup, NM (into Arizona).

Monday, July 5th, 2010

I awake on a foggy early-morning Cajon Pass. On the way into San Bernardino, I observe the reconstruction of the road bridges over the line and over I-215. The wonders of schedule padding (and this being the day a holiday is observed, so little Metrolink activity) mean we're early into Los Angeles, but not as early as if we'd been on time at San Bernardino! We take the carry-on bags to the car, and then go into the station for the checked bags. After the usual stop at Bristol Farms in South Pasadena, we're home around noon, finding everything well.