Monday, May 28, 2012

More Train Chase

The Great American Train Chase began as a desire to take as many Amtrak trains as possible in a two week period. This "game" was first developed in 1979. If public, it would highlight the coverage of Amtrak at that early part of Amtrak's history.

This segment started rail fanning the Northeast Corridor. I tried to get as much Amtrak, commuter rail, light rail, and trolley as possible in as short time as possible. I than broke this down into a series of out and back trips. I started with the closer trip to Washington, DC. When I got the Boston trip planned, I realized that Washington would be done, during this trip.

I decided to do this trip, first. I am familiar with Boston and DC. My parents live for a number of years in Arlington and Alexandria. My sister lived in Falls Church. Besides I did sales trips to Northern Virginia. I live a year in Boston and went to visit two years ago. This was an ideal first trip, in this series.

My next trip will not be a out and back. I want to  visit with my sister in MN. I want to see the Sky Trains in Newark, NJ and at JFK. It would be nice to take the train to Newark, NJ. I worked out the trip a number of ways. One day would focus on the three light rails in New Jersey and the New Jersey Transit. Bonus would be PATH.

I worked it out to see the NJ side of Manhattan. Than I would fly out to MN the next day. I would, than, fly back and do a final day of watching. This would include JFK and Newark Airport Sky Train as well as Long Island RR and Staten Island Railroad.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Great American Train Chase, Part Ten

My thoughts of the nature of permissions for taking pictures, come from a few articale and videos. Most recently is: Awhile ago there is the video of a man detained in Maryland for photography of light rail: The Maryland transit has on their website, the statement concerning photography. The police did overstep, in this case.

My experience makes me sorry for the police and railroad employees who have confronted me. I talked about being Washington and interviewed by police. I got the opinion that they were more bothered by having to confront me, due to procedure. Three times they apologized, saying that it what they had to due. They did not even ask me to stop, provided the camera was hand held.

The sensitive railroad employee and the normal police have multiple motivations for confronting railfans. If they are not railfans, it is a curiosity, why would anyone have fun watching and taking picture of trains? Many are interested in maintaining safety. I have seen and heard of railfans getting hurt or killed by stupid stunts, while railfanning. On a steam train ride, I observed a chaser, chasing the train at 45 miles per hour, in reverse. I have a friend who has video of a driver crawling out on his window to take a picture across the top of the car. He was how he was steering is still a mystery.

They need to maintain security of the property, as well. Since 9/11, we have new issues. As a railfan, we need to be sensitive, ourselves. Stay, where possible, on public property. Ask permission, when able, and be polite. Remember, unless it is a special run or unusual paint, it really isn't worth the hassle. Besides, most employees of the railroad are sensitive to our hobby. They may not understand. What is work to them is something interesting to us.

I have heard chatter on the radio, about me and other fans. They joke about us. And some give a show.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Great American Train Chase, Part Nine

I mentioned a interview with DC Police. It was far more surreal than most. It was almost as in they were apologetic. That might be because of the tourist, they want to be polite. Every time they ask a question, they apologize that they just needed to follow procedure. There was no accusation but they did mention that I could not use the tripod, even that small one. This is not my first such encounter, although, rarely is it with police or sheriff.

My first encounter was just as surreal. I was railfanning the NS in Roanoke, VA. I was looking for good locations to watch and photograph from. I come to the yard office overlooking the hump yard, just below where the old, now gone, tower was. I parked and took my camera (just a habit). I was, soon, approached by a man who told me he was the yard master and that I could not take pictures from that location. As would be my custom, I ask if he wanted me to leave. He said I could watch but had to put the camera back in the car. OK, I got one picture of the turntable.

Another came at Acca Yard in Richmond. I was near the office. I did not think that I was on CSX property. Again it was the yard master who I talked to. He first asked me where I parked. Which happened to be on the street, not the parking lot. I told him. He said that I was on Railroad property. He seemed not to get to the point so I simply asked if he wanted me to leave and he said yes.

My trip to Boston, two years ago, I had one incident. It wasn't more than a operator on the Mattapan to Ashmont line. As I got on the car (I had taken a picture of it arriving), said that I could not take pictures. Of course I knew better, but it was not worth saying more.

I came to Lechmere and asked security before I took out my camera and they laughed and said go ahead.

This trip, I took the car to Mattapan. I needed to use a public rest room. I asked at the transit police office, where was there one. They let me use theirs. I than asked about picture taking. They just told me not to get hurt. And if anyone asked tell them they approved. We joked around for another 10 minutes.

My incodient was not with the railroad. In fact, I emailed the VRE and asked their policy. They simplly said "snap all the pictures you want, just not walk on the rails."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Great American Train Chase, Part Eight

The amazing thing is in all the travel through Washington, DC, I have never took pictures of Union Station. I have taken pictures from the platforms and parking deck, but never of the station, itself. I took this chance to change that:

A short wait and boarding for home on the Southbound Silver Star.

I began describing this trip as the Great American Train Chase. It might just be a fantasy, of sorts. I was curious if such trip was a possibility, or not. If my original goals I came back lacking only one video that I had wanted. If I use the scoring I had talked about, I came back with 3 buy back points, for the pictures in Washington, each way (one for the VRE and one for MARC and one for Amtrak). While had the potential of one tie breaker point at north station, but missed that chance when I did not get video of the Downeaster. Add two for the two lines of subway. The blue line was required as was the green line.

It was a good experience and I might try another leg of the Train Chase, perhaps this summer, going to see the sky trains in Newark, NJ airport and to see the sky trains at JFK, We will see. Let me know if you might be interested in such things.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Great American Train Chase, Part Seven

Overnight from Boston brings me into Union Terminal, Washington. One stop north on Metro Rail is New Your Avenues. Here the Metro station overlooks the feeders for Union Terminal. Some traffic are switching like Amtrak 541, Switching Washington Terminal, New York Avenue, Washington, DC

or The VRE movement back to the yard.

Than there are the numerous MARC and Amtrak trains heading out.

Than there is the exciting move of the day. VRE is moving to the yard but it is passed inbound by acela express and The Northeast Regional, one passing the other.

This is a nice spot for watching trains, however, Metro Rail can cause problems with video. Now back to Union Terminal. (to be continued)

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Great American Train Chase, Part Six

Only one more train watching event must be done. It is only noon. so there is plenty of time for all. Since Ruggles Station is where Orange line and Commuter Rail parallel, a video of Orange line from the Commuter Rail platform. Orange Line pictures are not require but become a part of the tie breaker should all other items be equal:

One favorite thing about the Boston subway is the fact that the duel power on the Blue Line. The Blue Line coaches are shorter than the Orange and Red due to smaller radii curves. But the Blue Line is third rail power like the Red and Orange, while underground. At the Airport, the Blue will switch to pantographs. So off to the airport to see and film the switch over:

I made my way back to Northeastern University station, to video Green Line. The Green Line was older. It was above ground than buried into one of America's subways. It stated using trolleys and now it is rightly refereed to as light rail and one the required. The old PCC trolleys were used 25 years ago and slowly replaced by the Light Rail Vehicles now used. Some of these were transferred to Ashmont to Mattapan High Speed Line.

With both cars, we have the older white roof LRV latched up with the newer.

With a few hours of daylight remaining. I made my way to the Prudential Center and the observation deck to try my hand taking pictures of the Red Line crossing Longfellow Bridge. I is hazy but here it is:

Now a little looking around and making my way to Back Bay. I will take the overnight Northeast Regional back to Washington. To be continued

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Great American Train Chase, Part Five

Finishing up at Mattapan and various stops for run by, I make my way back into Back Bay. I chose the red line and yellow line back to Ruggles Station on the yellow and on Commuter Rail. Research shows it as a good crossover. From the T station you can see commuter rail and from commuter rail you can see the Orange Line T. What research and ititiial view would tell me is that the commuter rail platform is close out from the station, due to repair.

It was a great location for within an hour I got three commuter rail, Amtrak Northeast Regional, and a Acela Express. One of the commuter rail had the new engines. Here is the photos:

First up is MBTA 912, Southbound, Providence Stoughton Line

Next Amtrak 2163, Acela Express, Southbound

MBTA 612, Northbound, Needham Line

Amtrak 190, Northeast Regional, Northbound

MBTA 613, Southbound, Needham Line

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Great American Train Chase, Part Four

I finally arrive in Boston on the overnight Northeast Regional. I arrive at Back Bay rather than South Station because it is across platform to the orange line which will take me immediately to North Station. Well, almost. I toyed with many options for this part of the chase. There is a park across the river from North Station which serves as a good spot. Along the river on the same side also afforded a good location. However, the fact that it was drizzling, I took a dryer option and went into North Station and went to the platform to watch and video under cover. Any of these location can be described as like shooting fish in a barrel. The amount of rail traffic in and out of North Station, especially at rush hour, makes keeping track (no pun intended) of the trains a bit much. I will not try. I wanted to watch until the leaving of Amtrak Downeaster. For some reason the pictures did not survive. So here in an hour in North Station, Boston, MA

Despite the rain, I go some good stuff. Again public transit takes me to Ashmont to ride and video The Mattapan High Speed Line. These are the old PCC's from the Green Line.

(to be continues)

The Great American Train Chase, Part Three

Metro Rail returns our chaser to Alexandria. Still there is time to fan. Beginning with Amtrak 171, Northeast Regional Southbound bound for Lynchburg

Followed by VRE 331, Southbound to Manassas,

VRE 305, Southbound for Fredericksburg, and

VRE 338, Northbound from Fredericksburg.

It was getting late so I added one more train to the list before relaxing, Amtrak 19, Crescent, Southbound

Just one more thing, some picture and video of Metro, DC, Southbound, King Street Station.

At this point, I must point some rules. There are two additional points situations. First there are buy back points. These are points gained from additional pictures, beyond the minimum. These can be use to buy missed situations, should they occur Second there are those train scenes that will be use to break ties, but are neither required nor helpful other wise.

The pictures taken in Washington and Alexandria are buy back. According to our judges one buy back point for Washington and 1 for Alexandria. To be continued

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Great American Train Chase, Part Two

Arrival in Alexandria is on time. Contestant boards Metro Rail and makes his way to a point in SW Washington. Here, he is above traffic and looking down on tracks coming out of Union Station. It has the advantage of being on a bridge and we being above. He sets of his video recorder in time to get Southbound VRE 327 at 3:57:

The next scheduled is northbound VRE 336 on time at 3:55:

Just as he begins recording the Southbound VRE 303, at at 3:57, he sees a policeman approaching, a obstacle in this part of the chase. It seems that using a tripod, even a six inch tall tripod, is not allowed in DC. :

I decided that prudence would be to leave and take video from Alexandria (to be cont.).

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Great American Train Chase, was out and back, Boston

Good evening. We begin out revised Great American Train Chase. Our contestant will board the Silver Star in Southern Pines, NC, bound for the eventual destination of Boston, MA. He or she will photograph or video minimum of trains or train related stuff. He/she will be due back by the arrival of the Silver Star in Southern Pines, on Saturday. If he arrives back on time, he/she will proceed on the the next trip in the American Train Chase, If not he/she will be eliminated from the chase. For this session of the chase, He/she will be required to photograph MBTA commuter rail from South Station and from North Station. Mattapan High Speed Line and Green Line Light Rail will be required.

Wed. Morning he boards the Silver Star.

The Silver Star only goes as far as New York City. Transfer to the Northeast Regional or Acela Express will be needs to complete trip. It just so happens that there is a Regional scheduled to go from Washington DC to Boston, overnight.....perfect. This Regional originates in Newport News, VA. Our contestant decides to make the transfer in Alexandria in order to catch some views of the Virginia Railway Express. (end of Day one part one, to be continues)