Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out and Back, part 1, Alexandria

I begin my Washington out and back with arrival in Alexandria. My parents moved to northern Virginia while I was in college, so I would go home to there. At that time, Alexandria station was primarily a Southern RR station. Though, technically, it was a union station, jointly used with the RF&P. But at this time, it was only Southern and Amtrak that used the station. RF&P had turned over their few remaining trains, to Amtrak. Southern still ran the Southern Crescent, which stated as two trains, the Southerner and the Crescent, Limited. One was a Pullman train and the other coach only. When Pullman had to give up with monopoly. SRR bought the Pullmans and combined the two train into the Southern Crescent, an overnight train from Washington to Atlanta, with three trains a week going on to New Orleans.

I first saw the Crescent as  I was going home for a break from Virginia Tech. I followed the Southern RR for a portion and happen to see the Crescent on its way south.  In addition to the Crescent, the Southern was still running a daylight limited train called the Piedmont. In fact, the Piedmont, today, is a NC supported train running on NS tracks. I don't recall if it continued on to New Orleans.

In fact, when I first started watching, in Alexandria, SRR was running locals. If you saw these in Alexandria, they were one car, an old heavyweight.

South of Alexandria, the locals took on more engine power and a string of piggybacks.

to be continued

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

First Days

My Christmas time began as always, with visit with family. Christmas eve until Sat. after. My tradition is to return to Richmond, VA to commune with my home church. I stay until Jan. 1 enjoying new years eve with old friends.

Following Church, I went to lunch with an old friend. She had to work that evening so I drove to one of my favorite watching site, Hermitage Rd. crossing the CSX.  When I lived in Richmond, 25 years ago, it wasn't my favorite. I don't think that I thought much about watching that site. For one thing, it is within view of the Staples Mill Station.

When I lived in Richmond, I loved the RF&P Shops. It was a fascinating shop in the pre merger and early merger days. You had every kind of paint. RFP, SCL, ACL, B&O, C&O, all together. It was also before the loss of the caboose and you had the caboose line, to view. Now it is all CSX. I did go over to Fulton, but that is gone these days. My favorite crossings were at Mountain RD or Laural. but today there is no place to park.

I arrived, to find that Silver Star more than 2 hours late. I was just leaving the station and I did not get to set up, to video. Almost behind it, the NE Regional arrived. I did get in position in time. I got to the Hermitage Rd crossing only a few minutes later,

On the heels of Amtrak, or rather shortly after came a southbound Pig train.

EOD (end of {trainwatching} day)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

More Planning

It took a bit of speculation and adjusting to get the best itinerary for DC. By the time I get to Washington, all VRE have run and only a few run until evening. The same is true of Silver Spring MD, all the outbound are evening and all inbound morning, before I can arrive. So here is the plan. Arrive via northeast regional into Alexandria. I will only see a couple of VRE trains and a couple of Amtrak.

After a couple of hours, I will take the DC Metro to New New Carrolton, station where I get MARC and Amtrak, under wires. I will see some Accelas, as well. Back into DC and a couple of hours for watching the new streetcars. Well, that is if they are running. Than the remainder of the afternoon to Silver Spring to watch the diesel MARC and one Amtrak. Now for Richmond. VRE to Fredericksburg and Amtrak to Richmond. So all told, I will ride MARC both under wires and diesal, Amtrak, and even VRE. A long day but should be worth it.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Planning Ahead

It has been a few months since my last excursion. Of course, I keep an eye on the local rail traffic. I live close to the route of Amtrak's Silver Star and listen for it's whistle when it is due. I have been looking toward vacation this summer. I have narrowed it to New England but more on that later. First, I need to get past Christmas. As you remember, I take some time and go to Richmond, VA. I spent a number of years living there and the weekend after Christmas, I spend in Richmond. I will add days until New Years Day, to that.

Several years, I began a new tradition. As you recall, Norfolk, VA began their new light rail, The Tide. I wanted to see it in operation so I took a day trip from Richmond to Norfolk to see the Tide. Last year, I continued with the tradition and took a day trip, by train, to Baltimore to see the B&O Museum. When I thought about this year, I had several options open. One was not a rail fan option. I could spend the day in Williamsburg, touring Colonial Williamsburg. I spent almost 20 years in Williamsburg, with 10 years with the foundation. I was a costume craftsman in the bookbindery. I have spent more than 25 years away from Williamsburg and have been in the Restored area only once since I left. And, that was not to tour. So this would be touring session in town.

I notice that DC has streetcars on the agenda. They were supposed to begin in November, but I have not found were they have actually started service. I could take my day trip on the chance of seeing them in operation. It could be like the Atlanta trip, all over again. I did plan a full fan trip, just in case. Perhaps to replace the streetcars.

Washington, Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland, as the following rail watching opportunities. Alexandria, Va train station. Now Amtrak, it was once a union station shared between the Southern and RF&P Railroads. I is primarily in the style of Southern Stations, complete with under the track walk through. The classic is Washington Union Station. I has been remodeled over the years, but still a classic. Rail service includes The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) offering commuter service to Manassas and Fredericsburg. DC Metro offers subway and third rail service in the District and suburbs. Of course course, there is the Maryland commuter Rail (M.A.R.C.). One the corridor, they use electrics and on the other lines, they use diesel.

Two good locations for the MARC would be New Carrolton, on the Corridor and Silver Spring, on the Brunswick line and powered by diesel. Three locations would be ideal. At first, there wasn't a good way to take in all three.