USA August/September 2012
This trip had been chopped and changed so much it looked nothing like our original plan by the time we’d finished. The sole purpose, as always, was seeking out Alco’s and we managed to do the following:
Unfortunately we didn’t get the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad in, despite visiting
All the sections have been split out into their own for ease of reading.
Monday 27th August 2012
Having conquered Canada, or done what we’d actually gone to do, our exit strategy was the Amtrak “Adirondack” 0930 Montreal – New York Penn, into the US. The queue for which was off the scale at Montreal, going right back through the whole station hall. Despite that we still managed to get ourselves some seats to ourselves. GE P42DC #41 was the loco at the head of the train and we departed right time.
It didn’t stay that way for long and as with every border crossing it soon became a waiting game once we’d arrived at Rouses Point. Not only did we depart 50 minutes late, two of us were also $6 lighter in the pocket as well. Not known to us at the time, ESTA’s are not required if you cross into the US via land but you do have to pay a $6 processing fee. So not only were we $6 lighter in the pocket, we’d also wasted $14 on the ESTA itself!
From Rouses Point onward the train was just rubbish. The queue at the buffet car was constantly about an hour deep, all the way to Poughkeepsie, where we got off and we didn’t even have time to get anything at Albany while GE P32 #709 replaced P42 #41, as we were late. I’d never been so thankful to see the bar/pizza place over the road from Poughkeepsie station when we got there.
Our overnight accommodation was the Days Inn, where we’d stayed before, which is unfortunately a $7.50 taxi ride from the station. It’s ok though and breakfast is included.
Tuesday 28th August 2012
Our day on the NJT, or even short afternoon bash, had been enjoyable but we were ready for a bit of relaxation when we boarded Amtrak’s “Lake Shore Limited” 49 1545 New York Penn – Chicago with GE P32 #704 at its helm. The Boston portion was already sat in waiting for us at Albany when we arrived with P42’s 77/200, which were duly shunted onto the front of our portion and then whisked us forward to Utica, where we stayed for the next three nights in the Hotel Utica, which is a decent place, its only 5 minutes walk from the station and you can’t miss it’s slender physique rising above the Utica skyline.
Wednesday 29th August 2012
We hadn’t actually planned any Amtrak moves on this day but with the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railway not running trains we were back in Utica with virtually the whole day to kill. This little move was really to get Schenectady in the book, the place where it all began, if you like Alco’s anyway. Our last attempt had resulted in a taxi from Schenectady to Utica, thankfully this one didn’t!
The eastbound “Lake Shore Limited” 48 2130 Chicago – New York Penn was only 25 late into Utica but CSX track work over an 11 mile section saw us 90 late at Schenectady. Train 49 was formed of GE P42’s 202/82 with ex F40 cab car 92??? in tow.
Thankfully our return journey wasn’t marred by single line working and GE P32 #707 put in a sterling performance on 283 1315 New York Penn – Niagara to pull back some of its time also.
That was it for our Amtrak moves, it seemed strange doing the US an not doing much Amtrak at all really.
Despite staying in Poughkeepsie and needing to be in Utica that night, it would have been rude not to have a short bash on New Jersey Transit (NJT) in New York, wouldn’t it? Our “little” bash also allowed us to use Metro North to get into New York as well, which was a bonus, stepping off at Beacon on the way in. Note we had to buy separate tickets though as there are no tickets that allow a break of journey en-route.
GE P32 209 – 836 0703 Poughkeepsie – Grand Central
GE P32 205 – 838 0712 Poughkeepsie – Grand Central
We had just enough time to walk from Grand Central to Penn, get a ticket and fall onto the platform, once we’d found it, with 2 minutes to spare, to get round to Secaucus Junction.
We were hoping for some “old” GM’s on our bash and we weren’t disappointed. We didn’t really go far but our 4 hour bash too us Secaucus – New Bridge Landing – Secaucus – Ridgewood via Bergen County Line – Clifton – Patterson – Secaucus before returning to Penn. As with a lot of US commuter lines there are no “rover” tickets and every ticket has to be bought individually, with a levy being charged on board trains, where there is a ticket machine or booking office. Our jaunt cost us $33 each including tickets from/to New York Penn. Workings were as follows:
Passack Valley Line
4111 (GM GP40PH-2) – 1607 0956 Hoboken – Spring Valley
4027 (Alstom PL42AC) – 1611 1113 Hoboken – Spring Valley
4018 (Alstom PL42AC) – 1652 1053 New Bridge Landing – Hoboken
Main/Bergen County Line
4150 (GP40PH-2A) – 1255 1135 Hoboken – Ridgewood
4124 (GM F40) – 1113 1138 Hoboken – Suffern
4000 (Alstom PL42AC) – 1115 1238 Hoboken – Suffern
4907 (GM GP40FH) – 1259 1335 Hoboken – Waldwick
4031 (Alstom PL42AC) – 1117 1343 Hoboken – Suffern
4901 (GM GP40FH) – 1106 1044 Waldwick – Hoboken
4010 (Alstom PL42AC) – 1110 1216 Suffern – Hoboken
4902 (GM GP40FH) – 62 1131 Port Jervis – Hoboken
We also saw GM GP40PH-2’s 4107 & 4102 along with Alstom 4018 on a transfer move through Secaucus
Electrics 4622 & 4625 were our conveyances between NYP & Secaucus on the NE Corridor trains.
Luckily we didn’t have to walk back to Grand Central from Penn and could just wait around for our Amtrak “Lake Shore Limited”, getting our gen up to date as we did so………
Our trip to the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad was a bit of a last minute thing, we’d only planned it the night before, after we’d arrived into Utica from New York, having picked their leaflet out of the rack by the Hotel Utica’s check-in desk.
Our arrival at the railway, which was only 60 miles away, was a bit last minute as well courtesy of Enterprise car hire. Initially our car wasn’t ready and when we eventually set off at 0845 for a 1000 departure the SatNav said it would take 1h10m. Then came the bombshell as we were about to depart, in that the car only had 1/8 of a tank of fuel, which didn’t quite get us there and we had to fill up less than 10 miles from the railway for fear of running out! The result was us screeching into an empty car park at 0955. The empty car park should have been a give away, the fact that the train was empty was of a little concern, but some railways don’t load up until the last minute. Then it dawned on us that the Alco S4 #3051, marshaled with the train was actually shut down. Our fears were then confirmed as a woman came out of the small office and asked if she could help us, not do you want to buy tickets or boarding is from over there, or anything else of the likes.
It turned out that the FRA had stopped the C&CVR from operating due to the condition of their track and they’d only just started operating again on 25th August, 4 days prior to our arrival, however operations had been limited to Saturdays only, something that we hadn’t found on the internet the previous night……….
A wasted drive, maybe, but at least we had a good look round the place, including on their shed where their other Alco, this one an S7, #3052 was sitting. It was in a worse condition than 3051 so hadn’t had a great deal of work done to it and was only used on the passenger service when 3051 needed to be taken out of service.
Our conversations with the folk at the railway revealed that they were running a BBQ train the following night, departing at 1900, and although it was full they were willing to let us ride with it, without the food that was included in the price. Unfortunately our expected arrival back into Utica that evening was 1830, which wasn’t conducive to getting to the C&CVR for a 1900 departure. The place would just have to wait for another time, probably the next time we were in Utica.
Our trip to the Adirondack Scenic Railroad in 2011 had turned into a bit of a disaster really but our 2012 venture was set to be a little better, mainly because the ASR had got both their MLW RS18’s 1835 & 1845 into service, 1835 only about a week before we arrived too.
I’d made a good friend and contact at the ASR back in 2010 when we were trying to get C424 4243 out on a certain day, which was now of course DL 2403. Contact throughout the 2012 calendar had kept us informed of ongoings with all the ASR locos and especially their Alco fleet.
We’d been hoping that Alco RS3 8223 would have been returned to service by the time of our visit but it wasn’t to be so. A new 5 year lease to use the loco on the ASR had been signed on 25th July but it needed a turbo. The supplier in Texas hadn’t been responding to calls for it to be shipped for the two weeks prior to us arriving and it was suspected he was on holiday. Which was a shame as it would only take a day to fit once delivered. So 8223 was out of the equation.
Since our previous visit we’d been trying to arrange a “fix” with the Mohawk Adirondack & Northern (MA&N) MLW M420W 2042. We’d agreed to pay for the hire cost for it to work the ASR’s Utica – Thendara train while we were there. Luck wasn’t on our side with that either as it had been out of service with traction motor problems all year and remained so during our visit. So that was out of the equation also. We couldn’t fix one of the other two MA&N locos either as they might have needed both on the same day. The irony of this one was that 2042 was actually in the consist of the 0915 Utica – Thendara , being transferred to Thendara for the ASR’s anniversary weekend! All three locos were at Utica the night before and we had a quick walk round the shed.
Despite our minor set-backs we were still treated to a cracking run to Thendara and return with the MLW RS18’s in multi, for the first time since arriving at the railway. It was a test run for their event over the following weekend, which actually had the Utica – Thendara billed as the first run of the MLW’s in multi. As this event had been posted so late we’d already booked our homeward flights to the UK so couldn’t actually do it so having them in multi on the day we were there was a massive bonus.
The 0915 Utica – Thendara was formed 1835/1845 with F7A 1508 & MA&N MLW M420W 2042 dead in train, which created a bit of extra weight if nothing else. The M420 & F7 were both left at Thendara, 1508 would be paired with F10 1502 for the Otter Lake shuttles over the anniversary weekend and 2042 would be on display.
At Thendara RS3 8223 was outside the small shed and EMD SW1 705 was used to position things for the coming weekend while F10 1502 worked the Otter Lake shuttles. Of which we did one, just to pass the time. The restaurant over the road from the station is worth a visit too and it serves a whole host of beers to go with your lunch.
On the return trip to Utica we had the best seats in the house, in the cab of the rear loco 1845 (which actually had some bits of 1846 inside, evident by the stamps on the electrical cubicle hinges), all the way back to Utica. What better way to finish the day and listen to the thrash. The MLW’s were faultless all day. Which was actually a surprise as 1835 hadn’t had a very good test run the previous week. It was anticipated that the MLW’s would be used out of Utica for the rest of the season, including during the Fall where they’d be pair up in multi again on the bigger loads.
Another trip beckons in 2013, hopefully 8223 & 2042 will be in service then……
From Utica we were Scranton bound and the Delaware & Ulster Railroad was only a short detour on our way. This being our second visit for their Alco RS36 5017.
A round trip was only $12 and we decided to do both, just for the hell of it, with a very refreshing afternoon bite to eat at Cha Cha BBQ, which was a short walk from Arkville station, down by the level crossing. The sun was beating down mind and it did made sitting in the open air coach unbearable at times.
The Alco seemed to be putting out quite a bit of white smoke which didn’t seem right and it didn’t smell right either, however it sounded right! The railways Alco S4 5106 & EMD NW2 116 were both on shed at Arkville.
Getting some DL Railroad Alco’s on a passenger train had long been on a wish list and thanks to the Erie Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society (ELDCPS) we got some in on this trip. We just so happened to have planned our annual US trip when the Scranton Railfest was on, and when the ELDCPS planned a charter in conjunction with it.
Before checking in to our hotel in Scranton, the Red Carpet Inn & Suites, which wasn’t such a bad place, even if the car park looked like it should have been the scene in a CSI episode, we went down to the DL Shops to see what was about, before it got dark.
In the scrap line on August 31st 2012 were:
FA #596, C424 #2409, RS11 #324, RS11 #1805, C424 #2457, FPA4 #6763, RS3 #204, RS11 #351, C424 #327 & RS3 #????
Also on shed on August 31st 2012 were:
Alco C636 #3642, MLW M363 #3643, C420 #41, apparently being stripped for spares before being scrapped, RS3 #1554, RS11 #1804, RS32 #211, C425 #2423 & MLW M420W #2045
In the station area the following DL Alcos were observed, all of which remained in exactly the same place over the whole weekend:
C420 #405, C424 #2403 (ex Adirondack Scenic Railroad #4243 and still in ASR livery), C425 #2452 & M636 #3000, all in the car park and RS3s 4068/4113 positioned on Bridge 60
The charter run by the ELDCPS started at Delaware Water Gap at 0900 Saturday 1st September, the stock and locos having gone up the previous afternoon and remained at Delaware Water Gap overnight. It was formed of the group’s own stock and tended to by the group themselves. In first class we were served tea/coffee and breakfast muffins/pastries. The most important part of the train was of course the locos, DL’s RS3 4118 led C420 414. We’d paid the extra price to be in first class so we could actually stand at the barn doors and bellow at the Alco’s, unfortunately our coach was in the middle of the train as we were effectively two full coaches from the locos. There was still quite a bit of trash to be had to and the driver wasn’t messing about at station starts either.
At Scranton we dropped off at the old station for people to be transferred to the Scranton Italian Festival, which happened to be the same weekend, by bus, before terminating at the Steamtown platform. As we alighted we were all given wrist bands to allow entrance to the Steamtown site during the Railfest, which was included in our ticket price. This allowed us free reign of the place all afternoon before our return to Delaware Water Gap at 1500.
Unfortunately for the ELDCPS guys one of their coaches gave up the ghost in the afternoon and they couldn’t get its air-con working so people had to be crammed into the other coaches before departure. The run back up the hill to Pocono Summit wasn’t anything to write home about, the Alco’s were used to taking much heavier loads up the hill, probably not being right behind them had something to do with it as we couldn’t hear them that well. Our arrival back into Delaware Water Gap was at 1830, 50 minutes late, us having met with further delay en-route while water was transferred to the coaches which were quite full and also to give staff time to try and rectify the air-con fault.
Once everyone had de-trained at Delaware Water Gap the Alco’s took the set forward to Slateford Junction to run round (there’s no run round loop at DWG), before returning to Delaware Water Gap, where the whole lot would sit until Monday morning, so we were told. Probably to keep everything out of the way of the chaos in Scranton.
Having had a thoroughly enjoyable day we were back in Scranton, celebrating the day at the Backyard Ale House in Scranton 90 minutes after arriving at Delaware Water Gap!
Having been deposited in Scranton for the day on Saturday 1st September by the Erie Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society (ELDCPS) charter from Delaware Water Gap we had free reign of the Scranton Steamtown site after the Park Service staff handed out our free wristbands, which had been included in the price of the charter.
Visiting exhibits were:
Norfolk Southern – GM SD60E #6904, GM GP59 4629 & F9A 4271
Canadian Pacific – GP9u #8244
Amtrak – Generator Car (Ex F40) #406, GE P42AC #156 in one of Amtrak’s 40th anniversary liveries and some stock that was used for an exhibition train
Also on display in the roundhouse was EMD SC DLW426 and another switcher that I stupidly didn’t make note of or photograph!
Out in the yard were:
EMD FP7’s #902/903
Alco “Big Boy” Steam loco #4012 and some other team locos that i didn’t note down
F3B #58 in Jersey Central Lines livery
DL Alco RS3 #467
Steamtown were offering train rides, which were not included in the admission price and cost $5 extra. The $5 did allow travel on both the Scranton Limited and the brake van rides
EMD F3’s 663/664 worked the Scranton Limited all weeked
EMD GP7 514 worked the brake van rides all weeked
Steam loco #3254 worked an advertised 1230 Scranton – Moscow & return each day and was full on both days
There were also tram rides over the Laurel Line on both days, again these cost extra on top of the admission price.