Archive for the ‘Amtrak Photos’ Category

A Late Lake Shore Limited

May 24, 2017

Sometimes you are just not in the right position to get a good photograph. Such was the case when I “caught” Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited passing through Willoughby, Ohio.

I didn’t know it had not come through yet, that it was running 1 hours, 28 minutes late. I might have known that had I checked on its status with Amtrak. But I didn’t.

The appearance of No. 48 caught me by surprise and the best I could do was get this image looking down Erie Street.

Staying Cool in the Sightseer Lounge

May 5, 2017

Outside the temperature is going to be an unseasonably 90 plus degrees in North Dakota. But inside the Sightseer Lounge of Amtrak’s westbound Empire Builder, the passengers are staying cool.

There is hardly a seat to be found as the train rolls west of Minot.  When this image was made in May 2014, the oil boom was at its peak and BNSF was laying new tracks as fast as it could.

Oil is still pumped here, but the amount of it moving by rail has fallen off.

Amtrak Station in Tucson

April 27, 2017

The streetside view of the former Southern Pacific station in Tucson, which is now used in part by Amtrak.

Last October I was  on vacation in Tucson, Arizona. I paid a visit to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, which uses a portion of the former Southern Pacific station.

Amtrak still uses the SP station, although it shares it with Maynard’s Market, a deli-type operation.

I was there on a Thursday and Amtrak’s Sunset Limited was not scheduled to operate in either direction. Tucson is still a staffed station with checked baggage service.

The size of the Amtrak facilities appear to be appropriate for the use that the station gets and the depot has been nicely restored.

The streetside entrance to the Amtrak station. The depot is located on Toole Street.

The exterior of the station as seen from the trackside view.

The Amtrak ticket office in the Tucson station.

Another angle of the Tucson ticket office.

One end of the waiting room. In the distance is the former CTC machine used by Southern Pacific dispatchers to control traffic on the Sunset Route.

The other end of the waiting room, which has a number of historic photographs on the wall. The ticket office is to the left and straight ahead.

The door to the platform as seen from inside the waiting room.

On the platform. The building on the other side of the tracks is the maintenance facility for the Tucson streetcar network.

 

When the LSL Was a Regular Daylight Train in Cleveland

April 26, 2017

It was in 2007, I believe, that Amtrak rescheduled the eastbound Lake Shore Limited to arrive and depart Cleveland between 6 and 7 a.m., which meant it was a daylight operation for a good part of the year.

That schedule didn’t last long and No. 48 soon enough began leaving Chicago at 9:30 p.m., which puts it into Cleveland at 5:35 a.m.

I didn’t take advantage of the 2007 window of opportunity as much as I should have. A friend, though, did. He made it a point to photograph No. 48 in as many places as he could between Cleveland and the Pennsylvania border just east of Conneaut, Ohio, during the summer of 2007.

I did get downtown on a couple of occasions to photograph No. 48 in the station, including this view made on July 14, 2007.

Note that lead unit No. 156 is the one that is now painted in Amtrak’s Phase I locomotive livery.

The Diner Looks Inviting

April 21, 2017

You’ve just spent your first night on the train as part of a three-day journey. It’s early morning and some breakfast would sure taste good along with a hot beverage.

The dining car is right next to your sleeping car. You get up, get dressed and head for the diner. Breakfast is just on the other side of that door.

At Least the Menus Are Still Colorful

April 19, 2017

Amtrak operations have been well photographed over the years, yet less attention seems to have been paid to the way in which is projects itself.

There probably are people out there who collect Amtrak memorabilia such as poster, menu covers and various marketing products.

Some of these items show up for sale at train shows and flea markets.

Amtrak menu covers have spanned the spectrum from plain white covers with nothing more than the Amtrak logo to covers with elaborate art work.

In recent years, the images shown on posters to promote individual trains have been used for menu covers.

Those images tend to have a dominant image that portrays something about the territory served by the train.

Yet I’ve long wondered why the menu covers for the Capitol Limited do not show an image of the nation’s capitol.

Instead, it shows a generic looking city skyline that is not Washington and, if you use your imagination, looks a little like Chicago. But at least it shows a train.

Remembering Amtrak’s SDP40Fs

April 17, 2017

Amtrak first new diesel motive power was the SDP40F locomotive built by EMD and which took to the rails in June 1973 between Chicago and Los Angeles.

The big cowl units also initially pulled trains between Chicago and Houston, and on some segments of the route of the Empire Builder.

Amtrak bought 150 of the locomotives and between 1974 and the late ’70s they were ubiquitous on the point of long-distance trains. They also were assigned to some corridor service during that period of time.

Some railroads thought the SDP40F was derailment prone and didn’t want them on their rails. By the late 1970s, E units had made a comeback on some routes, particularly on Conrail, and the SDP40Fs were traded in for new F40PHs.

One of the last strongholds for the SDP40F was between Washington and Florida where they continued to pull trains through the early 1980s.

In this photograph above, it is Dec. 13, 1979, at the Amtrak station in Miami. I am waiting to board the northbound Silver Star and I took the opportunity to photograph No. 645 from the platform.

It would be the last time that I saw an SDP40F in revenue service still wearing the Phase I paint scheme that is still a favorite of mine.

RTG Turboliner Memories

April 14, 2017

A photograph that my friend Bob Farkas sent me this week of an Amtrak RTG Turboliner at Joliet, Illinois, brought back a lot of fond memories.

I rode the Turboliner when I lived in Springfield, Illinois, in the mid-1970s, but many of my memories involve watching the French-built train.

Sometimes on a late Friday afternoon I would go to the Amtrak station to see the Turboliner from St. Louis arrive en route to Chicago.

During my first semester at the then-named Sangamon State University, I had a class that met in the early evening.

It got out shortly before the evening Turboliner was to leave Springfield for St. Louis. Parking for the downtown SSU campus was in a lot next to the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio tracks, which were Illinois Central Gulf by then.

If it a searchlight signal next to the tracks was green, the Amtrak train was in the station out of sight a few blocks to the north. I’d sit in my car until the train came past and then go home.

My first ride on a Turboliner came in February 1975 when I made a trip to St. Louis to visit my grandparents.

I liked the Turboliner. It was modern, had nice large windows and lived up to its billing in a an Amtrak radio advertisement of the time with a tagline of “hitch a ride on the future.:

But not everyone did felt the way that I did. Many passengers disliked the narrow seats that barely reclined, the narrow aisles and the sometimes hard to open doors. Another drawback was limited seating in the café car.

The Turboliner had a fixed capacity of 296, so some passengers were left standing during peak travel periods.

Those who regularly rode Amtrak in the Chicago-Springfield-St. Louis corridor preferred conventional equipment over the Turboliner.

Some locomotive engineers wouldn’t work on the Turboliner because they didn’t feel they would be protected enough during a grade crossing collision with a large truck.

When they began service on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor on Oct. 1, 1973, Amtrak touted the Turboliner as the greatest advancement in transportation since the 747.

Although much was made of the capability of the Turboliner to run more than 100 mph, the fastest it could sprint between Chicago and St. Louis was 79 p.m.

But the Turboliner schedule was a half-hour faster than trains using conventional equipment and 11 minutes faster than GM&O trains of the late 1940s.

An Amtrak official conceded to Trains magazine editor David P. Morgan that the purpose the flashy-looking Turboliners was to show that Amtrak was doing something to improve passenger service other than making cosmetic improvements to hand-me-down equipment.

Morgan said the Turboliner reminded him of the low center of gravity lightweight trains that railroads tried in the 1950s but which failed to catch on.

The last Turboliner in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor ran on Trains 301/304. It was withdrawn from the route after it struck an asphalt truck at Elwood, Illinois, on Nov. 18, 1975.

About a month later, Nos. 301/304 because the first Midwest corridor trains to receive the new Amfleet equipment.

My last trip aboard a Turboliner came in November 1980 when I rode the Lake Cities from  Chicago to Toledo via Detroit.

The next time I remember seeing a Turboliner was in the mid-1990s at the Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis. One of the Turboliner sets was sitting forlornly off to the side.

I’ve seen photographs of a Turboliner sitting in a junk yard near Dugger, Indiana. One of these days I’ve got to get out there to see if it is still there.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Signs that Harken to a Past Era of Train Travel

April 13, 2017

There was a time when every large city in America had one or more “union” stations, meaning depots used by multiple railroads for their passenger service.

There remain quite a few union stations in America, but most of them either are no longer served by passenger trains (e.g., St. Louis) or just see a couple trains a day (e.g., Indianapolis).

Photographs that I’ve seen of these stations back in the days when travel by train was more pervasive than it is now have featured certain types of signs that directed travelers to boarding areas.

Shown are two such types of signs at Chicago Union Station, which is, arguably, the last great train station left in the Heartland of America in terms of frequent use by rail passengers.

The top sign is carved into the masonry work of the station and isn’t going anywhere. The bottom sign, though, is portable and may not longer be in use at CUS.

Both have an old-fashioned quality about them that suggests an era long ago and well before anyone thought there would someday be an Amtrak.

Photographed From Both Directions

April 12, 2017

An Amtrak trainman is photographed while standing in the vestibule of his train on the last day of operation of the eastbound Hilltopper on Sept. 30, 1979.

The train proved to be quite popular on the day of its last run with crowds waiting to board at some stations.

For much of its history, the Hilltopper drew low numbers of passengers, making it an easy target for discontinuance during the massive route restructuring of 1979.

The train had a largely Norfolk & Western route that has not seen an Amtrak train since the demise of the Hilltopper.