Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak photographs’

3 Generations of Amtrak Liveries

August 23, 2019

It wasn’t until I was processing this photograph after downloading it from my camera that I discovered that I had captured three generations of Amtrak liveries on the baggage cars on the rear of the northbound Saluki at Pesotum, Illinois.

Those baggage cars are not carrying anything, but are riding along to meet a host railroad-mandated minimum axle count to ensure that grade crossing circuits are properly tripped as a train approaches.

The Maple Leaf in Toronto

August 19, 2019

Although it looks to all the world like an Amtrak train, when the Maple Leaf is in Canada it is a VIA Rail Canada operation.

The VIA crew operates the train between Toronto Union Station and Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The VIA cafe car attendant even brings aboard his or her own stock of food and beverages that are sold within Canada.

The New York-bound Maple Leaf is shown above in Toronto.

Just Like Sunday Mornings With Grandpa

August 18, 2019

Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited is more than four hours late as it passes through Olmsted Falls, Ohio, on a Sunday morning in mid May.

It was a sunny and pleasant Sunday morning in Olmsted Falls as I stood next to the tracks of Norfolk Southern at the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern station that is now owned by a model railroad club, the Cuyahoga Valley & West Shore.

I was waiting for a tardy eastbound Lake Shore Limited that Amtrak predicted would arrive in Elyria at 9:12 a.m. and depart two minutes later.

If that held, that would put No. 48 through Olmsted Falls at about 9:25 a.m.

As I waited, my thoughts flashed back to Sunday mornings in the early 1960s when my grandparents on my mother’s side would come to my hometown in east central Illinois from St. Louis for a weekend visit.

On Sunday morning, grandpa would take my sister and I for a walk of about four blocks that we called “going to the trains.”

On the west side of Mattoon not far from our house was an open area that still had tracks leading to a an abandoned shop building once used by the Peoria, Decatur & Evansville, which was absorbed by the Illinois Central in the early 20th century.

The tracks leading into that long-closed shop were still in place, but rusty and covered in weeds. Cinders were plentiful in the ballast.

This area was located between the tracks of the IC – that former PD&E – and the St. Louis line of the New York Central.

We would walk across those tracks to stand near the Central tracks. Two NYC passenger trains were scheduled to pass through Mattoon during the mid to late morning hours.

The eastbound train was the Southwestern and the westbound train the Knickerbocker. They were all that was left of the Central’s service to St. Louis.

In the early 1960s, both of those trains were still quite grand with sleepers, dining cars and coaches, some of which operated through to New York and all of which operated to and from Cleveland.

Sometimes the motive power for the trains were E units still wearing NYC lightning stripes, but at others times the motive power was Geeps in the cigar band look.

I thought about those trains as I waited for Amtrak No. 48, which had lost time starting with a late departure from Chicago Union Station the night before.

But something happened between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, where the bulk of the lost time occurred.

Amtrak equipment, like much of that used by the Central, is silver-colored stainless steel. The Central had some two-tone gray smooth sided passenger cars that were assigned to the St. Louis trains.

There are some parallels to where the Central’s passenger service was in the early 1960s and where Amtrak is today.

NYC management under the leadership of Alfred Perlman was convinced that long-distance trains had no future and throughout the 1950s the Central had aggressively discontinued as many of those trains as regulators would allow.

There might not have been any NYC passenger trains for myself, my sister and my grandpa to watch during our walks “to the trains” had the Illinois Commerce Commission allowed the Central to discontinue all service to St. Louis as it wanted to do in the late 1950s.

Amtrak management under the leadership of Richard Anderson has been signaling that it wants to transform its network into a series of short-haul corridors between urban points.

That strategy would eviscerate Amtrak’s long-distance network and probably spell the end of the Lake Shore Limited, the only daily train between Chicago and New York.

Those walks “to the trains” did not last long. By the middle 1960s my grandparents were no longer traveling from St. Louis to Mattoon to visit us.

In the meantime, the Southwestern and Knickerbocker grew shorter, shrinking to one sleeper and a couple of coaches. The dining car no longer operated west of Indianapolis.

In late 1967 the Central posted notices of its intent to discontinue its last trains to St. Louis. By then the trains only operated between St. Louis and Union City, Indiana, the NYC having used the “Ohio strategy” to discontinue them between Union City and Cleveland.

The “Ohio strategy” was a rule of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that allowed a railroad to discontinue a passenger train within the state of Ohio without PUCO approval provided it was not the last passenger train on that route.

The NYC and other railroads used that rule to devastating effect in the 1960s.

The Interstate Commerce Commission stayed the discontinuance of the remnants of the Southwestern and Knickerbocker, but after conducting an investigation concluded they were not needed for the public necessity and convenience. They made their last trips in March 1968.

By then they had shrunk to one E unit and one coach.

My grandpa died in 1982, the same year that Conrail won regulatory approval to abandon the former NYC through Mattoon. The tracks were pulled up through town in May 1983.

In the meantime, the IC razed the former shops used by the PD&E. That area where we used to walk remains an open field passed by a handful of trains of Canadian National.

No. 48 was slowly gaining back some of its lost time a minute or two at a time as it made its was east from Toledo. It departed Elyria about when Amtrak predicted it would.

The Lake Shore Limited continues to be an impressive looking train with three sleepers, six coaches, a baggage car, café car, dining car and two locomotives. But the dining car no longer serves meals freshly prepared onboard.

Just like the Central did, Amtrak is slowing chipping away at onboard service in an effort to cut costs.

As the Lake Shore flashed past, I again felt myself going back to the early 1960s and watching the Southwestern rush past also en route to New York City.

I couldn’t think of too many better ways to spend part of a Sunday morning.

Passing the Olmsted Falls depot, now the home of a model railroad club.

All the meals being served in that dining car behind the Amfleet coach were prepared off the train. The chefs were laid off or reassigned to other runs.

My, What a Big Nose You Had

August 17, 2019

Amtrak’s P30CH locomotives last operated on the Auto Train and Sunset Limited and have been gone for more than two decades.

There were just 25 of the units, all of them built in 1975 and 1976. Most of them were retired in 1992.

No. 707 was built in February 1976. It is shown in Cincinnati on April 14, 1978, leading the eastbound Cardinal.

As the blue flag indicates, this is a service stop and I meandered to the front of the train to get this snapshot.

The “Pooches” as some wags called them pulled a few long-distance trains and were for a time regulars on Midwest corridor trains using Illinois Central Gulf tracks.

They had what seemed to be unusually large noses. At the time they were the only General Electric diesels on the Amtrak roster.

The Art of Black and White Photography

August 15, 2019

Digital photograph has many advantages but one of the most underused one is the ability to transform an image from color to black and white.

I don’t often see this done and I’m just as guilty as anyone else in not thinking about doing it.

What I have learned, though, is that recognizing when to convert an image from color to black and white is an art in itself.

It works well in situations in which the colors are subdued, often to the point of the image virtually being black and white anyway.

When I was processing this image of Amtrak’s westbound Blue Water at Durand, Michigan, it all but called out for conversion to black and white.

There is strong back lighting from the sun that washed out the color anyway.

Making the image black and white helped to draw out the contrast and enhance the mood.

Train No. 365 is waiting for time. It arrived in Durand a little early and all of the passengers have boarded.

A few onlookers are gathered along the fence waiting to see of a Boy Scout troop that boarded.

The conductor is standing by a vestibule waiting to give a highball and accommodate any late arriving passengers.

Note also the contrast in shapes of the Amfleet and Horizon coaches in the train’s consist, a testament to competing philosophies of passenger car design.

One Day at Joliet in the Rainbow Era

August 13, 2019

It’s Oct. 13, 1972, at Joliet, Illinois. Amtrak is still in the “rainbow era” when locomotives and passenger cars still often had the liveries of their previous owners.

A St. Louis-bound train is making its station stop, having originated in Milwaukee in what proved to be a short-lived through service that operated through Chicago Union Station.

Shown are locomotives of the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio and Milwaukee Road along with a coach that has been repainted into Amtrak colors and markings.

The train is sitting on former GM&O rails, which at this point were now in the Illinois Central Gulf network.

Note the semaphore signals on the signal bridge ahead of the lead locomotive.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

 

What An Extra 2 Hours Can Do

August 11, 2019

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans is a challenge to photograph in east central Illinois because of its schedule.

The southbound train passes through in darkness no matter the time of year and the northbound train arrives just before or at dawn.

During the summer the latter might be possible to photograph in early summer, particularly if it is running late.

For one week in late July and early August No. 58 operated two hours later than its normal schedule to accommodate track work being performed by host railroad Canadian National.

I took advantage of that to get the northbound CONO at Pesotum, Illinois, on the last day of the later schedule.

For some reason, it was operating on this day as Train 1158.

 

Getting Lucky

August 9, 2019

At first glance this might appear to be another run of the mill image of an Amtrak train.

It’s the southbound Saluki rushing through Pesotum, Illinois, on its daily trek from Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois.

But take another look at that intermediate signal. It is displaying two indications simultaneously of clear and stop.

I probably could not have planned this image if I had tried. I just happened to catch the signal head as it was transitioning from one signal indication to another and, apparently, green comes on a millisecond or two before the red goes out.

Those baggage cars, by the way, are not carrying anything. They are on the train to meet a Canadian National mandated minimum axle count.

Grain and a Train

August 7, 2019

Grain elevators and silos are a common sight along Amtrak’s Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor.

The six trains using the Canadian National tracks that were once part of the Illinois Central’s Chicago-New Orleans mainline cut through the heart of farm country.

And where there are corn and soybean fields there will be grain elevators.

Amtrak’s southbound Saluki is shown passing one such grain elevator complex in Arcola, Illinois.

CONO Resumes Running to New Orleans

August 6, 2019

Operating as train 1158 for one day only, the northbound City of New Orleans passes through Pesotum, Illinois, en route to Chicago. The train at the time was 40 minutes late.

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans resumed operating between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi, on July 30.

Nos. 58 and 59 had been originating and terminating in Jackson for several weeks due to flooding in the lower Mississippi River valley that closed the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

During that time passengers rode a chartered bus south of Jackson.

However, track work by host railroad Canadian National has Nos. 58 and 59 originating and terminating this week in Memphis, Tennessee, through Aug. 8

In a service advisory, Amtrak said alternate transportation will be provided between Memphis and Jackson, but there will be no alternate transportation to the missed station stops of Marks, Greenwood or Yazoo City in Mississippi.