Rail Photo of the Month: November 2017

CQ312 601 at Airport

CQ312 601 at Airport

Location: Airport Station, Atlanta, GA
Operator of Vehicle: Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority
Date of Photo: October 9, 2016

Fifteen years passed between my first and second trips to Atlanta.  The amount of time between visits two, three, and four has been significantly less than that.  Although MARTA doesn’t come close to ranking towards the top of the transit systems I’ve ridden around the world, it definitely has one of the best train to plane connections out of transit systems anywhere.  The station at the airport is incorporated in to the main terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the busiest airport in the world.  This photo was taken on a rainy summer afternoon but I did not get exposed to the elements at any point while walking from the plane to the train upon my arrival.  There aren’t many cities in the United States that can make this claim.  What is your favorite train to plane connection?

For more photos of MARTA, please click here

Rail Photo of the Month: October 2017

United Streetcar Model 100 201

United Streetcar Model 100 201

Location: H Street, NE near 3rd Street, NE, Washington, DC
Operator of Vehicle: District Department of Transportation
Date of Photo: October 1, 2017

Considering how long the DC transit fan community waited for the city’s first modern streetcar line to open, it seems pretty fitting that I did not get my first ride on the DC Streetcar or take any photos of it until 18 months after that very delayed opening. Most of that delay was logistical from my end, as a result of its initially limited operating hours, not serving a part of the area that I find myself in very often, and my not having time to make a special trip just to check it out.  However, yesterday, things aligned in such a way that I got to go for a joyride and get my first photos.

As someone who was born and raised in the DC area, to see how the H Street, NE corridor has changed in the years both before and after the streetcar’s construction is nothing short of remarkable.  This photo of the month was taken from the “Hopscotch Bridge” over Amtrak’s line leading in to Union Station looking towards the east.  In the past, there wouldn’t be much to see from here, the neighborhoods visible in this photo were not the sorts of places many people would go to a bar, shop, or even think about living. Now, when one stands on the Hopscotch Bridge, one sees new construction, a bustling entertainment area, and lots of street and pedestrian traffic stretching the length of the corridor, which runs about 12 blocks from where I took this photo.  Despite some flaws and other issues, the streetcar definitely plays a role in the development of this part of town.

For more photos of the DC Streetcar, please click here.  And be on the lookout for additional posts here on the Travelogue about the DC Streetcar in the near future!

 

Rail Photo of the Month: September 2017

Breda Type 8 LRV 3846

Breda Type 8 LRV 3846

Location: Kenmore Station, Boston, MA
Operator of Vehicle: Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority
Date of Photo: February 12, 2004

Today marks the 120th anniversary of the opening of America’s first subway line.  It was on this date in 1897 that the first segment of the Tremont Street Subway opened in an attempt to reduce congestion caused by streetcars on the streets of Boston.  The first segment was quite short, just running from Park Street to a now disused and sealed portal near Boylston Station.  Over time, portals have been sealed and the subway has been extended, but trains have been using the original Tremont Street Subway continuously for all these years.  The Green Line certainly isn’t my favorite transit experience in the world (or even in Boston to be honest, especially when in a rush to get somewhere), but despite the frustrations its passengers may experience, it is certainly quite unique and a very important piece of American transit history.  Here’s to the next 120 years!

For more photos of the MBTA Green Line, please click here.

 

Rail Photo of the Month: August 2017

R160A 8497

R160A 8497

Location: 9th Avenue Station, Brooklyn, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: June 24, 2010

Over time, transit routes can and do change.  I took this photo of an M train entering the 9th Avenue station in Brooklyn on the last day of M train service at this location in 2010.  Starting the next Monday morning, the M train had a new route that used a track connection that had been out of use since 1976.  The M train is just one of many New York City Subway lines which has maintained both a segment where it has always run (Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn) and a variety of segments that it no longer serves (Brighton Line, West End Line, Nassau Street Line, etc.).  The same can go for certain stations.  The Myrtle Avenue Line originally served a now demolished upper level station at the Myrtle Avenue-Broadway Station and continued to Downtown Brooklyn.  The 9th Avenue Station where I took this photo has a disused lower level that serves the now demolished Culver Shuttle Line; you can see the tracks leading to that abandoned level to the right of the M train in this photo.  The New York City Subway has many fun nuances like this, as do other systems, though perhaps to a slightly lesser extent.  It is what makes this hobby so fun sometimes, to travel around and know what was and what could be and to document it as best I can.

For more photos of the R160s, please click here.

 

Rail Photo of the Month: July 2017

Nippon Sharyo P865 141

Nippon Sharyo P865 141

Location: Expo Park/USC Station, Los Angeles, CA
Operator of Vehicle: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA)
Date of Photo: July 15, 2014

Los Angeles is often thought of as lacking a public transit network.  While it may be fair to say that the city is underserved relative to its size and population, it does have a transit network that is quite large in some regards and expanding.  It is also a network that is old enough that its oldest cars, such as the Nippon-Sharyo P858 pictured here, will be retired by the end of 2018.  Delivered in 1990 for the opening of the first light rail line in the Los Angeles area, these cars will be retired after about 30 years in service.  As a result, these cars will not operate through the Regional Connector, a tunnel being built to link the Blue Line and Expo Line to the Gold Line.

For more photos of Los Angeles Metro Light Rail vehicles, please click here.

Rail Photo of the Month: June 2017

S70/Avanto LRV 237

S70/Avanto LRV 237

Location: Capitol/Rice Street Station, St. Paul, MN
Operator of Vehicle: Metro Transit
Date of Photo: April 10, 2017

As you may have seen earlier today, Oren’s Transit Page has new photos from my recent trip to Minnesota.  Naturally, it seemed appropriate to feature one of them for the June 2017 Rail Photo of the Month.  The Twin Cities’ newest light rail line, the Green Line, connects Minneapolis and Saint Paul, providing a rail transit connection between the two cities’ downtowns that had not existed since the streetcar era ended in the early 1950s.  Now three years old, the line is quite successful, and has even operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since it opened in 2014, making it one of the only 24/7 rail lines in the United States.  As it approaches Downtown Saint Paul, it skirts the Minnesota State Capitol grounds, allowing for the opportunity to get photos of the new light rail with the capitol dome, modeled after the dome at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  Can you think of other capitol buildings or famous buildings where this kind of opportunity exists?   

For more photos of METRO Transit’s Light Rail vehicles, please click here.

 

Rail Photo of the Month: May 2017

F59PHI 454

F59PHI 454

Location: Santa Fe Depot, San Diego, CA
Operator of Vehicle: Amtrak
Date of Photo: July 17, 2014

Amtrak turns 46 years old today.  It was on this date in 1971 that Amtrak took over the passenger train operations of privately owned railroads that were still offering passenger service at the time.  Today, when most people think of Amtrak, I suspect they picture the electric hauled Northeast Regional and Acela Express services that operate in the Washington-New York-Boston corridor.  Some might think of long distance trains crossing the country such as the Empire Builder, California Zephyr, and City of New Orleans, which are lifelines for many of the communities that they serve.  But Amtrak also operates in a number of regional corridors around the country, and the Pacific Surfliner service between San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Luis Obispo, California is one of those services.  The F59PHI engine featured in this month’s rail photo of the month is one of 15 painted in the Pacific Surfliner’s unique livery.  And yes, those palm trees are real, you can take an Amtrak train through Southern California and see them for yourself.  In other words, the not so scenic Northeast Corridor isn’t all that Amtrak has to offer.  Ride a long distance Amtrak train when you get the chance! 

For more photos of Amtrak’s F59PHI locomotives, please click here.

 

Rail Photo of the Month: April 2017

CQ310 134

Société Franco-Belge CQ310 134

Location: Peachtree Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Operator of Vehicle: Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)
Date of Photo: October 8, 2015

 

As a result of Thursday night’s interstate highway collapse, MARTA is likely going to be getting a great deal of attention as the Atlanta area looks to cope for quite awhile without one of its main highways.  Fortunately, MARTA should be up to the task.  Its original rolling stock, the CQ310 cars, were originally built between 1979 and 1982 by the now defunct Société Franco-Belge company.  They were rehabilitated between 2006 and 2009 by Alstom, a process that brought them up to date with a series of modern amenities but also made them operationally compatible with the newer Breda CQ312 cars.  MARTA’s rolling stock reminds me a lot of its “cousins” in San Francisco and Washington.  These three systems were constructed at about the same time and share a number of design features.  Although MARTA is not nearly as large nor as well utilized as BART and the DC Metrorail, one can hope that it can prove its worth in the emergency situation that Atlanta is currently faced with.  

For more photos of MARTA rolling stock, please click here.

 

Rail Photo of the Month: March 2017

CAF 5000 Series 5037

CAF 5000 Series 5037

Location: Diagonal, Barcelona, Spain
Operator of Vehicle: Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB)
Date of Photo: June 6, 2008

 

Based on the fact that this website’s Washington, DC section is one of the largest that I have, my guess is most people expect to see photos of WMATA rolling stock when they hear about a CAF 5000 Series.  Well if that is what you were expecting to see here, surprise!  WMATA doesn’t have the world’s only CAF 5000 Series cars, and the March Rail Photo of the Month features one of the other ones.  Specifically, this CAF built 5000 Series train operates in Barcelona.  Thirty-nine of these trains were delivered starting in 2005 and currently operate on lines 3 and 5.  

While these trains operate a world away from their Washington cousins, they do have some similarities.  Both the Barcelona and DC systems have automatic train operation and their 5000 series trains both have on board diagnostics systems.  However, there are also some notable differences.  Barcelona’s Metro uses overhead catenary lines to power its trains whereas Washington has an electrified third rail.  The Barcelona 5000 Series also has open gangways between each car, while the DC 5000 Series cars are in married pairs with no internal passage between the cars (except in emergencies).  Finally, to my knowledge, there are no plans to replace the Barcelona 5000 Series any time soon, while the incoming Kawasaki 7000 Series cars will ultimately force the retirement of the CAF 5000 Series in DC.  

For more photos of Barcelona’s CAF 5000 Series railcars, please click here.

 

Rail Photo of the Month: February 2017

Siemens–Duewag U2 1017

Siemens–Duewag U2 1017

Location: Park Boulevard at Market Street, San Diego, CA
Operator of Vehicle: San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS)
Date of Photo: July 17, 2014

 

In recent years, streetcars and light rails have been experiencing a renaissance in the United States.  Just last year, three new streetcar systems opened in Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Washington, DC.  However, the San Diego Trolley was the first of these “second generation” streetcar and light rail systems to open in the United States.  Its initial segment opened in 1981 and it has expanded to include three lines serving 53 stations.  In 2015, the system became entirely low floor upon the retirement of the original Siemens–Duewag U2 cars, such as the one seen in this photograph.  The retirement of these high floor cars was a multi-phase project that involved redoing the station platforms across the entire network, in addition to procuring the new low floor fleet.  However, this successful completion is yet another demonstration of how the San Diego Trolley has proven itself to be a successful part of the city’s transportation network.

For more photos of the San Diego Trolley, please click here.