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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Location: Beach 25th Street Station, New York, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: June 28, 2010
Today at noon, the Second Avenue Subway will open for revenue service in New York City. The Second Avenue Subway was first conceived in 1929 as a six track line running the length of Manhattan. Needless to say, it took a long time to turn this line from sketches on maps in to reality. So long in fact that several classes of subway cars that were designed with the intention of operating them on the Second Avenue Subway were introduced, operated elsewhere on the subway, and have already been retired. One of these car classes was the R44, which is featured as the photo of the month for January 2017 in honor of the opening of the Second Avenue Subway.
The R44 was the first New York City subway car to be 75 feet long, under the premise it would be more efficient to operate 8 75 foot long cars as a single train instead of 10 60 foot long cars (both trainsets are 600 feet long). They were also the first cars to feature bucket seats, audible door chimes, and lacked the traditional straps that standing passengers held on to. They were introduced on the F line in 1971, overhauled in the early 1990s, and remained in service until their retirement in 2010 due to structural integrity concerns, having never had the chance to operate on the line they were expected to serve. Instead, the Second Avenue Subway will be served by the R160s that currently operate on the Q line.
For more photos of the R44 subway cars, please click here.
Location: Addison Road Station, Seat Pleasant, MD
Operator of Vehicle: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date of Photo: April 5, 2003
Yesterday, the about to be retired WMATA Orion V buses were featured in the bus photo of the month. The rail photo of the month also comes from the DC area, but this time, the featured equipment’s era has already come to a partial end. Last month, in response to a safety issue, WMATA began to “belly” its 4000 Series railcars in the middle of train consists. In other words, the 4000 Series cars will no longer be used at the front or rear of trains. Since the 1000 Series cars have been operating in this manner since 2009, this new policy means that the “original” look for the DC Metrorail will no longer be seen at the front or rear of trains. No longer will we see flip dot destination signs, American flags, or decals commemorating Metro’s 25th anniversary at the front or rear of a train. There will be no more trains featuring the “classic” interior color scheme with orange and yellow seats and sand colored walls as the lead or tail cars of a consist. Instead, if you choose to ride at the railfan window at the front of the train, you’ll be guaranteed the newer interior scheme of burgundy, blue, and yellow seat cushions and cream colored walls.
Obviously, safety concerns are to be taken seriously, and I understand why the average Metrorail rider probably prefers the newer equipment over the old. However, with the 1000 Series cars already relegated to the middle of consists, being able to sit at the railfan seat on a 4000 Series car was a last vestige of sorts of the Metro that I grew up with and that was very much a part of making me in to a transit enthusiast. By comparison, the newer 7000 series cars lack a railfan seat entirely. They may be the most unreliable cars in the fleet at this point, but the 4000 Series cars were the last link to the Metrorail I grew up with. Not seeing them at the front of trains anymore will take some getting used to.
Although the 4000 Series cars will no longer be at the front or rear of trains, they aren’t being retired just yet. After the 1000 Series cars are retired, the 4000 Series cars will be gradually retired as additional 7000 Series trains arrive. Metro is attempting to have all 1000 Series and 4000 Series cars retired by the end of 2017. Hopefully, a pair of 1000 Series cars will be saved for historic preservation purposes, though I don’t feel nearly as strongly about preserving a 4000 Series car.
For more photos of WMATA’s 4000 Series railcars, please click here.