Rail Photo of the Month: September 2018

B-IV 510

Kawasaki B-IV 510

Location: Pattison (NRG) Station, Philadelphia, PA
Operator of Vehicle: Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority
Date of Photo: June 21, 2003

Since 2010, the southern terminal of Philadelphia’s Broad Street Line has been more than just a subway station.  In that year, SEPTA sold the naming rights to Pattison Station to AT&T for five years for five million dollars.  Almost instantaneously, signed references to Pattison were replaced with AT&T, which certainly makes for an odd station name in my opinion.  Making it even stranger is the fact that to my knowledge, AT&T’s only connection (no pun intended) to that station or any other SEPTA station is that the company was the only one with coverage along the underground portions of the Broad Street Line and Market-Frankford Line.  Last month, the naming rights were sold to NRG Energy for 5.25 million dollars and five years, and once again the signage has been changed to reflect the new name.

I believe that station names should have some connection (whether current or historic) with where they are located.  SEPTA has sold the naming rights to one other station, Market East, which is now known as “Jefferson Station.”  At least Jefferson Station is near its namesake, the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, though I wouldn’t have minded the naming rights addition to the name had it been something along the line of Jefferson Station at Market East, thereby still raising revenue while retaining the old name.  Pattison Station is surrounded by sports stadiums and parking lots, and to my knowledge, neither AT&T nor NRG has ever had a physical presence in the area.

What do you think of selling the naming rights for transit stations?  Leave a comment below.  Meanwhile, I still think of the southern stop on the Broad Street Line as Pattison, so there’s my answer to that question.

For more photos of the Broad Street Line, please click here.

Rail Photo of the Month: August 2018

Kawasaki 7028

Kawasaki 7028

Location: Columbia Heights Station, Washington, DC
Operator of Vehicle: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date of Photo: August 30, 2015

If you happen to have been on the Washington Metro in recent weeks, you’ve probably heard a train declare “This is a 7000 Series train” as its doors open at each station.  This is being done as a safety initiative for passengers with vision impairments, the merits of which will not be discussed here at this time.  However, transit fans and frequent Metrorail riders probably do not need to be told when they are boarding a 7000 Series train, as these cars are quite different than any others that have operated on “America’s subway.”  The cars are made of stainless steel. They feature the new “disco ball logo” rather than the traditional brown stripe along the sides. The trains have a new interior color scheme, automated announcements, multiple interior LED and LCD displays, an updated cab layout, and numerous other features.  Personally, I’m a much bigger fan of the “legacy fleet” than the 7000 Series as the former is what I grew up riding and am most familiar with.  However, the 7000 Series cars are certainly recognizable by many riders, not just transit fans, and anecdotally, the riding public has enjoyed riding these cars since they entered service in 2015.  

For more photos of WMATA’s Kawasaki 7000 Series cars, please click here.

Rail Photo of the Month: July 2018

Multi-level car 7058

NJT Multi-level Car 7058

Location: Metropark Station, Iselin, NJ
Operator of Vehicle: New Jersey Transit
Date of Photo: August 6, 2017

What do you do when you operate a commuter rail service in to the busiest train station in the United States, want to add service, but that station is at capacity? In New Jersey Transit’s case, the answer is design and purchase Multi-Level cars!  However, this was more challenging for NJT than it might have been for some other US commuter rail systems.  The multi-level cars had to be designed in a way so that they could fit in the North River Tunnels that connect New Jersey to New York Penn Station.  Those tunnels were constructed in the early 1900s and opened in 1910, and as it is, the multi-levels’ design makes for a tight fit.  Double decker trains such as Amtrak’s Superliner cars and the Long Island Railroad’s C3 cars can’t fit in the North River Tunnel at all.  Although the tunnels  clearances are not nearly as restrictive as in the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel south of Baltimore Penn Station, MARC exercised an option order on NJT’s original contract with Bombardier for its own multi-level cars.

For more photos of New Jersey Transit trains, please click here.

Rail Photo of the Month: June 2018

Class 3250 EMU

Class 3250 EMU

Location: Cais Da Rocha, Lisbon, Portugal
Operator of Vehicle: CP Urbanos de Lisboa (Lisbon Area Commuter Rail)
Date of Photo: November 15, 2013

The high speed railways in European countries such as France, Germany, Spain, and Italy are well known both among transit fans as well as other travelers.  Many are familiar with the TGV, ICE, and AVE names, even if they are not necessarily the types of people who might visit this website on a regular basis.  However, not every country in Europe is as reliant upon high speed trains for its intercity transit network.  One such country is Portugal, where eighty percent of the country’s railroad ridership is on the commuter rail lines serving the Lisbon area.  The Lisbon commuter rail is not even the biggest “attraction” in the city’s transportation network (that title goes to the Remodelado Trams), but it is very useful for anyone who wishes to visit Cascais or Sintra.  In addition, the Cascais line right of way runs adjacent to one of Lisbon’s tram lines and several bus routes in the vicinity of its Cais do Sodré terminus.  Isn’t it fun when three different modes come together like that?  

The Class 3250 EMU train photographed here was introduced in 1959 and refurbished between 1998 and 2002.

For more photos of Lisbon area commuter rail trains, please click here.

Rail Photo of the Month: May 2018

AEM-7 2302

AEM-7 2302

Location: Temple University Station, Philadelphia, PA
Operator of Vehicle: Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority
Date of Photo: April 19, 2012

The AEM-7 electric locomotive was a mainstay on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor as well as on SEPTA and MARC commuter rail trains for over 35 years.  Nowadays, SEPTA is the only agency that still operates these locomotives, and even in the Philadelphia area their days are numbered.  SEPTA is currently testing its first ACS-64 locomotive and upon the delivery and acceptance of all 15 of these locomotives, the AEM-7 locomotives will be retired.  Affectionately nicknamed “toasters”, these locomotives outlived the newer and more powerful HHP-8 locomotives that were introduced at the start of the 21st century, proving that in some circumstances, older can be better.

For more photos of SEPTA Regional Rail rolling stock, please click here

Rail Photo of the Month: April 2018

CAF 5085

CAF 5085

Location: Rockville Station, Rockville, MD
Operator of Vehicle: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date of Photo: December 12, 2017

On some subway systems, each line has a dedicated (or nearly dedicated) fleet of cars.  For example, you won’t find anything but 1995 Stock on the Northern Line in London.  Or in New York, seeing something other than an R62A on the 1 train is a notable event.  However, in Washington, DC, this generally has not been the case.  Except for a period when all the 2000 Series Breda cars were assigned to the Red Line shortly after their delivery, WMATA has put just about every car on every line, especially when it was “bellying” the 1000 Series cars and later the 4000 Series cars between 2009 and 2017.  Now that those car types have been retired as of last summer, WMATA has decided to assign certain cars to certain lines with generally few exceptions.  In the case of the Red Line, this means seeing anything other than 3000 Series Breda Rehabs or 7000 Series Kawasakis is now a notable event.  One of those moments is captured here, when CAF 5085 made it on to the Red Line in December 2017. 

Do you like “predictability” in your transit car assignments when transitfanning, or is it more fun when any type of train or bus might show up?

For more photos of WMATA CAF 5000 Series cars, please click here

Rail Photo of the Month: March 2018

MP89CC Stock 89 S 103

MP89CC Stock 89 S 103

Location: Bastille Station, Paris, France
Operator of Vehicle: Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP)
Date of Photo: March 20, 2008

I visited Paris for the first time ten years ago this month, so I thought it would be appropriate to share a photo from that trip for the March 2018 Photo of the Month.  The Paris Metro is an impressive subway system for a host of reasons.  For one thing, you are never more than a few hundred meters from the nearest metro station no matter where in the city you may find yourself.  However, what Parisian rolling stock might be known best for is that on several lines, the trains have rubber tires instead of traditional steel wheels.  The MP89CC stock shown here is one of those trains.  RATP converted three lines (1, 4, and 11) to use rubber tires in the 1950s and 1960s.  There were plans to convert the entire system to use rubber tires, but the costs were prohibitive and it would have taken decades to complete the project, so the RATP opted instead to convert one additional line, Line 6, because it has long elevated stretches and the rubber tired trains are quieter than their steel wheel counterparts.  In addition, new lines such as Line 14 are built for rubber tired trains.  You can see how the wheels of the train in this photo are not like what one usually sees on trains, and that the track for this line has running boards and guide rails as opposed to steel rails.  Have you ever been on a rubber tired train, either in Paris or elsewhere?

For more photos of the MP89CC Stock, please click here

Rail Photo of the Month: February 2018

C Car 432

BART “C Car” 432

Location: Embarcadero Station, San Francisco, CA
Operator of Vehicle: Bay Area Rapid Transit
Date of Photo: January 9, 2006

Yet another American rapid transit system is receiving new rolling stock.  BART’s “fleet of the future” entered service back on January 19, 2018.  Similar to the fleet renewal program underway in Miami, upon delivery and acceptance of the new “D Cars” and “E Cars” between now and 2022, the existing fleet of A Cars, B Cars, and C Cars, including the C Car pictured here, will be retired.  BART’s initial rolling stock was revolutionary.  BART ordered trains that are wider and sleeker than most of their American counterparts at the time.  The D Cars and E Cars will also introduce new features to BART’s rolling stock, including places for commuters to store their bikes while on board the train, as well as other ideas suggested by customers.  While the retirement of the A Cars and B Cars will mark the end of Rohr Industries built trains running on American subway systems, it will also be the start of the D Cars’ and E Cars’ opportunity to create their own stories in the hearts and minds of passengers and transit fans as they start their careers.  What sorts of things do you think new trains ought to feature these days?

For more photos of BART rolling stock, please click here

Rail Photo of the Month: January 2018

Alstom Citadis 302 003

Alstom Citadis 302 003

Location: Hatzanchanim Street, Jerusalem, Israel
Operator of Vehicle: Citipass
Date of Photo: June 2, 2016

Jerusalem has been in the news quite a bit lately.  Despite what you may see in the press, life goes on in what you would likely consider to be a normal way in this extraordinary complex city, and thousands use the city’s public transportation system to travel between home, work, school, shopping, and other destinations.  The light rail line that opened in 2011 is a rolling melting pot used by all the sectors of the city’s population.  At pretty much any time of day at any point along the line, you’ll be crammed in to a car with secular Jews, ultra-Orthodox Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, and tourists.  The light rail line serves a variety of different neighborhoods, including the Arab neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina, as well as the city center.  While there is a notable security presence and the Alstom Citadis 302 rolling stock used in Jerusalem had some special modifications made to it in the interest of counter-terrorism, aside from a brief service suspension due to safety issues in 2014, incidents of violence on the light rail have been few and far between.  Jerusalem is a fascinating city that should be on your potential traveling destinations for a host of reasons, and if you’re a transit fan, the light rail gives you an additional one.  

For more photos of the Jerusalem Light Rail, please click here

Rail Photo of the Month: December 2017

Budd car 167

Budd car 167

Location: South Miami Station, Miami, FL
Operator of Vehicle: Miami-Dade Transit
Date of Photo: December 28, 2005

The Miami Metrorail rolling stock (along with its siblings in Baltimore) represent the last contract completed by Budd before it shuttered its rail car manufacturing unit.  Although some Budd made products, such as the 53 year old R32s in New York City, are still going strong, the beginning of the end for the Budd fleet in Miami is upon us.  Yesterday, the first four of the Hitachi built cars that were commissioned to replaced the original Budd fleet entered service.  Although it will take some time for the new Hitachi fleet to be tested and accepted by MDT, it is expected that sometime in 2019 all the Budds in Miami will be retired.  If you’re thinking that you can still ride the nearly identical cars in Baltimore beyond that, you shouldn’t plan to put off your last rides for too long.  Baltimore is also ordering replacement trains from Hitachi to replace its aging Budd trains.

For more photos of the Miami Metrorail, please click here