Photographing the Same Train on Two Continents

Over the years I’ve managed some neat feats in terms of fleets and/or vehicles that I’ve photographed.  At one time, I had a photo of every vehicle in the active TCAT fleet in Ithaca, NY.  I have photos of most (but not all) of the 46 Jerusalem Light Rail Alstom Citadis 302s.  However, back in January, I accomplished a feat that I don’t think I ever expected to do: photographing the same train car on two different continents.  And just to be clear, this wasn’t accomplished in Istanbul.

In 1998, the Madrid Metro accepted delivery of its 6000 Series cars from CAF for operation on that system’s Line 9.  The 6000 Series were the first Madrid subway cars to feature exterior destination signs and an articulated joint between each pair of cars, and were designed with the needs of Line 9 in mind.  I rode and photographed these cars in Madrid each time that I was in that city, first in 2005 and then again in 2008.

In 2013, most of the 6000 Series cars were sold to the Buenos Aires Underground for about 32.6 million Euro, a purchase that has since been derided as the worst rolling stock acquisition in the hundred-plus year history of the Buenos Aires system.  Buenos Aires purchased these cars to operate on their Line B, despite some significant differences between the specifications of Buenos Aires Line B and the wide profile Madrid Metro lines.  Most notably, the Madrid Metro powers its trains using overhead catenary, as does Buenos Aires for five of its six subway lines, but Line B is the lone Buenos Aires Subte line that uses third rail power.  In other words, Buenos Aires officials ordered a fleet of subway cars with the intention of using them on the one line in their network where there was no way to power the cars without significant modifications being made to both the tunnels and the 6000 Series cars themselves.  The 6000 Series cars were also narrower the other cars that had historically operated on Line B, requiring “skirts” to be added to the cars in order to close the gap between the train and the station platforms.  The 6000 Series trains ultimately entered service in Buenos Aires starting in 2014.

I traveled to Buenos Aires in January 2018 and explored the city’s subway network, so naturally, I re-encountered the 6000 Series cars in their new home.  I don’t have logs of which cars I rode in Madrid and which cars I rode in Buenos Aires, but after my trip, I compared the unit numbers in the photos I took in Madrid with those I took in Buenos Aires.  Through that process, I discovered that I photographed car 6006 at the Avenida de America station in Madrid on June 11, 2008, and photographed the same car at Carlos Pellegrini, station in Buenos Aires on January 10, 2018.

Here are the aforementioned photos:

Riding to the Southernmost Subway Station in the World

Many are familiar with some of the world’s geographic extremes.  The lowest point on earth is the Dead Sea.  The highest point is Mount Everest.  The geographic center of the lower 48 United States is about four miles west of Lebanon, Kansas.  But have you ever wondered where the world’s southernmost subway station is located?  Wonder no more and keep reading!

Located at 34.643028 degrees south58.461611 degrees west, the Plaza de los Virreyes – Eva Perón station of the Buenos Aires Underground holds the distinction of being the southernmost subway station in the world.  As is the case with many things of this nature, there is some dispute as to whether Plaza de los Virreyes should get the title.  The Parliament Station in Melbourne, Australia is further south.  However, that station serves “suburban railway” trains, not subway trains.  What is the difference between a suburban railway and a subway?  Now we’re getting into some subjective details, but I don’t think many people would consider SEPTA’s Suburban Station or New York Penn Station, even though both of them are underground, to be “subway” or “Metro” stations.  The trains serving Parliament Station in Melbourne are akin to commuter rail trains that one might find in North America, and therefore, I don’t personally consider Parliament to be a subway station.

There isn’t a whole lot that is particularly noteworthy about the Plaza de los Virreyes station once you get there, other than the feeling that the tracks at the southern end of the station mark the “end of the world” so to speak and that no subway train anywhere can take you further south.  The tilework is unremarkable.  The station’s mezzanine feels a lot like just about any other “end of the line” terminal station mezzanine, with a number of onward connections available at the street level.  The lighting for photos of trains in the station itself isn’t all that great.  But despite the lack of noteworthiness in other ways, Plaza de los Virreyes gets to be the southernmost subway station in the world and no one can take that distinction away from it (for now).  

Even if Plaza de los Virreyes itself is perhaps a bit underwhelming, the journey to get there is not.  Following the 2013 retirement of the 100 year old “La Brugeoise” cars that operated on Line A, Line E of the Buenos Aires Underground has the distinction of operating the city’s oldest subway cars, the CAF-GEE cars, that were manufactured in 1968.  Some of these cars have not been refurbished and still feature wooden seats and incandescent lighting, and some aren’t even painted in the standard yellow livery that most Buenos Aires Underground trains feature.  The artwork at some of the stations along the journey to Plaza de los Virreyes is in fact eye-grabbing and worth closer examination if you have time.  Line E may not be the busiest or fastest line in Buenos Aires, but it certainly has a certain “blue collar” charm to it, and knowing no train in the world takes you further south definitely gets the line some extra brownie points.  It is definitely worth exploring if you find yourself in Buenos Aires!


The following is a selection of images from Plaza de los Virreyes – Eva Perón Station and the rest of Line E of the Buenos Aires Underground.  

For additional photos from Buenos Aires, please click here and stay tuned for future Travelogue posts!

 

Just in time for the summer travel season, Winter 2018 photos have been posted!

The first part of 2018 here at Oren’s Transit Page headquarters has been busy.  The next few months also have some travel planned both to places I’ve been before as well as new ones, but in this post, I wish to let everyone know that new photos from the past few months from a variety of places are now available on this site.  You may have noticed some recent photos of the month were from locations that had not been featured on any part of this site before.

I made my first trip to Memphis, Tennessee back in November 2017.  Unfortunately, it was before that city’s Main Street Trolley reopened, but I guess that just means I’ll have to go back some day.  However, I did get some photos of MATA’s all Gillig bus fleet, which you can find in the new Memphis section on this site.

In January, I spent two weeks in Brazil and Argentina.  While I had been to Rio de Janerio back in 2010, I didn’t take any photos of that city’s subway on that trip.  That has changed, and there is now a Rio Metro page here on Oren’s Transit Page.  There are also additions to the existing Rio bus page.  After Rio, I was in Iguazu Falls, where I had also been in 2010, but there are no new photos from here.  The following stop was Buenos Aires, marking my first time in that city, and I have plenty of photos from that city.  The Buenos Aires Subte (Underground), while small, has a rich history and also has the distinction of serving the southernmost subway station in the world.  You might recognize some of the 6000 Series cars on the Buenos Aires pages from Madrid and that would make sense, as Buenos Aires bought them secondhand from the Spanish capital.  The network of buses, known locally as colectivos, is an impressive sight to see as they crisscross the city in just about every imaginable direction.  Each colectivo line is operated by a private firm, and each private firm only operates a handful of lines at most.  The buses on each route have unique liveries to make identification by waiting passengers easier.  

At the end of January, I was in the Boston area for a weekend, and at the start of April I spent a weekend in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

As is often the case, I also added a number of photos from around the DC area.  Most of the new photos are additions to pre-existing galleries, but I also finally added photos of Shuttle UM, the campus bus system for the University of Maryland-College Park, and Loundoun County Transit.

Below, you’ll find a complete list of pages with new photos.  Enjoy! 

 

Bus Photo of the Month: May 2018

Mercedes-Benz O500u-1725

Mercedes-Benz O500u-1725

Location: Libertad at Tucuman, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Operator of Vehicle: Transportes Santa Fe SACI
Date of Photo: January 10, 2018

Buenos Aires used to be known as the “City of Trams” and had the highest tramway to population ratio in the world.  However, as is the case in many of the world’s cities, the trams were replaced by buses in the 1960s and while the Argentinian capital is home to the oldest subway in South America, that subway covers relatively little ground in this dense but sprawling city.  The subway’s utility is further diminished by its relatively limited operating hours (the last trains leave their origins just after many Portenos sit down to dinner).  Fortunately, there is an extensive network of buses, known as colectivos, that provide the bulk of the public transit service in Buenos Aires.  These colectivos are privately owned and operated and receive no government funding aside from highly subsidized fuel.  Each operator operates a single line or a handful of lines, and their buses are painted differently in order to distinguish the various companies from each other, such as the brown and gold livery seen here.  As a result, you get a very colorful cavalcade of buses on any major street.  This bus operates on Line 39, which serves Avenida Santa Fe, one of the most important thoroughfares, though at this point in its route it is in front of the Teatro Colon, the premiere opera house in Buenos Aires with seating for nearly 2,500 people in its main hall.  Like all colectivos in Buenos Aires, Line 39 operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more photos of Buenos Aires Colectivos, please click here