Rail Photo of the Month: December 2018

AEM-7 2303

AEM-7 2303

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

Yesterday, SEPTA ran a Farewell to the AEM-7s trip on its Paoli/Thorndale Line.  Since 1987, SEPTA has had a fleet of seven AEM-7 locomotives that have primarily operated push-pull express trains on its Regional Rail Lines. These seven AEM-7s were the last ones in service with any railroad, as Amtrak retired its AEM-7s in mid-2016 and MARC retired its AEM-7s last year.  SEPTA is replacing its AEM-7s with the ACS-64 locomotives, identical to those Amtrak has been operating in the Northeast Corridor since 2014.  With the exception of the refurbished HHP-8s that remain at MARC, all electric locomotives along the Northeast Corridor between Philadelphia and Washington will now be ACS-64s.  SEPTA’s retirement of its AEM-7 fleet is truly the end of an era within the Northeast Corridor.  

The SEPTA AEM-7 unit pictured here is departing from the Temple University Station in April of 2012.  At the time, the Silverliner II and Silverliner III cars were on their last legs.  It is hard to grasp how much of the equipment I photographed that day is no longer in service.

For more photos of SEPTA AEM-7 Locomotives, please click here.

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: 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

Oren’s Reading List: SEPTA Tokens or Jewelry?

SEPTA is the last transit agency in the United States to accept tokens.  However, even in Philadelphia, the token is about to become a relic of the past.  As this milestone approaches, a number of businesses are planning to make various keepsakes, such as necklaces and earrings, out of tokens.  Read more about these businesses here.  Would you buy SEPTA token jewelry?  

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

Silverliner Sunset

Silverliner II 9007 at North Broad, April 19, 2012

In 2012, SEPTA finally had enough of its Silverliner V cars to be able to withdraw the last of the Silverliner II and Silverliner III cars from its Regional Rail fleet.  I happened to be in Philadelphia in April and had some time in the afternoon to meet up with a local railfan who I know to chase the remaining cars at that time.  After riding a set from Center City out to Fox Chase, we came back to Temple University to photograph the start of the evening rush hour.  However, knowing where the Silverliner II and Silverliner III trainsets were and glancing through the timetables, I suggested we move up to the North Broad station to get something different.  In the Philly railfan community, North Broad is usually thought of as a morning photo spot, due to its layout relative to where the sun would be positioned.  However, being from out of town, I suggested we give it a shot.  It worked out pretty well.  Not only was the afternoon light conducive to getting decent photos, we had four Silverliner II/Silverliner III sets pass through the station in the span of about 3 minutes, probably representing the entire active fleet at that time.  This is my favorite photo of the set, if you look closely you’ll see not one but two of the four trainsets in this single photo.  Want to see more?  Check out the SEPTA Regional Rail Rolling Stock page and look for photos from April 19, 2012.


Oren’s Reading List: The 11 Most Beautiful Train Stations Across America

Even if the golden age of train travel in the US is more of a memory than anything else today, its remnants are still visible to anyone who still travels by rail.  Thrillist.com has put together a list of the 11 most beautiful train stations in the United States.  I’ve been to 7 of the 11.  How many have you been to?  Which is your favorite?  Was something left off the list that you think should have been included?  Check out the list here and then answer any or all of these questions in the comments below!

Rail Photo of the Month: August 2016

Silverliner V 720

Silverliner V 720

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

Philadelphia has been in the news a lot in the past week, having just hosted the Democratic National Convention.  Philadelphia has also been in the news in the transit world as its Silverliner V fleet was sidelined due to structural issues discovered in the cars.  The Silverliner Vs were ordered in order to replace railcars dating back to before SEPTA operated the Philadelphia area commuter rail lines.  Upon their arrival and the retirement of this older equipment, the average age of the Regional Rail fleet decreased significantly.  These cars featured LED destination signs and automated announcements, as well as a railfan seat (albeit now modified) rarely found on commuter rail trains.  While SEPTA continues to operate as much Regional Rail service as it can with its Silverliner IV fleet, as well as equipment leased from Amtrak and other commuter rail systems, Philadelphia area commuters will be glad to see the full fleet back in service.

For more photos of SEPTA’s Regional Rail Rolling Stock, please click here.

New Arrivals

Over the course of redesigning Oren’s Transit Page, I was also continuing to travel, take photos, and add them in to the queue to be included in the redesigned website once it launched.  Now that the redesigned website is here, keep reading to find out what new material was added in conjunction with the redesign.  This isn’t an exhaustive list but rather just the “highlights”, there is plenty of new content scattered around the whole site.

NABI 60-BRT 9574 on Main Street at Aliso Street
Los Angeles, CA
July 11, 2014

Starting off in the United States, I traveled to a number of places for the first time in my life in 2014.  I made a Midwest swing in May 2014 that resulted in the creation of sections for Minneapolis-St. Paul (just prior to the Green Line opening) and Kansas City.  After that, in July 2014, I did some long distance Amtrak travel (with some flights in between) and visited Los Angeles and San Diego for the first time.  Also on this trip were stops in Denver (in time for the soft reopening of Denver’s Union Station), Chicago, and San Francisco.  I had passed through Denver before but I had never used or photographed its mass transit prior to that summer.  The stops in Chicago and San Francisco were my first in each city since 2007 and were quite brief, but there are new photos in those sections as well, including my first photos of the CTA 5000 Series cars.

The Washington, DC section now includes photos of some of the newer buses to ply the region’s streets, such as WMATA’s New Flyer XDE40 buses and Ride On’s Gillig Advantage/CNG buses.  On the rail side of things, there is now a gallery for photos of the new WMATA 7000 Series railcars, manufactured by Kawasaki.

PCC 3263 at Capen Street
Milton, MA
May 2, 2011

I last traveled to Philadelphia in 2012 and was able to get a last round of Silverliner II and Silverliner III photos, in addition to my first Silverliner V photos.  I made two trips to Boston, one in 2011 and the other in 2013.  On the 2011 trip, I rode the southern end of the Orange Line for the first time, and both trips included a number of trips on the Green Line and Red Line.  I also was able to get photos from along the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line right of way and of various MBTA buses, including the trackless trolleys, in Cambridge.  Finally, for the first time since Oren’s Transit Page’s initial launch over 15 years ago, there are new photos in the Atlanta section.

There are also new photos from New York City, but due to the immense size of that section, it was decided to leave it “as is” in the old format and add the new photos to the Uncaptioned Photos gallery for now.  The New York section will be updated with the new design as soon as possible.

North of the border, there is a new section for photos from Niagara Falls, Ontario.  My only trip to South America to date was in 2010 so there isn’t anything new in the Brazil and Argentina sections (while Buenos Aires is on my bucket list, I haven’t found the occasion to get myself down there just yet).

Crossing the ocean to Europe, I visited both Hungary and Portugal for the first time.  My stop in Budapest was a layover between flights in 2011 that was measured in hours rather than days, but it was enough time to photograph some of the city’s trams, buses, and trolleybuses and whet my appetite for another trip there that will be longer 13 hours. I spent almost a full week in Lisbon, a city that shares many similarities to San Francisco including the fact that its trams are a tourist attraction in and of themselves, and visited continental Europe’s westernmost bus stop for good measure.

Bombardier Flexity Outlook “Cityrunner” 3069 at Place Royale
Brussels, Belgium
November 21, 2013

In 2008, I unexpectedly found myself with 90 minutes in Brussels due to a missed train connection, which was just enough time to get some transit photos before the next train to my destination came.  In 2013, I was in Brussels yet again, this time for a full 8 hours between flights, so that section has seen some additional expansion including a new gallery for photos of the Belgian National Railway.

Finally, in the Middle East, the Israel section has expanded further and to my knowledge, Oren’s Transit Page’s Israel section is the largest of its kind on any English language website.  The Jerusalem Light Rail opened to passengers just after I began the long process of overhauling the website, so many photos of revenue service along the length of the entire line are now included on the site.  The Metronit bus rapid transit system in the Haifa region opened in 2014, and there are also photos of that.  In addition, there are many new photos of the many bus operators that operate throughout the entire length of the country.

I hope you enjoy exploring the site, whether you choose to browse the new sections, old sections, or a mix of both!  And if you have a favorite section, let everyone know what it is in the comment section below!