Tuesday, November 1, 2016

An 8-Photo Sequence of Semaphores - Before, During, After a Train

The photographs in this PhotoBlog were taken by Roger Puta in October 1985.  This amazing sequence shows Roger's love of signals. Few of us would have stayed around to get the whole sequence. 

The aspects of the signals in the first photo show the track is clear in both directions.

The location on the Southern Pacific RR was along the Tuscon Division, Carrizozo Subdivision - Ancho Block (Direct Traffic Control) - between clearance point east switch Robsart siding M.P. 1447.4 and clearance point east switch Ancho siding M.P. 1463.6 in New Mexico. Thanks to Bob Finan via the Train Orders Discussion site for the location information.

The one blade signal shows the block ahead is now occupied.
The one blade signal shows the block ahead is occupied.
The one blade signal shows the block ahead is still occupied. The two arm signal shows the engineer that the next two blocks are clear.

The double blade now shows the block next to the camera is occupied.
The double blade now shows the block next to the camera is occupied. The single blade shows the block ahead of the camera is clear.

The train has cleared the block next to the camera. The aspect on the double arm signal is equivalent to a yellow signal which tells an engineer in a train coming at the camera to prepare to stop at the next signal.
The train has cleared the second block behind the camera. The signals say clear in both directions. 

The End

Thank you Roger for this documentation and for teaching us.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Alaska Railroad's Denali Express, A Chase, Summer 2009

During the Summer of 2009 the Alaska Railroad ran the DEX (Denali Express) for the cruise ship lines between mid-May and mid-September between Whittier and Denali National Park, both north and southbound on Saturdays and again on Mondays. That took two train sets. The northbound set was put away at the end of the day in Fairbanks. The southbound run in Anchorage.

I caught a southbound DEX the afternoon of August 22, 2009 at Wasilla and followed it south to Whittier. It had left Fairbanks very early to pick up its cruise line passengers at Denali at 7:45 a.m. and would bring them to a cruise ship at Whittier. As my photographs show, there is much beautiful scenery for them to see as they ride in luxury.

The train consisted of SD70MAC 4007, a Holland America Tours car, and five Princess Tours cars. The cars are self contained and required no electricity from 4007.

I first photographed the DEX just south of the Wasilla depot at 2:25 p.m.  (above two photos)

I then hurried down to Anchorage and caught the train just before the depot.  (next two photos)

Here the DEX is passing Potter Bird Sanctuary (foreground) just south of Anchorage at 4:07 p.m. Above the train is the Turnagain Arm of Cooks Inlet.

And again south of Potter at 4:25 p.m.

At 7:00 p.m. the DEX is in Whittier, discharging its passengers.  The crew has run the locomotive around its train so it can head back through the tunnel to Portage. There are no turning facilities at Whitter. 

At 9:11 p.m. it is back at Portage using the wye so it can pull the train back to Ancorage Yard cab first. In the foreground the higher track in the mainline and the lower a siding. A crewman is on the ground throwing switches.

The crew continues to wye the locomotive. I didn't chase the DEX north to Anchorage. I waited and chased the Coastal Classic north.

I hope you enjoyed my photographs of the DEX and the Alaska scenery. Your comments and corrections are quite welcome.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Permit Me to Show You a Bounce

When a suburban train makes a second run during the commuter rush, it does not always run out to the end of the line.  I photographed an example on the Burlington Northern Racetrack the morning of May 13, 1991. The Burlington Northern Racetrack is the three-track mainline that runs from Aurora, Illinois to Chicago Union Station.  Daily it sees many commuter trains (called dinkys), several Amtraks, and a good number of freight trains.  It is big-time railroading, and has been since about 1900.

Burlington Northern locomotive 9914 and her train had already been to Chicago and were returning to bounce at Lisle, IL. I took this photo at 7:35 am. She is on the inbound track (eastbound) approaching (about a half mile from) the Lisle inbound platform. She has run express back from Chicago Union Station where she had deposited her first load of commuters. Her train is now empty. She is pulling. Her head light is on. For the record she was an E9A. Some call her an E9AM because in September 1973 she was rebuilt with diesel generator (HEP) from CB&Q 9989B, an E9A with a steam generator, built in January 1956. She was retried in October 1992. I'm sure she pulled the best over the years: The Denver Zephyr, The California Zephyr, The Empire Builder, and The North Coast Limited. And she did that while rotating in and out of commuter service. 

 It's now 7:50 am, the Lisle passengers have boarded and are reading their newspapers.  No smart phones.  She is pushing her train back to Chicago and will make a few local stops before hopping on to the Zephyr track (the middle track) for a fast run back to Union Station and then a restful day in the coach yard before the evening rush.  Maybe she will visit the Zephyr Pit (what the Chicago engine terminal was called).  

She has a High Green, her headlight is out, and her engineer has abandoned her for the bi-level cab car. She is pushing with everything she's got.  And don't tell her her train is a Dinky.  Never insult an E9A! 

Note, not all railroads call this a "bounce".  I have heard "flip-back".