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Cardinal Dome Trip:

Cardinal Dome Trip:




            In late August of 2010, Amtrak announced that it would be running its only full length dome on the Adirondack for the fourth year in a row. They also announced they would be running it on the Cardinal between Washington DC and Chicago for two weeks in late October-early November. It would run east on October 30 and November 6 and west on November 5 and 12.  After much thought, I decided to ride the dome on the Cardinal. My plan was to leave Toronto on October 28 and catch the Lakeshore Limited to Chicago. I would spend a night in Chicago before I would ride the Cardinal to Baltimore. I would then spend a night in Baltimore before flying to Buffalo and taking the Maple Leaf the rest of the way. The trip unfolded as follows.


October 28, 2010:


            I got to Union station shortly after 5:00 pm. I bought dinner at the McDonald’s in the station before I went to line up for train 95 to Niagara Falls. Once again, I was relying on my aunt to take me to Buffalo Depew like my 2008 Chicago trip and my trip to Dayton earlier this year. However, since my Dayton trip, VIA pushed back train 95’s departure to 6:00 pm; 15 minutes later.


            Boarding began shortly after 5:30. I took a photograph before I boarded.



            I was seated in LRC business class (formerly VIA 1) car #3473. Even though train 95 doesn’t offer business class service, they have business class cars on the train for two reasons. First, the train uses the equipment from train 45 which has business class service. Second, the business class cars have some equipment that allows people to surf the internet on board. I took a photograph before I boarded.


            I took a window seat on the left hand side of the train. I watched train 76 arrive and train 87 depart. The train left on time. As we passed VIA’s Toronto Maintenance Centre, I filmed the equipment in the yard including the Canadian with a rebuild F40PH-2 in the consist. I also saw some coaches and a dome for the Rocky Mountaineer Railtours train from out west. The RMR is sending the coaches to Toronto for repainting on the Canadian. Since their HEP is incompatible with the HEP of VIA’s coaches, they actually deadhead the coaches in between the Canadian’s locomotives as not to obstruct the view from the Park car! After several missed attempts to see RMR coaches being moved on the Canadian, I finally succeeded a few weeks previously.


            West of the TMC, I saw a GO train being pushed by two MP40s. I was unable to film that, but that was the first time I had seen two MP40s on a GO train. Previously I had only seen GO trains with either a lone MP40 or an MP40 leading a F59PH.


            The train stopped at Oakville and Aldershot. West of Hamilton, VIA train 98 passed. Unfortunately it was dark so I was unable to film it. The train stopped at Grimsby and St. Catherines. After we left St. Catherines, we passed over the Welland Canal. Thankfully, the bridge was down. Soon we were approaching Niagara Falls. I called my aunt to let her know I was almost there.


            The train arrived a couple minutes late. I got off and took some photos.



            I then met up with my aunt. We then left the station. Since I had just had supper, I chose just to get a donut from Tim Horton’s. After, we went back to her house. I called my mom to let her know I was there. I then watched a bit of TV for awhile before we headed out.


            We crossed the Peace Bridge into the U.S. The agent there was nice not anal or ridiculous like the customs agent on my Arizona Make-Up Trip or my Washington-Lancaster trip.


            After we got to Walden Avenue, we made a detour to a nearby Target however, we had difficulty getting there but we soon arrived. My aunt and I did a little shopping though I only got one thing for me. After, we headed to Buffalo Depew station. When we arrived, we noticed a lot of cars waiting. My aunt remarked that this was the busiest she’d seen the station. After she dropped me off and I went into the station, I found out why. Amtrak train 283 was running over 90 minutes late and due in shortly. There were people waiting to meet passengers from that train as well as for train 49/449 which I would be taking.


            Train 283 showed up just before 10:30. The train had P32AC-DM #714, five Amfleet 1 coaches, and an Amfleet 1 café car with business class seats at one end. I photographed it.




            Train 283 stayed in the station for a couple minutes before it departed. I filmed it pulling out. I called Julie to find out when train 49 was due. At first, it was on time, but then it became late.


October 29, 2010:


            The Lakeshore Limited arrived 26 minutes late. When it arrived, I photographed it. I noticed the second unit was P40 #815 which is one of several P40s being reactivated from storage as a result of Amtrak getting money from the Obama Administration. Amtrak is also using the money to refurbish various cars and buy a fleet of new Viewliner dining cars, baggage cars, baggage dorms, and additional sleeping cars. I photographed the train as it arrived.



This is P40 #815.




            I was seated in Amfleet 2 coach #25113 which was in the Boston section. The coach was very full and I had to squeeze around a man in a wheelchair whose feet were sticking out into the aisle. However, I did manage to find a pair of empty seats on the left hand side of the train. The train made a double stop before we departed. I took some Nyquil because I had a cold for the third time this year! I then pulled out the blanket I bought on the Three Rivers and tried to go to sleep.


            I slept off and on between Cleveland and Sandusky. East of Sandusky, Amtrak train 48/448 passed. We made a quick stop in Sandusky. I continued to lie down to try to get some sleep.


            Soon, we were approaching Toledo. We were still late. Toledo is a smoke stop which I used to take some photos.




            I then got back on the train and we then departed. After awhile, I got changed and went to the dining car for breakfast. We had a Temoinsa refurbished diner. I sat down for breakfast. After I paid for breakfast, I went to the café car and bought a Pepsi. On the way to the café car, I saw that Amfleet 2 coach #25000 was on the train. This was the coach I rode on the Maple Leaf when I went to New York on the Three Rivers. I rode in 25000 again on train 49 on my Arizona trip and it appeared a third time on the Maple Leaf as I returned from my 2007 Adirondack trip. I then went back to my seat and lied down again. The train stopped at Bryan.


            As we went around the curve prior to Elkhart, I photographed the train.




            I also noticed we had two private cars on the rear of the Lakeshore Limited! This was the first time since my Washington-Cleveland trip that a private car was on my train.


            As we departed Elkhart, I tried to film the New York Central Museum, but two parked freight trains blocked my shot.


            The train stopped at South Bend, Indiana a little while later. Soon, we were approaching Chicago. My friend Karl sent me a text message asking about the arrival. I called him and let him know we were between South Bend and Chicago. He said my train would be an hour late into Chicago.


            Like my Dallas trip, the Lakeshore Limited was wyed and backed into Union station. As we passed Amtrak’s 14th Street Yard, I filmed it. I noticed the Great Dome in the yard. I also filmed the inbound Pere Marquette led by P40 832.


            Just as Karl had said, the train arrived an hour late. I got off and took some photos of my train and another train that consisted of two refurbished P40s, a former Heritage crew dorm used for special moves, and three Horizon coaches.









            I then photographed the two private cars on the rear of the train. They were Mount Vernon and former New York Central observation car Hickory Creek. I thought it was kinda ironic that Hickory Creek was on the Lakeshore because it was built for the New York Central’s 20th Century Limited which the Lakeshore is the modern incarnation of.





            I then went inside the station. I then went to get a CTA pass. I decided my best option was a 3 day pass, but the machine didn’t give change and I didn’t have a $10 bill. I tried to change it at the nearby Metra counter, but they said they weren’t allowed to make change. In the middle of it all, Karl called to ask where I was. I eventually bought a pass with my credit card and went to the great hall and met up with Karl. We then headed to the parking lot where he was parked. When we got to the level, he realized he forgot his ticket, so he went back down to get it. I stayed up there and waited for him. He came back a couple minutes later and we headed out though getting out of the parking garage was a little confusing.


            As we drove through downtown Chicago, Karl told me that former Toronto PCC 4601 has rusted badly at the Michigan Transit Museum. When the 4600-4618 series PCCs were in service 4601 was one of my two favorite cars because it and sister 4600 (which is preserved at the Halton County Radial Railway Museum) were painted in the CLRV paint scheme which I liked. Both cars were repainted into the maroon and cream to match cars 4602-4618 a couple years before the cars were mothballed. However, Halton County plans to repaint 4600 into the CLRV paint hopefully in 2011.


            Karl and I stopped at a McDonald’s for lunch. While there, I told Karl about the demise of CLRV 4063 which was scrapped after it had been stripped down for a CLRV rebuild program that never happened. I told him the ironic part that the number 4063 was not just on the first scrapped CLRV, but the first scrapped PCC as well! PCC 4063 was scrapped following an accident back in 1947.


 After lunch, Karl drove me to my hotel. He used to me a member at the East Troy Electric Railway until a new manager took charge who had a “my way or the highway” attitude. Something that may have happened as a result of this new manager was the selling/scrapping of the museum’s three CTA 5-50 series El cars. Two were scrapped while a third was sold to the Fox River Trolley Museum. When I first learned about that, I was shocked because when I went to East Troy in 2000; (days after I first met Karl), the members said they loved those cars to the point that they said that every museum should have at least one.


            One other thing that this new manager at East Troy did was when Karl had a disagreement with him, he banished Karl and said that he would call the police if Karl set foot on the property again! He claimed that Karl had been banned over money from the museum’s dinner trains which Karl denies. I believe Karl.


            Karl dropped me off at my hotel which was the Hilton Chicago which is downtown; not in the suburbs as the hotel I stayed at during my Arizona Make-up trip and my 2008 Chicago trip.


            Like my hotel in Dayton, I booked it on which gives a price for a hotel and the approximate area it’s located in, but not the name until you make the reservation. When I booked, my friend Greg said my hotel had quite a bit of history. The hotel originally opened as the Stevens Hotel in 1927 and was considered the finest hotel in Chicago at that time. Over the years it changed hands and later was bought by Conrad Hilton, who was one of many husbands of Elizabeth Taylor.


            I then said goodbye to Karl and checked in. I had a room on the 17th floor which happened to overlook the El. I also noticed a monitor with hotel information personally welcoming me. This hotel was amazing!


            After a few minutes, I headed out for the CTA. I walked to the Harrison station on the red line and caught a Howard bound train. At Howard, I got off and took some photos.




            I also noticed someone else photographing some police activity from the station. A few minutes later, a CTA security guard told the other photographer that he wasn’t allowed to take photos without a permit. He hadn’t said anything to me, but I knew it was a lie. CTA’s website says the general public is allowed to take photos from public areas.  I decided I wasn’t going to stand by doing nothing. I told him that CTA’s website said we can take pictures. The CTA employee then said that he always been told that people need permits to take pictures. I told him to check his sources. A third man seemed to take our side as well. I did that because I felt it was right and have no regrets.


            The three of us boarded a set of 2600 series El cars on the Skokie Swift and we rode to Skokie. We talked a little bit during the ride. As we passed the Skokie shops, I saw three sets of 2200 series El cars. I wasn’t sure if they were there for maintenance or they were retired as the CTA recently took delivery of the first train of new 5000 series cars that will replace the 2200s and 2400s. However, at least two 2200s will be saved as my friend Greg told me years ago that the Illinois Railway Museum plans to get a set.


            The train stopped outside of Skokie so two CTA track workers could climb on board. We then proceeded to Skokie station. I got off and took some photos.



            I then filmed the cars depart to reposition to head back to Howard. I went to the bus bay to try to ride a PACE Classic or Orion 1. I photographed a PACE Orion 6 while waiting.



            Meanwhile, another train had arrived from Howard and I photographed it during its repositioning.



            A little while later, I saw an Orion 1. I filmed it passing. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn into the station.



            I went back to waiting. No Orion 1s came back. I walked to Subway and bought a bottle of water. When I left Subway, I saw a minor traffic accident happen! No one was injured though. I thought that was enough so I headed to the station to catch a train back. However, I got a paper cut on a previous cut and when I got to Howard; I left the station and looked around. Before I left, I took some photos.




            I found a store that sold bandages. I bought some and then used one. I then walked back to the El. I just missed an express train to the loop, so I caught a red line train south.


            I got off at Roosevelt. I then walked over to the Amtrak yard on the side of the road that faced towards Union station. I was hoping to see one of Metra’s two remaining F40C locomotives. However, I only saw some regular F40PH’s and a few F40s with “Winnebago” cabs. I took some photos and videos of a few Metra trains and some Amtrak movements. I even saw one Metra F40 which was smoking very badly!




That’s a lot of smoke!





            Across the street, I saw an Amtrak Cascades F40 cab car in the yard with two other F40 cab cars including one in the Phase 3 livery. I took a picture to the best of my ability.



            I then walked to the nearby Target department store. I looked for a payphone to call Greg, but there were none. I then called him on my cell phone, but got no answer.


            I then walked back towards the Roosevelt CTA station. Along the way, I took some photos along another Metra line.



            I then got to Roosevelt and rode the red line back to Harrison and walked back to my hotel. I photographed a tour bus parked by a Jazz club across the street from my hotel.



            I then went to my hotel and stayed there for awhile. I kept trying to reach Greg without success. A little while later, I became hungry, so I decided to go out for dinner. I then decided to give Greg one more call and finally got through. Even though Greg knew I was coming to Chicago, he forgot the exact dates. We couldn’t meet for dinner though, but we agreed to try to meet for the following day.


            I took the red line to Jackson and transferred to the Blue line. I boarded a set of 2200s and rode to Clinton. I photographed the train before I filmed it leaving.



            I then walked back to Union station. I bought dinner from the food court in the station. After dinner, I went by a CVS Pharmacy but it was closed. I walked back to Clinton and boarded a Blue line train. I inexplicably got off at LaSalle station even though I wasn’t planning to. I filmed the train leave then got on the next one, wondering why I had done that. Oh well, at least I didn’t have anywhere important to be. I rode the next train to Clark and Lake. I went upstairs to ride a train of 2400 series cars on the green line. While waiting for a green line train, I took some pictures of other trains passing.





            Finally my green line train arrived led by car 2483. I photographed it.



            I got on and rode to Roosevelt station. I got off and took one more photo.



            I filmed the train pulling out then went to catch a red line train. A train soon arrived. I rode one stop north to Harrison. I then walked back to my hotel. I set the alarm on my phone for 9:00 am and called it a night.


October 30, 2010:


            I woke up and got dressed. I went downstairs for breakfast. After breakfast I went up to my room and finished packing. I photographed the Sears Tower and a CTA Green Line from my room.




            I then finished packing and went down to the lobby and checked out. I then walked to Harrison and caught a red line train to Jackson.


            At Jackson, I transferred to the Blue line. I was expecting that they would be running eight car trains on Saturdays like they do on the weekdays, but I saw they were running four car trains at the time and I boarded a four car train of 2600 series cars and rode to Clinton. When I got there, I saw another four car train with a set of 2200 series cars at the rear. I figured that this might be my best chance to ride a 2200 car on the front of a train.


            However, I chose to walk to Union station and rented a locker for the day. I noticed I had missed a call from Greg, so I called him back. We decided to meet at Jackson station and go out to lunch. As I left Union station, I bought a bottle of diet Orange crush as I was thirsty.


            I walked back to Clinton to away a Blue line train that would take me to Jackson. I was hoping for a train led by a 2200 series car and sure enough, a 2200 was leading the first train that pulled in going my way! I got on the front car. I noted to myself that this was the first time since my Arizona Make-up trip I had ridden a 2200 series car as the front car of a train!


            During the ride, I saw a guy near the front of the train act like something had dropped under his seat. I thought it was his bag or something but it turned out to be a child! She appeared to be okay though.


            At Jackson, I got off and took some photos of the train before I filmed it pulling out.


Nice to see a set of 2200s leading for once!


            I went to where Greg told me to meet him. He wasn’t there but showed up a few minutes later. We then walked looking for a restaurant. After passing a couple places, we went to an Arby’s, but it was closed. We then had lunch at a restaurant that sold hot dogs which was next to the El.


            I showed Greg some of the photos I took during the Dayton trolleybus charter and photos from when I went to Washington DC earlier this year. He asked me to explain the photo of people on the charter pushing 110 after we hit dead wires. I also showed him the photos I took on my Dallas trip.


            Greg told me of CTA’s latest budget crisis and that the father of someone we both know in Toronto isn’t doing well. I then told him how my mom’s cousin died from cancer earlier in October.


            Greg also told me that I should do more in Chicago besides transit related stuff. First Greg kept telling me to come to Chicago. I came for a day in 2005 when I rode the Three Rivers, then he says I should be there longer, now this! Sometimes I can’t win; just kidding!


            Greg also warned me that with a recent foiled bombing plot on the Washington Metro, security had been stepped up. CTA has been two-faced on the issue of photography. While they do allow photography, last year they released a brochure about transit security which tells people to be on the lookout for; among other things, “excessive photography”.


            After lunch, I went to a bookstore to charge my cell phone. Next, I walked to the Jackson blue line station and boarded an O’Hare bound train. I noticed that there were now 8 car trains running so the 2200s wouldn’t be leading. I rode all the way to Jefferson Park station which is where I rode to when I stayed at the Days Inn the last two times I spent at least one night in Chicago. However, instead of boarding the route 85A, I boarded a bus on the route 68. I was going to Chicagoland Hobbies.


            There was a route 68 bus already at the terminal. I got on and rode to Chicagoland Hobbies. I looked around. I saw an O-scale model layout with a steam train and a four car train of 6000 series El cars. I asked if I could photograph it and the employee said I could. So I did.



            I looked around for a few minutes before I decided not to buy anything. I left and waited for a route 68 bus to take me back to Jefferson Park. It was a long wait, but the bus finally arrived. When I got to Jefferson Park, I photographed my bus and another Nova LFS.




            I was wondering if I could catch a Metra commuter train back to downtown at the nearby station. However, the schedule didn’t fit mine. I filmed an outbound Metra commuter train and boarded a blue line train to downtown. I got off at Jackson thinking I might be able to go by Amtrak’s 14th street yard before heading to Union. I filmed my train leaving. I then realized that there wasn’t enough time. While waiting, I photographed a sign that still had a sign for the branch of the Blue line which used to be a rush hour only segment and is now served completely by the pink line.



            The next train arrived and I boarded the third car which was a 2200 series car. Up to this point, it didn’t seem like security was stepped up.  However, at LaSalle and Clinton, I saw police officers on the platform. I got off at Clinton and filmed the 2200s on the train while I was a little worried that the police would give me a hard time. However, they didn’t and I left the station. I went to a CVS Pharmacy and bought some snacks for the train. I then went to the station where I realized I had lost the code to my locker. I had to pay $16 to get my suitcase back. I then went to line up for the Cardinal. I saw the two private cars that were on the rear of the Lakeshore Limited were also on the Cardinal. They were behind the dome. Unlike when I rode the dome on the Adirondack in 2007 and 2008, the dome was not behind the locomotive which would give a better forward view.


            Boarding began around 5:25 pm. The Cardinal usually has a P42, a baggage car, one Viewliner sleeper, an Amfleet 2 Diner-lite, and three Amfleet 2 coaches. I saw that my train had two locomotives: a P42 and a P32-8BWH, a baggage car, one Viewliner sleeper, an Amfleet 2 Diner-lite, four Amfleet 2 coaches, the dome, and private cars Mount Vernon and Hickory Creek.  I took some photos before I boarded.






            I was seated in Amfleet 2 coach #25029 which was right behind the diner-lite car. I got a seatmate right away. He seemed interested when I told him about the dome car. The train departed on time. As we passed Amtrak’s 14th Street yard, I filmed it. I saw the Lakeshore Limited being prepared for its departure later in the evening. I saw that on the Boston section of the train was a Horizon café car instead of an Amfleet 2 diner-lite.


            I couldn’t wait to get to the dome car. However, the Amtrak crew did not tell them that the dome would be part of the train and open to regular Amtrak passengers. They thought it was for the people in the private cars. I knew that they were wrong and stated it.


            I then went to the diner-lounge. I happened to be near the crew and they were on the radio. They were talking about the dome. I soon heard the announcement I was waiting to hear; the dome was open. I made my way to the dome and passed through the other coaches. At this point, the train was full.


            There were leaves on the floor of the lower level of the dome, but it didn’t bother me. I went into the dome and watched the sun go down. Soon, I was joined by other people. Many of them were railfans. One had brought a GPS unit that indicated how fast the train was going. At one point, I got a text message from Karl. He wanted to know if I had made my train. I replied and told him I did.


            The train stopped at Dyer, Indiana. I went to the diner-lounge for dinner. This was the first time I ate a meal other than breakfast in one of these cars. After dinner, I took my desert back to the dome and stayed there. I chatted with the other railfans. One of them was Robert, a police officer from outside Milwaukee. He was taking the Cardinal to Washington then flying back on Monday November 1. The following Thursday, he would fly back to Washington DC to ride the dome on the Cardinal westbound! He was also traveling in the sleeping car which is pretty pricy as there’s only one sleeping car on the train and it sells out fast.


             The train stopped in Rensselaer. We soon left and were in the Eastern time zone again.


            A little while later, I saw outside a lot of flashing red lights that went on for miles. I didn’t know what they were. Someone said it was a wind farm. I filmed it from the dome.


            Next, the train stopped in Lafayette. I called my friend Dan whom I had met in the dome back in 2007. Dan would be boarding the train in Indianapolis. I told him that the train had a P32-8BWH in addition to the P42 as well as two Private cars on the rear. Dan was interested that the dome was towards the back of the train. The train soon departed Lafayette on schedule.


            Later, we stopped at Crawfordsville. A mother who was traveling with her family was in the dome car and she said she was enjoying it. She and her family would be getting off at Indianapolis.  After we departed, the conductor came to the dome car. He told us we would pass Indianapolis airport before we arrived at the station. One of the other railfans asked if the train goes by Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops. The conductor said it didn’t.


            A little while later, I saw an airplane coming in to land. A few minutes later, we passed right by the airport. About 10 minutes after we passed the airport, we arrived at Indianapolis. This was a smoke stop. I got off and took some photos.



            I went towards the locomotives and saw the second unit was #511. In 1995, #511 was leading the westbound Sunset Limited when it hit a bridge that someone had sabotaged. The engine made it across but three coaches fell 30 into a ravine. One person was killed in the crash which was in the middle of the Arizona desert. However, authorities never caught whoever was responsible.





            I then walked towards the back and photographed the dome and the private cars.




            Moments later, passengers boarding at Indianapolis were allowed to board. I soon saw Dan. He took a seat in Amfleet 2 coach #25043 which was two cars behind the diner-lounge.


            I then got back on the train. I saw that my stuff had been moved to the seat in front. My new seatmate was asleep across the two seats. Dan also met my old seatmate and they talked briefly about the dome. The train departed. By now it was midnight.


Click here for part 2.