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September 18, 2008:

September 18, 2008:


            I got up and got dressed. Aside from feeling tired, I was feeling a lot better. I went to the lobby for breakfast, but there was a big crowd and I had trouble finding somewhere to sit down. After breakfast, I went to my room and waited for Karl to call me.


            Karl called just before 10:00 and said he was on his way. He called a few minutes later and said he’d be there shortly. I finished packing and went to the lobby to check out.


Karl showed up 15 minutes later and I threw my bags in the back of his truck. We then drove off to several railway sights. We talked about the recent Metrolink crash and Karl told me that the engineer of the train was also a diabetic so it may have played a part in the crash. He had also heard a theory the engineer may have been trying to commit suicide, but neither one of us believe that theory.


            The first thing we saw was a Union Pacific coal train heading out of town with a DPU on the rear. Next, we saw a stopped CP freight. I asked if any of Union Pacific’s six Heritage locomotives were around, but Karl said they weren’t.



            Next, we visited a yard that had two former Chicago and Northwestern cabooses. One of the two was coupled to a pair of Union Pacific GP15s.





            We also saw a locomotive from the Chicago Terminal Railroad doing some switching.




            We then drove off to CP’s Bensenville yard. I photographed a plow and two GP38s. One was in the CP “Multimark” livery and one was in SOO colours.





            Next, I photographed some six axle CP power.




            Karl said he noticed something that I would find interesting. I was looking for it in the wrong place until he pointed in another direction and I saw what he was talking about: GO Transit MP40 #616 en route to Toronto from MPI. Needless to say, I photographed it.



            Next we drove to the yard that Karl would be working at later. Along the way, I photographed a SW1500 switching at a bottling plant. We were driving near Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Karl mentioned that in all the years he’s lived in the Chicago area, he’s never flown out of O’Hare; only Midway.


            He also recommended that if I can, I should fly if I’m in a hurry. I knew full well Karl wasn’t my first railfan friend to recommend flying. My friend Greg also suggested flying when I was in the initial stages of planning my Cleveland trip and when I was planning my Arizona trip, though I regretted not flying when the Sunset Limited was running 12 hours late!





            Next we drove on and I saw a Harbor Belt locomotive and a freight train with CSX power.




            We then drove to the other end of the yard, stopping to photograph cars with the Chicago Northwestern logo.






            I then photographed some NS power including a diesel still in Conrail colours.



            We then found more engines.





            We then drove over to the locomotive shop. I photographed a Dash 8



            We got to the main shop area and I saw a diesel that was in Chicago Northwestern colours. At first, we thought it was just a patched unit, but when I saw the first digit on the number board which was an 8, we knew it was one of the two CNW units that were still unpatched despite the fact it was more than 10 years since the CNW was taken over by Union Pacific. Karl and I were ecstatic. I took some photos of the unit which turned out to be 8701.



            Moments later, Karl and I saw what appeared to be the other unpatched CNW unit, but we couldn’t be sure. We wanted to drive over to investigate, but were blocked by a freight train. However, the train moved and we got closer and we were right; it was Dash 9 #8646, the second unpatched CNW unit. I took some photos of it and an AC6000 coupled to it.




            After that, Karl and I went to McDonald’s for lunch. Karl then drove me to Union station as he had to go to work later. He dropped me off and I went inside to rent a locker. I saw that there was a private car tacked onto the rear of an Amtrak train. I then photographed it.



            I rented a locker and then headed out to the El. I then went to Millennium Station where Metra electric and the South Shore line trains board. This was the first time I’ve been there since I rode the South Shore line in 2005. However this time, I was riding Metra’s electric line. The next train was leaving in 15 minutes and I bought a ticket to 63rd Street station.


            Boarding soon commenced. I went to the platform level and photographed the train which happened to be using older equipment.




            The train soon departed. I filmed various Metra electric and South Shore trains in the yard. I even saw some newer equipment in the yard.


            Soon, we arrived at 63rd. I got off and took a photo of my train and filmed it leaving.



            I filmed another Metra electric train arrive and took some photos of it and another Metra train.




            I then filmed a South Shore train pull in and caught a bus to the 63rd/King El station on the Green line. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was in a rough neighborhood. Fortunately, nothing happened to me while I waited for the El. I then rode the Green Line to the Loop and switched to a Purple line train and rode all the way to Linden. Once I got to Linden, I photographed the train.



            After, I looked around the area of the station before I got back on the El and rode to Howard Station and transferred to the Skokie Swift. I photographed the train before it pulled up to the platform that I was waiting.



The train arrived and I got on. When the train passed CTA’s Skokie shops, I filmed it. I also saw the set of 2000 series el cars that CTA has in storage. I also caught a glimpse of CTA’s historic train of two 4000 series El cars. When we got to Skokie, I photographed the train.



            At the Skokie station, I saw a Classic operated by PACE; a regional transit system. I photographed the bus.



            I then went back to the El and waited for my train to pull up. I photographed it while I was waiting.



            The train soon pulled up and I rode to Howard and transferred to the Purple line. I rode to Merchandise Mart where I hoped to have dinner in the food court. When I got off, I was going to film the train, but the operator objected. I was about to explain to her that it was okay. She seemed content, and I took a step to the left and filmed the train leaving, much like what I did on my Boston trip when the one Blue line operator shook his finger at me; objecting me filming the train.


            Like my Boston trip, I was prepared for a confrontation. I had printed off a couple copies of CTA’s photo policy, though I didn’t go as far as laminating it. Besides the policy, I had a second ace up my sleeve: my friend Greg.


            I then went inside Merchandise Mart and found it was closed. I then went back to the El and rode one station west, and transferred to the Pink line. I got off at Clinton and rode a Green Line train north. At one point, the train had mechanical troubles, but was soon underway. I rode to Harlem station which is the end of the line. I got off and took a photo.



            The train I rode went out of service. I got on another train and rode to Clark and Lake. I got off and photographed the train before I filmed it leaving.



            I then rode the Blue line to Clinton and walked back to Union station. I got my suitcase out of the locker and went to the food court and was able to buy dinner. While I was there, some guy asked for money for a train ticket. I had to tell him no twice. He reminded me of the guy in Tucson who kept asking me for $10.00.


            Since I was traveling in a sleeper, I was allowed access to Amtrak’s Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago. I checked in and got a pass in case I left the lounge.


This is my ticket to the Metropolitan Lounge.


            Boarding was to commence shortly after 9:00 pm but was delayed because Amtrak was moving the train to a different track. However, we would still leave on time.


            Soon, sleeping car passengers were allowed to board. I walked onto the platform and saw there was a Horizon fleet coach tacked onto the rear of the Lakeshore Limited. I photographed it as Horizon coaches rarely are used on trains 48 and 49.



            I was in room 9 of Viewliner sleeping car “Winter View” I dropped my stuff in the room and filmed the interior of the room and photographed the interior of the car as I don’t know when I’ll be in a Viewliner sleeping car again. I then went to the dining car for a complimentary fruit and cheese plate. I went between the diner and my sleeper.


            The Lakeshore departed on time. I went back to my room after we passed Amtrak’s 14th street yard. By now, the attendant had made up my bed. I climbed into the upper bunk as I had a window there. I tried to call it a night, but had trouble falling asleep.


September 19, 2008:


            I looked out the window as we stopped at Cleveland. However, my room wasn’t on the platform side, so I couldn’t see the taxis. I decided to get up after we left. I got dressed and went to breakfast in the dining car. I had the same thing as I had on 49, but the cereal came with a bowl which made it a bit better.


            I then went back to my room for a little. Later, I walked through the coaches and photographed the interior of the Horizon coach and sat in one of the seats to say I have now ridden in a Horizon fleet coach. I then went back to the café car and bought myself a Pepsi as we approached Erie, Pa. As we left, I tried to film the General Electric locomotive plant, but a CSX freight blocked my view. The train did have many new GEVOs for BNSF, but I was unable to film the locomotives.


            Later, we were approaching Buffalo. Thankfully, it was a nice day and not a freak snowstorm like my Arizona Make-up trip. The train arrived over 40 minutes late. I got off and photographed my sleeper before I walked over to the engines.


Here is Viewliner sleeper “Winter View”.



            The train departed 42 minutes late. I filmed the train pulling out in its entirety and photographed the rear of the train.



            I then phoned home to let my parents know I was in Buffalo. I then called Julie to find out the status of train 63. I found it was 3 minutes late. I then took a taxi to Niagara Central Hobbies. When I got there, I looked around, but didn’t buy anything.



            I then walked over to a Subway restaurant for lunch. After lunch, I walked back to the Amtrak station. Along the way, I passed a school bus yard operated by First Student. This past spring, First Student took over operations of Laidlaw which operated a large fleet of school buses in York Region. They also operate one of YRT’s garages. In the past month, I had run afoul of two YRT bus drivers who were under the misapprehension that photography was illegal; one even threatening to call the police on me. Twice my dad called the garage to report the incidents. I was planning on visiting the area on the following Monday to spite the drivers.


By the time I got back, I still had a couple hours before my train was scheduled to arrive. I photographed a couple CSX freights as the passed.





            Soon, Amtrak train 64 showed up. I filmed it pulling in. Fortunately this time, it didn’t have engine problems.



            I then filmed train 64 departing.



            Throughout the day, I photographed some freights on both the CSX and NS lines and kept checking the status of 63. Here are some of the trains I saw.






            Train 63 finally arrived 45 minutes late. As it pulled in, I filmed it.




            I was seated in Amfleet 2 coach #25099, a refurbished coach with a white and blue interior, digital display boards, and AC outlets by each seat. We soon left. The conductor took my ticket. I went to the café car, but it was closed. Seated behind me were a mother and her baby daughter. The baby cried from time to time and the mother kept comforting it by singing kid songs.


            The train stopped at Buffalo-Exchange Street. I was given a card to fill out for customs. The train stopped at Niagara Falls, New York. Passengers continuing on to Canada were allowed to step out for a few minutes. I stepped out and took some photos of the train.




            The train crossed into Canada, but when we arrived at Niagara Falls, Ontario, the Canadian customs didn’t come on for several minutes, unless they were checking the business class passengers and the train crew first. When they finally came on board, the person who interviewed me was nowhere as anal as the customs agent who interviewed me on my “Arizona Make-up trip”. The agent also thought the baby behind me was cute.


            Soon the customs inspection was done and we left 25 minutes late. I called home to let my dad know I was back in Canada. I then went to the café car for dinner.


            The train stopped in St. Catherines. After we left, I filmed the St. Catherines Transit garage as we passed.


            We then stopped at Grimsby. I filmed VIA train 95 as it raced past.


            The train stopped at Aldershot; back in GO Transit territory. Next was Oakville. At Oakville, I filmed VIA train 79 arriving. We soon left and were soon pacing an eastbound GO train. We eventually overtook it.


            The Maple leaf arrived into Toronto 13 minutes late. As I got off and walked to the front of the train, I saw a CP local pass through Union station. I then photographed the train.



I then went downstairs and called home. I also noticed VIA’s Canadian was due at 1:00 am. I got on the subway and rode to Finch. I then got a ride home.




            Aside from feeling nauseous from my dinner on my 2nd night in Chicago, this trip was excellent. I just wish I could have gone inside the car house in Kenosha, but at least I can say I didn’t need SAIT to see PCC 4609. Seeing the last two unpatched CNW units was also cool.


            Amtrak’s Viewliner sleeping cars are interesting, though I am unsure why I couldn’t fall asleep. So for now, I’ll stick to coach class on future trips on any overnight single level Amtrak trains.


            My next trip will be next January latest when I plan to go to Dallas to finish off my quest to visit the 19 PCC streetcars the TTC retired in 1995. However, there’s always a chance I could take one more trip between now and then. Until next time…


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