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Fall Railfanning Trip - Cleveland To Sandusky, OH - October 21st, 2002

Fall 2002 Railfanning Trip:
Segment 4: Sandusky To Albany-Rensselaer
On Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited
Monday, October 21st, 2002

Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited In Buffalo-Depew Station
On A Service Stop - October 21st, 2002
   I had a taxi come and bring me from my hotel in Sandusky to the Amtrak Station at around 1:15am. After arriving at the station, a quick call to Julie said that Train #48 - The Lake Shore Limited was set to arrive into Sandusky shortly after 3am. There was one other person waiting at the station to pick someone up who would be getting off in Sandusky. I heard only some minimal scanner chatter, mostly freights calling signals, but about a half hour or so before my train would arrive, another Amtrak Train would pass through Sandusky though it wouldn't stop there. It was Train #30 - The Capitol Limited, and a quick look at its consist as it whizzed by at 50mph showed that it had all Superliners, its normal consist and of those Superliners, only 2 of them were coaches!
   At approximately 3:17am, The Lake Shore Limited arrived into Sandusky. I would come to find out that I was the only passenger (once again) boarding the train in Sandusky! This leg of the trip was the one where I had to book the 2 tickets to ride the same train due to Amtrak's web site, so the conductor had to clarify with me exactly where I was going, I said Albany and gave him both of my tickets. It turns out that I rode with this conductor twice before in the last year or so so he knew who I was and helped me find a window seat in my coach, Amfleet II #25047. This coach was a "semi-refurbished" coach with blue seats but it had the old reader boards, no AC outlets and red walls. The coach was very warm and clean, though once again, maybe 1/3rd full, due to the low ridership experienced during non-peak times. Tonight's Train Consist is listed below:

Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited - Monday, October 21st, 2002
Car/Engine Type:
MHC (To Boston)
Heritage Baggage
Baggage (To Boston)
Viewliner Sleeper
"Meadow View"
Sleeping Car (To Boston)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (To Boston)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (To Boston)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (To New York - My Car)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (To New York)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (To New York)
Horizon Cafe Car
Cafe Car (To New York)
Heritage Diner
Dining Car Ex-Southern Ry. (To New York)
Viewliner Sleeper
"Palisades View"
Sleeping Car (To New York)
Viewliner Sleeper
"Morning View"
Sleeping Car (To New York)
Crew Dorm
"Pine Fern"
Heritage 10/6 Sleeper Crew Dorm Car (Ex-ATSF)
Heritage Baggage
Baggage (To New York)
Road Railers (9)
Road Railers

   We left Sandusky at 3:17am, 1 hour and 2 minutes late. We stopped in Elyria and picked up no passengers, left there at 3:50am. For the first hour or so, I just rested in my coach seat and listened to the scanner before we arrived in Cleveland at 4:15am where we picked up a new Conductor and Assistant Conductor. The Assistant Conductor and myself recognized each other right away as he was A.C. on two other trips I had taken earlier this year! We left Cleveland at 4:21am, now only 28 minutes late thanks to some schedule padding.
   I proceeded to take down some car numbers and walked into the Cafe Car only to get the surprise of my trip, this was a Horizon Fleet Cafe Car, something I've never rode in before! I had a nice chat with the train crew as the Cafe Car was open for smoking (on one end) but no food service until 6:30am.
   This trip was uneventful for the most part, no serious problems with anything. I chatted with the train crew until just before we arrived in Erie, Pa. before heading back to my coach. We arrived into Erie, picked up a few passengers and left at 5:53am, 34 minutes late. I watched from my window as we would eventually be going through Dunkirk who has tried in the past to get an Amtrak Stop but so far hasn't been successful for various reasons. We headed through Silver Creek, then Angola, Derby, Hamburg, passing all my old trainwatching spots along the way before entering the Buffalo area. The Eastern sky was starting to brighten as the sun would be coming up soon. We arrived into Buffalo at 7:21am, 33 minutes late. I had the opportunity to take slides of the train while we waited in Depew as it was a service stop/mail pickup and we would be there for a few minutes.
An announcement was made that the Dining Car was now open and to get in early should you want to have breakfast. My plan was to get breakfast as soon as we leave Buffalo and at 7:40am, we left running 34 minutes late.
   The Dining Car on today's train was Heritage Diner #8521, the same one I rode in back in August on my last trip, a former Southern Railway diner. I was seated with two passengers on their way to New York. This was my first chance to check out Amtrak's new Dining Car Menu, as it has been changed once again since my last trip. I had the Pancakes with a side of Sausage and Home Fries with an Orange Juice to drink. The food was good, as it appears that the breakfast hasn't changed much since the last menu. We passed through an area near Alden, New York which was the scene of a freight derailment a month or so before this trip, mangled up freight cars were piled up in this area awaiting the trip to the scrap yard. Some new signals were also installed here, probably as the old ones were damaged in that derailment.
   After breakfast, I went back to my coach, listened to the scanner and took in the Upstate New York Fall Colors as the trees were at their peak in this area. Our next stop was Rochester where we arrived at 8:37am. We left Rochester at 8:44am still running 34 minutes late. Somewhere between Rochester and Syracuse, I briefly dozed off in my coach seat and missed hearing 1 Hot Box Detector in the process, oh well, this was going to be the second time on this trip that I would put in 24 hours without sleep!
   We left Syracuse at 10:09am, 39 minutes late, and left Utica at 11:21am, 55 minutes late having lost some time most likely due to freight traffic. An announcement was made that the Dining Car was opening for lunch and that all passengers getting off at Schenectady or Albany should come first. I was seated with a passenger on his way to Boston and a Mother and Son, who were on their way to New York. This was the little guy's first train ride and he seemed to be enjoying it. I had the Chicken Caesar Salad for lunch with a Diet Pepsi. The Salad tasted a lot like Dole Classic Blend Salad with a piece of chicken on top, was OK. The new menu now has an Angus Burger as well as a couple other choices for lunch. After lunch, I went back to my coach, we lost a little more time having left Schenectady at 12:49pm, 1 hour and 1 minute late. We had to pass a work site where a new overhead highway bridge was being constructed, the dispatcher ended up giving our train a Form D to pass the work site! We would soon be arriving in Albany where I would be getting off for the first time at the brand-new Albany-Rensselaer Station. For me, this was exciting, I had seen this thing get built the past 2 times I visited Albany so I wanted to see it for myself now that it's opened.
   At about 1:30pm, running about 1 hour late, we arrived into Albany, and were allowed to exit the train. After all passengers exited, the train was broken up with the New York Section sitting on the farthest track from the station building, while the Boston Section backed up and made a switch move to get onto the closest track to the station building where it's Cafe Car and road railers were attached along with another locomotive. A locomotive for the New York Section, a P32AC-DM was added to it and the New York Section was on its way to the Big Apple. The Boston Section would wait a bit before leaving. In the next section of this travelogue, I'll show you pictures of this beautiful new station and why its good and bad for railfanning. Click in the table to continue.

An interior view of Horizon Fleet Cafe Car #53509. This was the surprise of this trip as these cars normally don't venture too far out of Chicago where most of them are based.

The Bar Area in the Horizon Fleet Cafe Car.

An exterior view of the same Horizon Fleet Cafe Car while we were sitting in Depew. Passengers had a chance to smoke on the platform at this time.

Viewliner Sleeping Car #62021 - "Morning View" on our train's New York Section.

 The Crew Dormitory Car on our train, #2514 "Pine Fern", originally a Santa Fe 10/6 Sleeping Car.