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Schenectady To Buffalo, NY On Amtrak's Empire Service
  I started the day by continuing to write this travelogue. After an excellent weekend in the Capital Region, today would be the day I would be going back home. I headed over to a nearby McDonald's for breakfast before putting gas in the rental car and getting back to the hotel to pack up everything, check out, and bring the car back to Enterprise. My friend Richard drove me back to the Schenectady station but not before getting some more food at Mike's Hot Dogs, this time for a quick lunch! If you're ever in the Schenectady area, I highly recommend this place! It's located on Erie Boulevard about a half-mile west of the Amtrak station. I picked up some Diet Pepsi and snacks for the ride back at the Stewart's Convenient Store next to Mike's and we headed to the station. Once I got to the platform, I would see one Norfolk Southern freight on the Canadian Pacific (Ex-Delaware & Hudson) mainline next to the station. At 1:38pm, Empire Service Train #281 arrived. The consist for today's train, which was the same as Train #281 on Saturday, is shown below:
710 P32AC-DM Power
82579 Amfleet I Coach Coach
82607 Amfleet I Coach Coach (My Car)
82545 Amfleet I Coach Coach
82593 Amfleet I Coach Coach
82749 Amfleet I Coach Coach
48151 Amfleet I Cafe Car Cafe/Business Class
  After getting a quick photo of the train, I boarded and my friend would ride with me until Utica. We departed Schenectady at 1:40pm running 17 minutes late. We continued on Amtrak trackage until CP-169 where we rejoin CSX track for the rest of the trip west. Train #48 - The Lake Shore Limited passed us at CP-173, just east of the next stop of Amsterdam, NY. We arrived at Amsterdam at 2:03pm and quickly departed at 2:06pm, now 23 minutes late. I hung out in the Cafe Car with my friend and would stay there until the next stop of Utica, NY where we arrived at 3:09pm. My friend would get off the train here as he had to ride Train #64 - The Maple Leaf, back to Schenectady and this was the best place for him to get off the train and be there for the connecting one back. I got a few quick pictures at the station stop and we departed Utica at 3:12pm, running 32 minutes late. I will say there was a fair amount of freight traffic in the area this time along with a few work ares which were causing us to lose some time.
  We made our next very quick stop at Rome, NY at 3:29pm, and were there less than a minute, having departed at 3:29pm also, now 33 minutes late. I now sat in my Coach seat and played some Sudoku puzzles on my phone as we headed towards Syracuse. Just east of the Syracuse station, Train #64 passed us going east. At 4:14pm, we arrived at the next stop in Syracuse. A smoking break was permitted at this stop as we have a new engineer to take the train the rest of the way to Niagara Falls. The conductors and the new engineer conduct a job briefing before we depart which allows for people to get off the train and smoke, or in my case, get more pictures! At 4:20pm, we departed Syracuse running 40 minutes late. We would stop at CP-306 to let a work train in the are get out of the way and would continue on. I headed to the Cafe Car for a cinnamon roll and a bottle of water and had a quick chat with the cafe attendant. Other than the freight traffic, things were relatively uneventful. At 5:38pm, we arrived at the next stop of Rochester, NY. I was able to get a quick photo as the station work took a little longer at this stop. We departed Rochester at 5:44pm, running 45 minutes late. I just relaxed in my Coach the rest of the way to Buffalo as it was dark out so no more photography and I was kinda tired after a good weekend trip anyway! At 6:37pm, having made up some time, we arrived at Buffalo-Depew Station, which is my stop. The train arrived 34 minutes late which overall was no big deal. Thanks to schedule padding, I would find out the train made it to Niagara Falls only 18 minutes late.
  I put my bags in the car and would head home, and so ends a great Christmas Shopping trip that had me riding a total of 4 trains, which is a first as I normally only ride 2. Overall, all the crews on all the trains were excellent. All of the onboard service staff I rode with were also excellent on all trains. The "trip within a trip" to New York and back was also great as well. Special thanks to Amtrak's Richard Heise, my good friend and an excellent engineer for the railroad, for providing the great train runs to New York and back! Included below are some photos taken on the ride back to Buffalo. A special note, the "Grand Central" font used on these pages came from Until next year, when I'll be on more great rail journeys on Amtrak, Happy Railfanning...
This Norfolk Southern van train passed by the Schenectady Station with GE C44-9W #9353 leading.
Now arriving is Amtrak Empire Service Train #281 with P32AC-DM #710 for power, this was my ride back to Buffalo!
Taking a break at Utica Union Station where some equipment from the Adirondack Scenic Railroad is parked.
Train #281 at Utica Union Station.
Making a quick stop at Rome, NY.
CSX's DeWitt Yard, just east of Syracuse.
Now taking a break at Syracuse Station. I like that old New York Central-style "Syracuse" sign!
These signals govern movements through CP-291 where the track closest to the platform (known as Track #7) merges with Track #2.
Taking a quick break at Rochester, NY. That's all folks...Happy Holidays!!!