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Buffalo To Syracuse, NY - March 13th, 2003

Buffalo To Syracuse, New York
On Amtrak's Empire Service & Lake Shore Limited
Thursday, March 13th, 2003

Amtrak's Empire Service Train #286 arriving at the Buffalo
Exchange St. Station, March 13th, 2003 - 8:40am

   To start my 25th Amtrak Trip, I decided to ride again on an Empire Service Train since I hadn’t done so in quite awhile. Taking the Empire Service train to start the trip would allow me to get in a little more sleep before leaving as well. I knew I had to take the Lake Shore Limited back because it is now rumored to be reverting back to a later schedule in April and that would make it rather inconvenient for me to take back from a day of railfanning if that should happen, though it would be a good ridership booster for the train itself as it would no longer be scheduled for an insane 7am arrival in Chicago. In planning the trip, I booked the tickets online at using the Internet-Only 25% off special. No Rail-Sale Seats were available for this day so these tickets cost me a bit more than in past trips. Rail Sale is by far your best deal if the seats are available the day you plan to travel.
   I took a Metro Bus to Downtown Buffalo and walked the 3 blocks to the station located on Exchange Street. I picked up my tickets from the agent as I paid for them online. At 8:38am, our train, #286 arrived with P32AC-DM #717 for power with an Amfleet I Cafe Car and 5 Amfleet I Coaches. We left Buffalo-Exchange Street On Time at 8:40am. We passed through areas where the Niagara Branch, (The Line we were on) merges with the Chicago Line at CP-437. We pass by SK Yard, as well as the old Buffalo Central Terminal. We arrived into Buffalo-Depew Station at 8:50am, 5 minutes early and left On Time at 8:55am. I headed to the Cafe Car and picked up a Sara Lee Apple Danish and a bottle of Lipton Iced Tea. I rode in Amfleet I Coach #21164, an otherwise unrefurbished coach though it did have AC Outlets. The car only had a few people in it, as this train originates in Niagara Falls. When I boarded, there was maybe 2 people in the car and only the first 2 cars were open. People going anywhere but New York were seated in my car and everyone else headed to New York were seated in the car behind me.
   We had a Stop and Proceed Signal at Milepost 384 as CSX Train Q-112 was ahead of us but thankfully would be heading down the West Shore Branch at CP-382 so we wouldn’t have to follow him. We arrived into Rochester at 9:50am, 5 minutes early. The train crew took this time to do a brief brake inspection, to do this, the Head-End Power had to be shut down so we briefly had no electric power in the train while sitting at the Rochester Station. The Train Crew finished their inspection very quickly, the electric power was turned on again and we were on our way, leaving Rochester at 9:57am, 2 minutes late.
   At CP-349, we moved from Track #2 to Track #1 to get around CSX Train Q-626. Near Milepost 338, there was a decent amount of track work being performed and we had to get permission to pass a stop sign located there, we had to proceed through the work area at 30mph. These minor things would cause us to lose a bit of time as we had run virtually on time until leaving Rochester. It was snowing all morning, from the time I left Buffalo, and all through the trip, though there wasn’t that much snow on the tracks, nor was there much coming up through the vestibules either. As we got close to Syracuse, I picked up my camera bag and my coat and got ready to get off the train. We arrived into Syracuse at 11:27am, running about 17 minutes late.
   As soon as I got off the train, I noticed that a new engineer would take over from here as he boarded the locomotive. I walked down to the far East end of the platform and found a snow bank that if I stood on it would give me a better angle to photograph the train as it left. I did so, and took a slide from atop the snowbank with snow flying in my face as it had been snowing all morning in Syracuse! I stayed at the station and photographed a few CSX Freights as well as Amtrak Train #63, the Maple Leaf. I went inside the station and used my 2 filled Sub Club Cards to get a free sub at Subway located inside the station. I then found out which bus to take out to East Syracuse to check out the Old Amtrak Station that closed in 1998. The only bus I could take required a transfer to another bus in Downtown Syracuse and that required an hour long wait just to make the connection. I rode the one bus to Downtown Syracuse, then came to my senses and realized I wouldn’t get much of any time to railfan there had I waited and caught that bus, so I took the next available bus back to the Amtrak Station and decided to just stay there and trainwatch.
   I stayed on the platform for about 2 and a half hours and photographed a few more CSX Freights, then Amtrak Train #64 and finally Amtrak Train #281. As soon as #281 left, I went back into the station, locked up my camera bag and headed to the Carousel Center mall on my quest to find the Sandpatch Add-On for Microsoft Train Simulator. I checked out Electronics Boutique who ended up not having it and they told me to try CompUSA. I went to CompUSA and found it there for $19.99. I left there and headed back to the station as my train, #49 – The Lake Shore Limited was running very close to schedule. I got back to the station, and found out my train was about 20 minutes late. I retrieved my camera bag from the locker and picked up a package of M&M’s from a vending machine and sat down and watched some CNN Headline News while waiting inside as it had started to get really cold out and there wasn’t much freight traffic in the area. Around 6:45pm, myself and a few other passengers started to head to the platform, several people would follow and we all would wait until about 6:57pm when Train #49 arrived, 16 minutes late. After we boarded, the train had to make its usual double spot for baggage on the New York Section as well as for Sleeping Car passengers, though we couldn’t actually move until we were given the Medium Clear Signal to do so (Red over Green Signal). Once we got our signal, we made our second spot, then left Syracuse at 7:13pm, now 32 minutes late. I was seated in a Capstone Rebuild Amfleet I Coach #82044, and this was definitely a treat! The seats were a blue-green color and the car was set up in the new refurbished blue décor with the digital reader boards on each end and AC Outlets. The seat was VERY comfortable. The train crew on tonight’s train was the same one I’ve rode with now on my last 4 trips! After we left Syracuse, I headed to the Dining Car and was able to get in for the last seating. They had Filet Mignon and a Pork Dish available so I chose the Filet Mignon as its absolutely delicious. I was seated with a couple from Watertown on their way to Chicago. We had some nice conversations while waiting for dinner. The Dining Car was a Temoinsa Rebuilt Heritage Diner which is always a treat to eat a meal in if you ask me! The Filet Mignon came with a big side of Mashed Potatoes and I had a Diet Pepsi to drink and an Oreo Cookie Chocolate Sundae for desert. We stayed in the dining car until just before Rochester as we were all done with dinner and I headed back to my Coach Seat.
   We left Rochester at 8:49pm now running 50 minutes late. I had a Budweiser Beer from the Cafe Car at my Coach Seat which I was now able to enjoy as I said before, this was a Capstone Rebuild Car and the seat was really really comfortable! The rest of the trip was rather uneventful and at 9:55pm, running 56 minutes late, we arrived into Buffalo-Depew Station. I immediately got off the train and walked down to the far end of the platform to get the car numbers I wasn’t able to get from earlier then headed home. Overall, a good trip, though a short one, the crews on both trains were very friendly and professional. My hope is actually that the Lake Shore Limited goes back to a later schedule as this 7am arrival in Chicago is just plain crazy. A later arrival would likely boost ridership out of New York as the train would leave later from there. The consists and for today's trains are shown in the tables below. Until Next Time, Happy Railfanning…

Looking West at the Chicago Line (CSX Buffalo Terminal Subdivision) as it connects with the Niagara Branch (Niagara Subdivision), at CP-437.

Kodak World Headquarters is seen in the tall building in the left of the photo, the 3 stacks in the middle are part of the Genesee Beer Brewery based in Rochester.

Amtrak Train #286 with P32AC-DM #717 for power departing Syracuse. This photo was made possible thanks to Mother Nature who provided the snow and the nice gentleman who made the snowbank I stood on to get a slightly "higher" photo angle!

This Eastbound Autorack train came by with an Ex-LMS unit now renumbered as CSX #7919 a C40-8W on Track #1.

I had to get a picture of this, these wrap-around bus advertisements are very interesting and I think they get their message across very well, witness this advertisement for a Fuccillo Auto Dealership in the Syracuse Area. (He also has a dealership in the Buffalo area as well.)

Amtrak Train #63 - The Maple Leaf is seen here leaving Syracuse with P40DC #823 for power.

Again, another view from the man-made snowbank at the East End of the platform, here we have Train #64 - The Maple Leaf with P40DC #831 for power heading to New York.

CSX Train Q-111 is seen passing by the Syracuse Station with AC4400CW #248 for power on Track #2.

Amtrak Train #281 is seen here with P32AC-DM #713 for power. This would be the last P32 I needed to photograph in order to have all 18 units photographed!
Amtrak Empire Service Train #286 - March 13th, 2003 - 28 Axles
Car Type:
P32AC-DM Power
Amfleet I Cafe Car
Amfleet I Coach (My Car)
Amfleet I Coach
Amfleet I Coach
Amfleet I Coach
Amfleet I Coach (Capstone Rebuild)

Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited - Train #49 - March 13th, 2003 - 72 Axles
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car (From Boston)
Amfleet I Coach
Coach (Ex-Metroliner) (From Boston)
Amfleet I Coach
Coach (Capstone Rebuild) (From Boston) (My Car)
Amfleet I Cafe Car
Cafe Car (Tables/Bar/Coach Seats) (From Boston)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (From New York)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (From New York)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (From New York)
Heritage Diner
Dining Car (From New York)
Viewliner Sleeper
Sylvan View
Sleeping Car (From New York)
Heritage 10/6 Sleeper
Pine Fern
Crew Dorm/Lounge (From New York)
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car (From New York)
ExpressTrak Reefer
Reefer Car
Road Railers (7)
Road Railers