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Trainwatching Travelogue - Syracuse, New York - June 11th, 1999

Syracuse, New York
June 11th, 1999

My first big trip of the Summer of 1999 occurred on June 11th when I got the cool idea to go back to Syracuse on Amtrak to do some trainwatching at the new Transit Center. My first trip to Syracuse back in late March didn't have the number of trains I had wanted to see, so my hope this time was that there would be lots more to see, and indeed there was. (I have reason to believe that it was so dead the first time I went because I went on a Monday, so this time I went on a Friday.) My trip started by traveling to Downtown Buffalo on a bumpy, rocky Metro Bus and walking down to the Amtrak Station on Exchange Street. When I arrived at the Amtrak Station, there was another Metro Bus waiting at the station, it is shown in the photo to the right. Painted for local Internet Service Provider BuffNET, the bus reads "Go Sabres!" on its destination sign. Several buses in the area had that sign flashing during the weeks of the Stanley Cup Finals, which unfortunately, the Buffalo Sabres lost after a bad call in Game #6 (Yes, I know the sign on the bus is misspelled, and that goal in the last Stanley Cup Game never should have counted, but that's another story!!). Getting back to my trip, I went into the Amtrak Station to purchase my tickets for the day and after a quick Diet Pepsi (I don't drink coffee) I headed out to the platform to get set to take a slide of the train when it arrived at the station. The train, Amtrak #286 powered by GE P32AC-DM #703, seen in the photo below , arrived at the station at 8:41am on the Niagara Branch, a CSX-owned line that runs from Niagara Falls to CP-437 on the Chicago Line. I was directed into a coach with all passengers not heading to New York City, Amtrak has some funky system of seating people going anywhere West of Albany in one coach and the rest in another coach. The one nice thing about catching this train in Buffalo is the fact that providing you are one of the first people to get on the train, you can always get a window seat!!! I was the first person to enter my coach, and being the railfan I am, I just had to get a picture of the inside of the coach I was in. So I pulled out my camera really quickly and snapped one slide of the coach interior, a standard Amfleet I coach before it filled up with passengers. The seats aren't too bad, comfortable, and they recline. A table in front of your seat folds down so you can eat or place a notebook computer on it easily. After getting into my seat, the Conductor came by to collect my ticket and I was off to the Lounge Car for an Orange Juice and an Apple Danish (overpriced but I didn't care). While keeping a close ear to my scanner, I was able to obtain train information at every Hot Box/Dragging Equipment Detector between Buffalo and Syracuse. The train had 24 axles (1 Locomotive, 5 Cars):

   As far as delays go, we had to cross one protected crossing at about 25-30mph near Fairport, NY. Outside of that minor delay, the train arrived in Syracuse at 11:14am, and left on time at 11:17am, bound for New York City. This would end up being quite an interesting day for trainwatching in Syracuse, as you'll see in the next couple pages. Since the CSX Takeover of this section of Conrail, there have been several more trains running than before. For the railfan, this means pack lots of slide film because you never know what will be around the bend next, as I would end up finding out. The above photo was taken just after I got off the train in Syracuse. A couple good things came together the day I went to Syracuse, good weather and good light for slide film. I hope you enjoy the rest of the trip report and as always, I welcome your comments via E-Mail.