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Segment 1: Buffalo To New York City on Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited

Summer Railfanning Trip 2003:
Segment 1: Buffalo To New York City
On Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited
Monday, August 4th, 2003

   I got a ride up to the Buffalo-Depew station (Thanks Dad for the very early ride!). Shortly after I arrived, Amtrak train #284 was set to arrive into Buffalo-Depew Station. The Lake Shore Limited was supposed to have arrived at 5:15am but of course, this train almost never runs on time and was delayed for various reasons as it had initially left Chicago 27 minutes late the night before. Train #284 arrived into Depew at 6:36am, 4 minutes early. It had a Repainted P32AC-DM #702 for power. I found out that Train #48 was due into Depew at 7:20am, 2 hours and 5 minutes late, so I picked up a bottle of Snapple at the station and headed outside to the platform where I had a nice chat with 2 passengers visiting the United States from England. We talked for a few minutes before I headed down the platform to get into position to photograph our train when it would eventually arrive. CSX Train Q-390 switched to Track #1 before passing the station so that Train #48 would be able to pull into the station. At 7:30am, running 2 hours and 15 minutes late, Train #48 arrived. Today’s train had P42’s #197 and 72 for power. The consist for today’s train is listed at the bottom of this page.
   We left Buffalo-Depew at 7:49am after a 19 minute stop that included a double spot for baggage on the New York Section. After I found my seat, I had a little chat with the passenger sitting next to me. He was from Michigan and we had a chat about Amtrak for a few minutes. He was riding to Utica so I planned on taking his window seat as soon as he got off there. I headed to the Dining Car shortly after, an unrefurbished Heritage Diner #8528. However, I would come to find out later on that the car’s exterior is now in Phase IVb Paint, so only its interior was not refurbished. I had no record of ever eating in this car before so this one was new for me. I had the Pancakes with Bacon, Home Fries & Orange Juice to drink. The meal cost $8.75. I was seated with 2 passengers from Chicago on their way to New York who were also riding in Coach. Breakfast was delicious as always and the server had remembered me from a previous trip and shook my hand when I told him this was my 5th Amtrak Trip so far this year! After breakfast, I wasn’t quite full yet so I picked up a Cinnamon Roll and Bottle of Tropicana Orange Juice and sat in the café car and had a very nice conversation with the crew. We all chatted for about 20 minutes before we arrived in Rochester where I headed back to my coach to get out my laptop and head back into the Café Car to start writing my travelogue. We left Rochester at 8:50am. There were a couple passengers sitting across from me, one working on her laptop using 2 different cell phones to make calls and get online, and the other trying to sell people some kind of internet service, that of which he gave me a brochure on. We all had a quick chat, and the passenger using her laptop was able to connect to the internet and conduct business on the train, something unheard of as little as 10 years ago! A few people including the train crew got to see parts of my web site when I showed it to them, as I had it stored on my laptop. As I wrote my travelogue I noticed that CSX is doing a serious amount of trackwork East of Rochester as we got hit with several speed restrictions, as well as stoppages due to freight traffic. We sat at Milepost 313 for about 10 minutes waiting for another freight to pass us.
   Our station stop in Syracuse had to have a double spot similar to having to double spot in Rochester and Buffalo. We left there at 10:54am now running 3 hours late. I came to the realization that I wasn’t going to make my connection in New York to Acela Express Train #2168, however, I didn’t let that bother me because I know that Amtrak will put me on the next train and there are at least 4 more running before the end of the day so missing this connection isn't that big of a deal. I’ll elaborate a bit on connections, first, Amtrak normally will guarantee a connection if the two trains are more than an hour apart. They must be 90 minutes apart if you’re coming from a Long-Distance Train and connecting to a local train on the Northeast Corridor. If you miss a guaranteed connection, Amtrak will then make every effort to get you where you’re going. Sometimes, one must have a backup plan in place in case a connection is missed as this will generally change someone’s itinerary. Basically, my backup plan just simply involves riding a later train to Boston, as I said before, no big deal.
   I headed to the Dining Car to find out when it would be open for lunch. I would come to find out that since the last schedule change back in April, the Dining Car no longer serves lunch. This is a really bad idea if you ask me. Simply put, they should be serving lunch. They always used to serve lunch and there almost always was a line of people who wanted it, therefore, the demand is there, the crew is on the train anyway, so why can’t they deliver the product? Just a little “mini-rant”. We arrived into Utica at 12:03pm, now running 3 hours and 13 minutes late. On the way to Utica, we had numerous speed restrictions and freight traffic to contend with (par for the course for CSX!). We just simply kept losing more and more time, though I really didn’t notice too many people complaining all that much, just making lots of cell phone calls. My friend Rich Heise called me while we were sitting in Utica and I told him what had happened thus far that we were late but it really didn’t bother me. After a 9 minute stop in Utica, we left at 12:12pm, now running 3 hours and 22 minutes late. Shortly after leaving Utica, I heard the call that the crew was coming close to its 12 hours of service and had to soon outlaw. The decision was then made for the crew to outlaw at Amsterdam and a relief crew board there and take us to Albany where we would get our regular crew to New York. At around 12:40pm, the announcement was made that the Café Car was closing as it would be serviced in Albany and had to close so the bartender could do his paperwork and inventory. It was unclear at that point if the Café Car would still be on the train once we left Albany. I was told by the bartender that it wouldn’t be but then an announcement was made that it would, I later found out it was in fact part of the Boston Section of the train and would not be with us when we left Albany as I had originally thought. Near Milepost 203, we had to sit again for about 10 minutes to wait for another freight to pass us, like we haven’t seen this already before! I decided after we left Utica to get my now Window Seat as the passenger sitting next to me had gotten off, and plug in my computer to further write the travelogue. I could see that there would be a large number of people getting off in Albany so this car would empty out since no local passengers board at Albany on this train.
   At Amsterdam, our relief crew consisting of 1 conductor boarded the train. Amsterdam is not normally a regular stop on the Lake Shore Limited but in this situation, an exception had to be made. As we passed through CP-169 in nearby Hoffmans, New York, we entered the area of High-Speed Rail where 100mph speeds are allowed for a short distance. This line is primarily used by Amtrak since CSX Freights switch onto the CSX Selkirk Subdivision (Conrail Selkirk Branch) at CP-169. We arrived into Schenectady at 1:45 pm and only had to let off 2 passengers so our stop was rather brief. After leaving Schenectady, we got slowed down again for another speed restriction before crossing the Hudson River and turning South towards Rensselaer, home of the new Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Station. Passing by the Rensselaer Yard and shops, a few switchers as well as a couple P40’s were parked outside along with one Turboliner Set. We arrived into Albany on Track #2, the farthest track from the station. They decided to break the train there, and the Boston Section, which was on the front end, would split from the New York Section, then switch track and eventually be parked on the Main Track (Track closest to the station building) where its passengers would get off. That section of the train would then be serviced and turned around as it would join Train #49 on its way up from New York and run back to Chicago tonight. In the short term, this would save Amtrak half a train set since they weren’t running the Boston Section of the train due to CSX Trackwork. Busses would be waiting at the Rensselaer Station to take passengers to Boston.
   P32AC-DM #701 would be coupled onto the front of our train to pull us to New York. One thing I had a slight problem with is the fact that nobody headed to New York could get off the train in Albany to take a breather. All of us still onboard were given the impression by our car host that we would get a chance to head into the station in Albany to get some food since we had no food service South of Albany. I decided that I had to have something to drink, so after we left Albany with our new engine, I walked back to the Dining Car to find the crew finishing their paperwork for the day and asked if they had any leftover pop from last night in Chicago. They did, so I bought a Diet Pepsi for $1.50 and drank it in the Dining Car while I had a quick chat with our new conductor who told us this would be the fastest part of the trip since we no longer had freight traffic tying us up. We must have shot up to almost 100mph between Albany and Hudson, and I began to take some notice of the beautiful scenery along the Hudson River. I pulled out my Camera and took some slides of the many beautiful bridges that span the Hudson, truly amazing. As I had predicted, our car really did empty out after Albany as there wasn’t more than a dozen people still left in my coach. Only one passenger was getting off in Croton-Harmon with the rest of us headed to New York. At CP-75, our tracks began control under Metro-North Commuter Railroad for the next 63 miles. The first commuter train I saw was in Poughkeepsie as we now would be riding past all the Metro-North stations from here to CP-12 where we would switch tracks and go over the Spuyten Duyvil bridge over the Hudson and take Amtrak Trackage to Penn Station (Metro-North's trackage goes to Grand Central Station).
   As time passed, the sky got gradually darker making it far more difficult to take slides. It started raining by the time we arrived in Croton-Harmon. We left Croton-Harmon and were told that we’d be in New York in 35 minutes. The Metro-North track around us now had the 3rd Rail electric rail beside each rail line. Our train wouldn’t need the 3rd rail until just outside Penn Station. Rich called me again as we were paralleling the West Side Highway which had bumper-to-bumper traffic for as far as the eye can see since it was now around 5:20pm, typical afternoon drive time. It still continued to rain as we were now riding through upper Manhattan going in and out of tunnels and several street overpasses. Finally, we entered the tunnel into Penn Station and switched to the 3rd rail electric power the rest of the way into the station, with the electric power in the coaches going out periodically. We finally arrived into Penn Station at 5:35pm, 3 hours and 45 minutes late. I exited my coach and took the elevator up to the main concourse of Penn Station, only to find that it was a complete zoo inside! It reminded me of what the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange looks like! I immediately sought shelter in the lovely Club Acela as I was now a First Class Passenger who would be boarding an Acela Express train. As I said before, I got in at 5:35 which means I missed my 5:00pm connection. The ticket agent in Club Acela quickly exchanged my ticket for the next train, #2170 that would depart at 6:00pm. I then stored my luggage and had a couple glasses of Diet Pepsi while I chatted briefly with a few other passengers.
 Club Acela is really nice. If you’re a passenger carrying a First Class ticket, you may enter Club Acela anytime that day. Also people who fly with Continental Airlines (an Amtrak partner), they can also use the lounge as well. There is free coffee and Pepsi Products available and it’s nicely decorated with a large area with big reclining seats, a couple TV’s as well as a luggage storage area. There are a couple computers with High-Speed Internet access available, plus a meeting room that can be reserved for small business meetings. The bathrooms are located in the back near the lounge area. I only spent a few minutes here since I knew my train would be coming soon.
   The Consist and Hot Box Detector Reports are shown in the tables below, to see Segment 2 of the trip on the Acela Express, click in the table at the bottom of this page…

Amtrak Train #284 arriving into Depew with repainted P32AC-DM #702 for power. This train should otherwise be the second Eastbound train out of Depew but because our train was so late, this one was first.

CSX Train Q-390 (Conrail Train NPSE) passes by Depew Station with Union Pacific SD70M #4041 shortly before our train (Amtrak Train #48) arrived.

Shown here is the train that would take me to the Big Apple for the first time! Amtrak Train #48 with P42DC #197 on the lead, arriving into Buffalo-Depew Station at 7:30am.

Yours truly writing my travelogue and taking a quick phone call, yes I guess I can be officially called a train traveler in the 21st Century! (OK, this picture was entirely staged but I think you get the point, ha ha!!)

Looking at part of the Albany skyline, this photo was taken just before crossing the Hudson River Bridge into Rensselaer.

The Hudson River, a body of water we would all become very familiar with as we traveled towards New York City as it would now parallel the train the rest of the way.

Amtrak MP15 #536 sitting in the Rensselaer Yard & Shops along with a pile of wheels and some other junk as we passed by the shops prior to arriving in Rensselaer.

P40DC #828, sitting in the Rensselaer Yard. These units have become commonplace here in the Northeast as regular power North and West of Albany on trains such as the Maple Leaf as well as the Adirondack.
Here comes P32AC-DM #701 backing up and coupling up to the first New York Section Coach. You can photograph a lot through that small window on the door in the coach if you have a good lens!

Looking out the window of my coach is now Train #448 that will be serviced and sent West as part of Train #49 since the Boston Section wasn't running today and was replaced by busses due to CSX Trackwork.

One of the many huge bridges that span the mighty Hudson River on the way to New York. I had no idea the Hudson River was this big, of course I've never visited this area before so this was all new territory for me!

A Metro-North P32AC-DM sitting on a refueling pad somewhere South of Poughkeepsie.
Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited - Monday, August 4th, 2003 - 86 Axles
Car/Engine Type:
Power (To Boston)
Power (To Boston)
Power (Albany To New York)
Heritage Baggage
Baggage (To Boston)
Viewliner Sleeper
"Shore View"
Sleeping Car (To Boston)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (To Boston)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (To Boston)
Amfleet II Cafe Car
"Philadelphia Club"
Cafe Car (To Boston)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (To New York)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (To New York)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (To New York)
Heritage Diner
Dining Car (To New York)
Viewliner Sleeper
"Patriot View"
Sleeping Car (To New York)
Viewliner Sleeper
"Forest View"
Sleeping Car (To New York)
Heritage 10/6 Sleeper
"Pacific Patrol"
Crew Dorm/Lounge Car (To New York)
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car (To New York)
Road Railers (6)