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Summer Railfanning Trip Buffalo To Springfield, MA - August 12th, 2002

Summer 2002 Railfanning Trip:
Segment 1: Buffalo To Springfield, MA On The Lake Shore Ltd.
Monday, August 12th, 2002

  Yes, what your looking at to the right is none other than Springfield's own, The Simpson's! I'm not sure which state the Simpson's are actually from but since I would be visiting the "Town Of Springfield" on the trip, I thought I would include a pic of them in this travelogue. Anyways, to start the day, I arrived at the Amtrak Buffalo-Depew Station as always a little early, though because the train was running over an hour and a half late, I arrived around 7:00am. This train normally arrives at 6:48am, but due to the late arrival of the train, I came a little later as the light before then wasn't really suitable for train photography anyway. After unloading my 2 bags from the car, (Thanks again Dad for driving me here today!), I ran inside, picked up a quick Diet Pepsi for $1.25 from the pop machine in the station, and headed out to the platform. I was told by another passenger that now the train was due to arrive at 8:30am, which would make it almost 2 hours late in arriving and could possibly put it in the way of Train #286, an Empire Service Train that was due to arrive in Depew at 8:55am. I packed 9 rolls of film and 10 Mini Discs to listen to on this trip though I would end up hardly using my MiniDisc Player at all as the events of this trip would unfold and I would have most of my attention given to my scanner to hear what was happening. While on the platform, I had a nice conversation with a guy from Australia who was on vacation, touring America and was gonna ride Train #286 to New York City. Because our train was so late, there were people on the platform for both trains which may have created some confusion as #286 was otherwise running on time. I was actually hoping that #286 would arrive before #48, our train, since then I would have a chance to photograph it (the railfan in me I tell ya!!) but at 8:23am, Amtrak Train #48, The Lake Shore Limited arrived in Depew with P42DC #159 on the lead, 1 hour and 35 minutes late. In Buffalo, the Lake Shore needs to not only pick up passengers but pick up mail as well. Amtrak puts 8 minutes in the timetable for this to happen, today, it would take 33 minutes. I boarded in the first of 2 coaches in the Boston Section of the train, since I would be riding to Springfield. Amtrak will place most anyone not getting off in New York or Croton-Harmon, in the Boston Section to fill up any empty seats in that part of the train. I boarded Amfleet II Coach #25025, a nicely refurbished coach with blue seats, AC outlets and digital reader boards on each end of the car showing where the Cafe Car and bathrooms are. I was seated in an aisle seat with a family of 3 traveling from Tacoma, Washington to New Haven, Connecticut to visit family. I was told by these people that their train, the Empire Builder, ran into HEP problems somewhere near Minneapolis which delayed its arrival into Chicago. Since The Lake Shore Limited is a guaranteed connection with the Empire Builder, it couldn't leave until after the Empire arrived. This same situation happened to me last February as I was coming home from California and our train was stuck in Chicago waiting for the California Zephyr, another guaranteed connection, to arrive. I also heard some chatter that the air conditioner in the Boston Section's Viewliner had quit working. This was fixed for now while we were in Buffalo.
   Shortly after departing Buffalo, I headed to the Dining Car, a Heritage Diner which appeared to be unrefurbished as of recently as it still had a rather dark brown interior and the older style lighting. I noticed Amtrak's new National Menu which is now in use on all long-distance trains that have a dining car. Personally, I think this is a bad idea because each train serves a different part of the country with different sites to see along the way and I feel the food served onboard should reflect that. My hope is that Amtrak President David Gunn will change this, we'll see what happens. I had the Pancakes & Sausage for Breakfast, the food tasted generally good with no major problems though the glass I had my Diet Pepsi in was a little spotty, not that it bothered me too much but I'm sure there will be someone who will wonder why they don't use Cascade! After breakfast, I asked the conductor if it would be alright to photograph the dining car interior after it closed. I was told to come back later and there should be no problem, there wasn't, and so I took a couple slides of it later on.
   All this time, we had been riding in front of Train #286 so finally at CP-373, they stopped us to let him pass since his station work would take up much less time than we would due to the smaller size of a train like #286. We arrived in Rochester and left at 10:16am about 2 hours, 6 minutes late. At CP-335 in Lyons, NY we had to stop once again to let CSX Trains L-161 and Q-439 pass us. There was a decent amount of trackwork going on in this part of New York so that helped drag us further behind schedule. Due to more trackwork, we arrived even later into Syracuse and departed at 12:24pm, now 2 hours and 56 minutes late. We started moving again but would end up being forced into probably the Grandfather of all speed restrictions just ahead...
   Due to the recent derailment of Amtrak's Capitol Limited in Kensington, Maryland just 2 weeks before, CSX imposed a 40mph speed restriction in effect from 1:00pm to 9:00pm on any day the outside temperature reaches 90 degrees or higher, as rail expansion under the extreme heat was found to be a contributing factor in that derailment. Until 1:00pm, we had been running close to Track Speed with the exception of smaller restrictions due to trackwork or to let other trains pass. As we passed the Whitesboro, NY Detector, we were now in the restriction and were doing 37mph. This unfortunately would be about as fast as we would go for the rest of this trip. Let me repeat that this speed restriction was imposed by CSX, the Freight Railroad that owns the tracks and because of this, Amtrak must follow it, I do not place blame on Amtrak for this in any way.
   Next stop was Utica where we left at 1:56pm about 3 hours and 10 minutes late. The dining car now opened for lunch service. As I try to do on most any train with a dining car, I had my lunch there, I ordered the Grilled Steak Burger with Bacon, it came with Potato Chips on the side and I had another Diet Pepsi to drink. It tasted pretty good and was actually a pretty good size burger for Amtrak! The ride was otherwise relatively smooth with the exception of a small stretch of track where we trotted like a horse for maybe 10 seconds.
   After lunch, I headed back to my Coach as we passed the Fort Plain detector which I knew was the last one before Amsterdam, which would be one of my destinations on this trip. I kindly asked the passenger sitting next to me, a 7 year old boy, if he would switch seats with me so I could photograph the station as we passed it. He had no problem with my asking and I got a couple slides of it as we passed by at around 40mph. There were no railfans at the station though I can't really blame them as the outside temperature there was near 95 degrees!
   By the time we were to stop in Schenectady, we got stuck again behind another train, this time, it was Empire Service Train #294 which got into Schenectady before we did so we had to wait, by the time we left Schenectady, it was now 4:02pm and we were now 4 hours and 14 minutes late. More delays would follow though, as if we hadn't had enough already, at CP-156, just East of Schenectady, the railroad goes down to Single Track and since Train #281 was heading West, we had to wait for it, he was already behind schedule as it was. He flew by us and finally, after Train #294 cleared the interlocking, we were allowed to continue. I never thought I'd see the day that we would have "Passenger Train Congestion" causing delays!
   After that bit of congestion, we were able to pull ahead, cross the big bridge over the Hudson River and head into Rensselaer, passing Amtrak's Maintenance Facility and yard tracks. Today, the shops had 1 Turboliner Train Set along with an FL-9, a privately owned Slumbercoach and a bunch of F40's sitting by the shop. Amtrak can assemble trains here when they need to run "On Time" sections of trains down to New York City if a specific train is running way behind schedule.
   We finally arrive at Albany, but we couldn't get off the train just yet. We had to first uncouple the New York Section from the train so that a P32AC-DM could pick it up and take it to New York City. When that was done, the New York Section was backed up, and moved over to Track #2 at the Station, while we backed up and were allowed to detrain on a siding just north of the old Albany station where an Amfleet I Cafe Car was attached to the end of our train. Getting off the train, it was 91 degrees out, and I would guess the heat index must have been near 110, way too damn hot if you ask me!!!! At the time of this trip, Amtrak has yet to move into the new station as they were still trying to work out the details of the lease with the Capital District Transportation Authority, the owner of the station, when that is all worked out, Amtrak will move into the new station and the old station will be retained for Amtrak Offices as Amtrak owns the old station and doesn't rent from anyone.
   At 5:03pm, we detrained and were asked not to attempt to reboard #448 as it is now numbered after detaching from the New York Section, until after it was serviced, we were told that it would pull forward onto the Main Track in front of the station when it was ready. Today, a 3rd locomotive, P40DC #810 was added to the front of the train. I was told by a crew member that it was most likely needed in Boston so they added it to our train. An Amfleet I Café Car was also added at the end of the train. While waiting on the platform, I photographed Train #291 as well as some of Train #48's equipment just before it left for New York. When the call was made, we reboarded Train #448 and departed Albany at 6:15pm, now 4 and a half hours late.
   Our train made its usual routing onto the Post Road Branch Line which is just to the south of the Albany Station and is our connection to the CSX Boston Line that would take this train to its final destination of Boston, Massachusetts. Our Café Car opened shortly after departing Albany and tonight they served free non-alcoholic beverages and chips or pretzels to all passengers. I headed over to the café car and picked up a pizza and an Ice Cold Coors Light, I ate at my coach seat while watching the sun set over the Berkshire Mountains, what a site! If there is only one unfortunate thing about this entire trip, it's the fact that we were running so late that you couldn't see more of these beautiful mountains in daylight but Amtrak and CSX are looking out for everyone's safety and I don't have a problem being late for that reason.
Train #449, our westbound counterpart passed us between Chatham, and Canaan, New York, which is near the Massachusetts State Line. We went through State Line Tunnel just after sunset so you could still see it. We arrived at our next stop in Pittsfield, Massachusetts next and left about 5 hours and 26 minutes late. Pittsfield is another stop similar to such stops as Waterloo, Indiana as it only sports a small bus shelter and platform, that's it! I think its safe to say, this is an "unstaffed station"! Our next stop was in Springfield, and from all the Hot Box Detectors I heard, we were doing just under 40mph the whole way in keeping in compliance with the speed restriction. When all was said and done, we arrived into Springfield 5 hours and 25 minutes late. I knew that there was gonna be problems when I got off because a very large number of passengers had missed connecting trains there and needed some form of alternate transportation to get to their final destinations. I walked inside the station and found the family whom I sat with, trying desperately to get alternate transportation since they of course had missed their connecting train to New Haven, Connecticut. Since there was only 1 agent working, I decided I didn't feel like waiting in line to see if I could get Amtrak to cover a cab fare since I'm not from this area, so I decided to just walk down to Main Street and catch a bus.
   While waiting on Main Street in Springfield, another pedestrian directed me to the bus terminal which was less than 2 blocks from the Amtrak Station. I waited there to catch a Pioneer Valley Transit Authority Bus to my hotel which was across the Connecticut River in West Springfield. I took the bus which on this run was taking an alternate route which was right past my hotel so this reduced the amount of walking I had to do. I got off the bus, and walked to the Hotel, a Days Inn. After checking in, I got to my room and noticed it was actually very warm, not thinking anything of it, I put my bags in the room, then sprinted across the street to McDonald's to pick up dinner as it was late and I was very hungry!!! I get back to the room and realize the Air Conditioner was broken, after calling the front desk , I was told to flip some switch on the wall, I did this, still no AC. I called again and they offered me another room, I got an "Executive Suite" and this time the AC worked! Now finally I was able to sit down and enjoy my now cold dinner.
   After Dinner, I pulled out my MiniDisc player and decided to take a quick walk, about a half a mile to a Stop & Shop grocery store to pick up a pre-paid phone card. When I got back, it was after 1am and I decided to take a shower and go to bed.
   By the end of Day 1 of this trip, I had rode over 13 hours on a train, which to be completely honest with you was otherwise a great ride. The speed restriction didn’t bother me a whole heck of a lot, and I actually told the train crew, great job in keeping everything going in the face of these speed restrictions. Such a restriction would never cause me to not want to ride the train, these things are a part of life on the railroad and don’t bother me, maybe I’m a little biased in that opinion being the railfan that I am but I really don’t care. Generally, I always plan some time in just in case to be sure that if such things come up, that it doesn’t effect the rest of my itinerary. Having traveled as much as I have on Amtrak over the years, I’ve learned that these things can happen and you just have to deal with them. Amtrak should be commended in making things run as smoothly as possible in these kinds of situations. Shown in the tables below are train consist information for today's train...

Amtrak Train #48 - The Lake Shore Limited arrives into Buffalo-Depew Station with P42DC #159 on the lead. The train arrived 1 hour and 35 minutes late. The freight train on the adjacent track is headed into Frontier Yard a couple miles West of here.

Amfleet II Coach #25025, my coach for the entire trip. This was the second of the 2 Boston Section coaches in the train.

An interior view of Heritage Diner #8521. This car has 12 tables that seat 4 people each and is open for meals at the appropriate meal times on the trip.

I believe this is Fonda, New York. If I'm wrong, someone please let me know via E-mail at DJTrain877@hotmail.com.

Amsterdam, New York, a popular railfanning destination, pictured here is the small Amtrak Station in town. The Lake Shore Limited doesn't make a regular stop here unless a connecting passenger has missed their connection due to a late train's arrival.

The Mohawk River bridge near Schenectady, New York. We would be arriving there shortly after this slide was taken.
                    
The train parked ahead of us is Empire Service Train #294 on its way to New York City from Saratoga Springs. We would have to sit here until Train #281 passed us on the adjacent track. Just ahead of Train #294, the line goes down to Single Track warranting us to have to wait here. This was all due to the long delays from the speed restrictions in effect.

I know the old Arlo Guthrie Song "City Of New Orleans (Good Morning America How Are Ya)" mentions "The Graveyards of Rusted Automobiles", and here is where I think he got his inspiration for those lyrics!

Part of the Albany Skyline as seen from the railroad bridge over the mighty Hudson River around afternoon drive time.

Our train rounding the bend as we pull into Albany-Rensselaer Station ahead.

Amtrak's Rensselaer Maintenance and Yard Facilities. Seen today is one set of badly Acela Painted Turboliners, along with 1 FL-9 and a privately owned Slumbercoach sitting outside the shop.

Amtrak Train #291 arriving in Albany with one of the first P32AC-DM's painted up in the new Acela Paint Scheme. Unit #709 leads this train where it will be done for the day after all passengers detrain.

The NEW Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak/CDTA Station, almost ready to open...

Amtrak Train #448, the Lake Shore Limited - Boston Section pulls up to the Albany-Rensselaer Station with a 3rd locomotive added to its consist, now leading is P40DC #810.
   
Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited - Monday, August 12th, 2002
Number:
Car/Engine Type:
Name:
Description:
159
P42DC
 

Power

197
P42DC
 
Power
1568
MHC
 
MHC (To Boston)
1709
Heritage Baggage
 
Baggage Car (To Boston)
62029
Viewliner Sleeper
"Palm View"
Sleeping Car (To Boston)
25082
Amfleet II Coach
 
Coach (To Boston)
25025
Amfleet II Coach
 
Coach (To Boston) (My Car)
25099
Amfleet II Coach
 
Coach (To New York)
25018
Amfleet II Coach
 
Coach (To New York)
25061
Amfleet II Coach
 
Coach (To New York)
25048
Amfleet II Coach
 
Coach (To New York)
28021
Amfleet II Cafe Car
"Tampa Club"
Cafe Car (To New York)
8521
Heritage Diner
 
Dining Car (Ex-Southern Railway Diner)
62048
Viewliner Sleeper
"Wayside View"
Sleeping Car (To New York)
62044
Viewliner Sleeper
"Sylvan View"
Sleeping Car (To New York)
2521
Crew Dorm
"Pacific Cape"
Heritage 10/6 Sleeper Crew Dorm Car Ex-UP
1232
Heritage Baggage
 
Baggage Car (To New York)
?
Express Reefer
 
  
?
Road Railers (9)
 
  

Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited - Boston Section - Monday, August 12th, 2002
Number:
Car/Engine Type:
Name:
Description:
810
P40DC
 

Power

159
P42DC
 
Power
197
P42DC
 
Power
1568
MHC
 
MHC (To Boston)
1709
Heritage Baggage
 
Baggage Car (To Boston)
62029
Viewliner Sleeper
"Palm View"
Sleeping Car (To Boston)
25082
Amfleet II Coach
 
Coach (To Boston)
25025
Amfleet II Coach
 
Coach (To Boston) (My Car)
20038
Amfleet I Cafe Car
 
Cafe Car Added At Albany