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Summer Railfanning Trip - Albany-Rensselaer To Amsterdam, NY - August 14th, 2002

Summer 2002 Railfanning Trip:
Segment 3: Albany-Rensselaer To Amsterdam
Empire Service Train #281 - Wednesday, August 14th, 2002

   My friend Bill and myself stayed at Rich's apartment and woke up to watch some railroad videos and have pancakes with maple syrup that Bill made, they were delicious. We watched a couple videos on Conrail and Amtrak.
   Rich drove me to the Amtrak Station where I ran into a couple people from Buffalo who planned to ride the same train I was, only they were heading back home to Buffalo. We all waited inside the station only to find that Train #281 went from being scheduled to arrive at 2:45, then 2:55, then 3:05, it finally did arrive at 3:20. Just before it arrived, I was interviewed by a TV Reporter from the NBC Affiliate WNYT Channel 13 in Albany, he was asking passengers what they thought of all the speed restrictions due to all this oppressive heat. I told the reporter that I personally had no problems with it, anything to look out for the safety of passengers. The train arrived but we couldn't board right away as the train was being serviced for about 5 minutes before we could board.
   Once I boarded, the people who sat across from me were the ones I mentioned earlier who were headed to Buffalo. They had a scanner and wanted the seat near the AC outlet in the car, as this was an unrefurbished Amfleet I Coach. We left Albany at 3:31pm, about an hour late. Aside from the slow speed, the ride was very good, I ran into the Café car and saw a ton of food sitting on one of the tables with signs all over it that it was to be transferred to Train #64 at some point, because it was running late partially due to having come from Toronto and being subject to customs check, as well as the speed restrictions. I picked up a Diet Pepsi and a Hebrew National Hot Dog, and headed back to my coach. We were passing through an area near Schenectady when a massive thunderstorm came over us dumping hailstones on the train. This storm would effect the nearby town of Guilderland with high winds and your front lawn’s trees being permanently relocated into your neighbor’s back yard! Nobody was hurt in that storm but Rich and I drove through there the following day and saw there was an extensive amount of damage caused by it.
   After stopping in Schenectady, then passing two freights near Hoffmans, we arrived in Amsterdam around 4:30pm. Bill was there, and drove me to the Best Western where I would stay the next two nights. I checked into the Hotel, then went back to the Amsterdam Amtrak Station when Rich and Armand showed up, along with one of Armand’s friends. The 5 of us headed to Russo’s Grille, a nice little restaurant in Amsterdam that is a favorite for railfans because of its wide open view of the main line from the front windows. I had the Chicken Fingers and French Fries with Gravy, what a way to raise your cholesterol! The food was delicious!
   After dinner, a few of us decided to chase CSX Train Q-351 which was under that speed restriction. We ended up chasing the train all the way to Utica, about 60 miles! As we pulled into the parking lot of the Amtrak Station there, he went whizzing by us at 40mph!!! We took a little tour of the Utica Station which is an architectural masterpiece with its solid marble walls and ceilings. What a beautiful building! We drove back to Amsterdam, I was driven back to my Hotel where I ordered some Domino’s Pizza Bread Sticks (I can’t stand Domino’s Pizza, but the bread sticks weren’t bad!).
   Day 3 of this trip turned out to be a good solid day of railfanning in the Capitol Region. Amtrak's station in Rensselaer is the 12th busiest in the entire country and if you get a chance to spend a good solid afternoon in the area, you won't walk away disappointed as the amount of Amtrak traffic is plentiful. My hope is that the new station will open soon and that the new overhead bridge that connects a road to the parking ramps will open also as I have read that it provides some very nice overhead views of trains entering and exiting the station's new elevated platforms. Today's train consist is shown below...

   P32AC-DM #704 leads an "On Time" Section of Train #286 into the old Albany-Rensselaer Station. This train was running so far behind schedule that an "On Time" section was assembled in Albany and departed otherwise "On Time" for New York City.

Amtrak MP-15 #530 does some yard switching work in Albany, moving the private car seen in the far right of the photo.

Truck assemblies for use on the Road Railers are seen in the above photo, each of these is actually assigned a "Car Number"!

Amtrak Train #281, an Empire Service Train arrives into Albany on the Main Track with P32AC-DM #715 on the lead. In all the photos I have of this unit, it either has part of its logo missing or no logo at all! The Cameraman and TV Reporter were from Albany TV Station WNYT Channel 13.
Amtrak's Empire Service Train #281- Wednesday, August 14th, 2002
Car/Engine Type:
Amfleet I Cafe Car
Cafe Car
Amfleet I Coach
Amfleet I Coach
Amfleet I Coach
Coach (My Car)
Amfleet I Coach
"SRTX 2536"
Private Car - Deadheading To Niagara Falls