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All photos by Ron Goodenow. Reproduction without Ron's permission is prohibited.

In the early 1960s my parents moved to Metuchen, NJ, and then North Brunswick, NJ, the former on and latter near the Pennsy main line between New York and Washington. Whenever I visited I searched for good vantage points. One of the best was Adams Station, not far from North Brunswick. There wasn't much of a station there, but it was a fabulous place to photograph trains. Here's a 1968 view of No. 172, the Penn Central-New Haven Senator, with New Haven equipment, heading from Washington to Boston. In those days, when the New Haven ran the bulk of its shoreline trains to Grand Central, only the Federal, the Colonial and the Senator traversed the Hell Gate Bridge via Penn Station as complete dedicated trains on the route. For much of the 1960s the Senator carried coaches, dining, parlor, and parlor room lounge cars (with space for private business meetings). And, most of the time you could buy a sandwich and drink at your seat. These were often very substantial trains, with consists of 20 cars common.

As the quality of passenger services in Britain seem to deteriorate as the result of privatization, my correspondence suggests there may be more friends of Amtrak there with each passing month. Per an e-mail from a well-traveled friend last week, "the upholstery is better, but the trains are later." This picture of an InterCity 125 taken between Doncaster and York on the East Coast Main Line from London to Edinbrugh in 1985, when the nationalized system may have been at its height, reminds us that in terms of engineering the nationalized British Rail system could produce trains that were functional, attractive and, yes, from my experience, mainly on time. The "125" as known popularly, was designed in the early 1970s as the High Speed Train or HST, and provides fast acceleration and 125mph travel on non-electrified routes. Running usually with seven to nine cars, including first and second class coaches, restaurant and cafe cars [the cafe often contains the kitchen for both services, with a first-class coach set up for dining], the main technological feature was their capacity to brake within signaling systems designed for 100mph running. These trains, with their distinctive whine and ill-smelling brakes, survived an engineering program that included the disastrous APT or Advanced Passenger Train, designed for 150mph. Sadly, this almost 30 year old design seems to remain the high-water mark of British passenger engineering. Only time will tell what the infrastructure oriented and anti-auto new Labour government does about rising public discontent over a Thatcherite policy that.never enjoyed popular support and is subject to speculation about many investment plans put forward by Virgin Rail and some of the other companies under pressure to put up or lose their franchises.

In the mid-1960s the Santa Fe still ran two full-service trains between Los Angeles and Chicago. Here's The Chief about to depart from Pasadena with chair cars, dining car and Big Lounge. Its 'consist' would also include some very happy people getting their pictures taken in front of a very beautiful engine.

Though, like today's Amtrak, the Santa Fe, ran connecting buses to its main line trains, it also ran connecting trains. Here's #27 at Colorado Springs on a crystal clear late winter afternoon in the mid-sixties. This coach-only train ran from La Junta, where it connected with the eastbound Chief, to Denver. In those days Colorado Springs not only had rail service, it had two depots, one to serve southbound trains and end-runs on the Rock Island, Rio Grande, Burlington and Santa Fe. When I took this shot the Rock Island had just ended its service and the rest would soon follow, leaving the route to coal drags and a lot on speculation on new services. Perhaps a viewer can explain the flags on the engine.

In March of 1967 I rode the Alaska Railroad's weekly day train from Fairbanks to Anchorage on a brilliant winter day. Its consist, in addition to baggage, a flat car and a caboose, included coaches and a diner-lounge, all filled with people going about the very practical business of getting to remote home sites, and the many little towns along the route. Then as now, the train could be waved down at any point along the way, and I remember several stops at which the conductor, who was a wonderful tour guide, put mail in mailboxes. I also remember seeing elk, log-horned moutain sheep and Mt. Mckinley. The evening before my trip a friend arranged for a visit to the Fairbanks shops, where employees showed considerable pride in keeping old equipment in tip-top shape for some of the worse weather conditions in the world.


Page created by: Craig O'Connell
Changes last made on: June 30, 2002.



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