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Friday, May 13, 2011

National Train Day 2011 - White River Jct., VT

The 2011 National Train Day events kicked off at 1100 hours at the White River Junction, Vermont transportation station with the arrival of several state and local officials arriving on buses and doing a meet-and-greet session with attendees.  The event included participation from the Town of Hartford (where White River Jct. actually lies), the Chamber of Commerce, the local National Railway Historical Society, and both Amtrak and New England Central Railroad.  The event was well attended by local residents and visitors from around the region who were interested in seeing what “National Train Day” was all about.

Owing to the ongoing ARRA high speed rail project work to the north, Amtrak’s Vermonter train 57 (weekend symbol) was off schedule by about 19 minutes.  In the case of better late than never, the train arrived alongside a parked New England Central GP38 consist of GP38 3847 and 3851, delivering a large ridership that had boarded at both St. Albans and Essex Junction, VT. 

Among the riders aboard the train were state officials that were accompanied by both RailAmerica and New England Central Railroad personnel.  Transportation Rail Director with the Vermont Agency of Transportation, Joe Flynn, rode the train south, along with Charles Hunter, assistant vice president for government relations for Rail America Operations and his wife Mary.  Many other notable riders were aboard as well as local enthusiasts and National Railway Historical Society members.

Phil Rentz of the NRHS in White River had sale items inside the station, while the Chamber of Commerce made an effort to stress railroad items. 

Passengers arrive at White River

Hunter and Don Provencher

The Banner below the WRJ Station Baggage Door

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and Transportation Secretary Brian Searles (above left) pose in front of the Amtrak logo; Governor Shumlin and my son Riley are posed together as well.

Governor Shumlin speaks to the gathering of folks at the White River Jct. depot, while Windsor County representative Chuck Bohi (also a railfan himself!) stands by his side; Shumlin mingled with the folks in the crowd wile Charles Hunter took the podium to discuss the High Speed Rail project currently underway in Vermont.  

Charles Hunter speaking at the National Train Day function. 

Watch his address to the crowd...(11 y/o Riley did the video on this one...)

The crew aboard the Vermonter prepares for departure...  And actually poses for a 'nice' photo ;-)

Conductor aboard the Vermonter gives a departure wave as the train highballs away from the White River Jct. station.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Going WACR Building the "Big One" on Monday, May 2...

After sadly having to drop my wife at work for a day on I thought would be spent at home working on some projects, I rolled past the Washington Co. Railroad's (WACR) White River Junction yard that is located literally a few hundred yards away from my development.  I knew that the WACR would be rolling a BIG train north this day, but had no idea how big and how long it would take to assemble said train.   The crew is typically on duty by 0600 and heading north no later than 0730-0800, however not the case this day.  With more than 70 cars on hand in the yard - some of which were for Justin's Services adjacent to the yard, a few for Claremont Concord Railroad's West Lebanon, NH operation and more salt that is ultimately destined to Ely, VT and Barrett's transloading terminal, it took several hours to get the train built and get out of town.

With knowledge of the traffic backlog last week, both VTR GP38-2 202 and VTR GP40-2 307 were shipped to the south end to handle the train for Monday.  The crew of Tommy and Mark went to work getting the cars swapped around from the New England Central interchange in the WACR's Bank Yard.  I will detail some of the moves below in photos and provide links to the 6-part video series I uploaded to YouTube detailing the operation of building the 55-car train to go north on the WACR's Bradford and Lyndonville Subdivision.  The Newport crew would ultimately have to meet the train at St. Johnsbury and take much of it along north with just the VTR 307 for power.

Enjoy the photo essay below and also the accompanying videos!

Switching out log loads and separating the red pine (uniform cut) logs from the other logs and then rebuilding them into a separate section of the train, the VTR 202 and 307 shove against loaded boxcars on the runner ...

Conductor Mark readies to throw a switch after the log loads are switched off the runner....then rides the cars back...

While engineer Tommy writes down car numbers as they build the train...

Finally ready to depart, the northbound WJNP will roll with 25 loads and 30 empties - many of the loads being salt on the head end for delivery to Ely, VT.  

My parting shot of the train was this shot that I saw develop rapidly in the side of my truck - an over-under shot in the non-traditional sense...

An oddity on this particular day is a car destined for Justin's Services that is currently lettered for Yadkin Valley - as YVRR 7012.  The car has an interesting stencil on it that identifies it as a TEST CAR - and says it must remained coupled to HS 62261...  Thanks to Mike Collins, the YVRR 7012 was previously the HS 62267 (renumbered in 2008) and prior to that had been HS 8676 and built in 1976 as the SP 19130.  It is owned by NATX and leased to CP at the moment.

The car referenced in the stencil - HS 62261, was built in 1976 as RF&P 19224 and in 1999 became the HS 9368.  In 2005 it was rebuilt to and renumbered to HS 62261 and became an unknown test bed.  In 2007 it was relettered to OAR 62314.

The videos below depict approximately one hour of switching that resulted in the 55-car train departing.  I would have loved to video the whole train passing, but a text message (learned my lesson to turn on Airplane mode) came through and halted the video halfway into the train...

Hope you've enjoyed!

Monday, May 2, 2011

NECR May Day Switching at White River Jct.

New England Central's White River Jct. switcher, symbol 600, is a Sunday through Thursday daylight job based out of the White River depot.  On Sunday, May 1, the dynamic duo of NECR GP38 3847 and 3851 set out to switch out a hefty cut of backlogged Washington County Railroad interchange traffic after several days of shoring up and rebuilding a portion of their Lyndonville Sub following flooding.  The GP38 pair is seen working out of the White River Jct. yard and passing structures that have seen the passing of steam and advent of the Ne England Central at mile 15 of the NECR Roxbury Sub.

The pair of blue and gold geeps then headed south to Bank to interchange 30-odd cars with the WACR.  Included in the consist were several boxcars for Justin's Services, a trio of LAFX cement powder hoppers and multiple log cars.  Passing the historic White River Jct. depot - for which it should be noted will be part of the Harford 250th Anniversary this year - with the log traffic a car off the headpin.  The train would later roll south to North Walpole, NH to take a cut of empty traffic that had accumulated on the WACR.

Another pristine day in the Upper Valley and NECR was there to lend to the Spring colors...

Celebrating Amtrak's 40th with the Vermonter

APRIL 30, 2011

Anniversary 'Eve'

Keeping in the spirit of celebrating Amtrak's 40th Anniversary this weekend, I set out to capture some images that are uniquely Vermont with the star of the show being Amtrak's Vermonter train - both north and southbound.  The former Central Vermont trackage that today IS the New England Central Railroad's Roxbury and Palmer Subdivision hosts a pair of through freights and a pair of Amtrak trains daily.  This is the same corridor that is currently undergoing the upgrades as part of the ARRA High Speed Rail project and the primary benefactor is the Vermonter train.  

Beginning on Saturday evening, April 30, I wanted to take advantage of low evening light and capture the northbound Vermonter train rolling over the Sugar River Trestle in Claremont, NH (OK - it's almost Vermont!).  Arriving right on time, Amtrak's weekend Vermonter symbol 54 dwarfs the traffic passing below with P42DC 204 leading the regular 5-Amfleet car consist and the P42DC 102 (yup - half of the leader "204").

Currently with the advantage of highway speed over rail speed, I headed back north to get one more image of this particular train departing White River and passing an old mill building that was once served by the Central Vermont Railway.  Running a few minutes off the published schedule, Amtrak's engineer's aboard the P42DC 204 are staring directly into the sun as they roll toward VA Cutoff Road and out of White River Junction proper.  

MAY 1, 2011


I set out on Sunday to capture both north and southbound moves of the Amtrak Vermonter and wanted to highlight another momentous bridge crossing - this time of the White River in West Hartford, VT from a vantage point not often undertaken.  From a good distance downstream from the bridge, a 300 mm view brings to life the waves of the flood-ridden White River and the Amtrak train passing overhead seemingly oblivious to the overflowing river and making time of its own southbound toward White River Jct.

Following the bridge shot in West Hartford, it was off to Windsor to set up for the train's arrival at the end of the Roxbury Subdivision and a station stop.  As the train arrived in Windsor, I took notice to many trees FINALLY budding after a prolonged and stubborn winter.  The train is seen leaning into the curve that facilitates a setup for the Connecticut River crossing into New Hampshire in just a few hundred yards.  The peak of the depot is barely visible as a church stands tall in the background.  I left the pole line visible in the photo, as part of the ARRA HSR project calls for a signal upgrade and pole line removal.

From there it was back home to spend some quality time with my little railfan buddy - 9-month-old Brennen!  While he loves to watch the trains go by and - much to his mother's chagrin - get excited about them, he equally loves to play with his toys at home.  By evening I was heading back out to Claremont for a different view of the trestle, albeit this one wouldn't produce the same brilliant lighting as the night previous, with a heavy overcast swiftly filtering the remaining sunlight at this location.  It wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but I'll throw the shot up from this location to show you what 'might have been' if the sun had been glistening...

And finally - the last locale that I would capture an Amtrak Anniversary image this day would be back in West Hartford, where a well-preserved and maintained wooden overpass still stands a testament to time.  With a sweeping S-curve leading into the scene, sunlight was rapidly deteriorating on this night - literally as the train passed this location and before the trailing P42DC was by, the bridge had been engulfed with shadows.  The crew gave a few toots and a wave as the train continued the remainder of its 110-mile journey that remained between this shot and the terminus at St. Albans.

Happy 40th Anniversary Amtrak!