Jack May's Southwest Tour

8 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,433 posts
Jack May's Southwest Tour
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, January 11, 2018 4:15 AM

Add star 
Jack May
Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 9:28 PM
To: Jack May <jackmay135@gmail.com>
First some housekeeping before I go on to part 1 of my April trip to the southwest.

Thanks to those who replied to my Boston report.  Almost everyone who responeded wanted the captions to be embedded, but a good many of you also wanted jpg's for easy storage into photo files.  Thus as a result I have reverted back to the formula I've used in the past. 

Also, based on some of your responses, please feel free to forward these reports if you wish.  Several of you have your own lists that are used for sending and discussing railway and electric traction items of interest.  So if you think others on those lists will find the content of my reports interesting and of value, you have my permission to forward them.  If you do so, you may want to add me as a cc or bcc, but that is not necessary.

I referenced the three-track section of the Orange Line past the new Assembly station in my Boston report, indicating I was curious about how that came about, since it is not necessary for day-to-day service.  Herb Pence responded with the following note, which I think you will find interesting:

You questioned the story behind the third Orange Line track, from Community College to Wellington.  When the Orange Line was built, it was planned that the line would continue to I-95/SR 128.  The Mayor of Melrose fought the arrival of rapid transit (Orange Line) thinking it would change the character of his city.  Accordingly, the route was truncated to Oak Grove, Malden.  
The Boston & Maine Railroad  sold off excess right-of-way, limiting its Reading-Haverhill Commuter Rail route to one track.  Now, almost 50-years later, it is a decision to be regretted.  That is why Amtrak’s Boston (North Station)-Portland, Maine route uses the Wildcat connecting branch to the Boston-Lowell line for North Station access.
As for the third track.  It was intended for express trains on the longer proposed line.  However,  it serves an excellent purpose, for the rating and testing of Orange Line equipment.  The ability of trains to run at speed for three stations is one reason that the Orange Line (at least when I was working in the Heavy Rail Equipment Maintenance Department) has the best reliability and performance compared to the other two rapid transit lines.  The Red and Blue lines must wait until nighttime for similar trials, usually with a different mix of employees doing the testing.
In April 2017 Clare and I decided to take a motoring tour of parts of the American southwest, which would include visiting friends and seeing some national parks we had missed before, as well as giving me the opportunity to ride the relatively new Tucson streetcar line and various extensions to the modern light rail lines in Los Angeles and Phoenix.  We have friends living in Culver City, who always invite us to stay with them, and in getting in touch with them we decided that all four of us would spend about 10 days exploring parts of Arizona and Utah, as they have friends and relatives in Phoenix and Prescott, and had always wanted to roam through national parks other than the relatively nearby ones of Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite.  They are consummate hikers and were very enthused about visiting Monument Valley, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion.  It would be our second visit to the last two, which we were pleased to be able to see again.

I've actually known Sig longer than I've known my wife, as he was working at Hudson Labs when I joined the staff after graduating college in 1958.  Clare was hired a year later and they both taught me how to ski.  Sig, an octogenarian physicist even older than we are, still skis, generally at Mammoth in California.  He was born in Florida, but his family moved west to the LA area when he was a kid.  Cathy, who hails from the Seattle area, had a long career in nursing, specializing in neonatal intensive care, and eventually created a widely used educational program.

Anyway, we decided to spend ten days on the road with them, starting from Los Angeles and ending in Las Vegas, where we would fly back to New Jersey and they would drive back to Culver City.  Before leaving we'd spend four days at their home, so we made up an itinerary, which is attached.  We would fly out to the west coast on Tuesday, April 11, and return on Tuesday, April 25.  United Airlines was in the midst of a sale, so we bought our tickets expeditiously, in December, 2016. 

We elected to rent a car with sufficient trunk space to keep our four suitcases.  Prices from LAX were in the $600 range, but investigating further we found a Chevrolet Impala from Hertz in nearby Culver City with a $312 all-inclusive rate for 10 days, and not much more for 11.  We quickly signed up for that offer and I made hotel reservations to support our itinerary.  Now it was just a matter of waiting for our departure date.

In making my plane reservations I had selected two seats on the aisle opposite each other, as that would fit Clare's needs in that she uses a cane for walking--and besides, nobody likes a middle seat.  But when it was time to check in and obtain boarding passes, 24 hours before our scheduled departure, we found our seats for the westbound flight had been changed to a window and middle further back in the B-757--without any explanation or notification.  I asked for a change to at least one aisle seat, explaining why it was necessary, but United's telephone clerk said it had to be done at the airport.  Of course, when we arrived at EWR, well before our departure time, we were told that the plane was sold out and it was impossible to change seats.  To put this into perspective, this was two days after the infamous incident when United dragged a passenger off one of its flights.
Tuesday, April 11.  Our daughter-in-law dropped us off at Newark's Terminal C a little before 10 a.m. (we left home at 9:20, stopping at the Post Office en route) and after we tried and failed again to get our seats changed, we were on a security line.  Unfortunately, the x-ray machine must have broken down (or the operator needed to have a potty break) just after we put our belongings on the conveyor belt, and the TSA became confused as to how to accommodate those like us without breaking into another line, as all the adjacent ones were already long.  We just waited, as I didn't want to cut in front of anyone else, which is what some others did.  Meanwhile I already had given my film to an attendant for hand checking, and at least that was accomplished, so that when our machine's operation finally resumed, we were able to proceed immediately to our gate.  Our 11:25 a.m. flight loaded smoothly by zone a few minutes later, at 10:45.  There was plenty of room for our carry-on bags and we got settled in our seats quickly; the plane actually began pushing away early, at 11:18, and we were in the air by 11:30.

We flew at 32,000 feet and were treated to free entertainment (movies, TV, music) on the screens on the back of the seats in front of us.  We were given soft drinks on two occasions, after the sale of food was touted.  There were clouds hiding the Grand Canyon, but they disappeared as we reached the San Bernardino mountains.  We touched down at 2:05 and reached the gate early at 2:20 (44).  It was a good flight.

The view from United Airlines flight 1960 through the window of our Boeing 757 jet airliner.

I had obtained a smartphone the previous year, which I use only on trips, and we called Cathy and Sig upon exiting the terminal at the nearest roadway; they arrived a few minutes later to pick us up and we were at their home in Culver City by 3:30.  I had made tentative plans to spend Wednesday and Friday riding and photographing the Azusa and Santa Monica ends of LA's Gold and Expo lines, as I had covered the sections that were completed earlier on previous trips.  The Santa Monica extension would be easy, as it was just a hop, skip and a jump from where we were staying near the Sony Studios (formerly Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) and close to the line's old terminal, Culver City.  And, I would take either Thursday or Saturday (depending on the weather forecast) to go to San Diego.  While there are no new lines there, I had missed riding the PCC "heritage" service on two previous attempts, several years apart, because of "mechanical difficulties" causing the cancellation of such operation in the days when only one car was available.  I'd spend the other day with Clare, Sig and Cathy, visiting touristic locations in the LA area.
Wednesday, April 12.  The day dawned cloudless and I decided this would be the best opportunity to cover the Azusa extension of the Gold line.  I got up early, and after Cathy prepared an excellent breakfast, was driven to the Culver City station of the Gold Line, reaching it at 9 a.m., the trip having taken less than 5 minutes.  According to timetables, an LRV train on the Expo line would get me to 7th and Flower in 18 minutes; and a connecting Red or Purple line heavy rail train would take only 5 minutes to get me to Union Station.  From there I could board the Gold line at about 9:30, and it would take me but a half hour more to get to Sierra Madre Villa, the former terminal of that route, where my exploration of the extension would begin.

It turned out that I could not purchase a $2.50 Senior Citizen day ticket from the machines at the station, as they issue only regular TAP cards (as opposed to special Senior TAP cards, which have to be applied for with proof of age and photo), so I spent $8 for a regular $7 day ticket (with the extra dollar as payment for the actual card itself).  Interestingly, I could have bought a one-way senior fare on a regular TAP card at the machine, which would have cost (in addition to the dollar for the card) either $.35 off-peak or $.75 peak, depending on the time of purchase.  But then I would have to do this over and over again every time I wanted to board, which would be annoyingly time consuming.

As it was, the time I took figuring all this out was just long enough that as I got to the platform, the 9:06 train pulled away.  With a 6-minute headway at this time of day, I wouldn't have to wait too long for the next one.  But the next eastbound train didn't come for another 12 minutes.  I wondered if this was going to be a portent for my day--and it turned out it was!  I boarded the 9:12 (or was it the 9:18), which consisted of three bright and shiny, brand new P3010 cars from Kinkisharyo.  I got a good window seat and was soon sailing down the line. 

I'll provide a little more description of the route in the segment of the report that corresponds to my ride to Santa Monica, but for those who aren't familiar with the general aspects of the rail system, which is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), here are some brief notes (for a map see

There are two heavy rail routes, totally underground, that run predominantly westward from Los Angeles Union Station.  The Red line, which also turns northward to North Hollywood (15 miles) and Purple line, an offshoot to Wilshire and Western (5 miles), were opened in portions between 1993 and 2000.  An extension to the Purple line is currently under construction.  Ridership on this typical subway system currently runs about 140,000 on weekdays.

There are four light rail lines, all with high-level platforms, allowing floor-height loading (like Calgary, Edmonton and St. Louis, to name a few similar operations).  The first to open was the Blue line, which runs from and underground station at 7th and Flower Streets (Metro Center) almost due south for 22 miles to Long Beach, with much of it along or parallel to original Pacific Electric Railway interurban rights-of-way.  It opened in 1991 and has been incredibly successful, with weekday ridership running about 75,000 (that's more than some heavy rail lines, like those in Cleveland and Baltimore).  The Green line came next, in 1995, operating between Redondo Beach and Norwalk, south of the city.  Its 20-mile long route runs predominantly east to west, and it doesn't serve L. A.'s downtown area, instead crossing the Blue line at Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station.  It is entirely grade-separated, with its westernmost portion, near Los Angeles International Airport (reachable from Aviation Blvd. station by shuttle bus), elevated, while the balance of the line is located in the center of the Century Freeway (I-105).  The Green line has had its ups and downs in ridership, mainly due to the fortunes of the aerospace industry, which it serves.  Currently there are about 33,000 riders each weekday.  Interestingly, when it was planned, the grade crossing-free Green Line was supposed to be an entirely automated operation.

The first portion of the Gold line opened from Los Angeles Union Station to Pasadena and Sierra Madre in 2003, covering a distance of 14 miles in a generally northeasterly direction.  It's inner terminal was integrated into the historic railroad terminal, occupying tracks 1 and 2 of the 14-track facility atop a passenger concourse, way above the underground Red/Purple line station.  The line was extended from Union Station virtually due east for another 6 miles to East Los Angeles in 2009.  The newest extension, built on the Pasadena end for an additional 11 miles, was opened on March 5, 2016, and will be discussed in detail in a forthcoming section of the narrative.  Ridership over the entire 31 miles is running about 53,000 per day.

Lastly, the Expo line began operating in 2006 from a junction with the Blue line shortly south of the tunnel portal leading into Metro Center for about 8.5 miles to Culver City.  It was extended for another 6.5 miles further to Santa Monica on May 20, 2016, less than a year before this visit.  Ridership on the 15-mile long line (1.5 miles shared with the Blue line) is about 60,000.  Additional details will follow in the report segment that covers my journey to Santa Monica.

Rail transportation has certainly made a remarkable comeback in Los Angeles, after its virtual elimination when the construction of freeways for personal automobiles weaned away many of its previous riders.  Who ever thought that this sprawling area of concrete, asphalt and smog would ever see such a resurgence, manifested by the construction of over 100 miles of route carrying about 360,000 passengers each weekday.  This progress was brought on by the realization that we cannot pave our way out of congestion, that widening existing highways and building more of them is not a solution for declining mobility and air quality.  Between 1991 and today six busy lines have been built, and more are poised to be added.  Work is proceeding on extending the heavy rail Purple line westward for 9 more miles, and there is also much activity on the light rail system.  The 8.5-mile long north-south Crenshaw line, connecting the Expo and Green lines is well under construction and slated for completion in the next few years, and will be followed by a 12-mile long Foothill extension of the Gold line, while an underground connector in the center of Los Angeles will through route the Blue, Gold and Expo lines thereby eliminating annoying transfers and inefficient stub-end terminals.
Plus I have not mentioned Metrolink, a diesel operated push-pull commuter rail system centering on Union Station, which was introduced in 1992.  The 59-mile long system now has 7 lines (one of which is cross-country and does not operate into downtown Los Angeles) and carries a little over 40,000 people under the aegis of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, which is totally separate from Metro.  Rail has successfully returned to Los Angeles.

Getting back to the day's activities.  The speedy sail along the Expo rail didn't last very long.  After coming to a halt at the 23rd Street station, just before the route merges with the Blue line, we didn't move forward for a good 15 minutes.  Finally we began crawling, and eventually arrived at the Metro Center terminal.  My two-car train crossed over to the outbound track, which is unusual as normally the LRV trains lay over beyond the platform.  In making the transfer to the Red/Purple line, I got to the platform just as an eastbound train closed its doors.  But not to worry, another one came six minutes later.

When I finally got to Union Station it was already almost 10:30.  I stopped briefly at Metro's Customer Service Center to see if I could get a senior TAP card, but found out I'd need to supply a photograph, and wasn't about to arrange obtaining one.  As it was I missed the end of the Gold Line's 6-minute rush hour headway period, but I was happy to settle for the base 12-minute frequency, which I knew would have been suitable for most of my activities anyway.  Not!  The platform was crowded and the countdown clocks were blank.  But temporary signs were posted indicating that because of trackwork service would be running over this portion of the line only every 24 minutes.  This would be in effect from Tuesday to Thursday.  So because I would also be around on Friday, I scrapped my plans to cover the Gold line today.  I did however, stay on the platform in order to take a photo, figuring that a train of LRVs would be coming through soon because of the large number of people waiting.  Also not!

I eventually gave up on that as well, while I was seeing a great deal of activity on the other Metrolink tracks that were not being photographed.  So I did just that, going to a couple of other platforms to take pictures of the diesel push-pull trains (from which I finally did see some activity on the Gold line).  After those photos I decided to ride the Expo line out to Santa Monica.  However, to keep my report in some sort of coherency based on subject matter, I'm going to devote the rest of this segment to Union Station and the area surrounding it, and will continue with the Expo line in the next chapter.

Union Station, a beautiful railroad terminal built in a combination of Mission and Art-Deco styles, was constructed as Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal in 1939.  Terminal is the operative word, as all trains enter from the north side and there are bumper blocks and a layup yard to the south of the facility.  In the glory days of lightweight steel streamliners, it hosted the First Class all-Pullman Super Chief, City of Los Angeles and Lark, as well as many of the other famous trains operated by its three [very competitive] owners, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, the Union Pacific Railroad and the Southern Pacific Railroad, respectively.  These trains were used by glamorous Hollywood stars and were featured in many movies.  If I'm not distracted while walking through the station's art-deco corridors, I can almost hear Mel Blanc announcing "train leaving on track 5 for Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga."  Listeners to the Jack Benny radio show would always wait for that frequent line when one of his broadcasts would involve travel, and studio audience laughter would follow immediately.

With the advent of Metrolink in 1992, there is now a great deal of activity in the station's corridors, also augmented by an increasing frequency of Amtrak Surfliner trains to and from San Diego, and I had no trouble getting onto the appropriate platforms for photos.  Here are some views of the rail activity I encountered.

 below:  Two views of EMD-built locomotives preparing to pull Metrolink trains from the platforms of Los Angeles Union Station.  No. 874 above is an F59PHI built in 1994, while No. 18552 was leased from Montreal-based Rosen Beaudin, who acquired the 1990-built Transit F59PH from GO Transit. Note the totally different styling of engines, whose class identification differs only by the letter "I" at the end.

A cab-car leads as a Metrolink train is being pushed into Union Station.  The two Bombardier-built bi-level GO Transit-type cars are sandwiched between two newer Hyundai-Rotem units.  Note the two different color schemes, white and "aquawave."  Because of the results of 2005 and 2008 collisions, all of Metrolink's cab cars are now Hyundai Rotem "Guardian" units, built from 2010 to 2013, which were specified to incorporate anti-crumpling Crash Energy Management features.  Metrolink's regular coaches come from both the "Guardian" and original "Sentinel" orders.  The poles and catenary in the background serve Metro's Gold Line, which uses tracks 1 and 2 of the station, and then rise to an elevated structure as the trains make their way to Chinatown station and then all the way to Azusa.

I also took the following photos on Friday, of the outside of the station and of the Gold line light rail viaduct that swings across the Santa Ana freeway (U. S. 101) toward Little Tokyo, en route to East Los Angeles.

Above and below:  Two photos of the Mission-style Los Angeles Union Station.  The lower view is from a garage at the corner of East Commercial and Alameda Streets.  The twin towers are atop the U. S. Post Office adjacent to the depot.  


Above and below
:  After stopping at the westernmost platform of Union Station, Metro's Gold line uses an elevated structure to surmount the Santa Ana Freeway (U. S. 101).  It will turn south and parallel Alameda Street until it reaches Little Tokyo, where the line turns east on First Street heading for East Los Angeles.  After the Regional Connector is built these tracks will be used by the Long Beach line trains en route to Union Station and Azusa.  The top view is from the same vantage point atop a garage as the photo of Union Station above it.  The lower view is from East Commercial Street at the foot of the garage.  The rolling stock shown are Kinkisharyo-built P3010s from 2014, and Breda-built P2550s from 2007, respectively.

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 10,996 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, January 11, 2018 12:05 PM

Your description of Los Angeles Union Station is similar to my experience during my stopover while on an Amtrak Southern Rail Experience circle tour this past summer.  I did have better luck with the Gold Line and did well with Metrolink suburban trains with two consists doubled up on some tracks.  Platform access was not a problem.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,433 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Monday, January 15, 2018 2:48 AM

Friday, April 14.  This was the first day after the completion of the trackwork on the Gold line, and I hoped service would be back to normal, which meant base headways of every 12 minutes, increased to 7 for rush hours--and it turned out operations were indeed trouble free on this beautiful day.  After adding a new day ticket to my TAP card I followed the same itinerary that I tried two days earlier, and found myself at Union Station before 10:00.  I boarded a two-car train of new Kinkisharyo cars and rode it all the way to the terminal just beyond Azusa (49 minutes), which gave me the opportunity to plan my photography of the extension from Sierra Madre.  The ride was speedy and smooth, and gave me a full appreciation of the line's ambience.

This side of the Gold line continues to be my favorite Metro light rail route for a number of reasons, but mostly because of its varied and attractive rights-of-way, which are now augmented by this extension.  When I joined the hobby in the late 1950s and widened my horizons, I quickly learned that the electric streetcar (and its evolutionary followers) was the most flexible mode of transit, able to take advantage of all sorts of infrastructure, including streets, reservations in the center and side of roads, cross-country through fields and woods, elevated, underground, and so on, and able to share rights-of-way with motor traffic as well as full-sized railways, both alongside and even on the same tracks. 

Here is my attempt at describing this most interesting line.  With its platform elevated at Union Station, the line climbs further on high concrete pillars to Chinatown station, whose architecture and decorations are styled accordingly, and which affords a panoramic view of the city.  It then sinks to ground level, crosses the Los Angeles River and joins the former right-of-way of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad in a general northeastern direction.  It's a curving right-of-way, which includes a section of Marmion Way, where the line runs for about half a mile in the center of a residential street with parking and sidewalks.  Here the line's roadbed is paved and slightly raised above the street, with a fence separating the two tracks, so it's ostensibly on reservation.  Motor traffic is allowed to briefly encroach, especially when backing out of driveways.  On this section light rail cars are limited to speeds of 20 mph.  I suspect that the previous AT&SF rails were on prw with narrow paved alleys on both sides.  The Highland Park station is at the end of this short section, and then the line begins to run over a more traditional rail right-of-way, which takes it through beautiful Arroyo Seco Canyon, where it crosses the original Pasadena Freeway via an ex-AT&SF high trestle.  It then continues to follow the route of the former Super Chief toward Pasadena, stopping in the heart of South Pasadena's attractive retail center.  This is an upscale city that is the home of the line's original NIMBYs; both it and the Highland Park stop were once Santa Fe railroad stations, although almost all of the road's varnish made their first stop outside Los Angeles at Pasadena; this station has been preserved as a restaurant, La Grande Orange Cafe, just north of the Gold line's Del Mar stop.  The line between South Pasadena and Pasadena is quite verdant and crosses under a number of bridges from which I took photos on previous trips. 

Pasadena is a diverse city with about 140,000 residents, most famous for the Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses parade, as well as the Norton Simon art museum and plenty of Victorian architecture.
  Notably, as the line cuts through this city, it runs through a building, as well as traversing a half-mile long subway (which includes the Memorial Park station) to end up in the center of the east-west I-210 Foothill Freeway; there are three stations here, the last being the original terminal, Sierra Madre Villa.  The line up to this point is just under 14 miles long (from Union Station) and opened on July 26, 2003.

Now onto the new line, the Foothill extension, which added 11.5 miles and 6 more stations when it opened on March 5, 2016.  It runs in a predominantly east-west direction through the San Gabriel Valley on traditional railroad right-of-way just south of the mountain range, and for now ends in Azusa (although groundbreaking recently occurred for an extension of 12
½ miles more along the same Santa Fe line to Montclair).  After Sierra Madre, the Gold line leaves the Foothill Freeway via a bridge, and runs through Arcadia, Monrovia and Duarte, with a single station in each town.  Its maintenance and storage yard is between Monrovia and Duarte stations.  After Duarte, and just short of the next stop, Irwindale, the right-of-way widens significantly as it is joined by a third track and ancillary facilities used for freight service.  The freight trackage extends eastward beyond the end of the current electric line and even its future extension to Montclair, as far as San Bernardino, where the BNSF mainline is reached.  That line is now owned by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (operator of Metrolink), and I'm not sure if trackage rights for freight service are held by Union Pacific or BNSF--or both.  At Irwindale the freight trackage from San Bernardino turns south to Baldwin Park over what appears to have been Southern Pacific track and may still be owned by the Union Pacific (thereby providing a connection to the national railroad system at both ends).  The light rail line has two further stations, Downtown Azusa and its terminal, APU/Citrus College.  After Arcadia it operates parallel, but just south of the former Pacific Electric Glendora line, which was abandoned in 1951.  Beyond the terminal APU/Citrus, the former Santa Fe becomes single track, but just before it reaches Claremont it widens to host the current Metrolink San Bernardino commuter line.  Thus it appears that the forthcoming light rail extension to Montclair, the existing Metrolink line to San Bernardino and freight service will share the same right-of-way, which should be rather interesting.  I should also point out that the Pacific Electric's San Bernardino interurban, abandoned in 1941, shared a short portion of its route with the Santa Fe for a few miles east of Claremont.  Thus I consider it somewhat ironic that both parts of the entire 24-mile long Foothill extension will operate parallel to the abandoned PE lines to Glendora and San Bernardino.  It's not the same as the Blue line to Long Beach mostly using the exact same Pacific Electric right-of-way, but pretty much similar to me.

Please pardon the following sermon, which some may possibly consider subversive opinions and superfluous information.  With current light rail fares being significantly less than those charged on Metrolink, and service on the traction line being considerably more frequent, there is already a controversy about the Gold line snatching passengers away from the commuter line, especially because they are operated by separate and competing agencies.  Rightly so, as in my opinion, traditional steam/diesel commuter service is a quick and effective, but cheap and dirty, way to serve potential riders, and may well be too weak in corridors where there will be a high demand.  If all day frequent service is needed, I believe that the interurban solution, now called light rail, is much more desirable.  Thus I've always thought that in the days before the advent of massive subsidies for suburban rail service, it was a catastrophe that superior lines with excellent center city distribution, like the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin and the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee, fell victim to parallel unelectrified railroads.

Back to the narrative.  I arrived at the end of the line in Azusa at about 10:45, some 49 minutes and 18 stops after Union Station and began to take photographs, working my way westward back toward Los Angeles as the day proceeded.  The photos below and their captions describe the remainder of my trip.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,433 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Monday, January 15, 2018 3:32 AM

Two views at Azusa Station:

 Above Breda inbound at Azusa, below KinkeSharo, brand  new, outbound.  The multi-retail Target store is a traffc generator.  The wide RoW inlcudes a track for freight.

Duarte, location of a famous hotpital for concert treatment:

Old AT&AF stationi at Duarte, to becaome care, sign for conversion

Two views from the top of the garage ajacent ot Arcadia Station:

Outbound nearing South Pasadena

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,433 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 5:16 AM
Here are some additional photos I took in Los Angeles.

For the most part, the last group comes from late in the day, Friday, April 14, after I came back from riding the Gold line to Azusa and realized I still had some additional time for photography.  I covered the combined Blue and Expo line trackage leading from the subway portal toward the junction of the two routes, and then slightly further.  
During the previous days I saw few Siemens units on the Expo line and none at all on the Gold line, so almost all of the photos reproduced in the first 3 sections of this report were of Kinkisharyo, Breda and Nippon Sharyo cars.  I suspect most of the service on the Green line, which I didn't get to ride on this trip, is provided by the Siemens cars, and in addition, I saw some of them out for the rush hour on the Blue line.  As for the Breda cars, there were a large number of photos of them running on the Gold line in part 3.  

But first . . .
 a look at both ends of the Expo/USC station, which I finally got around to photographing.

Above and below:  Expo line trains consisting of Kinkisharyo cars are shown in the vicinity of Exposition Park in both photos.  
Looking westward along Exposition Blvd. the upper view shows an inbound train about to enter the Expo/USC station.  The thoroughfare has a sufficiently wide center reservation to blend in with the greenery of the park at left and the grounds of the USC Marshall School of Business at right.  The lower photo, of an outbound train exiting the underpass from Flower Street to Exposition Blvd., was taken from Figueroa Street, a major thoroughfare that first runs parallel with Flower, where it constitutes the eastern side of the USC campus.

Here are some photos working southward from the subway portal.  For the sake of continuity I am including one that was taken a few years ago (the first below).

With Flower Street at the left, a train of Nippon Sharyo cars, enroute to its Metro Center terminal at 7th Street, proceeds down the grade into the five-block long subway from 12th Street.  Part of the Los Angeles skyline is prominent in this view. 

Above and below:  The purpose of these two photos is to show that 
the oldest Los Angeles LRVs are currently running in three different color schemes.  These Nippon Sharyo P865 cars, built for the Blue line's opening in 1990, are now in the process of being taken out of service as additional Kinkisharyo units are delivered.  No. 104 is one of just a few painted in the system's new color scheme, which was described by its creators as containing "bold reflective yellow markings and white super-graphics overlaid onto painted cool greys."  (Is my hair a cool grey?)  The two other liveries are shown in the lower photo of two trains passing just south of Cameron Street, below the Pico station.  The silver paint scheme is newer than the white one, which replaced the original colors of the cars.  The first livery was traction white with three stripes in different shades of blue and one in the deep red of Pacific Electric.  Also, many readers remember that two cars were temporarily painted in PE red (I took slides of them, but haven't scanned them).  To see the P865s in older colors, try Dave's Railpix (http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/odds/ca/ca1.htm#lablue), where views supplied by Bill Volkmer and Chris Carson are available.

Above and below:  Three-quarter views of the newest and oldest cars on the Los Angeles light rail system with part of the L. A. skyline in the background.  A train of Kinkisharyo P3010s (2013) approaches Pico Boulevard and the Pico station in the upper view, while below, a train of Nippon Sharyo P865s (1990) is shown almost in the same spot.  Both carbuilders are based in Japan.

Above and below:  Finally, two views of Siemens P2000s, built in 1996.  The upper photo shows an outbound Blue line train on Washington Boulevard just beyond Central Avenue (note the mural), while the lower one (shown in the same location as several above) indicates that these units too operate in two different paint schemes, the original white having been subsequently painted over in silver.

I eventually took an Expo train back to Culver City, where I was picked up by Sig, Cathy and Clare, and we went over to the Hertz office to get our car for the next 10 days.  The agency was attached to a Volvo dealership, and rather than getting the Chevy Impala displayed on the internet, we ended up with a Volvo S60 for the trip.  It was a fine car, but it took a little time and effort to get used to the buttons and controls.

Next:  A day trip to San Diego.
Again, this is a report from Jack May, not me.  If the photos show from direct transfer, all is well.  Otherwise, I can post them (most, anyway, using Imgur forsm my hard drive memory) the next time I have wide-band access, as I do now.


9 attachments — Download all attachments View all images
   Los Angeles Expo line - inbound Kinkosharyo train approaching Expo Park/USC station.jpg
275K View Download
   Los Angeles Expo line - outbound Kinkosharyo train climbing from underpass toward Expo Park/USC station.jpg
266K View Download
   Los Angeles Blue/Expo lines Flower Street subway portal.jpg
278K View Download
   Los Angeles Expo/Blue lines Pico station with outbound Nippon Sharyo train.jpg
253K View Download
   Los Angeles Expo/Blue lines Flower Street south of Cameron with Nippon Sharyo trains in two color schemes.jpg
297K View Download
   Los Angeles Expo/Blue lines inbound Kinkisharyo on Flower approaching Pico Street.jpg
327K View Download
   Los Angeles inbound Nippon Sharyo Expo/Blue lines along Flower Street south of Cameron.jpg
283K View Download
   Los Angeles Blue line outbound Siemens Washington Blvd. & Central Avenue.jpg
246K View Download
   Los Angeles Expo/Blue lines Siemens inbound along Flower Street south of Cameron.jpg
339K View Download
  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 3,961 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 9:50 PM

Dave, on your last post, your photos are icons that I can't open on Google.  Your previous post's photos were fine.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,433 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, January 18, 2018 5:38 AM

When I reach a wide-band sever on Sunday or Monday, I will try and post the photoa from my hard drive via Imgur.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,433 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, January 21, 2018 4:55 AM




  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,433 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, January 21, 2018 8:47 AM

This posting is an experimeriment.  If it works I may not need Imgur, but will require one posing for each picture.

Seems to have worked for me.   Does it for you?


Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy