Trains.com
6

A Long Time Coming

Posted 10 days ago by George Hamlin
Some of you may have read my article “Commonwealth Commitment“, in the August issue of TRAINS, about Virginia’s increasing support for passenger rail services in recent times.  Due to space limitations, not all of the information that I obtained in the process of researching the background for this was able to be included in the final product.  Since the following puts this in its proper historical context, I’m sharing it here. On January 17, 1970, while I ...
5

Coexistence Between Passenger Rail and Freight: Peaceful, or Otherwise

Posted 25 days ago by George Hamlin
Much of the recent news about transportation has focused on the negative side of the ledger, including service cancellations and disruptions; staffing difficulties; long wait times for travelers, etc.  To be sure, it is likely that at least some of this is due to ramifications of the Covid pandemic;  a “normal” economy, including its transportation component, seems to lie at a yet unknown point in the future. In the midst of this, we have also recently been exposed to th...
16

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Posted one month ago by George Hamlin
I suspect that I’m hardly alone in the railfan community in terms of “coming of age” in the hobby during the 1960s, and liking Alco locomotives.  Although General Motors/EMD products were far more prolific on North American railroads (including Alco-licensed MLW (Montreal Locomotive Works)), the Alco/MLW products certainly had outsized personalities in the diesel locomotive world. After all, weren’t the elegant passenger-service PA models dubbed “honorary ...
9

The Present Day "Gateway" to Railfanning?

Posted one month ago by George Hamlin
Years ago, railroads had a more universal ‘footprint’ in American life.  Large numbers of people rode them to get from one place to another, both near and far.  They participated in transporting a great deal of what the populace consumed, as well as being an integral part of the transportation used in the production of basic materials.  Central portions of urban areas, particularly in industrial/commercial sections, saw local freights working on a five-day basis, a...
9

Chlorophyll Rampant

Posted 2 months ago by George Hamlin
The greatest component of railroad photography, particularly of the action variety?  Without a doubt, waiting, which can induce anticipation; frustration; discomfort; boredom; enervation; etc.  I’m sure that most readers can name others. On the other hand, it also may offer the opportunity for reflection and camaraderie, since this is often a shared pursuit.  As we’ll see, that can include both those came with you and new acquaintances.  The latter run the ga...
5

Duluth Diagonals

Posted 2 months ago by George Hamlin
Sometimes, pictures almost beg you to take them.  Such was the case here, at an overlook on Duluth, Minnesota’s Skyline Parkway, on September 29, 2016.  This elevated location provided a wonderful venue for looking down on the BNSF’s Rice’s Point yard, as you can see here. Along with friends Brian and Matt, we had driven up here to see the sights along the Duluth waterfront, and hopefully, to be able to work some railroad viewing and/or photography into the pictu...
7

Short-Timer

Posted 3 months ago by George Hamlin
It’s now been fifty-one years since the launch of Amtrak on May 1, 1971, and many of the road’s patrons today have no knowledge of the visceral feelings of loss associated with the many “last runs” of once famous intercity passenger trains that took place on April 30 of that year. In addition to the demise of individual trains, entire routes vanished from the landscape in the process.  Some maintained vestiges of their former glory, while others had descended to...
8

Waiting Games

Posted 3 months ago by George Hamlin
Today, it’s difficult for railfans and railroaders to interact, especially in the realm of operations.  With the exception of passenger trains, there aren’t many places where “civilians” can encounter crew members on a regular basis.  Railroad facilities are almost universally off-limits, and modern locomotives seem to have elevated engineers and conductors literally higher above the people that they are passing by on the ground than was the case previously,...
14

Passion and Character

Posted 4 months ago by George Hamlin
By now, I suspect that most, if not all of you, already know this, but for those who don’t, the railroad journalism community has lost one of its finest, as TRAINS editor Jim Wrinn passed away on March 30, 2022.  Jim had been engaged in a struggle with pancreatic cancer for the previous fourteen months, and while he gave it his all, and then some, ultimately the disease prevailed. Jim had been editor since 2004, and his tenure of 17-plus years as editor was eclipsed only by tha...
8

Something Old, Something New...

Posted 4 months ago by George Hamlin
Definitely something from both categories in the title in this view of MARC train P930. It is operating on the CSX’s main line from Washington to Cumberland on October 6, 1991, at Weverton, Maryland, in conjunction with the “Brunswick Railroad Days”, an annual two-day weekend festival in the town of Brunswick, just to the east of Weverton. In particular, the passenger cars represent both historic and then relatively-new equipment. The former category is represented by the ...
13

Lots to See, but Not for Long

Posted 5 months ago by George Hamlin
Almost fifty-five years ago, you could see the pride of the New York Central, the Twentieth Century Limited, twice a day at the railroad’s Croton-Harmon station in Westchester County, New York. This location, known previously as simply “Harmon”, was where westbound NYC trains exchanged the electric locomotives that had brought them the 32.7 miles from Grand Central Terminal in New York City for diesels (and previously, steam) that would forward their consists to more distan...
9

Strange Bedfellows

Posted 5 months ago by George Hamlin
By the time of this photo on November 14, 1976, the former Pennsylvania Meadows Yard in Kearney, New Jersey now was also the former Penn Central yard, following the formation of Conrail on April 1 of that year. Some things remained largely the same, however:  this was still a place where you could see, and photograph, both diesel and electric locomotives, at least those designated for freight service.  And because electrics were included, that meant that GG1s were almost certain t...
15

The End is Beginning to be in Sight

Posted 6 months ago by George Hamlin
Bob Johnston’s report today on TRAINS’ Newswire (“First Look: Siemens Venture Coaches debut for Amtrak”, February 2, 2022) about the new equipment’s first use in revenue service, on a “Lincoln Service” Chicago-St. Louis round trip, is a reminder that the new equipment will eventually be supplanting older cars, including the original Budd Amfleet cars, which commenced service in 1975. Coming in 2024 (Newswire, July 7, 2021) will be the first of up to...
10

What's Old is New Again

Posted 6 months ago by George Hamlin
Freight trains with multiple locomotives other than on the head end are hardly new.  Helper engines (with separate crews operating them) pushing on the rear of the train are certainly not a new concept.  Sometimes they were cut into the body of the train, instead; this was sometimes referred to as a “swing” helper, since they both pushed and pulled.  A notable utilization of this concept was on the Southern Pacific’s movement of crude oil unit trains from Bak...
4

Got the Fireman's Attention

Posted 7 months ago by George Hamlin
The beginning of Amtrak in the spring of 1971 was both a new start, as well as the end for many U.S. intercity passenger trains, and for that matter, entire routes.  Chicago-Los Angeles service was retained on the route of the Santa Fe’s Chiefs (super and otherwise, which would become a bone of contention between Amtrak and the Santa Fe in the not distant future), but the Union Pacific’s Cities trains, including the one named for California’s “City of Angels&rdqu...
3

A Southern train plus e-bike adventure (part two)

Posted 7 months ago by Malcolm Kenton
Read part one here. My northbound Crescent departed New Orleans on-time on what started as a warm and muggy Saturday, but quickly turned cool and rainy as a cold front passed through. We were on-time till Picayune, Miss. (the second stop of the trip), after which we began moving slow and took a siding for a southbound freight. This put us 40 minutes down, 10 of which we were able to make up by Meridian thanks to schedule padding. Upon arriving and claiming my e-bike on the platform, I pedaled i...
8

From the Family Photo Archives

Posted 7 months ago by George Hamlin
Recently, my friend David Greenberg sent me the picture above, taken by his Father, Harry, in Milan, Indiana (pronounced “my-lin”, accent on the first syllable, as opposed to “mi-lan”, accent on the second syllable).  This small town is in southeastern Indiana, 41.7 miles west of Cincinnati, on the former Baltimore & Ohio’s line to St. Louis. David’s maternal grandparents lived in Milan. His mother went to the local high school, where her graduat...
3

A Southern train plus e-bike adventure (part one)

Posted 7 months ago by Malcolm Kenton
I just returned home to D.C. from a 4.5-day trip on Amtrak’s Crescent that brought me and my three-month-old Co-Op Cycles CTY e2.1 pedal-assist electric bicycle to New Orleans for 31 hours (it was supposed to be 35) and Meridian, Miss. for 24 hours. The Crescent is my ‘home train’; I use it several times a year to go between D.C. and Greensboro, N.C., where I grew up and where my parents live, and have been riding it since 2004. This was only my fifth time riding it south of Gr...
10

Infrastructure

Posted 8 months ago by George Hamlin
A century ago, transportation infrastructure in the U.S. was funded and built largely by private enterprises, particularly railroads. Think projects like Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station, both in New York City. Today, and particularly with respect to railroad passenger service, public money is generally employed (although there has been a recent exception in Florida, although it didn’t involve extensive new rights of way, at least in its initial iteration), when it can be obtain...
15

Still Classy, as well as "Swift of Foot"

Posted 8 months ago by George Hamlin
As I’ve indicated previously, a good bit of what remained of the intercity passenger rail service in the U.S. as of 1970 was in bad shape; see, for example, see my April 15, 2021 post, “Remember the Twilight Limited?” for an example (https://cs.trains.com/trn/b/observation-tower/archive/2021/04/16/remember-the-twilight-limited.aspx). However, not everything had become rotten in the passenger train universe by then; what remained of the Santa Fe’s fleet of Chiefs was ...
5

Before He Had a Musical Named After Him...

Posted 9 months ago by George Hamlin
Alexander Hamilton, a “Founding Father” of the United States, as well as the nation’s First Treasury Secretary, was honored by the Pennsylvania Railroad, which named one of its postwar streamlined “feature” cars after him. By 1952, the PRR had taken delivery of Budd-built stainless steel passenger cars to equip two sets if trains, the Congressional and the Senator; four consists were built in total, two for each named train. Both of these trains operated in wh...
7

Heritage Trifecta

Posted 9 months ago by George Hamlin
Special paint schemes on locomotives are generally popular, particularly if they are part of a series. On the occasion of its fortieth anniversary in 2011, Amtrak produced unique liveries on four of its P42 General Electric diesels (as well as a single P40, the 42s’ immediate predecessor in the “Genesis” locomotive line) commemorating what are commonly described as ‘phases’, beginning with the original “Bloody Nose/Pointless Arrow” scheme. Subseque...
7

History: Reflections of the Past, and in the Making in New York City

Posted 10 months ago by George Hamlin
In the New York City subway system, a good deal of history can be seen in a variety of places.  This example (above), at the Herald Square station in Manhattan is illustrative of some of the City’s rail transportation history, inasmuch as it references three entities that are currently operating, but not under the names shown here. “BMT” is a reference to what was known as the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Corporation prior to its acquisition by the City in 1940. ...
21

PSR in all its Glory

Posted 10 months ago by George Hamlin
That’s “Precision Scheduled Railroading”, in the odd case that you’re wondering what the acronym stands for.  So, what do we see in the picture above, of Norfolk Southern train 202 passing by the former N&W depot in Boyce, Virginia (now privately owned) on the NS H-line, on September 3, 2021? The key point, the train’s overall length, is not visible within the relatively constrained view shown here, but some of its contributing implications are.  ...
5

Mixtures of Old and New

Posted 11 months ago by George Hamlin
In the photo of Amtrak’s northbound Crescent above, passing Barboursville, Virginia, north of Charlottesville, on June 4, 2018, there is a mix of old and new elements, in some cases, on multiple levels. To start with, the train is operating on what was the property of the Southern Railway, the Crescent’s creator.  For many years, this stretch of the Southern’s Washington, DC-Atlanta main line was known as the Washington Division.  More recently it became part of ...
5

My Ride Arrives, Early

Posted 11 months ago by George Hamlin
The Covid-19 pandemic wiped out many things that might have been enjoyable since early 2020, a number of them being trips; either actually planned, or that would have developed over the intervening course of time.  In my case, in addition to travel by auto and airline, which is typical, there were a couple of rail trips that would have been fun, and hopefully, will be able to be rescheduled at some point again in the future. In recent years, most of my train-riding has been relat...
6

Old School

Posted one year ago by George Hamlin
Even when I shot this photo of NS train 973 coming by the signals at Stanley, Virginia on May 29, 1993, my conclusion was that this set of NS EMD SD40/-2 locomotives, while second-generation “classics”, was not that far from needing to be assigned a “sell-by” date.  I was happy to get the shot, in any case. Now, you’ve got to remember that both of the Norfolk Southern’s components that merged to form the modern NS in 1982 were the last major roads to...
3

Hippo, We Hardly Knew You

Posted one year ago by George Hamlin
With the exit of Conrail from its electrified freight business in the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak is the only U.S. railroad with a significant amount of electrified mileage in the country.  This began when Amtrak inherited the former Pennsylvania and New Haven Railroad passenger operations in the Northeast as of May 1971, and obtained ownership of this trackage as part of the formation of Conrail in 1976. As a result, Amtrak inherited both redoubtable former Pennsy GG1s, which began ser...
16

Pride of Place

Posted one year ago by George Hamlin
"Looks like she's right on time..."  A vintage, “back in the day” photo? I wish, but the North Carolina Transportation Museum's May 3, 2021 N&W 611 photo charter gave me the opportunity to try and re-create something that could have taken place back in the 1950s.  Thanks to Jordan Hood for holding the timetable, the July 1, 1952 issue, by the way. It also caused me to reflect on what this class of locomotive meant to its owner, as well as to the City of Roanoke, Virg...
5

Living Large in Mamroneck in 1972

Posted one year ago by George Hamlin
The New Haven’s EP-5 electrics made quite a splash at the time of their debut in 1955.  They were the road’s first passenger locomotives to be delivered in the striking red/black/white “McGinnis” paint scheme designed by Herbert Matter, which certainly helped from a visual image standpoint.  They also featured the latest in electrical propulsion technology, including mercury arc rectifiers to convert alternating current from the overhead catenary to direct c...

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