(Click small photos at bottom of each section to see larger versions)
Wednesday July 26, 2006
After a great time in Charlotte visiting a friend the meat of my vacation was about to begin. That of course means riding trains all up and down the east coast. My friend took me into the heart of the ghetto (where almost all train stations are) in Charlotte and dropped me off around 6:50 for my scheduled 7:40 departure. I checked in my bags and waited for boarding to begin, which happened at 7:25. Business Class passengers were called first, and I made my way train-side. I located two seats at the front end of the car with a good window and took a seat. We pulled on time from Charlotte at 7:40. Our consist was as follows:
P-42 Locomotive 140 off WAS
HHP-8 Locomotive 657 on WAS
Amfleet I Cafe 48193 on WAS (Deadhead)
Heritage Baggage 1712
Amfleet I Business 44703
Amfleet I Cafe 28365
Amfleet I Coach 21285 Non-Refurb
Amfleet I Coach 21084 Non-Refurb
Amfleet I Coach 82009 Capstone
Amfleet I Coach 82545 Capstone
We made our way north with pretty good time, lost a few minutes due to slow orders, but nothing too major. Our first big hit came outside of High Point where we had to stop and copy a Warrant from the dispatcher, setting us back about 15 minutes. Blew by 73 a few minutes later, and had a very decent run into Raleigh, about 30 minutes late overall. Got a fresh crew at Raleigh and proceeded north.
One interesting article along the right of way north of Raleigh was the 1704 which was torn apart after the gravel truck incident last year.
NS kept us running well, and we made it up to Selma-Smithfield where we exchanged onto CSX. got up and running, made it through Rocky Mount with no major issues. We had to wait on 79 and 89 on Double Track before we could head north, add in slow orders and we were about an hour down out of Petersburg. We got in towards Acca Yard in Richmond, and the wheels just fell off from there. We got two Restricting Signals before we got to a stop while we waited for Track 2 to clear. The track cleared and we were sandwiched between Q414 and Q173. 173 had to proceed south before we could get lined up to go around the yard and into the station.
We arrived in the station, made our crew change, and appeared to be ready to go. I could see off in the distance a GE with its headlights on sitting on Main 3, but it had made no progress. And neither did we. In spite of the fact that Main 2 was open the dispatcher lined the Southbound through before we got lined up. All in all we sat there for about a half hour that we didn't need to. We got our signal to head north and did so, now about two hours down.
Before we left the station the dispatcher gave us an EC-1 for Heat Orders, so we had to reduce down to 50 MPH. Well we were rolling pretty well, but the Cab Signal kept dropping on us and coming back up, so that slowed progress a bit. We had a rolling meet with P053 and P095 and stopped for our meet on TRIPLE TRACK with 91. We sat. And sat. And sat. After a half hour of trying to get the dispatcher the signal came up and we proceeded north. We arrived at Fredericksburg, and had a similar problem north of the station, but with no meets involved.
We got up and riding again, and arrived at Quantico. We pulled from the station across the crossing and waited for a southbound VRE to arrive. We proceeded at a very slow speed across the Quantico River bridge. The new bridge still has a ways to go, but it is coming along.
We got across the bridge and stopped again. We were now on Main 2 facing an outlawed freight, with Main 3 wide open. We sat for a good 20 minutes before another VRE train passed through. And we continued to sit. Q415 passed by and told us what the situation was, with the outlawed train, and Q411 behind him.
After getting a Medium Clear we had a decent run into Alexandria, with a rolling meet with Q411. We completed our station work and headed for the Capital at least 3:30 down at this point. We passed 97 just a few miles north of the station, and made our way through the bowels of the city into Union Station on Track 25.
Our P-42 was removed rather quickly and taken over to Track 28. Not too long after our arrival P090 arrived on Track 26, sad considering they run two hours behind us. Their engine was removed as well and both of our consists sat while our respective electrics were retrieved. We were given HHP-8 657 as well as Deadhead Cafe 48193, 90 was given a pair of AEM-7DC's. Mechanical hooked us up, and we were on our way north.
The Northeast Corridor is always an experience, since it's the only place in North America where trains can blow past each other at speeds ranging from 90-150 MPH in perfect harmony. The sound is a little startling at night when you can't see anything outside, but still cool nonetheless. The NEC dispatcher did a fantastic job (unlike his CSX counterpart) and gave us a clear road into Philly.