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Trip Report

OTOL Big Apple RailFest 2008

January 18-20, 2008


Photos by Ellis Simon

Click small photos to see larger

Chapter 0: Introduction

By now, our New York meets have been pretty much routine. Except for the year 2004 (when we visited Philadelphia instead), we have met there each year since 2001. OTOL Big Apple RailFest 2008 was designed to fill in whatever segments of the New York City subways we have not ridden over the past eight years, and to continue to explore the many commuter rail lines in the area.

Chapter 1: Preparation

This trip was easy to plan. In fact, I had circulated the list of trains we would ride, back at the OTOL Big Apple RailFest 2007 event. And for our Sunday commuter rail journey, it was NJ TRANSIT's turn to host us.

The usual homepage was set up, with links to our itinerary and other important information. Sixteen people had their names on our guest list for this meet.

Chapter 2: Friday, January 18, 2008

On our first day we would ride some subway lines in New York that are either not available to ride on weekends, or often have weekend service disruptions. Our plan was to meet for dinner first at around 5 PM, and then ride for a little under two hours.

Chapter 2.1: Meeting at Manhattan Mall

Michael and I drove up to the Liberty State Park station on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLRT), and took the train from there to Pavonia/Newport, and then the PATH Journal Square-33rd Street Line train into 33rd Street.

At Manhattan Mall, Michael and I arrived first and immediately started eating. Why wait? Skip Howard arrived next (having arrived previously on Amtrak Acela Express 2163 from Massachusetts), and then Mike Hammond (who flew from Cleveland to JFK Airport), and then John Corbett (from Long Island). Alan Burden of Queens was the sixth person expected, but he had instead opted for a later dinner with his wife.

After we ate, we headed for the subway. We met Alan within the paid area of the station, and our group of half a dozen people was complete.

Chapter 2.2: MTA NYCT F train, 34th Street/Herald Square to Delancy Street

We got to the platform a little early. However, we had to let a V train pass by first. When our F train came, we departed right on our schedule at 5:50 PM.

The ride to the Delancy Street station took a little longer than I expected. We got there at 6:04 PM, four minutes late. Negotiating the maze between platforms at the Delancy/Essex station complex would not help us in gaining back much time.

Chapter 2.3: MTA NYCT M train, Essex Street to 4th Avenue/9th Street

The first M train that came was at 6:11 PM. The ride to 9th Street in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn took the expected 23 minutes, during which we got to ride on the weekday-only trackage between the Nassau Street subway and the Montague Tunnel.

At 6:34 PM, we began our second transfer as we made our way to the F line once again. This time we were going from an underground subway line to an elevated one.

Chapter 2.4: MTA NYCT F train, 4th Avenue/9th Street to Smith/9th Streets

This station is where G trains are turned on the express tracks. We watched one such operation while we awaited our F train. The G was turned rather quickly, leading us to believe that there was more than one engineer aboard.

We were only two minutes behind our itinerary as we departed at 6:41 PM from the 4th Avenue/9th Street station. And two minutes is how long our one-stop trip took, as we alighted at the next station, Smith/9th Streets. We'd visited this station before, back on our AppleFest 2001 trip.

As our F train left the station towards Manhattan, we saw a G on the opposite platform discharging its passengers. We figured correctly that this train would be our next ride, as it would pull onto one of the express tracks, reverse, and then come to Smith/9th to pick us up.

Chapter 2.5: MTA NYCT G train, Smith/9th Streets to Long Island City/Court Square

Six minutes later we were boarding that very train. Our departure from Smith/9th Streets at 6:49 PM was actually one minute earlier than planned. After the Bergen Street station, where the G split from the F line to approach the Hoyt/Schermerhorn complex, we had entered new trackage once more for our group. The entire G line would be ours to conquer that evening.

Our trip went rather smoothly, until we met with some congestion near the end of the line at Long Island City/Court Square. We were held a bit at the previous station, 21st Street, and then it took a while for us to negotiate the interlockings into the final station. Truth be told, Court Square had never been set up to be an endpoint station; the tracks continue into Queens Plaza on the Queens Blvd. Line, but they are rarely used anymore.

We came to a stop at Court Square at 7:17 PM, two minutes later than our itinerary called for. Our trip on the G, therefore, took three minutes longer than it was supposed to take.

Now it was time for us to walk the walk. A moving walkway in the station complex between Court Square and the 23rd/Ely station was luckily moving in our direction of travel.

When we got to the 23rd/Ely station, Alan split from the group to head home on a Jamaica-bound E train. The rest of us went to the inbound platform, where we boarded a V train as planned for our last official activity of the evening.

Chapter 2.6: MTA NYCT V train, 23rd/Ely to 34th Street/Herald Square

Right on schedule, we left 23rd/Ely at 7:23 PM and headed back into Manhattan. Ten minutes later, we arrived at the station from where we had started our big loop through three boroughs, 34th Street/Herald Square.

Chapter 2.7: End of Friday's activities

John split from us here to walk over the Penn Station and catch his train home to Ronkonkoma. The rest of us were headed for hotels in New Jersey, so we took the PATH together.

The four of us boarded a Journal Square-33rd Street Line train. Since it was a weekday, we did not have to worry about the annoying dogleg into Hoboken.

At Pavonia/Newport, Mike, Michael, and I detrained, while Skip remained on board. Skip was headed for the Hilton Newark Penn Station, so he would have to change trains at Journal Square to a Newark-World Trade Center train.

Meanwhile, although Mike's Courtyard hotel was right next door to the Pavonia/Newport station, he decided to take a ride with us on the HBLRT to Liberty State Park, and then return on his own to Pavonia/Newport.

At the Liberty State Park station, after making sure Mike was headed for the correct platform, Michael and I walked to our car and I drove us to our hotel in Secaucus, the Hilton Garden Inn. Day One was over, but BARF 2008 would go into full swing the next day with twice the number of people we had on Friday.

Chapter 3: Saturday, January 19, 2008

Saturday is traditionally our all-day subway excursion day. This year was no exception. However a noticeable difference was that the day started relatively late at 10:30 AM, and it would end before 4 PM. The reason was that over the years we had completed most of the subway, and all that was left were the lines we were about to ride.

Chapter 3.1: Meeting at New York Penn Station

We assembled at New York's Penn Station outside the MTA Long Island Railroad waiting room. Besides the six people from the previous evening, we also had Don Sillence and David Korkhouse from Indiana (who were staying at the Hotel Pennsylvania across the street), Bill Magee (who came up for the day from Cherry Hill, NJ), Maurice Carson (who "commuted" on Amtrak both days from Philadelphia), Jishnu Mukerji (who came in on NJ TRANSIT's Midtown Direct from Short Hills, NJ), and Lou Petrillo (who came in on MTA Metro North Railroad from Connecticut). Lou's wife accompanied him into the city; however she would remain in Manhattan visiting friends both days while he was out riding trains.

When 12 people were spoken for, we made our way towards the Seventh Avenue/34th Street/Penn Station subway station. We had to choose our gates carefully because one of them was occupied with inspections of customers' bags. We also had to remember that the trains were not operating as one might expect them to. 1 trains were operating express, and terminating at 14th Street. 2 and 3 trains were running local where the 1 usually is found.

Following the signs plastered all over the station columns and stairway walls, we went and stood on the local platform a few minutes until a Brooklyn-bound 2 showed up.

Chapter 3.2: MTA NYCT 2 train, 34th Street/Penn Station to Flatbush Avenue/Brooklyn College

We departed at 10:29 AM from 34th Street/Penn Station, about five minutes ahead of our schedule. I figured that leaving a little earlier would help us to stay on schedule since running local is slower than running express as the 2 usually does.

At Chambers Street, we heard announcements that passengers going to South Ferry should leave the train and take a bus upstairs. This segment of the 1 is often closed on weekends for station work for the new South Ferry terminal.

Our trip was uneventful as we wound first through Lower Manhattan's Financial District, and then the tunnel under the East River into Brooklyn. We continued through Brooklyn until we got to Franklin Avenue. There, we diverged from the line that runs to New Lots Avenue, and headed southwest underneath Nostrand Avenue. We noticed that all of the stations in this last stretch looked pretty old and dilapidated.

The Flatbush Avenue/Brooklyn College was not originally intended to be an endpoint station. It was once supposed to go further south on Nostrand Avenue. The station has two wall platforms, and since the end-of-the-line status now appears to be permanent, the platforms were connected around the bumping posts so that one does not have to pass over or under the tracks to change platforms. There was, in fact, a train sitting on the opposite platform when we arrived at 11:09 AM, and since I thought it might depart shortly, we hustled around the connection and boarded that train.

Chapter 3.3: MTA NYCT 2 train, Flatbush Avenue/Brooklyn College to Franklin Avenue

As things turned out, this next 2 train departed right on the advertised, and my expected time, 11:17 AM. The trip back up Nostrand Avenue was uneventful. When we got to Franklin Avenue, we detrained and waited for our next train, a 4 to arrive across the island platform. The time was 11:26.

Chapter 3.4: MTA NYCT 4 train, Franklin Avenue to Grand Central Terminal

A 4 showed up at 11:34 AM, a minute earlier than I had expected. This would be our ride to Grand Central Terminal, our scheduled lunch stop. In Brooklyn, the 4 runs express, bypassing some of the stops that we had made on the 2 earlier. The lines diverge just before the Borough Hall station in Brooklyn to run via either Seventh Avenue or Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

With all the fests we've had in the city, we had never been on the stretch of the Lexington Avenue line between Bowling Green and Grand Central. We easily conquered that stretch, especially where we ran on the express tracks north of Brooklyn Bridge. We arrived at Grand Central Terminal at exactly 12:00 Noon.

Chapter 3.5: Lunch at Grand Central Terminal

We headed through Grand Central Terminal and down to its lower level food court. After laying claim to an available group of tables that would allow us to sit together, we took turns going for food. The eateries are a bit more upscale than one would normally expect in a food court. Most of us settled on pizza at Two Boots.

I had allowed a little more than 1-1/2 hours for our lunch break. Perhaps that was a bit too long, but the idea was to stretch out the day since we really did not have much more ahead of us to ride. With everyone together and itching to get back on the rails, we left the food court at about 1:10 PM and headed back for the subway. Back down in the complex subway station beneath 42nd Street, we rode another long escalator down to the 7 platform.

Chapter 3.6: MTA NYCT 7 train, Grand Central Terminal to Times Square

I had chosen the 7 over the S Shuttle, because it is a shorter walk from the former through the underground passageways to Eighth Avenue where we would be catching our next ride.

The 7 line was only running between Woodside/61st Street in Queens and Times Square on account of major switch work being done in Queens. I therefore expected trains on the remaining portion of the line to be operating off their regular schedule. Granted, we were still running early, but it was nice to have a train come in fairly soon headed in our direction.

We boarded a train at 1:16 PM for what should have been a three-minute ride. However, approaching the Times Square station there was some congestion as both station tracks were occupied. We had to wait for one of those trains to depart and pass us before we could pull into the station. So our three-minute trip had almost tripled when we finally got off at 1:24. Not to worry, we were still ten minutes ahead of our itinerary.

We walked through the connecting passageway to Eighth Avenue, and went down onto the downtown platform to catch an A train.

Chapter 3.7: MTA NYCT A Train, 42nd Street/Port Authority Bus Terminal to Howard Beach/JFK Airport

Still ahead of our schedule, we had to let one A train pass us by, as it was going to Ozone Park/Lefferts Blvd. instead of Far Rockaway. Only the Far Rockaway trains go to Howard Beach/JFK Airport. The correct train for our trip soon arrived, and we were on our way by 1:38 PM.

This train was fairly crowded, and many of us had to stand. Our trip was fairly quiet, until a bunch of punks got on at West 4th Street. They knew what they were doing, because the run between West 4th and Canal Street takes a few minutes. Their "performance" was some combination of rapping, dancing, and clapping. One of them had the nerve to ask me to get out of the way so that those who were sitting down could see the "performance". I told him I didn't want to watch and I wasn't going to move. Obviously this "performance" was intended to give some financial gain to this group, whether it was from donations collected from passengers willingly, or whether what was taking place in the middle of the subway car was a diversion while pockets were picked. At any rate, everyone in our car was glad when we got to Canal Street and the loud group detrained most likely to repeat what they just did on the next northbound express train.

The rest of our trip was much quieter and relatively uneventful. It also featured the only time we saw daylight during our Saturday activities, as the A train runs outdoors in Queens.

We arrived at the Howard Beach/JFK Airport station at 2:20 PM. We were running twelve minutes ahead of our itinerary. We went up the escalator into the overhead station, and then down to the inbound platform.

Chapter 3.8: MTA NYCT A Train, Howard Beach/JFK Airport to Chambers Street

Our train back to Manhattan picked us up just eight minutes after we had arrived, so our wait in the cold was minimal. This group of twelve railfans arrived at Chambers Street in lower Manhattan at 3:05 PM.

We then walked towards the south end of the platform, where we could go upstairs and then right down onto the E train's World Trade Center platform.

Chapter 3.9: MTA NYCT E Train, World Trade Center to Queens Plaza

We boarded the next train that would be departing. At 3:15 we were on our way. This time we rode up the Eighth Avenue local tracks, and then turned east to ride under 53rd Street and into Queens. We detrained at 3:40 PM at Queens Plaza, where we went upstairs from the Queens-bound platform and then down to the Manhattan-bound platform.

Chapter 3.10: MTA NYCT E Train, Queens Plaza to 34th Street/Penn Station

We had practically no wait at all, as an E train came at 3:42 just after we had all gotten down to the platform. Thanks to the short wait, we were now 20 minutes ahead of our schedule.

Our final subway ride of the day took twelve minutes. At 3:54 we all got off at 34th Street/Penn Station and walked through the passageway to the station proper.

For dinner we had decided to go to T.G.I. Friday's, located right in the station. It had been between that and an Outback Steakhouse in Chelsea. Friday's was ultimately chosen because it was right in Penn Station and was therefore convenient to those who would later catch trains to wherever they were going for the night.

Bill Magee left us outside the restaurant, choosing to catch an earlier Amtrak train than planned back to Philadelphia. He ended up on Keystone 669. Alan also didn't enter the restaurant with us, since he was used to eating later in the evening, and also because he had to go pick up his overnight bag at home and then return to Newark where he would be spending the night at the Hilton.

Chapter 3.11: Dinner at T.G.I. Friday's in Penn Station

The result was ten of us having dinner together at the restaurant. We had one table for eight, and then a nearby table accommodated the other two. We presented a challenge for the waitress by requesting separate checks (except for Michael and me, the only family unit), but she handled us very well and got everybody's orders right. An 18% gratuity was automatically figured into our totals already, which saved everyone the trouble of having to do math in their heads after being underground in the subways all day.

Unfortunately, Dave experienced a "medical interruption" during dinner, and he had to leave the table just after he began to eat his salad. Don had to take Dave's salad and dinner to go, and pay his bill, and they headed across the street to the Hotel Pennsylvania, whose dry air most likely caused Dave's problem.

Chapter 3.12: End of Saturday's activities

While it was much shorter than it used to be, we were all pleased with the reasonable day of subway riding under our belts.

As everyone completed their meals, we started to go our separate ways for the night. There were those staying in Manhattan (Don, Dave, and Lou), those heading home or to hotels outside New York (Maurice, Skip, Mike, Michael, and I). Maurice would catch Amtrak 671 to Philadelphia. Skip opted for an NJ TRANSIT train directly to Newark Penn Station and the adjacent Hilton Hotel, rather than walking the long block to PATH.

Mike, Michael, and I took PATH to Pavonia/Newport. While Mike could have gone right upstairs to his hotel room from the PATH station, he decided to accompany us on HBLRT to the Tonnelle Avenue station, and then return on the same car by himself to Pavonia/Newport. Michael and I, meanwhile, drove the short distance from the Tonnelle Avenue station to our hotel in Secaucus.

Meanwhile, sometime during the evening, Alan made his way from his home in Queens to Newark to stay at the Hilton-Newark Penn Station. Also, Sloan Auchincloss left Harrisburg on Amtrak Keystone 672 and travelled to Newark to stay in the same hotel in preparation for Sunday's fun. Rick Metcalf rode Amtrak Regional 99 down from Massachusetts, and also stayed at that hotel.

Chapter 4: Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday was the longest of our three days, in terms of how much time we spent on the rails. This was our commuter rail day, and we would spend it on NJ TRANSIT.

Chapter 4.1: Meeting at Newark Penn Station

Newark Penn Station was our meeting place, right outside McDonald's. Although our travels would feature rail lines in NJ TRANSIT's Hoboken Division, we also wanted to ride the newest section of Newark Light Rail between Newark Penn Station and Newark Broad Street Station.

Skip, Sloan, Rick, and Alan walked over to the station from the Hilton. Maurice arrived on Amtrak Regional 160 from Philadelphia.

Michael and I went back to Liberty State Park, where we rode HBLRT to Exchange Place, and then took PATH's Newark-World Trade Center Line to Newark. Mike Hammond also took PATH to Newark, starting out from Exchange Place. Lou made his way to Newark from his hotel in Manhattan. Nick Gibbon came from his home in the same borough.

Ellis Simon and Jishnu would join us later. We lost John Corbett, who had gotten home very late the previous night due to a train vs. pedestrian incident on the Long Island Railroad.

Don and Dave would also not be attending as originally planned, due to Dave's medical emergency from the night before. Instead of doing NJ TRANSIT with us Sunday, staying Sunday night in Manhattan, taking an Acela Express Monday morning to Boston, and flying back to Indiana from there, they informed me that they had decided to ride Sunday's Amtrak Lake Shore Limited home instead.

Chapter 4.2: NJT Newark Light Rail, Broad Street Station Line, Newark Penn Station to Newark Broad Street Station

It was therefore ten of us who left the meeting spot, walked down into the Newark Light Rail station, purchased and validated tickets, and went to platform level to await our ride across town.

Our trip left at 9:00 AM, one minute later than its schedule. During our trip we were serenaded over the public address system by a public service message by Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

We got to Newark Broad Street at 9:07 AM, right on time. This gave 23 minutes to anyone still needing to purchase tickets for the commuter trains. The outdoor machines next to the light rail station sell tickets for all three modes NJ TRANSIT operates: commuter rail, light rail, and bus.

When everyone was ready we went upstairs to the new island platform, which is currently the only platform serving all trains in both directions. A side platform on the south side of the tracks, as well as the station building itself, is closed due to ongoing construction. On the island platform we found an indoor waiting area that got us out of the cold and wind for a while.

Right on time, our westbound train arrived, and we boarded it.

Chapter 4.3: NJT Morristown Line, Train #6917, Newark Broad Street to Summit

First, here is an explanation about how the Morris & Essex Lines are set up on weekends. Midtown Direct trains run on an hourly basis between New York Penn Station and Dover, representing the entire electrified portion of the Morristown Line. The Gladstone Branch also has hourly service between Summit and Gladstone. Half of those Gladstone Branch trains operate as shuttles between Summit and Gladstone, while on alternate hours they originate or terminate in Hoboken. (Gladstone and Dover trains have timed transfers between them in Summit.) Thus the segment between Newark Broad Street Station and Hoboken is only served once every two hours on weekends.

Our fest was arranged so that we had to take a Morristown Line (Midtown Direct) train from Broad Street Station to Summit, and then change across the platform to a shuttle train to Gladstone. However, our return trip (using the same set of equipment) would continue past Summit into Hoboken.

The arriving Midtown Direct train we were boarding in Newark carried Ellis Simon. He had boarded the train in New York’s Penn Station and had arrived there on an LIRR train from Babylon. That made our group eleven people.

We reached our peak of a dozen railfans at Short Hills, where Jishnu joined us. He did not have long to get comfortable, because the next stop was Summit, our train change stop.

We arrived at Summit at 9:57 AM, four minutes early. Our Gladstone Branch train was on the next track across the platform, awaiting our arrival.

Chapter 4.4: NJT Gladstone Branch, Train #717, Summit to Gladstone

The Gladstone Branch is a one-track railroad. Whereas the Pascack Valley Line had strategically located sidings installed to allow trains to pass without waiting, this line's sidings are poorly located. Despite the fact that the line closed down over the summer for improvements (except for rush hour service), each weekend hourly train encounters two opposing trains en route. Westbound trains have to stop just past the Far Hills station waiting for an eastbound train to pass, while eastbound trains have to wait at the Stirling station until a westbound train comes into the station.

We left Summit on time at 10:05 AM. Our trip was uneventful. At Stirling at 10:21 there was the first eastbound train awaiting our arrival before it could continue further east. After we made our Far Hills stop and moved just west of the station platform, we had to wait about ten minutes before we could proceed on account of the second eastbound train. The two trains passed at 10:57.

We arrived in Gladstone at 11:06 AM, one minute late. By the timetable we had 45 minutes dwell here.

Chapter 4.5: In Gladstone

ALP-46 sits at Gladstone awaiting Monday morning’s rush hour to make its next run. I thought that we would just hang around in the station area during that time, but most participants upon hearing that a deli exists in the area decided to go seek it out and possibly get some snacks. So all 12 of us walked together about a block west up the street.

It turned out that said deli is closed on Sundays. However, fate went our way anyhow. After we tried the door and finding it locked, the proprietor happened to be inside working on an order and he opened the door and invited us in out of the cold. That gave us a warm place to wait. He gladly sold us snacks, soft drinks, and coffee at below cost. When we told him we were railfans, he thought we were crazy, especially to be doing so in the cold weather. Nevertheless, because of his helping us out and giving us shelter for what amounted to about 35 minutes, a free plug is in order for Cait's Corner Deli.

Our train on the right, sits at Gladstone waiting to take us to Hoboken. We left the deli at about 11:40 and headed back to the station. Our train was waiting with its doors open and ready to take us east.

Chapter 4.6: NJT Gladstone Branch, Train #722, Gladstone to Hoboken

This would be a one-seat ride to Hoboken, but we would run local and have a few scheduled long stops along the way.

Our train departed from Gladstone on time at 11:50 AM. This time along the Gladstone Branch, we passed our first westbound at 11:57, precisely an hour after we had a meet at this location in the other direction. At the Stirling station we had to sit about five minutes until the next westbound passed at 12:21 PM (exactly two hours after we were here when going westbound). We figured out that like NJT's RiverLINE, the trains have to operate like clockwork; otherwise major delays can result in both directions.

When we got to Summit at 12:38 PM, we had to sit for a while again. Very soon the Midtown Direct train from Dover to New York came in on the other track, and passengers transferred between the two trains. The New York train then left first. Gladstone to Hoboken trains are scheduled to sit about ten minutes, which gives the New York trains some headway so that the two trains don't bunch up at shared station stops.

Our train left Summit at 12:48, and then ran a super local the rest of the way into Hoboken. We even made an employee stop at NJ TRANSIT's Meadowlands Maintenance Facility.

Hoboken Terminal. Even with all of the stops, we arrived in Hoboken Terminal at 1:35 PM, seven minutes ahead of schedule. It could never be too early, since we were all hungry for lunch!

Chapter 4.7: Lunch at Hoboken Terminal

The so-called "Food Court" only has two businesses open on Sundays: a pizza/pasta place, and a deli. Unfortunately, the Railhead Bar (which features the area's best hot dogs) is closed, as is a Thai food stand. Most of the group appeared to have chosen pizza.

The clock tower at Hoboken terminal. At 2:10 we began walking to our next train, which was displayed on the monitors to be departing from Track 16. We thought that it was strange for a Pascack Valley Line train to be so far over towards that end of the terminal.

Chapter 4.8: NJT Pascack Valley Line, Train #2115, Hoboken to Spring Valley

Our train departed on time at 2:20 PM. This was new trackage for quite a few in the group, especially beyond Pascack Junction where this line diverges from the Bergen County Line. We saw where the spur track is being built towards the Meadowlands Sports Complex and its new Xanadu development. The spur meets the Pascack Valley Line at a wye junction that will allow trains to go into the Meadowlands either from Hoboken and Secaucus Junction, or from Bergen and Rockland Counties.

We had a scheduled meet with a southbound train in Hackensack, between the Anderson Street and North Hackensack stations. It was a rolling meet however as both trains are scheduled to get to the same point around the same time.

After Montvale, we crossed into New York State for the final six miles of our trip. We saw how close the line passes to the Nanuet Mall, although that town's station is roughly half a mile to the south.

We arrived in Spring Valley five minutes early at 3:30 PM. After all of the passengers detrained, our train continued beyond a grade crossing to a yard where it lays over between runs.

We had 45 minutes to kill in Spring Valley. It was still very cold and windy, so just being outside was very uncomfortable. A few of us went to a nearby news shop just to keep warm and perhaps purchase some hot refreshments. Most of us also spent much of our downtime standing in a bus stop shelter so that we would at least not feel the wind.

Chapter 4.9: NJT Pascack Valley Line, Train #2118, Spring Valley to Secaucus Junction

The same consist came back to pick us up just minutes before our scheduled 4:15 PM departure. We did depart Spring Valley on time.

Nothing major happened on our return trip. We met a northbound train at the same siding in Hackensack.

Our group of twelve had been together all day, but it was about to split up. When we got to Secaucus Junction at 5:13, our BARF 2008 travels were officially over. Seven people had to detrain at Secaucus Junction to catch another train to New York Penn Station, while the other five continued on the same train into Hoboken.

Chapter 4.9.0: NJT Pascack Valley Line, Train #2118, Secaucus Junction to Hoboken

The group of five was Jishnu, Nick, Mike, Michael, and me. Our train arrived at Hoboken Terminal's Track 8 at 5:25 PM, right on time.

Chapter 4.9.1: NJT Morristown Line, Train #6930, Secaucus Junction to New York Penn Station

The larger group, which consisted of Sloan, Ellis, Lou, Rick, Skip, Maurice, and Alan, made their connection at Secaucus Junction. Their Midtown Direct train picked them up on time at 5:20 PM, and they arrived at New York's Penn Station a little earlier than the advertised.

Chapter 4.10: End of Sunday's activities

From Hoboken Terminal, Jishnu would catch a Gladstone Branch train back to Short Hills. Nick took the PATH to New York City. Mike Hammond rode with us on the HBLRT to Liberty State Park, and once at my car we had dinner together and then I took him back to his Courtyard hotel at Newport. Michael and I then headed home.

Of the New York group, Alan and Ellis took respective LIRR trains home. Maurice and Sloan were on the same Amtrak Keystone 671 to Philadelphia and Harrisburg respectively. Lou would reunite with his wife and head for New Haven on Metro North. Skip made his way back to Massachusetts on Acela Express 2256. Rick went back to Newark, and then took Amtrak Regional 170 back to Massachusetts on Monday morning.

As we completed our day on the rails, Don and Dave were already in motion on the westbound Lake Shore Limited. They reported a flawless trip, that is, until they met with some delays on Monday morning their back yard. They still arrived in South Bend on Monday morning only 15 minutes late.

Mike Hammond also stayed in the area another night. He had originally planned for Monday a full day of taking a Metro North round trip up to Poughkeepsie, and then taking a coworker's recommendation to try out a pizza place on Staten Island. All of that was planned before flying home from JFK International Airport. I convinced Mike that doing all of that was not a realistic plan, as he may have underestimated how much time a Poughkeepsie round trip takes. He decided to just do the Staten Island run, which included riding the 1 subway, the Staten Island Ferry, and the MTA Staten Island Railway. Mike flew home Monday evening and became the last BARF 2008 participant to arrive home.

Chapter 5: Conclusion

Yet another Big Apple RailFest (BARF) event is now a memory. I am not so sure that the BARF franchise is going to continue. We have plenty left to do in the New York/New Jersey area, but it's mostly commuter rail. The longer days required lend themselves to doing future fests at a time of year when we have more daylight than we do in January. The weather might also be a bit more pleasant at another time of year. If you have looked at my web page of Future Fests, I have a few ideas for "Metro New York RailFests" and a "Garden State RailFest". We also will have to await future service additions in the New York City area, such as the THE Tunnel, LIRR Eastside Access, the Second Avenue Subway, and the extension of the 7 line to Manhattan's West Side.

You can also see that we plan to visit Florida this summer, Southern California next summer, and the Pacific Northwest the following summer. There should be time in between for our group to continue to have events in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. In the future, we will also visit places like Pittsburg, Minneapolis, and Memphis for the first time.

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