OTOL Garden State RailFest 2008
August 22-23, 2008
Photos by John Corbett, Jishnu Mukerji, and Piotr Dzwonek.
Click small photos to see larger
Chapter 4.0: Before our Saturday travelsPrevious section
Members of our group had two minor mishaps this morning before we were to meet aboard our SEPTA train. As I was coming into Philadelphia on an NJT train on the Delair Bridge, I got a call from Lou saying that he was lost in Center City and couldn't find anyone else. He had made it to somewhere near the Marriott and then lost his way. I called Steve and asked him to look for Lou, and they eventually hooked up. Had he not been found I probably would have had to come all the way into Center City and aid the search party, then board our train at Market East. Satisfied this crisis was averted, I maintained my plan to meet the group at 30th Street.
When I got to 30th Street Station and proceeded upstairs, our second crisis had just been resolved. Piotr had gotten to the station nice and early via NJ TRANSIT to Trenton and then SEPTA, and was sitting on a bench on the correct departure platform when the bench decided to keep his camera. Somehow the camera strap had fallen between the openings in the bench and then turned, so he could not pull it out. Jishnu got to the platform while Piotr was trying to get the bench to cough up his camera, and got the incident on film.
Chapter 4.1: SEPTA Train #8307, R3 Media-Elwyn Line, Philadelphia to Elwyn
The trip out to Elwyn was nothing new for us, although we had not ridden the last segment between Media and Elwyn as a group on an official fest. We had ridden all or part of this line together in 2001 and 2005 and as part of a mini-fest in 2004.
We convened this morning in what is OTOL's version of a "rolling meet". Group members got on #8307 at four different locations based where it was easiest for them. Starting at the train's origin point at Market East were Lou, Steve, Maurice, and Mike. Alan joined them at Suburban Station. At 30th Street Station, Piotr, John Corbett, Jishnu, Ross Kudlick, and I boarded. (Ross had come up from Washington on a NORTHEAST REGIONAL train.) That made ten of us leaving Philadelphia. Ted joined us later at Clifton-Alden, having taken the 102 trolley to get there.
Eleven of us arrived in Elwyn on time at 9:26 AM. We then stood and chatted during our 28-minute layover. Some of us expected the train to switch to the normal inbound track after it went onto a tail track just beyond the station. However, having experienced people with the group we knew there was the possibility the train would return to what is the normal outbound platform.
Chapter 4.2: SEPTA Train #8310, R3 Media-Elwyn Line, Elwyn to Philadelphia-30th Street Station
Sure enough, at 10:15 the equipment did return to the same location where it has discharged us. Soon after our 10:22 AM departure, it switched over to the inbound track.
It was another smooth trip into Philadelphia, and right on time exactly half an hour after we had started out, the eleven of us got off at 30th Street Station. We had a 48-minute break here during which time we could get snacks, use the rest rooms, or watch the Amtrak train departure board.
At 30th Street we were joined by Bill Magee, who would remain with us for the Atlantic City and dinner portions of our day. Missing was John Wireman, who we later found out missed the intended NJT train and would take the next one and meet us in Atlantic City.
Chapter 4.3: NJ TRANSIT Train #4613, Atlantic City Line, Philadelphia-30th Street Station to Atlantic City
Train #4613 left Philadelphia right on time at 11:40 AM. We had twelve participants on board. Our trip towards Atlantic City was uneventful, and thanks to schedule padding we got to our destination three minutes early at 1:12 PM.
Chapter 4.4: In Atlantic City
Once in Atlantic City, we officially were on our own, although many of us stuck together most of the time. I had allotted 3-1/2 hours in town so that people could walk around, play in the casinos, or just hang around the station.
About eight of us walked four blocks to the Boardwalk, and then south several more blocks until we found a pizza place where we could have lunch and sit for a while. During our time there, Lou left the group to catch an earlier NJT train back to Philadelphia to make a connection home.
After lunch, the rest of us split into smaller groups. Some went right back to the train station, while others did some more walking on the Boardwalk. Some of us also ventured into casinos and played some slot machines before walking back to the station.
Back at the train station, participants from our Fest slowly trickled back into the station. Soon everyone was accounted for, and we awaited boarding for our next train. Though Lou had left us, we had gained John Wireman so we once again had twelve people riding together aboard this train.
Chapter 4.5: NJ TRANSIT Train #4620, Atlantic City Line, Atlantic City to Lindenwold
We left Atlantic City at 4:43 PM, one minute late. Our train was soon delayed as there was some confusion as to where we would have a meet with Train #4617. We first stopped in the marshlands just outside Atlantic City, but then we proceeded and met #4617 west of Absecon. That delay put us out of synch for the next scheduled meet with Train #4619, so we lost a few more minutes.
As we approached our Lindenwold stop, we said goodbye to Ross, who would remain on this train back to 30th Street Station to make his connection back to Virginia. Eleven of us detrained, and headed for the restaurant. Bill and I each shuttled three people to the restaurant, and then Bill went back and got the other three.
Chapter 4.6: Dinner in Voorhees, NJ at Lone Star Steakhouse
Like the Steak & Ale restaurant on our previous Florida trip, the Lone Star Steakhouse chain had been closing a lot of their locations after falling on hard times. I had therefore kept on checking the Internet right up until the week of the Fest to ensure its continued existence. Aboard the train we had called and made a reservation for eleven people. Service and food were excellent, and our waiter handled eleven hungry railfans very well.
After dinner, we drove everyone back to the Lindenwold station. Bill once again made two trips and I made one. We then split for the day. Since we had gotten to the station just in time to catch NJT Train #4624, John Corbett and Piotr took it directly to 30th Street Station, where they unfortunately met an unhappy Ross.
With NJT #4620 having been delayed, Ross had missed his intended Amtrak NORTHEAST REGIONAL train and also was unable to get onto the following one as it was sold out. In fact, by the time poor Ross was able to leave Philadelphia, he could have had dinner with us in New Jersey and then went into Philly to catch the same train.
From Lindenwold, Bill of course drove home, and I drove back to my hotel. That left seven people, namely John Wireman, Steve, Ted, Jishnu, Alan, Mike, and Maurice, who rode PATCO back to Philadelphia. There, the Philly-area people went home, and the rest retired to their hotels for one more night before venturing home.
Chapter 5: Conclusion
Another successful Fest was completed. A lot was accomplished over the two-day period. Having done a six-day event (Florida) in July and this one in August, we now felt fulfilled for the summer of 2008!