An Empire Holiday

Over Chirstmas Break, I took a short Chirstmas week trip up to Syracuse New York to visit my grandparents. I'm gone from December 27-30, 2005. The transport was on two empire service trains, coming up the mid-afternoon train #285, so I can have the morning at home, and the early morning train #280 on the way back, since I have evening plans. Due to the selection of trains, on both trips I felt like I was the only New Yorker on baord, this was especially true of the sold-out train on the way back. It was full of tourists coming to New York City for the long New Year's Weekend, talking about seeing broadway shows and watching the ball drop in Times Square (I don't know anyone who has actually gone, its something only tourists seem to due). Going-up the train was fairly empty, don't have to share my seat, the occupents mainly seem to be older people who have spent Christmas in the City, and are now coming home.

27 December, 2005: Coming up on Train #285|30 December, 2005: Coming back on Train #280

The A train coming down arrives immediately at 181st Street. So I'm very early. I get to Penn Station at 1:15, pick up the tickets at a QuikTrack machine, and go due the customary wait under the Big Board, after stopping to pick-up a timetable. At 1:25 The Boarding call for train #281 is made I find this very, very early for a Train at Penn Station, normally it seems to be 10 minutes before at the most. The entrance is Track 5-West, this is later announced and changed to Track 5 East, due to an arriving train. Whenever I'm at Penn Station they always seem to be boarding a train at the same time as passengers are disembarking from another. I am directed to my car by the conductors, it's a recently refurbished Amfleet-I, with the new blue interior. The car seems cleaner then usual but the biggest difference is that at every window seat there are 2 electrical outlets in the wall track per window seat not just one per window seat which is the case on most cars. An announcement is made that the last car is for Hudson, Rhinecliff, and Albany only, this is always the case since there are so many people using these trains just too travel up the Hudson. The Train isn't empty but isn't crowded, I don't have to share my seat, about all seats are taken up by single riders.

The Consist of Empire Service Train #285:

1:45-Leave Penn Station. We leave with the lights doing their black-out dance, as we are switched onto the Westside-Spuyten Duyvil Line. Going under the Javits Center area (although this area does have the third rail for the P32AC-DM to use), there is a smell of diesel fuel sifting through the cars, guess a work train recently went through or a driver forgot to lower his third rail shoe. There is quite a bit of construction being done on the walls of the line, those Trump developments in that empty land near 72nd Street. We dip under the long promenade of Riverside Park.
1:55-Reamerge at 125th Street near the Fairway supermarket, and pass Riverbank State Park. People all of a sudden seem to be getting their cell phones out. I'm surprised Empire Service trains don't have quiet cars yet, we need one. See one person jogging at the Dyckman Fields

  • 2:02-Go over Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, and enter Metro-North trackage
  • 2:04-Conductor Comes-for tickets seat checks are here and handwritten so people can later be directed to the exit they need
  • 2:05-Riverdale, were about to be out of New York City
  • 2:07-Yonkers-The platform is empty, one couple is getting on.
  • 2:16-go under Tappen-Zee Bridge. Just north some abandoned Shoreliners are just sitting their.
  • 2:20-Bypass Scarborough-just before station pass a very empty M7a Metro-North train.
  • 2:25-Stop at Croton-Harmon-Seem to be four minutes early-quite a few people board, as were stopped I can hear quite a loud Metro-North P32AC-DM, locomotive leaving the station on a GCT-bound train.
  • 2:40-As we go under the Newburg-Beacon Bridge, I see and photograph a long CSX Freight Train going along on the other bank of the Hudson
  • 3:07-Stop at Poughkeepsie-Leave 3:09
  • 3:23-Rhinecliff, one exit in the back cars, looks like same number of people get off as on. We continue north along the Hudson their is a little snow and the Hudson as a little, ice floating in it.
  • 3:46-Hudson Station-The evening shadows creeping in
  • 4:03-The conductor walks through the car looking with his rolling suitcase, about to go home. People ask him questions, a lady behind me asks "What door to smoke?" He says the entire side will open. Over PA system conductor announces "3 ways to get upstairs at Albany: A 30 step-flight of stairs at the front of the train, an elevator towards the center of the train, and an escalator at the rear of the train"
A CSX freight train on the west bank of the Hudson, just south of the N-B Bridges The Twin Newburg-Beacon Bridges
Platform sign at Kingston Along the North Hudson
4:08-Arrive Albany-Rensselaer-2 minutes early-I need a Diet Coke, and knowing I have 15 minutes I go up to the fairly large and decent station building to find one, (Amtrak trains are Pepsi only). I go up to the Hudson News and only see Pepsi, I decide I have to get one and ask the store clerk in the empty store about Diet Coke, he tells me there is only Pepsi in this building. Just like on Amtrak. As I walk down to the platform, a station personal asks me if I'm boarding the train, I explain that I'm re-boarding and ran upstairs, she believes me. I re-board the train.
At 4:15 the boarding call is made for new passengers boarding here, We leave at 4:24-We run passed the Rensselear train yard, turn and go over the Hudson, and passed the state capitol itself, darkness is falling fast, its time to grog out with my iPod before getting some homework done.
The sunset reflects off the station terminal at Albany
I step off the train, don't see my grandparents yet, and walk to the very front getting a okay, quick night picture of the locomotive in the station before going downstairs and finding them. The stop is being used as an extra smoking stop, people are lighting up all along the platform. I walk down the station underpass, which also has the large waiting area. I watch the train leave from the parking lot, on time at 7:05.

Train #285 at Syracuse

27 December, 2005: Coming up on Train #285|30 December, 2005: Coming back on Train #280



Last Updated: February 4, 2006
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