Leave No Station Unphotographed: The Blog of SubwayNut.com

 

Upload: The VTA Winchester Line

In this update I continue south with the (rest) of the VTA’s newest branch the Winchester Line, opened in 2005, it has two single-track sections where the line goes over (more expensive) bridges and doesn’t run at a grade.

Enjoy

Upload: The Core of the VTA Light Rail

About three years ago I wrote up (and flagged the photos I was going to use) for the entire VTA light rail in San Jose-Santa Clara. The idea was to have an easy ‘churn-able’ website project for a rainy day. Although the weather in South Haven, Southeast Michigan is super nice today, Louise has a bunch of work to do this Memorial Weekend so we’re having coffee shop time between walks and exploring this cute lakeside city (which lacks an Amtrak Station, unlike St. Joseph and Holland which we are in between, the Pere Marquette running further inland here via Bangor).

Anyway over the past few days I’ve done the core of the VTA Light Rail, from Tasman(10 Photos) to the already completed pages for San Jose Diridon and Tamien, so start clicking between those stations. Be sure to check out: Children’s Discovery Museum(19 Photos), Convention Center(20 Photos), Santa Carla South–(9 Photos), and Component(16 Photos) 

    

Enjoy this Update with at least 200 new station photos, of this older light rail line.

Visiting the ARTIC and riding the Expo Line to the Sea on a quick trip to Dinseyland

About a month ago Louise – a Disneyland fanatic – and I went on a quick 48 hour trip by plane out to Los Angeles to use up two free Dinseyland tickets that we had. What also made the trip possible was an intro promo from Upside a new package deal website that made the hotel room for two nights in Anaheim basically free (with an Upgrade to a nicer hotel after we got a phone call that the first hotel we tried to book through them was full, they upheld our original package price).

On the way there we landed in Los Angeles at 10:30pm, so the only option was the ~$30 for two Prime Time Shuttle. The dispatcher was unfriendly, simply saying there were no shuttles available as we waited a good 45 minutes for our shuttle to show up but was otherwise an uneventful shared-ride trip to our hotel.

On the way home through, I managed to have a bit of a transit adventure back. The original plan was to take an earlier train and do a station-to-station on the Expo Line, unforchunately we were exhausted from 16 hours in Disneyland (gate open to close), and managed to get the hotel to give us slightly later check-out at Noon, so this meant sacrificing a station-to-station on the Expo Line.

The first hard adventure was getting to the station. ARTS, Anaheim Resort Area Transit runs a route that supposedly stopped right outside our hotel, but they seem to operate more as a shuttle system with posted frequencies than a regular fixed-route bus system with a posted timetable. As someone in the transit industry this is a bit infuriating. An hour earlier I was out taking a walk (and finding us some expresso) and found an ARTS driver (on a different Route) on a layover behind our hotel who looked at his tripsheet for us and said their would be a bus at 12:05 to the Artic. 12:05 came and went and at 12:15 I finally called an Uber, not to miss our train.

A $7.16 (using some credits), 12 minute Uber ride later we we’re dropped off at the new Anaheim Artic(21 Photos) Station. We arrived with train options of Metrolink at 12:41 or the Pacific Surfliner scheduled for 12:57, now running 30 minutes late (I purchased unreserved tickets earlier to get discounts, and for a free transfer on the ARTs bus had it come).  Unforchunately the modern LCD screens above the Ticket Windows hadn’t been reloaded with the new Metrolink schedule that had gone in effect a few days before and said the Metrolink Train was On Time at 12:33.

We headed up two flights of long escalators to the high bridge above the platforms.

 

There was a crowd waiting for Metrolink so we quickly bought one-way tickets (which would include a free transfer to the Metro out to Santa Monica) although the glare in the TVM touchscreens made it extremely hard to see. The fare to Los Angeles-Union Station is under $10 so no Weekend Day Passes purchased today.

 

The train came in on time.

 

It was then an uneventful trip, on seats definitely more comfortable than the South Shore Line, into Los Angeles Union Station(2 Photos). We got off and were confronted by the usual ticket divers trying to collect ‘unused’ tickets as we headed downstairs to the underpass. There I noticed new color LED signs have replaced the original Red LED signs for track destinations, as well has some signage updates in the more than 3 years since I’ve been through Los Angeles.

From there we headed to towards the Metro Center modern side of the concourse and to the Metro Red Line.  Then it was a quick ride to 7th/Metro Center(2 Photos) where we transferred to the Expo Line. There I noticed that the old P850 cars have been retrofitted with LED signs, as we waited for a Blue Line train to leave.

Taking the Expo Line on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, felt like taking the Subway to Coney Island on a Summer Sunday. The train had plenty of passenger turnover, but was crowded with nearly every seat taken for the entire ride with some passengers having the usual beach paraphernalia. The extension felt similar to the original Expo Line with stations having similar designs, a few on arial structures but for the most part at grade. I also noticed a bicycle path followed most of the route. Here’s passing the new maintenance facility.

We eventually arrived in Downtown Santa Monica where I noticed historical facts edged into the concrete since the Expo Line is really a reopening of the former Santa Monica Air Line, where Pacific Electric Red Cars ran until 1953.

 

We then followed the crowd off the platform (at the three track, two platform terminus) and through the turnstiles.

Then we crossed Colorado Avenue at a Barnes Dance with an extremely well painted crosswalk.

It was a two block walk to the sea and the Santa Monica Pier. The sidewalk crowds felt like being in a crowded place, like Times Square.

We didn’t ride any other transit on the trip. Not knowing the reliability of the parking lot shuttle that connects with Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Rapid Route 3 we decided to take an $18.00 Uber straight to the Airport for our 6:30 (to 12:30am CT) flight back to Chicago. To get home to South Bend we had a middle of the night drive home to South Bend in Louise’s car that we left at a $5 per day hotel parking lot.

Parkesburg and Coatesville – two former SEPTA Stations

These two stations I visited on a different Philadelphia Trip down the Keystone Corridor from the previous updates, and I can’t believe it’s been over a month in the making to get such a simple website update. All I can say is I’ve been busy.

In this update I present the two Keystone Corridor Main Line stations in Chester County that are in SEPTA territory and were once served by SEPTA Commuter Rail but had SEPTA service discontinued in 1996 because of a lack of siding facilities requiring trains to deadhead to Lancaster to turn-around.

Enjoy! I’ve gone on a couple transit adventures recently and hope to get posts and stations from those up soon!

The 3 Keystone Stations in Lancaster County

Thought I’d due a bit of a geography lesson with the title of this post. I’ve finished writing pages for the 3 Keystone Service Stations in Lancaster County that I visited almost 4 years ago in my quest to clear my archive of extra Amtrak Stations:

Enjoy the 200 new photos, these stations are so interesting, I couldn’t limit myself!

From the Archive – Harrisburg (and more Pittsburgh)

I’ve been on an Amtrak Station kick lately, now with my new route pages, trying to figure out if I have any other routes fully photographed but that I haven’t made enough pages for. The Keystone corridor I realized I’m one-stop away from finishing. I’m missing Middletown, PA specifically which is a bit frustrating but oh well (maybe I’ll take the train to or from South Bend again and make a photo stop there). I then realized I never uploaded the pages from the rest of the Keystone Corridor that I’ve visited, so that’s my next little project. This update a full photos from The Nice Empty Pennsylvanian to Elizabethtown. On this trip we were super early into Harrisburg–(65 Photos), so I got a full photo essay.

   

I also added photos from my layover in Pittsburgh(9 Photos)

 

Enjoy!

Upper Harlem Line – Croton Falls through Bedford Hills

It’s been more weekend work time with Louise in South Bend, although the weather’s been super warm here in South Bend, the South Shore Line has removed it’s bicycle cars for the winter so I can’t go into Chicago on any biking adventures. Instead I decided to finish up what I have of the Upper Harlem Line:

Enjoy!

St. Joseph, MI finishing the Pere Marquette (and pages for all completed Amtrak Routes)

St. Joseph, MI(37 Photos) is a small lakeside city that Louise and I enjoy visiting, so I’ve walked by it’s Amtrak station on many occasions. I hope this summer once the days are longer to get the Pere Marquette stopping (at 9:15pm) in daylight or in the sunset. With this I’ve (visited by car) all 3 intermediate stops on the Pere Marquette Route (although I need to get back up to Grand Rapids to get the new station there).

 

As I was writing this update I decided it was finally time to get home pages written for the Amtrak routes I’ve visited (throughout the country) and uploaded a page of every station on: Amtrak Cascades,Capitol Corrido,San Joaquin,Pacific Surfliner,Pere Marquette,HiawathaEmpire Service (well making pages for Penn Station needs to be done, perhaps this will give me motivation), and Piedmont.

So the reason for the lack of updates the past few weeks was my usual busyness of life and having to get these pages written. Hopefully in a few months on a few trips (with some visits by car, but I’ve come to accept those) I’ll also get to add the Wolverine to this list.

Enjoy!

Cermak-McCormick Place – The newest CTA Station!

I can’t believe I didn’t make this update earlier, back in August I needed to take the ‘L’ to get to something in. I was on a weekend South Shore Line train, that makes the McCormick Place(17 Photos) Stop and decided to get off at this bizarre station beneath the convention center, that’s hard to find the entrance to.

It was then a good 15 minute walk to Cermak-McCormick Place(39 Photos) that re-opened on the Green Line on February 8, 2015 with a neat cylindrical enclosed platform.

 

Enjoy!

The Sleeper Lousianna to New Orleans for New Years

Well ideally my next post and update would be of the new Second Avenue Subway Stations. Unforchunately the timing of the subway’s opening couldn’t have been poorer, had it opened on a random weekend I may have used it as an excuse to fly east for a weekend visit. Unfortunately it opened on New Years Day and I had already made plans with my lady Louise to head down to New Orleans for the weekend. Since then I’ve spent two more weekends away (in Tucson followed by Southern California, although I didn’t do any more train riding, just lots of flying) and have been nowhere east of South Bend. The next time I’ll be in New York for a weekend is in early February and I hope to have a chance to at least ride the new Subway (don’t know if I’ll have time to do justice to the 3 new and one greatly renovated stations).

Anyway this post is a trip report and 3 new stations from our end-to-end Roomette trip aboard Superliner-II ‘Louisiana’ on Amtrak’s City of New Orleans. The trip represented new trackage from Champaign-Urbana (previously covered when I took the Illini from there to Chicago) to Memphis (I took the City of New Orleans once before, on the Tennessee to Texas trip, where sadly most of my photos were lost in a hard drive crash). I didn’t get to enjoy any of the new trackage because I was sleeping in the upper Roomette bunk (my lady trumped me) pretty much fromChampaign to Memphis.

The trip began with an extremely crowded ride on the 4:45pm South Shore Line train from South Bend with tons of people heading into Chicago for the holiday weekend.

We spent the ride listing to some extremely obnoxious college age kids who were all clearly high school friends. Louise remarked as we got off at Van Buren Street that “This is what I absolutely don’t miss about high school. They are so obnoxious.”

We walked across the loop to Union Station and checked into the new Metropolitan Lounge. Louise was extremely impressed and (as a pHD student, unlike me who’s now on the clock except for hobbies like this website) decided to get some work done really liking the atmosphere. I explored the lounge a lot, upstairs is where you’ll most likely find me on future Sleeper and Business Class trips through Chicago. These are photos from upstairs, I didn’t get any decent photos of the lounge downstairs (now if only I could still take AGR points runs to maintain Select+ Status I would be here a lot more, it was fun while it lasted):

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I also went on a bit of an adventure to find the nearest ATM outside the lounge (I learned after I returned that there was one inside the lounge!) lacking any cash for tips. The Great Hall was also decorated for Polar Express excursions powered by Amtrak (I think it’s a charter arrangement) with the train’s destination listed as North Pole throughout the station.

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At about 7:30pm we were called for boarding and headed out to the train, walking out through the normal platform exit, and skipping the line of coach passengers, the staff knew what we were doing, we passed the line of coach passengers lining up for seat assignments and walked out to the single full sleeper on the train.

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At the door there was a bit of confusion, we had been assigned room 8 but the attendant asked us if we would take Room 6 so a family of 4 with two roomettes could be across the hall from each other. We of course agreed. We were also told to head back to the Cross-Country Cafe car for dinner. As we walked there I found the remains of the Superliner-II nameplate (they were named after states) on the interior door. We fittingly taking ‘Louisiana’ down to New Orleans.

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We settled in and headed back to the Cross-Country Cafe as we slowly left Chicago doing the back up  move across the Chicago River (the skyline was pretty) and eventually leaving down parrallel to the very tracks we road the South Shore Line in on just a few hours ago.

In the dining car we sat down with a Mom and two little kids. The new ‘Express Dinner’ on the City of New Orleans (that has lacked a chef for the past two years) has been degraded to two types of Sandwiches, a turkey and cheese or a cuban sandwich (the cuban was served on nice Italian Focaccia bread) or a salad option. We each got a sandwich, and each ate an half of each sandwich. They were surprisingly good and filling (better than the average AmSandwhich in the cafe care) but made me wish I could expose Louise to the usual AmSteak Sleeping car dinner. Dessert was just two packaged cookie options that were okay.

We returned to our room with the packaged cookies and enjoyed watching the dark lights of Illinois before getting the room made up and heading to sleep (with me climbing up into the tight upper bunk) during the fresh air stop that I didn’t partake in in Champaign-Urbana. I was rocked to sleep on new trackage that I couldn’t see and slept okay definitely with the usual wake-ups during the night.

I fully woke up as we arrived in what was clearly Memphis(33 Photos) nicely early at 6:08, 19 minutes early. I got nearly a full photo essay, including some nice photos of the locomotive being refueled. Although should have gone downstairs and outside the main entrance for a few exterior shots. Signs in the station said the main entrance to the Amtrak portion of the station would be closed effective tomorrow with all access now from the trackside parking lot (super-unfriendly for people accessing the station as pedestrians not in vehicles).

  

I re-boarded the train and found Louise awake so we soon headed for breakfast as we left Memphis a little late. The options were an omelet, a southern style breakfast sandwich, or the continental. The attendant immediately informed us they were out of omelets, I ordered the Breakfast Sandwich (which was clearly re-heated but okay) and Louise ordered the continental which looked normal, like those found on most trains.

I then decided to head back to the room for a post-breakfast nap (we asked the attendant to leave the beds down until the last possible moment) while Louise worked in the lounge. We slowly lost some time waiting for freights on sidings, as I soon rejoined Louise in the lounge. This trip is in CN-owned trackage and it was fun to spot this unpainted since CN acquired BC Rail locomotive

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We made it to the next stop of Greenwood, MS, 52 minutes late. (a conductor crew change that I remembered stepping out at on my on time previous trip) but no smoke stop was announced. A women in our sleeper with a “service/therapy” dog we watched trying to find some shrubbery beyond the chain-link fence. We left at 9:59, an hour down.

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I tried to do a little website work in the lounge as we headed through Mississippi through small towns, the next stop being Yazoo City (a fun name!)

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It was an un eventful ride until we were soon heading into the Jackson suburbs and two our final fresh air stop of Jackson, MS(22 Photos). We arrived at 11:47, 35 minutes late. With a super long line of coach passengers that the crew was scanning and assigning seats to on the rainy platform made me take the risk and go downstairs into the station. I also got some nice photos of the engineers changing.

  

I re-boarded the train as we left Jackson, MS at 12:01pm, 41 minutes late. We slowly left passing more freight trains.

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Soon our stomachs and the call for lunch directed us to the dining car. The choices for lunch were the same sandwiches from yesterday, salad, and two warmed TV-dinner style entrees, the pork and potatoes were surprisingly eatable that everyone at our table ordered.

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We eventually returned to our room for an afternoon nap and enjoyment of the scenery of small-town Mississippi as we nearly gained nor lost time. As we headed into Louisiana we had the worst delay of the trip, sitting on a siding in sight of Hammond, LA Station for a good 40 minutes, with a couple northbound freights and finally the northbound City of New Orleans passing us. We eventually left Hammond at 3:16pm, 1 hour and 48 minutes late.

After that the attendant said he needed to re-make the rooms and we headed into the lounge car as we went over the causeway between Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain. This is definitely the most scenic part of the trip. The lounge car felt like a party with tons of others heading to New Orleans for New Years.

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We eventually passed Art Egg Studios and some ads we found interesting (are they authentically old) before the train began it’s back up move into the New Orleans Station, passed the New Orleans engine shop.

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We then backed in past the Louisiana Superdome and into the New Orleans Station, where a train of Horizon Cars (and a Viewliner baggage car with people in it) was slowly leaving. Signage on it said Polar Express so this event train was also in New Orleans.

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We arrived in New Orleans(20 Photos) at 4:30pm, 58 minutes late. I got some photos of the station as we left the platform and walked through the 1950s terminal with its murals and shared with Greyhound. The Polar Express area was much less impressive (just some curtains) than in Chicago.

   

We had reserved an AirBNB in the Garden District (hotels expensive and over-booked due to New Years) and walked over to the historic St. Charles Streetcar line to get there.

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Unfortunately we were getting on a few stops beyond downtown with streetcars so crowded that 3 passed without letting us on. I had a $5 off a bunch of rides sign-up credit from Lyft so even with slight surge pricing I relented on taking the Streetcar and $4 and a pleasant Lyft driver later we arrived to our nice AirBNB hosts.