Leave No Station Unphotographed: The Blog of SubwayNut.com

 

The Last Vermonter via Palmer and Amherst to Windsor, VT (4 Minutes late because of the Amherst Platform Party)

Introduction and the electric Vermonter ride north from New York-Penn Station to New Haven.

The train leaves New Haven(14 Photos), two minutes late (at its weekdays departure time) at 1:25pm and were through the open-trench of New Haven.

  • 1:30 – Officially curve off the Northeast Corridor.
  • 1:37 – Alnex Wallingford plant. Then the Trackside Brick oven pizza.

We pull into Wallingford at 1:40, 2 minutes late on the 54 weekend schedule, on time on the weekday schedule. It’s an extremely quick stop. Glancing at my timetable I realize why boarding was 15 minutes early this morning. It’s because the train arrives in Penn Station at 10:43 on weekends, it’s 11:21 on the weekday schedule.

  • 1:41 – We pass some new sets of pre-fabricated rails as we continue past the junk yards on this branch line I’ve ridden numerous times.
  • 1:46 – We pass Shuttle Train #163 going the other way on a siding.

We arrive in Meriden at 1:49, again the weekday for the stop 2 minutes later. The station in downtown feels even more empty with the site across from the station completely bulldozed.

  • 1:52 – A man waves at us through the woods.
  • 1:54 – Pass Silver Lake with a brief scenic moment through the trees.

We pull into Berlin with ongoing construction at 1:57 (on time on the #54 weekend schedule). We leave at 1:59 for another ten minute ride to Hartford, this isn’t quite true but the conductor clearly finds saying a 10 minute ride easier than being more specific.

  • 2:03 – I look up from my reading and notices a new perfectly paved roadway and then a couple stations, were following the new CTFastracks Busway.
  • 2:06 – Pass the Flatbush Avenue Station.
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  • 2:06 – Kane Street. We have a couple of grade crossings shared with the buses. The last time I was up here was at least a year and a half ago.
  • 2:08 – The busway fallows us all the way into Hartford. Where we get the announcement. The busway ends across the street from the train station where it ends on local streets.
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We arrive in Hartford at 2:10 to a crowd of at least a dozen people waiting to board. I see a wheelchair brought up by a station staff. I then watch her and the conductor wheel the mobile lift over. At 2:14 the train actually backs up slightly because the door is stopped across from one of the enclosed skylights down to the station without enough clearance for the mobile lift. At that point, the passenger, a women who only has a cane but clearly has had enough of steps, is taken off the train and sits down in the wheelchair that seems quite well designed with space for luggage. Were further delayed as the conductor locks the lift up. We finally leave at 2:17, 4 minutes late.

  • 2:24 – Bypass Windsor, CT

We arrive in Windsor Locks at 2:28 with two people waiting to board on the very short platform as I see a railfan photograph our train, just before the station, possibly trespassing. We leave at 2:29.

  • 2:33 ­– Finally cross the Connecticut River
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  • 2:40 – Reach Massachusetts in the trees
  • 2:46 – We slowly enter Springfield, following the Connecticut River. We’re reminded of the 3:15 train departure.
  • 2:49 – We switch off the Connecticut River route at Spring, coming from the north this will require either a back-up move or enter the station as if it’s a wye (and having the train reverse in the station, still with push-pull capabilities).

We enter the Springfield Station(8 Photos), arriving at 2:51. I notice new fencing along the old station house. Rebuilding has clearly started. We pull in on track 3, across from the Vermonter going the other way, currently in push-mode and an idling Shuttle set.

I get off and get photos of what should be the last Vermonter running in push-pull push mode leaving 4 minutes late at 2:54 to head south to New Haven (where an electric locomotive will be attached to the cab car).

  

I re-board a quite crowded train at 3:06, to seatmate, a railfan who’s doing a quick round-trip to Saint Albans, the car is definitely more crowded with railfans.

We get the double-toot and become the last Vermonter to leave Springfield to the east on time at 3:15. This track though will still see passenger service from the Lake Shore, although for the first short distance switching from the station onto CSX were the first train.

We come to a stop to switch onto the mainline out of the station on CSX to head east. Then we pick up speed, and are soon in the trees. We follow I-291 out of town through the trees.

  • 3:22 – We get the in 15 minutes we will be arriving in Palmer announcement for the last time. I make a recording of it.

    The conductor does add in a little under an hour our station stop will be Amhrrst Massachusetts for the last time. It’s a simple and understated announcement.

  • 3:23 – In East Springfield, past industry and houses.
  • 3:26 – We get a second, 10 minutes to Palmer, Massachusetts announcement. He says our next station stop for the last time will be Amhurst, Mass.
  • 3:30 – We’ve entered Palmer, the track is still smooth. Soon the NECR joins us.
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  • 3:33 – Cross the diamond in Palmer–(9 Photos). There is a good number of railfans of maybe a couple dozen, waiting for us.
  • 3:34 – stop for the first time. I see the conductor off the train to set the switch. We pull backwards.
  • 3:35 – Stop again and lose HEP. I hear the locomotives recycling.
  • 3:37 – Regain HEP. I see our engineer walking through our car.
  • 3:40 – The HEP is lost again, and regained.
  • 3:42 – We start moving backward the last change of direction finished.
  • 3:44 – We stop again, I grab some photos from the opposite side of the train. Steaming Tenders has a nice home made sign.
  • 3:46 – We get the double toot, and the Vermonter leaves and runs briefly down the Massachusetts Central the New England Central, as I feel the rough jointed rail for the “30 minutes to Amherst, Massachusetts for the last time”. Trespassing photographers are out with their cameras in force on the diamond, we have a crowd of maybe 50 people. It’s all slow going. We stop for the second time, going from the Massachusetts Central to the New England Central Railroad. I hear 280 passengers on board from someone who has a scanner.
  • 3:51 – Under I-91, down the slow jointed track.
  • 3:53 – The village of Three Rivers with modular houses, were following the Quaboag River. We pick up a little speed. I’m going to miss the clicky-clack of the jointed rail on this route. I hear the bells.
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  • 3:55 – We follow the Quaboag River into Three Rivers and cross the wider Chicopee River. The clicky-clack of the slow rails and rough track.
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  • 3:57 – The Town of Palmer Pollution Control facility and into trees, with the Swift River now visible. With the vestibule door open I hear the clicky-clack as we continue through trees.
  • 4:00 – The sun slowly sets on this winter’s day. It’s the time of evening when trying to get any photos out a moving train window is impossible. The views through the leaf-less trees are great
  • 4:06 – Pass a concrete pad and see the houses of Belchertown. They’re some nice vistas of rolling hills and valleys below. Houses continue interrupting the trees. My seatmate   has disappeared, this I’m happy about so I can make a quick get up for station stops. The jointed rail and its vibrations don’t get any better.
  • 4:10 – Arcadia Lake in the twilight. Then more trees and standing water as we pass Lawrence Swamp with Hoo Brook running through it.
  • 4:15 – Across Station road (I think for South Amherst) and the announcement for 4 minutes to Amherst, Mass for the last time. We pass swampland and approach, running right on time.
  • 4:17 – See houses, Amhurst, Massacussets for the final time.

We arrive in Amherst(6 Photos) at 4:19 for the final time. The platform is packed like its a party. I walk the train getting some photos out of open doors and briefly detraining for photos. We’re briefly delayed when some locals get the conductors to pose under the Amherst Station sign. Their plenty of flash bulbs going off in the twilight. We leave at 4:24, 4 minutes late.

   

It’s 45 minutes to Brattleboro. We continue down the jointed rail.

  • 4:42 – Millers Falls, the lights off the town are off in the distance. We pass a major rail junction and then the Millers River; it looks neat in the twilight. We run up along the Connecticut River. I can’t quite make it out in the darkness, beyond the trees.
  • 4:53 – Pass the town of Northfield for the last time.
  • 4:54 – Cross the Connecticut River for the last time on this route at Bottom Brook. The jointed rail continues with its roughness in the darkness.
  • 4:56 – We come to a stop and keep running slowly to switch railroads.
  • 4:58 – I feel a switch and see on my phone that we’ve switched onto the main line, and enter Vermont.

The track becomes noticeably smoother, no more click and clack as we enter this line that was repaired and rebuilt and sped up in 2011. I can stop paying attention it’s also now dark.

We arrive in Brattleboro at 5:10, on time. We leave at 5:16, 6 minutes late. The delay because of large loads. In Amhurst a few people bought last minute tickets and got on for a final train ride to Brattleboro.

We arrive in Bellows Falls at 5:44 for a very quick stop, 4 minutes.

We stop in Claremont, New Hampshire at 6:02, 3 minutes late. Then it’s a 9 minute trip to Widsor. The conductors asks me to start walking up a car

6:11 – I find a seat as the conductor pops the door.

We pull into Windsor at 6:12, about 4 minutes late. Me and another individual are getting off. My cousin picks me up and I we go the eight miles up the road to her house for the evening where I spend the night.

Continue Reading Tomorrow as I take the First Train South via Greenfield and Northampton