RJ Corman on the old Beech Creek, September 1997


Coal Train in Central Pennsylvania.

On my external hard drive I have a file of photos called ‘Miscellaneous US Railroads’. I picked this photo at random. I thought it’s a neat image. Only after, I selected it, did I learn the the owner of the railroad, R.J. Corman himself, had very recently passed away. Odd how that works.

RJ Corman coal train along the Susquehanna.
An RJ Corman empty coal train works compass south from the Conrail interchange at Keating, Pennsylvania on September 8, 1997. This line follows the West Branch of the Susquehanna River through some exceptionally isolated rural areas of central Pennsylvania—scores at least ‘five banjoes’. Exposed with a Nikon N90S on Kodachrome 25.

Back in September 1997, Mike Gardner and I were on one of our many “PA Trips”. (In case you didn’t know, ‘PA’ is the postcode for Pennsylvania). While we would usually head to the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line for a ‘traffic fix’, often we’d then take time to suss out less-traveled lines.

On this day we called into Clearfield (the base for RJ Corman operations on former Conrail branches known as the ‘Clearfield Cluster’) , where we had a chat with some railroaders. They told us that a crew was called to take set of engines up to the Conrail connection at Keating to collect an empty coal train.

So armed with this knowledge we made a day (or at least a morning) of following RJ Corman’s former New York Central Beech Creek line. This traverses some very remote territory and access to the tracks is limited.

I made this photo a few miles south of Keating of the returning train. It was one of the few times I caught an RJ Corman train on the move.


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Genesee & Wyoming at P&L Junction, November 4, 1987

The Original G&W.

On the morning of November 4, 1987, I made a speculative foray to P&L (Pittsburgh & Lehigh) Junction near Caledonia, New York. At the time I was living in nearby Scottsville, and I’d occasionally check P&L to see if anything was moving.

Genesee & Wyoming at P&L Junction
Genesee & Wyoming SW1500 47 crosses the Peanut Line at P&L Junction. Thin autumnal high clouds softened the morning sun. The photo was exposed with a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron on Kodachrome 25 slide film.

P&L Junction had once been a very busy place. Here the original Genesee & Wyoming had connected with Lehigh Valley, Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh, a branch of the Erie, and New York Central’s so-called ‘Peanut Line.’By 1987, the only railroads left were G&W and its Rochester & Southern affiliate.

I was fortunate to find a southward train and I made this image of a southward G&W salt train heading across the diamond with a vestige of the old Peanut Line (that G&W used to reach a couple of miles into Caledonia). A classic ‘tilt board’ crossing signal protected the diamond.

Today, it seems that G&W railroads are everywhere. I even saw a G&W company freight in Belgium a couple of weeks ago. Back then, I couldn’t have imagined that this New York state short line would reach so far!


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Belfast & Moosehead Lake, Unity, Maine, August 29, 1986



27 Years Ago Today.

I spent a pleasant and memorable week photographing in Maine in August 1986.This was shortly before I began my studies at the Rochester Institute of Photography, and represented a moment of visual freedom, unburdened by demands of professors, intellectual assumptions, or assignment deadlines.

Belfast & Moosehead Lake
A Belfast & Moosehead Lake General Electric 70ton diesel leads a short freight on poor track near Unity, Maine on August 29, 1986.

On August 29th, Brandon Delaney and I had photographed the Maine Central. At Burnham Junction we stumbled upon the Belfast & Moosehead Lake working the Maine Central interchange.

Although this wasn’t my first experience with B&ML, I was delighted to catch this elusive operation at work. We chased the train back toward Unity. I made this image featuring a classic farm with barn and silos.

I exposed it on 35mm Kodachrome slide film using a Leica M2 with 200mm Leitz Telyt telephoto lens mounted with a bellows using a Visoflex viewfinder arrangement on a compact Linhof Tripod. Although cumbersome, this was my standard arrangement for making long telephoto views. Exposure was calculated manually using a Sekonic Studio Deluxe handheld light meter (photo cell).

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Trams of Gent Part 2

One Europe’s Best Settings For Tram Photos.


Gent, Belgium.
De Lijn is Gent’s tram operator. Here a 1970s vintage PCC hums along with a church towering above it. Lumix LX3 photo.

It just seemed there was a photo opportunity everywhere I turned.In addition to these digital photos, I exposed a fair few color slides as well.

What’s that? Yes, film. But those images will remain latent (unprocessed) for some time yet.

Gent, Belgium.
A modern tram makes for a contrast with the medieval castle in the distance. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Gent, Belgium.
Gent’s trams roll through the city center every few minutes on regular intervals. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Gent, Belgium.
How many cities feature trams grinding along in front of ancient castles? Anyone? Canon EOS 7D photo.
Gent, Belgium.
Here I experimented with a low angle using my Lumix LX3. Same castle.
Gent, Belgium.
And for a more traditional view, albeit with a wide angle. Another Lumix LX3 photo.


Gent, Belgium.
Once out of the old city center, Gent’s trams pass through more recently developed areas of the city. Lumix LX3 photo.


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Trams of Gent—Part 1


Narrow Gauge Railway Among Stunning Architecture.

Gent (sometimes spelled on maps as ‘Ghent’) is a moderately sized Belgian city with remarkable beautiful architecture. You’ve probably heard lots about nearby Brugge. I visited that city in 1999. Last week, on recommendation of friends, I traveled to Gent, which I found vastly more interesting and photogenic.

Gent’s narrow gauge tram system navigates the some of the most unusual trackage I’ve ever seen, while the city’s buildings and canals make for stunning settings for which to make photographs.

Tram, Gent
Modern tram glides along the streets of Gent, Belgium. Canon EOS 7D photo.
PCC cars in Gent.
Gent’s older trams are 1970s era PCC (Presidents Conference Committee) cars based on American designs. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Gent, Belgium.
Curiously sinuous trackage makes for some interesting images. Canon EOS 7D photo.
A maze of tracks makes for curious operations.
A maze of tracks makes for curious operations.
Gent, Belgium.
A De Lijn tram crosses a canal in historic Gent. Canon EOS 7D photo.



The question may be asked: does the city provide a backdrop for trams, or rather, do the trams augment photos of the city?

The best to come . . .


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Brian’s Belgian Rail Marathon, Liege and Beyond

Getting the most from My SNCB ‘Railpass’.

At Leige (Liège-Guillemins) I boarded an InterCity train for Brussels and glided along in comfort along perfectly maintained track. At Bruxelles-Nord/Brussel-Noord (French and Flemish names appear randomly applied to Brussels stations—so far as I can tell) I changed to another express, this one destined for Antwerp.

View from the train, Belgium.
Gazing east from a westward SNCB InterCity train bound for Brussels. Lumix LX3 photo.

I was aiming for Antwerpen Noorderdokken, a location I explored in March, where freight trains access the port of Antwerp. Another change of trains at Antwerp Central brought me to this station. As I walked toward my desired photo angle, I noticed a dark wall of clouds rolling in off the North Sea. (It had been clear and cloudless at Liege!)

Yet, I managed to photograph six freights before the sun vanished—mission accomplished. Boarding my eighth train of the day, I aimed to ride around Antwerp and then back toward Brussels.

By the end of the day, I’d visited eight locations and traveled on ten trains. Not too shabby for the first day of my August visit to Belgium.

Freight train.
A French freight diesel leads a container train from the Port of Antwerp near Antwerpen Noorderdokken. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Electric freight train, Belgium.
Belgian Class 13 electrics crawl along with an empty freight train near Antwerpen Noorderdokken. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Electric freight.
SNCB class 28 electrics lead a train of tanks from the Port of Antwerpen. Canon EOS 7D.
Train with dark clouds.
Dark clouds rolling off the North Sea signal the time to head back toward the station. Canon 7D photo.


SNCB passenger train.
Departing Antwerpen Noorderdokken on a local train, another SNCB passenger train was rolling along on an adjacent track. Lumix LX3 photo.
SNCB Class 27 electric at speed.
Many SNCB passenger trains work with locomotives at both ends. Here a class 27 electric works the back of a train accelerating toward Antwerp Central. I’m on a local that will run around Antwerp on a different route. Lumix LX3.


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Magnificent Modern Railway Station at Liege, Belgium.


Calatrava’s Railway Masterpiece.

Calatrava's Liege Station.
Calatrava’s magnificent railway station at Liege is one of the finest modern structures in Europe. Lumix LX3 photo.

To my total surprise and delight, Liege (Liège-Guillemins) has been completely transformed since my last visit  in August of 1998— when I paused to change trains from Bonn, Germany to Charleroi. I remember a dreary, tired and uninspired railway station and it was this facility I was expecting.

I admit, the new station had completely escaped my notice until that moment when I got off the train last week. I must have missed the memos, the parades and fireworks that certainly must have announced the opening of such a spectacular railway facility back in September 2009.

Calatrava designed station at Liege.
Liege station in August 2013. This graceful canopy was opened in September 2009. Lumix LX3 photo.

The station largely consists of modern vaulted canopy spanning five railway platforms. Designed by prolific Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava it is constructed of steel, concrete and glass, and makes for a very positive railway experience.

The canopy softens the sun while maintaining a bright environment to watch and photograph the passage of trains. Exposures must be made carefully, because the large white structure tends to fool camera meters in the same way of a bright snowy day.

I found it necessary to overexpose (add more light) by about 2/3s of a stop above what the camera meter had recommended.

Incidentally, Calatrava also designed two Dublin bridges over the Liffey; the Joyce Bridge near Heuston Station, and the Samuel Becket Bridge in the Docklands, both of which I’ve often photographed.

Liege Station
The new SNCB Station at Liege is a total contrast with the dreary postwar facility it replaced. LX3 photo.
Calatrava designed station at Liege, Belgium.
This memorizing structure compels photography from every angle. Yet, exposures must be calculated carefully or the proliferation of white and skylight can result in an underexposed (dark) image). LX3 photo.
Calatrava designed station at Liege, Belgium.
When exposing for trains under the canopy, I found it necessary to manually override the camera meter by dialing in a 2/3s stop over exposure compensation or make manual equivalent based on the in-camera meter. Canon EOS  7D photo.
Calatrava designed station at Liege, Belgium.
I had just half an hour to wander around this amazing station. I was impressed, and hope to return some evening to photograph it in a post sunset glow. Lumix LX3 photo.
SNCB InerCity train arriving at Liège-Guillemins. LX3 photo.

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Brian’s Belgian Rail Marathon—August 2013.


Making Use of an SNCB ‘Railpass’ Ticket.

Does Belgium offer one western Europe’s best-kept secret railway experiences?

Belgian passenger train
Interior of the upper level on a double-deck SNCB train. Exposed with my Lumix LX3.
Railway station.
SNCB station entrance at Ottignies, Belgium in August 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

In 1835, Belgium was first on the Continent to adopt the steam railway. It subsequently developed one of the densest railway networks in Europe. Today, (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges—Belgian National Railways) operates one of the best national networks.

Although, often overlooked in favor of more scenic countries, Belgium is a great place to ride trains. I’ll be honest, while I’d made a few trips to Belgium in the 1990s, in recent years I’d generally ignored it in favor of other places. Recently, I’ve been stunned to find what a pleasant place it is to ride trains.

The railway is well integrated with other modes. Services run frequently on regular intervals across the network. On most routes there’s a good mix of local and express trains. The equipment is varied and generally comfortable, and the staff are very professional, courteous, helpful, and smartly dressed.

On the downside, I found that some stations, especially un-staffed smaller ones, were neglected and in a poor state and this tended to detract from the overall experience. By contrast, other stations were in very nice shape.

I’ve made two trips to Belgium this year. Last week (August 2013), I made good use of a 10-ride ‘Railpass’ ticket that I purchased for 76 Euro back in March.

This is an open-ended ticket where you write in your starting station and destination with date of travel for each journey. From my experience its an excellent value, and especially valuable for wandering.

My goal was to make a circular trip to explore potential photographic locations while traveling lines I’d not previously experienced.

SNCB class 18 electric.
Platform level view of an SNCB class 18 electric at Ottignies, Belgium. Lumix LX3 photo.

Beginning in a southern Brussels suburb, I rode south via Ottignies (see yesterday’s post) and Namur to Marloie, and then eastward over a scenic secondary line to a small station called Esneux, where I spent an hour making photos.

From Esneux, I rode northward to Leige, where I found a stunning surprise . . .

(To be continued . . .)

SNCB electric passenger train.
My train to Esneux arriving at Marloie, a small station in southern Belgium. I appear to be on the wrong platform! (Its a good thing SNCB makes prolonged station stops). LX3 photo.
Train interior.
SNCB electric multiple unit interior. Large windows and spacious comfortable seat compensate for a basic functional design. Lumix LX3 photo.


Railway station in Belgium.
SNCB station at Esneux, Belgium, August 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.


SNCB station at Esneux, Belgium, August 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
SNCB station at Esneux, Belgium, August 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.


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SNCB at Ottignies, Belgium, August 16, 2013

 Compare Two Views of a Northward Express Train.

On the morning of August 16, 2013, I was changing trains at Ottignies, a suburban station south of Brussels on the line toward Luxembourg. I had just under an hour to explore and make photos.

For many ordinary passengers, I expect that changing trains is a purgatorial experience, but I’ve always found that is a great time to make photos and helps break up the journey. Such was the case this day.

The sky was bright and blue, and Ottignies was entirely new to me. The station has several platforms, and at regular intervals trains converge to allow passengers to change from one train to another. In addition it serves the local population.

I made this pair of photographs of a northward express train led by a SNCB (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges—Belgian National Railways) class 13 electric. What impressed me about this location was the slight jog in the track on approach to the station and the immense proportions of the overhead footbridge, which combined give the image greater depth.

SNCB Ottignies.

A SNCB class 13 electric leads a Brussels-bound express passenger train through the station at Ottignies, Belgium on August 16, 2013. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 100mm telephoto. Both images required nominal contrast adjustment in post processing.
A SNCB class 13 electric leads a Brussels-bound express passenger train through the station at Ottignies, Belgium on August 16, 2013. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 100mm telephoto. Both images required nominal contrast adjustment in post processing.

My quandary in editing is deciding which of the two photos I prefer. The first offers a view with signals and more of the footbridge, while the second is more focused on the locomotive and train.

Both were exposed digitally with my Canon EOS 7D and 100mm lens. The train was moving swiftly and I had only moments to make my composition before it blitzed the platforms.


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Irish Rail at Stucumny Bridge, November 2009

Trains Pass At Sunset on the Quad Track.

In November 2009, I was at Stucumny Bridge near Hazelhatch (west of Dublin on the Cork line) to take a look at the recently opened quad track. It was a clear evening and the sun was an orange ball hanging in the western sky.

Shortly before sunset, up and down Mark 4 trains (Dublin-Cork) passed each other making for a nice illustration of the relatively busy line. I’ve always like glint photos where trains reflect low sunlight but these are hard to execute in Ireland for a variety of reasons.

Sunset of trains passing.
An unmodified view; Irish Rail Mark 4 trains pass on the quad track at Hazelhatch in November 2009, exposed on Fujichrome Velvia 100 slide film
using a Canon EOS 3 and f2.8 200mm telephoto .

I exposed this with my Canon EOS 3 and f2.8 200mm telephoto on Fujichrome Velvia 100 slide film. (Velvia has a super-saturated color palate that tends to enhance the sunset glow).

I calculated the exposure based on the sky rather than taking an overall reading that would tend to over expose the image. Here a bit of experience working with low sun really helps.

For me the real problem with the photo is the difficult wire cutting across the middle of the frame. There may have been an angle to avoid this altogether, but with the two trains moving, I had only a few moments to release the shutter. The electrical pylons and high voltage wires in the distance don’t bother me, these are part of the scene.

Irish rail at sunset.
Here’s the same scan of Mark 4 trains at Hazelhatch, but modified using Photoshop to effectively erase the cable cutting across the middle of the frame. This image is an experiment, and by far the exception to the rule. I very rarely alter the content of my images.

I’ve taken the liberty of making an adjusted version of the photo by using Photoshop to extract the wire. I enlarged the scan of the slide and using the ‘Healing Brush’ and ‘Clone’ tools, I effectively blended the offending wire out of the image.

This is not something I normally do. Typically, I don’t apply visual surgery to alter my photos. However, with modern tools and a sense for retouching this is not especially difficult. It’s taken me twice as long to write up this post than it took to erase the wire. You can be the judge.


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Southern Pacific on Donner Pass, June 1990.


Working with Harsh Light in the California Sierra.

On the advice of J.D. Schmid, in June 1990,  I’d bought my first single lens reflex; a Nikon F3T (which I still use, occasionally). Initially, I owned just two lenses: a 35mm PC (perspective control—tilt/shift) and a second-hand Nikkon f4.0 200mm telephoto.

For most of my photography, I was still working with my Leica M2, and so the Nikon was just a new toy.

Living in Roseville, California near the Southern Pacific yard, gave me ample opportunity to explore and photograph SP operations. My favorite subject was Donner Pass, and most weekends would find me wandering around at high elevations seeking angles on the railroad.

Southern Pacific on Donner Pass.
A Southern Pacific freight descends Donner Pass between Crystal Lake and Yuba Pass, California in June 1990. Exposed with a Nikon F3T with 200mm lens on Kodachrome 25 slide film. As with other of my backlit images, the secret is keeping the sun from falling on the front element.

The Sierra can be a challenging place to make railroad photos. On this morning, I was between Yuba Pass and Crystal Lake on the west slope of Donner. I’d photographed this SP westward freight descending the mountain using the new F3T and 200mm lens on Kodachrome 25.

Despite photographic conventions, I was positioned on the dark side of the line, and aimed into the sun, while looking cross-light the train. The glinty back-lit rocks help silhouette the locomotives. Although the time of day resulted in harsh contrast and a stark scene, I like the result. It captures the spirit of raw mountain railroading that for me was SP on Donner.

This is a place where the tracks are cut into a rock shelf and require lots of power to get trains over the spine of the Sierra Range. Back lighting and telephoto compression shows the heat of from the dynamic brakes rolling off the tops of SP’s ‘Tunnel Motors’ (locomotives specifically built to endure the rigors of Donner). In the distance is a hint of one of SP’s wide signal bridges, necessary for winter operations.


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South Shore Sunset, October 1994

Interurban Electric Near South Bend, Indiana. 

I was driving from Erie, Pennsylvania back to Waukesha, Wisconsin after a week of photography on the former Baltimore & Ohio in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

West of South Bend, the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend runs parallel to the former New York Central ‘Water Level Route’ (then operated by Conrail).

I’d found a lightly used grade crossing, where I photographed a few Conrail freights. I didn’t have a South Shore schedule, but hoped I might see something roll over the old interurban electric line.

Ten years earlier, I’d taken a memorable trip over the line from Chicago to South Bend. Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, my father had made many images of the South Shore, and I was always fond of the line, despite having missed its operation of antique multiple units and Little Joe electrics that had made the line popular with photographers.

South Shore electric
Caption: Outbound South Shore train at sunset near South Bend, Indiana in October 1994. Signals on Conrail’s parallel former New York Central mainline are visible to the left of the train. Exposed on Fujichrome 100 with a Nikkormat FT3 with 28mm Nikkor lens

As daylight faded, I notice that the old Union Switch & Signal color signals facing me suddenly changed from displaying yellow to red. This indicated to me that something was about to happen. And, sure enough, a few minutes later I could hear a train clattering along.

I found a low angle to feature the richly colored sky and I made a single exposure on Fujichrome 100 using my Nikkormat FT3  with 28mm Nikkor lens. This remains one of my favorite railway photos: for me it captures the essence of South Shore’s interurban electric operation. I’ve used it in various places over the years.



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Lanesboro, Pennsylvania, October 21, 2001

Erie Railroad’s Starrucca Viaduct.

In October 2001, I was working on my book Railroad Masterpieces (Published by Krause Publications in 2002). Among the featured ‘masterpieces’ was Erie Railroad’s magnificent Starrucca Viaduct at Lanesboro, Pennsylvania. A classic Jim Shaughnessy under and over view was used on the book cover.

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

Lanesboro, Pennsylvania, October 21, 2001
Starrucca Viaduct at Lanesboro, Pennsylvania on the morning of October 21, 2001. Exposed on Fuji Sensia 100 slide film with a Nikon F3T with Nikkor f2.8 180mm lens.

Posting photos on Tracking the Light yesterday of Lanesborough, County Longford, reminded me of this image at another Lanesboro (albeit a different spelling) many miles and an ocean away.

On October 21, 2001, Tim Doherty and I drove to Lanesborough so I could photograph Starrucca. At the time Norfolk Southern was operating the line and very little traffic was traversing the bridge. We didn’t expect to find a train and as it happened, we didn’t see any that morning.

Later, we photographed the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Tunkhannock Viaduct and former Pennsylvania Railroad Rockville Bridge. All three bridges were covered in the same section of the book, and I thought it would be neat to visit all of them in one day.

A black & white variation of this image appeared in the book, but I don’t think I’ve ever had the color version published. I’ve always liked the tree shadow on the inside of the 4th arch.

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

Please spread the word and share Tracking the Light with anyone who may enjoy seeing it!



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Bord na Mona, Lanesborough, August 10, 2013

A Pleasant Summer’s Day Exploring an Irish Narrow Gauge Railway.

Bord na Mona trains.
Laden Bord na Mona trains approach Lanesborough, County Longford on the morning of August 10, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Last winter, I made several visits with my friends to Bord na Mona’s network focused on the Lough Ree Power Station at Lanesborough, County Longford. (See: Irish Bog Railways—Part 2 February 16, 2013Irish Bog Railways—Part 3, March 2, 2013), On Saturday, August 10, 2013, I returned for another day of photography on this fascinating system.

Having explored various Bord na Mona railways (see: Irish Bog Railways—Part 1Irish Bog Railways—Part 4, August, 2013), I find that the lines around Lanesborough are the most interesting and photogenic. Here variety of scenery and operations are exceptionally conducive to my photography.

Summer offers more pleasant temperatures and longer days, but also brings more foliage, taller grass and other challenges that I didn’t experience in February!

Bord na Mona trains.
A tractor cuts road-side hedges near Lanesborough. Taller grass made this location more difficult than in February. Canon EOS 7D photo.

I think its safe to say that I didn’t get bored with Bord na Mona. From the first moment trackside, the railway seemed to be buzzing with trains. The section of double track running east from Lanesborough toward Mountdillon was especially busy.


Bord na Mona trains.
Empties work the double track east of Lanesborough on August 10, 2013. The Lough Ree Power Station looms in the distance. Canon EOS 7D photo.

I even had another opportunity to catch one of the ash trains on the move. (See: Bord na Mona’s Ash Train). Perhaps my bold proclamation of its elusivity has tipped the scales in my favor—a sort of reverse jinx, as it were.

Or maybe, its my persistence. It’s nice to get a lucky catch, but likewise, the more time spent trackside, the better the odds of seeing the unusual, as well as the elusive, the rare, and the obscure. Having a better sense for when trains run helps too!

Bord na Mona trains.
An empty Bord na Mona ash train passes Mountdillon on its way back to the Lough Ree power station at Lanesborough. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Bord na Mona trains.
Running meet on the double track between Mountdillon and Lanesborough. An empty rake of peat wagons meets an empty ash train. The intense clattering of narrow gauge trains gives the network a feeling of a large model railway.
Bord na Mona
An empty rake near Derreghan Cross Roads with the expanse of harvested boglands on the right.


Bord na Mona
Empty trains take a passing siding at Derraghan More on the way out to be reloaded. Canon EOS 7D.
An empty rake waits for a pair of laden trains near Derraghan More. Canon 7D photo.







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Freight Train at Rijeka, Croatia on August 17, 2005.


On This Day Eight Years Ago.

Rijeka, Croation
Exposed with a Nikon N90s with a Nikkon 85mm lens on Fuji Sensia 100.

Eight years ago today I was traveling in Croatia by train. I made this image from the platform of the Rijeka station. It shows one of Croatian Railways (Hrvatske Zeljeznice  and known by the initials HZ) class 1061 electrics (an articulated type adapted from an Italian State Railways design) leading a short freight from Rijeka’s main goods yard.

Rijeka is a scenically situated Adriatic port. My great-grandmother was from a village near here. She emigrated to the United States in the late 19th century, back when Rijeka was known as Fiume, a city in the former Austrian-Hungarian empire.

Austria-Hungary was fragmented as a casualty of World War, which began as result of strife in the Balkans. Exploring the old empire is among my hobbies.


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Maine Eastern Cement Train, August 2004


Rockland, Maine.

As a kid, I’d travel with my family to coastal Maine for visits with grandparents who owned a summer home south of Newcastle. At that time, Maine Central operated freights on the Rockland Branch on a weekday basis.

On rare occasions as we were driving, I’d see a train wandering up or down the branch. I recall my exceptional frustration when passing the Rockland roundhouse a group of Maine Central GP7s and GP38s basked in evening sun, but family priorities precluded even a short stop for photography (I think we were going to dinner).

By the time I made visits to Maine in the mid-1980s with aims at making railroad photographs, the old Rockland Branch was all but dormant.

The line experienced a revival in the 1990s and 2000s. Today it hosts freight and passenger trains operated by Maine Eastern. This greatly pleased my late-friend Bob Buck, who had experienced the line in steam days and had watched its gradual decline during the diesel era.

It was a great thrill for him to be able to board a passenger train again at Rockland and ride along the coast inlets toward Brunswick.

Maine Eastern
In August 2004, a Morristown & Erie C-424 leads a short empty cement train up from the Rockland Pier on the rebuilt former Maine Central spur running between the pier and the Rockland yard. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3T and 24mm lens.

In August 2004, I was among several friends visiting with Bob at his summer home on the Maine Coast. During this trip, Neal Gage and I spent a productive morning photographing Maine Eastern’s cement train, which made a series of short turns between the cement factory at Thomaston and a pier in Rockland.

This included photographing the short spur (branch) to the pier that had been rebuilt during the revival period to facilitate movement of cement by barge. This line winds through back yards of Rockland and curls around to the waterfront.

Caption: In August 2004, a Morristown & Erie C-424 leads a short empty cement train up from the Rockland Pier on the rebuilt former Maine Central spur running between the pier and the Rockland yard. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3T and 24mm lens.

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Bord na Mona’s Ash Train

An Elusive Catch.

For me anyway! On Saturday, August 3, 2013, I scored a few photographs of Bord na Mona’s ash train on the move near Shannonbridge, County Offaly. (Yes, and by the way, that’s ash train, and not ASH TRAY. Just to clarify.)

Bord na Mona, ash train.
Bord na Mona’s laden ash train works east from the West Offaly power station at Shannonbridge. The ash train carries waste ash (left over from the burning of peat) for disposal back into the bog. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Now, someone at Bord na Mona might read this and say, “Elusive ash train? Why that’s scheduled to run every day at 2 pm.” Or, perhaps, it is scheduled to run every third Saturday after the first full moon on months that don’t end in ‘R’. (But, none-the-less, scheduled).

Irregardless, so far as I was concerned, photographing the ash train on the move was a real coup! In the last year, I’ve made a half dozen ventures to photograph Bord na Mona’s narrow gauge lines, this was the first time I’d seen an ash train on the move. Certainly, I’ve seen them before, just not rolling along out on the road.

Bord na Mona, ash train.
Trailing view of Bord na Mona’s ash train near Shannonbridge. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Bord na Mona, ash train.
The laden ash train roars along at a walking pace near Blackwater. Lumix LX3 photo, contrast modified in post processing.

Yet, I’d call it elusive! It’s all a matter of perspective. More on elusive (or at least unusual trains) in future posts.

Incidentally, unlike elusive trains, Tracking the Light regularly posts new material almost every day! So, to use an obsolete cliché, stay tuned!

Bord na Mona, ash train.
Bord na Mona ash train near Blackwater, August 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.



Irish Bog Railways—Part 5, August, 2013

Photographing Irish Bog Railways.

In a follow up to yesterday’s post, here’s a few more images from my early August adventure with Ireland’s Bord na Mona narrow gauge. I was working with three cameras: my Lumix LX3, my Canon EOS 7D digital SLR (single lens reflex) and my Canon EOS 3 35mm SLR.

Since it will be a while before the slides are processed, all the images here are from the digital cameras.

Irish Bog Railway
Under showery skies, a Bord na Mona train heads out across the bog for reloading. Canon EOS 7D.
Irish Bog Railways
Loading of a Bord na Mona train. Canon EOS 7D.


Bord na Mona
Road bridge over the Bord na Mona double track line near Shannonbridge, Co. Offaly. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Bord na Mona
Bord na Mona track laying machine and an empty train. Lumix LX3 photo.
Bord na Mona
An empty Bord na Mona train returns to the bog for reloading. Lumix LX3 photo.
Bord na Mona
Peat hoppers and the harvested peat bog near Shannonbridge. Lumix LX3 photo.
Maintenance train with sunny skies and weedy tracks. Lumix LX3 photo.
Maintenance train with sunny skies and weedy tracks. Lumix LX3 photo.
Bord na Mona
Empty train growl along the bog. Despite their small size, Bord na Mona trains can be heard a long way before the arrive. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Bord na Mona
Laden Bord na Mona train under a textured sky. Soon it will rain. Canon EOS 7D photo.

I’ve found my visits to photograph the Bord na Mona railways exceptionally rewarding and productive and I look forward to more photography trips in coming months.

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Irish Bog Railways—Part 4, August, 2013


Bord na Mona’s Blackwater Network Revisited.

It was fifteen years ago that I made my first acquaintance with Ireland’s bog railway, a narrow gauge network operated by Bord na Mona (peat board). At that time, a tourist train run as the Clonmacnoise & West Offaly made regularly scheduled trips from the Blackwater depot near Shannonbridge in County Offaly.

As I recall, it was an oppressively damp day. Having arrived under swollen skies, I checked in at the booking office, skeptical if the line was even in operation, only to learn that not only was it running, but that the first couple of trains were sold out!

Using the time between tourist trains, I made some black & white photos of the peat trains, then returned to ride the line.

On another occasion two years later, I returned with my father, and family friend Tom Hargadon, and made another spin out on the bog. Since that time, the Clonmacnoise & West Offaly excursion has been discontinued.

Bord na Mona narrow gauge.
My August 2013 visit to the Blackwater network found the bog under rapidly changing skies. Lumix LX-3 photo. Contrast modified in post processing.


A Busy Irish Narrow Gauge Industrial Railway.

In early August 2013, I reacquainted myself with Bord na Mona’s Blackwater network, having explored other of Bord na Mona’s railway operations in recent months. See earlier posts:

Gallery 8: Irish Bog Railways—Part 1

Irish Bog Railways Part 2 

Irish Bog Railways Part 3 

Bord na Mona narrow gauge.
Empty Bord na Mona narrow gauge train heading out to be loaded. August 2013. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens.

Blackwater is from my experience, by far the busiest of Bord na Mona’s operations, as the West Offaly power station at Shannon Bridge has the most voracious appetite of the peat burning plants served by Bord na Mona narrow gauge railways. Quite simply there were trains crawling everywhere I went.

The day featured a rapidly changing sky. This made for some wonderful lighting and visual effects, but also resulted in me getting unexpectedly soaked when the sky suddenly opened up. One minute it was sunny, the next there was near horizontal rain! On my next visit I’ll bring plastic bags and a jumper!

Bord na Mona narrow gauge.
In addition to laden and empty peat trains, Bord na Mona operates various type of maintenance  trains. Many of these are hauled by older and more eclectic looking locomotives. August 2013. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens.
Bord na Mona
Bord na Mona trains are loaded with peat. A section of temporary track sits in the foreground. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 28-135mm lens.
Bord na Mona
A sudden downpour drenches the boglands near Shannonbridge. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Bord na Mona
A laden Bord na Mona train crosses the Shannon near the West Offaly power plant. Discharge from the plant warms the river making it ideal for lilly pads to grow. Lumix LX3.


See tomorrow’s post for more Irish Bog Railway photos!

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Railroad Station Building, Steward, Illinois, June 15, 2004

A Vestige of Earlier Times.

At one time, just about every town in North America had at least one railway station. Tens of thousands of station buildings dotted the continent. Most were small. Often railroads would have their bridge and building departments draft standard station plans of various sizes and apply these where appropriate.

Old railway station.
Steward’s former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy is a reminder of former times when passenger trains served this rural village. Exposed with a Nikon F3T with 24mm Nikkor lens on Fujichrome slide film.

Steward, Illinois is a village on the former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy several miles east of Rochelle (where the CB&Q crossed the Chicago & North Western). It has been many years since this small standard-plan station hosted trains. It survives as a tie to the era when the railroad was the town’s lifeline to the outside world.

The May 1949 Official Guide of the Railways lists CB&Q train 52 stopping here at 7:32 am eastbound, and train 49 stopping at 10:51 pm westbound, while a mixed train could make a stop on request (no time listed).

Now the station has little to do with the main line running nearby. Dozens of BNSF Railway long distance freights pass daily. There are no passenger trains on this route—not since Amtrak assumed most long distance passenger services in 1971. But Steward probably had lost its local train long before then.


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Orlando Station, November 1999.

Letting Classic Railway Architecture Tell a Story.

On a visit to Florida in mid-November 1999, I made this detailed view of Amtrak’s Orlando passenger station.

Spanish Revival Style railway station.
Orlando, Florida passenger station photographed in November 1999 on Fujichrome with a Nikkor 24 mm lens. Metered manually with a Sekonic Studio Deluxe handheld photocell with incident light dome attachment.

Built by CSX predecessor Atlantic Coast Line in a Spanish revival style, this busy station offers a variety of angles. I opted to make this symmetrical view with my Nikkor 24mm lens. The trick was exposing for the white station against the blue sky and retaining detail while not allowing the station to appear too dark

Although a simple image, it tells a story: “Atlantic” has been imperfectly replaced by “Seaboard,”—reflecting the 1967 merger between Atlantic Coast Line with its long time rival Seaboard Air Line Railroad. Amtrak assumed SCL’s passenger service on May 1, 1971, and Amtrak’s classic ‘pointless arrow’ logo meekly identifies the structure.

As evidence in this image, between the 1960s and 1990s American railroad scene underwent a bewildering series of mergers, transfers of service and rebranding. This is the topic of my upcoming book North American Railroad Family Trees , published by Voyageur Press, which aims to unravel some of the mysteries behind the myriad changes to North American railway operations.

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West Warren, Massachusetts, October 2000.

Another Exercise with 120 Size Transparency Film.

In yesterday’s post, I told about working with a Hasselblad and 120 Kodachrome. Although, 35mm slide film was my stable format for more than 25 years, I’ve periodically dabbled in larger formats.

CSX main line along the Quaboag River.
The former Boston & Albany mainline along the Quaboag River in October 2000, exposed with a Rolleiflex Model T on 120 Fujichrome Velvia 50.

I made this image of CSX’s former Boston & Albany mainline at West Warren, Massachusetts in October 2000 using a Rolleiflex Model T with f3.5 Zeiss Tessar lens to expose 120 size Fujichrome Velvia 50.

While I have many images of trains at West Warren, this remains among my favorite. The trees and brush had been cleared from the north side of the tracks, opening up a angle on the tracks not often possible here. I’ll like the stumps too. My grandfather would have approved.

The lack of train allows for good juxtaposition between the railway, waterfall, and old mill buildings on the far side of the Quaboag River. If I’d let a train into the scene, it would either cause a distraction or block the waterfall. One solution to this puzzle is to work from the other side of the tracks, but that loses the timeless quality offered by this angle.

Nearly peak autumn color is a nice touch, while soft overcast light adds to the autumnal atmosphere.

Caption: The former Boston & Albany mainline along the Quaboag River in October 2000, exposed with a Rolleiflex Model T on 120 Fujichrome Velvia 50.

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Susquehanna’s General Electric DASH8-40B 4002 at West Middlebury, New York, March 1989

Experiment with Medium Format Kodachrome.

New General Electric DASH8-40B on New York Susquehanna & Western
In 1989, New York, Susquehanna & Western served as the court appointed operator of Delaware & Hudson. By virtue of the 1976 Conrail merger, D&H had been granted trackage rights on the former Erie Railroad route from Binghamton to Buffalo, New York. On this March morning, a new NYS&W General Electric led an eastward double stack train on the old Erie near West Middlebury, New York, 384 miles from Jersey City.Exposed on 120 Kodachrome transparency film with a Hasselblad 500C with 80mm Zeiss Planar lens

In March 1989, I was halfway through my final term at the Rochester Institute of Technology. My course load was light enough to allow me several days off a week to pursue my own work.

On this day, my flat mate Bob lent me his Hasselblad, which I loaded with 120 Kodachrome 64. Wow, was this ever a winning combination! It offered brilliant color with exceptional sharpness on a large transparency.

While I took advantage of Bob’s Hasselblad and 120 Kodachrome on several occasions, the relatively high cost of this format precluded my frequent use of it. At the time I was living on about $30 a week and a single roll of 120 Kodachrome processed was beyond my budget. (Also, Bob occasionally needed his camera).

Once I completed my degree, the high cost of Hasselblad cameras put them well out of reach for years. Other considerations were related to practicality. I found the Hasselblad awkward to use for my style of photography, and I had very limited applications for 120 transparencies.

Realistically, the 35mm slide format was not only better suited for most of my color needs, but also far more affordable.

Yet images like this one continue to nag me. From time to time, I have continued to experiment with 120-color transparency film, often with very good results. I’ve never been satisfied with my reluctance to make the plunge. Tough choice.

A week after I exposed this photo, I made an 11x14in Cibachrome print of it. (Thanks to my dad who fronted me the cash for 50 sheets of Ciba paper). Incidentally, the scan of the original image fills nearly 280 MB on my hard drive. If I’d scanned it at the maximum capabilities of my Epson, it would probably reach a GB. That’s a lot of information in one photograph. The image could fill a wall.


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Irish Rail Gray 077 Leads Ballast Train


A Rare Move to Catch in Full Sun.

As a follow-up to my post Irish Rail Ballast Train at Islandbridge, Dublin, April 16, 2013 , I offer these views of a ballast train at the same location on August 2, 2013.

Irish Rail ballast train.
Irish Rail 077 leads the empty HOBS at Islandbridge Junction on August 2, 2013. The iconic Wellington Testimonial in Dublin‘s Phoenix Park looms above the train. Canon EOS 7D photo.

So far just three of Irish Rail’s 071 class are operating in the new gray livery. So catching one on the move in sunlight can be a challenge. Ballast trains operate infrequently, and standing at this spot for a month of Sunday’s might not guarantee an image such as this. It helps to live near the line.

The cars make up what Irish Rail calls a ‘High Output Ballast’ train which is known on the railway as the HOBS. Using my Canon EOS 7D, I exposed a series of photos of the train on the curve from the Phoenix Park tunnel at Islandbridge Junction.

The combination of elevation, iconic backdrop and the orientation of the tracks and curve allow for one of the best morning views in Dublin for a westward train. As the sun swings around, many more angles open up down the line.

Irish Rail Gray 077 Leads Ballast Train
A landscape view of Irish Rail’s HOBS at Islandbridge Junction near Heuston Station in Dublin on August 2, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.
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Bluebell Railway Revisited, July 2013-Part 2

Kingscote Station.

Kingscote Station
Bluebell staff on the platform at Kingscote. Exposed digitally with my Canon EOS 7D.

For many years Kingscote was effectively Bluebell’s northern terminus. That changed this year when the extension to East Grinstead was finally opened along with the direct connection to Network Rail.

Now, as a quiet mid-point on the Bluebell line, it embodies all the qualities of a small town passenger station from a time long ago. Adding to the rural solitude is a ban on visitor automobiles in the car park. (Railway riders are encourage to use other stations on the line).

The facilities are faithfully decorated to convey the spirit of long ago. I appreciated a lack of modern intrusions. Not so much as an electronic beep could be heard during my brief visit. (I turned off the various sounds uttered by my digital cameras!). I should have brought my Rollei Model T for effect.

During my hour visit at Kingscote, I was rewarded with the arrive of a wedding special hauled by a diminutive locomotive named ‘Bluebell’ and decorated appropriately.

Bluebell Railway at Kingscote.
Vintage sign inside Kingscote Station. Lumix LX3 photo.
Bluebell Railway at Kingscote.
Station offices look like something from the late steam era. Notice the old manual typewriter. Lumix LX3 photo.
Bluebell Railway at Kingscote.
Waiting room at the Bluebell Railway station in Kingscote. Lumix LX3.
Bluebell Railway at Kingscote.
A period poster decorates the street side of Kingscote Station. Lumix LX3 photo.
Bluebell Railway at Kingscote.
Locomotive ‘Bluebell’ is ready to depart Kingscote on the Bluebell Railway. Lumix LX3 photo
Locomotive drive wheel
A study in motion: drive wheel, cylinder, valves, crosshead and valve gear of locomotive 92212 at Kingscote Station. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Bluebell Railway at Kingscote.
London Transport locomotive L150 leads a train of Metropolitan Railway carriages at Kingscote in July 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.


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Bluebell Railway Revisited, July 2013-Part 1


A Pleasant Saturday Time Travel Experience.

British Rail class 9F 2-10-0 92212
British Rail class 9F 2-10-0 92212 makes an impressive arrival at East Grinstead. Canon EOS 7D photo.

At the end of July, my friends and I made a pilgrimage to the Bluebell Railway, traveling by Southern Railway electric muliple unit from London to East Grinstead and transferring to the Bluebell’s steam train there.

This was my second trip over the Bluebell this year. While not the best day for photography, owing to a humid hazy morning with flat dull light and rain showers in the afternoon, I managed to make a variety of images of this classic British preserved railway. Regardless of the weather, Bluebell offers a pleasant trip to an earlier era.

In the last dozen years, I’ve made about a half dozen Bluebell visits that have allowed me to better appreciate the line and more fully experience it. It is one of just several dozen top notch preserved railways in Britain.

British Rail class 9F 2-10-0 92212
Engine driver on British Railways locomotive 92212 at Kingscote station. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Signal levers.
Levers at Sheffield Park signal box. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Privatization of British Rail has invoked nostalgia for the old days of a unified nationalized network. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Privatization of British Rail has invoked nostalgia for the old days of a unified nationalized network. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Horsted Keynes is a popular mid-line layover.
Horsted Keynes is a popular mid-line layover.

See my earlier posts on the Bluebell for more details and photos of the line:

Bluebell Railway April 2012 and Bluebell Railway April 2012-Part 2


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East Midland Trains

Trip on the old Midland Railway from St. Pancras to Market Harborough.

East Midlands Trains is a franchise operating in its namesake area north and east of London. Detail of an HST Class 43 power car (locomotive). Lumix LX3 photo.
East Midlands Trains is a franchise operating in its namesake area north and east of London. Detail of an HST Class 43 power car (locomotive). Lumix LX3 photo.

I’d pre-booked tickets to ride from St. Pancras north on the old Midland Railway. The last time I made this journey I traveled on Midland Mainline trains, but this franchise was reconfigured in 2007 and now East Midland Trains handles the run.

Although my day’s journey began on the London Tube, the real part of the railway trip started from St. Pancras, a virtual cathedral of British Railways. (See my previous posts: London April 2013, and London Stations). Here the colossal Victorian era shed shelters Eurostar trains bound for Brussels and Paris.

St. Pancras
William Barlow’s classic St. Pancras balloon arch train shed as seen in July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

Rebuilding and reconfiguring of St. Pancras in the mid-2000s, resulted in an inspiring interpretation of the historic architecture. However, domestic long distance trains were then relegated to the newer, less inspired train shed extension beyond William Barlow’s pioneering balloon arch.

I arrived looking for the 0930 departure, only to find the place in a bit of turmoil. When I enquired of member of East Midland’s staff where the 0930 was, he said to me, ‘Don’t know mate, the place is in a kip this morning, all the trains are running late, check the boards.’ An honest answer. I accept that.

Eventually, the same East Midlands man found me again, and said, ‘your train’s on platform 3b.’ Right. We only left about 7 minutes after the advertised schedule. However, we were out of path and got stuck in behind a slower moving First Capitol Connect electric suburban train and lost a few more minutes.

The old Midland route is one of the busiest mainline railways in Britain. It’s a four track electrified line from St Pancras to Bedford. Fast lines are good for 110 mph and used for express passenger trains, with slow lines accommodating stopping First Capitol Connect electric services to Bedford and freights.

It’s a thrill to be racing along at 100+ mph and overtake another train. The route is virtually saturated. This means that based on limitations of current infrastructure and signaling, the Midland route is accommodating the maximum number of trains possible at peak times.

I rode out on a class 222 Meridian diesel-multiple unit, and back to London on a 1970s era HST. The HST offered a nicer ride and more spacious accommodation.

I’m a biased fan of the HST, so the modern cramped facilities of the Meridian just wouldn’t impress me, although it’s a better option than a plane or bus, given a necessary comparison.

British Rail ticket
Macro view of my seat reservation from London to Market Harborough. Although the nationalized and unified British Rail network was broken up in the mid-1990s (with passenger services now provided by private companies operating designated franchise routes and to a limited extend via open access arrangements) the old British Rail logo is still used on tickets and related documents. Lumix LX3 photo.
St. Pancras
An HST powercar looms in the darkness of the modern St. Pancras shed extension. The station was officially renamed in 2007 and is now St. Pancras International using airport style lexicon to reflect its enhanced status among British railway stations. Lumix LX3 photo.
East Midlands poster
East Midlands poster at Market Harborough in July 2013. This advertises 84 miles in 61 minutes. I wish Amtrak’s Acela could boast that sort of running from Penn-Station to New Haven Connecticut. Lumix LX3 photo.
East Midlands Trains.
East Midlands class 222 Meridian trains at Market Harborough. Fast and comfortable, but not as nice as an HST. Lumix LX3 photo.
Meridian train
An East Midlands express blitzes the up platform at Market Harborough. Lumix LX3 photo.
East Midlands Trains HST high speed train
An outbound East Midlands Trains HST (powered by class 43 diesels fore and aft) accelerates away from the down platform at Market Harborough. Just to clarify, this is the rear of the train, a similar powercar is roaring away at the head end. Lumix LX3 photo.
View from a London bound HST overtaking a First Capitol Connect suburban electric train south of Bedford. The old Midland Railway four track mainline is among the busiest long distance routes in Britain.
View from a London bound HST overtaking a First Capitol Connect suburban electric train south of Bedford. The old Midland Railway four track mainline is among the busiest long distance routes in Britain.
Commemorative plaque on an East Midlands Trains HST. Lumix LX3 photo.
Commemorative plaque on an East Midlands Trains HST. Lumix LX3 photo.

My 84 mile trip from London to Market Harborough was accomplished in a little more than an hour and fifteen minutes, with station stops and delays. It was even faster on the return leg. It was a good trip!


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London Transport Museum


Historic Vehicles on Display at Covent Garden, London.

London Transport Museum
The London Transport Museum offers interpretive display of old transit vehicles. It is popular with kids and tourists. Lumix LX3

I’ve visited the London Transport Museum on several occasions, owing to its convenient location at Covent Garden in central London, and my general interest in transport.

Central to the public displays are a variety of historic conveyances ranging from horse-draw omni buses and horse cars to tube trains, buses, a double deck tram and a lone trolley bus.

London Transport Museum
Old double deck buses on display. I found it remarkable how small these buses are in comparison with those working London’s streets today. Lumix LX3

Perhaps more important than the equipment is the context the museum offers. London is one of the most transit friendly cities in the world and has a long history of offering public transport.

This year the London Underground is celebrating its 150th anniversary. As part of the city celebrations, the London Transport Museum has a display of Underground posters.


On my July 2013 visit, I made a few photos of the equipment on display at the museum using my Lumix LX3.

London Transport Museum
Vintage London Tube car on display at the London Transport Museum. Lumix LX3 photo.
London Transport Museum
This Victorian-era tube train displays a relative dearth of windows. Lumix LX3 photo.
London Transport Museum
Looking down a set of stairs on a double deck tram. How was the use of steps regulated when the tram operator was at the front of the car? Anyone? Lumix LX3 photo.




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London Tramlink


Greater London’s Modern Streetcar.

Croydon Tramlink
Croydon Tramlink features street running in the classic tradition. Canon EOS 7D photo.

In my last post I covered the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). Today, I’m focused on the London Tramlink (an network centered on Croydon and previously known as the Croydon Tramlink). Here the terminology can get a bit confusing because while ‘Light Rail’ and ‘Trams’ are sometimes used to describe the same type of service, in London these services are distinctly different.

The DLR is an automated grade-separated rapid-transit type of service, but features stations that very close together while taking advantage of very tight curvature. By contrast, London Tramlink features street running and is largely a ground-level operation, with drivers on each car.

Where the DLR uses trains consisting of ‘light rail vehicles’ adapted on modern streetcar design, Tramlink uses trams or ‘streetcars’ and generally runs these singly, with a driver (or operator, if you prefer) on each car.

However, while the styles of operation vary, both systems provide intensive localized rapid transit that is fully integrated with the London transport network. Both systems also have lines on former ‘heavy rail’ rights of way.

I first experienced the Tramlink in January 2006. On a particularly bleak winter day, I rode most of the existing network and made a few color slides. The lighting was flat and very dull, so my photos from that effort have remained in the processing boxes.

Croydon Tramlink
A tram passes Lloyd Park. Lumix LX3 photo.

Last week, I had few hours to spare between appointments, and since it was sunny and bright, I opted to revisited the Croydon tram lines with the specific goal of making photos.

I was surprised to learn that the paint livery had changed. In my 2006 visit the trams were red and white, last week they were largely green and white, although there were a few running around in advertising colors. Also, there were some newer trams augmenting the older cars, which added to the variety.

I made photos with both my Lumix LX3 and Canon EOS 7D. All of these images were exposed in just a couple of hours. Thankfully, the trams operate on a close headway allowing for plenty of photo opportunities.

Croydon Tramlink
A tram approaches Lloyd Park on the line to New Addington. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D and 28-135mm lens.
Croydon Tramlink
A tram at Lloyd Park on the line to New Addington. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D and 28-135mm lens.


East Croydon
Contrasts in modern design; a tram at East Croydon. Lumix LX3 photo
One of Tramlink’s new Stadler Rail Variobahn Trams glides along near East Croydon. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Croydon Tram
This tram was difficult to miss in its iridescent special livery.
London Tramlink
Another unusually painted tram was this car which wore a scheme similar to the red and white that I remember from my earlier trip. Lumix LX3 photo.
Older trams such as this one were built by Bombardier. The Tramlink was well patronized. Canon EOS 7D Photo.




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London Docklands Light Railway July 2013

Visions of Ultra Modern Rail Transport.

Docklands Light Railway
London’s Docklands Light Railway is a rolling example of modern artistic design. Lumix LX3 photo.

Last week (July 2013), I made a visit to the Dockland Light Railway (DLR) on my urban exploration of London.

DLR appears as the manifestation of a future vision. What I mean is that, it seem like the sort of ‘futuristic’ transport envisioned in the 1940s or 1950s. In many places the trains run on purpose-built elevated structures while serving spacious modern stations.

London's Docklands Light Railway
Docklands Light Railway trains pass near Canary Wharf in July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

Most remarkable is its driverless automated operation. In this regard it’s more like an airport monorail than conventional urban rail transport. Except that it has several routes that meet with complicated flying junctions and dozens of stations.

Perhaps the best part of the DLR is the ability to watch out of the front of the trains as they roll along. Going west toward Bank/Tower Gateway the DLR runs adjacent to the suburban line to Fenchurch Street operated by C2C.

I made this selection of DLR photos with my Lumix LX3.

London's Docklands Light Railway
DLR train at Canary Wharf in July 2013.
DLR map
DLR map.
London's Docklands Light Railway
View from the front of a DLR train bound for Bank. Lumix LX3 photo.
London's Docklands Light Railway
DLR involves some intensive infrastructure. Lumix LX3 Photo.




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London Underground July 2013—Part 2

More Views of the Underground.

As a follow up to yesterday’s post London Underground July 2013—Part 1, I’ve assembled some of my favorite images from last week’s exploration in London.

Underground Station at Covent Garden
The classically tiled Underground Station at Covent Garden is easily identified. Lumix LX3 photo.

The Underground cleverly blends transport and style. In my experience it is one of the world’s most popular public transportation systems. Phrases like ‘Mind the Gap’ appear on mugs and T-shirts, while many shops sell stylized maps of the Underground network.

There’s a lesson here.

Charing Cross Underground station
Charing Cross Underground station is the preferred way to access The National Gallery and other nearby museums. Lumix LX3 photo.
Tube station.
The National Gallery and Trafalgar Square are among London’s largest tourist attractions. This poster describes Victorian interest in art and places photography in period context. Lumix LX3 photo.
London Tube.
A passenger prepares to board as a Piccadilly Line tube train glides into the Kings Cross St Pancras Underground station. July 2013 photo exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Tube Train.
By placing the camera against the ceiling of the tube train, I secured an unusual angle, minimized vibration to allow for a long exposure, while momentarily attracting the interest of fellow passengers. Lumix LX3 photo.
Air raid signs
Historic Underground signs recall the fear from sky-bourne warfare. Canon EOS 7D photo.
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