Tag Archives: Amtrak

Amtrak’s Vermonter passes West Northfield.


In late April, Mike Gardner and I made visit to the old graveyard at West Northfield, Massachusetts (south of the junction at East Northfield on the old Boston & Maine), to photograph Amtrak 56 (the Vermonter) on its way to St Albans, Vermont.

Light cloud softened the afternoon sun, which was slightly back-lit at this location for a northward train. To make the most of the old stones and put the entire train in the picture, I opted for my 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

I made minor adjustments to the RAW file in Lightroom to present better contrast in the JPG image presented here.

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Tracking the Light EXTRA: Lake Shore Limited with P42 number 156 heritage paint.

It’s the elusive ‘bloody nose’, again.

In late 2017, I got lucky and caught this heritage locomotive on several occasions, after years of it eluding me entirely.

This afternoon (April 24, 2019), thanks to a tip from my friend Paul Goewey, I caught old 156 again, albeit second unit out, on today’s westward Amtrak Lake Shore Limited (Boston section), train 449.

The view is from the bridge over the railroad and Quaboag River at West Warren, Massachusetts.

Photos exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens set to the Velvia color profile. Files exported from the camera as JPGs and scaled using Lightroom for internet presentation. No adjustments to contrast, color or exposure.

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Classic Chrome: Amtrak F40s at New London, Connecticut.

On March 24, 1997, Mike Gardner and I spent the afternoon photographing around New London, Connecticut. This was shortly before Amtrak began electrification.

I made this view of a pair of F40PHs leading train 175 west of the New London station.

Who would have thought the omnipresent Amtrak F40 would be the subject of a classic photo?

Exposed on Kodachrome using a Nikon N90S with 80-200mm AF zoom lens.


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TRAINS Podcast—Conversations with Brian Solomon: Interview with Brian Schmidt and Angela Pusztai-Pasternak


Amtrak’s Empire Builder blitzes Brookfield, Wisconsin on a snow Monday evening during my visit to Kalmbach.

Check out my most recent TRAINS Podcast—Conversations with Brian Solomon, where I engage in a lively spontaneous discussion with Trains Magazine editors Angela Pusztai-Pasternak. We talk about Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, CSX and other topics, often taking unexpected tangents.

We recorded this on my recent visit to Wisconsin.

To go directly this episode:

For a general finding aid for my Pod Casts see:

http://trn.trains.com/photos-videos/2018/09/conversations-with-brian-solomon

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Amtrak 490 Crosses the Connecticut River.

While the New CT Rail trains tend to capture most of attention on the Springfield-New Haven route (now branded as the ‘Hartford Line’), Amtrak continues to run its shuttles and through trains on the same route.

I made this view last week of Amtrak 490 working northward to Springfield, Massachusetts as it crossed the Connecticut River between Windsor Locks and Warehouse Point.

I like the distant vantage point, using a telephoto lens to feature the small train on the big bridge.

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Another View: New Haven Railroad’s Stone Arch Bridge at Windsor, Connecticut.


Sunday, I featured a photo of Connecticut Southern’s southward road freight crossing the old New haven Railroad bridge over the Farmington River at Windsor.

Today’s photo is of the same structure, but in the morning from the east side.

Amtrak train 147 at Windsor, Connecticut. Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

This classic bridge is easily accessible with good parking, which makes it a nice place to catch trains on the Springfield-Hartford-New Haven Line (now marketed by CT Rail as the ‘Hartford Line’).

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Amtrak Veterans Cabbage: Panned at Night.


The other evening at the modern Amtrak station in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, Trains Magazine’s Brian Schmidt and I set up to photograph Hiawatha Corridor trains during their station stops.

The southward train arrived first, and featured one of the former F40PH diesels, now a cab-control/baggage car in the lead. These are colloquially known as ‘cabbages’, and this one was painted to honor American veterans.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 27mm lens, I set the camera to ISO 6400 and panned the train as it arrived to allow for the effect of motion.

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Empire Builder, Bloody Nose and a Snow Squall.


Friday afternoon January 18, 2019, Trains Magazine’s Brian Schmidt and I visited Duplainville, Wisconsin to catch Amtrak’s westward Empire builder, train number 7, as it split the signals in a snow squall.

Amtrak P42 50 leads train number 7 west at Duplainville, Wisconsin.

I was delighted to see that the Milwaukee Road-vintage searchlight signals that I remember from my days in Wisconsin (now more than two decades ago) are still active.

The third locomotive in the Builder’s consist was the elusive Amtrak 156, ‘the bloody nose’—so named for its wearing of the 1970s-era Amtrak paint scheme.

I exposed these views using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto. White balance set to ‘daylight’.

Local photographers had gathered for Amtrak’s daily passing.


Amtrak 156 is one of several ‘heritage’ locomotives wearing paint schemes from years gone by..

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Amtrak—30thStreet Station Philadelphia: Seven Lumix Views.

I had almost an hour at 30thStreet Station, Philadelphia while waiting for Amtrak 94 from Washington.

This magnificent former Pennsylvania Railroad Station offers a mix of classical and modern railroading.

Wandering with my ‘new’ Lumix LX7, I made this selection of hand-held digital photographs.

Of special interest was the old Solari board used to display arrival and departure information. This was under repair/adjustment. I’ve heard that it may be soon retired.

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Amtrak Turbo Train—Rochester.

In November 1986, I exposed this view on a free roll of Kodak T-max 100 supplied to me by Kodak.

At the time, I was a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology learning about photography.

Where other students focused on perfume bottles and what not, I was more interested in capturing the scene on the old Water Level Route.

Amtrak’s morning departure from Rochester made for a good subject to test the free roll of film.

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New Haven on New Years Eve—It Ain’t Pretty, but it’s busy!


Many years ago, my old pal T.S. Hoover and I would make a project of photographing the old New Haven Railroad during the holiday season.

This past New Years Eve (December 31 2018), I maintained this tradition, although that wasn’t my intent!

I was transferring from Amtrak 405 from Springfield to Amtrak 195 from Boston. Let’s just say the Boston train wasn’t holding to the advertised and I had ample time to wander around and make photographs of the passing action.

New Haven isn’t pretty,  high level platforms combined with a plethora of poles, catenary masts, catenary, signs, garbage, stray wires and other visual clutter hasn’t improved this classic setting, but there’s a great variety of equipment on the move.

Shoreline East lurking on left, CT Rail Hartford Line on right; FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
CT Rail Hartford Line train. Lumix LX7 photo.
Shoreline East train with a former Amtrak P40 at the back departs eastward for Old Saybrook. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Metro North M8s on left, old M2s on the right. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens..

No GG1s, RDCs, FL9s, E8s or other relics that made this a fascinating place when I was a teenager. For that matter there weren’t any E60s, AEM-7s, F40s or SPV-2000s either.

Boston-bound Acela Express. Lumix LX7 photo.

Boston-bound Acela Express. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

And finally, train 195! Hooray! Lumix LX7 photo.

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Lumix LX-‘Mark3’ with Low Sun.


Back in October 2018, I reported how my old Lumix LX7 suffered a failure owning to being drowned two days in a row.

Later I reported how I resuscitated the camera by leaving it in a zip lock bag with rice for four days in an effort to dry it out.

For two months the camera struggled on.

In the mean time my old friend Ken Buck offered to sell me his rarely used LX7.

Last week I took him up on the offer, as my original LX7 had finally reached the end of its usefulness.

The other day, I put the ‘new’ Lumix LX7 to the test and made these photos of Amtrak 57, the Saturday southward Vermonter making its station stop at Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

Low sun is a key to dramatic railway photos, and shortly before the train arrived, the clouds parted.

This is now my third Lumix LX-series camera. My first was a LX3, that I used from October 2009 to April 2014; my second was the ‘Zombie Lumix’ previously described.  Long live my third Lumix!

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Amtrak Sunset at Beaumont, Texas.

Sunset Sunsets Part 3.

This was a long stop with a crew change; the New Orleans crew exchanged for a crew to take the train to San Antonio.

I had about ten minutes to wander around and make photos before we were westward bound again.

These views were exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1 with Zeiss Touit lens.

What amazed me was how quickly the sun sets in Texas in December. Not long after the train was underway again, I noticed the sky was completely dark.

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Amtrak at Lafayette, Louisiana—Monday December 17, 2018.


Traveling on Amtrak’s Sunset Limited on our way from New Orleans to Houston, the train made a long station stop at Lafayette, Louisiana.

Well it was long enough for me to get out for a few minutes and expose a few photos.

It was 22 years and 11 months ago that I gave a lecture in Lafayette. That was my last visit here, and it seems like a lifetime ago.

Photos were exposed with my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens, adjusted in Lightroom for contrast and saturation.

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Six Sunset (Limited) Views: New Orleans and Mississippi River.

Departing New Orleans, I settled in Amtrak’s glass-lined observation lounge.

Here I made photos as we navigated the maze of trackage on both sides of the massive Huey P. Long bridge over the Mississippi River.

More Sunset (Limited) views to follow on Tracking the Light.

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A Dozen Views from the Crescent.

Exploring the train, gazing out at the rolling panorama and nipping off for moments during station stops allows for snapshots of our journey.

Below are just a few of many views exposed on the way to New Orleans on Amtrak’s Crescent.

Gainesville, Georgia.

Gainesville, Georgia.
Breakfast in the diner.
Georgia-Alabama border.

Station stop at Anniston, Alabama.

Near Anniston, Alabama.

Rolling south on the old Southern Railway toward Birmingham.

Frisco 2-8-2 displayed near Birmingham, Alabama.

Baldwin switcher near Birmingham.

Birmingham, Alabama.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Meridian, Mississippi.

Meridian, Mississippi.

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Amtrak’s Crescent at Birmingham, Alabama.

Well I can tick off this state. December 16, 2018, I made my first ever photo on the ground in Alabama, when I got off the Crescent during its station stop.

Using the rear display extended, I held my FujiFilm XT1 low to the platform for this dynamic angle of Amtrak P42 126 that was leading train 19 southward toward New Orleans.

Ten minutes later I was in the diner and on the roll southward again.

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Washington Union Station in the Rain.


On Saturday evening, December 15, 2018 we had almost 45 minutes to wander around the platform at Washington Union Station as Amtrak changed engines on train 19, the Crescent bound for New Orleans.

Rain, mist and artificial light made for some atmosphere.

I exposed these views hand-held using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. 

I’m uploading the photos live from the train at Charlottesville, Virginia for a scheduled posting on Tracking the Light on Sunday morning December 16, 2018.

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Live from Amtrak’s Crescent.

Live from Amtrak’s Crescent.

This evening we boarded Amtrak’s Crescent, train 19,at Wilmington, Delaware. 

Although, dull and about to drizzle, I made this late afternoon photos at the former Pennsylvania Railroad station using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1.’

Lumix LX7 photo at Wilmington, Delaware.
Amtrak train 156; Lumix LX7 photo at Wilmington, Delaware.
Amtrak ACS64 651 on train 156; Lumix LX7 photo at Wilmington, Delaware.
Train 161 at Wilmington, Delaware. Lumix LX7 photo.
Wilmington, Delaware. Lumix LX7 photo.
Amtrak’s Crescent at Wilmington. FujiFilm XT-1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
Viewliner sleepers on Amtrak’s Crescent at Wilmington. FujiFilm XT-1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
Hall of mirrors! FujiFilm XT-1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit. 

I’ve adjusted the camera RAW files in Lightroom to boost color saturation and contrast in an effort to improve the overall appearance of the photos.

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Inky Gloom at Wilmington, Delaware.

Last night a damp inky gloom greeted us as we alighted from Amtrak’s Vermonter at the former Pennsylvania Railroad station at Wilmington, Delaware.

A SEPTA Silverliner V electric multiple unit set sat on the opposite platforms waiting to depart for Philadelphia.

I made several exposures with my Lumix LX7. Working with the RAW files in Lightroom, I maximize the amount of visual information in the photos by lightening shadows and darkening highlights while adjusting contrast and color saturation.

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Engine Change at New Haven.

It’s the ‘blue hour’ at New Haven, Connecticut.

Amtrak’s Vermonter is one of a few trains that still changes engines at New Haven, as result of it running through from non-electrified territory to the north.

In the case of Amtrak 55, the common GE-built P42 diesel (number 192) was exchanged for a Siemens-built ACS-64 high-voltage electric. 

Amtrak added a coach to the front of the train too. A wise move considering how crowded this train is.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1, I set the camera to ISO 1600 and the white balance to ‘auto’, and made some photos from the platform during our 24-minute pause at New Haven Union Station.

Many years ago, my late friend Bob Buck recalled to me a story of a child gazing out the window at the steam, smoke and wires, “Pa, is this hell?” “No son, this is New Haven!”

Video uploaded from my iPhone.

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Posting Live from Amtrak Train 55!

I’m traveling toward Wilmington, Delaware aboard Amtrak Train 55, the southward Vermonter. 

The train is now approaching its station stop at Meriden, Connecticut.

It was announced that from Hartford the train was completely sold out. Thus demonstrating that old adage no one rides trains anymore because they’re too crowded!

I exposed these photos with my FujFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens.

As we roll along, the files were downloaded to my MacBook using Image Capture software, scaled for internet using Lightroom, and uploaded via Amtrak’s WiFi to WordPress for presentation on Tracking the Light.

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Views from the Lake Shore Limited at Rochester, New York.

View from Amtrak 48 at Rochester’s new station. 

Heading east on the back of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited,  I exposed these views from the dutch doors of Silver Splendorat Rochester, New York on its cross country journey.

Photographer, Otto Vondrak caught us at the Rochester station,  a place much changed from my visits here in the 1980s.

A westward CSX local meets Amtrak in Rochester, New York. Lumix LX7 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo of a westward CSX local freight.

FujiFilm XT1 photo of a westward CSX local freight.

CSX local at Goodman Street Yard in Rochester. FujiFilm XT1.
Amtrak 48 at Goodman Street Yard, Rochester, New York.

Seeing the ‘new’ Rochester from the windows of the train was a bit surreal.

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Chicago Metra in Transition—November 2018

In recent months, Chicago Metra has been painting its older EMD diesels in a modern livery.

My first experience seeing these old engines in new dress was approaching Chicago Union Station on Amtrak number 4.

I made these views ‘on the fly’ from the dutch door of former Burlington Vista Dome Silver Splendor(nee Silver Buckle) that was rolling over old home rails on the last lap of the run from Los Angeles.

I worked with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a 18-135mm zoom lens, which gave me necessary compositional flexibly as the scenes rapidly changed.

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BNSF on the move in Missouri.

Rolling east on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, I made a variety of photos of BNSF freights from the train as we crossed Missouri on the way from Kansas City to Chicago.

Here we have one view from a Superliner, one from the dutch door of Silver Splendor and one from that car’s panoramic dome.

Over taking an eastward freight as viewed from Silver Splendor’s dome. FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo from the dutch door. A BNSF westward stack near Bosworth, Missouri.

Along the Mississippi near Ft Madison, Iowa, the view from an Amtrak Superliner. FujiFilm XT1 photo.

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Kansas City: Amtrak, a Dome and a Streetcar!

I’d never experienced Kansas City by rail before.

This was just a brief visit, a mere layover while Amtrak no4Southwest Chiefchanged crews and dropped off and collected passengers.

I made photos of the car I’d been traveling in: former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Budd Vista-Dome Silver Splendor (nee: Silver Buckle).

I like the contrast between the 1956-build streamlined dome and the nearly new Siemens Charger diesel-electric.

Kansas City Icon; FujiFilm XT1 photo.

Crew change for No.4 at Kansas City. FujiFIlm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

Old and new: FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

The modern streetcar was a surprise. I’d forgotten that Kansas City had recently re-adopted this classic form of transport.

Soon we were rolling east toward Chicago!

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Amtrak’s Southwest Chief Sunrise at Argentine, Kansas.

Two weeks ago Amtrak’s Southwest Chief greeted a frosty sunrise at BNSF’s sprawling Argentine Yards, west of Kansas City.

I made these digital photographs from the dome and vestibule of Silver Splendor,the former CB&Q Vista-Dome in which I was traveling cross-country.

A rosy sunrise tints my perspective; it sure made this famous yard look like a neat place.

BNSF westbound at Argentine Yard.

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Dusk at Raton, New Mexico.

These days the only regular trains to use the old Santa Fe Raton Pass crossing are Amtrak 3 and 4, the Southwest Chief. The days of helpers over the three percent are all but a memory.

This day two weeks ago: Arriving on No.4, we had more than ten minutes at Raton to stretch our legs and take in the mountain air.

I used the opportunity to make some twilight images of Silver Splendor, the Budd-built Vista-Dome that I was traveling on.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and Zeiss 12mm Touit lens, I exposed several views in the blue glow of evening. Dusk is a great time to balance the light inside the passenger car with outside illumination.

f2.8 1/15th of a second, ISO 1600.

f3.6 1/15th of a second, ISO 1600.

f3.2 1/15th of a second, ISO 1600.

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Semaphores on the Santa Fe—Five Photos.

Between Albuquerque and Raton Pass (on the New Mexico-Colorado state line) I counted three bastions of Union Switch & Signal style-T2 upper quadrant semaphores on our journey over the former Santa Fe in Vista-Dome Silver Splendor.

I watched the blades drop from the vertical as we passed—a scene I’d not witnessed for many years.

The view of a semaphore dropping from ‘clear’ to ‘stop and proceed’ as seen from Vista Dome Silver Splendor on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

Lumix LX7 photo near Las Vegas, New Mexico.

East of Las Vegas, New Mexico. FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

In 2018, these signals represent the last large collections of active semaphores on any North American mainline.

The Style T2 was detailed in my book Classic Railroad Signals in a sidebar titled ‘Sante Fe Semaphores Survive in New Mexico’ by John Ryan and the late John Gruber.

Classic Railroad Signals was published by Voyageur Press in 2015. It is available at:

https://www.quartoknows.com/books/9780760346921/Classic-Railroad-Signals.html?direct=1

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‘Santa Fe All the Way!’ Arizona Sunrise Rolling East on the BNSF Transcon.

Last week, I awoke to sunrise east of Flagstaff, Arizona riding in Budd Vista Dome Silver Splendor as it traveled east on Amtrak no.4, the Southwest Chief.

The luxurious 1956-built stainless steel dome is a classic car from America’s streamlined era.

It was on its way to a new home on the East coast after years being based in California.

The pleasure of traveling in a Vista Dome is enjoying its comfortable elevated panoramic view of the passing scenery. An added bonus on BNSF’s former Santa Fe Transcon is the unceasing parade of freights.

Sunrise on the Santa Fe east of Flagstaff, Arizona on November 18, 2018. Notice the headlight of an approaching BNSF freight.

Sunrise on the Santa Fe east of Flagstaff, Arizona on November 18, 2018.

Overtaking an eastward BNSF freight east of Dennison, Arizona. 90mm view.

Rolling east at Winslow, Arizona. 90mm view from Silver Splendor.

These images were exposed digitally using my FujiFilm X-T1. Some of the photos were adjusted in post processing to compensate for the dome’s tinted glass.

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Tracking the Light Extra: Fullerton by Night—Dome Car on the Southwest Chief.

Saturday evening, November 17, 2018, Amtrak’s Southwest Chief—train number 4—made its scheduled station stop at Fullerton, California, its first after departing Los Angeles Union Station.

Budd Vista Dome Silver Splendor  was in consist on its big trip east.

The dome was met by some of its California fans who waited trackside to see it off on its journey.

Silver Splendor was making the trek to its new home on the East Coast after many years entertaining travelers in the West.

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, train no.4, pauses at Fullerton, California.

Former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Budd-built Vista Dome on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief at Fullerton, California on November 17, 2018.

Fullerton, California.

A view East on the old Santa Fe at Fullerton. Seven hours earlier I’d been making photos from that footbridge.

I exposed these views hand-held using my FujiFilm X-T1.

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Palms, Sun and Glass: Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center.

I prefer the term  ‘Anaheim Station’.

Last week, working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens, I exposed these digital photos of one of California’s most modern, and most impressive railway stations.

This is such an impressive looking building that I drove past it while I was trying to find it!

Slightly diffused mid-morning sun made for nearly ideal lighting to make the most of this facility.

Would front lighting make for a better photo?

Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center is abbreviated ‘ARTIC’.

Backlit diffused sun with overhead skylights made for a difficult exposure.

View with a 12mm Touit lens.

Footbridge to go from the station building to the Metrolink platforms.