A little while ago, I changed from Amtrak 493 to Amtrak 93. In the the ten minute interval, a Metro-North train arrived from Grand Central and Amtrak Acela (train 2154) made its station stop at the adjacent platform.
The good news, Amtrak 93 is very well patronized, with at least 40 passengers transferring from the shuttle. The bad news, I’m wedged into train 93 which was already pretty crowded. Yet it beats driving on I-95! (And is cheaper too).
They were Budd’s follow up to its successful stainless steel rail diesel cars built in the 1950s. But where Budd’s RDCs had established standards for self propelled diesel cars, Budd’s SPV-2000 didn’t measure up.
I think ‘SPV’ was supposed to mean ‘Self Propelled Vehicle,’ but all the railroaders I knew called them ‘Seldom Powered Vehicles.’
These were adapted from the original Budd Metroliner (MP85) car style and in the same family as Amtrak’s Budd-built Amfleet.
For a few years they were routinely assigned to Amtrak’s Springfield, Massachusetts-New Haven, Connecticut shuttle trains.
I admit now that I didn’t like the SPVs. I didn’t like them because they were new, and I much preferred the traditional RDCs. Also, at the time, I found the round car style un-photogenic.
Despite my dislike of the SPV’s, I photographed them anyway. While I wish that I’d made more photos of them, I’m very glad that I bothered to put them on film at all.
As it turned out, Amtrak appears to have disliked the SPV’s even more than I did! Their tenure on the Springfield run was short. By 1986, they’d been largely replaced with locomotive hauled consists. Other than my own photographs, I’ve seen very few images of these cars working on Amtrak.
Here’s an irony: in retrospect I’ve come to appreciate the SPV’s. They were a rare example of a modern American-built self-propel diesel car, and to my well-traveled eye, I now find them very interesting. So, what seemed new and common, now seems rare and peculiar!
I was driving west on I-84 aiming for the Hudson River. It was a bitterly cold autumn morning before dawn and the sky above was a clear blue dome. I made a spot decision, to get off the highway and make a few photos around the old New Haven Railroad station.
I exposed this view of Metro-North FL9 2023 with the iconic silhouette of the station’s Italianate clock tower beyond. The locomotive was one of several restored in its as-built 1950s-era New Haven paint scheme.
The combination of the early hour and frosty conditions provided for an almost surreal light, but little in the way of personal comfort.
Using my Nikon F3T fitted with a 35mm perspective control lens; I composed this view with the camera mounted on a Bogen 3021 tripod with ball head. By keeping the camera level and adjusting the shift on the front element of the PC lens, I kept the vertical elements parallel.
I continued my drive west, and the rest of the day was spent productively along the former New York Central Hudson Division between Peekskill and Beacon, New York.
Fortuitous Encounter with the Highest Numbered P42.
On June 26, 2012, I was changing trains at New Haven, Connecticut while on my way to Philadelphia. I’d come in on the Springfield-New Haven shuttle. This was a push-pull set consisting of a former Metroliner cab car and an Amfleet coach pushed by Amtrak 207.
While on the platform I made a few images of this General Electric locomotive using my Lumix LX3 and my dad’s Leica M4 (loaded with Fuji Acros 100 black & white film).
It was only later that it occurred to me that 207 is the highest numbered Amtrak Genesis P42.This nominal fact doesn’t make the photos any better, but I thought it was interesting and significant. Firsts and lasts have been long be marked by railway photographers.
What impressed me about 207 was that it was relatively clean and the paint was in good shape. This is a contrast with many of Amtrak’s P42s that have a battle-worn appearance.
At 11:11 am on November 16, 1992, I made this image of double-headed AEM-7s leading train 169 The Mayflower passing the interlocking at South Norwalk on the former New Haven Railroad mainline.
This was a routine event. I don’t recall anything unusual or noteworthy about the train itself. I was playing with a Tokina f5.6 400mm lens I’d recently purchased secondhand. I made this photo with that lens attached to my Nikon F3T on Kodachrome 25.
My exposure-notes indicate that the lens was at its widest aperture and the camera at 1/125 of a second. I probably had the camera on my Bogen 3021 tripod as I doubt I would have tried to hand hold the 400mm lens at 1/125th of second.
Telephoto lens compression with truss-bridges under the old New Haven catenary makes for a tunnel-like effect, while giving context to the crossovers.
At that time, Amtrak’s AEM-7s were still in their ‘as delivered’ condition with their original paint scheme. These powerful little locomotives have been the backbone of Amtrak’s electrified operations for more than three decades. Their day in the sun will soon end; replacements are on their way.