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.
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.
Back in the summer of 1981, I was changing trains at New Haven, Connecticut and made this photograph of a new Budd-SPV2000 assigned to the New Haven-Springfield shuttle.
Until I scanned this photo, I didn’t realize I’d made a photo of Amtrak’s short-lived LRC tilting train. Look in the distance to the right of the SPV-2000 and you’ll see the Canadian-built tilting train.
No one ever told me you shouldn’t point the camera into the sun!
I exposed this grab shot in New Haven, Connecticut as I was changing trains with my mother and brother (you can see my mother in silhouette at left).
As the Amtrak RDCs pulled into the platform I made a couple of black & white photos with my Leica 3A.
At the time I was delighted because the leading RDC was still lettered for the New Haven Railroad. At the time this seemed like a relic from another age, but looking back it had only been about 11 years since New Haven Railroad’s demise.
Pity I didn’t have a wider lens, but it’s just as well I didn’t know anything about how you were supposed to make photos. If I had, I might not have made this one!
I used to say that with Conrail operations you needed a score-card to figure out what was going on, and by the time you figured out there was too much information to put on a slide mount.
It hasn’t become any easier: Here were have the former New York, New Haven & Hartford electrified four-track main line. New Haven was absorbed by Penn-Central in 1969 (although Penn-Central itself was created from the merger of Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central in 1968). PC collapsed financially and resulted in Congress creating the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail).
However, during this time ownership of the Northeast Corridor (comprised in part by the New Haven mainline) was separated from Conrail, with most of the Boston to Washington route conveyed to Amtrak. Except portions of the electrified line west of New Haven that were instead conveyed to the states of Connecticut and New York.
[Clarification: In the aftermath of Penn-Central bankruptcy, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority assumed financial responsibility for the New York portion of suburban services, with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (C-Dot) supporting Connecticut operations on former New Haven Lines—details from my book Railroad Family Trees published by Voyageur Press.]
Yet, initially Conrail continued to provided freight and suburban operations. When Conrail exited the commuter business at the end of 1982, Metro-North assumed suburban operations.
So what’s this? Oh, well this is a former Amtrak P40 (technically a General Electric GENESIS— Series 1, model DASH 8-40BP) working for Shore Line East, which is another Connecticut sponsored passenger operator. Today SLE operates diesel-powered suburban trains between New London and New Haven. A few of these services continue west under wire to Stamford.
However, not all trains carry passengers. (Trains are moved empty to be in position for loading).
Also, as a tribute to the old New Haven Railroad, some SLE equipment is lettered New Haven using the traditional font and livery.
The result is we have an empty diesel-powered passenger train underwire on the former New Haven, partially lettered for the former New Haven.
So for a caption we could try:
Ex-Amtrak P40 (DASH8-40BP) 834 leads westbound Shore Line East train 1169 (deadhead) under wire at West Haven on Metro-North’s former New Haven Railroad mainline at 3:53 pm on January 29, 2016.
Stop for a moment and gauge the passage of time and your relative perception of it.
I made this photograph about 1980. I’d been fascinated by the New Haven Railroad, and what I saw here I viewed then as a relic of times long gone.
The old railroads such as the New Haven were those that my dad had photographed back in the days of sunny Kodachrome.
At the time, I made this view of old New Haven cars at New Haven, Connecticut, I was 13. Conrail was then only 4 years old (formed on April 1, 1976), yet for me even its predecessor, Penn-Central was already a foggy memory.
Looking back now, to me it doesn’t seem so long ago that Conrail vanished (Its operations ended in 1999). And yet, for point of comparison Conrail been gone almost four years longer (17 years) than I’d been alive at the time I made the photo.
What is interesting? What seems old?
In a high-school math class, I once remarked to my teacher, Mr. Ed Lucas, “Time and your perception of time are in inverse proportions to each other. The more time you experience, the faster it seems to go by.”
He replied, “That’s awfully profound for someone your age!”
Before Christmas, I related this story over dinner. However, I was stunned to learn a little more than a week later that Ed Lucas passed away on New Years eve.
It doesn’t seem so long since I sat in his class, and yet in another way it also seems like the dawn of time (or my perception of time)!
I boarded at New Haven Union station and I’m on my way to Wilmington, Delaware. This is my first-ever Amtrak trip to Wilmington.
Tonight, Thursday, October 15, 2015, I’ll be presenting an illustrated talk on railways in Ireland and Britain to the Wilmington Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
I’ll be showing original 35mm color slides that span 18 years worth of photographic adventures.
According to the Chapter’s website:
The Wilmington Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society meets at 7:00 PM on the third Thursday of each month (except August and December) at the Claymont Community Center, on Green Street in Claymont, Delaware.
Reporting live from Amtrak train 54, The Vermonter, on June 27, 2015. During our engine change at New Haven—electric locomotive 914 was replaced with Genesis diesel 102—I made photos of Amtrak’s Boston-Washington Acela Express, train 2253 arriving at New Haven.
No engine change needed for the Acela express! The total elapsed time on the platform was just two minutes.
Imagine the time savings for the Vermonter if it ran with a dual-mode diesel-electric—electric, such as the Bombardier locomotives used by NJ Transit!
Photos exposed with my Lumix LX7.
Tracking the Light post new material every single day!
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).
Today’s post is a follow up to both of yesterday’s posts, which covered my experiments with the Lumix LX-7 and the beginning of my adventure to Spencer.
As covered in yesterday’s Tracking the Light Special Post, I was traveling on Amtrak’s two-car shuttle, scheduled as train 475, which runs from Springfield, Massachusetts to New Haven, Connecticut to connect with Boston-Washington train 175. I sent my post from the train.
Amtrak 475 arrived early in New Haven, giving me about 15 minutes to wander around making photographs. I’m continuing to test my father’s Panasonic Lumix LX-7, and there was some nice low sun to work with.
I was keen to photograph the Shore Line East train which features a ‘GP40-2H’ locomotive in the classic New Haven Railroad McGinnis livery.
I also fished out my Canon EOS3, that was buried in the depths of my camera bag, and exposed a few frames of Fuji Velvia 100 of the New Haven painted commuter engine. My hand held Minolta IV light meter aided my exposure; f5.6 1/500th.
It will be a few weeks yet before I see the slides, so for now we can settle for the Lumix instant digital images (that’s what they are for, right?)
New Haven in the early evening is a busy place. In addition to Metro-North trains coming and going, an Acela bound for Boston was arriving on Track 4, just as Amtrak 175 approached Track 1.
I exposed a series of images of train 175, hauled by venerable Amtrak AEM7 number 943. How many millions of miles has this old electric have to its credit? Low sun and the angle of the curve made for a nice grab shot from the Boston-end of the passenger platform.
Certainly, I found that the Lumix LX-7 has its moments, although the differences in the controls (as compared with my old LX-3) befuddled me a couple of times. Traveling on 175 was comfortable, but the WiFi on the train wasn’t working. I arrived in Trenton at the last glow of daylight.
I’m just getting warmed up, so stay tuned! (or what ever the Internet equivalent is to that old radio term).
I used my trip on Amtrak 475/175 as an opportunity to make a few photographs. While I had some bigger cameras in my bag, I exposed all of these images with my Lumix LX3.
I boarded shuttle train 475 at Berlin, Connecticut just as the sun was setting. By the time I arrived in New Haven, only a faint blue glow remained of daylight.
I didn’t have a tripod with me, so I used the station signs and other available flat surfaces on the platform to steady the camera. To avoid camera shake, after composing my image, I set the self timer to 2 seconds and press the shutter button.
Also, I overexposed each image by 1/3 to 2/3s of a stop to compensate for the prevailing darkness.
The trip was uneventful. Amtrak is my preferred means for navigating between cities in the Northeastern USA.
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.
Between the 1960s and the 1980s, Northeastern commuter rail operations made the transition from private to public operation.
In 1983, after more than a decade of various forms of subsidy, operation of commuter rail service radiating from Grand Central Terminal on former New Haven and New York Central Railroad routes was conveyed to Metro-North (an affiliate of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority).
Thirty years later, Metro-North is one of America’s busiest commuter railways.
It embodies a curious aesthetic by blending infrastructure and classic architecture from the golden age of railroading with utilitarian modern railway equipment, while offering convenient no-frills public transport.
The days of boarding a well appointed parlor car on New Haven Railroad’s exclusive, luxurious Merchants Limited at Grand Central Terminal for the run to Boston ended long ago. Likewise, New York Central’s New York-Chicago all-sleeper extra-fare Twentieth Century Limited is now the stuff of legend.
When the new Grand Central Terminal opened in 1913, it was the grandest and most opulent railway station in the world. It represented the power of private capital, and was New York Central’s gift to New York City.
On June 29, 2013, I made a foray in to Metro-North territory. Since I’m not a regular commuter, I have the privilege of enjoying my travels on Metro-North trains, which included my first spin on a new M-8 electric multiple unit.
See: Tracking the Light on July 3, 2013 for Metro-North Anniversaries Part 2!
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