Thursday, October 8, 2020

Rail Photography Can't Always Be Perfect... a Lesson For Flat-Landers & Super Picky Rail-Photo Websites

Rail Photography Can't Always Be Perfect... a Lesson For Flat-Landers & Super Picky Rail-Photo Websites
by Jonelle DeFelice

Some railfan photo sites are so picky, they will reject an image submission just because of a blade of grass in the "wrong" place. Or perhaps there's a tiny shadow on a locomotive's windshield.  Well, they seem to think all railfans live in a perfect world of straight rails, great lighting, lots of trains, and absolutely NOTHING to get in the way of a perfect photo.

This photo from Shirley MA during late September is to show what we in Massachusetts have to put up with: Odd sun angles & shadows, curvy tracks, lots of trees, power lines & poles, signs, auto traffic, you name it. And this is a relatively clean commuter track (for now). Get past Fitchburg and things change... they become even harder.  

"Perfect" photos are a lot harder to get in this neck of the woods than railfans in "the flat lands" can ever understand...

Oh, and the above photo is the best I could get as the train rounded the curve.  Point made?

Here is an uncropped shot from Westford Station (MA) on a sunny September day.  Despite the fact this ROW is just about IN the parking lot of a popular walking trail, most eastbound freights will look like this.  Try to grab an eastbound and you need to stand someplace "photogenic" but also SAFE.  Recent trackwork means lineside weeds are gone... for THIS season...

Another uncropped shot from the same location.  This image from a cloudy Autumn day would probably still get rejected because of the sky.  You may not know this, but skies are not always clear blue.  That pile of ties and rail?  Well, that isn't "perfect".  And those signals aren't lit... why not?

This is a westbound work train at  the same location 3/2020.  Better lighting... sorta of.  You can see it was a nice sunny day.  But there are parked cars, moving cars, dead weeds, and yes, odd lighting.  Nothing you can do about it either, unless you stand closer to the road crossing, then you have the gates to contend with and also you need to be safely away from the train itself.  

ZOOMS are your friend.  But I couldn't get nice, well lit shots of the consist.  Had I stood on the other side of the track, which is closer to the rails, I probably would have had shadows to contend with there as well and the angle would have been bad.  I also would have received nasty looks from the crew for being too close to the train.

Here is that crossing during August of 2018.  Yet again... POINT MADE.

Here is a rather rare shot of an MBTA welded rail train at Belmont MA.  No place to stand other than the station platforms.  From this side, you have good light but the angle is sharp.  Oh, and those ties, they may interest some but to make it onto some rail-photo sites you better just delete this one... 

Uncropped, unedited photo of the same train, same location, but to get the train into the shot, I needed to cross the track.  Now lighting stinks.

This Belmont photo is SUPER rare... Pan Am Railways detour freight EDNM 4/3/10.  Also uncropped, we have GREAT lighting on the locomotives BUT only for a split second... soon the shadows will ruin things and the train will be too close to me to get a nice broadside photo.  I couldn't stand further down the platform because the track has a tight curve.

In closing, here is a rather NICE photo... nice lighting, interesting subject... OH BUT WHAT are those things blocking the view at center-left??  Nature??

Welcome to freight railroading in Eastern Massachusetts...

Monday, October 5, 2020

MBTA Forecasts New Orange, Red Line Fleets Will Be Delayed at Least 1 Year


The full transformation of the Red and Orange Line fleets will be delayed by at least a year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and pre-existing manufacturing issues, MBTA officials announced Monday.

Under its contract with Chinese manufacturer CRRC, the MBTA expected to have a fleet of new Orange Line cars delivered by January 2022 and a fleet of new Red Line cars by September 2023. 

The Orange Line delivery is now projected to be 15 months late and arrive in April 2023, while the Red Line set is running a year late and is expected to be done in September 2024, according to MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville. 

With those delays, the T also pushed back its target for running trains more frequently with shorter headways to summer 2023 for the Orange Line and winter 2024 for the Red Line. 

Gonneville said the T's contract with CRRC includes language allowing the agency to seek damages for delays and that officials intend to explore its possible application.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Empty Bow NH Coal Train at West Chelmsford MA 3/17/20

Empty Bow (NH) coal train passes through West Chelmsford MA on a dreary St. Patrick's Day (3/17/20). Power was MEC/Pan Am 7620/7535/7542. It was strange seeing CSX coal cars instead of NS ones!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

West End Hoosac Tunnel Liner Collapse

There has been a failure of the liner on the west end of Hoosac Tunnel, causing debris to partly cover the track.

Norfolk Southern has issued the following press release:

Feb 12, 2020

Norfolk Southern’s partner, Pan Am Railways, has reported a partial wall collapse in the Hoosac Tunnel which affects all trains operating between Mechanicsville, New York, and Ayer, Massachusetts.  Pan Am Railway’s engineering department is evaluating the situation and Norfolk Southern will provide updates as they are available.  Customers with traffic in the affected area should expect delays of at least 48 hours.

Videos are starting to be posted of the collapse

Monday, December 9, 2019

More Than 20 Arrested in Blockades of Train Delivering Coal to N.H. Power Plant

(SOURCE: Boston Globe) 

Protesters blocked railroad freight tracks in Worcester, Ayer, and Hooksett, N.H., on Saturday and Sunday, trying to keep a train from delivering coal to a New Hampshire power plant.

“In 2019, there’s no reason for us to still be burning coal,” said Marla Marcum, director of the Climate Disobedience Center. “We’re tired of paying for it. We’re tired of paying for the kind of plant that pollutes the river and causes asthma and contributes to climate change.”

The train was delivering coal to Merrimack Station, a power plant in Bow, N.H. The protests were part of an ongoing effort to shut down the coal power plant.

No injuries were reported. Protesters called the train’s dispatchers before they blocked the tracks so as not to take engineers by surprise, Marcum said.

In Worcester on Saturday, protesters were given warnings and left the railroad tracks without being arrested, Marcum said.

In Ayer, police arrested 12 people on charges of trespassing on railroad property Sunday. All were released on personal recognizance and scheduled to appear in Ayer District Court, Ayer Police Deputy Chief Brian Gill said.

Bow Coal Train 1/26/10
Another 12 people were arrested on a railroad bridge in Hooksett, where they had hung an anti-coal banner, said Rebecca Beaulieu, a climate organizer with 350 New Hampshire, a climate advocacy organization.

They were charged with trespassing and are due in court in January.

Coal Protesters Arrested for Blocking Train in Ayer MA

(SOURCE:  Lowell Sun)

AYER — Environmental activists brandishing signs protesting the use of gas and coal were arrested after they blocked the path of an oncoming freight train during the early morning hours Sunday, authorities say.

Between 15 and 20 protesters — bundled in winter gear — were found by police standing on the train tracks at about 3:45 a.m., according to the Ayer Police Department Facebook page. The group held signs that stated, “Stop the coal trains,” and “Coal Kills.”

After the protesters refused to leave the tracks, Ayer Police said they contacted state police and police departments in Groton, Harvard, Littleton and Shirley to assist at the scene.

According to police, 12 protesters were taken into custody and charged with trespassing on railroad property. They will be arraigned in Ayer District Court on Monday.

The names of the protesters facing charges were not immediately available.

An investigation into the protest forced Ayer Police Sgt. John MacDonald to break away from a motor vehicle accident involving a car into a tree, according to the police Facebook post.