45 Seconds at EWR Station

One of the nice things about waiting to see a train at the NJT / Amtrak Newark International Airport Station is that you’re generally going to see trains, especially if you’re waiting during rush hour.

Occasionally, you’ll see multiple trains at once – I’ve been able to capture three trains at once in a still image.  Not a great still image mind you, or else I’d be posting and talking about that, but I’ve done it.  There are times where it’s a busy 45 seconds at Newark.  And there are times it all comes together.

So there I was with my trusty Icon, and a southbound Amtrak Acela was coming through.  So, I set up for it and started the video before the train entered the viewfinder.  There’s a neat thing that happens in advance of a fast moving train on continuous welded rail – the rails start to “sing” before the train gets there.  As I set up at a bit of an angle to the tracks, if you turn the volume up – you can hear this before you see the train.  It’s pretty neat.  I’m sure that there’s a technical explanation and term for this phenomenon, but I’m going to go with singing…


And the Acela slides on through the station.  Then, I hear another train behind me – I have no idea what it is or what track it’s on, and I can’t turn around without really screwing up this hand-held video.  So, I try to stay still and just keep the video rolling.  I let it roll until the northbound Amtrak is out of view.  Until 45 seconds at Newark are memorialized.

An Amtrak local comes into view, cab car first.  Ok, that works!  And then, in the golden light of late afternoon, I hear the “psst”s (yeah, I know that’s not a word, but I don’t know how else to try to phonetically describe the sound) of the locomotive – and I still can’t turn around to see it.  And then, an AEM-7 in push mode glides by me.

And I’m happy, because I finally got a great video clip of an AEM-7 in sweet light!  You see, the AEM-7’s are being replaced after 30+ years, and I don’t get an opportunity to see them very often, let alone get a video in sweet light.  For all I know, this is the last time I’ll get an AEM-7 on video.  So, it was a good day.

One day, I might even find that miracle tripod that you can take with you on a whirlwind transcontinental business trip.

In the meantime, enjoy, hand-held and all!



Amtrak on the Northeast Corridor

As I’ve been moving and organizing and backing up image files, I stumbled across some iPhone images of passenger railroading on the Northeast Corridor, and I’ll be adding a few small galleries to share images of how others travel and commute.

The first of these galleries will be of Amtrak.

Several of these images are instant history, as the 900-series AEM-7 locomotives are well into their 30’s and are being replaced by new locomotives.

The AEM-7 is based on the Swedish Rc4 locomotive design, and was produced by the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) of General Motors from 1978 to 1988.  You can learn more about the AEM-7 on Wikipedia and also on Amtrak’s archives which also discuss Amtrak’s other electric locomotives.  (Amtrak’s history website is well worth a visit on its’ own merits.)

If you’ve never been around trains powered by electric locomotives, it’s different because they’re quiet.  Very quiet.  If the engineer doesn’t blow the horn, sometimes your only clue is the sound of the wind created by the train.  If the wind is blowing the sound the other way, you might not even get that.  It’s actually pretty neat to experience it.

2013_08_21 16.24.10 c&a 480wm

I often travel by Amtrak between work locations in CT, NJ and MD – it’s really the only way to go.  Public transportation on the East Coast may not be perfect, but it’s pretty darned close if your basis for comparison is the Los Angeles area. The photo above was taken at the Newark International Airport Station (yes, we do have shreds of logic where different modes of transportation connect!).

Out here, the transportation planners seem to have figured out that it’s a good idea to put light rail transit (modern streetcars) in where they tore up the rails that carried passenger trains and electric streetcars long ago.  As Homer Simpson would say, “Duh”.  Makes you wonder why they tore up the rails in the first place, but don’t get me started…

So, if you’ve always wondered what the trains look like “over there” and you’re curious, waste a little time and head over to the Amtrak on the Northeast Corridor Gallery on Laughing Frog Images.