A few weeks ago, my wife and I headed down to New York City for the long (Family Day in Ontario, Presidents Day in the US) weekend. As we couldn’t fly, we decided to try taking the train. When we first planned it out, we considered taking the VIA/Amtrak Maple Leaf service from Toronto Union station. A quick check of the Amtrak website showed a much more convenient schedule using the Empire Service that originates in Fort Erie, passing through Buffalo en route to New York Penn Station. This service follows the classic New York Central Water Level Route, which I’ll show more of in a subsequent post. This was also cheaper and offered business class seats at a very low upgrade price.
We left directly from my work on the 15th and crossed the border at Niagara Falls. We stayed over night in Buffalo, so we could be up to get the train at 8am from Buffalo Depew station. On the 16th, we left the hotel and headed along the interstate highways (encountering some traffic that made my stress levels increase dramatically), and got to the station.
There was a good amount of people already there, so I had to park my car a fair distance from the station. Getting into the terminal, my wife picked up our tickets (both for that day and return) from the automated machine and we sat. There were a number of police and security people around, so I avoided taking any pictures so as to not run afoul of any homeland security regulations. The train was on time and the ticket agent announced the train with the incorrect number, which confused me. Turns out he thought it was the first train of the day and not the second, so he corrected his announcement. We got on the platform and got on the wrong car (oops). Finally, we were on the business class car, luggage secured above us, sitting comfortably.
Lots of nice leg room. Anyway, we were off. My hope was to get some shots as we went along, but the weather was a bit uncooperative. After 50 minutes, we were in Rochester.
And another hour and a bit after that, we were in Syracuse.
All of the stations that we saw thus far were in fairly decent shape. None were in the great disrepair that I had read about prior to taking this trip. But you could certainly see, as we were going along, the depression that has afflicted western New York. Anyway, we continued along after a break at Syracuse and I finally caught some things. Several CSX freights had gone by between Buffalo and Syracuse, but I was still pretty sleepy and they were on the very next track, which doesn’t lend well to photography.
An hour and a half after Syracuse, we approached Utica. The first thing I caught was a pair of locomotives in a fenced off area.
A GP40, an F45 and another I missed belonging to the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway. Some research shows that 3636 was out of comission as of 2009 awaiting a rebuild of her engine. On the other side of the train, I saw a caboose of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Apologies for the sign in the way.
And finally, we pulled into Utica.
On the tracks to the other side of the main was cars for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. They had some of these gray painted cars.
As well as a suspiciously VIA looking car.
And a real treat: a pair of old locomotives.
It was almost two hours later that we arrived in Albany. I will admit that I took more photos in between, but none had anything special to offer. We had some snacks and took advantage of the free “soft beverages” we got as part of being in business class. The business class seats are in the same car as the snack bar and the cafe tables, so it was easy enough to get up and get something to drink. It got very busy between 12 and 2 as people from the rest of the train got up to get something to eat. My wife and I watched some movies on our netbook and generally relaxed as the time passed.
I got these shots as we passed an Amtrak maintenance center, just outside of the Albany station.
We stood in Albany for about half an hour as the crew changed. The weather was awful, as you can see by the grey cast over every picture I’ve taken. Once we departed, I shot a few things as we got closer to New York City. These have been processed for dramatic (?) effect.
It was about 4:30 when we finally got into New York City. It was, you guessed it, grey and rainy. We walked to our hotel from Penn Station, a few blocks east and a few blocks south and checked in. After decompressing for a while, we walked down to the Shake Shack for dinner. In general, I enjoyed taking the train down but was pretty disappointed in the weather. Fortunately, this was only the beginning of the trip and I had plenty of time to make up for the overcast skies from this day. But that’s for next time…