Facebook Page

Keystone Service, SEPTA Streetcars and the Cardinal

by Chris Guenzler

Keystone Train 642 4/10/2007

At 7:52 AM, the door was opened and I went down the stairs to Keystone Train 642. The reason I wanted to ride this train is because it had limited stops and only takes one hour and thirty-five minutes to reach Philadelphia. The train's consist was AEM-7 electric engine 914, Amfleet coaches 44234, 82614, 82534 and 82557 with cab car 9641. We departed Harrisburg on time and started what I hoped would be a fast trip with plenty of 110 MPH running.

We started our fast running along the Susquehanna River.

The train quickly left the Harrisburg Airport behind along with the connection to the Port Road that I ridden at the NRHS Convention in Baltimore a few years ago.

Our train passed Three Mile Island, which put a Three Mile Smile on my face this morning, before making stops at Elizabethtown and Lancaster.

Between Mount Joy and the next stop at Lancaster.

The train ran through Paradise, the Strasburg Railroad's outside connection.

We continued our high speed running through Parkesburg, Coatville, Downingtown and Exton, before arriving at Paoli. I really enjoyed our 110 MPH operations this morning as we flew through Ardmore. The train slowed down as we neared Zoo Tower and turned south toward 30th Street station.

Our train ran by the Race Street engine facility before arriving only five minutes late. It was a great trip aboard Amtrak's Keystone Service.

Philadelphia 4/10/2007

I went inside the station and went straight to the South East Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) ticket office to get a day pass so I could finish riding their subway and streetcar lines. Next I went outside to SEPTA's 30th Street station and went downstairs to catch a Market-Frankford train to 2nd Street.

First a streetcar came on the outside track.

My train arrived next. Six stops later, I detrained at 2nd Street and walked to 3rd and Chestnut where I found the Society Hill Inn. Since my room was not ready yet, I stored my luggage in the bar and headed out to complete SEPTA.

I walked back to 2nd Street station to return to 30th Street for a free transfer to one of the streetcar lines. My train arrived and took me to 30th Street. Once there, the first streetcar that arrived was a 10 Line trolley that I boarded for Overbrook. This was the first of the new lines I would ride today. As with my trip on the 36 Line a few years ago, we stopped at 33rd Street before we diverted onto new trackage and exited the subway tunnel at 36th Street. Our next stop was 36th and Market Street before we turned northwest onto Lancaster Street. This was definitely not a good part of town with trash and graffiti everywhere and I would not ride this line after dark. We made stops every two blocks as we picked up and dropped off passengers. We passed the large Cathedral Cemetery and continued to Hestonville before turning onto Lansdowne Avenue. At 63rd Street we turned north and a few blocks later, we entered the Malvern Avenue loop, where I detrained for pictures.

The Streetcar that brought me here.

My 13 Line Streetcar on the 11 Line.

Next an 11 Streetcar came down Woodland Ave.

A few minutes later, an 11 streetcar came down Woodland Avenue which I boarded for 30th Street station. We traveled down Woodland Avenue through Mt. Moriah and Kingsessing crossing over the CSX again and the SEPTA line. At 49th Street, my new mileage was over as the 36 line joined our route back to 30th Street station. I went up, over and down again to wait for a 34 Line streetcar to arrive. First an 11 Line streetcar came down the subway.

Next came my 34 Line streetcar for Angora. We returned through the subway to 40th Street/Portal and then diverted onto my last known SEPTA line. I wondered where the SEPTA PCC's ran and would ask this operator. We headed out on Baltimore Avenue through Sherwood and out to the loop at Angora. I stayed aboard as once again my streetcar went out of service. We returned to 40th Street/Portal, but turned onto the 36 Line.

The operator told me how to get to PCC Line 15. I stayed aboard to 65th Street where I detrained. A minute later, a 36 Line streetcar took me back to 30th Street station and I walked across the street into the Amtrak station for a KFC lunch. I visited Club Acela, checked my e-mail and made a few phone calls. I returned to SEPTA's 30th Street station and boarded a Market-Frankford Line train, taking it east to Girard. I exited, went down the stairs and found streetcar tracks in Girard Street. My plan was to take the first PCC that came along.

Westbound PCC 2330 came into the station and after a picture, I boarded. We headed west down Girard Street, stopping about every two blocks. As we came to the SEPTA line, trains passed overhead going both ways. At Broad Street we picked up passengers from the subway.

Our PCC Car passed Girard College, then turned north onto 25th Street for one block before returning to Girard Avenue. Continuing west, we passed the Philadelphia Zoo, crossed the Schuylkill River and went under the Northeast Corridor where I saw Zoo Tower. A few minutes later, we crossed over Amtrak's Harrisburg Line and continued west to Lancaster Avenue, onto which we turned north for one block. We continued onto Girard Avenue, passing the Cathedral Cemetery, to 61st Street, then turned onto Robinson then south onto 63rd Street. We returned to Girard Avenue again and stopped behind another PCC waiting for its departure time.

Once on the move we headed back on the trackage I rode west on.

A westbound PCC near the Zoo stop. I returned eastbound to Front Street where I started my last piece of new SEPTA rail mileage. Again, we stopped every two blocks, passed under Interstate 95 and turned left onto Richmond Street. We went under the CSX freight line and I-95 again, stopping every two blocks to the Westmoreland Street loop. The PCC I was riding on had flat wheels, so I switched to the car ahead for the trip back.

PCC 2330.

I rode PCC 2336 back to Front Street. At Girard station, I boarded the next Market-Frankford line train back to 2nd Street. Once at the Society Hill Inn, I checked into my room and reclaimed my luggage before putting it in my room. I went to Sammy's Famous Steaks for a steak sandwich. After dinner, I tried to find Independence Hall.

Independence Hall from the park in front of the Liberty Center.

The National Constitution Center.

The United States Mint in Philadelphia.

Statue of George Washington.

Independence Hall from across Chestnut Street.

South side of Independence Hall.

The Old City Hall. I returned to the Inn to write about today's trip and relax the rest of the day.

4/11/2007 I was up early and after a waterfall shower, returned my room key and walked back to the 2nd Street subway station.

The efficient system quickly took me to 30th Street station. I went inside for a breakfast of hot cakes and sausage at McDonald's. I then went up to Club Acela, where I checked e-mail and relaxed before the Cardinal bound for Indianapolis arrived.

The view from Club Acela. I would be taken down an elevator in order to catch my last Amtrak train of this trip.

Cardinal 51 4/11/2007

The train pulled into 30th Street station as soon as I had stepped off the elevator. I walked down the platform to my Room 3 of the sleeper "Skyline View" and I met my sleeping car attendant Thomas Finnegan. The train left Philadelphia on time with AEM-7 electric engine 916, Viewliner sleeper 62036, lounge/diner 28013 and coaches 25073, 25123 and 25113. I walked through the train and met the rest of the crew. This train now has Diner-Lite on board both sets of equipment, so I would give it a try.

Breakfast was being served on the Amfleet 28013. I read the New York Times Sports section before switching to USA Today. The train rolled down the Northeast Corridor, stopping in Wilmington and Baltimore as I enjoyed the view from Room 3. I took photographs of diner/lounge 28013.

They added steam tables to this car.

More storage space above the steam tables.

One table is set up for a wheelchair. The train made great time and arrived in Washington Union Station over an hour early. I went inside to visit Club Acela to make a telephone call and check my e-mail before returning to the train.

Diesel locomotive 185 replaced electric engine 916 during our layover. I put on the first CD of Rush's "Live in Rio" before we departed on time, plunging into the Capitol Tunnel.

The United States Capitol Building.

The Washington Monument.

The Jefferson and Washington Monuments.

Starting across the Potomac River.

Almost into Virginia. The train stopped in Alexandria and I went for lunch in the Dining Car.

All Day Menu.

Dinner Menu. I decided on the buffalo wings, chocolate ice cream and bottled water for this first Diner-Lite meal, since I was not all that hungry.

South of Alexandria, we passed the Red Train of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Khine from Burma joined me for lunch. The wings came in a basket and were tasty. Having ice cream aboard the train again completed an excellent meal. There is one problem with this car. Passengers at the far end by the door do not have a window. Instead, there are two short tables used by the crew. If these were switched to the door end, then every passenger table would have a window. After all, joy of dining on a train is the view seen from the windows while eating your meal.

We almost hit a car causing the train to make an emergency stop. While we were stopped, a northbound Norfolk Southern freight train passed us. I did Sudoku puzzles while listening to Rush as we made our way to Culpepper, then onto Orange, where we left the Norfolk Southern mainline on what was becoming a rather cloudy day. As usual, we slowly proceeded to Gordonville before picking up the pace going to the fresh air stop at Charlottesville.

The Norfolk Southern local that had delayed our Cardinal.

The Cardinal at Charlottesville.

While in the station, we had to wait for a red signal to allow the same NS local to proceed across the crossing and head east.

Once we had a green signal, we left town and I put on Jethro Tull's "Back in Birmingham" as the day turned darker. The train took the siding at Crozel, Virginia while we waited for Amtrak 50, the eastbound Cardinal which passed us at 3:24 PM. While I was finishing a Sudoku puzzle, I made a 5:00 PM dinner reservation. As the train passed through the first long tunnel, I switched to music from the "Two River Collection", the melodrama about Billy Miner that I saw on my Rocky Mountaineer trip over the Canadian Pacific Railway's mainline from Vancouver to Calgary and back. After Staunton, I switched to John Cougar Mellencamp's "Scarecrow." It was then time for my first official Diner-Lite dinner. I was seated with Steve going to Portland, and Jessica going to Charleston. I ordered the Country Beef Short Ribs which were excellent and had Sweet Temptation Chocolate Cake. Back in my room, it was time for Scorpions' "Eye II Eye" as I enjoyed the scenery climbing the Alleghenies and the Eastern Continental Divide into West Virginia. I took a hot shower and finished just as the train was leaving White Sulphur Springs at 6:14 PM {5:00 PM}. Later, we stopped at Alderson to pick up a couple of passengers and the train continued to Hinton and Prince, as I listened the Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street". It became too dark for pictures by Thurmond, but I rode the vestibule to enjoy the New River Gorge and see the bridge across it and Hawks Nest. The train rolled the last miles into Charleston, where I called it a night.

4/12/2007 Tom woke me up about fifteen minutes before the Cardinal arrived at Indianapolis on April 12th which gave me plenty of time to be ready to detrain. It had been a wonderful trip aboard the Cardinal and now I know I can live with Diner-Lite. We arrived at 6:06 AM {4:30 AM}, which was perfect.

I took a picture of the Cardinal before I went inside the station to meet Chris Parker.