Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by Otto Vondrak
My friend and I decided to do some "backyard" railfanning on Saturday, July 31. Our goal was to catch and chase the eastbound P&W "stone train" (FPCH - Fresh Pond to Cedar Hill) as it made its way over the New Haven Line. We wanted to shoot him at Harrison, Darien, Green's Farms, and maybe Westport.

We started out in Harrison, but decided we wouldnt be able to get ahead of the train due to traffic on I-95. So we left around noon, and went ahead to Darien and waited. And boy was it hot yesterday. We sat on the platform in the shade for a while. Recorded a westbound MN local, then a westbound Amtrak with an AEM-7 leading. We decied to seek another angle to shoot FPCH, so we headed to a commuter lot just west of the station and waited there. Recorded a westbound Acela, and another westbound Metro-North local. No FPCH. We heard chatter on the radio regarding switch problems at CP 223 (PIKE), so we wondered if FPCH was going to get onto the road "on time."

It was now 2:30, about an hour after we expected FPCH to come through. We decided to pack it in, and see what else we could find. I suggested visiting the SoNo Tower Museum (http://www.westctnrhs.org/tower.htm), and maybe grabbing a couple of shots from there. Just as well, becuase I thought we would melt out there in the sun.

We head to South Norwalk, and we decide to check out the station angle. Lo and behold, there are Providence & Worcester engines sitting at the station! Somehow, FPCH snuck past us, and without the rest of its train (returning to Cedar Hill as light engines). The crew explained they were waiting for a signal to proceed east, so we had a few minutes to shoot the locomotives before an eastbound Amtrak passed and cleared the route ahead for FPCH. Once they got the signal, FPCH roared to life and made quick for Cedar Hill.

We decided not to give chase, and instead wait for the incoming branch train from Danbury. Glad we did, because we were rewarded with CDOT FL9m 2016 bringing up the markers. As we shot the train crossing over to the pocket track, and the engineer stuck his head out from the cab car and called out greetings to us by name. We went over to meet his train and exchange hellos. 2016 was nice and clean, and evidence of its little run-in with a truck a few months ago was still there. None the less, it was great to see an F!

So our plans changed once again- we decided to head up the branch to shoot the northbound train. We managed to get a shot from the shoulder of US 7 just north of Branchville station (except that the sun was playing peekaboo by this time, around 3:45 pm). We headed up to Danbury station and just met the train as it came in. Since the loop is out of service, trains now lay up at the station, right next to the "big ball" (natural gas storage tank). One track over was CDOT Genesis 228. The side-by-side comparison in sunlight couldn't have been posed better, and I cant remember how many shots I fired off.

A friend tipped us off that MN "NYC" FL9 2012 and CDOT FL9 2011 were paired up, spotted on a siding near the shops at Put Junction, and that MN FL9 2008 was working the Wassaic shuttle. We headed off to Towners to shoot the southbound 2008, but again the sun was playing peekaboo. We then headed over to Dykemans, and shot the northbound (5:18 pm) 2008 near the crossing (again, more peekaboo sun). Then it was off to Put Junction, in a light rain shower.

We went down Prospect Hill Road, to access the bridge that crosses over the yard. We parked the car at a neaby business and waited out what had become a rain storm, complete with thunder and lightning. The storm passed in a few minutes, and we had clean, shiny F-units to shoot! We were able to get a shot from the bridge of the two F-units as the sun was setting. Deciding that we should come back another day, we headed for dinner at the Red Rooster Drive-In, and called it a day.

And today it's raining. That means time to label slides!


  by mncommuter
Sounds like you got some great shots, Otto. Will you be posting any online?

  by Otto Vondrak
It was a busy day (would have been busier with more sunlight!) Probably wont be posting images for a while since I don't shoot digital, I shoot chromes.



  by Noel Weaver
Otto and all,
One thing you all need to remember, freights run quite slow on all of the
New Haven Line.
At no location do they go over 40 MPH and much of the line is 20 to 30 and
at that speed, you might get ahead of them several times. You might have to wait a long time as they are likely to get held for an opening in the
passenger traffic for a while at various places.
Under the old New Haven Railroad scheme of things, you would not likely
be able to pace a freight and get more than one shot except maybe east
and west of Bridgeport, today it is a totally different story.
Noel Weaver

  by Otto Vondrak
It was a different story on Sunday when the terrorism alert level was raised to Orange... within a few hours of that, I had some discussions with local PD around Stamford area. But that's to be expected, no one asked me to leave or asked any really dumb questions. Funny story: taking pictures off the platform at Harrison one afternoon. Metro-North westbound train passes by, then I hear the radio crackle... "train... to District whatever RTC... we have photographers on the platform at Harrison..." the dispatcher could clearly care less when he replies, "ok..." then I photograph a westbound Amtrak, engineer gives an acknowledging toot from the horn, radio crackles "Amtrak 156, did you observe anyone at Harrison?" "I didn't see anyone at Harrison, 156, out!"


The rough schedule for the eastbound P&W PFCH train... leaves Fresh Pond around 10 am on Saturday... which gets him to SHELL interlocking around 12:30-ish, Harrison at 1:00-ish. Last year I was able to beat the train to Darien and Green's Farms before I had to turn back for another appointment. I'll try again next week, weather permitting.

As for posting images... I have a Mac G4 here at the home office. If some kind soul would like to donate a USB slide scanner to your friends at Railroad.net, we'd be all ears. :)


  by mncommuter
I can't say that I can afford to donate a scanner, but I'd certainly pitch in a few bucks, and I'd guess others would too...

  by Otto Vondrak
hey thanks, but I was just kidding.

I mean, unless someone really wants to give me a scanner! :)