Railfanning in the Providence Area

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njt/mnrrbuff
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Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Jun 19, 2016 4:19 pm

Hello Sir,
Between August 31st and Sept 3rd, I am going to be in the Providence area staying in Warwick. Where are the best spots to railfan? I am going to be photographing mostly Amtrak and MBTA operations. I was planning on spending a late afternoon/early evening rush hour at Attleboro and South Attleboro Stations. I am also going to photograph at the TF Green Airport Station. I need input on safety as well. Thanks.

johnpbarlow
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by johnpbarlow » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:13 am

There will be more MBTA activity at Attleboro or S Attleboro given three of the six outbound rush hour trains on the NEC line terminate at PVD and one or two late afternoon inbound trains originate at PVD. Both Attleboro and S Attleboro T stations are safe, as is TF Green. But I'm guessing it's more expensive to park at TF Green given the garage is used for airport parking. Also note there are 4 tracks at Attleboro and two platforms v. two tracks and two platforms at S Attleboro and three tracks/one platform at TF Green. Amtrak train speeds are likely slowest at S Attleboro due to the station's proximity to a curve west of the station at Central Falls.

njt/mnrrbuff
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:52 pm

Amtrak trains still move through S. Attleboro very fast but I don't think it is as fast as through Attleboro. I see that there is a bridge in Central Falls that carries the NEC over a river-any good spots to view action there?

F-line to Dudley via Park
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Jun 22, 2016 9:17 am

Attleboro is 125 MPH from the east approach of the Blackstone River Bridge at the state line to East Junction, then 150 MPH from East Junction to Sharon. You'll get a good vantage point seeing the northbound Amtaks accelerate from South Attleboro station. State line to Providence station meanders from 60-75 MPH and is probably better for taking non-blurry pictures. Keep in mind that direct overhead shots from overpasses are going to have limited viewing angles because of the opaque electrical shielding on the overpass blocking view. All of that circa-2001 new installation shielding tends to block more angles than the much older shielding on overpasses south of New Haven. You'll have to hunt and peck for slightly angled sightlines if you want good overhead shots. But thankfully the NEC is tightly bookended by the street grids of Pawtucket and Providence so there's some GREAT unobstructed side shots most points south of Smithfield Ave.

njt/mnrrbuff
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Jul 24, 2016 10:31 am

I see that in Providence, Harris Avenue runs alongside the NEC opening up possible good afternoon spots for photography. If that is the case, where are the best photo spots along that street. In addition, are there any good photo spots near Providence Station? Thanks.

F-line to Dudley via Park
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Jul 24, 2016 11:41 am

Harris between the Dean St. overpass and Atwells Ave. are closest to the tracks. Ugly industrial area with nothing going on, but should be safe during daytime because it has wide-open sightlines. The walk along the river from Providence Place is pretty nice if you want to go there, then cut down a few side streets to Harris. Check on Street View to find the most tree-unobstructed spot, as there are clearings at regular intervals and some are truly excellent vantage points. Harris has 2 freight grade crossings on it: one by Charlotte Hope St. that is for an active P&W customer at a metalworks factory 1 block north on Tingley St. (receives cars during the week, but no idea when). The other is to the Providence Journal Bulletin off Dean St., but they haven't received rolls of newsprint in years.

You'll want to check out the river walk that runs into Providence Place from the east. Not only is it bustling with activity during summer and hands-down one of the best touristy things to do in Providence, but you get this one particularly unique vantage point of the rail tunnel from the Francis St. overpass of the river: https://goo.gl/maps/bCVCAr7mxZ22" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;.

North of the station, as previously mentioned, the street grid bookends the NEC all the way up to Pawtucket. Your mileage may vary on quality of shots and how far you want to range from Providence Station. Use Street View to survey first so you don't waste too many blocks of walking searching for a tree-unobstructed spot. The P&W freight yard and MBTA layover across the tracks from each other at Smithfield Ave. are guaranteed to be full of activity, but at 2 miles north of Providence Station that's a bit of a hike if you don't have a rental car or don't have unlimited time to kill for a round trip on RIPTA bus routes 53, 72, or 99 out of Providence Station.

jwhite07
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by jwhite07 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 11:54 am

A benefit to railfanning at TF Green Station is there is a very good model railroad shop, AA Hobbies, right across the street on Jefferson Ave!

njt/mnrrbuff
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:41 am

While at the TF Green Station, I will go to that hobby shop. How often does Providence & Worcester or any other freight use the NEC as well as on the industrial track near Harris Ave. I want to, if possible, also photograph a P&W train.

I will definately be checking out the riverwalk and that vantage point of the NEC near Francis St.

How tall is the fence along Smithfield St overpass?

F-line to Dudley via Park
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:20 pm

P&W's mainline begins at Atwells Interlocking where the crossover from that Harris St. track enters the mainline, so every NEC freight of theirs passes through there. The westerly track on the ROW from there, through Providence Station, and up to Boston Switch in Central Falls is all theirs under their dispatcher and technically not a part of the NEC at all.

The big autorack job to Davisville is a daily, as is the local freight to the Port of Providence Branch and the 3 small on-line customers from Cranston to Kingston. Times shift frequently, so somebody more familiar with their recent running times can chime in there. The local is usually mid-morning/early-afternoon off-peak, depending on how quickly they finish their business up on the P&W main.

Smithfield Ave. fence is a regulation Interstate highway street overpass, since the far east end of the bridge passes over I-95. Generic chain-link fence, ~6-7 ft. tall. You can stand on the short very concrete support and probably be able to look over the top. Just don't get caught, because you're so far out in the open any cop for a half-mile around can see you. The only point along the fence that has the electrical shielding is directly above the NEC cat towers. Everything else is wide, wide open as Street View shows.


DEFINITELY do the riverwalk. In addition to that one must-have shot of the tunnel it's flat-out one of the nicest tourist attractions in the city. Has transformed the entire downtown. Can't recommend it enough, especially in this summer heat.

161pw165
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by 161pw165 » Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:08 pm

Worcester to Davisville (WODA) is a night job, typically going through Providence station anywhere from 11PM to 1AM on the way south and 2-3AM back north. If there's any work to be done in Kingston, WODA usually does it en route. PR3 is a daily local that serves Providence and the port. Last I knew it was on duty at 6AM. PR2, if it still exists, handles Pawtucket and East Providence. It used to go on duty at 7AM. Unit ethanol trains from Worcester are hit-or-miss; more the latter of late. Enjoy the visit!!

njt/mnrrbuff
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:18 pm

I might want to photograph some trains in Pawtucket on the NEC passing underneath the old station there. I believe that there is a parking lot south of the station building and on the west side of the tracks. How safe is the neighborhood around the old Pawtucket station?

F-line to Dudley via Park
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:39 pm

It's fine. Old station's only 3 blocks from the de facto ground-zero city center (intersection of Exchange, Broad, Summer, and Golf Ave.) where every local RIPTA bus route hits...and 4 blocks from City Hall, Police HQ, and the Public Library. Area's bustling all day long. You might not want to hang around after the CVS closes for the night because that single block the station sits on is an asphalt moonscape and is the only real blighted block in immediate downtown, but I assume you're not planning to be out there in the dark taking pics after 9:00pm.

The only other area to watch out for is the site of the new (just funded!) station area slated to go in place of the mostly derelict P&W Receiving Yard (Golf Ave./Pine St. to Conant St. block). Nothing interesting to see there; Receiving Yard has been reduced to a block-wide slab of bare concrete with a few weed-choked tail tracks on it. Only 3 or 4 of the 10 yard tracks look any kind of operable, and P&W only uses it to park empties when the main yard downwind is over-full (usually only on the siding next to the mainline, and not inside the ruins of the actual yard). In addition to being rather uninteresting there's not many people around because it's bookended by bulldozed lots and a cemetery. The new station will be very, very welcome for filling in that block with much nicer surrounding development to knit that little hole in dense downtown together.


No riverwalk in Downtown Pawtucket, unfortunately, but Blackstone River is very pretty through here with couple waterfalls visible from the bridges at top and bottom of Roosevelt Ave. 2 blocks east of the old station.

red baron
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by red baron » Mon Aug 15, 2016 7:47 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:The only other area to watch out for is the site of the new (just funded!) station area slated to go in place of the mostly derelict P&W Receiving Yard (Golf Ave./Pine St. to Conant St. block). Nothing interesting to see there; Receiving Yard has been reduced to a block-wide slab of bare concrete with a few weed-choked tail tracks on it. Only 3 or 4 of the 10 yard tracks look any kind of operable, and P&W only uses it to park empties when the main yard downwind is over-full (usually only on the siding next to the mainline, and not inside the ruins of the actual yard). In addition to being rather uninteresting there's not many people around because it's bookended by bulldozed lots and a cemetery. The new station will be very, very welcome for filling in that block with much nicer surrounding development to knit that little hole in dense downtown together.
What you refer to as the P&W Receiving Yard.....was this the former NYNH&H TOFC yard? I seem to recall a stub ended NH TOFC facility in the Pawtucket area, on the east side of the tracks.

Ridgefielder
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by Ridgefielder » Tue Aug 16, 2016 11:20 am

If you want to see Amtrak running fast, head over to Kingston. The station (formerly Kingston Jct., and a nicely-restored Victorian building) is on tangent track; the Acela comes through at 155 mph.

eubnesby
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Re: Railfanning in the Providence Area

Post by eubnesby » Tue Aug 16, 2016 12:08 pm

Kingston is a bit of a mess right now due to the ongoing third track/high level platforms project.

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