• Vermonter SB / Adirondack NB - Trip Report 8/14-8/17 - LONG

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by shadyjay
The whistle I hear signalling Amtrak's NB Vermonter arival into Waterbury VT has reminded me to do the trip report from this weekend. It was a circle trip, from Waterbury VT to New York City, heading south on the Vermonter and north on the Adirondack. My trip would be 100% rail cost free, thanks to Amtrak Guest Rewards points...

8/14: Amtrak Vermonter - bustitution - WAB-SPG - train - SPG-NYP
A derailment just south of Montpelier VT had occured the previous weekend and the Vermonter was being "bustituted" north of Springfield. Due to continued inclement weather and the fact that 4 miles of track got torn up, I got word from the station caretaker Pete that I would be bussed. Bummer. But there we were, all 17 of us (not bad for a Thurs) waiting for the bus. It arrived about 30 minutes late. We headed down I-89 to White River Jct, then made all stops south of there to Springfield, with the exception of Windsor-Ascutney and Amherst. It was at Bellows Falls when I took the role of navigator as the bus was getting lost in Bellows, and continued to be at the throne until Springfield. At SPG, we all got off, and headed up to Track 8 to wait for our train. We got there at 2:40. About 20 minutes goes by and it hit me where the train was... the NB vermonter would become the SB train but wasn't due in unil 3:10. It arrived, and after everyone got off, we all got on and headed south. I was getting worried as I was concerned our lateness (about 45 minutes down leaving SPG) would cause me to miss my brother's show at 8pm in NYC. Heading south out of SPG, the slow orders on the Springfield Line appear to be gone - a lot of old ties were seen along the ROW and still some new ones piled up. Around Windsor Locks, I headed to a very packed cafe car at the south end of the train. The car was a half cafe / half business class with leather seats, and you had to walk through business class to get to the cafe since the car wasn't properly turned (there were also a pair of P42s on either end of our 5-car train FYI). At New Haven, the engine change was performed, with P42 #124 on the south end being replaced with AEM-7 #912. During the crew change, I asked the new a.c. about our arrival time in NYP - she said 7pm - 20 minutes down. What a relief - but could Metro North get us over the road in a timely fashion? The answer was indeed YES as we maintained our speed for most of the run on the New Haven Line, diverging at Shell (at a lot faster than last year, thanks to reconfiguring). I did notice that on Amtrak's Hell Gate Line, it appeared only one track was in service, as the normal SB track looked like catenary replacement. Over Hell Gate, and passing Sunnyside, we were indeed going to make our 7pm arrival. We pulled into NYP and I headed upstairs to meet my brother's wife.

8/14-8/15: NYC
I'll spare the details of our escapades, but you know what they say... "when in Rome...". My brother and I stayed up drinking all night, slept in late, stayed up late again Fri night, and woke up after 90 mins of sleep on 8/16 to catch my train home.

8/16: Amtrak - Adirondack - NYP to RSP - consist: P32AC-DM #703 - coach - coach - dinette - coach - coach
My brother didn't understand why I couldn't take a later train to upstate New York... there's one train a day and if you miss it, you're SOL, but I woke up, grabbed a taxi, and got to Penn Sta, though for some reason, you couldn't get crosstown because all the streets were blocked. I made it though, and waited for my train to be called. A line was forming, I jumped on it, and grabbed a seat in the second car of the 5-car train on the Hudson River side. Leaving NYP, our train was quite full. The ride along the Hudson was very nice - a beautiful day, and MN kept us moving. Passing the Harmon shops of MN, caught some FL-9s and other equipment. The view in this area is getting more unobstructed now that most of the ex-NYC steel towers have been removed, though they still exist in some sections including the Tappan Zee/Tarrytown, but saw a crew working on removing them. North of POU when you enter CSX-controlled territory, we stopped for 5-10 minutes. CSX is doing some track work, replacing ties and such. We got moving again and by the time we arrived at Albany, we were about 20-30 minutes late. There, I got out for a break, and got shots of the engine change - P32 #703 was being replaced with P42 #101 - I didn't know they did an engine change for this train, but I guess they want to keep the P32s close to where they're absolutely needed (Amtrak only has 18). We got going north of Albany, and after SCH, entered D&H territory for the run north. Our train was still pretty crowded, and it wasn't until after Saratoga did things "thin out". Heading north on the D&H, I was surprised at our speed and the quality of ride - this line is mostly welded rail. And the views - oh, when we got north of around Ticonderoga, Lake Champlain appeared on the right, and the Adirondack Mtns on the left. I flip-flopped from one side of the train to the other enjoying the views and taking pictures. The foliage is already changing - it felt like an autumn day. Also I noticed EVERY station north of Albany had new Amtrak logos and signs and a common theme at all stations was a bulletin board with a calendar, schedule, and train info. That's something the Vermonter route doesn't have - in fact some of our signage dates to the late 70s - old logos and all! Leaving Port Kent (ferry stop), I called Pete to give him my ETA into Rouses Point as he'd be picking me up. Seemed like we were about 45 minutes or so down. Didn't matter to me.. though I was looking forward to sleep that night (I can't sleep on the train - well, I could, but not on a route I've never been on before). I only observed one or two slow orders if that on the D&H, and we crawled on the main while the SB Adirondack passed us on a controlled siding. We pulled into Rouses Point, last stop in the US, and I realized it was 4:20, meaning we were only :20 down. Not too bad. While at the stop, the conductor threw a switch, the train proceeded north, then stopped and the switch was thrown back. Not sure why, but it may have something to do with either the customs checkpoint ahead, or the switching from the D&H to the CN line to Montreal. I waited for Pete for about 20-30 mins as I thought we'd be in later, and took some photos of the stations there - the old pax station is to be restored at some point, and the station sign (with the new logo) is on the customs building.

Sun 8/17 - Amtrak Vermonter - SAB to WAB - consist: P42, coach, coach, coach, coach, cafe/business class, P42
Pete gave me a ride from his cabin on the lake to St Albans for my return to Waterbury. The train had been running since Friday (though I would find out later that a derailment in WRJ Fri night caused more bussing, but only for one roundtrip or so). I got my tour of St Albans station which is just north of the NECR ex-CV headquarters building. I boarded the train and settled in for the last portion of the Vermonter's route in New England that I've never been on - SAB to Essex Jct. Some nice views plus the Georgia High Bridge, and once we got out of SAB yard limits, we made great timing and moved right along - on all jointed rail making for a bumpier ride than on the D&H yesterday. A good crowd got on in Essex Jct (as usual) and in 30 minutes, I was back home in Waterbury, completing my trip. I thanked the conductor for the ride and headed for home.

Despite the bussing, it was a great trip. The scenery on the Adirondack was excellent - I can only imagine how it is in the fall and in the dome car. Next year I'm planning another circle trip, as long as I've got more points saved up by then, but even if I don't, the fares are reasonable. It was great spending two nights in NYC with my brother, but I'm kinda glad to be back home in VT. I'll post a slew of pics from this trip at the link below by next weekend. Until then...