Having made my visit to Dallas and Fort Worth here is my account as promised.....
Tuesday 1st May - Arrival in Dallas was at about 11am on Amtrak's southbound Texas Eagle, arrival being a little ahead of schedule. With time to kill before any TRE arrivals or departures a vantage point was found outside the station to photograph the departure of the Eagle, and then a freight headed by DGNO genset loco # 2002. Little else happened on the heavy rail until the arrival of the TRE service which arrived with loco # 122. I took 122 on the 12.40pm departure travelling as far as FW ITC station, noting a couple of Budd railcars, a couple of former BNSF locos (which I presume are used as switchers) and of course some TRE loco hauled/pushed sets ready for the evening peak in the TRE yard at CenterPort. At FW ITC I took a walk out of the station to see if I could find any possible vantage points for photography, about the best I could find was where the TRE route crosses over the road, otherwise it was a mass of other rail bridges crossing the road with little scope as far as I could see - there may have been better places not far away but I was hot and tired and headed back to the station. I took 122 on its next service back towards Dallas, alighting at Medical/Market from where it took me about 15 minutes to walk to my hotel where I dropped my bag and took a well needed shower. Soon after I was back at the station for the evening peak, and rode with locos 121, 570, 126, 123, and then 569 before ending up at FW T&P where I had a bit of a layover. After photographing a couple of passing freights I made my way into the impressive station building and had a couple of beers in the nicely restored T&P Tavern which had a fine range of beers on sale. From FW T&P I took the 7.42pm departure as far as Medical/Market and called it a night.
Wednesday 2nd May - I was up for the 8.14am departure from Medical/Market and it didn't take long to view all six of the train sets in service, all using the same six locos as the previous day which was a little disappointing (a very British aspect of the railfanning hobby for some people is to ride as many locos as possible). After a couple of trips in and out of FW T&P I found myself at Dallas where I spent a few hours in the city, trying out the DART and having a meal break. I resumed my travels on TRE during the afternoon peak, and once again I eventually ended up at FW T&P for a break. Tonight, on the through line nearest the TRE platforms was a UP special headed by steam which was visable in the distance. A couple of people on the platform told me they loco was UP844 and the train was stabling here overnight. Hoping to get a photo of the steam loco I took a walk out of the station and soon found an access point up the track which was manned by the UP police, who were good enough to allow me and a couple of other people to walk up the trackside to the loco. Back at the station another quick visit was made to the T&P tavern ($3 each for all drafts tonight - splendid!) before I did the 7.42pm departure to Medical/Market. Passing the TRE yard at CenterPort I noted loco # 125 which I hadn't previously seen, and I hoped that was a good sign that it would be out the next day.
Thursday 3rd May - today I was up for the 6.56am train from Medical/Market, hoping to get loco 125 but despite it making an appearance in the TRE yard the previous night the trains in service were still using the same six locos as the previous 2 days. After having a final ride on all six locos I arrived at Dallas on the 10.47am from FW T&P and with time to kill until the northbound Texas Eagle I spent a few hours on the Amtrak platform photographing whatever came by, luckily there was a reasonable amount of freight action, also a few TRE arrivals and departures plus the southbound Eagle, and of course regular DART trains as well. I eventually departed on the northbound Eagle at about 3.20pm (50 mins late) and got to Chicago at 5pm the following day with the Eagle detouring around the Chicago & East Illinois RR.
And so to conclude, I have to say I was very impressed with TRE. The time keeping was good (all trains I rode ran to schedule), the fares cheap with easy to use TVMs and a simple fare structure ($10 all day ticket) and the trains seemed well looked after, the Bombardier coaches were as good as any I have ridden with on several other commuter agencies. The staff seemed friendly and ticket checks were regular and no nonsense - I saw at least two people removed from trains after having their details taken. Most if not all stations had a security presence which gives a sense of reassurance. The locos and rolling stock carry a colour scheme based on the Texas flag which suits them well, and I happen to think the older batch of F59s looked extremely impressive, unlike similar locos with Metrolink LA which look bland in comparison. The daytime service was quite limited but undoubtebly adequate, and the peak services were well loaded without being uncomfortable, I think TRE have worked out their anticipated loadings as the one four car train in service worked the same cycle for three days running.
Hopefully on my next visit I will get to ride with locos 120, 124 and 125, during this visit 120 was seen outside the shed with the blunt end doors open suggesting it was under maintenance, 124 wasn't seen at all, and 125 was seen once in the TRE yard.
Pete, Wales, UK