Why is Metro North always late

I've never been to New York ...: On the Hudson (part 6 and over)

From Peter Hürzeler

Saturday 8/24/2019

Morning meal was not included today and so we started shortly before eight in the direction of Rutland. Rutland was a stopover, not entirely unintentional. While researching the www, I found Bits & Pieces that every Saturday morning a slurry block train should run from Rutland in the direction of Bellow Falls. From there, PanAm takes you to various paper mills in the direction of Maine. Pictures on the net show that the train is also running, the only drawback for me: I didn't know the exact journey times. We drove to the depot in Rutland - an Amtrak Ethan Allan Express was parked there. Rutland is currently the terminus of this train run from New York Penn Station. Here too, as with the Downeaster, there are plans to change this and to extend the route of the train. I briefly took a photo of the idling train.

P32AC-DM # 704 on the Ethan Allan Express in Rutland

A P32AC-DM served as traction. These two-power locomotives, derived from the P42, are specially equipped for the HudsonLine and the entrance to the underground PennStation. You have the option of being supplied from the power rail:

Bogie of the P32AC-DM # 704

Amtrak P32AC-DM # 704

We then drove towards Bellow Falls, nothing was really visible in terms of train movement, but not all yards are visible. I once hoped I wasn't too late. I had marked individual places on the map as possible photo locations. After visiting the site, I finally placed myself in the swamp near Mt Holly. It wasn't the transfer, but it was a bit more open. I was given an hour of waiting time, which I then even extended to 1.5 hours. Once again nothing came of it. Research on the net wasn't there, there was simply no reception, but from the memory of the images seen from the photo site, the train should have come in that period, because the front light was already running out. A little annoyed it went back to the partner. We decided to go back towards Rutland. The Ethan Allan Express would be on its way around noon. On the way back to Rutland we saw nothing on the visible parts of the route. But once again it was true: The train could have passed through the forest a few meters away from us: unseen and unnoticed.
At the entrance to Rutland we did something to plug our ever-growing hole in our stomach: We visited a Denny's and ordered an omelette. I was also given the opportunity to view the route from Rutland towards Saratoga Springs on Google Maps for possible photo spots. I could also see the travel times. The pdf schedule on Amtrak said: 11.15 AM from Rutland. Fits!
Shortly before West Rutland I found something that we were heading for. It also fit very well and the train should come soon. When there was still nothing going on 20 minutes after departure, I checked the Amtrak timetable app. WTF! There the train was indicated as 05:05 PM, as it runs on Sundays - but it was Saturday! I checked the pdf downloaded from the Amtrak website again - Saturday departure from Rutland 11.15 AM. (if you don't believe it: https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/timetables/Ethan-Allen-Express-Schedule-P290-030419.pdf). I swore pretty loudly to myself. Is nothing really working today? We stopped by the Rutland depot again. The P32AC-DM was still idling, the posted timetables really meant departure at 05:05 PM. Another whole morning wasted on nothing. For us it was clearly out of the area. So we drove south from Rutland via Highway 7. In Mt Tabor we turned off without further ado towards the hill of the same name. A few miles further it was finished - the road closed due to construction work - and so we had to go back and could not continue to Londonderry. You could have written something like that at the branch ...
So it went on on Hwy 7 in a southerly direction. Behind Manchester we found a small confectionery (-> Chocolate Barn) right on the street where homemade praline and chocolate are sold. We couldn't resist :)
Munching on chocolate with relish we went to Bennington, where we photographed at least one of the "legendary" Vermont wood-covered bridges after we noticed some or drove past unnoticed (-> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ List_of_covered_bridges_in_Vermont).

The Paper Mill Village Bridge

Inside the Paper Mill Village Bridge

The journey continued via Highway-7 in the direction of Albany, where we had to make a short detour after Hoosick due to an accident. In Troy we took a short break and did some last shopping in a Walmart. We also booked a motel in Elmsford for tonight. After we could estimate how we would be in there we decided to book something in the orbit of New York (ok, the motel prices around Poughkeepsie did the rest. We just want to rent a room for one night, not buy the hotel!). So we had a few more miles to go. It also enabled us to spend the evening in and around Bear Mountain State Park and the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge there. Why this area in particular? Around the bridge and in the adjoining Bear Mountain State Park there are some beautiful photo spots, both for the CSX right bank freight line (more morning spots) and the left bank Amtrak line (more evening spots). Bear Mountain is also known as a sunset spot.
So we went straight down the Hudson Valley, that is, we took the I-87 and benefited a little from our toll flat rate. The traffic was heavy and we were close to a reported traffic jam at Newburgh. So we drove there from the interstate and finally took the 218 down to the bridge. Since it was not entirely clear to us what the parking facilities at the bridge itself would look like, we parked our car ourselves in the large parking lot of Statet Park. On foot it was 10 minutes back to the bridge and then on the north side of the bridge over the pedestrian path out onto the bridge. During that time we missed a train, judging by a passenger train on the left bank of the river. But the next one was already on the march. Metro North sent with the Local 880 - pushed by the P32AC-DM # 204 - something suitable southbound. The only drawback - the trains pushed the locomotive in the direction of Poughkeepsie because of the platforms in the New York Grand Central Terminal, so they come here.

P32AC-DM # 213 of the Metro-North Railroad with the Loacl 880

I would have loved to have had some advance with Lok, but Amtrak was responsible for that. My wish was promptly granted, as a moving train could already be made out further up in the valley. It was P32AC-DM # 710 with Empire Service # 244.

Amtrak P32AC-DM # 710 with the Empire Service # 244

Amtrak P32AC-DM # 710 with the Empire Service # 244

Actually, the photo area was already done satisfactorily for me. I ran a few meters further towards the left bank when another driver from the south came again. Metro North also sent Local # 8856 pushed into the race by the P32AC-DM # 213. Of course, it didn't go unphotographed.

Metro North P32AC-DM # 213 pushes Local # 8856 towards New York

Metro North P32AC-DM # 213 pushes Local # 8856 towards New York

My partner went with me some that something was going from the opposite direction and so we changed the bridge side via the left bridgehead. We didn't have to wait long before Metro North had a look at it and sent us the Local # 855 pulled by P32AC-DM # 203.

Metro North P32AC-DM # 203 with Local # 855

Metro North P32AC-DM # 203 with Local # 855

Since Bear Mountain began to cast more and more shadows in the scenery and I was more than satisfied with the results of the last 45 minutes, we then walked back to the car.
The numerous barbecues at Hessian Lake were also dissolving, because the sun was now sinking rapidly towards the horizon. But I guess it would be enough to drive to Bear Mountain and watch the sunset there. So we drove once around the mountain to the top. We found a parking space immediately and so we could still enjoy the last 15 minutes until the sun sank behind the horizon, provided that this is possible in the crowd. In any case, we weren't alone.

Sunset on Bear Mountain

Sunset on Bear Mountain

The next thing to do was the drive to Elmsford. This time we drove over the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge and then down Route 202 in the direction of New York. Shortly before Elmsford we had a moment of horror to experience. When a vehicle was overtaken on the highway, it began - distracted by a mobile phone - to drift onto our lane. The pure reaction was my brusque braking maneuver, which avoided the collision. Fortunately, those behind me also had enough distance and reaction. Honestly, such A ******* just don't belong on the street!
I was wide awake afterwards. The remaining miles were then quickly through, but I was happy when we arrived at the motel.
After checking in, we went to a Wendy's for a short while, as we were both hungry.
The planning for tomorrow was very short. We don't really have much plans until we have to drop off the car in Newark in the early evening. I want to go up Bear Mountain again during the day, otherwise I can also use some time for train photos. Let's see what there is.

Sunday 25.8.2019

We took it easy today and got up when we woke up. We came out around eight-thirty and drove in the direction of Scarborough station. There is a very acceptable photo spot that we drove to. The weather was a bit difficult. Basically blue, but with a lot of fast moving clouds, so that it was an eternal sun / shadow play that we experienced. As is usually the case with such conditions, by far not every train in the sun went through. Local 8820 of Metro North pushed by P32AC-DM # 209 came through in half light.

Metro North P32AC-DM # 209 pushes Local # 8820 through Scarborough

The local 8822 fitted with the leading M7A 4062 almost cleanly. Scarborough was not chosen entirely by chance. In addition to Amtrak and the diesel-hauled locals to Poughkeepsie, there are also metro trains from Metro North from Croton-Harmon.

Metro North M7A 4062 as # 8822 in Scarborough

Only seconds after the M7A was out of the picture, the actual object of desire came, Empire Service # 260 pulled by P32AC-DM # 711.

P32AC-DM # 711 with the Empire Service # 260 in Scarborough

Satisfied, we left and drove towards Bear Mountain. Unfortunately, the weather got closer rather than up, the layer of clouds was thicker and at times the sun was no longer visible. Nevertheless, we drove up to Bear Mountain and enjoyed the view a bit.
We then drove to a lookout point in the direction of the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge. Insofar as it was just in time that there was just operation on both sides of the river. On the left there were two Metro North trains:

Two Metro North trains run around the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge.

On the right bank of the river, two unrecognized CSX machines brought a long autorack unit train into New York:

Two unrecognized CSX machines transport a long car train into New York.

Unfortunately the weather was rather poor at the moment. We decided to try our luck further south, where it looked a little brighter. So it went back down from Bear Mountain, then we followed the right bank of the river. In the meantime it was noon again and we were plagued by hunger. One of the open food requests for this vacation was a visit to Five Guys - the other one to Panda Express. The latter are unfortunately few and far between in the east, but we found Five Guys at a reasonable distance from Nanuet. And that is exactly where the journey now took us.
Satisfied, we drove on towards Newark. In advance, I had noted two bridge structures along the Hackensack River, which in themselves represent beautiful motifs. Unfortunately, I didn't ask a local about the possible access routes - a mistake as it turned out.
The first bridge is the Portal Bridge, which is located in the entrance to Penn Station. Before we found the right access road, we turned several times in a circle. A lot of construction sites and heavy traffic didn't make navigating the traffic easier. The intended access road was then banned and we couldn't find any replacement access. After about half an hour of unsuccessful turning around, we gave up and drove a little further into the river to the bridge at Harmon Cove. Again there was an unsuccessful turning around and not finding a suitable access route. Theoretically, there would be two unofficial exits on the New Jersey Turnpike - but the thing is a toll road and you just have to exit at an unofficial location? We did not find any other additions either. A little annoyed, we gave it up. Addendum: Since then I have contacted one or the other local about accessibility. Often the non-word "canoe" came back as an answer ...
There was still some time left and so we used our toll flat rate a bit and drove in slow traffic through the Lincoln Tunnel (at least 15 .- $) over to Manhattan and then north on the Henry Hudson Parkway. At the Henry Hudson Bridge there was another 7 .- $. We drove to the Riverdale stop. It's not a transfer but somehow typical for the Hudsonline. It was also advantageous that Amtrak and Metro North are already / still driving here. South of Riverdale then the paths separate. Amtrak continues along the Hudson to Penn Station, while Metro North runs along the Harlem River to Grand Central Terminal. Construction work was going on somewhere in the area around Riverdale and the track closest to the river was closed. In Riverdale there were platform extensions for boarding the metro trains, while the locals from Poughkeepsie drove south without stopping. The whole thing was beneficial for us in that there was a little more lateral perspective.
But first came a northbound. Metro North Local 8741 to Poughkeepsie pulled by P32AC-DM # 217 slowly crept into Riverdale.

P32AC-DM # 217 with the 8741 to Poughskeepie

A good quarter of an hour later there was a random crossing of two metro trains:

Crossing of two Hudson Line M7A trains in Riverdale.

Unfortunately, the sun was out for a while, but since an Amtrak Empire Service was still on the plan, we stayed. The clouds passed and the next Nortbound Metro North - Local 8743 pulled by P32AC-DM # 215 - pulled through in the sun.

Pulled by P32AC-DM # 215, train 8743 is on its way to Poughskeepie

But then Empire Service # 256 made it really exciting. According to the Amtrak app, he was a few minutes late. In terms of timing, however, that went through pretty much with a Metro North service in the same direction. Metro North came and stopped, while the Empire Service could be heard. In the meantime, a wisp of cloud made itself felt negatively. Metro North pulled away, the wisp of cloud cleared, Metro North was gone and then Empire Service # 256 pulled by P32AC-DM # 716 stepped onto the stage. Appropriately, it came on the third track and thus largely withdrew from the shadow cast by the platform roof. Kind!

Empire Service # 256 with P32AC-DM # 716 at Riverdale

Holidays can come to an end with such a photo. We moved to the car and then drove back onto the Henry Hudson parkway, pulling another $ 7.00 for the Hendry Hudson Bridge, then via the George Washington Bridge over to the other bank of the Hudson and on a direct route to Newark Airport. At a much too expensive gas station just before the airport, we filled up our mobile again, then it went to dollars. The return was done within minutes. Again we had to take the bus to the terminal where we only had to drop off our luggage. Boarding was announced a miserable 2.5 hours later. LX19 Newark - Zurich then brought us back to Zurich largely uneventful. Unfortunately we had a somewhat inconsiderate seat neighbor in the front. The legroom is pretty borderline for me at ~ 1.85 anyway. If the person sitting next to you at the front thinks he can push the backrest back as far as it will go without warning, then it becomes unreasonably tight for me. Then he just had to determine accordingly. Otherwise the flight was calm and almost 8 hours later we landed in Zurich. Shortly before, there was a pretty good view of the freshly snow-covered Mont Blanc massif.

A train ride later we arrived at home tired.

What is left of this vacation? To be honest: for me, a somewhat ambiguous picture in many areas. Basically, the main destination Maine and its coast would be really beautiful, pleasing and worth a trip. New York is New York - Big City and you could spend weeks there and see something new again and again. But I'm a little too little of a big city person for that.
But the experiences at Niagara Falls were mixed. Sure, the falls are beautiful, but the tourist climate all around is just plain crazy. Maine is beautiful, the coastal regions further down, so Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts were rather disappointing. Too closed up, too inaccessible - at least I expected more of it.And then there is the interior of New England - a lot is reminiscent of England, at least I often had the feeling that I was somewhere in Dorset / Somserset / Cornwall, etc. The typical American feeling with the great expanses never really came to me. The abundance of forests certainly also helped. Outside of the villages you drive through the forest for hours. And the holidays were overshadowed by the absolutely unnecessary problems with the rental car (status now: After several phone calls to the hotlines, multiple emails and references to a lawyer and so the amount will be paid back to us - let's see when it is in the account .. .)

From a railroad perspective, the area would definitely be worth a special trip. There would be a lot of shortlines and some interesting traffic. However, the initial effort for clarifying travel times and photo locations is much higher than in the west. Train tracking is difficult. The large amount of forest does not make it easy to see trains at all and, if so, to photograph them successfully. Let's see when it goes back to the area. The next long trip to the USA is definitely going to the west again, that much can already be revealed. But then another time on this channel.

This ends this series. I hope you enjoyed it.
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