Jump to content


Photo

OTOL New York RailFest 2016 Trip Report


  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1 KevinKorell

KevinKorell

    Board Leader

  • Sr. Admin
  • PipPip
  • 59,553 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Howell, NJ
  • Interests:Making America TRAIN again!

Posted 09 April 2017 - 05:08 PM

Trip Report
OTOL New York RailFest 2016
January 15-17, 2016
by Kevin Korell

(Group photo in Chapter 4 by Steve Weagant)

 

 

Chapter 0: Introduction

 

OTOL's annual Winter outing for 2016 took place once more in the New York City area. We rode NJ TRANSIT commuter rail lines on Friday night and Sunday morning, and throughout the weekend the Metropolitan Transit Authority's New York City Transit, Long Island Railroad, and Metro North Railroad.

 

The only really new features in the area to exploit on this visit were the availability of one-seat service to New York from NJ TRANSIT's Raritan Valley Line, and the new 7 Line subway extension in Manhattan.

 

For members of our group who are Amtrak Guest Rewards (AGR) members, this weekend event presented last week opportunities to earn some points under the program's legacy rules (100-point minimum, 500 points between selected city pairs on Acela Express). Many therefore worked in a trip to Boston on various Acela Express trains in conjunction with their visit to the New York area for the Fest. There were also three official Amtrak trips planned as part of Fest activities.

 

Chapter 1: Preparation

 

In order to accommodate a Raritan Valley Line trip, this Fest had to include a Friday night in addition to the weekend days, since the through service has not yet been offered on weekends. With that in mind, a three-day Fest was announced in early November of 2015. It was a little earlier than normal, but it had to be so because other announcements regarding the following Summer also had to be put together.

 

OTOL New York RailFest 2016 got the usual homepage, which included links to, among other things, the itinerary we would be following.

 

Since we hadn't done it since the last decade, we planned to ride subway lines in Brooklyn leading to and from Coney Island, as well as having lunch at the legendary original Nathan's. Originally, the plan was to ride the N train out to Coney Island over the Sea Beach Line, and return from Coney Island on the D trains over the West End Line. However, within a couple weeks of the Fest, MTA New York City Transit announced a series of service changes for the weekend that included no D service at all in Brooklyn, no service over the Sea Beach Line at all, and N trains running via the West End Line to replace the D. To provide us with a different routing back to Manhattan, the Q route over the Brighton Line was chosen. The necessary last minute adjustments were made to our itinerary.

 

A Saturday dinner was planned and agreed upon for Mahoney's Irish Pub and Steakhouse in Poughkeepsie, with the two Amtrak trips on the Empire Corridor (namely the Ethan Allen Express and Adirondack) as bookends. Penny Jacobs handled calling the restaurant a few times to ascertain they could accommodate our group and serve us within the two hour, 35 minute schedule timeframe we would be there between trains.

 

A Sunday activity was also planned to include the one of the few Amtrak Keystone train that stops at Princeton Junction on weekends, and riding the shortened NJT Princeton Branch and see the new building at the relocated station.

 

Chapter 2: Getting to New York

 

One aspect of our Fests I am always proud of is that we draw people from all over the United States. NYRF was no exception as people came to the New York City area from Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, and quite a few Midwestern states.

 

They came by train and by air. Several folks came up from Florida on the Silver Meteor, getting to New York on Thursday, January 14th. We also had a number of people come into the area on Friday arriving on the Pennsylvanian.



Kevin Korell


OTOL Board Leader


Howell, NJ

#2 KevinKorell

KevinKorell

    Board Leader

  • Sr. Admin
  • PipPip
  • 59,553 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Howell, NJ
  • Interests:Making America TRAIN again!

Posted 09 April 2017 - 05:14 PM

Chapter 3: Friday, January 15, 2016

 

Friday's activity was strictly a nighttime trip in the dark, as 9 people already in town for the weekend rode out to Plainfield and back.

 

Chapter 3.0: Meeting in New York

 

At Penn Station's Amtrak Club Acela, seven people met to embark on the first official trip of our Fest. The group for this evening trip inluded Sloan Auchincloss, Piotr Dzwonek, Preston Holland, Penny, Lou Petrillo, Misty Robinson, and me. We found out that our first train would be on Track 1, so we headed downstairs in order to board ahead of the throngs coming from the station's main waiting room. While waiting, we saw Stephen Montero, who was just arriving on another train on Track 2 but would not be able to join us tonight. As soon as our Northeast Corridor train #3171 was announced, we went down and found seats on the train.

 

Chapter 3.1: NJ TRANSIT Northeast Corridor Line, Train #3171, New York, NY Penn Station to Newark, NJ Penn Station

 

Our train was crowded as expected, being smack in the middle of Friday evening's rush hour. We left New York at 5:49 PM, four minutes late. An uneventful trip, with one intermediate stop in Secaucus, brought us to Newark Penn Station at 6:08 PM, also four minutes off the advertised. With our next train scheduled to depart at 6:24, we still had plenty of time to change trains, which involved going downstairs from the Track 3/4 platform and upstairs to the platform for Track 5.

 

Chapter 3.2: NJ TRANSIT Raritan Valley Line, Train #5743, Newark, NJ Penn Station to Plainfield, NJ

 

Joining us at Newark Penn Station were Don Sillence and Dave Korkhouse. They boarded our Raritan Valley Line train in a different car, so we would not see them until Plainfield. Now a group of 9, we departed Newark Penn Station at 6:27 PM, three minutes down. Our train was an express, headed for High Bridge but only making one intermediate stop at Westfield before Plainfield. We arrived at Plainfield at 6:50 PM, still three minutes late with our scheduled 13 minute layover cut to 10.

 

Now up to nine people, we walked downstairs and through an underpass before going upstairs again to the eastbound platform.

 

Chapter 3.3: NJ TRANSIT Raritan Valley Line, Train #5150, Plainfield, NJ to New York, NY Penn Station

 

Being a very straight rail line, it was not long before we saw the headlight of our train in the distance. We left Plainfield 2 minutes late at 7:02 PM. This train was much less patronized than the outbound train we had just ridden. We made all local stops on this run. Our train ran into a delay at the switch in Roselle Park before the Aldene Connection as it is a single track choke point. Our crew twice spoke on the public address system blaming the dispatchers for favoring other trains.

 

We again did not have to change trains at Newark Penn Station, which we got to about 7 minutes late. Remaining aboard to New York, we arrived there exactly on time at 8:02 PM, thanks to schedule padding.

 

Chapter 3.4: End of Friday's activities

 

The short, single round trip completed, most of those present would be returning the next morning for the longest and busiest day of our weekend event. When we arrived, our group went its separate ways to home or hotels.



Kevin Korell


OTOL Board Leader


Howell, NJ

#3 KevinKorell

KevinKorell

    Board Leader

  • Sr. Admin
  • PipPip
  • 59,553 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Howell, NJ
  • Interests:Making America TRAIN again!

Posted 09 April 2017 - 05:20 PM

Chapter 4: Saturday, January 16, 2016

 

Our busy Saturday featured trips on the Long Island Railroad, several subway trips, and Amtrak, sandwiched around a lunch stop in Coney Island and a dinner stop in Poughkeepsie. All 23 people who attended this Fest were involved at some time on Saturday, although never all at the same time. Our peak was 20 people.

 

Chapter 4.0: Meeting in New York

 

A much larger group met at New York's Penn Station on Saturday morning. Some first met in the Club Acela, while others went to the Long Island Railroad waiting area as the arrangement was. Returning from the previous evening were Don, Dave, Penny, Misty, Preston, Lou, Sloan, and me. Joining us here were Chris Wyatt, Steve Weagant, Tyler Sabo, Dick McCauley, Stephen Montero, Mike Hammond, and John Corbett. The 15 of us went down to Track 21 as soon as it was announced as the departure track for our train.

 

Chapter 4.1: MTA Long Island Railroad Port Washington Branch, Train #6416, New York, NY Penn Station to Port Washington, NY

 

Our first Saturday conveyance departed from Penn Station at 8:50 AM, 2 minutes late. We proceeded east through the East River tunnel, surfacing in Queens. Joining us at Woodside was Alan Burden, bringing our total for the LIRR journey to 16. Our trip continued through Queens and into Nassau County, coming into the Port Washington station at 9:36 AM, just one minute late.

 

Often when putting together these Fest itineraries, I allow for lateness at the endpoints, as well as some leg stretching time where the schedule allows. Port Washington Branch trains run every half hour, so with the choice between 9:39 and 10:09 AM, I had put the latter on the itinerary to avoid a too tight dwell had we been much later than we were. As things turned out, the 9:39 train was still loading across the platform from where we had arrived, so we went for it rather than standing outside. It would put us 1/2 hour earlier for a while, giving us more time for lunch. Those planning to meet us later in the day were alerted to our running early.

 

Chapter 4.2: MTA Long Island Railroad Port Washington Branch, Train #6423 Port Washington, NY to Flushing, NY

 

This train left Port Washington on time at 9:39, so we were in town all of three minutes. Along our westbound trip, Sloan left us at Great Neck for a previously planned lunch engagement. Fifteen of us remained on the westbound train to our stop at Flushing, where we arrived at 10:08 AM, 3 minutes late. Tyler and Dick remained aboard this train to Penn Station in order to do other activities (they would rejoin us later), while the other 13 detrained.

 

The stairway from the station platform down to the street was a little bit slippery due to recent weather, so it slowed us down a bit more. We walked through the crowded streets of Flushing to get from the LIRR station to the subway. Joining us here was Kevin Noell, so we now had 14 travelling together.

 

Chapter 4.3: MTA New York City Transit 7 train, Flushing-Main Street to 34th Street-Hudson Yards

 

We boarded the next waiting 7 train, and soon departed at 10:23 AM, which was 22 minutes ahead of our itinerary. Although we had been on a train half an hour earlier, that train's lateness plus our needing to be careful descending from the LIRR station took a few minutes back.

 

A weekend service change that called for westbound 7 trains running express past several Queens stations was supposed to have worked in our favor, gaining us a few minutes. However, what was supposed to be a 37 minute ride ultimately turned out to be 40 minutes. After negotiating what was new trackage to many beyond Times Square to 34th Street-Hudson Yards, we arrived at the latter at 11:02 AM (now only 20 minutes ahead of the original itinerary). Once there, we went across the very wide platform to a waiting outbound train, and prepared for the next departure in the other direction.

 

Chapter 4.4: MTA New York City Transit 7 train, 34th Street-Hudson Yards to 42nd Street-Times Square

 

A short two minute run back through the city's newest in revenue subway segment brought us from 34th Street-Hudson Yards to 42nd Street-Times Square, where we arrived at 11:11 AM. We transferred there to the N train, on whose platform we met Bill Magee and his wife Marie. They brought our travelling party back to 16.

 

Chapter 4.5: MTA New York City Transit N train, 42nd Street-Times Square to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue

 

N trains sometimes run express and sometimes local through Manhattan. Our train left from 42nd Street-Times Square at 11:19 AM on the local track, and thus made local stops until it switched to the express tracks to cross the Manhattan Bridge. Just before we got to that switch, we were passed by a Q train, and through the window spotted Piotr on the other train! He got off that train at Canal Street and boarded our train for the ride out to Coney Island. Our group had grown to 17 people now.

 

As mentioned above, after we left the 36th Street station in Brooklyn, we switched to the D route, following the West End Line to Coney Island. We arrived there at 12:15 PM, which was 23 minutes sooner than called for on our itinerary. We walked over to Nathan's.

 

Chapter 4.6: Lunch at Coney Island

 

Joining us in Coney Island was Bill & Marie's son, also named Bill, bringing our total to 18. We found Nathan's to be a little crowded. Most of us opted to remain there for lunch; however with not enough table space we ended up eating outside. Luckily for us it was not bitterly cold, just a bit breezy being so close to the Atlantic Ocean.

 

  coney.jpg

 

After eating, some of us walked up to the boardwalk and into a pavilion over the beach. Preston even went across the beach to the surf line. We spent some time there and then walked back to the subway station to meet the others and prepare for our inbound trip back to Manhattan.

 

Chapter 4.7: MTA New York City Transit Q train, Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue to 34th Street-Herald Square

 

Back at the station, we found we had all 17 people accounted for. We therefore were able to leave on an earlier Q train than planned. We departed at 1:35 PM. Just like our earlier trip on the 7, we ran express for a while bypassing several stations, on a track normally used by the weekday-only B train.

 

Before we knew it, we were going over the Manhattan Bridge for the second time today, and then into the subway tunnel again for a quick express ride up to 34th Street-Herald Square. Along the way, Piotr detrained at 14th Street-Union Square, so it was 17 of us who arrived at Herald Square and then walked the long block west on 32nd Street to Penn Station.

 

Once at Penn Station, our group was adjusted once more. Kevin Noell was done for the day, and he made his way to his hotel. Joining us there for the evening activities were Will Malpartida and Alan's mother Grace. And returning from earlier in the day were Tyler and Dick. For the rest of the day we would have 20 people together. We rested for a bit in the Club Acela, and then chipped in to have a Redcap escort us to the train in order to get seats ahead of the crowd waiting on line.

 

Chapter 4.8: Amtrak Train #291, Ethan Allen Express: New York, NY Penn Station to Poughkeepsie, NY

 

Because we were pre-boarded, we did not pass any of the crew en route, thus we did not know whether we were in the correct coach for the Poughkeepsie stop, as limited doors are opened at intermediate stops. We ended up spread among two cars, and found out when our tickets were scanned that our exit would be to the rear of one of those cars. We left New York 2 minutes late at 3:17 PM. And with no delays, we got into Poughkeepsie on time at 4:39 PM.

 

We were lucky in that our northbound train used the Track 2 and the platform on the river side of the station, which one might expect to be the southbound platform. Thus when the 20 of us filed off the train, we did not need to go up into the station and just walked across the parking lot to Mahoney's.

 

Chapter 4.9: Dinner at Mahoney's Pub and Steakhouse

 

The restaurant was ready to accept us, and they seated us at two adjacent tables in the rear. They also let us spread out to a third table so that some who wanted to could see a football game on the large screen television. We still had a view through a window of the train station, and did get to witness the New York-bound Lake Shore Limited making its stop there. The process of ordering went smoothly, and our food came out in a reasonable time. Hats off to Mahoney's for excellent service of 20 hungry railfans, but also getting us taken care of well before we had to worry about making our return train back to New York City.

 

We were out of the restaurant by about 6:45 PM, giving us half an hour before the scheduled departure of the southbound Adirondack. Many of us went upstairs to explore the station and wait in warmer conditions.

 

Chapter 4.10: Amtrak Train #68, Adirdondack: Poughkeepsie, NY to New York, NY Penn Station

 

Our train was shown on the station monitors to be expected on Track 2, the same track that we had arrived on. Soon all of us were down on this track waiting for the train. We knew by this point that #68 was running a bit late. Soon came an announcement that we would now be boarding on Track 3, which is on another platform closer to the station. That meant everyone going up either the stairs or elevators, and then down another set of stairs or another elevator.

 

The Adirondack ended up departing from Poughkeepsie at 7:36 PM, 21 minutes late. With no further connections to make and the known padding into New York City, we were not overly concerned. Although we all did not get to sit together, we all found empty seats within the coach we were directed into. After our intermediate stops at Croton-Harmon and Yonkers, we made our approach into New York's Penn Station, finally arriving there at 8:55 PM. We were just 5 minutes down upon arrival.

 

Chapter 4.11: End of Saturday's activities

 

What was by far the Fest's busiest day in terms of activities and participants had come to an end. From Penn Station we broke up for the day and our participants made their ways home or to hotels.



Kevin Korell


OTOL Board Leader


Howell, NJ

#4 KevinKorell

KevinKorell

    Board Leader

  • Sr. Admin
  • PipPip
  • 59,553 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Howell, NJ
  • Interests:Making America TRAIN again!

Posted 09 April 2017 - 05:28 PM

Chapter 5: Sunday, January 17, 2016

 

Sunday's activity featured rides on Amtrak, NJ TRANSIT, and Metro North, with some subway trips as well. Total participants on Sunday came out to 17, but our maximum together was 15.

 

Chapter 5.0: Meeting in New York

 

At New York's Penn Station our group convened for our Sunday morning activity, a round trip to Princeton using Amtrak in one direction and NJ TRANSIT the other, as well as the Princeton (Dinky) Shuttle. The 14 people, all of whom were returning from the previous day, were: Chris, Steve Weagant, Stephen Montero, Kevin Noell, Don, Lou, Dick, Dave, Penny, Mike, Piotr, John, Alan, and me. We met both inside and just outside of the Club Acela. This time we just boarded the train down the escalator from the departure level with everyone else, as it was Sunday morning and we were sure we would find seats together.

 

Chapter 5.1: Amtrak Train #663, Keystone: New York, NY Penn Station to West Windsor, NJ-Princeton Junction

 

Our first conveyance of the day began its trip just one minute late at 9:10 AM. It was a quick, uneventful trip down the Northeast Corridor, with an on-time arrival at Princeton Junction at 9:56 AM. Once we got there, we walked over to the shuttle platform, and went inside a small indoor waiting room for the train to arrive.

 

Chapter 5.2: NJ TRANSIT Princeton Branch, Train #4223, West Windsor, NJ-Princeton Junction to Princeton, NJ

 

Kevin Noell opted not to ride out to Princeton & back, so he remained in Princeton Junction while the other 13 of us took the short excursion. Our train left Princeton Junction on time at 10:08 AM, and got to Princeton 10:13 AM. No attempt by the lone conductor was made to observe or collect fares.

 

In Princeton, with just a 6 minute layover before the same equipment would return to Princeton Junction, we quickly observed the new station, and some walked around briefly to glance at the construction at Princeton University that resulted in the line being cut back to its present location.

 

Chapter 5.3: NJ TRANSIT Princeton Branch, Train #4224, Princeton, NJ to West Windsor, NJ-Princeton Junction

 

It was another uneventful 5-minute trip back from Princeton to Princeton Junction. That lack of events once again included no action by the same conductor to acknowledge anyone had paid for this trip. Those who had purchased paper tickets Princeton to New York would still have them lifted on the next train. This trip began at 10:19 AM and ended at 10:24 AM.

 

Once back at Princeton Junction we walked through the tunnel underneath the Amtrak right-of-way, and up to the New York-bound platform to await our train. We were rejoined there by Kevin Noell.

 

Chapter 5.4: NJ TRANSIT Northeast Corridor Line, Train #7826, West Windsor, NJ-Princeton Junction to New York, NY Penn Station

 

This train left Princeton Junction on time at 10:32 AM. Bill had boarded this train down the line at Hamilton, so his presence increased our group count to 15. He however was at the rear of the train, while we boarded closer to the front, so we did not see him until we arrived into New York. This train remained on time throughout its journey, which ended at 11:48 AM.

 

We shuffled the deck on participants once more. Leaving us here were Stephen Montero, Piotr, and Dick. The other dozen, after a short break in the Club Acela, embarked on an outdoor walk from Penn Station to Hudson Yards, mostly along 34th Street. Because it was a bit windy, we walked at different paces thus some got there first and had to wait for the rest.

 

The walk gave us a brief chance to see the growing neighborhood around Hudson Yards, full of new buildings going up. Meeting us there was Preston, who would join us for the rest of the day.

 

Chapter 5.5: MTA New York City Transit 7 train, 34th Street-Hudson Yards to 42nd Street-Grand Central

 

A number of our participants decided to try out the station's inclinator (a cross between a funicular and an elevator), which is understandable since there are only several of them in this country. They serve their purpose, but they tend to be slower than a traditional elevator. After waiting a few minutes for the inclinator group to arrive, the 13 of us boarded the next outbound 7 train.

 

This trip would take us from 34th Street-Hudson Yards (which we left 1 minute late at 12:23 PM) to Grand Central Terminal for lunch. Along the way, Bill left us at the 5th Avenue/42nd Street/Bryant Park station to get his lunch elsewhere and then rejoin us later. The other 12 arrived at Grand Central at 12:29 PM.

 

Chapter 5.6: Lunch at Grand Central Terminal

 

We split up here to get lunch on our own either within or outside the crowded terminal, to meet up again at 1:30 before our next train trip. More change to our group was to come as Lou and Chris left us here. Misty rejoined us from yesterday, and Bill was back from his own lunch stop as well. Thus we would still be a group of 12.

 

As departure time approached, some of us met upstairs by the information booth, while others, knowing our outbound train was assigned to Track 105 on the lower level, went directly down there. Soon we all were by the entrance to Track 105, and awaited word that our train would be boarding.

 

Chapter 5.7: MTA Metro North Railroad Harlem Line, Train #9537, New York, NY Grand Central Terminal to North White Plains, NY

 

Our Harlem Line train left Grand Central on time at 1:54 PM. It was a quasi express, making some stops en route but skipping many too. At White Plains, John temporarily left us, leaving 11 to continue to the last stop at North White Plains. We arrived there at 2:44 PM, 6 minutes early, no doubt the result of schedule padding. This left us with 15 minutes layover vs the 9 minutes expected. Luckily the station had shelters with heating elements, so we could stay warm if we didn't wish to walk around.

 

Chapter 5.8: MTA Metro North Railroad Harlem Line, Train #9638, North White Plains, NY to New York, NY Grand Central Terminal

 

Our inbound train was one that originated at Southeast, so we were a mere intermediate stop on its journey. We left North White Plains at 2:59 PM, right on time, and picked up many more passengers (including John) a few minutes later at White Plains. This train ran express the remainder of its trip, stopping only at 125th Street. John left the train here to catch another Metro North train. The other 11 remained on board to Grand Central Terminal, where we arrived at 3:47 PM, just one minute late.

 

Chapter 5.9: End of Sunday's activities

 

With our arrival back into New York our official activities together were over, as was the whole Fest. Participants either went home, back to hotels, or embarked on point earning Amtrak trip segments on their own. Many of us rode together on S and 1 subway trains to Penn Station before splitting in different directions.



Kevin Korell


OTOL Board Leader


Howell, NJ

#5 KevinKorell

KevinKorell

    Board Leader

  • Sr. Admin
  • PipPip
  • 59,553 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Howell, NJ
  • Interests:Making America TRAIN again!

Posted 09 April 2017 - 05:30 PM

Chapter 6: Getting home from New York

 

They went home as they came. Again there were some point runs taking place on Monday and folks of course left the area to make their ways home by rail and air that day as well.

 

Chapter 7: Conclusion

 

Thanks to all 23 participants for coming out in January for our activities. Our weather overall cooperated so things were not too bad during the event. It was a pleasure putting it together, and it seems that everyone had a great time.

 

The next event the group would look forward to after this one would be a return to the West Coast in July, the OTOL Pacific Coast RailFest 2016.



Kevin Korell


OTOL Board Leader


Howell, NJ




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users