Train Trip - Wilmington DE to NYC
Monday, July 7th, 2014



Be Forewarned..... This page is for hardcore transit fans.  If you do not like commuter rail, light rail, and subway systems, and the signals of, you may not want to spend your time here! :-)

My best friend from High School, and fellow railhead haven't been anywhere for a while.  So we had planned this trip to New York City last year, and never got a round tuit.  What we wanted to do was to take as many non-Amtrak trains as we could on our way to NYC.  The farthest from NYC we could accomplish this from is Newark DE, but because of the time we would be getting back, we had to settle for Wilmington DE (only a few SEPTA trains go as far as Newark).  The only Amtrak train we took, was from Newark NJ back to Wilmington, one because it was the quickest way back since I had to go to work the next morning, and secondly, it was too dark to take any more meaningful pictures. 

Too bad for us: there was one mode of transportation we wanted to take, but the Newark Airport Monorail was OOS (out of service) for maintenance.

For myself, the purpose was two-fold.  One was to ride trains, and secondly, to get as many signal pictures as I could for the various parts of my two websites: signals and the railfan guides.

General notes:

For you older riders out there, out of all of the systems we rode today: SEPTA, PATH, NJT, PATH, the NYC Subway, and Amtrak, only one of them offers a senior fare at 62, NJT.  All of the other systems make you wait till you are 65 :-(  With that said, one of the best deals in travelling anywhere in the United States has to be the trip from Camden NJ to Trenton NJ via the River Line light rail... the senior fare is only 70 cents!  Where else can you take a 30+ mile ride for that kind of change?

Subway and EL cars are also known as heavy rail cars, in contrast to light rail type transportation.  This has nothing to do with the weight of the cars, as (for instance), the Baltimore light rail cars weigh 54 tons empty, maybe more than many subway or heavy rail cars.  The two terms usually delineate the utilization of the cars in terms of carrying passengers.  In many of the larger subway systems, the cars run more often, and carry way more people than a typical light rail line.  Light rail systems have between one and three cars, where subway systems can have as many as 10 or 11 cars, and very often run at much shorter headways.  Anyone who has been on the New York Subway System during rush hour knows that you can often see the rear end of the train in front of you if you happen to be in the lead car watching out the front window.  Many light rail systems are lucky to run on 15 minute headways, regardless of the time of day!

Notes about signals:

The Northeast Corridor is mostly the ex Pennsylvania RR PL (Position Light) signals.  The vast majority of them have been colorized by Amtrak, and are generally referred to as PCL's (Position Color Light), as opposed to the CPL's (Color Position Light) signals of the B&O.  If you notice in the first section of pictures between Wilmington and Philadelphia, you will notice that south of Philly, there are some that are still all Pennsy yellow, complete with the center yellow marker lamp.

On the north side of the Wilmington Station, there are a couple of "high" pedestal signals mounted on the catenary support structure.  Rumor has it, since pedestals are slow speed signals, that they were placed here because of clearance issues, altho the right track has a standard, full size mast mounted signal.


Here's a map of the route we planned to take, and a portion of the NJT map in the busy area around Newark and New York.  Don't pay no tension to the location of Hoboken, for it's not geographically accurate :-)  We made a few mid-course corrections, for instance, we decided to go from Trenton directly to NYC on NJT via Secaucus.


Wilmington DE to Philadelphia PA
SEPTA Regional - Train #220 - Lv 06:05/Ar 06:55

We decided to take the first train out of Wilmington, because it got into Philadelphia about 50 minutes earlier than the first express, and we needed all of the sunlight we could get! :-)

        At the Wilmington Station.

      Signals in Wilmington.

  The Amtrak Control Center, across from the Wilmington Station..


    More enroute; yeah, people stared at me for acting like I did when I was 12  :-)

              As we approach the 30th Street Station from the south, the SEPTA Commuter trains move over to the left two tracks.

    SEPTA Regional Rail tickets.

        At 30th Street Station.

            Inside 30th Street Station.

            Inside 30th Street Station.

    Outside the 30th Street Station.


In Philadelphia
SEPTA Trolley - 30th Street - Out and Return - Lv 07:30/Ar 07:45

The SEPTA streetcars, or trolleys, are a combination of underground, or subway running, and above ground operation.  Just so we said we rode it, we rode the trolley from 30th Street east to the end of the line, let it do "the loop thing", and took the same car back to 30th Street.  More info can be found here.

                At 30th Street.

    At 19th Street.

        Sequence of signals at 30th Street.


In Philadelphia
SEPTA Market-Frankford Subway Line - 30th Street - Lv 07:49/Ar 07:54

Once back at 30th Street, we went upstairs and transferred over to the Market-Frankford Subway line platform.  We only needed to go one stop to the 15th Street station.  The last shot of a trolley above in the "at 30th St" set (all the way to the right) is taken from the heavy rail platform.



In Philadelphia
SEPTA Broad Street Subway Line - City Hall to Girard - Lv 07:59/Ar 08:02

We could have taken the Market-Frankford line over to 8th Street to catch PATH, but what fun would that have been to leave out two more lines?  So, we headed over to the Broad Street line and took it from City Hall to Girard Street, where we transferred to a Broad-Ridge Spur train.  Unlike the New York City subway system, the SEPTA subway lines are not as well signaled, especially in the stations.  I have a little more info here.

As shown below, the Broad Street cars use markers to indicate the kind of service they provide, something the casual rider or visitor/tourist most likely will not be aware of.  It appears that the newer cars do not have markers.


          At City Hall.

      Interior car shots, these are Kawasaki B-IV subway cars.

                  At Girard St.


In Philadelphia
SEPTA Broad-Ridge Spur - Girard to 8th Street - Lv 08:09/Ar 08:15

Another short ride, with interesting "stuff" to take in, like the emergency intercom seen below.  Girard BTW, is where you can go above ground and catch the Girard line streetcars (the green line at the top of the little map below).

            At Girard.


        At 8th Street.


Philadelphia PA to Camden NJ
PATCO Heavy Rail - 8th Street to Walter Rand Transportation Center - Lv 08:40/Ar 08:49

PATCO is an interesting independent transit line.  It goes from downtown Philadelphia, across the Ben Franklin  bridge, back underground for a while in Camden NJ, and then surfaces again once it gets out of the immediate congested downtown area.  The yard is at the southern end of the line in Lindenwold.

Over this summer (2014), the outbound/south track over the bridge was closed due to maintenance.  It is supposed to be closed for another couple of months.

PATCO on the Ben Franklin Bridge.

PATCO going underground in Camden.

Just slightly east of downtown Camden and the Walter Rand Transportation Center.

              At the 8th St station.


      Nice view from up here on the bridge :-)

    At the Walter Rand Transportation Center, Camden NJ


Camden NJ to Trenton NJ
NJT River Line Light Rail - Walter Rand Transportation Center to Trenton - 09:06/Ar 10:05 - Car #3509

The River Line is one of the few light rail systems that does not use overhead electric for its propulsion.  The city of Camden did not want "those ugly overhead wires" strung up, so they pushed for diesel powered cars.  The only other system in North America I know of that uses DMU's is Ottawa's "O-Train" light rail line.  The right-of-way from Pavonia up to Bordentown is shared with Conrail Shared Assets (CSX and NS).  The L/R shops are located adjacent to the north end of Pavonia Yard.  More info on the system can be found here in one of my railfan guides, the map below is from that page.  Note: The pictures shot from the LRV through the front window look "bad" because NJT put a screen across the whole window that separates the operators cab from the passenger compartment. Oh well.....

        In Camden

    In Burlington.

            Signals.  Signals on the River line are a mix of dwarf, mast, cantilever; color light and bar signals (when the signals could be confused with those for autos).


                In Trenton, cool dwarf signal, huh? :-)

at the Trenton NJ Amtrak/NJT Station



Trenton NJ to Newark NJ 
NJT Commuter Rail - Train #3838 - Lv 10:46 (scheduled 10:39)/Ar 11:55


at Amtrak's & NJT's Penn Station in Newark NJ


In Newark NJ

Newark Light Rail - Penn Station to Grove St- 12:16-12:35 - Car #101
Newark Light Rail - Grove St to Penn Station- 12:43-13:02 - Car #101

At Penn station


to Grove St



at Grove St


to Penn Station


back at Penn Station

         Murals to make riding transit more pleasant


  Working on a TVM (ticket vending machine)


Newark NJ to Secaucus Junction NJ

Nothing really exciting or unusual except for the smashboard Near Harrington NJ and the Passaic River.... Not very many of them left!


At Secaucus Junction NJ

During the rush hours, picture taking at Secaucus can't be beat.  ALL of the NJT commuter lines, except for four of the lines that originate in Hoboken and head towards Newark/Broad Street, go through Secaucus.  The station has two levels, one for the Amtrak North East Corridor trains and the NJT trains that use that route, and on the lower platforms, are the trains originating and headed to Hoboken.  As you can see, this was mostly a pit-stop for signal pictures.....



Secaucus Junction NJ to New York Penn Station

NJT Commuter Rail - Train #5176 - Car #7733 - Lv 14:01/Ar 14:09

This portion of our trip wound up being free.  Because we decided to grab a New York bound train as it came into the station, we did not have a ticket.  And because the ride is so short, the conductor never made it to us to sell us one... which is OK, for they tack on a $5 charge for issuing the ticket on the train.

  Our train arriving at Secaucus.

    Before going into the tunnel, you pass over two yards.

      Coach interior, I superimposed the other destination sign messages on the one picture

    For a brief moment, the tunnel into Penn Station in Manhattan is daylighted. 
If you look quickly while here, you can see the special signals used at ONLY Penn station and the approaches to.

  We arrive at Penn Station after a short 8 minute ride from Secaucus.

  Picture of the signals taken a couple of weeks earlier, more info and pics here

  For now, this small section of "underground" track remains exposed, but for how long?

In New York City
New York City Subway - Wahoo!

We took a quick trip on the subways of New York so we could do underground, EL, go under a river, check out Sunnyside Yard, and ride the shuttle tween Grand Central and Times Square, something I hadn't done for 30 years or more.  For most people, that shuttle isn't on their route and they never think of it.  At the Times Square end, you may notice heavy metal plates you walk over that they remove when the cars need to be serviced.  I also wanted to grab a few quick pictures of Metro North stuff down at the platform and an MN ticket.

Section 1: Penn Station to Times Square, IRT 2 train, Lv 15:15, Ar 15:16, car #7047
Penn Station "seems to have a life of it's own".  There is so much to do that you would never have to go above ground!


Section 2: Times Square to 57th St, BMT R train, Lv 15:21, Ar 15:25, car #9913


Section 3: 57th St to Queensboro Plaza, BMT Q train, Lv 15:26, Ar 15:36, car #8958, ooooops, can't get to Queensboro Plaza on the R train :-)

      New digital destination signs keep riders informed

        Coming out of the tunnel and into the station adjacent to the Queensboro Bridge on the Queens side of the East River

        A few of the many signals at Queensboro Plaza, many stations will have 1 or 2 mid-platform signals!

      A #7 train heads to Jamaica

    The Q train we just got off heads towards Astoria

Section 4: Queensboro Plaza to Grand Central, IRT 7 train, Lv 15:41, Ar 15:52, car #1917




At Grand Central Terminal (GCT)





Section 5: Grand Central to Times Square, Shuttle, Lv 16:45, Ar 16:50, car #1950





Section 6: Times Square to 34th St/Herald Square, BMT R train, Lv 17:03, Ar 17:06, car #9538


    I don't usually waste my time buying CD's from someone I have never heard of before,
but this guy was jamming so bad I just had to buy a couple!


New York 33rd St (Penn Station) station to Hoboken NJ
PATH Subway - Lv 17:20/Ar 17:35


In Hoboken NJ

If one had the chance to take pictures here over the years, you would have been able to see quite a lot of variety.  They even had steam here as recently as the 70's when 302 (Reading 2101) ran a fan trip out of here.  Closer to the tunnels, there used to be a tower where you could catch the commuter trains as they were coming out of Hoboken... great spot.





In Hoboken NJ
Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Line - Hoboken to Tonnelee - Lv 18:00/Ar 18:15 - Car #2003
Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Line - Tonnelee to Hoboken - Lv 18:27/Ar 18:43 - Car #2003

These pictures are more signal oriented than the rest of the light rail coverage because the signals are markedly different from the other NJT light rail lines.
If anyone has access to a rulebook that shows the aspects and their meanings, it would be most appreciated!




Hoboken NJ to Newark NJ/Broad Street  
NJT Commuter Rail - Train #708? - Car #1397 - Lv 19:12/Ar 19:25

  A monthly commuter rail pass, if you collect tickets, you can get all you want during the evening of the last day of the month! :-)

         While we're still in Hoboken.

                  In Newark NJ.

                  In Newark NJ.

              In Newark NJ.


In Newark NJ
Newark Light Rail - Broad St to Penn Station - Lv 19:50/Ar 20:00 - Car #101

This was the last transit ride of the day.

In the picture on the right, you will notice a small green light at ground level, this tells the operator which way the switch is thrown.




In Newark NJ
At Penn Station, the second time around.....


Newark NJ to Wilmington DE
Amtrak Train #175 - Cafe Car #43383 - Engine #654 - Lv 20:19/Ar 21:52
     Newark Airport  20:20-20:24
     Metropark  20:34-20:37
     Trenton  20:57-20:59
     Philadelphia  21:30-21:32

The final leg of the trip (outside of the drive home) was too dark to really take pictures, so we pretty much put the cameras away for the most part and took an Amtrak train to expedite getting home.  Since it was getting too dark for decent pictures, we traded our tickets for an earlier train, and we were only able to catch it because it was a thru train from Boston, and guess what, running late! :-)  We lost the hour we saved by taking an earlier train by getting stuck in a back-up on I-95 where we lost almost an hour! :-(




I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.  My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place.  There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages.  Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like.  I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion).  If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.  Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations.  I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area.  Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature.  While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!  

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


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