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July–December 2004 · $10.00 / San Diego Trolley · San Francisco Convention · BART Airport Extension


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he adlight s | july – december 20 04


BAY AREA’S TRACTION PARADISE By John Pappas Former California Street Cable Railroad 50 is westbound on that thoroughfare at Grant in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown. The ERA excursions didn’t touch Muni’s Cable Car Division lines, but a better picture to set the scene for an article on Bay Area traction can hardly be imagined. sandy campbell

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any would rate California as a traction fan’s paradise. As such, its epicenter has to be the San Francisco Bay Area and surrounding counties, to include Sacramento, some 85 miles to the east. Within a nine county area are just about every mode of public transportation you can find anywhere (other than, perhaps, funiculars) and one, cable powered transit, that is available nowhere else. There is more than enough in this area to fill three days of activities, as 105 attendees from three different continents found out during Labor Day weekend at the 2004 ERA Convention. In fact, we had to limit ourselves to just the highlights in order to fit everything in. That’s also true of this overview, which is meant to give an impression of what was seen and what there wasn’t time to see, for those who would care to follow in our footsteps at a more leisurely pace. he adlight s | july – december 20 04

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Bay Area’s Traction Paradise

sandy campbell

Kelley Park

Participants of Saturday’s San Jose day trip returning to chartered VTA Light Rail car after photo stop at Old Ironsides Station. From left, author John Pappas, ERA second vice president and corresponding secretary Raymond R. Berger, and ERA president Frank S. Miklos.

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Saturday, September 4

The afternoon was spent touring History Park at Kelley Park, located just south of downtown. Besides being a large urban park, History Park also features a zoo and a historic village made up of buildings and structures moved there from various parts of San Jose. A single-track streetcar line complements the old town flavor. At one corner of the village is located the shop of the San Jose Trolley Corporation where all of the historic cars underwent major rehabilitation, progressing from “chicken coops” found in fields, to operating streetcars authentically restored. The shop has stopped reconstructing cars as VTA’s budget problems preclude funding for operation of the existing cars on a regular basis, much less any impetus for finding and rebuilding any further examples. This is a real loss to the community, as the craftsmanship exhibited by the History Park shop during its brief tenure was nothing short of amazing. Sunday, September 5

San Francisco

No visit to the Bay Area would be complete without a tour of the “Muni”. The sheer variety of equipment San Jose The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority still in daily service begs the question “just which of (VTA) runs the 42-mile VTA Light Rail system (as the many cars should we use.” That was answered of December 2007, counting the Vasona line, which by having one of Muni’s own as our excursion opened in October 2005). In addition, VTA operates organizer, tour guide and motorman. Peter Ehrlich, historic trolleys along the downtown San Jose “loop” a Muni operator (now retired) and member of the during certain holidays and special events. At the Market Street Railway, the non-profit group largely time of our visit they were just completing a change responsible for present day F line operation and the in their entire fleet, replacing the original 50 UTDC preservation and operation of the large historic car high-floor LRVs with 100 new 70% low-floor cars fleet that serves that line, chose four of his favorites. built by Kinki Sharyo. We were treated to a ride on For our morning excursion we had two of Muni’s 1948 their newest extension to Alum Rock station in east double-ended PCCs and New Orleans 952, a classic San Jose as well as on the Tasman West branch to Perley Thomas car on loan to the city and under threat and from Mountain View, which opened in 1999. of being called back home. After lunch, the famous A tour of the yard at Younger Street noted a few of Blackpool, England “Boat” tram joined the entourage. the UTDC cars still on the property. Those cars have We toured the Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf and since begun new careers in Salt Lake (29 cars) and portions of the J, L, M and N lines with plenty of time Sacramento (21 cars). The group left the yard on two for strategically placed photo stops. The weather was examples of San Jose’s well maintained historic fleet: uncharacteristically hot, hovering in the low 90s, so car 1, built by the Sacramento Electric, Gas and Railway sun was in abundance and tour attendees looked in Company in 1903 and serving in that city until 1906 vain for those celebrated bay breezes. and Santa Cruz until 1923, and Milan Peter Witt 2001, which has been rehabbed, modified to a double ended configuration and given a pantograph.

he adlight s | july – december 20 04


Monday, September 6

Tuesday, September 7

Rio Vista

The Western Railway Museum at Rio Vista, about 57 miles northeast of San Francisco, was founded in 1960 and is now home to a collection of over 100 pieces of rail equipment which includes interurbans, streetcars and various types of mainline railway and miscellaneous equipment. The museum’s unique feature is a 22-mile stretch of once-electrified mainline on which to operate its equipment, six miles of which have been re-electrified to original standards. The line was once the Sacramento Northern’s main link between the Bay Area and the state capital. We were treated to rides on several examples of the museum’s equipment, including a Sacramento Northern Birney, Peninsular Railway interurban 52, Salt Lake & Utah open platform observation car 751 and Key System streetcar 352. Richmond Shipyard Railway 561 was of special interest, as it began life as Metropolitan Railway Manhattan elevated car 844. It was operated specially for our group.

Sacramento

Sacramento’s Regional Transit Light Rail system is operated by RT, short for Sacramento Regional Transit District. It consists of two lines totaling just over 37 miles. The system began operation in 1987 as a largely single-track line and has received constant infrastructure upgrades since then. Beginning in 2003 with the opening of the South Line, extensions are regularly being opened, including an extension to the suburb of Folsom (opened in October 2005), to the Sacramento Valley Amtrak station (December 2006), and engineering work for extensions from Meadowview to Cosumnes River College and eventually Elk Grove. Seventy-six cars are on hand plus 21 LRVs from San Jose which are being stored for future growth. As a convention extra for attendees who could stay the extra day, we rode trains in regular service to view the new South line to Meadowview Station. This line makes use of the 40 new CAF light rail vehicles built in Spain and delivered beginning in 2003. Besides these, RT operates a fleet of 36 Siemens-Duewag model U2A cars built in two batches (26 in 1985 and 10 in 1991). The 21 ex-San Jose cars mentioned earlier had all arrived by the end of 2004.

sandy campbell

Siemens

ERA trip and convention chairman Jack May boards VTA Light Rail car at Old Ironsides Station.

A rare opportunity was taken to visit the North American plant of Siemens Transportation in the southeast part of the area. This plant finishes light rail vehicles for all north American customers and plans to build the entire body shell in the future. On the production line during our visit were examples of SD 460 high-floor loading LRVs for St. Louis’ Metrolink, SD 660 low-floor cars for Portland’s Max and San Diego Trolley’s latest cars, the S70 Avanto 70% low-floor model. The convention was pronounced a success by the attendees. It was destined to be, with all the varied operations visited, the expert guidance of local fans and the ever-present leadership and hard work of ERA’s trip and convention chairman, Jack May. Special thanks go to Peter Ehrlich for making the Muni charters possible. Those are the highlights; the details can be seen in the pictures which follow.

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VTA Light Rail sandy campbell photos september 4, 2004 Looking out the rear cab of VTA Kinki Sharyo LRV (left page) at the view of the northern end of the 1.4 mile elevated structure which is the signature feature of the new Tasman East-Capitol light rail extension. Two stations are located on the elevated portion, one of which serves the Great Mall shopping complex. The extension opened just weeks prior to the ERA visit. A two-car train of Kinkis (top left), the usual consist, heads northbound along the generous right-of-way in the middle of the Capitol Expressway bound for Santa Teresa station in South San Jose. VTA 923 (bottom left) shows one of the elevated stations, Montague, as it travels north and westward from the terminal at Alum Rock to Mountain View Caltrain Station. This “modified T” service pattern was later changed so the Capitol route was served by main trunk trains to and from Santa Teresa.

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Bay Area’s Traction Paradise

San Jose Historic Trolley sandy campbell photos september 4, 2004 Ex-Milan Peter Witt 2001 (below) serves as the overflow fan trip car, seen here along the downtown “sidewalk” right-of-way.

A member enjoys the view out the front of historic car 1 (top right), during a fan trip through downtown San Jose. Historic cars (bottom left) are stored in a special bay at VTA’s Light Rail Division off Younger Street. Two generations of VTA LRVs (bottom right) frame historic car 1 at VTA’s Light Rail Division off Younger Street. Car 1 (right page) was built in 1903 for service in Sacramento, but spent most of its life in Santa Cruz. It was restored by the San Jose Trolley Corporation in 1985.

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he adlight s | july – december 20 04

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Bay Area’s Traction Paradise

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he adlight s | july – december 20 04


History Park at Kelley Park sandy campbell photos september 4, 2004 The San Jose Trolley Corporation shop, a seemingly magic place where six streetcars were brought back to life by some of the most skilled and knowledgeable craftsmen in the industry in the 1980s and early ’90s. The program is over, at least for now, but the products of that remarkable time are still around for traction enthusiasts to enjoy, hopefully for a long time to come. Central Railroad Company (San Francisco) horsecar 7 is posed just outside the shop (top left). This car dates from 1863. A view inside the shop where cars were reconstructed (bottom left), largely from weathered and often incomplete bodies. Seen in the background is a cable car, California Street 23, built in 1910 and awaiting further restoration. Car 124 (left page) does the honors on the tourist line at History Park at Kelley Park during ERA’s Saturday visit. Built for San Jose Railroads in 1912, it ran from 1988 until 1999 on VTA’s downtown historic trolley loop and has since been

repatriated to the place where it was re-born from a body shell in the mid-1980s. The tower above the car contains an arc lamp which was used to illuminate the town at night during the early days of electricity.

Near the entrance to History Park (above), a seldom used piece of trackage that serves as a spur. It saw use during ERA’s visit to allow one service car to pass the other.

Car 143 (above), a Fresno Traction Co. Birney dating from 1922, serves as the second car on the Historic Village Main Street streetcar line during ERA’s visit.

he adlight s | july – december 20 04

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Bay Area’s Traction Paradise

john pappas photos september 5, 2004 Our Muni excursion presented attendees with the opportunity to ride PCCs where they don’t normally go, in this case along the Embarcadero on the N line, the exclusive domain of Breda LRVs (right page). Muni has eventual plans for an E line, which will one day see regular streetcar service on this portion of track, intermingling with the LRVs and continuing north to Fisherman’s Wharf.

The end of the line for wide cars. The crossover at Carl and Hillway is as far out on the N line as conventional cars can travel due to restrictive clearances at the inbound wheelchair ramp at 9th & Judah. In this view (above), 9-foot wide “Torpedo” 1010 (St. Louis 1948) waits until its sister Torpedo 1007 and New Orleans 952 have their turn over the crossover.

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Stack-up on Jones Street. The three ERA excursion cars (top right) meet the regular service F car at its regular layover spot at Jones & Beach in the Fisher­man’s Wharf area. PCC 1055 (St Louis Car Co.) models the Philadelphia Transpor­tation Company 1940’s scheme in which it was delivered as their 2122 in 1948. Down to the sea on a Boat. The normally unused trackage on Taraval between 46th and 48th Avenues (bottom right) sees big activity for a few minutes in the afternoon while car 1010 operates to the end of trackage and the Blackpool, England Boat tram No. 228, a single-ender built in 1934, is backed down toward Great Highway, with the Pacific in the background.

ray berger

San Francisco Muni

The crew of the Boat tram (above) prepares the car for an afternoon out with the ERA convention attendees. Our host for the day was Peter Ehrlich, who is seen at the controls.

he adlight s | july – december 20 04


he adlight s | july – december 20 04

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ray berger photos september 5, 2004 New Orleans 952 (left page) emerges from the Sunset Tunnel at the west portal near Carl & Cole streets loaded with convention attendees. Still the pride of the F line, Muni car 1 of 1912, seen here (top left) at Market & O’Farrell. The car has since been taken out of service for a much needed rebuilding. Boeing 1320 (bottom left) wearing the Muni morph stripe scheme (copied from Philadelphia) and being prepared for duties as a wrecker, is on the loop track at Metro Yard. Nearing the end of an era under double overhead, Muni’s 28-year old Flyer trolley coaches (below) were living on borrowed time.

New ETI-Skoda 40-foot replacements had all arrived and delivery was well along on the 60-foot artic versions. At the time of our convention, the lower yard at Potrero was still home to over 25 of these workhorses.

The last major concentration of Flyers was on line 6-Parnassus. Their assignment there finally succumbed to concerns over assuring the line’s accessibility.

Coach 5277 (above) is seen outbound on Haight Street at Baker in a shot taken from the steps of Buena Vista Park. A few Flyers ran well into 2007 as morning trippers on line 41-Union.

john pappas

San Francisco Muni

At the time of our visit, Muni had just taken delivery of former Brussels, Belgium PCC 7037, seen tucked away inside Geneva yard (above). This car subsequently was painted in a commemorative Zurich tram scheme to honor that city’s Sister City status with San Francisco. It sees occasional use on the F line renumbered as 737.

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Western Railway Museum at Rio Vista ray berger photos september 6, 2004 Peninsular Railways 52 (right page) was constructed in 1903 and served that Southern Pacific subsidiary, operating between San Jose and Saratoga until abandon­ ment in 1934. It is seen here on the former SN mainline at Gum Grove Station on the day of our visit.

The pride of the Western Railway Museum is its 22-mile mainline. The line is still situated away from development and gives the feel of what it must have been like to ride the Sacramento Northern on the part of the line north of the Sacramento River delta

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through the Montezuma Hills. That feeling is conveyed in this photo (left) of Salt Lake and Utah observation 751 on the end of a three car train at Gum Grove Station during the ERA’s visit. Key System 352 (top right) is seen here painted in the scheme of the East Bay Street Railways, which it wore for much of the 1930s. The car was built to a standard wooden deck roof design in 1911 and extensively rebuilt during its 37-year career. ERA members, especially those from the east coast, were treated to a ride in a former Manhattan Elevated car, No. 844 (bottom right), brought to northern California during the early years of World War II and used to provide service on the Richmond Shipyard Railway, operating from Emeryville to Kaiser Shipyards. The car was built in 1887.

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he adlight s | july – december 20 04

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Sacramento Light Rail john pappas photos september 7, 2004 Sacramento RT 219 (left page) at the Meadowview terminal of the South Line (now designated the Blue Line). The line was opened September 26, 2003. 219 is one of an order for 40 vehicles delivered in 2002–03 and was the first to be built for a North American customer by CAF of Spain. A line-up of other light rail equipment at the yard (top left). Car 35 of Pacific Gas & Electric is used on occasion as RT’s historic car. It was reconstructed by the San Jose Trolley Corporation in 1986. 314, built by UTDC in Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1986, was recently acquired from San Jose. 116 is a SiemensDuewag U2A of 1987. 2004 was a year of continuing expansion in Sacramento, as the East Line (now part of the Gold Line) extended operation 2.8 miles from Mather Field-Mills to Sunrise. The extension contained three new stations, including this one at Cordova Town Center (bottom left) serving the separate city of Rancho Cordova. U2A 110 and train are westbound on June 11, 2004.

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Bay Area’s Traction Paradise

Siemens Transportation ray berger photos september 7, 2004 The floor at Siemens Transportation Systems in Sacramento during ERA’s visit (right page) shows the variety of orders receiving final assembly. In the foreground are SD660 70% low-floor cars for Portland’s Max. Toward the rear are a couple of examples of highfloor SD 460s for St. Louis’ Metrolink, their fourth order for this model. One example (painted in signature red) of an S70 Avanto for San Diego Trolley stands out at the rear. St. Louis Metrolink 4002 (right) poses in the delivery yard behind the plant. The plant has several hundred feet of track under live overhead for testing. The car has yet to receive the red and dark blue striping and Metro “M” logos. ERA members would encounter this car again on its home turf at the 2007 convention. E

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he adlight s | july – december 20 04


he adlight s | july – december 20 04

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Headlights 2004-02 Convention  

A special reprint of “Bay Area’s Traction Paradise” by John Pappas for the ERA 2004 Annual Convention in San Francisco.

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