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The "Rail to the Delaware State Fair" Special

From : "Gene Poon"
To : "all-aboard"
Date : Sun, 23 Jul 2000 21:56:16 -0700
Subject : {A-A} Trip Report: Amtrak to the Delaware State Fair

>From an Eastern correspondent, a report on this weekend's Rail To The Fair special to the Delaware State Fair:

-Gene Poon

The Rail to the Fair Special was designated Amtrak Train 931. Consist was two P42's, one on each end, and seven coaches with one cafe car.

They had to loop the train in order to get all the seats facing the proper direction (they said the seats did not turn). The train was 1/2 hour late as they had problems with the HEP circuits in the various engines and it took them that long to correct the problem. We had a technician ride with us for the entire trip!! While we were waiting an HHP8 headed west with 2 Amfleet cars to make two test round trips west (although I did not hear how far west.)

After we left PHL, we made stops at Claymont, Wilmington, Fairplay Station @ Churchman's Crossing (they even made an announcement to say that we were thefirst Amtrak train to stop at this station, just open about a month) to Newark, DE. There they changed ends (every time we did this it took forever) and headed onto the NS (Ex-PRR Delmarva Branch) Delmarva Secondary, passing Bear Shops. At Bear there are several Turbo sets and FL9's 488 & 489. We then turned south ward towards Middleton & Dover (State Capitol).

NS Keeps this track is pretty good condition as we for the most part averaged 40 - 45 MPH almost the entire distance we were on the Delmarva. After a couple of stops to pick up folks along the way we arrived at Harrington DE, site of the Delaware State Fair and most of the folks got off to head into the fairgrounds. Afterwards, those on the "rare mileage" portion had the train reverse back a short way to enable entering the Indian River Secondary which heads east from Harrington and then south to the Indian River Power Plant, on a spur to Frankford DE which is where we and the NS tracks ended. The track actually contunues on but is owned by the Sugar Hill Growers and operated by a short line. The Delmarva itself continues further south all the way to Cape Charles, where the Pennsy car floats to Norfolk left from. However most of that trackage south of Seaford DE is operated by the VAMD.

The Indian River track up to the spur off to the power plant again was in surprisingly good shape and again we were able to do around 40 MPH all the way except for a small section past the power plant spur to Frankford, where it was Yard Limit speed.

We arrived back at Harrington about 4PM around 1/2 hour late which gave about an a hour or so to take in a quickie at the Fair and just enough time to get a couple of nice shots of the train just outside the fairgrounds.

The trip back was good, and even with the ensuing mechanical problems on the engines (yes, HEP again) we only arrived about 15 minutes late.

This trip has been going on for about 8 or nine years now. From what I understand, it started out as a private venture where someone would pay for the train and then get reimbursed through tuicket sales. The train is now is a total Delware State run operation, even to the point of sending tickets by registered mail!! It no doubt cost them a pretty penny, as we had two full Amtrak Crews. One reported at 30th St and worked the train till we returned back to the Fair from Frankford where they were relieved by another crew which had deadheaded, I guess, from PHL. This was two sets of engineers and two sets of a Conductor and two AC's plus the technician and an Amtrak Trainmaster. We had a full complement of Norfolk Southern Supervisory and pilot crews, plus some of the NS MOW folks helping out with flagging, throwing switches, etc.

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