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Earle Baldwin

FL9 Cab Ride

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The Holy Grail of the railroad enthusiast has always been the thrill of the cab ride. Growing up during the 1960's and 70's, I had the great fortune of spending many hours on different engine types courtesy of very kind railroad managers and operating employees. Unfortunately, times have changed significantly. Security paranoia and the philosophy of a very litigious society have rendered the railfan cab ride extinct. Thanks to former railroad employee Mr. Walter Berko and his Railroad Video Productions (RVP), hobbyists still have the opportunity to ride the head end on numerous North American routes.

 

While RVP's catalog features many trackside programs, it is best known for its extensive selection of cab ride videos. One such offering is Program Catalog Number 22B which is titled "Lake Shore Limited: Croton-Harmon to Grand Central." Taped in October 1985, the FL9 still served as the primary motive power for Amtrak trains to and from Grand Central Terminal and we have the opportunity to ride the head end of Number 48, the Lake Shore Limited, on the last leg of its journey from Chicago to New York City.

 

With railroading in his blood, Mr. Berko does an excellent job of highlighting signals and stations which are passed en route. Several opposing Metro-North trains consisting of early Metropolitan multiple unit cars are seen. MNCR was engaged in extensive maintenance of way projects at the time and a great deal of maintenance equipment is observed along with the concurrent effect of slow orders. Restricted speeds aside, the FL9's 567 engine still has plenty of opportunities to "raise the roof" to keep 48 as close to schedule as possible, providing the viewer with a pleasing amount of the sweet sound of a vintage EMD engine running at high speed. Of particular interest is the distinct sound of the locomotive switching to third rail electric power as it enters the terminal. By the time the train arrives at the platform, the only discernible sound is the whine of the traction motors. The program was taped on a beautifully sunny day and provides for a wonderful trip down the Hudson Line.

 

As an ardent admirer of the craft of professional railroading, I recommend this and any of Railroad Video Productions' cab ride programs without hesitation. I can watch them over and over again. Each DVD program is priced at $26.95and is obtainable from the Strasburg Rail Road Shop in Lancaster County, PA or on line at http://www.strasburgrailroadstore.com. Used VHS copies of RVP programs at significantly reduced prices appear frequently at meets and on line, presenting another option for their acquisition. Whatever strategy you choose, you can't go wrong with the purchase of these superb programs.

 

Happy railroading,

 

Earle

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