Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Red Arrow All-Nighter

SEPTA; Upper Darby, Penn.; March 2, 2014
This year will mark the 50th Anniversary of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, which unified most bus, streetcar and light rail service in and around Philadelphia in 1964 (heavy rail operations were later added in 1981). While no formal large scale celebration has been yet planned, there have been some rumblings and rumors about smaller scale acknowledgements of the anniversary, some coming from employees and management within the organization. One of those smaller scale acknowledgements came on the night of March 1 (into the early morning of March 2) when a group of employees from SEPTA's Red Arrow Division (the operator of suburban service based out of 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby) and members of the railroad media took Kawasaki car No. 101 out for a set of night photos to be used by SEPTA and for magazine publicity. Car No. 101 is wrapped in the colors of the Philadelphia & West Chester Traction Company, a Red Arrow predecessor that would have celebrated its centennial in 2013.

The trip was designed to use both the Sharon Hill and Media lines of the hybrid streetcar/light rail route out of 69th Street, operating overnight when there are no regular service cars out on the line. Beginning just before midnight, the first stop was made just outside the terminal where car 101 posed with the wire car used on the routes. This stop allowed the last of the regular service cars to get back into 69th Street for the night.
SEPTA; Upper Darby, Penn.; March 1, 2014
By this time the clock had ticked past midnight into the morning of March 2. The first stop was made in Drexel Hill next to a church. Lady Camille, who models professionally, was along to add some life to many of the scenes.
SEPTA; Drexel Hill, Penn.; March 2, 2014
On the Sharon Hill Line, the next stop was made in the residential area of Aldan where the tracks are in the street; much of the Red Arrow Division trackage is actually on private right-of-way like the interurbans of old.
SEPTA; Aldan, Penn.; March 2, 2014
And once again Lady Camille posed for a shot with car No. 101.
SEPTA; Aldan, Penn.; March 14, 2014
The Red Arrow Division has several small stone stations along the way, and a couple of these were used for stops during the night. The next-to-last station on the Sharon Hill line is at McDade Boulevard in Collingdale.
SEPTA; Collingdale, Penn.; March 2, 2014
Heading back towards the city, another shelter -- this one at Aldan that is now a small museum -- was used. Unlike McDade Boulevard and most of the other stations, this one is located on street running and thus sits back from the track.
SEPTA; Aldan, Penn.; March 2, 2014
Now it was time to head out on the line to Media. The signature shot on that line is crossing the bridge at Smedley Park in Springfield.
SEPTA; Smedley Park, Springfield, Penn.; March 2, 2014
Downtown Media has some very interesting buildings along State Street, with the Red Arrow line occupying the middle of said street. One is the Media theatre.
SEPTA; Media, Penn.; March 2, 2014
Moving towards the very end of track, a nice bank building is also found along State Street. Both the theatre and the bank are located on the south side of State Street, which means they would be against the sun for photography on a nice day. Night photos proved to be the best way to capture them.
SEPTA; Media, Penn.; March 2, 2014
The clock was rapidly ticking the night away, and soon it would be time for the morning regular service cars to come out of 69th Street. One last photo stop was made at a signal at Springfield. From there, it was back to Upper Darby for a sunrise arrival, ending a very interesting night of photography.

All the photos were illuminated using Alien Bees strobe units provided by Bruce Barry, Michael Burkhart, John Gabriel and yours truly. More photos from this trip can be found here.

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