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Date: 09/13/20 06:15
Harold Interlocking
Author: steveandrews

I am a Mid-Westener who will be making a railfanning trip to the New York area for the first time. I have several questions, which I hope someone can help me with.

1. Is it possible to view the Harold Interlocking safely?
2. Where is it possible to safely (and legally) watch rush hour traffic?
3. Are there any areas where freight traffic can be seen?
4. Are the any links to websites with relevant info?
5. Is it safe (and legal) to watch trains at any of the termini stations?
6. Is it safe (and legal) to watch trains at Newark Penn station?

All info will be gratefully received!

Thanks, Steve

Steve Andrews
Ames, IA



Date: 09/13/20 08:06
Re: Harold Interlocking
Author: sixaxlecentury

It is -kind- of visible along Skillman Ave.  Parking is hit or miss. Photography is not great do to plenty of anti-railfan fancing.   Best way to see it is take a Train to/From Penn. 

No freight traffic that far West.  

If you want to see a variety of Rush Hour traffic, go over to Newark Penn or Secaucus.  Theres much more to see then Silver Slugs on the LIRR.  



Date: 09/13/20 08:13
Re: Harold Interlocking
Author: sums007

You don't say exactly where you'll be, but if you're in Manhattan, you can take the E,F, M or R to Queens Plaza, then walk down Queens Blvd.  Queens Blvd crosses the LIRR/Amtrak trackage on an overpass at the west throat of Sunnyside Yard.    I used to go there for the PM rush.  Harold Tower is visible from there, IIRC.
For Newark Penn, I've taken PATH from Manhattan, and have stayed on the platform for hours.  All this, though, was a few decades ago, and since 9-11, train watching at Newark may have changed.

Freight train viewing is limited.  You might try the CSX River Line over on the Jersey side if you have a car.  On the Manhattan side, freights are few.



Date: 09/13/20 08:20
Re: Harold Interlocking
Author: Lackawanna484

Platform watching at Jamaica gives a good perspective on all LIRR passenger action.

I've enjoyed both Linden NJ and the parking garage at Elizabeth for Amtrak and much of NJT operations.

Posted from Android



Date: 09/13/20 08:29
Re: Harold Interlocking
Author: pdt

Unless u are really into LIRR MU's IDK why u'd want to spend time at Harold.  IDK if there is any access.  Its a huge sprawled out area, you wouldnt be able to see everything from one spot anyway.  I've just seen the tower a million times passing thru on the LIRR.  There might be some parking near the tower...but I'd expect security to be tight.  Access might be gated.   Like most urban rail yards, its hardly a nice neighborhood.  There is no freight thru the Sunnyside yard area other than work trains.

Newark Penn...  You can hang out there, but u cant see the EB and WB traffic really well from one spot.  There are walls in the way.  If u go alll the way to the west  end of track 5, you might be able to see more, but its not a great place to watch trains. I've never been harrassed there, be these days, who knows.   There is no freight at Newark Penn either.

If u want to see mostly corridor passenger, and maybe a freight or 2, take an NJT local down to Elizabeth, or Edison.   Those are the corridor railfan spots.
If u want to see more of a mix, take a Raritan Valley train to Roselle park.  Thats on the ex-LV main, and youll see CSX and NS freight and NJT passenger.  Or go out to Bound Brook.  Same passenger trains, but a little more freight.

The one spot where u can the corridor and a lot of freight is Hunter tower, south of Newark,  but there is no RR station near there, and IDK if there is any access, and of course its not in a great neighborhood.  Ive see next to no railfan pix from there, so im guessing there;s no access, or its really unsafe, or just no good angles with the sprawling mess of tracks.  Its where the ex-LV main crosses above the corridor.

With the large number of duplicate RR tracks that once existed in the NE,  today its been rationalized down to separate lines for freight and passenger.  There arent many spots where u can see both...

Like someone else said...if u want to se LIRR, go to Jamaica.  NY&A freight comes thru the station too on the south end, but is sporatic and unpredictable.

And remember, we are all thinking pre-covid here.   Today, I would wear a KN95 mask anywhere there are a lot of ppl, and I'd railfan in an open area, not in a terminal.  Bound Brook, NJ on the raritan valley line has been a railfan fav for the last 70 years.  Not what it used to be, but the most variety in the NY area.   If u want the hustle and bustle of NY rush hour...I;d say wait a year till the covid is past.  There are not as many trains or ppl travelling right now. 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/20 08:50 by pdt.



Date: 09/13/20 08:40
Re: Harold Interlocking
Author: sixaxlecentury

Its a fine neighborhood.  Its hipster central.  



Date: 09/13/20 08:52
Re: Harold Interlocking
Author: pdt

sixaxlecentury Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Its a fine neighborhood.  Its hipster
> central.  

Are u talking about LI City?    I could believe you.  Like Hoboken, many of us remember it from when it was dump central.



Date: 09/13/20 09:02
Re: Harold etc
Author: timz

Is it safe? It's safe enough.

The overpasses near Harold all (?) have sidewalks--
you used to be able to see just about everything from them.
Probably still can. Bring some sort of map with you
so you can figure out what goes where. And binoculars.

If you go to Newark, might as well do your
watching from the Harrison PATH platform.
You'll still see everything.

If you go to Jamaica, get familiar with LIRR
first. And best get familar with Jamaica's layout
ahead of time, so you have some idea why
each train takes the track it does.



Date: 09/13/20 09:28
Re: Harold etc
Author: Lackawanna484

Harrison PATH is often a no go some for photographers.

I've been called out over the PA system on occasion. Don't know if that's still the case.

Posted from Android



Date: 09/13/20 09:35
Re: Harold etc
Author: Passfanatic

The area around Harold Interlocking is safe but I wouldn't waste your time looking for spots from the nearby sidewalks to photograph anything passing through there. You might as well just either ride an LIRR train and see it out the window, or maybe do a circuit that involves riding Amtrak from NYP-NRO, and then MNR from NRO-GCT. You could also look into riding the 7 train which goes over Harold Interlocking and Sunnyside Yard. I second the idea of taking LIRR to Jamaica. It's a very busy spot for LIRR trains. You have both electric and diesel trains there. You also have the Airtrain which is very close by. Check out stations like Woodside which has both the LIRR and the NYCMTA 7 train. There isn't much in the way with freight operations within NYC although CSX has a yard in the Southeast Bronx called Oak Point. Yard is in a bad area so I wouldn't go there alone. The yard is situated along Amtrak's NEC, also known as the Hellgate Line from CP216 in NRO to Harold. For good shots of Amtrak in NYC, check out the Hellgate Bridge in Queens. You can get very nice shots of trains crossing the bridge-mainly Amtrak. Freight does show up but not frequently.

For freight traffic if you want to stay close to NYC, you will have to go into NJ for the most frequent routes. Maybe take a trip over to Union and Roselle Park. You have Conrail's Shared Assets Lehigh Line which can get very busy but sometimes sees hit or miss moments. You have NJT trains which use mainly multilevel sets powered by ALP45DPs. The Lehigh Line through Union and Roselle Park is also part of NJT's Raritan Valley Line. A PL42 will show up regularly as well. The CSX River Sub, from what I heard is pretty cool. From NYC, if you aren't driving, there are NJT buses that serve many of the towns along the River Sub.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/20 09:39 by Passfanatic.



Date: 09/13/20 09:37
Re: Harold etc
Author: pdt

If u really want to see a lot of rush hour traffic....I think if u go to Secaucus transfer, and go to the west end of the westbound upstairs platform, u can see everything upstairs and downstairs. (Its an above ground station)  There will be all the corridor  Amtk and NJT Electric traffic upstairs, and all the NJT and MNR Hoboken diesel traffic downstairs.  All passenger, but quite busy, and some variety.   Im just not sure about the vantage point with the  trains on 2 different levels..



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/20 09:41 by pdt.



Date: 09/13/20 09:43
Re: Harold etc
Author: timz

Don't bother trying to see Harold from a train.
Would have been hard enough figuring it out
looking out the front window of the train --
if you can't do that, it's hopeless. The
overpasses are much better anyway.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/20 09:44 by timz.



Date: 09/13/20 10:10
Re: Harold etc
Author: thebluecomet

As far as Secaucus,NJ goes, you need a ticket to access the upper level(Amtrak).  If you come in by train, go out to the far west end of the platform.  If you upstairs to the waiting area you can't go back down without some hassle. The lower level (Erie-Lackawanna side) is open access tho. Newark is ok, just stay up on the platforms. Union station on the Raritan Valley line is good, but Bound Brook is the better bet.  Stay off the freight tracks, RR cops frequent the area. Walk down the street to Lou's for a good sandwich.  
One very important word of advice.  Do not wander around with your camera dangling around your neck.  Put it in a plastic bag or two and pull it out only when ready to shoot.  The less attention you call to yourself, the better.
 



Date: 09/13/20 10:29
Re: Harold etc
Author: steveandrews

Wow! What fantastic information! Thanks to everyone who replied. 

One further question, where is the best place to see the highest volume of freight?

Thanks again, Steve

Steve Andrews
Ames, IA



Date: 09/13/20 11:37
Re: Harold etc
Author: pdt

Bound Brook, NJ

From NYP, u take a corridor train to Newark, and change to a Raritan Valley train to Bound Brook.   1 ticket. 

CSX, NS, NJT.  Someone here will know kinda when the freight generally is busiest.  It can be quiet for hours at a time.

Google "Railfanning Bound Brook, NJ"   Theres a ton of stuff.

3 or 4 freights an hour is the busiest it gets tho....this isnt chicago or Kansas City or St Louis....

(PS i wouldnt waste my time with the CSX ex-NYC west shore, River line.  Its VERY hit and miss, and half the traffic of Bound Brook)



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/20 22:52 by pdt.



Date: 09/13/20 15:45
Re: Harold etc
Author: joemvcnj

Ride the #7 subway to Woodside and video Sunnyside Yard from above.

Watch LIRR trains there. Unless it is rush hour, it will be a boring monotony of identical 10 and 12 car MU trains.

If at Newark, do not linger on the PATH platforms or on their side of the fence. Port Authority cops are paranoid creeps.

Bound Brook has Douglas restaurant coffee shop for a good meal across Main Street from the station. They have table service under a large tent in their parking lot.

Wear a mask and don't take it off on trains nor platforms.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/20 15:54 by joemvcnj.



Date: 09/13/20 23:06
Re: Harold etc
Author: pdt

Lackawanna484 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Harrison PATH is often a no go some for
> photographers.
>
> I've been called out over the PA system on
> occasion. Don't know if that's still the case.
>
> Posted from Android

PATH is very anti-photograpy.   Ever since 9-11 (19 years ago), they've decided that anyone taking a picture from their property is a terrorist.  Yes, they are stupid, but what else is new.   You can snead pix from a train if there's no officer in your car, but standing on a PATH platform with a camera will get u treated like a terrorist



Date: 09/15/20 08:05
Re: Harold Interlocking
Author: mbrotzman

steveandrews Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am a Mid-Westener who will be making a
> railfanning trip to the New York area for the
> first time. I have several questions, which I hope
> someone can help me with.
>
> 1. Is it possible to view the Harold Interlocking
> safely?

>
> All info will be gratefully received!
>
> Thanks, Steve

There are gaps on the cat shields overlooking HAROLD on at least Honeywell St and likely 39th, Queens Blvd and Thompson.  High zoom is a must. Here is an example from Honeywell St. 

https://www.redoveryellow.com/position-light/15-12-27_KEEP_ON_THE_SUNNYSIDE/HAROLD-int-rebuild-eb-cloudy.jpg

You can get to the location from Queens Plaza or a number of 7 train stations.  You're not going to get mugged, it's not the 1970's and even if it was then it'd still be worth it cause GG1s.

> 2. Where is it possible to safely (and legally)
> watch rush hour traffic?

125th St station in Harlem is probably the easiest place to catch "rush hour traffic" and I was not harassed there.  Same with Woodside on the LIRR or any of the other stations on the LIRR trunk.  Janacia has a higher risk of harassment.

> 3. Are there any areas where freight traffic can
> be seen?

Anything on the Lehigh Line you can reach via NJT.

> 4. Are the any links to websites with relevant
> info?

> 5. Is it safe (and legal) to watch trains at any
> of the termini stations?

Safe yes, legal yes, but it's NYC and employees are terrified of being seen not doing their jobs or having a featherbed job and will call in the police.  Best advice is to not linger in any major terminal.  Grand Central is pretty photo friendly because it is a major tourist attraction and the platforms are active pedestrian throughfares.

> 6. Is it safe (and legal) to watch trains at
> Newark Penn station?

Yes, but don't linger.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/20 08:12 by mbrotzman.



Date: 09/16/20 04:55
Re: Harold Interlocking
Author: steveandrews

Wow Mbrotzman, great info.

Many thanks, Steve

Steve Andrews
Ames, IA



Date: 09/16/20 07:04
Re: Harold Interlocking
Author: mbrotzman

Looking at Google Street View it appears that new cat shields may by up with fewer holes, but you might be able to stand on the bumpouts for the street lights and look over them orat least hold your camera over them.



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