TRAIN BLOG (WSAU) At age 8, I was riding the train to and from Grandma’s house. And two other good things happened. I’d gown a little taller, and the new M1 train cars began arriving on the New Haven line.
The M1’s replaced the old, worn out commuter coaches that dated back the 1940s. More importantly to a growing young boy, they had a front window. The M1s were designed like subway cars, with a small motorman’s cab to the front-right, and a door that was designed for passengers to walk from one car to the next. But at the front of that train, the window on that door looked out onto the entire railroad. Suddenly the track ahead, the signals and switches… everything… came into view. By standing there, you saw what the engineer saw.
I’d stand up front for the entire trip, watching the railroad go by in a way you simply couldn’t see any other way.
And the end of each train ride was fascinating. The M1s would rattle over the Harlem River Bridge into 125th Street Station. They’d run for another 25 blocks over the elevated track through upper Manhattan, and would then plunge into the Park Avenue tunnel for the final 10 minutes to Grand Central Station.
The tunnels were fascinating. Four long tubes of steel rails leading to the station’s throat. Then the center tracks began their steep decline to the lower level of the station. The two outer tracks continued through a maze of switches to the platforms on the main level. Tiny ground-level signals blinked green or yellow as the train was switched towards its final arrival. Then the station lights would come into view as the engineer eased the train to a final stop at the station’s bumpers.
From a regular seat the underground trip to Grand Central looked just black, staring at a dark tunnel wall whizzing by. But growing a few inches, the front window revealed a fascinating underground maze.
Engineers would sometimes tolerate a young boy who’d look out the front window. Some even kept their cab doors open and would share a word or two. They have less patience for an adult who wants to ride up front. I don’t care. When I ride today I still board at the very front car, and still walk up to big window, standing all the way to New York City. The view is too good.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau