A Ride on the Niles Canyon Railway

A friend and I visited the  Niles Canyon Railway on August 5th, 2001.  Here's
a shot of the depot area:

In the photo you see the 'Second Section' of the 12:45pm 'The Niles Limited'
prior to departure from the depot in Sunol, CA.  The train consists of a General
Electric Diesel Locomotive (#298), Western Pacific Coach #315, and two open
observation cars rebuilt from flat cars.  The red box car houses the Gift Shop
and tickets are sold from the depot which if barely visible at far right.

Here's a better shot of the locomotive:

And here's a better shot of the coach:

Leaving Sunol you pass a pair of semaphore signals, tails down indicating
clear tracks ahead:

The tracks are paralleled by the old style telegraph poles with glass insulators
most of the way:

Piles of new ties waiting to be used as replacements dot the right-of-way:

Upon reaching Niles, the old freight shed can be seen across the yard:

And in the other direction, the remaining Union Pacific line through Niles:

I would consider my friend and I to be casual railfans.  We certainly enjoyed
the train ride but were a bit disappointed overall.  Visiting the NCRY web site
there are links to all the  equipment owned by the Pacific Locomotive Association.
Unfortunately you really only get to see the locomotive and cars used on the
particular train you are riding.  You do pass through the PLA yard at Brightside
where much of the equipment is stored but there is little opportunity study any
of it.  We also got a glimpse of the 'first section' as it passed us in the yard.  We
didn't ask so there may be other opportunities to see the rest of the collection
although the yard didn't look very 'visitor friendly'.

There was more to see on the ride itself, the scenery in the canyon
is a nice change from the dry hills of the surrounding area. The
tracks cross several bridges along the way. Much of the interesing
railroad 'stuff' was difficult to photograph from our vantage point
on the train.

Photos and text (c) Copyright 2001 by John R Haskey