The Electric Railroaders Association 2005 Convention will be held in Houston and Dallas on Labor Day weekend. Participants will have a chance to ride light rail lines and both diesel and electric streetcars.
The Houston Marriott Medical Center, adjacent to Houston’s new MetroRail line; and the Hampton Inn Dallas-West End/Convention Center, near DART’s Light Rail System, are conveniently located in the two traction capitals of Texas. These full-service hotels offer such amenities as fitness/exercise centers, swimming pools and remote-controlled color television with complimentary cable channels. Single, double and twin accommodations are priced at only $69 plus tax per evening. Our annual movie/slideshow and banquet will be held in private rooms at the Houston site.
Our Annual Movie/Slideshow will begin at 8:00 PM in the Marriott Houston. Paul DeVerter, the dean of Houston traction historians, will present a talk with overhead slides and a rare 8mm home movie devoted to the Houston North Shore interurban line. He is the co-author of the CERA book on that subject, and can also be depended on to provide reminiscences of electric railway operation in Houston. Be with us to relive interurban memories from bygone days in Texas.
Galveston will be the main focus of today’s activities. Our chartered coach(es) will pick us up at 8:45 am and take us to the Lone Star State’s most famous seaport, located on the Gulf of Mexico. Galveston’s Diesel Streetcar is now a major attraction in Galveston’s tourist-oriented economy. Using steel-wheeled replicas, the line has been extended on several occasions, and has trackage both in the street and on reservation. We have scheduled a charter trip aboard the deck-roofed cars with a stop for lunch. On our return to Houston, Paul DeVerter has offered to lead us along portions of the old Houston North Shore interurban, now a very active freight carrier, allowing our group to view various remnants of the former electric line, including the remains of its last interurban, car 524.
ERA’s Annual Banquet will be held in a private room at the Marriott. An hour-long informal reception and cash bar will begin at 6:30 PM and dinner will follow promptly at 7:30. Our main guest speaker, Rich Krisak, a long-time railfan and transit professional, is currently Metro’s Senior Director of Rail Operations. He will present an illustrated program about the reintroduction of streetcars in Houston and describe MetroRail’s plans for the extension and expansion of light rail service. Before Rich speaks, Steve Baron, author of Houston Electric, the definitive history of Houston’s streetcar system, will present an illustrated talk about the long-abandoned local trolleys.
Today we concentrate on MetroRail, Houston’s brand new light rail system. The morning will be free for riding and photographing the 7.5-mile long line. We suggest you obtain a day pass ($2.00) from the fare machines located near the hotel. We will gather at 12 noon at the Fannin South station (the southern terminal of the line), and then continue by foot to the Light Rail Storage and Maintenance Facility, to inspect the system’s shop and test track. We will then return to the Marriott by LRV. Our chartered coach(es) will pick us up, along with our luggage, at 2 PM, and then transport us to our hotel in Dallas, with a stop for lunch en route.
We will board our private unique LRV at DART’s West End station in the northbound direction bright and early at 8:00 AM. The station is a short walk from our hotel. We will cover the northern portions of both the Red and Blue lines, as well as the new branch to the American Airlines Center at Victory station.
In addition, we will visit the Interurban Railway Museum in Plano. DART day tickets will be distributed to allow tour members to ride from Union Station back to City Place, where they can connect with the McKinney Avenue streetcar line.
We have contracted with the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority to operate all their available rolling stock over the line starting at about 12:30 PM, and our tour members will have continuous on and off privileges. This will allow you to ride and photograph the heritage cars (including the Tandy Subway PCC) to your heart’s content, and still have time for lunch at one of the many eating establishments along the route. You will be able to walk back to the hotel from the inner end of the line or ride back from City Place.
The DART day pass issued on Monday will also be good on Tuesday, to allow tour members to complete their Dallas experience with rides on DART’s two southern branches (and to revisit the entire system). Additionally, it will permit travel aboard the rail diesel cars (RDCs) of the Trinity Railway Express from Union Station to West Irving. Self-propelled RDCs currently operate during the morning into Union Station at 7:09 AM, 8:31 AM and 10:39 AM, and depart from there at 11:05 AM. All other TRE service is provided by GO Transit-type double-deck cars. Tickets for travel beyond West Irving to Fort Worth, where an interurban car is on display, will be available from ticket vending machines for an extra charge.