Welcome to the Akron Railroad Club Blog

March 2, 2009

The Akron Railroad Club business meeting of May 28, 2010. The club meets monthly except in December on the fourth Friday of the month. (Photograph by Richard Jacobs)

The Akron Railroad Club has more than 100 members who meet monthly in Akron, Ohio, to share their passion for railroad operations and history.  On our blog you will find information about our arrc-logo1meetings, activities, how to join us, and news about railroads and railroad oriented organizations.  On the feature pages you will find information about popular Ohio railfan hotspots within a couple of hours drive from Akron, stories about railfan outings, trip reports and special reports about railroad operations and railfan events. Most features are amply illustrated with photographs.  Take a look around and enjoy yourself. There is always something new to read so come back often. Better yet, come to one of our monthly meetings or join us at one of our many events. We look forward to meeting you.

Next Meeting: September 26. Program by Paul Woodring.

Next Activity: November 22. Members Night.

NS to Webcast Cleveland Investor Conference

September 23, 2014

Norfolk Southern has announced plans to conduct a webcast of today’s conference for investors and financial analysts that is being held in Cleveland. The conference will feature a train ride on the NS executive train from Cleveland to Bellevue and return.

While in Bellevue, attendees will view the expansion work being conducted of the Bellevue classification yard. The train is expected to depart Rockport Yard at 11:30 a.m.

Conference events in Cleveland will be presented between 7:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. The Bellevue event will be webcast between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

The webcast can be heard by calling 877-869-3847.  Webcast and presentation materials will be posted on the company’s website at www.nscorp.com under the Investors section.

An audio replay will be available for 60 days by calling 877-660-6853 and using the access number 13591242.

The replay will be archived on the NS website and available for download to a portable audio player or computer as an MP3 (or podcast) file. Both the archived replay and the MP3 file will be located under the Investors section of the website.

NRHS Board Rejects New Business Model

September 23, 2014

The board of directors of the National Railway Historical Society voted 12-10 last Saturday to reject a proposed new business model for the 80-year-old organization.

Supporters of the new model warned that the vote puts the organization in danger of failure while critics of the model contend that the NRHS will be able to survive.

New NRHS President Al Weber said some aspects of the proposed model will be adopted in the coming weeks and months, although he did not provide details.

The vote was held during a day-long meeting at the offices of the NRHS legal counsel in Mount Laurel, N.J.

Much of the meeting focused on the NRHS’ financial standing, which has been described as “dire.” NRHS lost $72,000 in 2013 and more than three times that amount in 2012. In 2013 the NRHS had 11,573 members, a 7.2 percent drop from the previous year.

Weber told Trains magazine that some members have pledged donations to help the organization through its current financial crisis. Weber said he will be working vendors to ensure that they will stick with the NRHS for now.

A five-member committee has this summer drafted the new business model, which called for the NRHS to transform from a member-oriented organization to a donor-based one.

One of the more controversial aspects of the plan was to move away from NRHS as a social organization and instead seek to become a financial supporter and coordinator of rail presentation effects.

Currently, most NRHS members belong to local chapters. Those would have been de-emphasized in the new model. Existing chapters or any other group, including museums, would have been invited to affiliate with the NRHS or the chapters could become independent organizations.

“You have two groups of people on the board,” said board member and NRHS Bulletin editor Jeff Smith, who voted in favor of the proposal. “You have one group that is loyal to the chapter model and the idea of the NRHS remaining a fraternal group and a social group and you have another group who realizes the NRHS needs to change and the votes went along those lines.”

Also supporting the new model was Steve Barry, editor of Railfan & Railroad, and a member of the committee that drafted the proposed model.

Barry expressed disappointment in the vote and said one reason why the model was turned down was because some members didn’t get a fair and balanced view of the plan.

He also blamed the NRHS’ own history. “The NRHS has always been adverse to change, that’s the way it’s been for 80 years,” Barry said “If the NRHS is still around a year from now I see it being in the exact same position it is today – struggling to make ends meet.”

Weber, who voted against the model, pledged to work to bring the board back together to help stabilize the society.

“We all want the society to continue and all of us on the board are working to that goal,” Weber said. “Yes, some have had their feelings hurt and some think that we are not going the correct way. But that has been the case on all the board that I have been on over the years.”

Barry doesn’t think that part of the rejected model can be implemented without implementing all of it.

Smith said the current NRHS way of doing things is outdated. “I don’t think the new leadership understands what they’re facing and how to make the old model work,” Smith says. “They are reverting to a model where everyone licks envelopes and then puts stamps on those envelopes.”

Weber has said that he, too, believes that the NRHS needs to modernize but he also believes that some things should stay the same. “We will not change for the sake of changing but we’ll change to improve our 80-year-old society,” Weber said.

Amtrak Extends Delay Warning for LSL

September 23, 2014

Amtrak has extended through Oct. 29 its notification of possible delays on trains traversing New York State on the CSX Water Level Route.

The Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited, which serves Northeast Ohio, will be subject to delays of up to 45 minutes on Sunday through Wednesday due to CSX track work between Buffalo and Rome, N.Y.

Also affected are the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf and the New York-Niagara Falls, N.Y., Empire Service trains.

Amtrak said passengers should sign up for delay notifications when booking their travel and to check the status of their train on Amtrak.com, its mobile apps or at 800-USA-RAIL (800-872-7245).

Woodring to Present at Next ARRC Meeting

September 22, 2014

For more than 15 of the 23 years that Paul Woodring worked for Amtrak and CSX on the East Coast, he carried a camera loaded with Kodachrome slide film.  During the September Akron Railroad Club meeting Paul will share some of his best images from those years of railroading in a program titled Railroading With a Camera.

The Friday, Sept. 26 ARRC meeting will begin at 8 p.m. with a half-hour business meeting followed by the program at approximately 8:45 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

Some members gather at about 6 p.m. for dinner at Duffy’s Grill, 231 Darrow Road. Following the meeting, members meet at the Eat ‘n Park restaurant at Howe and Main streets in Cuyahoga Falls for a late dinner, dessert or an early breakfast.

Visitors are always welcome at Akron Railroad Club meetings.

What’s That? Could it be a Caboose?

September 22, 2014

caboose

I was at Berea for a while on Saturday afternoon. An eastbound CSX rail train was coming through and I thought I’d better have my camera ready in case there was a caboose on the rear. The good news is that the train did, indeed, have a caboose. The bad news is that it was not on the rear of the train. Maybe next time.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Way Cleared for Michigan Talgo Purchase

September 22, 2014

Legislative opposition to Michigan’s purchase of two sets of Talgo trains has been smoothed over and the state is now expected to proceed with the acquisition.

That acquisition was the subject of a summer-long probe in the Michigan Senate after some lawmakers raised concerned about a one-bid contract.

But the senators who expressed concern about that are now are willing to let the deal proceed, said Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Pappageorge.

“It was appropriate to look into it because that didn’t look right,” Pappageorge said. “Digging into it, we came to the conclusion that Talgo was the right answer — not a perfect one but adequate.”

The Talgo trains that the Michigan Department of Transportation wants to buy were built in and for Amtrak service in Wisconsin.

But Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker canceled the deal not long after he refused to accept federal runs to be used to develop service between Milwaukee and Madison. The Talgos have sat idle in Indiana while the Spanish company that built the Talgos and Wisconsin battle in court over money that the company claims Wisconsin still owes it.

Although some Talgo equipment built in Milwaukee later entered service in Oregon, the Talgos built for Wisconsin have yet to enter revenue service.

The Wisconsin Talgo trains have since been moved to Amtrak’s shops in Beech Grove, just outside of Indianapolis.

Pappageorge said Michigan needed to act quickly to acquire the Talgos because federal funds were available.

The $58 million for Michigan’s two train sets is to come from $200 million in federal funds for Amtrak improvements in Michigan and other states, mostly in the Midwest.

Michigan plans to assign the Talgo equipment to the Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) route where it will replace the current Amtrak rolling stock being used.

The Talgos are capable of top speeds of 110 miles an hour and, in a few years once the tracks used by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains are rebuilt passengers will be able to travel up to two hours faster between Chicago and Detroit.

State officials also hope to improve Amtrak’s on-time service performance for the Wolverine Service, which ranged from 6.5 percent to 52.3 percent in July. Amtrak’s website reports on-time rates for Wolverine Service have ranged from 21.5 percent to 39 percent in the past 12 months.

Patronage of the Wolverine Service route has steadily has been building back toward a 20-year peak of nearly 504,000 passengers in 2010.

The Talgo equipment is expected to serve during a transition period. Eventually, Michigan Amtrak routes will be assigned “next-generation” passenger car and engine sets that are about to be built.

Michigan Department of Transportation railroad chief Tim Hoeffner said the state will own the cars.

Hoeffner said the Talgo purchase is pending an evaluation of the equipment’s suitability for Michigan’s needs. That inspection combined with the Senate investigation has meant that the Talgo equipment won’t be in service by October as originally proposed, he said.

The Talgo equipment will replace 30- to 40-year-old Amtrak cars on two of the three daily Chicago-Detroit roundtrips.

“The difference between them is like the difference between the car I learned to drive in the 1970s and the cars my kids learn to drive now,” Hoeffner said. The Talgos are similar to sleek, modern trains that run in Europe and Asia.

The Horizon coaches now used lack modern amenities and are deteriorating because Amtrak has no budget to overhaul them, according to MDOT. They have institutional decor, lack carpeting, contain harsh lighting and lack hot water in restrooms, the department says.

The Michigan Senate investigation also was triggered by a challenge from Chicago-based Corridor Capital, which claimed the process seemed to favor Talgo. The state’s bid specifications were so narrow only one company could meet them, Corridor Capital said.

U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz of Battle Creek, a train buff and volunteer adviser to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on rail issues also raised questions about whether Talgo’s equipment can meet Michigan’s needs — a criticism Corridor Capital continues to press.

“They didn’t meet the minimum requirements,” said Lansing public relations specialist John Truscott, who represents Corridor Capital. “If they did qualify, this would have been an easy decision. We (still) feel it would be just as easy for MDOT to do the right thing and open this back up (for rebidding).”

But Pappageorge said members of the Senate’s Transportation and Appropriations committees found the bid process was handled properly. They also concluded Talgo’s equipment is adequate, based on hours of testimony about train car specifications, he said.

Corridor Capital didn’t help its case when its equipment wasn’t ready to enter service. Hoeffner said Corridor Capital sought a state contract under which it would take over the entire state rail service, not just supply rail cars. It has reached a similar deal with Indiana to operate the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State.

Michigan transportation analysts believe an “incremental approach” is more prudent. Hoeffner said the goal is to continue building ridership on the Chicago-Detroit route, the busiest of Michigan’s three intercity rail passenger corridors, through faster service and nicer cars.

The state also funds Amtrak’s Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water and the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette.

“All customers want to know is: When do I leave, when do I arrive and is it convenient?” Hoeffner said.

The trip now takes about 6.5 hours, but Hoeffner said that MDOT’s goal is to cut the travel time to four hours, which is about the same amount of time needed to drive the route between the two cities.

The state has purchased the tracks used for much of the Wolverine Service route within Michigan and has launched a track rebuilding program that should be completed in late 2017 or early 2018.

Altoona Derailment Snarls NS Traffic

September 21, 2014

Norfolk Southern traffic was moving through Altoona, Pa., again Sunday morning after all three mainlines were shut down due to a derailment of train 18N on Saturday.

News reports indicated that auto rack cars carrying new automobiles jackknifed at about 9:45 a.m. in Altoona near 21st Street and 10th Avenue. No injuries were reported and no hazardous cargo was involved.

Officials said 17 cars derailed, including nine auto racks. The train was moving through a crossover when the accident occurred.

The train had two locomotives and 107 cars. NS said in a statement that the train had originated at Fostoria, Ohio, and was bound for Wilmington, Del.

Residents of nearby homes were evacuated as a precautionary measure. They described hearing the sound of screeching of metal as the train derailed.

“When it first happened [I] heard a bunch of slamming. [I] could hear the train cars hitting the rocks. [I] heard it slam and hit the ground. [I] heard everything skid, and slide and then there was this big cloud of brown smoke … it was just horrible,” resident Casey Case said told WJAC-TV.

NS crews and those of hired contractors were on the scene removing the wreckage and working to re-open the tracks. The cleanup operation is expected to take several days.

Blair County EMA Director Dan Boyels said the automobile and vans on the auto rack cars each had two gallons of gasoline, making the plan to remove the train delicate.

“We’re not out of the woods yet. Nobody’s gotten hurt so whenever [NS] starts moving the vehicles then we have to be ready in case we have a spark,” Boyels said.

Online reports indicated that helper locomotives were pulling the cars from the 18N that did not derail back westward with 61 cars pulled to Cresson and tied down at MO.

Reports also indicated that some trains will detour east of Cleveland on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline. Among them are the 24M, 20E and 20W. Some westbound trains will also apparently detour over this route.

 

 

The Meaning of Pleasure

September 21, 2014

765 Last Day13

765 Last Day14

765 Last Day15

I’ve always enjoyed watching the reaction of those who are trackside watching the Nickel Plate Road No. 765 or any steam locomotive pass by.

Because the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad passes through a well-patronized national park, many people who knew nothing of the 765’s visit wound up seeing it and, maybe, riding behind it.

Last Sunday’s one-hour trips out of Boston Mill were well suited for an impromptu decision to ride the train. Many were seeing a steam engine in action for the first time. It is particularly interesting to see the responses of small children.

Will they remember what they saw on this day? Were they fascinated? Were they afraid? It might be a combination of these things. But their reactions to seeing a big steamer in action are quite pleasing to see.

The top two images were made during the northbound trip past Deep Lock Quarry back to Boston Mill.

The train included two former Nickel Plate open window coaches. I spotted this woman and her son leaning out the window to view the passing scenery.

I had to get these images on the fly and they are a little softer than I wanted. But I liked the human interest element of a mother and her son enjoying what may be their first trip behind a steam locomotive.

As for the third photo, I had made the images that I wanted of the 765 coming into Peninsula. I turned to watch the train go past when I noticed two small children covering their ears.

At the time, the 765 engineer was blowing its whistle and, yes, it was quite loud. Mom and dad are shown helping their young tykes muffle the sound. The parents were probably amused by their kids’ response.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

NKP 765 to Stay in NE Ohio For a Spell

September 21, 2014

Nickel Plate Road No. 765 continues to sit at the Fitzwater shops of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad as it awaits for a switch to be rebuilt that will enable it go home.

The 2-8-4 Berkshire was scheduled to return to its shop in new Haven, Ind., on Monday, Sept. 15, but a derailment early that morning of a Norfolk Southern manifest freight took out the switch leading to shops of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, which owns the 765.

NS and contract construction crews cleared the wreckage and laid temporary panel track to enable traffic to resume on the Fostoria District. But a switch to the FtWRHS complex was not included.

NS continue to repair its track, which is on the original Nickel Plate Road mainline between Chicago and Buffalo, N.Y.

The society had initially said that the 765 would return home this weekend, but it has now said it may be two to three weeks before the 765 can steam back home to Indiana.

Writing on its Facebook page, the society said, “We extend thanks to our friends and partners at Norfolk Southern Corp. and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for their help.

Excusions From Lima to Run on Sept. 28

September 21, 2014

The Allen County Museum is sponsoring a series of excursions on Sept. 28 between Lima and Jackson Center. The diesel-powered trains will depart at 10 a.m., 12:45 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. from Lincoln Park in Lima and travel on a 42-mile roundtrip.

Tickets are $35 for adults and $20 for children under age 12. The consist of the train will include two locomotives and four coaches. The train will be able to accommodate 325 people.

Tickets may be purchased at the Allen County Museum or at trackside on the day of the excursion. For further information, go to:

http://www.allencountymuseum.org/ACM2/Ridin_the_Rails.html


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