Welcome to Akron Railroads

March 2, 2009

Welcome to Akron Railroads, formerly known as the Akron Railroad Club Blog, a site once connected with the Akron Railroad Club. The ARRC meets every month but December in Akron, Ohio, at the New Horizons Christian Church.

This site is not formally connected with the ARRC but instead serves as an archive of past postings about ARRC meetings and activities as well as railfanning adventures and photographs posted by some members.

Also included in the site are historical overviews of the railroads of Akron and Northeast Ohio as well as some news and information about current railroad operations in that region.

For more up to date information about the ARRC, visit the club’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AkronRailroadClub/

CSX in Akron Two for Tuesday

June 21, 2021

Here are two photos of CSX ES44AC-H No. 3033 heading an eastbound in Akron on May 24, 2014. 

In the top image can be seen in the background the former Saalfield Publishing building on the left and the Firestone Tire ex-headquarters building directly over the train. The bottom image was made a little closer to where the photographer was standing

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Senate Committee Puts Brakes on Amtrak’s Expansive Vision

June 21, 2021

Last week the Senate Commerce Committee approved its own version of a new surface transportation authorization act.

The bill, known as the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021, would replace the FAST Act, which is set to expire on Sept. 30.

What is noteworthy about the Senate bill is how it differs in one key area from a House surface transportation bill approved two weeks ago by a House transportation committee.

Although it boosts transportation funding generally and Amtrak funding in particular, the Senate bill would authorize far less money for both areas than the House bill.

That’s a critical point because much of the much ballyhooed Amtrak service expansion plans are premised on Congress approving a dedicated funding program to pay for that expansion.

The House bill does that but not so the Senate bill.

Before getting into the details about that, let’s get straight that both bills authorize spending but do not appropriate it. Those are separate processes and although they are related.

Think of the surface transportation bill as setting spending priorities that Congress will, presumably, follow.

As for those spending priorities, the Senate bill would authorize just 36 percent of what the House bill would authorize.

The Senate bill increased transportation funding for freight and passenger rail, but not as much as the House bill.

Over the five-year life of the Senate bill, transportation funding would be authorized at $34.2 billion. The current FAST Act level is $14.3 billion.

Missing from the Senate bill is the funding authorization for the grant program that Amtrak plans to use to develop its new corridor services.

The House bill would provide $25 billion for that while the Senate bill provides nothing.

Also in the House bill is $25 billion for grants for bridges, tunnels and stations. The Senate bill has no authorized funding for that grant program.

Senate authorizations for Amtrak funding in Senate bill are lower than in the House bill.

The Senate would authorize $6.6 billion for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and $10.7 billion for the passenger carrier’s national network.

The House bill figures are $13.5 billion for the Northeast Corridor and $18.5 billion for the national network.

The Rail Passengers Association asserted on its website that the authorizations in the Senate bill will be “inadequate to meaningfully add or upgrade new service beyond a handful of routes.”

That, though, may be the point of the Senate bill. It may be a statement from the Senate Commerce Committee that support for a massive spending spree to expand intercity rail passenger service lacks political support in that chamber.

It remains to be seen what will happen once both bills reach the floor of their respective chambers.

There may be amendments offered in both chambers to increase or lower individual line item authorizations.

It seems likely that a conference committee will need to work out the differences between the two competing surface transportation authorization bills.

If the two chambers are unable to resolve their differences, that might lead to yet another one year extension of the FAST Act as happened last year. Some congressional observers believe it might happen this year, too.

Spending authorizations can be highly contentious and subject to partisan differences.

That brings up another noteworthy difference between the House and Senate surface transportation authorization bills.

The Senate bill passed out of committee with bi-partisan, although not unanimous support. The House bill was more of a partisan creation.

The Senate bill does contain a number of clauses that can be interpreted as pro-passenger rail.

These include mandates, for example, that Amtrak maintain a ticket agent at stations averaging 40 or more passengers a day.

Amtrak is also being directed by the Senate bill to provide a host of additional information about a variety of issues including any plans to change the operations of long-distance or other routes.

There is also language in the bill describing the importance of Amtrak service to rural America.

These mandates appear to reflect a likelihood of Congressional support for continuing funding of Amtrak service as it exists today with, perhaps, some modest service increases and enhancements.

The Senate committee, though, did not support the type of far-reaching and expansive additions to the Amtrak network envisioned by the carrier’s Amtrak Connect US plan.

What it all means is that despite the happy talk emanating from rail passenger advocacy groups about how intercity passenger rail service is on the verge of a transformational moment that is not a sure thing.

A lot of things are going to have fall into place and what happened last week in the Senate does not necessarily bode well for that process playing out the way some want to see it develop.

EL Monday: Get to Akron ASAP

June 21, 2021

On a cloudy morning in July 1972, the late Mike Ondecker, who worked the power desk on the Erie Lackawanna phoned and ordered me to get to Akron because a Burlington Northern locomotive was coming through on the EL.

At that time foreign power was a lot less common than it can be today.

Here are EL SD45 No. 3614 and BN F45 No. 6625 either picking up cars or dropping off cars at the east end of the EL yard.

Note the Akron, Canton & Youngstown boxcar parked at the building in the background. It is the EL freight house, which has since been razed.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

ARRC Sets June Meeting, Longest Day Outing in Fostoria

June 21, 2021

The Akron Railroad Club will meet this Friday at 8 p.m. at the New Horizons Christian Church in Akron.

It will be the club’s first monthly meeting since February 2020.

Club President Todd Dillion will present a digital program titled Off the Beaten Path: Railfanning in the Era of COVID.

It will feature images of U.S. Sugar railroad operations in Florida, Tampa Bay trolleys and CSX tribute locomotives 911 (Spirit of our First Responders), 1776 (Spirit of the Armed Forces) and 3194 (Spirit of Law Enforcement).

The program will focus on Todd’s travels between Ohio and Florida.

The club will be having its annual longest day event on June 27 at the Iron Triangle RailPark in Fostoria.

Club members and their guests will spend the day watching and photographing trains on CSX and Norfolk Southern mainlines that pass through Fostoria.

The park is located within the “iron triangle” of the three rail lines.

As always, the event begins when the first member arrives and ends when the last one leaves.

5 Michigan Short Lines Being Sold

June 21, 2021

Five Michigan short line railroads are on track to be sold to a new owner.

Transportation Holdings recently told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that it will acquire the Class III railroads, which will be the first railroads that it owns.

The five short line are the Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Co., a 20-mile line which operates a dinner train on Saturdays, as well as three subsidiaries: the 5-mile Charlotte Southern; 2.5-mile Detroit Connecting Railroad; 1.5-mile Lapeer Industrial Railroad, and 47-mile Jackson & Lansing.

NS Combining Louisville Terminals

June 21, 2021

Norfolk Southern said last week it is revamping operations of its intermodal terminals in Louisville, Kentucky.

The changes include consolidation of two terminals into a single facility at Appliance Park located southeast of downtown.

Effective July 5, all intermodal traffic traffic arriving in Louisville on NS will go to Appliance Park and the Louisville Buechel terminal will be closed to inbound shipments.

On Aug. 2, traffic destined for Norfolk, Virginia, will all depart from Appliance Park. Traffic bound for Portsmouth, Virginia, will begin all departing from Appliance Park as of Aug. 16.

In another change, NS said the Appliance Park facility is now open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Previously, neither Louisville facility had been open on Saturdays.

Down on the Monongahela

June 20, 2021

We haven’t paid a visit to the former Monongahela Railway for a while so let’s got back to July 1, 1971, to Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Hard at work at Baldwin S-12 switchers 424 and 401 in the yard.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Where a Movie Was Once Made

June 20, 2021

In writing my posts last week about the New York & Lake Erie Railroad excursion train that Marty Surdyk and I chased on June 13, I was reminded of how some of the train scenes in the movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles were made on that railroad.

The film, starring John Candy as Del Griffith and Steve Martin as Neal Page, included a scene where the two of them boarded a train at Stubbville, Kansas.

That was actually South Dayton, New York, and it is the first trackside sequence shown in the movie, which also featured scenes of the the train rounding a curve popping into and out of a short tunnel.

During an Akron Railroad Club/Railroad Enthusiasts photo charter on the NY&LE on April 26, 1987, club members had the opportunity for cab rides on locomotive 1013.

I was fortunate that my cab ride included a trip through the tunnel, which is the remnants of a former Erie Railroad branch from Dunkirk, New York, that passed over the ex-Erie line from Buffalo.

The top photo shows a runby at a tunnel at Dayton, New York, earlier in the day of April 26, 1987.

The middle image is my cab ride through tunnel while the last image is a runby through the tunnel similar to what is seen in the movie.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

B&O in Warwick in 1983

June 19, 2021

Baltimore & Ohio GP40 No. 4023 is westbound with an intermodal train in Warwick in September 1983. 

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Narrow Cabs in Clinton

June 18, 2021

CSX SD50 No. 8526 leads what appears to be a westbound coke train in Clinton on March 10, 1996. The unit was built in March 1964 for the Seaboard System and has since been upgraded to an SD50-3.

Photograph by Robert Farkas