Welcome to the Akron Railroad Club Blog

March 2, 2009
The photo line is ready to capture an eastbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight with BNSF motive power during the July 2012 Akron Railroad Club picnic.

The photo line is ready to capture an eastbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight with BNSF motive power during the July 2012 Akron Railroad Club picnic in Bedford.

The Akron Railroad Club has about 80 members who meet monthly in Akron, Ohio, to share their passion for railroad operations and history.  On this blog you will find information about our meetings, activities, how to join us, and news about railroads and railroad oriented organizations.

ARRC logoOn the feature pages you will find information about popular Ohio railfan hotspots within a few hours drive from Akron, stories about railfan outings, trip reports and information about railroad operations and radio frequencies.

Many 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 and joining us. Dues are $16 yearly and include a subscription to the monthly newsletter, the Bulletin. We meet on the fourth Friday of the month at New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road in Akron. Visitors are always welcome at our meetings.

Next Meeting: July 28: Program by Ron McElrath.

Next Activity: June 25. Longest Day in Bellevue.

Richard Anderson to become Co-CEO on July 12, Wick Moorman Plans to Retire December 31

June 26, 2017

Amtrak will be getting a co-president and CEO next month. Charles “Wick” Moorman will be joined by Richard Anderson, who has 25 years of experience in the airline industry.

This arrangement will continue until Dec. 31, when Moorman plans to step down from his position at Amtrak but continue as an adviser to the company.

The announcement was made in an internal memorandum sent to Amtrak employees and confirmed by a statement issued by Amtrak.

In the memo to employees, Moorman noted that he promised his wife that he time at Amtrak would be short.

Moorman said he said he would stay at Amtrak only as long it took to achieve three goals: Making the company more efficient, developing a stronger safety culture and working with the board of directors to find an executive to lead the railroad long term.

Anderson is a former chief executive at Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines, the latter having been acquired by the former.

“Richard has a proven track record of driving growth while enhancing the customer experience,” Moorman said. “What I really admire about Richard is he faces difficult challenges head-on. He has helped companies navigate bankruptcy, a recession, mergers and acquisitions, and 9/11. In total, Richard is a leader with the strategic vision and tactical experience necessary to run a railroad that benefits our partners, our customers and our employees.”

The statement noted that Anderson’s father worked for the Santa Fe.

Anderson, 62, most recently was executive chairman of the Delta Air Lines board of directors after serving as the airline’s CEO from 2007 to 2016. He was executive vice president at United Healthcare from  2004 to 2007 and CEO of Northwest Airlines from 2001 to 2004.

He also served in the legal division at Continental Airlines and was a former county prosecutor.

“It is an honor to join Amtrak at a time when passenger rail service is growing in importance in America. I look forward to working  alongside Amtrak’s dedicated employees to continue the improvements  begun by Wick,” Anderson said in a statement.

Anderson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Houston at Clear Lake City and a Juris Doctorate at South Texas College of Law. He is a native of Galveston, Texas.

Drifting Down Into Grand River

June 26, 2017

One of the switch engine that was used by the Grand River Railroad makes a rare appearance on the front of a train drifting down the hill and into the street running in Grand River on March 17.

The two switchers adorned in this Baltimore & Ohio inspired livery are reportedly still on the property but no longer used in freight service.

The GRR instead is using Horizon Rail 8420, a GP10, that worked on  the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad last year.

Photograph by Jeff Troutman

Father of Dennis Taksar Passes Away

June 26, 2017
Alex Bruch sent along a note that Dennis Taksar Sr. died unexpectedly on June 23.  He is the father of Akron Railroad Club member Dennis Taksar Jr. More details will be provided as they become available.

Chessie Was Everywhere

June 26, 2017

Were you aware the Chessie the cat was even featured on Chessie System stock certificates? Look at the lower corners.
Photograph by Jack Norris

Out of the Blue Hour

June 24, 2017

The main event for me during the night at the museum at the Lake Shore Railway Museum was the night photo shoot of former Chesapeake & Ohio No. 8272.

But there was time to kill before that began so I tried some things as day turned into night.

Shown is westbound CSX Q218, an auto rack train. I made this image hand holding my camera and zooming out as far as my lens would go. A shutter speed off 100th of a second provided reasonable clarity.

It was the edge of the blue hour, that magic time between sunset and darkness so that provided a little color in the background.

Overall, I was pleased with how this image turned out.

BLET Members OK Pact with I&O

June 24, 2017

Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen have approved a new contract with the Indiana & Ohio Railway.

The union said more than 80 percent of those voting favored ratifying the five-year pact, which covers wages, work rules, and health and welfare benefits for 50 engineers, conductors and trainees.

BLET said the contract calls for a pay hike of 28.6 percent over the life of the contract, which ends Dec. 31, 2020.

The contract also upgrades vacation leave with members receiving an additional vacation day when reaching five-, 10- and 15-year work anniversaries with the company.

Members will receive 10 paid holidays and five flex days. There is also language pertaining to holiday and jury duty pay, as well as bereavement leave.

In a news release, BLET said I&O members are part of the Genesee & Wyoming’s Midwest Region health and welfare plan. The agreement changes the membership’s 401k plan and provides a voucher for two pairs of boots per year.

The contract also outlines procedures for disciplinary hearings and specifies a grievance and arbitration process.

C&O Locomotive Leaves CSX Shop

June 24, 2017

A newly repainted former Chesapeake & Ohio SD40 is en route to the C&O Heritage Center in Clifton Forge, Virginia.

The locomotive was reported to have left this week the CSX locomotive shop in Huntington, West Virginia, where it was painted in C&O markings with a blue and gold livery.

Trains magazine reported that a local that handled outbound shop moves was taking No. 7534 to Russell Yard at which it will depart on train Q302.

The route to Clifton Forge is all former C&O trackage.  No. 7534 was formerly CSX No. 4617 and was the last locomotive in revenue service on CSX to be painted in C&O colors.

Ann Arbor Sets New Deadlines for Station Study

June 24, 2017

Although Ann Arbor officials have already missed one of their self-imposed deadlines, they continue to insist that there is still time to finish an environmental assessment for a new Amtrak station by late July.

That report will narrow three potential sites for the new depot to one.

Last month Ann Arbor City Administrator Howard Lazarus said the goal was to have the assessment ready for public release by June 19.

That didn’t happen but Lazarus told the Ann Arbor City Council this week that staff has made progress on the report and is working with the Federal Railroad Administration and the Michigan Department of Transportation to get it finished as soon as possible.

Among the locations being reviewed for the new station are the existing Amtrak station site on Depot Street, a location in Fuller Park in front of the University of Michigan Hospital and the former Michigan Central station on Depot Street that now houses the Gandy Dancer restaurant.

Lazarus said city staff and AECOM, a consultant helping the city prepare the environmental assessment report, have completed various revisions and are expected to have a complete draft ready to send to the FRA shortly after June 22.

“FRA will complete their review of the resubmitted and revised documents and schedule a call with the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office,” Lazarus wrote in a memo to the council. “MISHPO has the authority to make determinations on the implications of the proposed design alternatives on historic resources. The current draft documents reflect the current state of consideration recognizing specific detail regarding impacts on historic resources.”

The FRA review of the assessment is expected to take a couple of weeks.

“Once the FRA management signs off on the document, the materials are ready for public review,” he wrote in the council memo.

The environmental assessment will be made available on a project website, at city hall and during three public meetings.

Ann Arbor is facing a Sept. 30 deadline to use a federal grant to pay for preliminary engineering designs. Any money not spent by that date will revert back to the federal treasury.

Lazarus said the preliminary engineering work began on May 22.

City officials hope to begin a 30-day public comment period about the environmental assessment on July 30 with public meetings held in August.

The preliminary engineering work would continue into December.

Lazarus said the city, MDOT and the FRA have agreed to a “tapered match” approach for having federal funds cover all of the costs of ongoing work through the grant-funding period, after which the city will spend more local dollars to complete the remaining work.

That anticipates that 80 percent of the work will be federally funded and 20 percent locally funded.

After the FRA has approved a plan for a new station, Ann Arbor officials will put the project to a vote in an election. The city plans to seek federal funds to cover  most of the costs for final design and construction.

GLBT Clarifies Location of Proposed Rail Line

June 24, 2017

Great Lakes Basin Transportation has told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that its proposed Chicago bypass route will not be built through any major population areas of incorporated cities.

The information was given to the board this week in response to a request for additional information about the proposed route, which will extend from northwest Indiana to southern Wisconsin.

GLBT officials said the line will pass through Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, LaSalle, Grundy and Kankakee counties in Illinois; Lake, Porter and LaPorte in Indiana; and Rock in Wisconsin.

However, the line is expected to pass through some areas of the incorporated municipalities of Kingsbury and Lowell, Indiana; and Rochelle and Rockford, Illinois.

“It should be kept in mind that the purpose of the line is to expedite freight shipments originating and terminating on other carriers around the congested Chicago area,” GLBT officials said in the filing. “To minimize environmental impacts, GLBT located its proposed line to avoid cities and existing homes outside city limits to the maximum extent possible.”

OLI Awards Grants to Indiana, Michigan Chapters

June 24, 2017

Operation Lifesaver chapters in Indiana and Michigan are among those sharing in an award of $217,000 in grants for rail safety education projects in 15 states.

The funds are being provided by the Federal Railroad Administration to OLI chapters to pay for public education and awareness programs that promote rail-crossing safety and trespass prevention.

OLI said the education projects will be promoted as part of OLI’s Rail Safety Week in September.

Other state chapters receiving grants include Arkansas, California, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. The grants range in size from $4,700 to $20,000.