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: June 23. Program by Matt Arnold.

Next Activity: June 25. Longest Day in Bellevue.

Bringing Back That Chess-C Look

June 23, 2017

I missed the Chessie System era so I took a great interest in the news that the Lake Shore Railway Museum was getting a locomotive wearing Chessie colors. Of course I wanted to photograph it.

Although I was around during the Chessie era, for much of that time I wasn’t into photographing railroad operations and lived in places not served by the Chessie.

I have just two image of the Chessie’s yellow, vermilion and blue Chess-C locomotive livery that was introduced in 1972 and lasted into the early CSX years.

One of those images is a poorly exposed photograph made in Mitchell, Indiana, while the other was a Chessie GP40 (Baltimore & Ohio) locomotive leading Amtrak’s eastbound Capitol Limited east of Pittsburgh in early November 1981.

I was a passenger on the latter train and photographed the freight unit from a window as the train twisted and turned en route to Washington.

I had another reason for wanting to see Chesapeake & Ohio No. 8272.

Jim Mastrommateo’s program at the May Akron Railroad Club meeting featured a number of locomotives still wearing the Chessie livery.

At one point, Pete Poremba tapped me on the shoulder and showed a photograph of C&O 8272 on his tablet that he got off the Internet that showed the unit somewhere in Ohio en route to North East, Pennsylvania.

The top and underframe of the 8272 had a noticeable bluish cast to it whereas in photos that Jim showed those areas appeared to have been painted black.

The dark areas at the top of the locomotives shown in Jim’s program and in photographs that I subsequently reviewed in my book Akron Railroads appear to be much deeper than that of the 8272.

Was the 8272 painted in an authentic Chess-C livery? It didn’t appear to be so.

But I did see some photographs online of Chessie locomotives in which the “black” areas had a bluish cast to them.

It could be that over time the blue paint on Chessie locomotives faded.

News reports about the painting of No. 8272 indicated that the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore provided paint records to personnel at the CSX Huntington locomotive shop where No. 8272 was repainted into the Chessie livery.

Presumably, that meant that the shop forces had the correct blueprint for how the Chess-C livery was applied.

No. 8272 is a GE-built locomotive and all of the images I’ve seen of locomotives wearing the Chess-C livery have been EMD products. Perhaps that is a factor here.

There are railfans who make it their business to “police” whether heritage locomotives are authentic.

There is a guy who lives in Maryland who has posted more than once his view that FPA-4 No. 800 on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is not an authentic B&O livery because it lacks the wrong shade of blue.

All of that matters little to me, though. Heritage units are as close as I’m going to get to making photographs of locomotive liveries that has long since passed into history.

Class 1 Railroad Employment Fell in May

June 23, 2017

Employment on Class 1 railroads in mid May fell 2.42 percent from the corresponding figure recorded in May 2016, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board reported.

The STB said the railroads employed 149,032, a drop of 0.05 percent from the mid-April tally.

Of the six employment categories, five reported decreases compared with mid-April.

That included executives, officials and staff assistants, down 0.99 percent to 8,745 employees; professional and administrative, down 1.3 percent to 12,506; maintenance of way and structures, down 0.18 percent to 34,158; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 0.44 percent to 27,726; and transportation other than train and engine, down 0.41 percent to 5,825.

Train-and-engine employment rose 0.64 percent to 60,072 employees between mid-April and mid-May.

Compared with May 2016, all categories except train-and-engine transportation saw declines.

Executives, officials and staff assistants fell 5.69 percent; professional and administrative fell 8.57 percent; maintenance of way and structures fell 6.08 percent; maintenance of equipment and stores fell 4.73 percent; and transportation other than train and engine fell 5.85 percent.

Employment in the train-and-engine transportation category rose 3.37 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Fire Destroys P&LE Station near Beaver Falls

June 23, 2017

A Pittsburgh & Lake Erie passenger station in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, will be razed after it was heavily damaged by fire.

Firefighters told local news media that trying to bring the blaze under control was difficult because the area had no fire hydrants.

That forced fire fighters to use a relay pump to supply water for their efforts.

Known as College Hill station, the two-story structure opened in 1910 and was used to carry passengers to Geneva College.

It was later used by the PAT commuter trains until they were discontinued in 1985. The building was last used in the early 1990s.

Tickets on Sale for NKP 765 Trips on CVSR

June 22, 2017

Tickets are now on sale for excursions behind Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765, which will return to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for two weekends in September.

The Berkshire-type locomotive, which was built by Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio, will pull excursions on Sept. 16 and 23 from Rockside Road station in Independence and on Sept. 17 and 24 from Akron Northside station.

Each trip will be two hours in duration and feature a photo runby at Boston Mill station.

Boarding times will be 9:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. at Rockside Road station and 11:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. in Akron.

New this year will be a Friday excursion that will be open only to CVSR members and volunteers. That trip will depart Rockside station at 5:30 p.m. and feature a 1940s theme. NKP 765 was built in 1944.

Passengers aboard the Friday trip will be served complimentary hors d’oeuvres. A cash bar will be available along with live entertainment from the period. There will be a photo runby during the excursion.

Tickets for the public trips are $25 for coach seating, $30 for an open-window coach, $38 for deluxe seating in dining car, $40 for Silver Bronco first class seating and $50 for Silver Bronco dome section seating.

Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.cvsr.com/steam-valley-rides/

Metro Ports New Burns Harbor Operator

June 22, 2017

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor has announced that Metropolitan Stevedore Company will become its new bulk terminal operator effective July 1.

Metro Ports will manage the loading and unloading of shipments along the port’s East Harbor for port tenants and outside shippers of bulk cargo, including products for steel making, agriculture, manufacturing, energy and construction.

“Having a 165-year-old company like Metro Ports select Indiana to launch its Great Lakes operations is a tribute to our state’s business climate and our extremely successful port system,” said Ports of Indiana Chief Executive Officer Rich Cooper in a news release.

Among the commodities handled at the port are aggregates, potash, coke, coal, cement, fertilizer, borax, bauxite, RoRo, military, steel, wind energy, yachts and project cargo.

Norfolk Southern provides rail service to the port.

ARRC Longest Day is Sunday in Bellevue

June 21, 2017

The Akron Railroad Club will use the Kemper Railfan Park in Bellevue for its base of operations for the 2017 longest day outing.

Although it has been less than two years since the Akron Railroad Club held an outing in Bellevue, the club’s last longest day outing there occurred on June 27, 2010.

The outing was memorable for being cut short in late afternoon by a major thunderstorm.

We retreated to the Bob Evans restaurant in Norwalk for dinner and were greeted with a rainbow upon leaving. By then the storm had moved on.

Much has changed since the last ARRC longest day in Bellevue. The NS motive power fleet has grown more colorful with the addition of 20 heritage locomotives paying tribute to NS predecessor railroad.

The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum has added a railfan park on Monroe Street inside the NS mini plant, and the yard has been enlarged and named after former NS President and CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman.

With any luck we will be able to bag an NS heritage locomotive and maybe a train or two on the Wheeling & Lake Erie, which also comes into Bellevue.

Foreign power from Union Pacific, BNSF and Canadian National makes regular appearances in Bellevue.

It’s a given that there will be a lot of trains throughout the day. But we won’t be seeing the RoadRailer trains that we saw in 2010 and high-hood diesels, once a common sight in Bellevue, are pretty much gone.

Also gone are the Nickel Plate Road-style block signals on the Fostoria District, the Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals on the Sandusky District and the searchlight signals on the Toledo District. They’ve all been replaced by Safetrans signals.

The traffic mix will be mostly merchandise freight and auto rack trains. Some intermodal trains run on the Sandusky District, many of which take a connection between the Sandusky and Fostoria districts near Slaughterhouse Road on the south side of town.

As with other ARRC longest day events, it begins when the first person arrives and ends when the last person leaves.

The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum will be open between noon and 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (age 60 and older) and $5 for children (ages 5 to 12).

A portion of the museum’s collection, though, can be seen for free. This includes some locomotives and rolling stock.

Those still around at the end of the day will likely gather somewhere for dinner before heading home.

Maybe it will be the Bob Evans in Norwalk or somewhere else. It remains to be seen.

The focal point of the day will be the Kemper Railfan Park. It features a pavilion with tables and is strategically located to see most rail traffic in and out of Bellevue.

Parking along Monroe Street at the park is limited, so you might have to park across the tracks in a large gravel lot.

Also be advised that there are no restroom facilities at the railfan park.

As for food, there is a pizza shop (Pizza House West) within walking distance that is said by some railfans to be good. Subway has a shop at 301 East Main Street and there are a variety of restaurants in town including the standard fast food joints of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, East of Chicago Pizza, Marco’s Pizza, Burger King and Taco Bell.

Local establishments include Bone Boy’s BBQ The Smokehouse, Pizza Wheel, Twin Lakes Restaurant, Jenny’s Amsden House Restaurant, Happy Garden, Fontana’s Italian Eatery, Casa Mexicana, Little Italy Pizza, and Long Way Home Family Restaurant.

AAO Holding Rallies in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo

June 21, 2017

All Aboard Ohio plans to conduct rallies on behalf of Amtrak’s long-distance passenger trains on Friday in Cleveland and Columbus and on Saturday in Toledo.

The rallies are part of a larger campaign by the National Association of Railroad Passengers to drum up public support for continuing federal funding for long-distance trains that the Trump administration has proposed ending in fiscal year 2018.

The Cleveland rally will begin at noon at the Amtrak station. The Columbus rally will start at 11 a.m. at the corner of High Street and Nationwide Boulevard.

The Toledo rally will begin at 3 p.m. at MLK Plaza/Amtrak station.

In a news release, AAO said that cities without passengers trains have fewer jobs, less tourism, lower economic activity, lower real estate values, less healthy people, more traffic congestion, less mobility and fewer travel options.

“Eliminating funding for Amtrak would have a profound negative impact on every intercity, rapid transit and commuter rail passenger in the country. More than 220 communities across the country and over 40 million riders will lose their service,” AAO said.

The AAO news release noted that Columbus has gone more than 13,750 days since losing service when Amtrak’s New York-Kansas City National Limited was discontinued on Oct. 1, 1979.

The capital of Ohio was said to be the largest city in the western hemisphere and possibly the world without any regularly scheduled passenger trains whether they be urban light-rail, regional commuter or intercity service.

Cleveland and Toledo are each served by the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited and the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited.

AAO said that Cleveland’s rail transit system faces a half-billion dollar backlog of unfunded repair needs and the viability of its Greater Cleveland RTA rail service is threatened by other proposed federal budget cuts.

CSX Furloughs 70 at Huntington Shops

June 21, 2017

Seventy CSX employees are being laid off at the locomotive shop in Huntington, West Virginia.

The laid off workers will be eligible to bid on other jobs in the CSX network. The shop will have 270 still on the payroll.

Trains magazine reported that most of those losing their jobs worked on the third shift and in clerk positions.

Huntington is the primary shop working on the GP38-3 and GP40-3 rebuild program, which has locomotives in the 2000 and 6500 series that have been rebuilt from GP38-2 and GP40-2 units.

Located on the former Chesapeake & Ohio mainline, the Huntington shops are situated on the CSX Kanawha Subdivision between Russell, Kentucky, and Charleston, West Virginia.

FTA Urges States to Enact Safety Programs

June 21, 2017

Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan are among 30 states that have been reminded by the Federal Transit Administration that they must establish a state safety oversight program by April 15, 2019.

The rule was promulgated in 2016 and sets a three-year time frame for states to obtain certification for their SSO programs.

Failure to do so will mean the  FTA will not obligate funds to transportation agencies in that state until certification is achieved.

The FTA said it is encouraging states to act quickly to enact necessary legislation required to meet certification requirements.

Nine states have yet to enact legislation prior to FTA certification. FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes said that by law the 2019 deadline cannot be waived.

“The affected states should act to establish an FTA-certified SSO program that is compliant with federal law and provides the highest level of safety for their rail-transit riders and workers,” he said in a statement.

CSX OKs Money for Harrison, Mantle Ridge

June 21, 2017

It’s now official. CSX CEO E. Hunter Harrison will not lose any money from having retired early from Canadian Pacific in order to pursue the head job at CSX.

The CSX Board of Directors has voted to give Harrison and hedge fund Mantle Ridge the $84 in salary and benefits that Harrison gave up by leaving CP early.

CSX said in a regulatory filing that it will pay Mantle Ridge $55 million and provide Harrison with a lump-sum payment of $29 million. The CSX board also agreed to pay Harrison’s taxes related to the payment.

The reimbursement vote was expected, analysts said, because CSX stock has increased in value since the news broke that Harrison was interested in becoming the railroad’s CEO.

Analysts say the move was a vote of confidence that Harrison will be able to lower the railroad’s operating ratio and increase its profitability, which in turn will bolster the share price of CSX stock.

Harrison joined CSX last March after leaving CP in January.