The Akron Railroad Club has about 75 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 meetings, 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 few hours drive from Akron, stories about railfan outings, trip reports and special reports about railroad operations and railfan events. 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.
Man was it windy up there. And cold, too.
We were standing on the bridge that spans Ashtabula Harbor Yard of Norfolk Southern. On nearby Lake Erie, the gales of November were whipping up water in giant waves and splashing it with great force against the harbor breakwater walls.
The yard had the look of a facility that isn’t terribly busy these days. Recent news reports have stated that coal traffic on NS is down.
Falling coal revenues have hurt the railroad’s bottom line and are said by some to have played a role in Canadian Pacific’s bid to buy NS.
But I wasn’t thinking about stock prices or coal traffic revenues as I fought to say warm against the howling winds.
More to the point, fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and I were watching the clouds and waiting for creases and openings for the sun to pop through and light up the yard.
I wasn’t aware until this day that railfans have opened a few unofficial camera ports in the chain line fence on the north side of the bridge where the sidewalk is.
We got our photographs and then headed out in search of dramatic photographs along the Lake Erie shore of the wave action.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
A proposed Amtrak stop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, has some Depot Town business owners asking where Amtrak patrons would park.
The business owners said they are not opposed to Amtrak serving their community, but just want to know how the city is going to handle parking and planning for a station platform.
“My concerns are if we have this process that [has] already moved so far along that we have an announcement in a couple weeks . . . then some site planning could be done, and there are some long-term parking issues that have to be worked through,” said business owner Andy French said. “To be honest with you, maybe there already have been some conversations and it hasn’t been communicated. There are a lot of unanswered questions and a lack of information for a process that seems to be moving along.”
The issue arose last week after city officials learned that the Michigan Department of Transportation and Amtrak are working on establishing a Ypsilanti stop for the Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains.
Although Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange said no announcement about Amtrak serving the city is imminent, he can be heard on a recording of a city council meeting saying there would be some discussion about it in two weeks.
“I’m not at liberty to talk about rail now, but I will be in two weeks,” Lange said.
Council Member Pete Murdock said parking is an obvious problem that the city would address.
“Clearly there are issues related to parking and the train,” he said. “Parking needs to be regulated and dealt with, but I don’t think it’s an insurmountable problem. It’s not like anyone is ignoring it.”
Murdock suggested the Maple Street lot at Maple and River as one possibility for long-term parking, saying that rail commuters would mostly use parking during weekdays.
Depot Town’s parking lots are most crowded on weekends and in the evening.
Murdock said he hasn’t heard which side of the tracks the city is considering to establish the station platform.
Rex Richie owns the building at 42 E. Cross St. in Depot Town and R2 Construction. He also is concerned about the parking and planning issues.
“I’m just concerned about the way it’s going down and want to make sure that we have proper stuff in place as far as parking. I just don’t want to jump into it too quickly. There are a lot of details that haven’t been spelled out,” he said.
Children in Fort Wayne will get to meet Santa Claus aboard a diesel-powered train being sponsored by the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society.
Twenty-minute trips will operate on Dec. 5, 12 and 19 while 45-minute excursions will be offered on Dec. 6, 13 and 20.
Tickets may be ordered online. Last year, the Santa train tickets sold out in 24 hours.
What is believed to be the last Baltimore & Ohio W-2A class coal hopper in existence has been moved to a rail trail in Pennsylvania.
The car is believed to be the last of 3,000 W-2, W2-1 and W2B cars built in the 1920s for the B&O by Standard Steel Car and Bethlehem Steel.
The coal hopper spent 30 years in a scrap yard after being salvaged from a 1960s era derailment that occurred near Sykesville, Maryland.
The car was later moved to a siding at the Everett Railroad and is now sitting alongside the 1.2-mile Chambersburg Rail Trail after the owners of a local restaurant paid the moving expenses for relocating the hopper car.
The car’s original number has yet to be determined.
Preservationists have been able to find appropriate trucks and plan to repaint and letter the car for the B&O.
Demolition work began earlier this month on the Amtrak-built 1970s era station in Rochester, New York, to make way for a new intermodal facility.
Amtrak passengers will use a temporary facility while the $29.8 million new station is built during the next 18 months.
The New York Department of Transportation said the new station is expected to open in summer 2017 and will feature retail space and more comfortable waiting and ticketing areas.
The design of the station has a two-sided, high-level passenger platform that will be accessed through a concourse from the station.
Station parking and bicycle and pedestrian access will be improved.
CSX previously had realigned its tracks by the station and installed a dedicated rail line for freight traffic.
Amtrak and CSX trains will continue to share two main tracks. As part of the project, CSX strengthened three railroad bridges near the station to carry the two additional passenger tracks being constructed to provide Amtrak train access to the new station.
Funding for the project included a $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant.
NYSDOT and the Federal Railroad Administration provided $3.5 million in funding for the preliminary engineering phase of the project, including $2.8 million secured through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The city of Rochester is contributing $500,000 toward final design and construction.
Rochester is served by the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited, the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf and four Empire Service trains between New York and Niagara Falls, New York.
During late summer CSX began testing its first Tier 4 compliant locomotive. Through mid September, the railroad had just a handful of the units on its property.
But since then GE Transportation has been rolling them off the factory floor at a rapid clip.
Shown is brand spanking new ET44AH No. 3321 on the point of westbound intermodal train Q009 at Unionville.
It is so new that even the pilot is still gleaming.
Photograph by Craig Sanders
The current slate of Akron Railroad Club officers has been re-elected to their positions for calendar year 2016.
They will be joined by Jim Mastromatteo, who will assume the position of secretary.
The elections were held during the November ARRC meeting. Under the club constitution, the November meeting is designated the annual meeting and officer elections are held then.
The secretary position had been vacant since the death of Timothy Krogg last March.
All of the incumbent officers have held their respective positions for several years.
Craig Sanders will begin his 12th year as president, which ties the record set by the late David McKay for longest tenure as president of the ARRC.
J. Gary Dillon will begin his 42nd year as vice president, Marty Surdyk will begin his 24th year as Bulletin editor and Edward Ribinskas will begin his 23rd year as treasurer.
Officials in Ypsilanti, Michigan, are pursuing becoming a stop for Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains.
The city council was recently informed that Amtrak is interested in using the Depot Town facility.
Although adding Ypsilanti, which is located between Ann Arbor and Dearborn, to the Amtrak map has been discussed before, a contract between the city and the Downtown Development Authority could help secure a portion of funding for the train stop.
“If and when a train stop comes we would put . . . that as our No. 1 priority,” said DDA Executive Director Tim Colbeck.
“There’s a high level of commitment on a lot of parties to make this happen and there’s a high level of optimism,” he said. “We would absolutely want to support a train stop and when it does happen we would want to be able to put our full capacity behind it through our ability to bond revenue.”
The late day sunlight at Indigo Lake was warm and inviting. My plan was to catch Nickel Plate Road No. 765 as it passed by on its last trip of the day on its last day of excursion service on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
But it didn’t work out that way. The steamer never got to even milepost 50 before its train reversed course and headed back north.
Yeah, it was a bummer, but I knew that the CVSR Scenic train would be coming by before too long.
So I waited for it to arrive. It was well worth the wait.
There was a light breeze that stirred the water and distorted the reflections, yet I was still pleased with what I was able to get.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
Norfolk Southern has painted a GP38-2 into a first responders livery that honors the training of emergency workers.
No. 5642 wears a livery similar to that of SD60E No. 9-1-1 and will be assigned to the NS Safety Train that travels throughout the railroad’s network.
The Safety Train is used to provide educational programs to first responders who might respond to railroad accidents.