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: October 27. Program by Peter Bowler.

Next Activity:December 2. End of Year Dinner.

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Starting to Look Like Autumn

October 24, 2017

These images were made on Oct. 20 and you might think that by then fall foliage would be peaking in Northeast Ohio.

But this autumn has been anything other than ordinary with several runs of warm weather.

Still, there is color if you go looking for it even if it is muted and/or variegated.

In the top image, a Canadian National EF-6441 leads a light power move eastbound on Track No. 1 with some back-lighted gold leaves on the other side of the tracks.

In the bottom image, an eastbound coal train passes some foliage that shows hints of autumn color but is still largely green. Maybe in another week this will be a more colorful location.

In the October 2017 ARRC eBulletin

October 24, 2017

The October 2017 issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin is now out and the cover story features a look at the New Castle Subdivision of CSX.

Akron’s mainline railroad features a moderate level of traffic and can be notorious for being feast or famine, and sometimes both, for those who venture trackside to observe and photograph its operations.

Originally the primary route to Chicago of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the New Castle Sub today is part of a Chicago-Middle Atlantic route for CSX.

The eBulletin also has railroad industry news and the thoughts of editor Craig Sanders about what he learned as the author of eight books on railroad history.

To receive a free copy of the October eBulletin send an email message to csanders429@aol.com

Class 1 Rail Employment Fell in September

October 24, 2017

Employment at U.S. Class 1 railroads fell by 0.44 percent in September when compared to August.

Figures released by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board showed that the railroads employed 146,673 workers as of mid-September. That figure is down 3.81 percent when compared with September 2016.

The number of railroad workers in September fell in all employment categories when compared with August.

Professional and administrative positions were down 1.82 percent; executives, officials and staff assistants were down 1.56 percent; transportation (other than train and engine) was down 0.44 percent; maintenance of equipment and stores were down 0.43 percent; maintenance of way and structures were down 0.41 percent; and transportation (T&E) was down 0.01 percent.

In comparing September 2017 to the same month last year, five categories reflected workforce declines: Professional and administrative positions were down 7.13 percent to 12,393 employees; executives, officials and staff assistants, down 7.09 percent to 8,497; maintenance of way and structures, down 6.68 percent to 33,483; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 5.46 percent to 26,740; and transportation (other than T&E), down 5.41 percent to 5,678.

However, the number of transportation (T&E) employees inched up 0.09 percent to 59,882.

Hoosier State OT Performance Improving

October 24, 2017

The on-time performance of two Amtrak trains in Indiana has shown some improvement of late.

From a 37.1 percent rating in August the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State improved to 56 percent in September.

The Chicago-New York Cardinal, which uses the same route, had an on-time performance of 58 percent during the month

Brittany White, stakeholder and marketing manager for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said the on-time performance for the Hoosier State for the month of October thus far has been close to 80 percent.

Amtrak has said most of the delays to the trains have occurred on CSX tracks between Indianapolis and Dyer, Indiana.

These run the gamut between malfunctioning signals to freight train interference.

CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle said the delays have resulted from issues stemming from implementation of a new operating model known as precision scheduled railroading.

He said changes in how freight cars are sorted at the railroad’s Avon Yard west of Indianapolis resulted in unanticipated congestion that contributed to service issues for Amtrak.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the passenger carrier has seen a slow but steady increase in on-time performance.

INDOT has hired a consultant to identify areas for improvement in Amtrak, CSX and INDOT operations. That report is expected to be completed in early 2018.

What Was That Doing on CSX?

October 23, 2017

For nearly two hours the CSX New Castle Subdivision through Kent had been quiet. That is not necessarily a rare occurrence as that line can have some long dry spells.

From what I could tell it didn’t help that train Q299 had suffered a locomotive failure, which had Track No. 1 tied up.

Finally, I heard the Q137 call the signal at Davey Tree northeast of town. I got into position on an observation platform that is part of the now decorative dam on the Cuyahoga River just south of the Main Street bridge.

I couldn’t see the train until it emerged from beneath the bridge. Imagine my surprise to see a Norfolk Southern unit leading the train.

Now that’s something you don’t see every day on the New Castle Sub.

At first glance, the trailing unit, though, didn’t look anything like NS or CSX.

What is this? As the train continued its westward trek on Track 2, I recognized that it was the Virginian heritage locomotive of NS.

A check of the unit’s spotting history on HeritageUnits.com found that No. 1069 has been on CSX since at least Oct. 17 when BNSF handed it off in Chicago.

No. 1069 led Q138 eastbound through Akron on Oct. 18 at 7:30 a.m. and when I saw it last Friday it was returning westward.

As of this morning, NS 1069 was still on CSX, having been spotted on two trains in Michigan over the weekend.

Bowler to Give Wide-Ranging Program

October 23, 2017

Peter Bowler will present a digital program at the October Akron Railroad Club meeting on Friday (Oct. 27) that will take us far and wide.

The show will be done in segments with the first those titled “Southern Swing” and covering a trip to Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia chasing steam, plus a visit to the North Carolina Transportation Museum at Spencer.

There will be a couple video clips of Norfolk & Western steam locomotive 611 inserted for fun and sound.

The second show will be a series of the best of Peter’s China trip steam videos that he ran out of time to show at the December 2015 end of year dinner.

The meeting will begin with a short business session at 8 p.m. followed by the program at approximately 8:30 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

Following the meeting, some members gather 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.

CSX Closes Willard Hump

October 23, 2017

An online report indicates that CSX closed the eastbound hump in Willard Yard on Oct. 19.

The move completes converting Willard to a flat switching yard. It was not an unexpected move as CSX has ceased sending cars over a hump at virtually all yards in its system as it moves to a precision scheduled railroading operating model that relies heavy on block swapping and point to point service.

Willard had two humps that were tied to direction of travel. The last operating hump was the eastbound one.

The 2016 CSX annual report said Willard was the carrier’s fourth-busiest hump yard, handling a daily average of 1,411 cars.

However, CSX recently told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that Willard is now averaging less than half that number,

For now humping operations are expected to continue in Cincinnati; Indianapolis; Selkirk, New York; and Waycross, Georgia.

CSX this year has ended hump operations  at yards in Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama.; Cumberland, Maryland; Hamlet, North Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky.; Nashville, Tennessee.; and Toledo.

CVSR 365 Back in Revenue Service

October 21, 2017

After being sent for a rebuild in 2013 Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad No. 365, originally a Seaboard Air Line Alco C420, has returned to revenue service. After testing last week, it started revenue service on Thursday. I got it at Boston Mills Friday evening.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

Dennison Museum to Unveil Restored Locomotive

October 21, 2017

The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum will conduct an “unveiling party” on Nov. 3 of its recently restored Chespeake & Ohio steam locomotive No. 2700.

The event will begin at 1o a.m. at the museum, which is housed in a former Pennsylvania Railroad passenger station on the Pittsburgh-St. Louis mainline.

The cosmetic restoration used more than 320 parts that were recreated by Jason Johnson of Gemini Industrial to complete the restoration.

Prior to restoration, No. 2700 had one of the most vandalized steam locomotives in the county and been stripped of many of its parts.

The engine sits on the east end of the Dennison Depot, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark as the best example left in the country of a World War II Servicemen’s Canteen Site.

Those who join the 2700 Club Membership Program for $27 will help ensure the upkeep of the engine. Members will receive a print of the engine.

NS Manager Receives AAR Safety Award

October 21, 2017

A Norfolk Southern executive was the 2017 recipient of the Holden-Proefrock Award given by the Association of American Railroads.

Paul Williams was recognized for his 34 years of seeking to ensure the safe transport of hazardous materials by rail.

As NS Southeast regional manager of hazardous materials, Williams oversees emergency response, regulatory support, and managing derailments.

The Holden-Proefrock Award is named in honor of Roy Holden, a former AAR employee and innovator in tank car design and safety, and Art Proefrock, a former Hulcher Emergency Services employee who pioneered hazardous materials transportation emergency response.

The AAR also presented its 2016 NAR Grand Slam Awards on 21 companies that were recognized for being “exemplary” shippers of hazardous materials. An award winner must have been recognized by at least four Class I railroads and have had zero non accident releases involving their shipments during the previous calendar year.