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/

EL Monday: Rusty Rails in Akron

March 1, 2021

A Chessie System train is on the Baltimore & Ohio mainline running westbound in Akron in June 1981. The two very rusty tracks to the left of the train are what remains of the Erie Lackawanna mainline through Akron. To their left, the empty field was where the EL’s McCoy Street Yard was.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Weather Congestion Had Trains Tied Down in Sidings

March 1, 2021

Online reports indicate that one ripple effect of the severe winter weather that occurred last month is that CSX parked freight trains in various locations in Indiana and Michigan because of congestion on the Belt Railway of Chicago.

This included parking trains without locomotives on siding on the Monon and Garrett subdivisions in Indiana, and in the lightly used Transfer Yard in Indianapolis.

Cars were also parked in Michigan at Plymouth, Grand Rapids and Holland.

However, one poster said the congestion was not as bad as it might seem, noting that in past years even more trains might have been parked waiting to get into Chicago.

This poster said railroads feeding traffic to the BRC were able to keep their mainlines clean, which enabled intermodal and bulk trains to operate on time.

In some instances, railroads were able to bypass the BRC by building solid trains for destinations beyond Chicago.

For example, Union Pacific built a solid train of cars bound for CSX at Selkirk Yard near Albany, New York, that merely passed through Chicago without having to be reclassified.

Canadian National was reported to have built solid trains for Cincinnati and CSX built solid trains for CN.

The Indiana Harbor Belt was reported to have taken a hump train a day that would normality go to the BRC while other traffic was diverted to other gateways.

Out of the Fog

March 1, 2021

Last Saturday’s weather forecast called for high temperatures in the 50s and mostly sunny skies so I ventured over to east central Illinois for my first railfan foray of 2021.

The day began, though, in heavy fog caused by a temperature inversion. When I arrived in Rantoul, Illinois, the temperatures were in the low 30s.

Those conditions wouldn’t last long, but while they did I was able to get this image of Amtrak’s northbound City of New Orleans cutting through the fog at the Rantoul station.

Although this is an Amtrak stop, the City is not scheduled to stop here. The train was operating as No. 1158 on a schedule 90 minutes than usual.

That was due to track work by host railroad Canadian Pacific in the South that has the northbound CONO running later than normal two days a week.

How About a Grand Trunk Geep?

February 28, 2021

The late Mike Ondecker and I found Grand Trunk Western GP9 4544 in Port Huron, Michigan, on April 20, 1976, at the locomotive service facility. It is teamed up with SD40 No. 5917.

Built in March 1957, the 4533 would be retired by GTW in 1991 but go on to serve such short line operations as the Kansas Southeastern Railway, Northern Plains Railway and the Renville Elevator Company.

Photograph by Robert Farkas


SEPTA Board Approves Rail Extension Funding

February 28, 2021

The governing board of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has approved using $40 million in COVID-19 relief money for its King of Prussia rail extension.

The board said this will free up other funds for work on the rail extension.

The relief fund money will be paid to lease track from Amtrak.

Also approved by the board was a five-year strategic plan that includes the King of Prussia project as one of five that would speed economic growth.

CSX Removes Homeless Encampment in Akron

February 28, 2021

CSX police and local authorities removed a homeless encampment from railroad property in Akron earlier this month.

The encampment was near Grace Park, which has long been a hangout for the homeless.

Contractors working for CSX used a backhole and a dump truck to clear the debris from the encampment.

A CSX spokesperson told the Akron Beacon Journal the action had been planned for some time.

“This didn’t happen overnight – we’ve been giving them warnings for two years,” said Sherilee Bowman.

Bowman said the railroad acted to address health and safety issues, but said it had held back on acting sooner because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A city official said it supported the removal of the encampment because it was “dangerously close to active railroad tracks.”

Since June 2019, CSX trains have struck and killed three people in the area, including two east of Grace Park. The third fatality occurred on the other side of Ohio Route 8.

Federal Railroad Administration records show that those killed had been walking on the tracks.

CSX spokesperson Bowman said those removed from the encampment were living on railroad property and had been notified that they had to leave.

“Cleanup was scheduled after conducting a series of outreach efforts and engaging community partners to identify alternative living arrangements,” she said.

“We worked with stakeholders well in advance of scheduling and removal of trespassers in order to protect the safety of the community and our property.”

Advocates for the homeless, though, were critical of the encampment’s removal and said its residents received just 20 minutes notice of the impending action.

Mike Lucas, a co-founder of Akron Food Not Bombs said his group and others have been providing food and supplies for more than a year to homeless residents living in and near Grace Park.

He said various individuals have come and gone from the area over the past year but 15 people were living between the East Market Street and the Perkins Street bridges over the CSX New Castle Subdivision tracks.

Advocates for the homeless told the Beacon Journal some of those disrupted by the CSX action will simply move to other areas because they are unwilling to go to a homeless shelter such as Haven of Rest in Akron.

Pittsburgh Light Rail Line May Reopen

February 28, 2021

The Port Authority of Allegheny County has released a 25-year plan calling for improvements in Pittsburgh’s light rail system by reopening a now-closed rail line.

The plan also envisions reducing service on the lightly used Library line.

Although the Port Authority wants to create a route to the Pittsburgh International Airport the plan did not say what mode of transportation will be used to do that.

The plan also calls for increased service in a number of areas but did not list many specifics.

CSX Files Pan Am Merger Plan with STB

February 28, 2021

CSX has formally notified the U.S. Surface Transportation Board of its plans to acquire Pan Am Railways.

The merger application said the transaction will improve service, capture business from trucks, and boost railroad competition in New England.

The deal had been announced on Nov. 30. Pan Am operates 1,700 miles of track and haulagae rights from Albany, New York, to Maine.

In what some industry observers see as a concession to Norfolk Southern, which had expressed initial opposition to the news of the pending acquisition, CSX will have a Genesee & Wyoming subsidiary operate the Pan Am Southern, a joint venture of Pan Am and NS.

G&W’s Pittsburg & Shawmut subsidiary operating as Berkshire & Eastern, will operate Pan Am Southern of which NS is a 50 percent owner.

CSX will own half of Pan Am Southern while NS will retain its ownership share.

NS had sought a neutral party to operate the Pan Am Southern.

The Atlanta-based Class 1 also will gain trackage rights over CSX, Providence & Worcester, and Pan Am between Albany and Ayer, Massachusetts, for intermodal and automotive traffic.

That will provide a faster route for NS intermodal trains 22K and 23K as well as a route that avoids the clearance restrictions in 4.75-mile Hoosac Tunnel in western Massachusetts.

Using CSX track on the former Water Level Route and the Boston & Albany via Worcester, Massachusetts, is expected to reduce the running time for the 22K and 23K by three hours and eliminate a single-stacking operation at Mechanicville., New York.

In return NS has agreed to help pay for clearance work between Worcester and Aye and will rebuild its former Delaware & Hudson route from Delanson, New York, to Voorheesville, New York.

Two NS manifest freights will continue to operate daily over the Pan Am Southern between Albany and the Pan Am classification yard at East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

The Pan Am Southern, which has 425 miles of rail lines and trackage rights routes, is now operated by Pan Am’s Springfield Terminal subsidiary.

G&W already connects with Pan Am Southern through its New England Central, Providence & Worcester, and Connecticut Southern.

The STB filing did not estimate cost savings or revenue gains that CSX expects from acquiring Pan Am.

“While CSXT expects rail traffic on the PAR System to grow over time, CSXT does not expect to make any significant changes in traffic routes or traffic volumes in the next few years,” the filing said.

Having Pan Am will extend CSX’s reach into Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Saint John, New Brunswick.

CSX is already the dominant Class 1 freight railroad in New England but said that because it is an end-to-end merger there will be no adverse effects on competition.

The petition said no short line railroads will lose competitive access and the Berkshire & Eastern will independently set rates on Pan Am Southern.

FRA Orders Train Crews to Wear Face Masks

February 28, 2021

Starting Monday, train crews in the United States will be required to wear face masks.

The Federal Railroad Administration issued an emergency order effective March 1 that it said will comply with an order aboard forms of transportation as issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to an executive order by President Joseph Biden.

In a statement, the FRA said it acted after its inspectors observed inconsistent use of masks among rail personnel, and inconsistent rules among railroads regarding mask use in a locomotive cab and other rail facilities.

The order directs individual railroads to establish procedures for those who do not comply with the mask requirement.

At a minimum, the FRA said, those procedures should include removing the individual from performing his or her duties and removing the person from the facility as soon as possible.

Railroad workers not complying with the FRA directive will also be subject to FRA enforcement actions while their employer will be subject to a penalty of up to $118,826 per day with personnel also subject to civil penalties.

Steam Saturday: Surrounded by the Milwaukee Road

February 26, 2021
Canadian Pacific 2816 before its departure on Aug. 29, 2007

Over the years I’ve photographed and ridden trips behind Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261. However in 2007 and 2008 there were trips in which we were surrounded by visions of the Milwaukee Road but 261 nowhere in sight.

In August 2007, Jeff Troutman and myself Amtraked to Minneapolis to ride a ferry move excursion from Minneapolis to Milwaukee behind Canadian Pacific 4-6-4 No. 2816.

During our layover in Chicago we had time to take a Metra commuter train to Franklin Park and return in time to catch the Empire Builder to Minneapolis.

The following August I returned again to Minneapolis with my brother Ronnie and two of his boys, Alex and Ryan for two ballgames at the Metrodome.

All the photos except for one have something tied to the Milwaukee Road.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

At Franklin Park, Illinois
This city bus in Minneapolis caught us by surprise in August 2007
The former Milwaukee Road passenger station in Minneapolis is now a hotel. We stayed there in 2008
The Mary Tyler Moore statue in downtown Minneapolis on the the spot where she threw her hat up in the air in the opening of the show every week.
Steaming east on former Milwaukee Road rails in August 2007
The old and the new on Canadian Pacific
Jeff Troutman during the service stop in Portage, Wisconsin.
At Sturtevant, Wisconsin