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 28. Program by Todd Dillon.

Next Activity: November 26. End of Year Dinner. Program by Roger Durfee.

Along the NS Mainline near Motor Yard

October 20, 2016



Here are a few images of interest of Norfolk Southern action on the Cleveland Line near Motor Yard in Macedonia.

In the top image, the NS “Go Rail” locomotive leads a manifest freight in the vicinity of  the yard.

In the bottom image, NS 8302 leads another manifest freight through Macedonia. It is one of the few remaining standard cab GEs that you can see leading on the Cleveland Line.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

CSX Profits Fell 10% in 3rd Quarter

October 20, 2016

Falling traffic led to CSX posting a 10 percent decline in profits for the third quarter of 2016.

CSX logo 1CSX reported net earnings of $455 million, or 48 cents per share, down from $507 million in the third quarter of 2015.

However, the results still exceeded Wall Street analyst expectations of 45 cents per share. Revenue for the quarter fell 8 percent, the same as its decline in overall traffic volume.

Trains magazine said CSX experienced the largest traffic decline among Class I railroads.

The carrier saw a 21 percent decline in coal, a 13 percent drop in metals and equipment, and a 10 percent decline in agricultural and food products. CSX realized gains in automotive (6 percent) and fertilizers (1 percent).

Although intermodal volume fell by 7 percent, CSX said the bulk of its domestic intermodal business remained strong, reflecting the success of the railroad’s highway-to-rail conversion program. International intermodal volume fell 12 percent due to the loss of a contract to NS as well as weaker global trade.

The operating ratio was up a tick at 69 percent compared with 68.3 percent in the third quarter of 2015.

“CSX continues to drive strong cost performance and efficiency in this dynamic market environment while meeting or exceeding customer expectations,” CEO Michael Ward said in a statement.

The railroad expects fourth-quarter traffic volume to be about even with last year, Chief Financial Officer Frank Lonegro said during a conference call.

During the third quarter this year, CSX said its expenses improved 7 percent and that it expects efficiency gains and cost savings of $400 million for the year, up from the $350 million target management provided during the second quarter.

However, Chief Operating Officer Cindy Sanborn said CSX won’t be able to duplicate this “extraordinary” savings pace next year.

“We’ll see a more normal year next year, but we’re not leaving anything on the table,” she said.
CSX expects efficiency gains of $150 million in 2017.

On-time performance, terminal dwell time and system velocity all fell slightly compared with the second quarter of this year.

CSX Mothballing 60 Miles of EK Subdivision

October 20, 2016

CSX has closed a 60-mile portion of the EK Subdivision in Kentucky. The former Louisville & Nashville route was idled due to falling Appalachian coal traffic.

CSX logo 1The affected track extends from Calla to Jackson. Existing rail traffic on the route will be diverted to a former Chesapeake & Ohio line at Martin, Kentucky, Trains magazine reported.

The EK Subdivision remains in service from Jackson Yard to Hazard, where CSX serves a coal customer at Typo.

Trains bound for Hazard will use the Big Sandy Subdivision from near Ashland to Martin Yard.

Trains will use the Elkhorn and Beaver Valley and Rockhouse subdivisions to reach remaining customers that remain on EK Subdivision.

Inbound and outbound traffic will use these routes rather than the western edge of the EK Subdivision.

The EK Subdivision connects to the CC Subdivision near Winchester, Kentucky, and runs east toward Ravenna and Hazard and into former C&O territory.

The closed section has block signals, a few double-tracked sections and several passing sidings.

N&W 611 To Return to Roanoke on Oct. 24

October 20, 2016

Norfolk & Western No. 611 will return to Roanoke, Virginia, this month during a welcome back event at the Virginia Transportation Museum.

Fire up 611The J-Class 4-8-4 has been at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, North Carolina.

It will leave in the early morning hours from Spencer and travel over Norfolk Southern tracks to Roanoke.

The VTM will open at 7 a.m. with the 611 expected to arrive between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m.

The steamer is expected to operate under its own power with a dead head consist.

Museum visitors will have the opportunity to purchase breakfast and lunch at the museum grounds.

For an additional $25 fee, visitors will be permitted to climb into the locomotive cab and blow the whistle.

Public Comment Being Sought on Plan to Add Double Track to South Shore Commuter Line

October 20, 2016

Public comment is being sought through Oct. 24 by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District on a plan to double track the South Shore Line

South Shore logoThe expanded track would cut travel times and eliminate street running in Michigan City, Indiana.

NICTD expects to finish an environmental assessment in time for 2017 public hearings. After the completion of final design and engineering work, construction could begin in 2019.

The double-track segments would open in 2020. The $210 million project will add 25 miles of second track between Gary and Michigan City.

The South Shore Line currently has a 6.5-mile section of double-track plus multiple passing sidings.

Once opened, the new double track would cut the travel time to Chicago from Michigan City by 40 minutes to one hour even.

Although most of the new track will be laid next to existing rails, the project will re-route track now running down the middle of West 10th and 11th streets on Michigan City.

Corman Names Quinn as President

October 20, 2016

R.J. Corman Railroad Group has appointed Edward Quinn III as its new president and CEO. He will take over on Oct. 24.

CormanQuinn is a 22-year veteran of the transportation and manufacturing industries. He served as the general manager of the Corman’s material sales company and vice president of its derailment services Company. Quinn will replace interim president Fred Mudge.

“Speaking on behalf of the R.J. Corman Board of Directors and Trustees, we are delighted to welcome Mr. Quinn to serve as our President and CEO,” said Sandra Adams, a Corman board member, in a statement. “Having worked with Mr. Quinn previously, I am confident he is the right leader for our company moving forward. Ed has the intellect and integrity to lead our company as well as the passion for our employees and customers that is necessary for continued improvement.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue Mr. Corman’s vision,” Quinn said in a statement. “The R.J. Corman family of companies is known for its exceptional customer focus and the diversity of services it provides. I am committed to upholding the company’s core values and working with our employees to achieve our growth initiatives.”

Corman railroad group has more than 1,600 employees in 24 states. It operates short lines, offers derailment cleanup services and builds or reconstructs track.

STB Wants More Info on Chicago Bypass

October 20, 2016

The proponent of a proposed railroad bypass route around Chicago has been directed by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to provide additional information.

STBSpecifically, the STB wants to know the number of trains the route will host on the route linking Northwest Indiana and Southern Wisconsin.

Great Lakes Basin Transportation will have until November to respond.

The firm has proposed a freight-only line of 280 miles that would extend from LaPorte, Indiana, to Milton, Wisconsin.

Great Lakes said the line would help alleviate congestion in Chicago. Some NIMBY groups have expressed opposition to the rail line and the Class 1 railroads in Chicago have been lukewarm at best toward the proposed route.

Railroading as it Once Was: Still Chasing Fate

October 19, 2016


In light that October 17 was the day the Erie Lackawanna was created in 1960, I’ll repost this “Roger’s Reflections” piece.

The Erie Lackawanna Railroad was (and remains) very instrumental in how I got into this hobby back in the early 70s.

Friendly crews and an attractive company image drew me to that railroad right from the first time I started hanging out where the railroads passed through my home town of Akron, Ohio.

Sure, there were other railroads in town, several of which passed right next to the EL lines.

Yes, they were trains and were interesting in their own right. It was the EL that grabbed my attention the most.

With fast mainline trains, frequent cab rides in the yard, and railroaders who took the time to explain the workings of their job to a young fan it’s no wonder I got hooked on the EL.

I would also come to learn that the EL was struggling just to continue operating. A smaller underdog surrounded by larger carriers, the EL kept rolling mostly through the sheer will of its people.

The beginning of the end came in 1976 when the EL was merged into Conrail and ceased to exist as an operating carrier, its motive power and people scattered to the four winds.

In a few short years the tracks through town that once held my undivided attention fell quiet, the sound of steel wheels replaced by the sound of growing weeds. The railroad was gone.

While the EL may be long gone its presence  — its spirit if you will – is often in my thoughts to this day.

It was something that was in my life but then gone all too quick, new found friends and pretty locomotives all disappearing in the blink of times eye. Hard lessons learned at an early age.

Yes, seasons change, and as fall approaches I like to remember how the colors of the EL seemed to fit the fall season just perfectly.

It’s the time of year I miss the EL the most. I paraphrased a song by David Arkenstone called “Slip Away” as a caption to the below above that I’ve titled Missing Diamonds.

The seasons change
and age our temporary souls
I was chasing fate
along its winding road

Your flame burned bright but passed into smoke
And those trains
that passed through my life
now roll down rails of gold

I close my eyes
and drift into a shining memory
but I can’t see your trains
as those rails fade into dreams

Yes, the seasons change . . . and age our temporary souls
And I’m still chasing fate along its winding road.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

Before Fallen Flags, Loco Builders Had Fallen

October 18, 2016



In the late 1960s a railfan in Northeast Ohio daily encountered what to us are now fallen flag railroads and fallen flag builders.

In the top image, Brewster, Ohio was “little Hagerstown” for several years because so many Western Maryland locomotives could be found there.

Up to 10 WM locomotives could be seen there on a given day. Here WM Nos. 3579 and 3578 occupy a service track in the late 1960s.

At the beginning of Penn Central, ex-New York Central Baldwin road switchers were common in the Canton-Massillon area.

In an early Penn Central view, NYC No. 8067 works the ex-Pennsylvania Railroad yard in Massillon north of MACE tower whose roof can be seen above the second gondola.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

Class 1 RR Employment Dipped in September

October 18, 2016

Although some furloughed train and engine employees were recalled in September, U.S. Class I railroad employment still fell during the month.

STBThe U.S. Surface Transportation Board said rising grain shipments led the railroads to call back to work some T&E employees.

That sparked an 0.34 percent increase in T&E employees during September over August. The STB said 59,831 people were employed in T&E service in September.

However, employment in all other railroad categories fell with railroad payrolls shrinking by 0.17 percent, to 152,486 employees.

U.S. Class I railroad employment is down 8.7 percent versus from a year ago. Train crews continue to face the deepest cutbacks, with their numbers down 11.1 percent versus a year ago.

CSX, Canadian Pacific operations in the U.S., Kansas City Southern, and Norfolk Southern employment all dropped slightly during September.