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: April 27, 2018. Program by Dennis Sautters

Next Activity: March 31. Members Night and Pizza Party


Another Penn Central Throwback Look

March 23, 2018

Here are a couple more photos from my trip last weekend. I caught Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian and then the 20W led by Penn Central heritage unit 1073 at Lily Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Railroad era signal bridge still stands for now but probably not for much longer.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

FRA Seeks Comments on Automation

March 23, 2018

The Federal Railroad Administration is seeking comment from railroad industry stakeholders, governments, and the public on “the extent to which they believe railroad operations can (and should) be automated, and the potential benefits, costs, risks, and challenges to achieving such automation.”

The request for comments was published in the Federal Register on Thursday.

The notice says that although railroads don’t operate autonomous trains, automation already is being used in everything from dispatching to in-cab information systems to remote control yard switching.

“These various systems of automation and technologies have transformed rail operations in recent years, improving railroad operational safety and efficiency,” the notice said.

Comments are being taken through May 7.

Using technology in rail operations is a priority of new FRA head Ron Batory.

“There is so much opportunity we have before us in embracing technology that helps us reduce risk and enhance safety. We have a great opportunity to become a safer mode of surface transportation,” he said in an interview with Trains magazine.

Rochester Amtrak Station to be Named after Louise Slaughter

March 23, 2018

The new Amtrak station in Rochester, New York, will be named after the late U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, who recently died from injuries suffered during a fall in her Washington home.

Amtrak said in a news release that Slaughter, 88, will be honored for her career in public service and commitment to leading several projects in northern New York, including the station’s development.

“To celebrate her legacy and impact on the station, city of Rochester, and state of New York, we are pleased to announce that we will be naming Rochester Station in her honor through a commemorative plaque at the station or other appropriate means,” said Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia.

Slaughter was instrumental in securing $15 million in TIGER funding to build the station, which opened in October 2017.

She was serving her 16th term in Congress when she died.The Rochester station served more than 127,000 last year.

It is served by Amtrak’s Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited and Maple Leaf trains.

Ohi-Rail Caboose, er, Shoving Platform

March 22, 2018

To most people, this is a caboose. But to a railroader it is a shoving platform. There is a difference.

The latter is used when making backup moves and when the train is going forward in order to provide the conductor with a place to stay during the move.

A caboose is designed to be lived in, even for short periods of time.

Ohi-Rail, a short-line railroad based in Minerva, Ohio, uses a shoving platform for its moves to Bayard.

Also shown are a couple of former Norfolk Southern locomotives that Ohi-
Rail bought during an NS garage sale.

Photograph by Pete Poremba

STB Ending CSX Weekly Service Reports

March 22, 2018

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has decided to stop requiring CSX to provide weekly service updates.

The Board, citing service improvements at CSX, said the reports will end effective April 1.

“We recognize that CSX Transportation has shown a marked improvement in its service metrics since the serious service disruptions that occurred throughout last summer and into the fall,” Chairman Ann Begeman and Vice Chairman Deb Miller said in a letter to CSX CEO James M. Foote.

After service issues arose last summer, the STB began requiring the reports last August. However, CSX will, along with other Class 1 railroads be required to provide the STB with a service outlook for the rest of the year.

That request was made this week following the receipt of letters from grain shippers and automakers that complained about slow and erratic service.

The STB said performance metrics at BNSF, CSX, and Kansas City Southern have held steady or improved but the performances of Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific have deteriorated.

GE Modernizes 100 NS Locomotives

March 22, 2018

GE Transportation said it has finished modernizing 100 locomotives for Norfolk Southern.

The work involved giving locomotives upgraded control systems and in some cases converting the units from DC to AC traction.

The work was performed at the GE locomotive assembly plant in Fort Worth, Texas.

“”We’ve seen our modernization program grow 20 times since 2015,” said Pascal Schweitzer, GE Transportation’s vice president, services. “Over the last decade, GE has transformed more than 2,000 locomotives for customers worldwide, including for the majority of the Class 1 Railroads in North America as well as international customers.”

So far in 2018 GE has received 225 orders for locomotive modernizations.

SW9 Donated to Pa. Tourist Railroad

March 22, 2018

A former Maryland & Pennsylvania SW9 has been donated to the Pennsylvania-based Stewartstown Railroad.

Friends of the Stewartstown Railroad, which arranged the donation, is seeking to start tourist train operations on the short line in south-central Pennsylvania.

The locomotive was donated by the York Railway Company, which operates over portions of the original “Ma & Pa.”

The diesel will be placed in storage for evaluation and repairs before being transferred to the Stewartstown.

No. 84 is a 1,200 horsepower unit built in September 1952 for the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie. It also worked on the Montour Railroad before being acquired by the Maryland & Pennsylvania.

The original Stewartstown Railroad ended operations in April 2004.

FRA Provides PTC Installation Update

March 22, 2018

The Federal Railroad Administration said this week that positive train control is in operation on 56 percent of freight railroad route miles that are required to have it.

However, PTC is only in use on 24 percent of passenger railroads.

Fifteen railroads have completed installing the hardware for PTC operation while 11 have in place more than 80 percent of the needed equipment. All but three railroads have sufficient spectrum for their PTC needs.

FRA officials met in January and February with executives from the 41 railroads required to have PTC to evaluate the status of PTC installation on each.

“It is the railroads’ responsibility to meet the congressionally mandated PTC requirements,” said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory in a statement. “The FRA is committed to doing its part to ensure railroads and suppliers are working together to implement PTC systems.”

The FRA said its staff is meeting with PTC suppliers to learn more about their capacity to meet demand for railroads’ PTC implementation “in a timely manner.”

NPS Curtails Trails and Rails Program

March 22, 2018

The Trails and Rails volunteer program of the National Park Service has been canceled on five Amtrak trains and will operate on a reduced schedule on three others.

The cutbacks followed an Amtrak decision to cease offering complimentary food and overnight lodging expense payments for the volunteers.

Trains losing the programs include City of New Orleans, New Orleans-Greenwood, Mississippi; Sunset Limited, New Orleans-Beaumont, Texas; California Zephyr, Denver-Grand Junction, Colorado; Texas Eagle, Fort Worth-San Antonio, Texas; Maple Leaf , Albany/Rensselaer-Utica, New York.

An abbreviated version of the program will be offered on the Empire Builder: Seattle-Wenatchee, Washington; Crescent, Atlanta-Birmingham, Alabama; and the Southwest Chief: La Junta, Colorado-Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Unaffected by the cutbacks are Trails and Rails programs aboard the following trains: New York-Washington; (Northeast Regional); New York-Albany/Rensselaer, New York (Adirondack, Empire Service); Saratoga Springs-Westport, New York (Adirondack); Chicago-St. Louis (Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle); Chicago-Niles, Michigan. (Wolverine Service and Blue Water); Seattle-Portland, Oregon (Coast Starlight); Santa Barbara-San Jose, California. (Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner); Washington-Cumberland, Maryland (Capitol Limited); Los Angeles-San Diego (Pacific Surfliner); Oklahoma City-Fort Worth, Texas. (Heartland Flyer).

Some programs operate daily between May and Labor Day, although most have specific days of operation and café car lecturers won’t be on every departure or every segment.

A listing of the dates that the programs are offered can be found at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/amtraktrailsandrails/trains.htm

Amtrak Touts Sustainability Progress

March 22, 2018

Amtrak said in its 2016-2017 sustainability report that it has exceeded its diesel fuel conservation goal by more than 2.4 gallons and saved about 3 billion kWh of energy by using its latest-generation ACS-64 locomotives.

The report, which focuses on the railroad’s environmental, financial and social sustainability efforts, including modernizing the customer experience, reducing fuel and energy use, and growing revenue through increased ridership, shows Amtrak’s performance between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2017.

Amtrak said in a news release that the report was produced in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines, which are considered the international standard for sustainability reporting.

“Our stakeholders are counting on us to be good stewards of the environment while also creating economic and social value for our communities,” said Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson in a statement. “We also understand that keeping our customers and employees safe is integral to sustainability.”