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: January 27. Program by David Mangold.

Next Activity: TBA

30 Enjoy ARRC End of Year Dinner

December 5, 2016
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Roger Durfee (right) adjusts the slide projector prior to his program as Marty Surdyk looks on during the Akron Railroad Club end of year dinner on Saturday.

Thirty Akron Railroad Club members and guests enjoyed dinner and a program about the evolution of Conrail motive power on Saturday, Dec. 3 at the club’s annual end of year dinner.

Held at Beef ‘O’Brady’s restaurant in Stow, the highlight of the event was a slide show presented by ARRC member Roger Durfee that summarized the locomotives used by Conrail during its existence between April 1, 1976, when it was formed from by consolidating many of the assets of multiple bankrupt railroads, to its being divided on June 1, 1999, by Norfolk Southern and CSX.

Roger had just begun his photography career when Conrail came along and he was able to photograph the railroad’s operations from the beginning to the end.

By the time Conrail was carved up in 1999, Roger had been a employee of the railroad since 1998, working out of the Altoona, Pennsylvania, terminal.

The program was not intended to be a comprehensive review of Conrail motive power or the railroad’s sprawling network.

Over its lifetime, Conrail had several dozen makes, models and types of locomotives, many of which it inherited from its predecessor railroads.

In his program, Roger gave viewers a sense of what how Conrail motive power evolved to become the fleet that it had when it ended, although Conrail still exists in the sense that some of its properties operate under the Conrail shared assets banner or NS and CSX.

Roger focused his program on some of the older models that were frequent sights in Northeast Ohio, which was the location where most of the images he presented were made.

Conrail based in Cleveland many of the F units it operated in its early years. Most, although not all, of them came from Penn Central and served Conrail in a utilitarian black livery with a “CR” stenciled on  the nose and flanks.

However, Conrail found itself short of working power so it brought out of retirement for a time a number of former Erie Lackawanna F units wearing the EL’s  colorful livery.

Aside from Conrail in the Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown regions, Roger also took us to eastern Pennsylvania, including the Northeast Corridor to view Conrail locomotives that seldom if ever ventured westward.

The end of year dinner was the last ARRC activity o f 2016. An issue of eBulletin will be issued this week, but the paper Bulletin will not be published this month.

Once an Occasional Sight at Wilbeth Road

December 4, 2016

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Been to the Wilbeth Road footbridge in Akron recently? Then you didn’t see this. Rock Island 244 leads three Rock Island GE U-Boats east on the Erie Lackawanna. It is the early 1970s, and Rock Island; Delaware and Hudson; and Boston and Maine pool power sometimes came through Akron.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

 

Santa Still Riding the Rails In Kent

December 4, 2016

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Tonight [Dec. 3, 2016], there was an emotional event for me. This was the first time in 18 years I was not involved with the decorating and operation of the Santa train here in Kent for the Festival of Lights.

My only involvement now was to give my friends a theme to use for the Christmas lights on the locomotive.

I had planned to use the star theme and they did a great job putting it into reality.

It was wonderful to see the guys I worked with and to be greeted with hugs and wishing I would have stayed working.

And, yes, Dan Ashley from the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway brought Santa into town on time.

I was very pleased to see a tradition continue just as you would as you nurture a child from birth to see them develop into a life of their own.

The picture is not the best as I never took good night pictures.

Article and Photograph by Robert Rohal

Ex-Amtrak Station Frozen in Time in Akron

December 2, 2016
That tree growing behind the former Amtrak station in Akron wasn't originally part of the station, but it does add a touch of color in autumn.

That tree growing behind the former Amtrak station in Akron wasn’t originally part of the station complex, but it adds a touch of color in autumn.

Akron was left off Amtrak’s initial route map in 1971. The city saw an occasional Amtrak detour move over the years, most notably during the 1970s, but it didn’t become an Amtrak city until November 1990 when the Broadway Limited was removed from Conrail’s Fort Wayne Line and routed onto the Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline of CSX (former Baltimore & Ohio).

Although Akron Union Depot still stood, it had been taken over by the University of Akron. Amtrak built a modular station and used part of the platform area of the former union depot.

The Broadway Limited was discontinued in September 1995 in a massive route restructuring. That might have been the end of the story of Amtrak in Akron, but the New York-Pittsburgh Three Rivers was extended west to Chicago in November 1996.

That train, though, blew through Akron without stopping until August 1998. The Three Rivers used the same station and platform as the Broadway Limited, but the hang up had been who would pay for whatever repairs were needed to the facilities — such as they were — before Amtrak would agree to stop the Three Rivers in Akron.

During the Broadway Limited days, the Akron station had a ticket agent. But during the Three Rivers days, the station had a caretaker, which for a while was the Akron Railroad Club’s Steve McMullen.

The Three Rivers made its last trips through Akron in March 2005, a victim of low patronage, and the end of the great mail and express gambit. Carriage of the latter was the primary reason why the Three Rivers had been extended west of Pittsburgh.

More than a decade after Nos. 40 and 41 halted in Akron for the final time, the Amtrak station in the Rubber City is frozen in time.

I paid a visit to the station in early November to see what remained. It has changed little from my last visit there in March 2012 and, for that matter, it had not changed much since service ended in 2005.

There is a tree growing behind the building that didn’t used to be there and the exterior appearance of the station is the same save for the plywood placed behind the front windows that wasn’t there in 2005. Remarkably, the building is largely free of vandalism and graffiti.

Taped to a front window is a November 2004 schedule for the Three Rivers, various notifications about Amtrak policies, a sign that says this is an unstaffed station, and a sign that says the Three Rivers no longer stops at this station. In fact there is no Three Rivers anymore anywhere.

What is missing is the platform,which CSX ripped out in 2012 when it was conducting a clearance project as part of the development of its National Gateway.

Otherwise, Amtrak’s Akron station remains frozen in time more than a decade after the trains left for good.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The front of the former Amtrak station in Akron.

The front of the former Amtrak station in Akron as seen in March 2012. It still looks like this four years later.

Unless you looked carefully and found this sign you might think that Amtrak still served Akron.

Unless you looked carefully. you might miss this sign and think that Amtrak still served Akron.

In this March 2012 view work has begun to remove the Amtrak platform. The walkway from the station to the platform had already been removed.

In this March 2012 view, work has begun to remove the Amtrak platform. The walkway from the station to the platform had already been removed.

The Amtrak platform has since been removed by CSX. The view is looking west toward the site of the former Akron Union Depot.

The Amtrak boarding platform was removed by CSX i 2012. The view is looking west toward the site of the former Akron Union Depot.

Quaker Square looms over the former Amtrak station in Akron, but even it has changed. It is now owned by the University of Akron and used for student housing and special events.

Although Quaker Square still looms over the former Amtrak station in Akron, even it has changed. It is now owned by the University of Akron and used for student housing and special events.

A schedule from 2004 remains taped to the front window of the Akron Amtrak station despite the fact the train was discontinued more than a decade ago.

A schedule dated Nov. 1, 2004, remains taped to the front window of the Akron Amtrak station even though the train was discontinued more than a decade ago.

NS Recognized as Military Friendly Employer

December 2, 2016

Norfolk Southern has also been recognized as a military friendly employer by Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs and Military Spouse magazines.

In a news release, NS said it was the 10th time that it has made the list, which features companies with a “proven record of hiring and supporting veterans in the workplace.”

NS logo 2NS said that 3,800 of its employees, or 14 percent, are veterans, including members of the National Guard and military reserves.

“Military veterans are thriving at our company in all areas of operations and management,” said NS CEO Jim Squires, an Army veteran. “With their leadership skills and knowledge, veterans bring a strong work ethic and a commitment to safety and service that make us a better railroad, which in turn helps America prosper.”

Victory Media’s military friendly list rates companies’ performance across six categories: recruiting and sourcing; hiring and onboarding; career opportunity and advancement; culture and commitment; military support and retention; and military employee policies and compliance.

Two for One

December 1, 2016

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It is early in the Penn Central era (1968 or 1969), and PC 1665 (Notice the red “P” and white “C”) and New York Central 1666 are leading a northbound PC freight heading to Hudson. Is this an image of the ex-Erie Lackawanna Akron passenger station when it was still in use or a distant image of two F’s? You be the judge.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

Some Pets Will Ride Amtrak for Free

December 1, 2016

Amtrak is allowing pets to travel with their owners for free between Dec. 9 and March 31, 2017, on select routes.

Amtrak logoThe promotion is part of a celebration of the release of a movie titled The Secret Life of Pets. The film is being released on Dec. 6 by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Amtrak has expanded in the past year the number of trains on which a limited number of pets may travel in carriers.

During the first year of the program, Amtrak has hosted more than 15,000 dogs and cats.

Further information about the pets ride free offer is available at select ticket counters and stations, and on trains, including AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi portals.

Amtrak will be awarding The Secret Life of Pets prizes to customers at some stations, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland, Dallas, Baltimore, Cleveland, Portland, Seattle, St. Louis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Miami and Jacksonville.

CSX VP Lonegro Projects ‘Flat to Slightly up’ Earnings Per Share for 4th Quarter of 2016

December 1, 2016

CSX projects that its earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2016 will be flat to slightly up.

CSX logo 3Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Frank Lonegro delivered that assessment to investors and analysts attending a conference on Thursday.

Although some of the factors that have worked against the carrier’s financial health are moderating, Lonegro said, “At the same time, a recent operating property sale will now offset the impact of a debt refinancing charge announced earlier in the quarter.”

In a news release, CSX said that quarter-to-date volume has declined 3 percent overall, and many markets are showing more moderate declines than in previous quarters.

In particular, coal traffic is showing sequential volume stabilization and is essentially flat to date.

Volume is now expected to decline in the low-to-mid single digit range on a comparable 13-week basis.

STB Finalizes Passenger Dispute Rules

December 1, 2016

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has issued its final rule implementing standards for resolving dispute between passenger carriers and their host railroads.

STBThe standards were mandated by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015.

The STB said that “the FAST Act clarified and augmented the Board’s existing adjudicatory responsibilities related to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak).”

“Specific FAST Act provisions address STB adjudication of disputes regarding Amtrak cost recovery for its operation of state-supported routes, and costs allocated to states in their use of rail facilities for commuter rail operations within the Washington, D.C.-to-Boston Northeast Corridor.”

The FAST Act requires the Board to establish procedures for resolving such disputes, which may include the provision of professional mediation services. The Board said its final rule implements those provisions.

New N.F. Station to Open Next Tuesday

December 1, 2016

Amtrak will begin halting at the new Niagara Falls, New York, station next Tuesday.

Amtrak 4The station will be served daily by the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf and two Empire Service trains from New York City.

Service is being phased in over a 24-hour period on the first day. The two Empire Service trains to New York will depart on Tuesday from the current station at 2701 Willard Ave.

The Maple Leaf and the two inbound Empire Service trains from New York will use the new station, located at 825 Depot Ave.

The new $43 million facility has been in the planning and construction stages for more than two decades and attracted attention after it took longer than expected for the city and Amtrak to agree on a lease.

Amtrak said it will notify passengers where to board and depart, as well as update its website.