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

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There Will Be a Brief Delay

February 24, 2018

The new crew was on board and ready to head west out of the Berea siding in Olmsted Falls.

They called the Toledo West Dispatcher and got the OK to take ’em west.

There would, though, be a slight delay at CP 197. The dispatcher had given higher priority to a westbound stack train that is shown catching up to the rear of the departing manifest on the Berea siding.

The delay would be brief and the manifest would follow the stack train on Track No. 1.

NEORHS Meeting Site Set

February 24, 2018
The meeting today of the Northeastern Ohio Railway Historical Society will be held at the Barrel Run Crossing, 3272 Industry Road in Edinburg (Rootstown) for appetizers and/or dinner and conversation. Attendees will be able to watch trains on the former Cleveland & Pittsburgh mainline. The gathering will be held between 6:30 p.m.  until the establishment closes at 10 p.m.

N&W F Units in Brewster

February 23, 2018

Norfolk & Western Nos. 3697, 3717, and 3712 are at Brewster outside the N&W diesel shop in the late 1960s. Although the N&W had no F units of its own, these Fs are ex-Wabash.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Truck was on Crossing at Time of Crash

February 23, 2018

An on-board camera has shown that the garbage truck that was struck by an Amtrak special on Jan. 31, had entered a grade crossing after the crossing gates had gone down.

The National Transportation Safety Board said this week that the forward-facing camera in the lead locomotive showed that as the crossing came into view, the gates were down and the garbage truck was on the tracks at the grade crossing.

The NTSB said that witnesses to the crash reported the truck had entered the crossing after the gates were down at the crossing near Crozet, Virginia.

The special was carrying Republican members of Congress to an annual political retreat at the Greenbrier resort hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

A passenger in the truck was killed and another suffered serious injuries. The truck driver came away with minor injuries.

Three Amtrak crew members and three passengers also suffered minor injuries.

The preliminary NTSB report said that the crossing has advance warning signs and pavement markings on its approach. It is equipped with crossbuck signs, warning lights, bells and gates.

The collision caused the front axle of the lead P42DC locomotive to derail, although it remained upright.

The NTSB will later release a finding of probable cause and issue safety recommendations.

FRA Pilot Program Tackles Trespassing

February 23, 2018

A pilot program to reduce trespassing on railroad property was announced this week by the Federal Railroad Administration.

In a notice published Thursday in the Federal Register, the FRA said the program seeks to help local law enforcement agencies evaluate local efforts to reduce trespassing on railroad rights-of-way. The total grant funds available are $150,000.

The FRA notice said that trespasser deaths average 500 per year, which exceeds the number of fatalities in automobiles at grade crossings.

The grant program stems from a trespassing prevention workshop the FRA conducted in August 2015.

Those receiving the grants would be expected to finish their projects in six months.

Old Enough to Be Nostalgia

February 22, 2018

Early in its history, the modern Wheeling & Lake Erie held a competition among its employees to design a locomotive livery.

The winner was a bright combination of red and gold that was applied to two GP35s, Nos. 2662 and 2679. W&LE CEO Larry Parsons often referred to them as the “painted ladies.”

Parsons believes that the best color for a locomotive is black so the red and gold look was not widely applied.

No. 2679 has since been rebuilt and repainted in the W&LE’s standard livery, but No. 2662 remains on the active roster in its red and gold appearance.

The two units are shown together in the above images in Akron on May 8, 1994.

They had led an excursion train from Bellevue into town and parked it near Summit Street.

Passengers were taken by bus to Quaker Square for dinner. I remember that it was Mother’s Day.

The two “painted ladies” are shown ready to return to Bellevue. The train was sponsored by the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum and operated under the name Bradley Memorial Limited in honor of a boy who had died far too early.

The fact that No. 2662 is still in service means the image is not yet lost history, even if it is historic.

The images also qualify as nostalgic because the W&LE no longer will agree to host excursion trains such as these.

This would be the only time that I saw the two “painted ladies” paired together on the same train.

RTA May Delay Fare Hike Until 2019

February 22, 2018

A fare increase set to go into effect on March 27 might be delayed until next year, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority said this week.

Greater Cleveland RTA said it is considering conducting a comprehensive fare study and while that is being done it would continue fares at their current level.

The fare hike delay was recommended by RTA’s operational planning and infrastructure committee.

The RTA board of directors is expected to vote on the committee’s recommendation on March 27 when it approves a revised 2018 operating budget.

“We need to take a look at the possibility of modifying our fare structure to best assure fairness and equity to our customers,” said Joe Calabrese, GCRTA’s chief executive officer and general manager in a news release. “It’s critical that we study if there is a way to join with community partners to offer lower fares for our customers with lower incomes.”

Calabrese said that past fare increases have resulted in ridership declines because many riders could not afford the higher fare.

In 2016, ridership fell by 6 percent after RTA increased fares by 25 cents, which was double the projected ridership loss.

Class 1 Rail Employment Fell in January

February 22, 2018

Employment on U.S. Class 1 railroads in January fell 2.76 percent compared with January of 2017.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board said railroads employed 144,329 workers in mid January, which was a decline of 0.75 percent since mid-December.

Five of the six employment categories reflected workforce decreases in mid-January compared with mid-December.

That included executives, officials and staff assistants, down 3.62 percent to 7,830 employees; transportation (train and engine) down 1.29 percent to 59,684; maintenance of way and structures, down 0.99 percent to 32,132; transportation (other than train and engine) down 0.78 percent to 5,581; and maintenance of equipment and stores, down 0.12 percent to 26,564.

The professional and administrative category rose 3.18 percent to 12,538 in mid-January compared with mid-December, but was down 4.94 percent compared with January 2017.

Four other employment categories also reflected workforce decreases last month when compared with mid-January 2017.

Executives, officials and staff assistants category was down 13.73 percent; maintenance of way and structures, down 5.98 percent; transportation (other than train and engine), down 5.58 percent; and maintenance of equipment and stores, down 5.24 percent.

Year over year, transportation (train and engine) increased 2.83 percent.

Akron-Canton Launches Promo Videos

February 22, 2018

Akron-Canton Airport this month launched a new image campaign seeking to play on the convenience theme that it has used to promote itself over the years.

The campaign uses stories contributed by travelers to promote the story line of how easy it is to fly in and out of the airport located near Green between its two namesake cities.

Among the stories told are how using CAK is easier than putting children to bed, Instagramming brunch or getting a printer to work.

“Our commitment to an exceptional customer experience is well-known throughout our community, and we want to showcase the ease and convenience of flying from CAK to those who haven’t tried us out yet,” said director of marketing Lisa Dalpiaz in a news release. “CAK is, intentionally, very easy. What better way to explain that than to show the experience against everyday tasks folks can relate to.”

Working with the Akron-based agency Pritt Entertainment Group, the airport created 15- and 30-second videos that will be distributed across traditional broadcast, streaming TV like Hulu and Sling, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

Commuter Rail Agencies Can Seek Grants

February 22, 2018

The Federal Transit Administration said on Tuesday that commuter railroads may qualify for a portion of a recently announced grant program being sponsored by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The FTA said commuter rail agencies could use funding from the $73 million FRA program for positive train control, grade-crossing improvement and congestion mitigation projects.

Grants from the FRA program are being awarded on a competitive basis with Amtrak and freight railroads also eligible.

The funding was authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act and comes from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017.

The FRA said last week it is taking applications for the grant program, which is designed to improve railroad safety.