Archive for April, 2010

NS Executive Train Visits Northeast Ohio

April 24, 2010

The Norfolk Southern executive train made a rare appearance in northeast Ohio on Saturday, April 24, 2010. It was en route to Louisville, Kentucky, where it will carry VIPs to the annual Kentucky Derby on May 1. The train is scheduled to leave Louisville on the Monday after the Derby and return to its home base in Altoona, Pennsylvania. It is shown here coming out of the Garfield sag east of Beloit, Ohio. (Photograph by Roger Durfee)

Stone Trains Rolling Into Kent

April 24, 2010

From Akron Railroad Club member Bob Rohal comes word that the first stone train of the year was delivered Friday to Shelly Materials in Kent. Unlike in previous years, this train was delivered by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway, a subsidiary of the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

The W&LE won the contract to deliver stone to Shelly. CSX had held the contract in recent years. The first train had two W&LE SD40s with the ABC SW1500 spliced between them. The train had 65 cars.

Sanders Publishes ICRR Passenger Trains Article

April 18, 2010

An article written by Akron Railroad Club President Craig Sanders about the decline of Illinois Central Railroad intercity passenger service has been published in The Mid-American, the quarterly magazine of the Illinois Central Railroad Heritage Association.

The article, titled “Into the Arms of Amtrak: IC’s Steady Retreat from Intercity Passenger Service,” focused on on the period 1969-1971. Like most other railroads, the ICRR trimmed money-losing trains and routes during this period. Unlike other railroads, however, IC made an effort to continue to market its service, particularly in the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, “Mini-Corridor. The IC was one of the few railroads in the late 1960s that still purchased advertising time and space in newspapers and broadcast outlets.

Fueled by the growth of three state universities located on or near the Chicago-Carbondale route, IC experienced ridership growth in the middle to late 1960s. However, the railroad said that much of the growth was college travel that was episodic, occurring on weekends and when schools were beginning or ending a term or vacation. During the week, the trains were far less crowded.

In his article, Sanders noted that the creation of the Mini-Corridor had earned the IC much positive press. Donald Stefee, author of an annual train speed survey in Trains magazine, described the Mini-Corridor as among the few bright spots in American passenger railroading in 1968.

But this meant little to IC Chairman William B. Johnson. “Our railroad receives no over-all benefit from handling sudden short surges of passenger traffic,” Johnson told a Senate committee in September 1969. Much of the time, the coaches used to handle that traffic sat idle. IC’s intercity passenger trains had an average load factor of 39 percent, or about 100 passengers per train.

Marketing campaigns, refurbished dome cars and relatively stable patronage were not enough to overcome the challenges facing IC’s intercity passenger service in its final years, Sanders wrote. Federal and state regulators might have delayed some train cuts for a while, but the IC would have continued to make the case for allowing these and other trains to die.

Sanders wrote that it is anyone’s guess as to how long it would have been until the IC prevailed in ending the trains it wanted to remove, but one thing is certain. The Illinois Central was unlikely to be in the intercity passenger business much longer without public assistance. If not Amtrak, then someone else would have to step in if service was to be preserved.

IC executives expressed a willingness, if not a requirement, to continue operating intercity passenger trains if the railroad received public funding. “On a private enterprise basis, I can’t see why the railroads should be forced to underwrite the cost of a public service,” said IC President Alan Boyd. He would later become the third president of Amtrak.

Two other Amtrak presidents also worked at the IC during the late 1960s. These included Paul Reistrup, who was IC’s vice president of passenger services, and David Gunn, who just beginning his railroad career. Since mid-July 2004, Amtrak has operated a train called the City of New Orleans longer than did the IC.

For more information on the Illinois Central Railroad Heritage Association, click on the link below.

And You Thoughts NS was Just Black & White

April 18, 2010

NS caboose 24040 basks in the early morning sun outside the car shops at Motor Yard in Macedonia on April 10, 2010. (Photographs by Roger Durfee)

If you thought you saw a touch of color on a Norfolk Southern local in Cleveland, you were not seeing things.

NS shop forces recently renovated a caboose used by locals based out of Motor Yard in Macedonia. In the process, the caboose received a coat of shiny red pain.

Formerly Conrail 24040, the caboose was built by Penn Central in Altoona in April 1969. That makes this caboose 41 years old. A class N10 car on Conrail, the caboose was repaired over the winter in the NS Macedonia Shop as time allowed.

The most visible improvement is of course that new paint job that covered a faded and tagged Conrail blue. To keep things simple paperwork wise for the UMLER the CR 24040 number was retained.

Internal fixes include a new floor, interior paint, and the heater was cleaned out. It is sub-lettered for the Dearborn Division/Cleveland, and can usually be found on job BF12 out of Motor yard in Macedonia.

Roger Durfee

Before getting its new look, this is what caboose 24040 looked like in its faded Conrail livery.


NS 24040 brings up the rear of BF12 at it waits at Wheelock in Motor Yard in Macedonia to get out onto the mainline and go to work on April 15, 2010.

B&LE Historical Society Being Formed

April 8, 2010

A founder’s meeting of the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad Historical Society has been set for 1 p.m . on April 24, 2010, in Greenville, Pennsylvania. The meeting will be held at The Greenville Railroad Park and Museum on Main Street.

Seven people attended an informational meeting about the group last November and decided to proceed with forming the organization.

McKay Day Featured Plenty of Variety

April 5, 2010

Dave Mangold gives a greeting from NS 15N passing through Olmsted Falls. (Photograph by Richard Thompson)

Variety was the order of the day at the sixth annual Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day at Berea on Saturday, April 3. It was hot and cold then hot again. And that was just the weather. The train action was pretty varied, too.

Members saw 67 trains over a nearly 12-hour period. Twice three trains were in the area at one time. Junior members Richard Thompson and Cody Zamostny were the first to arrive, shortly before 6 a.m. Ron McElrath showed up shortly thereafter. They were treated to a flurry of 13 trains in the first hour and a half.

By noon, Norfolk Southern and CSX had put 30 trains through Berea. Traffic dried up for about 45 minutes at mid-day before picking up to a steady pace throughout the afternoon.

One of the highlights of the afternoon was when ARRC member David Mangold came through Berea just before 2:30 at the throttle of the 15N. Mangold, who attended a part of the McKay day in late morning, had a 1 p.m. call at Rockport Yard. His train was ready to leave the yard a half-hour later, but had some switching to do.

Not long after 2 p.m., the 15N got the OK from the Cleveland Terminal Dispatcher to head west. Mangold and his conductor were to take the train to Elkhart, Indiana.

In all, 14 ARRC members turned during the day, which is set aside to honor McKay, who served as ARRC president between 1993 and 2004. McKay died in late December 2004 and the ARRC helped raise money to purchase a plaque that was placed at Berea in his honor.

Stone Trains: Sure Sign of Spring

April 2, 2010

A sure sign of spring is when the railroads begin running stone trains. Roger Durfee spotted this empty stone train at Motor Yard in Macedonia with a former Conrail unit and BNSF locomotive. Durfee reported seeing this same motive power lashup later in the day departing Chrysler Yard on NS train 65Z. No. 3437 is former Conrail 6982, an SD40-2R rebuilt from SD40 No. 6300. At one point in the Conrail era, this unit was the railroad's "savings bonds" locomotive. (Photograph by Roger Durfee)