Archive for April, 2012

Yes, These Photos Were Taken in Late April

April 25, 2012

In his article below about photographing the Lehigh Valley heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern, Roger Durfee makes reference to the unit being in the sunshine on Tuesday.

But earlier that day, the skies had been anything but sunny.

Shown above is what greeted Roger on Monday morning in Cresson, Pa. Shown is NS train 933 with six SD40Es, two up front and four pushing.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

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‘Valley Girl’ Basks in the Sunshine

April 25, 2012

A friend of mine coined the nickname “Valley Girl” for the Lehigh Valley 30th anniversary heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern and it seems to fit.

We had secured permission to enter the area where the new girl was Tuesday morning (April 24) for some photographs. We were just glad that the sun was out after the previous days of snow and rain.

The Valley Girl is a beauty! They had to move her over a track while we were there, which allowed us a view of one of the “Admiral Cab” SD60 rebuilds nose to nose with the 8104.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

It Worked Out in the End

April 23, 2012

Myself and a couple buddies were planning on going to Blissfield, Mich., on Sunday for its railroad days event. The problem was that we realized it had been on Saturday so we worked out a plan B.

A quick check on Trainorders.com for the whereabouts of the Norfolk Southern heritage units yielded this post by Terry Chicwak: “NS/PRR 8102 leading NS 544 Conway/Detroit west of Berea at 8:07 a.m.”

Well it was now 8:13 a.m., so we were minutes behind him. We hopped in the SUV and headed west, figuring we could intercept the train at Sandusky.

I wasn’t certain what type of train the 544 is. I don’t pay attention to the symbols. I simply take pictures.

I texted Cody Zamostny and he replied that it was a coal train. Upon crossing the Sandusky Bay bridge an NS train was also crossing westbound. This wasn’t the 544 but made for a nice photo at the overpass at west end of the bay.

After a quick stop at McDonalds, we continued west, following a coal train. Sure enough this was our target.

We got a quick grab shot on the U.S. 2 overpass at Port Clinton to confirm that it was our train. We then headed to Oak Harbor.

Once there we waited and waited and waited. A couple trains took the connection heading to Bellevue including one with a CN dash 9 leading and an Illinois Central SD70 trailing.

That would normally warrant a chase in itself but we had another target.

Finally, after an hour’s wait, a headlight appeared and we got him going past the elevator. We then proceded further west.

Our next stop was Millbury where the 8102 was stopped east of town. Here we ran into the railfan chase group including Roger Durfee.

Once the train got moving (slowly), we were able to get multiple photo spots between Millbury and Vickers including a three-way meet at Vickers.

Here he sat in the siding so we decided to go to Blissfield anyway. The local model railroad club was open and had a very nice HO scale double-deck layout.

Even though the Adrian and Blissfield wasn’t running, we checked out the equipment. I haven’t been there in a few years and they had some new equipment including a dome observation car from The Canadian.

Also, an ethanol plant has opened, giving them a lot of new traffic. Covered hoppers were everywhere.

I’ll have to get up there on a weekday when they are switching.

Coming back through Toledo we found the 8102 parked on a siding and got some sunlit views. It was pretty overcast in the morning.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Chasing Down the PRR Heritage Unit

April 23, 2012

Rounding the curve at CP 281 (Milbury, Ohio).

I had a very impromptu chase on Sunday of Norfolk Southern No. 8102, the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit, on its first revenue run.

It was looking like an all night run for it on a coal train between Conway Yard near Pittsburgh and Toledo. But some delays had the coal train departing Cleveland around 8 a.m.

I caught wind of that and took off to intercept it. Due to the cloudy weather I elected to just go to Toledo and make sure I got ahead of it.

After about an hour wait due to several other westbound trains ahead, the 8102 showed up. Luck was with us as they were going to yard the train in Toledo, so a slow trip down the controlled siding allowed for some side by side shots with other trains.

The clouds had hung on all morning, but just as the train got the OK to proceed west the sun starting breaking through a bit. A backup move is required to yard these trains on the old Stanley Secondary.

When they pulled west we headed for the Miami Street bridge and were rewarded with some sun on this shiny new unit.

Once the train was parked, I headed back to the CP 285 area to photograph other trains until the sun moved around a little more on the nose. It was a tight angle where it was parked, which by the way is on former Chesapeake & Ohio track. But I tried a few different views anyway.

To enlarge the photographs, click on the image.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Passing under the ex-New York Central style signal bridge at CP 281.

A "cornfield meet" with another NS train near CP 285.

Two trains stopped at CP 285 for the TT to cross.

The sun finally came out! NS 8102 passing under the Miami Street bridge in Toledo.

The view from the other side of the bridge as the 8102 enters the Maumee bridge.

The next three views are of the parked train on what was once C&O track in Toledo.

(Coal) Dust in the Wind

April 17, 2012

With apologies to the 1970s rock group Kansas, here we have plenty of “coal dust” in the wind!

I caught Norfolk Southern No. 8098, the Conrail heritage unit, leading train 572 on Tuesday afternoon (April 17).

It is shown here passing through a spring-like setting in Hudson, Ohio, on its Conway to Sandusky journey.

I got two shots of the head end and one of the helper set. The crew has to love the sealed cab of that modern unit. I remember piles of coal dust inside the old SD40-2 cabs when I ran them in helper service out east. That was of course before air conditioning was added to them.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Changes in NS Operations

April 17, 2012

A number of developments have occurred on Norfolk Southern in the Bellevue area that affect operations there.

The local chairmen, along with the company, have restarted the CA pool from Columbus to Bellevue. Crews will now take No. 185 to Bellevue and return on the No. 304 to Watkins Yard in Columbus.

Arbitrators have ruled on the Columbus/Toledo pool. It will be the same way it was with Columbus being the home terminal and offering reverse lodging for the Toledo guys if they want to work it.

The Bellevue expansion (see related poste below) should be starting soon with bowl tracks. NS has replaced a lot of switches along red side and crews have leveled out dirt for the west yard tracks.

NS to Expand Bellevue Yard

April 17, 2012

A Norfolk Southern train rounds the curve on the approach to Bellevue Yard on Oct. 30, 2011. The train is on the Toledo District and will soon enter the Center Street interlocking. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

Norfolk Southern announced recently that it will launch a $160 million project to expand its Bellevue yard, a project that will double its capacity.

“Bellevue is already an important terminal for the classification and movement of freight, and this investment will expand and modernize Bellevue, contributing to the fluid movement of long-distance freight across our rail system,” said Mark Manion, Norfolk Southern’s chief operating officer in a news release issued by the company. “This project will help us improve asset utilization and efficiency, enhance customer service, strengthen our entire 22-state system, and further confirm Ohio’s importance to freight rail transportation.”

NS expects to add about 275 new railroad jobs to the 700 positions currently based in Bellevue. NS employs about 3,600 people across Ohio and plans to hire another 60 in the state by the end of 2012 to address attrition and shipper needs.

Other key elements of the project include:

§ 38 new tracks, bringing the total number of classification tracks to 80.

§ 38.5 miles of new rail, which will allow NS to increase the number of cars classified from about 1,800 to as many as 3,600 a day.

§ 145 miles of underground cable for communication and signal systems.

§ 140 new automated switches to direct train traffic to the proper tracks.

§ 11 upgraded control points, signals that will make train access to the Bellevue facility more efficient.

Bellevue is one of 12 NS classification facilities. When completed in 2015, Bellevue will be the largest classification yard on the NS system.

The Norfolk & Western opened Bellevue Yard in 1966. However, for many years Bellevue was a key terminal for the Nickel Plate Road.

Today, 100 to 110 trains pass through Bellevue daily, while 20 to 30 trains originate in the area and a like number terminate there. The trains carry vehicles, vehicle parts, agricultural products, and consumer products.

Lucky Friday the 13th Find

April 15, 2012

It seems that Norfolk Southern No. 8100, the Nickel Plate Road heritage unit, likes to be in front of my camera.

On a “lucky” Friday the 13, it was leading NS No. 835, a train of mostly empty hoppers bound for Altoona.

After work I passed a little time photographing other trains until this black and yellow beauty showed up, seen here passing through Macedonia, Ohio.

Three of the NS heritage units have passed this spot in less than 24 hours, although two of them were at night.

The Norfolk & Western heritage unit led a train through Cleveland night while the Conrail unit was a trailer in a motive power lash up. The NKP unit also spent Friday on the Sandusky District headed to Bellevue, the spiritual home of the Nickel Plate.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

16 Turn Out for ARRC’s 8th Annual Dave McKay Day Railfan Outing in Berea

April 8, 2012

An eastbound Norfolk Southern train passes by the memorial to David McKay in Berea on Saturday, April 7, 2012. Dave, who died in late December 2004, spent many hours sitting near this site watching and photographing trains pass through this busy railroad hot spot. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

Sixteen Akron Railroad Club members turned out for the eighth annual Dave McKay day outing at Berea this past Saturday (April 7). The outing honors the ARRC’s longest-serving president, who died in late 2004.

Here is the log of trains that members saw during the outing. Shown is the time the train passed through, the direction of travel, the railroad used, train symbol symbol (if known) and lead locomotive number.

9:07 a.m.         EB CSX          NA      CSX 9023

9:14 a.m.         EB NS             NA      NS 9248

9:50 a.m.         WB CSX         Q357   HLCX 6215

10:01 a.m.       EB CSX          L164    CSX 8786

10:04 a.m.       WB CSX         Q383   CSX 5243

10:17 a.m.       WB CSX         Q149   CSX 5305

10:39 a.m.       WB CSX         Q113   CSX 367

10:40 a.m.       EB CSX          Q356   CSX 2502

10:46 a.m.       WB NS           21Z      NS 9266

11:02 a.m.       EB NS             14N     NS 2609

11:02 a.m.       WB CSX         Q377   UP 4019

11:07 a.m.       EB NS             572      NS 8051

11:07 a.m.       EB CSX          Q364   CSX 160

11:25 a.m.       WB NS           205      NS 9674

11:35 a.m.       EB NS             22K     NS 9548

11:52 a.m.       EB NS             206      NS 8997

12:06 p.m.       WB CSX         Q371   CSX 547

12:33 p.m.       WB NS           21G     NS 9140

12:42 p.m.       WB NS           11G     NS 7544

12:42 p.m.       WB CSX         Q163   CSX 7567

12:58 p.m.       EB NS             310      NS 8357

1:03 p.m.         WB NS           145      NS 9821

1:55 p.m.         WB NS           15N     NS 9882

2:20 p.m.         WB CSX         K683   CSX 633

2:15 p.m.         WB NS           63W    NS 9148

2:45 p.m.         EB CSX          Q010   CSX 5456

2:56 p.m.         EB NS             24Z      NS 9284

3:01 p.m.         EB CSX          Q068   CSX 5207

3:12 p.m.         EB NS             18N     NS 9307

3:27 p.m.         EB NS             16N     NS 9647

4:19 p.m.         WB CSX         Q161   CSX 7928

4:22 p.m.         WB NS           261      NS 9661

4:36  p.m.        WB NS           25V     NS 9875

4:45 p.m.         EB NS             24M     NS 9337

4:50 p.m.         WB NS           51V     NS 6804

5 p.m.              EB NS             20E      NS 2775

5:10 p.m.         WB CSX         Q009   CSX 5356

5:18 p.m.         EB NS             262      NS 9968

5:26 p.m.         WB NS           15N     NS 9804

5:41 p.m.         WB NS           21Q     NS 7703

5:53 p.m.         WB CSX         K673   CSX 7618

6 p.m.              EB CSX          Q396   CSX 4511

6:06 p.m.         WB NS           11V     NS 9699

6:16 p.m.         EB NS             64G     NS 9260

7:30 p.m.         EB NS             I8Z      NS 9824

7:43 p.m.         WB NS           11K     NS 7644

7:59 p.m.         EB CSX          Q366   CSX 8155

8:07 p.m.         EB NS             16E      NS 2593

8:29 p.m.         WB CSX         Q385   CSX 229

As train traffic goes, it was a busy day with club members seeing 49 trains over a nearly 12-hour period. In terms of diversity, the pickings were rather ordinary.

We didn’t see any Norfolk Southern heritage units. There were no late Amtrak trains. The Wheeling & Lake Erie train to Cleveland didn’t operate. Not a single BNSF unit showed its face during the day. The only foreign power was a lone UP unit on CSX, a trailing CN unit on the last train of the day and a former BN unit trailing on another CSX train.

Perhaps the most exciting sight of the day wasn’t on the rails, but in the air. The Goodyear blimp passed over at 4:30 p.m. en route back to its base at Wingfoot lake.

Still, the weather was nice and the fellowship helped make the day. Eight club members ventured to the nearby Casital del Lago Mexican restaurant for dinner.

We will do it again next year.

Some of the ARRC members who attended the Dave McKay Day outing in Berea on Saturday pose by the memorial to Dave. They are (left to right) Bill Kubas, Marty Surdyk, Richard Thompson, Cody Zamostny, Dennis Taksar, Craig Sanders, Alex Bruchac, Paul Wooding, Rick Houch and J. Gary Dillon.

Tired of Seeing the NKP 8100 Yet?

April 8, 2012

Now that everyone is probably tired of seeing the Norfolk Southern No. 8100, here are a few more images of this Nickel Plate Road Heritage locomotive in Ashtabula.

I went back to Ashtabula on Saturday and stopped by the harbor in the afternoon to catch some more photos of that clean 8100, plus a few others. Here is the selection.

The 8013/8100 duo is at the harbor, but note the ore boat out on the lake. It’s the Edgar B. Speers from the information that I got from the website Boatnerd.com.

Also shown are NS 1064/1061 on a 62Z with the ore boat off in the distance.

Here are several views of the left side of the NKP unit and a rear view to show the stripe and number placement.

I hope that everyone had a good Easter.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee