Archive for June, 2013

CSX Trains Detour on NS Cleveland Line

June 30, 2013
CSX train 019 gets back on its home rails on Saturday after detouring over Norfolk Southern due to a CSX derailment in New York State on Thursday.

CSX train 019 gets back on its home rails on Saturday after detouring over Norfolk Southern due to a CSX derailment in New York State on Thursday.

I was able to catch some of the CSX detour moves over Norfolk Southern the past few days.  I just got word the track No. 1 is now open at derailment site in New York and the other track should be open by Sunday.

All photographs below were taken at Hudson on Thursday and involve CSX trains 008 and 010 which operated as NS 070 and NS 072 respectively.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

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N&W 611 Might Steam Again in 2014

June 29, 2013

The committee studying whether to return Norfolk & Western steam locomotive No. 611 to service announced Friday that it has given a high green to a $3.5 million fund-raising campaign to restore the famed J class 4-8-4 to operating condition.

“We are pleased to say that we can Fire Up 611! But the time is now and it will take 611 fans around the world to stoke her fire,” said Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., executive director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation. “Today we are kicking off the official capital campaign.” The 611 needs a complete mechanical restoration, a maintenance facility and support to develop an excursion program.

The Fire Up 611! Committee will seek to raise $5 million to create an endowment that will keep the 611 operating for several years. Fitzpatrick said the fund raising campaign is needed because the museum based in Roanoke, Va., lacks the resources to fund the restoration and operations of the 611.

 “We are asking her fans across the globe who want to see her run again to be a part of this important capital campaign. Her appeal extends to people everywhere who value heritage, craftsmanship and the thrill of bringing an American icon to life,” Fitzpatrick said. If the fund-raising campaign is successful, the 611is expected to be moved to the roundhouse at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C., for an inspection and restoration.

A combination of paid contractors and experienced volunteer labor will carry out the work. Many of them did similar work in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Virginia museum said it must raise the $3.5 million by Oct. 31 in order for the 611 to be able to join NS’s 21st Century steam program in 2014.

The NS steam program is current using Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum’s Southern Railway 2-8-0 No. 630, and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society’s Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.

Preston Claytor, chairman of the Fire Up 611! Committee expressed optimism that the six-month fund raising time frame can be met. “We feel very confident, especially with the work that was done in the late 80s and early 90s, about what we will have to do and what we won’t have to do,”  he said. “Realistically it needs some engine truck work, and it needs the form 4 (federally mandated inspection), and of course all the other things that must be done after this much time has passed, such as air brake work. But with the right amount of volunteers and labor and some good luck, six months is very realistic.” Claytor said the wheels of the locomotive are approaching the end of their useful life and are not longer FRA compliant.

The wheels would have been replaced during the winter of 1994-1995, but that work was canceled after NS scrapped its steam program.

The shop for the 611 will be built at the Virginia museum, but it will be a year to 18 months before it opens. It will include one track with a drop pit, while another will be just rails and concrete. The building will be designed to handle other purposes such as special events, where tables and displays could be set up as needed. The  museum plans to continue to display the 611 during times when it isn’t undergoing maintenance.

The 611 was built in Roanoke in 1950 and served in the N&W until being retired in 1959. It was placed for display in Wasena Park in 1962. In preparation for use in the NS steam program, the 611 was overhauled in 1981 and it began pulling excursions in 1982.

NS halted the steam program in late 1984, but resumed hosting steam excursions in 2011.

To donate to the 611 campaign, visit fireup611.org. Fans can also visit the Fire Up 611 Facebook page, YouTube, and Twitter feed (#fireup611).

Railfanning on the Interstate

June 28, 2013

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About a month ago I saw new subway cars for Chicago being transported by truck down I-271.  I didn’t get any photos as it was going the other direction but I do have photos of a similar move on I-71 near Seville from several years ago.

This past Monday, I caught a truck transporting new Gevo radiator hood sections also on I-271 heading for Erie, Pa. Soon these will all be heading to a new plant in Texas. It just goes to show be ready for a train any time anywhere.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

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Talks Fail to Curtail Planned GE Erie Layoffs

June 28, 2013

GE Transportation has announced that it will go ahead with planned layoffs at its Erie, Pa., locomotive plant after negotiations with the union representing workers there failed to reach an agreement on concessions.

The company said on April 9 that it would lay off 950 union workers and end 100 management positions in Erie. The work done by those employees would be shifted to a newer locomotive plant in Fort Worth, Texas.

The work being transferred to Texas includes building AC locomotives and some mining wheel production. The layoffs are expected to be implemented in October.

The Erie Times-News reported that GE offered to save 410 jobs in Erie in exchange for several concessions, including a two-year pay freeze and lower wages for new employees.

Scott Duke, president of Local 506 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, told the newspaper that the union rejected that offer because it didn’t preserve enough jobs and because of uncertainty over some details.

Duke said he had been optimistic that an agreement could be worked out, but that by midweek he realized that that was not going to happen.

GE executives have contended that it needs to cut costs to remain competitive in a global marketplace. The company says that building a locomotive in Texas is 20 percent cheaper than building it in Erie.

Negotiations between the union and management had occurred since April with the two sides meeting at least 25 times.

The Erie plant will remain open and continue building locomotives. Duke said that if business picks up then employment at the Erie plant might increase. GE cited lower demand for locomotives as another reason why it was transferring production to Texas.

Once the layoffs are imposed, the Erie plant will have about 4,400 employees. The last major job cuts at the Erie plant occurred in 2009 when 1,400 positions were elimiated, many of them through an early retirement option.

However, the early retirement option was not part of a contract that took effect in 2011. Some current Erie plant employees over age 60 are expected to retire in the latest round of job reductions.

The ending of contract concessions talks will not affect two pending unfair labor charges that the union had made against GE Transportation with the National Labor Relations Board.

A charge filed in May alleges that GE moved work to the Texas plant in 2012 and early 2013 without written notice and providing opportunity for the union to bargain.

The second charge, filed on June 14, contends that GE failed to promptly provide requested information during the bargaining process.

GE Transportation has rejected the claims, saying they have no merit.

CSX Wreck in NY State Affects NE Ohio Operations

June 28, 2013

The Thursday derailment of two CSX trains in New York State has had a ripple effect in Northeast Ohio. Railfan chat list reports indicate that some CSX intermodal trains are being detoured over Norfolk Southern east of Cleveland.

One report showed a photograph of an eastbound CSX train, complete with CSX power in the lead, on the NS Cleveland Line. Some CSX locomotives are equipped with a cab signal device compatible with NS systems on former Conrail routes.

Also affected has been Amtrak service. The eastbound Lake Shore Limited that was scheduled to depart Chicago on Thursday night was shown as experiencing a service disruption. The westbound Lake Shore Limited departed Elyria nearly three hours late on Friday morning.

Amtrak canceled Empire Corridor service west of Albany, N.Y., on Thursday, but provided alternative transportation.

Passengers ticketed on the Lake Shore Limited were reportedly going to be taken by bus between Buffalo and Albany.

The derailment occurred about 8 a.m. on Thursday when the westbound Q364, en route from Selkirk to Indianapolis left the tracks, reportedly due to a sink hole near West Fonda, N.Y.

The Q641, en route from Selkirk to New Castle, Pa., went into emergency to avoid hitting the Q363 and itself derailed.

Canal Fulton Trackside Landmark Demolished

June 27, 2013

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Many small towns have one building that stands out as a great photo prop. Until recently when the roof collapsed into Fulton Feed Company and it was demolished,  it was perhaps Canal Fulton’s most interesting railfan landmark.

Located along the RJ Corman tracks, an afternoon running RJC or Ohio Central train could use this as a backdrop. In the top image Fulton Feed Company stands alone and almost begs to be modeled for a model railroad.

The bottom image shows OHCR 3253 heading south on the RJ Corman track through Canal Fulton. Both photos are from Sept. 9, 2004. Now the Fulton Feed Company and the Ohio Central’s afternoon Warwick train are only memories.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

Sticking it Out ’till Dark to Catch the Reading

June 27, 2013

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After tracking Norfolk Southern train 65R all day on Monday, I headed to Alliance to try and catch it. The Reading heritage unit was in the lead. 

The 65R is an empty oil train and it seems a good portion of the NS heritage fleet is in that service. As I write this the DLW, NKP, RDG, PC, IT, and MGA units at least, and maybe others, are on oil trains.

Arriving at the railfan parking lot after 6 p.m., I discovered the 65R had left Conway 20 minutes earlier.  I figured it should take about an hour for the train to cover that distance or about 7 p.m. approximately. 

I headed behind the PTC Alliance steel plant to see if I could catch their SW1 plant switcher.  During my last visit it was nowhere to be found but this time it was parked out back in good afternoon light.

Next I headed north and caught up with a westbound NS freight at Atwater. Then I settled in at MP 70.8, a nice open spot with plenty of sunlight.  Several trains passed and then the 16N went east. It had the NS 8114 heritage unit trailing, a good start but not what I was after.

A couple of other railfans joined me in the wait, but  7 turned to 7:30 with no further updates as to the 65R’s location.  About 7:45 we saw Roger Durfee drive by heading for home. 

That was not a good sign. If he was giving up the train must not be close. 

Finally we got an update that the 65R had just cleared Enon Valley at 7:45 p.m. Enon Valley is across the state line in Pennsylvania. It is no wonder that Roger went home.

The sun had dipped behind some trees but we still had ambient light if the train could come. We might get something, so we waited. Then 9 p.m. came and went and I was really pushing the ISO on my camera. At 9:10 p.m., we heard a horn but were dismayed to realize it was coming from the Fort Wayne line. We were on the Cleveland line, which is a different set of tracks. 

By now we had too much time invested in this chase so we decided to stick it out and at least watch the Reading unit even if no photos could be had.

Finally, at just before 9:30, the 65R showed up. I decided to try a photo anyway.  I was at ISO 3200, the maximum that my camera can go and found myself wishing for one of those 66,000 ISO cameras.

At f2.0 and 1/15 I could only try a pan shot. Although not the photo that I wanted, it wasn’t too bad and better than no photo at all. 

I later found out that NS had basically single tracked 30 miles of line between Alliance and Pennsylvania for track work.  The 65R took three hours to go 19 miles. But that’s the breaks.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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Trolley Museum Celebrates 50th Anniversary

June 26, 2013
On Friday I caught the Pittsburgh & Ohio Central local while riding the Rio open car to my assignment.

On Friday I caught the Pittsburgh & Ohio Central local while riding the Rio open car to my assignment.

The past weekend was a very busy and hot time in Washington. Uh, Pennsylvania that is.

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum celebrated its 50th year of running trolleys for the public.  Three days of activities included a Friday luncheon for all who have supported the development and restoration projects.

The place was crawling with state and local politicians as well as company representatives, including Wabco, Bombardier  Brookville,  Swigger Coil and Giant-Eagle Supermarkets, to name a few.  

Of course, after all of the food and speeches the trolleys hummed all afternoon to give folks an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the efforts.

My job on Friday was doing docent work at the Trolley Display Building, showing off the collection and answering questions.

Saturday was the public celebration with three trolley parades showcasing 16 of the nearly 40 cars in the collection that are roadworthy.

The parades were divided into Pittsburgh cars, Philadelphia cars, and work equipment plus others.

The day’s activities were an operating challenge for the staff in scheduling rush hour service with extra movements. 

On Saturday I was again a docent enlightening the young and old alike. Actually, I was glad to be inside where it was less hot.

In the evening I attended a volunteer dinner serving plenty of good food and featuring acknowledgments to several veterans, including a couple who have more than 50 years of service.

After dinner,  we pulled out a few cars just for fun. I was able to bring out the 1919 Cincinnati car that was once at Trolleyville and we enjoyed a moonlight cruise.  Of course I shared the pleasure with other members and a couple visitors running the car.

Just a few days before the event, I purchased a new camera and I carried it all the time. But I rarely used it. I was just too busy.

I did make an effort to make photographs of  work equipment and the debut of the newly renovated and re-gauged critter.

Sunday featured the annual classic auto show.  More than 70 autos of every vintage were on display.  On this day I had motorman/conductor duties operating the Red Arrow No. 78 round and round,  filled to capacity almost every trip.

This car is a Brill 1931 vintage suburban car that’s a little rocket ship.  I kept running out of railroad quickly.

 All in all it was a very busy and hot weekend, But it was worth the effort.  I understand we served nearly 2,000 guests.

I do enjoy the smiles on the youngsters and oldsters as they remember the trolleys of their past.  Maybe you can make some memories of your own soon.

Article and Photographs by Alex Bruchac 

The newly refurbished GE 'Critter' running trough Redman Wye.

The newly refurbished GE ‘Critter’ running trough Redman Wye.

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The home built Pittsburgh Railway line car returning to the display Building after the parade

The home built Pittsburgh Railway line car returning to the display Building after the parade

Boston Elevated Railways Ballast Car

Boston Elevated Railways Ballast Car

A Pittsburgh Railway differential crane car that was built in Findlay, Ohio.

A Pittsburgh Railway differential crane car that was built in Findlay, Ohio.

The Belle of Marion

June 25, 2013

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The Akron Railroad Club had its annual longest day outing this past Sunday. This year’s Ohio hotspot that we visited was Marion.

The catch of the day was the inbound Q106, a run-through train from Kansas City that originates on the Kansas City Southern. This train hauls containers to the Schneider National intermodal terminal on the east side of Marion.

Some of the containers, though, are shuttled from Marion to the CSX intermodal facility at North Baltimore, Ohio.

The Q106 usually arrives in Marion in the wee hours of the morning, but it was running late on this day for some reason, arriving in Marion at 10:04 a.m.  This was much to the delight of myself, Marty Surdyk and Todd Vander Sluis. We were the first club members to arrive, getting to the Marion Union Station at 8:29 a.m.

We’ll have a further report on the longest day later this week.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

New Look for Museum’s Locomotive

June 25, 2013

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I went to Deshler last weekend and stopped by Bellevue on my way back. The newest addition to the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum is a former Nickel Plate Road SD9 painted in Norfolk & Western’s “Pevler blue” and numbered 2349. 

This was the number that it originally wore after N&W merged with the NKP.  It is fully restored to its 1960s appearance, including the mars light. The only thing missing are the number boards with No. 2349. Those still show No. 52, the last number it wore for Norfolk Southern.

It is posed next to a restored N&W wreck crane also in the “hamburger” scheme.  Now if only NS would pose the 8103 next to these.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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