Archive for October, 2013

4 Amtrak Viewliner II Cars Nearing Completion

October 31, 2013
Amtrak's Viewliner diner "Indianapolis" is the only such car in the fleet. But within the next year other Viewliner diners will be rolling along. The "Indianapolis" is shown in Cleveland on the eastbound Lake Shore Limited in June 2012. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

Amtrak’s Viewliner diner “Indianapolis” is the only such car in the fleet. But within the next year other Viewliner diners will be rolling along. The “Indianapolis” is shown in Cleveland on the eastbound Lake Shore Limited in June 2012. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

Amtrak recently offered the news media a glimpse at the new Viewliner II cars that are being built by CAF USA in Elmira, N.Y.

Four cars – a baggage car, diner, baggage dorm and sleeper – are nearing completion and are expected to be field tested this winter on the Northeast Corridor.

The $298.1 million order for 130 single-level long distance passenger rail cars includes 25 sleeper, 25 diners, 25 baggage/dormitory cars and 55 baggage cars. More than 120 suppliers in 25 states and 93 cities are providing parts for the new rail cars.

The new cars will be used on Eastern long-distance trains, including the Lake Shore Limited and Cardinal. The baggage cars will be used on long-distance trains nationwide.

The new long-distance cars will both replace and supplement the existing single-level fleet and allow Heritage fleet cars built in the 1940s and 1950s to be retired.

The first of the new cars is expected to begin service in summer 2014. Those are expected to be baggage and dining cars.

All 130 cars are expected to be delivered by the end of 2015 or early 2016. Amtrak placed the first of its original order of 50 production Viewliner sleeping cars in service on the Lake Shore Limited in November 1996.

Those cars, built by Amerail, reequipped most of Amtrak’s single-level trains. Amtrak produced three prototype Viewliners, two sleepers and one diner, at its Beech Grove, Ind., shops in 1987. The new Viewliners will feature modern interiors with better layouts, better lighting and more efficient air conditioning and heating systems, additional outlets to power personal electronic devices, improved accessibility for passengers with disabilities, and bicycle racks in the baggage cars. The new cars also feature improvements for employees such as functional kitchen layouts that are easier to maintain, a more efficient process to stock food, and an improved baggage car for easier organization, including the addition of bike racks. The baggage cars can accommodate up to 16 bicycles, baggage dorms up to eight. The baggage cars will have hinged doors that seal, which is designed to provide climate control.  They also will have good lighting, and two levels of pull-down racks (one near the floor) so that suitcases normally will be placed on racks instead of on the floor.

The dining cars have 12 tables, including one ADA table (seats on just one side).

Sleeping cars have 12 roomettes, two deluxe bedrooms (which can be sold as a single suite) and one ADA room, whose door is powered.

For roomette passengers, there are two public restrooms and one shower. There are still fold-down sinks in the roomettes.

For this fleet only, Amtrak is reintroducing its Phase III red white and blue stripes, and the company’s original logo.

Amtrak President Joe Boardman said a decision has not been made on the extent to which the new Viewliners will enhance capacity rather than simply replace older cars. He noted, however, that the order includes 25 diners whereas Amtrak has only 16 single-level diners today.

CAF USA, based in Washington, D.C., is the U.S. subsidiary of Spain’s Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles S.A.

Ann Arbor Eyes Building New Train Station

October 31, 2013
A Wolverine Service trains calls at Ann Arbor on May 19, 2013. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

A Wolverine Service trains calls at Ann Arbor on May 19, 2013. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

The Ann Arbor, Mich., City Council recently approved spending  $824,875  to  conduct an environmental impact and design study for a new train station.

The study will be done by USR Corps. Public hearings are expected to be held concerning a number of potential station sites and for the station’s design.

“We’re going to need a new train station,” said Mayor John Hieftje, pointing to an increase in Amtrak ridership over the past decade.

Amtrak serves Ann Arbor with six daily Wolverine Service trains linking Chicago and Detroit.

The current Ann Arbor station was built by Amtrak. In the early years of Amtrak, trains stopped at the former Michigan Central depot, which is now a restaurant.

Amtrak Dome Car to Operate on Illinois Zephyr

October 31, 2013

Amtrak’s great dome car will operate on the Illinois Zephyr  from Nov. 5-22.

No. 10031 is the only dome car left in Amtrak’s fleet. It will operate eastbound from Quincy on No. 380, which departs at 6:12 a.m., and westbound on No. 383, which departs Chicago at 5:55 p.m.
There will be no additional charge to ride in the car and seating is unreserved.

The great dome was built by the Budd Co. in 1955 as Great Northern No. 1391, one of six full-length domes used on the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder operated by GN in partnership with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway.

This November the car will traverse the original route of the Empire Builder from Chicago to Aurora.

“The car features an upper level with windows on all sides to provide passengers with panoramic views of the changing colors of the trees, farmers in their fields and the picturesque communities along the route, including LaGrange, Naperville, Plano, Mendota, Princeton, Kewanee, Galesburg and Macomb,” Amtrak said in a news release.

Acquired by Amtrak in 1971, the car once carried the name Ocean View.

Amtrak said the Illinois Zephyr and its counterpart, the Carl Sandburg (Nos. 381 & 382) carried more than 261,000 passengers in fiscal year 2013, which ended on Sept. 30.

Doing a 360 at CP 360

October 30, 2013
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The first photo of the day would be this across the field look at a new BNSF ACe and an old windmill just west of Garrett, Ind.

After chasing the Reading/Virginian duo west earlier this month I stayed out in Indiana and did some fanning around Butler. It was a picture perfect weather day with plenty of trains around. Here are a few from that day,

Photographs by Roger Durfee

20E crosses over from one to two at Waterloo, Ind.

20E crosses over from one to two at Waterloo, Ind.

Eastbound passing the elevator at Butler. This facility once hosted a Baldwin switcher.

Eastbound passing the elevator at Butler. This facility once hosted a Baldwin switcher.

Eastbound coal crosses the former Wabash diamond in Butler (CP 358).

Eastbound coal crosses the former Wabash diamond in Butler (CP 358).

NS Crescent Cab 6944 at CP 358 in Butler.

CP gets in the act here, too. Train 142 takes the connection for Detroit at CP 358.

CP gets in the act here, too. Train 142 takes the connection for Detroit at CP 358.

Train 143 has just cleared CP 358 on it's journey to Chicago.

Train 143 has just cleared CP 358 on it’s journey to Chicago.

More multi-levels, CP-style crossing over at CP 360.

More multi-levels, CP-style crossing over at CP 360.

CP train No. 608 at CP 360.

CP train No. 608 at CP 360.

NS train M6E with UP and (ratty) BNSF power.

NS train M6E with UP and (ratty) BNSF power.

Westbound multi-levels on the former Wabash. The line to the left is the connection to the ex New York Central main.

Westbound multi-levels on the former Wabash. The line to the left is the connection to the ex New York Central main.

Westbound ethanol empties at CP 360 with an increasingly rare full white window.

Westbound ethanol empties at CP 360 with an increasingly rare full white window.

Looking west we can see 9790's entire train and a CP waiting way off by that elevator we saw earlier.

Looking west we can see 9790’s entire train and a CP waiting way off by that elevator we saw earlier.

NS train 205 will leave Ohio behind in short order as it passes the Ind state line marker.

NS train 205 will leave Ohio behind in short order as it passes the Ind state line marker.

NS Donates Caboose to Conrail History Group

October 30, 2013

Norfolk Southern has donated former Conrail transfer caboose No. 18452 to the Conrail Historical Society. The class N11 was built for the Penn Central and has long been stored in Bellevue, Ohio.

Society members plan to work on the 18452 as time and money permit.
The Conrail group also owns Conrail No. 21165, ex-Erie Lackawanna No. 368. This past September, that caboose was conveyed to a contractor for stripping, minor repairs, and painting.

That project is expected to take about 45 days to complete. Funds for the painting have been raised by donations from members and assorted fundraisers.

The society also is restoring Conrail No. 67157, a former Pennsylvania Railroad G36L class gondola. Volunteers are removing the floor and broken side panels and preparing the car for new parts and flooring.

The group is soliciting donations to cover the cost of a new oak floor board, “I” beam sections to support the board, and associated hardware and transportation of the materials to the worksite. The organization acquired the car from the North Shore Railroad in Pennsylvania.

In exchange for a donation, the society is offering a receipt for tax deductions and recognition in an upcoming issue of the Conrail Quarterly with a photo of the car’s new floor and a list of donor names.

To make a donation, go to www.conrailshoppe.com. For more information on the project, go to thecrhs.org.

4 CSX Workers Injured in Crossing Accident

October 29, 2013

Four CSX employees were struck by a motor vehicle at a grade crossing on Monday and taken to a hospital for treatment. The incident occurred at Bradner, about 20 miles south of Toledo.

Trains magazine Newswire reported that the the employees were part of a rail gang that was in the process of closing the crossing at the time of the incident.

According to railroad spokeswoman Carla Groleau, the three employees were struck and the fourth was injured in the incident, which occurred just before noon.

The Fostoria Times Review reported that the driver drove around two sets of barricades and into the construction zone before striking a utility pole, an unoccupied CSX truck, and the workers.

The incident occurred at Bradner Road along the Pemberville Subdivision on a former Chesapeake & Ohio main line between Columbus and Toledo.

Kansas City — My Kind of Railroad Town: Part 1

October 29, 2013

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Here is the start of the photographs that I made in Kansas City in early September. The first series is a run heading to Argentine through the West Bottoms.

There are seven units, seven different models and a good history of BNSF “heritage” paint jobs. Note the Union Pacific Georgetown ballast train heading up the ramp from the UP (ex-Missouri Pacific) main.

Even though the UP train was gaining on the BNSF train it would stop before they got side by side. I have always liked the shots with the concrete viaduct overhead down in “the bottoms” as well as the traditional shot with the old warehouses in the background.

Note the large cow atop the hillside above the cab of the BNSF SD45-2 1568 roster shot. The one photo is a close up of the Georgetown machine.

In the last one there was a three train, one track car meet with the former Union Tower in the background.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

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Fire Up 611! Meets Fundraising Objective

October 29, 2013

The Virginia Museum of Transportation and the Fire Up 611! Committee said on Friday that they have enough money to restore the Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 steam passenger locomotive but that more donations are needed to fund a shop. The Fire Up 611! committee received some 2,000 donations from the United States and 15 other countries, including contributions made by some Akron Railroad Club members.

 “We have achieved a significant milestone, but there is still much work to be done,” said Bev Fitzpatrick, Jr., executive director of the museum. “Our goal from the beginning has been not only to get the 611 up and running, but to also keep it operational for decades.” Until enough funds are raised to pay for a maintenance facility, the 611 will remain at the museum in Roanoke, Va., where it has been since its 1994 retirement from a previous Norfolk Southern steam program. The museum started the Fire Up 611! Campaign on June 28, 2013, with the objective of raising $3.5 million by Oct. 31 in order to restore the locomotive in time for excursions in Spring 2014. “We knew going in that we were operating on a very ambitious timetable to be able to begin excursions in the spring,” Fitzpatrick said. “Good things have happened and are continuing to happen. This is not a matter of   ‘if’ she’ll run again; it’s a matter of ‘when.’” The committee outlined the funding objectives needed to get the 611 rolling again:

  • §  $500,000 to $750,000 to restore No. 611 to meet current Federal Railroad Administration guidelines.
  • §  $2 million to $2.5 million for a shop to maintain the engine in operating condition for decades. This also will house an educational center to teach science, technology, engineering, math, and social sciences to students of all ages.
  • §  $500,000 for business operations, including marketing, fundraising, business tools, insurance, and working capital.
  • §  $1.5 million for an endowment to fund the locomotive’s continued operation.

 

Noting that the 611 was designed and built in Roanoke,  Fitzpatrick said it is known for its technology, mechanical perfection, streamlined design and low baritone  whistle. “It’s important that we keep this Roanoke icon in Roanoke as much as possible,” he said.

Donors to the project will be listed on a permanent wall of honor. The facility will also keep the 611 accessible to the public during maintenance periods. “We believe that the facility will protect our donors’ investment in the Class J 611,” Fitzpatrick said. “We want future generations to enjoy the power and elegance of the Class J 611.” The museum is negotiating an agreement with the North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation and Steam Operations Corp. to have the 611 restored at the roundhouse at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C.

The Spencer museum hosts one of the largest and last surviving roundhouses equipped with the tools necessary to restore the massive locomotive. “It will take approximately six to nine months to restore the Class J 611,” said Scott Lindsay, president of Steam Operations Corp., a member of the Fire Up 611! Committee who also worked on the 611 during its last excursion runs. “The team is assembled and ready to go.” Potential investors and fans of the Class J 611 are invited to visit fireup611.org for more information or to donate. For stock gifts, wire transfers, or questions about giving to Fire Up 611!, call 540-342-5670, ext. 105 or email fferguson@vmt.org

Ex-C&O Signal Bridge Finds New Home in Michigan

October 29, 2013

A Chesapeake & Ohio Railway signal bridge that once stood in Fostoria, Ohio, will be restored and displayed at a park in Port Huron, Mich. The bridge will be part of a waterfront development project.

The signal bridge was removed by CSX three years ago as the railroad upgraded its signal system with new fiber optic and digital technology.

The signal bridge will be used as an archway/centerpiece of the Community a Foundation of St. Clair County’s Bluewater Land Fund Project, which is redeveloping nearly 90 acres of the former Pere Marquette/C&O/CSX carferry yard in Port Huron.

“With the removal of many of these signals over the last 10 years, they have become quite rare,” said T.J. Gaffney, whose firm Streamline Historic Services coordinated the project. “Streamline Historic Services was happy to partner with Community Foundation of St. Clair County’s Bluewater Land Fund and Jim Lesiak of Jim’s R&R Rescue Services to find, preserve and reuse this classic icon of American railroading for future generations.”

In addition to the railroad heritage area consisting of the signal and former Carferry Apron, the Riverwalk also will also include homage areas to the Native American and nautical past of the site, as well as public access fishing areas and the reestablishment of fish spawning and native species habitats.

The venerable C&O style signals date to the steam era and were once commonplace on railroads controlled by the Van Sweregin brothers of Cleveland.

The Advisory Mechanical Committee for those railroads established standard designs for everything from signals to steam locomotives, and as such nearly identical signals could be found on the Erie, Nickel Plate Road, and Pere Marquette railroads.

RDC Returns to the CVSR

October 28, 2013
It is not often that an Alco PA and an RDC are posed side by side. But it happened on Sunday on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in Peninsula.

It is not often that an Alco FA and an RDC are posed side by side. But it happened on Sunday on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in Peninsula.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad broke out one of its stored RDC cars this past weekend for use on a special event train.

The railroad has not used its RDCs cars as self-propelled power for a few years. Their last regular assignment was in Akron-Canton service. I got out on Sunday afternoon to chase the RDC on The Pumpkin Express, a special event train that operated from Brecksville station to Szalay’s Farm and return.

The theme train was oriented toward children and their parents. The kids were encouraged to board wearing Halloween costumes and they had a “parade” in the aisle of the RDC en route to the farm.

The CVSR website says this RDC car was built in 1950 for the New York, Susquehanna & Western and later sold to the Central of New Jersey. CVSR purchased it in 2003 from the Corydon Scenic Railroad. It has two Cummins turbo charged engines.

After dropping off passengers at Szalay’s, the RDC deadheaded to Peninsula to wait in the siding for the Scenic train.

With the Scenic train out of the way, the RDC moved out of the siding and headed back to Szalay’s Farm to pick up its passengers, who had whiled away their nearly two hours there exploring a corn maze, playing on the swings and browsing the market. Perhaps some bought a pumpkin there.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Along the Cuyahoga River at Brecksville.

Along the Cuyahoga River at Brecksville.

Boarding at Brecksville station.

Boarding at Brecksville station.

Rocking along at the south end of Jaite siding.

Rocking along at the south end of Jaite siding.

Passing the former train order office at Jaite.

Passing the former train order office at Jaite.

Deadheading to Peninsula at the Deep Lock Quarry site along the Towpath Trail.

Deadheading to Peninsula at the Deep Lock Quarry site along the Towpath Trail.

Killing time in Peninsula.

Killing time in Peninsula.

A ground level view of the operator's compartment at the end of the car.

A ground level view of the operator’s compartment at the end of the car.

Some of the workings beneath the car.

Some of the workings beneath the car.

The Scenic is in the clear and time to return to the main to go pick up the passengers at Szalay's.

The Scenic is in the clear and time to return to the main to go pick up the passengers at Szalay’s.

The conductor gives me a friendly wave as the RDC heads out of town.

The conductor gives me a friendly wave as the RDC heads out of town.

Don't show the EPA this image of an RDC emulating a steam locomotive.

Don’t show the EPA this image of an RDC emulating a steam locomotive.