Archive for December, 2013

And There Sat the Interstate H Unit

December 30, 2013

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This past Sunday we went to a train show in Michigan.  We were hoping to catch the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit at Clay Center, where it had been since last week.

Upon exiting the Ohio Turnpike at Milan, we were surprised and shocked to find the Interstate heritage unit leading an ethanol train (65T) sitting on the U.S. 250 overpass.

After bagging the 8105 we continued to Clay Center and caught the 8102. That’s not bad for a mornings work.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

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Oh, the Trains It Has Seen

December 30, 2013

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So, fellow Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee tells me that we can do some winter railfanning without snow. “How is that?” I asked. And he says we can look for other things that say winter, e.g., bare trees and fields. And that led us to this slumbering field along Boughtonville Road just west of its namesake village east of Willard, Ohio.

Who knows why this lone tree still stands. It probably has survived because it’s next to a drainage ditch and thus not on a spot where the farmer wants to plant crops. Perhaps during the warm weather months the farmer working in this field takes a break and sits beneath the shade of this tree.

Of course the tree also has a good view of the nearby CSX mainline. Imagine the thousands of trains that have passed by this tree over the years.

Shown is the westbound Q015, whose crew is a just a few miles away from ending its day and going off the clock. They’ve the lucky ones, for this train will pass three parked manifest freights on Track No. 1 waiting to get into Willard. An eastbound is sitting at East Willard waiting to get a route to Greenwich and beyond.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

No Changes in NE Ohio Amtrak Schedules

December 30, 2013

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Amtrak’s next timetable has already been released even if it is dated Jan. 13, 2014.  There are no changes in the schedules of the three trains serving Ohio, the Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited, and the Cardinal.

The cover features a painting by Eric Smith of the Coast Starlight headed southbound at the station in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The number on the P42 shown  is the same as the train number of the Southern Pacific Coast Daylight in the same direction, No. 98.

Smith is an Amtrak assistant superintendent of road operations. This painting is on exhibit along with other railroad themed works by Smith in the Metropolitan lounge at Los Angeles Union Station.

The Belles of New London

December 29, 2013
CSX train Q377 with four new Kansas City Southern locomotives in tow passes the reservoir west of New London on Saturday afternoon.

CSX train Q377 with four new Kansas City Southern locomotives in tow passes the reservoir west of New London on Saturday afternoon.

Word filtered out Saturday afternoon that CSX train Q377 had something special in its consist: four new Kansas City Southern locomotives wearing the striking Southern Belle livery.

I had been out with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee trying to get some “winter” photographs when we got word about the Q377. The clouds were starting to roll in from the southwest and Roger had considered packing it in and heading for home as it seemed to be getting darker by the second.

But there were still blue skies to the northeast and perhaps we could intercept the Q377 up by New London before the high pressure system moved out.

That turned out to be a good move because there were some breaks in the clouds and still nice sunshine in the New London area.

The Q377 was following traffic that included a tanker train (K011) and a stack train. The dispatcher informed the Q377 that it would cross over to Track No. 1 at CP 47 in New London and then would be waiting at CP 54 (Greenwich) for a train to come up the single track of the former Big Four and move east onto the New Castle Subdivision of the former Baltimore & Ohio.

The latter would give us the opportunity to get over to Greenwich in time for another photograph of the Belles.

After recording the Q377 in Greenwich, we headed back to Akron, our day’s work done.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The low angle sunlight reflects off the lettering on the flank of No. 4813,

The low angle sunlight reflects off the lettering on the flank of No. 4813,

These Belles will probably be interchanged to their new owner in St. Louis.

These Belles will probably be interchanged to their new owner in St. Louis.

After waiting for a while for opposing traffic to clear at Greenwich, the Belles were on their way again.

After waiting for a while for opposing traffic to clear at Greenwich, the Belles were on their way again.

Cincy Streetcar Project Resumes Construction

December 29, 2013

Construction of the Cincinnati streetcar line resumed the day after Christmas with project supporters serving coffee and breakfast snacks to workers.

The supporters drew compliments from observers who noted that their tenancity in supporting the streetrcar line, which the city’s new mayor wanted to kill, had prompted the city council to reverse course and approve completing the project.

“It was so well organized, well executed and well populated,” said Gene Beaupre, a Xavier University professor. “I’ve never seen (a movement) that effective in terms of every aspect.”

A crew from Delta Railroad unloaded sections of rail in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood as work resumed on the 3.6-mile, $133 million project. The project had been suspended on Dec. 4.

Unnamed private sources organized by The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation (Haile Foundation) have agreed to underwrite up to $900,000 of the estimated $3.5 million annual operating cost for the first 10 years of streetcar operation. Operations are expected to commence in September 2016.

STB Delays Upgrading of Indiana Route for CSX

December 29, 2013

The Surface Transportation Board has asked for more information before it will act on an application to upgrade a former Pennsylvania Railroad route in Indiana for increased CSX freight traffic.

The project would improve  the Louisville & Indiana route between Indianapolis and Louisville, Ky., to accommodate additional CSX overhead traffic.

Last June CSX asked the STB for a perpetual, non-exclusive operating easement over the L&I, which formerly was part of a PRR route that stretched from Chicago to Louisville. Most of this route was abandoned north of Indianapolis during the early Conrail era.

The STB has requested additional information because, it said, the CSX application did not adequately address all concerns of local governments and residents.

CSX was directed to conduct another environmental study to review those issues, most of which involved the effects of increased train traffic.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has voiced concerns about noise pollutionand the effect of additional train traffic on wildlife. Some local communities have worried about trains blocking access for emergency responders.

“We don’t know of anything that would possibly stop the project. It’s just another step in the process,” said Louisville & Indiana President Mike Stolzman.

CSX plans to pay $10 million for the operating easement and provide up to $90 million in infrastructure upgrades that would enable the 286,000 pound freight cars to use the line and for trains to operate at top speeds of 60 mph.

The track work would involve replacement of a bridge near milepost 40 at Columbus, Ind., and the laying of continuous welded rail. Additional passing sidings would be added to the route.

CSX expects to send 10-12 trains a day over the L&I, all of which would be diverted from other Midwest CSX routes.

Blue(frozen)water Michigan

December 28, 2013
Ice covers the hand brake of a Pere Marquette caboose at the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Mich., on Sunday (Dec. 22). Much of central Michigan experienced an overnight ice storm that took down trees and left thousands without power.

Ice covers the hand brake of a Pere Marquette caboose at the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Mich., on Sunday (Dec. 22). Much of central Michigan experienced an overnight ice storm that took down trees and left thousands without power.

A friend and I ventured to icy Michigan on Sunday, Dec. 22, to photograph the Pere Marquette 1225 pulling two North Pole Express trains.

The morning trip was canceled due to the weather so we hung out in Durand to catch some Canadian National action.

The afternoon 1225 trip operated as scheduled once the track has been inspected and cleared of any obstacles.

Shown here are some of the images that I made during our downtime waiting for the PM 1225 to run.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

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Train No. 149 rolls into Durand with a load of containers.

Train No. 149 rolls into Durand with a load of containers.

No. 149 shows signs of having battled the winter elements for many miles.

No. 149 shows signs of having battled the winter elements for many miles.

The track diverging to the left is the connection from the Chicago-Port Huron mainline to the Holly Sub to Detroit.

The track diverging to the left is the connection from the Chicago-Port Huron mainline to the Holly Sub to Detroit.

Snow showers had developed by the time that No. 348 reached Duran headed eastward.

Snow showers had developed by the time that No. 348 reached Durand headed eastward.

Most of the consist of No. 348 was auto racks with a few odd bar freight cars thrown in.

Most of the consist of No. 348 was auto racks with a few odd ball freight cars thrown in.

Ice covered street signs in Owosso.

Ice covered street signs in Owosso.

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The code lines along the former Pere Marquette route between Detroit and Grand Rapids have a liberal coating of ice. This line is now owned by CSX, which is seeking regulatory approval to decommission the block signals on this route.

The code lines along the former Pere Marquette route between Detroit and Grand Rapids have a liberal coating of ice. This line is now owned by CSX, which is seeking regulatory approval to decommission the block signals on this route.

A Spot of Sun Finds NS 8114

December 27, 2013

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I got lucky with a spot of sun on Norfolk Southern train Z5R as it passed my work site on the day after Christmas.

A clean “double double,” of NS 8114, got the call to lead this train. It is shown just about noon as it climbs Westinghouse Hill about a mile west of Bridge 1 on the Chicago Line in Cleveland.

Also, here is a late afternoon grab shot of 25V as it rounds the curve east of my work area. Nothing special; I just liked how the setting sun reflected off the distant windows.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

CSX Track Upgrades to Benefit Amtrak

December 27, 2013

Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited and New York-Buffalo Empire Corridor trains should have smoother sailing through Syracuse, N.Y., after CSX completes a congestion relief project being funded with an $18.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The money will be used to reconfigure the tracks and upgrade the signal system in the vicinity of the Amtrak station and DeWitt Yard.

The New York Department of Transportation will chip in $4.6 million. Construction will begin in 2015.

The project involves upgrading two sidings, one of which is used by Amtrak to reach the station. The other siding is used by CSX freights to enter and leave the yard. Currently, both siding have 30 mph speed limits.

2 Heritage Units Sunday in Cleveland

December 26, 2013

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Sunday, Dec. 22 was just a nice day to be out. A rare bit of sunshine and hanging out with some friends made for a good day.

The appearance of two Norfolk southern heritage units didn’t hurt either, the Pennsylvania Railroad unit on a coke train and the Wabash on No. 316.

A local (BR92?) got the call to take the PRR powered coke train down the hill to Campbell Road Yard.

Once that task was complete, the power was split and the PRR unit headed back up the hill solo to grab stone empties at Shelly Materials in Linndale.

In a bit of perfect timing, the 316 had pulled up and stopped in preparation to set off a long cut of cars at Rockport just as the PRR unit was pulling up to Linndale yard.

The result was the PRR meets the Wabash just west of CP 490 on the Cloggsville Line in Linndale (Cleveland).

Earlier in the day at Campbell Road Yard, the PRR unit is shown pulling up to the yard office then parked with the steel mill in the background.

In the fading light of the day the PRR unit sits tied on to empties at Linndale. Note their ex Lehigh Valley U23B off to the right and the Keybank building in downtown Cleveland on the left.

I had stopped earlier to bag the BX01 departing Campbell Road Yard. The first view is waiting for permission up the hill.

The second view if of the second one departing. The diamonds under No. 3401 are the crossing of the ex-Baltimore & Ohio’s CT&V Sub.

The diamond just ahead of the train is the former B&O CL&W Sub. Both lines are now owned by CSX.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

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