Archive for March, 2014

The Latest Object of Affection for Photographers

March 31, 2014
A westbound CSX intermodal train with Norfolk Southern and Citirail units for power showed up too early for good nose light so I opted for this across the field view near Peru Center Road. This train would get a long delay in Willard as we will see later.

A westbound CSX intermodal train with Norfolk Southern and Citirail units for power showed up too early for good nose light so I opted for this across the field view near Peru Center Road. This train would get a long delay in Willard as we will see later.

They will not likely supplant Norfolk Southern heritage units in popularity, but the attractive blue, yellow and gray Citirail locomotives have become quite the catch among trackside photographers.

These are not the usual “rent-a-wreck” lease power. These units are newer and look it.

During a recent trip to Willard, Roger Durfee caught up with some Citirail power. Here is what he was able to capture.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Citirail ES44AC 1212 sitting pretty at Willard.

Citirail ES44AC 1212 sitting pretty at Willard.

The CREX/CSX/UP/CSX set drifts back towards their train. NS train is STILL sitting back there.

The CREX/CSX/UP/CSX set drifts back towards their train. NS train is STILL sitting back there.

CREX 1212 leads west past the CSX Willard Terminal sign at Daniels Road.

CREX 1212 leads west past the CSX Willard Terminal sign at Daniels Road.

Finally that NS/CREX set departs Willard.

Finally that NS/CREX set departs Willard.

Although a cloud nailed me I still wanted this photo of that NS unit hitting the NS diamonds at Attica Junction.

Although a cloud nailed me I still wanted this photo of that NS unit hitting the NS diamonds at Attica Junction.

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Waiting for Amtrak in Cleveland

March 30, 2014
If you catch Amtrak out of Cleveland, you will begin your journey in the dead of night in a station featuring the latest in economical 1970s design.

If you catch Amtrak out of Cleveland, you will begin your journey in the dead of night in a station featuring the latest in economical 1970s design.

It is 4:15 a.m. in the Amtrak station in Cleveland. The westbound Lake Shore Limited should have been here a half hour ago. “Julie” says it will arrive at 5:10, the Amtrak agent at the ticket windows says 5:15. Whatever the case, the passengers wait.

Four Amtrak trains a day serve Cleveland and all are scheduled to arrive during the overnight hours.

It’s the reality of being located at the midpoint of routes for which trains are timed to best serve the needs of connecting passengers in Chicago, New York and Washington.

The seats in the Cleveland station are not overly comfortable, but I’d rate them to be better than those in the waiting lounge in Chicago.

Inside the station, it is largely quiet. A few low conversations can be heard, but most of those waiting – which includes some waiting for the eastbound Lake Shore Limited – are trying to nap, reading or using their smart phones.

Outside there is the periodic rumble of passing Norfolk Southern freight trains.

I moved to Cleveland in August 1993 and boarded my first train here the following April. The station hasn’t changed much since then.

If the station seems dated it is because it is. In my collection of Amtrak artifacts is an annual report from the 1970s that shows an Amtrak employee making a model of a “modern” Amtrak station that looks just like the Cleveland station.

During Amtrak’s early years, it was plagued with union stations in cities where there were just four or two trains a day.

These palatial depots were built for a much higher level of traffic and were wonders in their day but to Amtrak management they had become dinosaurs that burned precious cash.

The answer was to create a much smaller standard station that was more in tune with Amtrak’s needs.

When the Cleveland Amtrak station opened in 1976, Paul Reistrup was Amtrak’s president, long-distance trains were pulled by SDP40F locomotives and passenger cars had steam heat.

All of that has gone away, but the Cleveland station remains as a monument to another era. I am not sure why, but there is something vaguely comforting about that.

In many ways, Amtrak is an operation frozen in the past. Change tends to be incremental and comes in small increments at that.

It has the same basic route structure that it had in 1971, although with some additions and subtractions here and there, most notable of which has been the expansion and development of short-haul corridors funded by the states.

Construction of the Superliner and Amfleet equipment that is assigned today to the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited began in the 1970s, although some of it is newer.

So every time I catch a train in Cleveland it is a bit like going back to the 1970s when I was in college and what I see today in Cleveland was state of the art then.

Are any of those waiting passengers looking at their smart phones watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show? “Love is all around, no need to waste it.”

But it’s 2014 and not 1974.

Shortly before 5, I get up and walk out into the cold night air to wait for No. 49.

Soon, I see the lights of an approaching train to the east that has the unmistakable pattern of the headlight and ditch lights of an Amtrak P42 locomotive.

The Lake Shore Limited halts at 5:07 a.m. Eight minutes later, the engineer opens the throttle and we are Chicago-bound an hour and a half behind schedule.

And it’s still night time in Cleveland.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The ticket counter is quiet and the train bulletin board shows four trains. For a short time in the early 2000s there were six Amtrak trains serving Cleveland.

The ticket counter is quiet and the train bulletin board shows four trains. For a short time in the early 2000s there were six Amtrak trains serving Cleveland.

Trying to catch a few winks before heading out to the lone platform that can handle just one train at a time.

Trying to catch a few winks before heading out to the lone platform that can handle just one train at a time.

The seating area is not your living room, but more comfortable than its counterpart at Chicago Union Station.

The seating area is not your living room, but more comfortable than its counterpart at Chicago Union Station.

Technology changes but some things remain constant. Those schedule racks have over the years held folders for trains that no longer exist.

Technology changes but some things remain constant. Those schedule racks have over the years held folders for trains that no longer exist.

Long Train on a Short Line Railroad

March 28, 2014
NS train 66W passes the WAS home signals on the Cleveland Line at Alliance.

NS train 66W passes the WAS home signals on the Cleveland Line at Alliance.

You don’t usually associate “unit train” with shortline Ohi-Rail in Minerva, Ohio, but that’s not the case anymore.

On Saturday, March 22, an 80-car unit train of frac sand was handed off to them by Norfolk Southern via the Bayard interchange.

The train had arrived in Cleveland with Union Pacific power. A helper set was added to the front for cab signals at Rockport.

Once at Bayard the helper set was cut away, the Ohi-Rail crew boarded the UP power, and it was off to Minerva.

It made quite a sight with two big UP six motors and 80 cars of sand rolling, albeit slowly, down this ex-Pennsylvania Railroad and ex-New York Central track through Minerva.

The unloading facility is at the east end of Minerva yard. The train started unloading as soon as it arrived. If this test train works out there will be more, so keep your eyes and ears open for more moves like this one.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

It's an uphill climb from Alliance to near Homeworth. The sound of the EMD's (the UP GE was offline) was sweet.

It’s an uphill climb from Alliance to near Homeworth. The sound of the EMD’s (the UP GE was offline) was sweet.

The 66W passes the high car detector, an old schoolhouse, and a barking dog at DCS station Moult.

The 66W passes the high car detector, an old schoolhouse, and a barking dog at DCS station Moult.

The NS power has cut away and ran ahead to clear the switch- note it in the distance- as the Ohi-Rail crew starts down its railroad using the UP power.

The NS power has cut away and ran ahead to clear the switch- note it in the distance- as the Ohi-Rail crew starts down its railroad using the UP power.

Passing through Minerva; note the blue sign.

Passing through Minerva; note the blue sign.

Some sand dust flies as the train starts to unload at Minerva.

Some sand dust flies as the train starts to unload at Minerva.

Remembering Penn Central in Alliance

March 27, 2014

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Most of us have been to 21st century Alliance, Ohio, and can visualize the track arrangement with no problem. What about the late 1960s in early Penn Central times? Was it different? Judge for yourselves as these two images look north from the west end of the station platform. Almost everything from an operator handing up train orders to passing PC F-units to a bridge showing decaying early 20th century architecture is gone. A few of the tracks still remain but look at what we have lost.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

Ohio Legislature Honors Toledo CSX Workers

March 27, 2014

The Ohio legislature recently honored CSX Toledo Terminal employees at Stanley Yard, Walbridge Yard, and the Toledo Docks on the occasion of Stanley Yard’s centennial birthday and the team’s impressive safety record.

Stanley Yard’s employees recently marked a two-year, injury-free milestone. Employees at the facility have participated in such community projects as the annual MS Society Bike to the Bay fundraiser, leading the way in team fundraising for the past two years.

In addition, Stanley employees were among the first to respond in the aftermath of a 2010 tornado that hit Lake Township. CSX volunteers donated time and resources toward the cleanup and rebuilding efforts in the weeks and months following the disaster.

“We have a great team at the Toledo Terminal, in both safety and service,” said Rob Burkett, terminal superintendent. “They are upholding the strong rail tradition in this part of the country on behalf of CSX, our customers, and our communities.”

Built by the Toledo & Ohio Central railroad, Stanley Yard has changed hands several times over the years with railroad mergers, from New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail and finally CSX, which acquired it as part of its share of the Conrail acquisition in 1999.

Combined, the Toledo Terminal handles about 3,000 carloads of freight daily. Stanley Yard handles mostly mixed freight, Walbridge Yard moves predominantly auto freight, and the Toledo Docks handle vessel and rail transfers of coal and iron ore.

“It is an honor to salute the employees of Stanley Yard as they celebrate their centennial year. CSX has played an important role in our local economy for decades and we look forward to many more successes in the future,” said Rep. Tim Brown.

Century-old Reefer To be Restored in Indiana

March 27, 2014

It needs a new paint job and new brakes, but a 104-year-old Kingan Refrigerator Line wood refrigerator car will be restored by the Indiana Transportation Museum.

 

The car was rescued from a warehouse that was being demolished in Indianapolis. The Kosnick Supply Co., a lumber supply firm, had used the car to store paper records.

 

Being located inside the warehouse had shielded the car from the elements. It still had its original paint scheme, lettering and numbers, including the slogan “Reliable Sliced Bacon.”


ITM obtained the car through a donation by Brian Fahle, CEO and president of Indianapolis apparel merchandising company Main Event Merchandise Group.

 

Fahle had purchased the property at 925 E. Vermont St. sight unseen a few years ago as an investment and didn’t realize the car was in the warehouse.


A demolition contractor razed the building around the car until 18 museum volunteers and a heavy-equipment mover were able to put the car onto a trailer using a forklift.

 

The 12-ton car was moved to Kirklin, Ind., for storage until it can be restored.


Kingan was the first company to sell sliced bacon and was the largest meat packing company in Indianapolis.

 

In the early 1900s, the packing of beef and pork was the largest industry in Indiana. One of Kingan’s customers invented the method of preserving meat with ice, allowing meat to be shipped all over the nation in ice-filled cars year-round.

Pact Reached to Move N&W 611 to North Carolina

March 27, 2014

Norfolk & Western No. 611 will be hitting the road, but it won’t be under steam.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation and the Fire Up 611! committee have announced that they have reached an agreement with the North Carolina Transportation Museum to move the steam locomotive to the North Caroline museum where the restoration work will be performed.

The Class J locomotive will steam back to its home at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke after the restoration is completed.

The 611 will travel to North Carolina dead in tow but before that can happen the VMT must finishing raising $3.5 million to pay for the restoration of the locomotive as well as construction of a maintenance building for it.

VMT is seeking to raise an additional $1.5 million to establish an endowment for future operation, bringing the total fundraising objective to $5 million.

Thus far, $2.3 million has been raised. No date has been set for the move to North Carolina. Once the funds are raised, No. 611 will be moved dead-in-tow to the North Carolina museum The restoration of the 611 is expected to take six to nine months.

Like us, the North Carolina Transportation Museum strives to preserve and showcase our rail”

The restoration of the 611 will be performed in the 37-stall Bob Julian Roundhouse, built in 1924 by the Southern Railway. It is one of the largest surviving steam era roundhouses left in North America.

Its 100-foot turntable and restoration shop are capable of handling a locomotive the size of No. 611. The museum, located on 57 acres, encompasses 13 historic shop buildings that were part of Southern’s largest steam locomotive shop, which dates to 1896.

“The North Carolina Transportation Museum is honored at the opportunity to partner with the Virginia Museum of Transportation and the Fire Up 611 Committee to provide a location for the restoration of this iconic locomotive,” said Steve Mersch, foundation president. “Speaking on behalf of the museum and foundation employees, volunteers and the local community we are all very excited that once again [the] historic Spencer shops will house the repair of a mainline steam locomotive just as it did in decades past.”

Meeting Set to Discuss Erie Container Facility

March 27, 2014

A public meeting has been set for April 3 in Erie, Pa., to discuss a planned intermodal container transfer facility that will be built in northwest Pennsylvania.

DevelopErie and EIP Intermodal Rail Terminal L.L.C. are planing to build the facility in Harborcreek Township along the CSX mainline between Cleveland and Buffalo, N.Y.

The facility will have five miles of track, and truck parking and loading areas. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in the fall with an earlly 2016 opening. DevelopErie and EIP officials will review the project’s history, discuss the site selection parameters, describe the environmental clearance process, identify the scope of traffic studies, outline future public involvement opportunities and gather public comments.

“We recognize the level of public interest in this important project and we’re eager to share the latest information related to its development,” said EIP President Steve Rubin in a news release.

A traffic study was begun earlier this year by the consulting firm of EMH&T and Urban Engineers. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will review the study when it’s completion.

“We still have more steps to take in order to obtain environmental clearance and complete the associated traffic studies, but we are committed to see these studies through to ensure impacts to the environment and the community are minimized,” said Katrina Smith, DevelopErie’s senior vice president.

David Rohal Forms Investment, Consulting Firm

March 27, 2014

David Rohal has helped form an investment and consulting firm in San Diego that specializes in ground transportation, energy and infrastructure.

Rohal, who is the son of Akron Railroad Club member and former president Bob Rohal, helped to form Dahlman Rohal & Associates along with Ernie Dahlman.

Dahlman is a Wall Street investment banking firm partner while Rohal has 30 years of experience in railroad management operations and transportation.

“We have combined our diverse talents to create a cohesive force for pursuing large, complex projects that often have multiple stakeholders with different objectives. An early focus of ours will be on unlocking stranded value in the Cali-Baja Mega Region”

Rohal previously worked at CSX, Genesee & Wyoming, RailAmerica, Florida East Coast and Patriot Rail. Most recently, he was with the Pacific Imperial Railroad in California.

The two partners first met and became interested in the Mega Region when originally recruited to form a management team for the dormant Pacific Imperial.

Dahlman Rohal & Associates has formed strategic associations with The Charlton Group, whose managing member, Charlie Patterson, is a sales and marketing executive in the rail industry, and with Main Line Transportation Professionals, whose managing partner, David Arganbright, is also a railroad veteran who has worked in the development of public-private partnerships.

“We have combined our diverse talents to create a cohesive force for pursuing large, complex projects that often have multiple stakeholders with different objectives,” said Rohal. “An early focus of ours will be on unlocking stranded value in the Cali-Baja Mega Region.”

Leviathan to Appear on Wellington Tourist RR

March 27, 2014

The Leviathan, a replica of an 1880s steam locomotive, will be pulling excursion trains on the Lake Shore Railway in Wellington, Ohio, on April 18, 19 and 20.

Tickets for the trips are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for children. Trains will depart from the former Lorain & West Virginia station in Wellington.

Trains will depart on the following schedule: April 18 at 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. April 19 at 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. April 20 at noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The Leviathan is a 4-4-0 replica of the Leviathan No. 63 that the Central Pacific Railroad ordered in 1868 from Schenectady Locomotive Works. It is owned by David Kloke and took 10 years to build.

Proceeds from the April excursions of the Leviathan will be applied toward supporting the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Lincoln Funeral Train and the restoration of Nickel Plate Road No. 384.

For more information or to order tickets, go to: http://lsra.org/special-events.html