Archive for April, 2014

Chasing a bit of the Green on Norfolk Southern

April 30, 2014

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Last Saturday saw me heading to Berea to catch the Southern heritage unit that was leading Norfolk Southern train 22K.

But A CSX train decided to park and block the view so we relocated to the signal bridge at milepost 192 near Eastland Road.

The Southern unit showed up just after we pulled in.  It would stop to refuel at Rockport, so we headed for the prime shot.

I had always intended for Berea to be a tripwire not the main photo location, which turned out to be near Rockefeller Road in downtown Cleveland.

What is normally a quiet spot had some 20 to 30 railfans waiting for the Southern unit.

We had some time to kill and NS ran the 206 around the 22K and then a 145 went west before the main event.

After more than an hour’s wait the 22K showed up. All of these trains had GE power. Hmmm. I detect a pattern here.

My next stop was Painesville at trestle over the Grand River.  We just beat the 206 but not in time for good photos.

That was OK as the 22K showed up about 15 minutes later. We picked up a passenger, new club member Cindy Luther, and drove to Conneaut.

Arriving just ahead of the Southern we got some photos on the bridge over Conneaut Creek.

We continued the chase to North East Pa., and got the 22K one last time.

Next was a quick visit to the Lake Shore Railway Museum. Across the tracks quite a crowd had gathered there as well.

Little Joe 802 and NS 3563 made some nice photos. The 3563 is a B32-8 that is a recent addition to the museum collection, which focuses on GE products.

On our way back we stopped at the GE plant in Lawrence Park just outside Erie. A new Union Pacific heavy Gevo was sitting on the interchange track.

Designated ES44AC-H, it is a specially weighted engine for unit train service.  We also took photos of a new mural on the wall of the GE plant.

One last CSX train with Canadian Pacific GE’s finished out day.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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Looked What Showed Up on the 15K

April 30, 2014

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Look what showed up on 15K on Monday. I spent many a tour of duty on this caboose when I worked the BF-12 out of Motor Yard. I believe it was the last caboose that Conrail purchased new. I got the orders to place it for pick up last year, destination Altoona. This is the result several months later.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Just Sitting There for the (Picture) Taking

April 29, 2014

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Over the last couple of weeks I’ve managed to catch a small selection of NS heritage units. The Reading unit spent a good bit of time sitting in a siding just east of Bucyrus with a damaged traction motor.

This “sitting duck” allowed me to check out a few different angles along with the standard roster view.

Another sitting duck was the Interstate unit on Easter Sunday at Freshly Road a little west of Alliance on the Fort Wayne Line. Someone, a “PC” fan from the looks of it, put the PC logo in the nose dirt.

The New York Central unit led an empty oiler west past work last week.

While not NS, this Illinois Central unit can sure qualify as “heritage” in my book. It was the middle unit on the circus train power in Youngstown last week.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

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Rolling Stock Rusting Away in the Weeds

April 28, 2014

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I was travelling on Ohio Route 93 on Wednesday between Roseville and South Zanesville and crossed an abandoned rail line. The Buckeye cross bucks were still in place.

I just happened to look to the right (east) and saw a row of coaches parked down the tracks.  So I turned around and parked at the adjacent Carter Lumber and walked through their grounds to the tracks.

The coaches were the old paint scheme of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic.  I was able to photograph the first coach over the Carter Lumber fence.

In addition, on the Carter spur track inside the locked gate was a small locomotive , No. 8599 that read “Scenic Railroad,” and a Norfolk & Western and Chesapeake & Ohio caboose.

Upon investigation into my photo archives, I discovered that I had photographed this locomotive and similar coaches on the Buckeye Scenic Railroad in Byesville in August 2004.

I looked at the location of my Wednesday discovery on Google Earth, which has a May 2012 image date, and the coaches are there, but the locomotive and cabooses are on the west side of Route 93, just south of Crock Road.

This abandoned track curves north into the active Ohio Central track about three-quarters of a mile east of this crossing.

Article and Photographs by Tom Fritsch

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Michigan Eyes Acquiring Unused Talgo Trains

April 28, 2014

The Talgo trains that the State of Wisconsin ordered, but now refuses to pay for may wind up serving Amtrak routes in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Transportation is looking to buy or lease the Talgo trains.

An MDOT spokesman confirmed that the department has spoken with Talgo Inc., about using the equipment until rolling stock that the state is buying arrives in 2018.

“We are examining the possibility of buying or leasing new equipment to run on Amtrak lines in Michigan until (we get) the new equipment that we have ordered,” MDOT spokesman Nick Schirripa said.

Michigan is partnering with transportation departments in California, Washington, Missouri and Illinois to buy the new trains.

Talgo has passenger equipment sitting in Milwaukee. Talgo is suing Wisconsin after state officials accused the company of never completing promised work and then suspended payment. Nora Friend, the vice president of public affairs and business development in Talgo’s office in Seattle, said Wisconsin won’t be blocking the trains’ sale.

“There is no dispute in Wisconsin about who owns the trains and who has title to them,” Friend said. “Talgo owns them, is free to see them and in fact, the state of Wisconsin will be more than happy if Talgo sells the trains to the state of Michigan or to any other state and entity interested in acquiring them.”

Friend did not say how long the process of selling or leasing the trains would take.

One of the routes the Talgo trains would use would be the Wolverine Service between Chicago to Pontiac that stops in Detroit.

MDOT officials are looking to save money because federal funding of corridor routes has been reduced, which increased the state’s cost to operate the Wolverines from $8 million annually to $25 million.

That includes funding for the Pere Marquette and Blue Water routes that also serve Michigan.

New Dearborn Amtrak Station Gets High Green

April 28, 2014

Work is moving again on building a new intermodal station in Dearborn, Mich., that Amtrak will use for its Wolverine Service trains.

The Dearborn city council last week approved adding $185,000 to its contract with Neumann Smith, which is providing architect and engineer services for the facility, which is expected to cost $2.7 million.

“The project was originally scheduled for completion in August 2013,” Council President Susan Dabaja said. “Due to circumstances beyond the control of the design team or the City of Dearborn, the construction has been delayed for one year.”

The additional money was requested by the Economic and Community Development Department to cover extended construction administration services as a result of the delay.

The construction timeline was delayed for a year in part because of the sale of the railroad right-of-way to Amtrak. Another delay occurred when the design concept for a movable platform was not approved until this spring.

The Dearborn Council also agreed to extend the lease with Amtrak for the building and parking lot at the rear of the police and court buildings at the same rate of $31,000 per year.

“Amtrak has leased those facilities since 1978,” Dabja said. The previously approved lease extensions expired on April 1.

The city agreed to Amtrak’s request to extend the lease on a month-to-month basis not to extend a year, pending the construction of the new train station and prorated to reflect the number of months necessary for Amtrak to move into the new train station facility.

City officials are optimistic that the new station will be completed in the next few months. The Federal Railroad Administration is helping to fund the new facility, which will be down as the Dearborn Intermodal Passenger Rail Facility.

Niagara Falls Getting new Amtrak Station

April 28, 2014

Amtrak trains serving Niagara Falls, N.Y., will soon be getting a new station after the city council voted to award a $22.7 million construction contract

The new transportation center will service Amtrak’s New York-Toronto Maple Leaf and serve as the eastern anchor of the Empire Corridor.

The facility will include facilities for customs and immigration officials.

“This is something moving forward that we need to have in place,” said Councilman Andrew Touma.

“We get 8 million visitors a year and we need to give them options and we need to give them quality options.”

Construction is expected to get underway in May. The project will be completed in three phases, and cost a total of $40 million.

I Finally Hit One Out of the Park

April 27, 2014
This was the appetizer for the main course that I was served on Saturday afternoon. Keep reading and looking.

This was the appetizer for the main course that I was served on Saturday afternoon. Keep reading and looking.

When baseball players are mired in a deep batting slump, they must keep focused.

They take extra batting practice and field extra balls. But what do veteran railfan photographers do? They keep going trackside, keep pressing the shutter release button and hope that they get a break.

Of course, it doesn’t help to be sitting on the bench and seeing the “stars” of such sites as Railpictures.net and Trainorders.com hit pitch after pitch out of the park when you can’t make it to first base.

And so it has been for me this year. I’ve been thrown a lot of curve balls that I swung at and missed.

First, there was the Saturday back in early January after one of the East’s many snow and ice storms. Amtrak No. 49 was running about eight hours late with Phase III livery No. 822 on the lead.

I wasn’t working that day and there was brilliant sunshine.  I was set up with good lighting just west of the Grand River in Painesville.

The pitch came sailing toward the plate. It was an eastbound CSX freight with an attractive lash-up. I worked it for a base on balls.

But no sooner had I gotten to first, No. 49 came rushing past on the other track and I missed the shot.

I had gotten picked off and went back to the dugout without having scored.

In March, we were on our way from back from Disney World about the Silver Meteor. To our surprise the Meteor came into the Orlando station with P42 No. 145, the Phase III heritage unit, as the second unit.

Alas, we were loaded down with luggage and my camera was packed away. The best shot I was able to get was from on board the train from our Viewliner sleeper room.

I would get another turn at the plate when we stopped in Jacksonville. But Amtrak threw me a high, hard one.

No. 145 was obstructed by the platform canopy. I call this getting on base by an error then getting stranded.

A few weeks ago, Jeff Troutman and I were all set to get the Norfolk & Western heritage unit at Bedford on a westbound.

As I stood in the batter’s box, an eastbound intermodal came creeping past. And I do mean creeping.

I could see the tail end of the intermodal coming, but I also could hear the approaching westbound.

The best I could do was to “see” the NS 8103 between the trailers of the eastbound. Finally, the eastbound cleared and I got a going away shot of the N&W unit.

I would score this getting to second base and then getting hit by a batted ball in fair territory. I trudged back to the dugout.

On Saturday morning, I got a phone call from Craig Sanders. Think my luck has been bad? He hasn’t photographed an NS heritage unit on the lead since last October. Talk about a slump.

With his encouragement in the form of letting me know that the Southern Railway heritage unit was leading the 22K eastward, I kept watching Heritageunits.com and Trainorders.com.

The 22K takes the former Nickel Plate Road to Buffalo and my house is just a few minutes away. It was my weekend off, the skies were blue and things seemed to be setting up in my favor. Over in Cleveland guys were hitting the ball out of the park like the wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field.

I camped out by the single track NKP for two hours. No way was I going to miss this one. The guy in the batting order ahead of me got on base when the 206 came past with a BNSF unit leading.

It was my turn to step into the box. And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go. And now the air is shattered by the force of Edward’s blow.

Casey might have struck out, but it felt good to finally be circling those bases after hitting one out of the park. It’s been a long time and I had almost forgotten what it feels like to score.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Who would have thought getting a pumpkin and a war bonnet would be considered a disappointment?

Who would have thought getting a pumpkin and a war bonnet would be considered a disappointment?

Somewhere on the other side was the locomotive that I *really* wanted to get.

Somewhere on the other side was the locomotive that I *really* wanted to get.

The best that I was able to do was only so-so.

The best that I was able to do was only so-so.

 

Not much to work with here.

Not much to work with here.

 

It's better than nothing, I guess.

It’s better than nothing, I guess.

Just when I thought I was going to get a pitch that I could drive, I see this eastbound coming.

Just when I thought I was going to get a pitch that I could drive, I see this eastbound coming.

Somewhere between those trailers is the N&W heritage locomotive. You'll need to look carefully.

Somewhere between those trailers is the N&W heritage locomotive. You’ll need to look carefully.

It is almost in clear sight.

It is almost in clear sight.

The best I was able to do in this at bat. At least it wasn't trailing. Then it would truly be failure.

The best I was able to do in this at bat. At least it wasn’t trailing. Then it would truly be failure.

It might be. It could be.

It might be. It could be.

It is! A  home run!

It is! A home run!

A Bit of Springtime Green in Cleveland

April 27, 2014

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On a cool but sunny Saturday spring morning, Norfolk Southern train 22K had the Southern Railway heritage unit on the lead.

I managed to catch it twice as it passed through Greater Cleveland, then broke off the chase to head back south and catch the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society circle trip out near Wingfoot Lake in Suffield. The top photo shows No. 8099 with the 22K as taken from the Front Street bridge in Berea.

I debated about going to the “normal” parking lot spot for a slightly better light angle, but elected to head up on the bridge for a change.

I’m glad that I did because a CSX multi-level train had stopped and was blocking the parking lot view.

I had plenty of time to reach the next location at the popular overlook just south of downtown Cleveland since the 22K made a fuel stop.

Running just ahead of the 22K was train 206 with a BNSF leader.

Finally, I present three views of the ORHS circle trip on the Wingfoot Lake causeway. Note the Goodyear airship hanger in the middle photo.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

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Finding a Consolation Prize in Kent

April 26, 2014
As the Q353 made its way through downtown Kent, a couple in kayaks working their way down the Cuyahoga River. One of them is in the middle of the river while the other is against the bank just below the lead locomotive's nose.

As the Q353 made its way through downtown Kent, a couple in kayaks working their way down the Cuyahoga River. One of them is in the middle of the river while the other is against the bank just below the lead locomotive’s nose.

It had been one of those frustrating days that we all have while out trackside hoping to land an unusual catch in front of our camera.

Fan reports online indicated that two Norfolk Southern heritage units were on the point of trains that would pass through Northeast Ohio.

The Lehigh Valley H unit was leading a westbound train of empty tank cars while the Interstate unit was leading a coal train bound for North Carolina.

I’ve photographed the Lehigh Valley unit once, but it was trailing. I’ve never seen the Interstate unit.

I headed to Alliance with visions of a double heritage unit sighting dancing in my head. What a great day this might be.

Catching the Interstate unit would be a long shot, but maybe I would get lucky. I didn’t.

The empty tanker train got to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh by noon, but it sat there for several hours before a crew came out to move it further west.

At about 3:30 p.m., I got a call from Roger Durfee informing me that the crew for the tanker train would not go on duty until just after 4:30. By the time the Lehigh Valley unit got to Alliance it would be dark or nearly dark.

But Roger said he had seen a Q379 on CSX that had an interesting motive power consist that included an NS leader. Behind it was a K train that also had an NS leader.

So I headed for Kent. I heard the IO dispatcher and a passing train crew talking about the Q379 picking up 10 cars at Lordstown. Nothing was said about the K train.

I never did see the Q379 or that K train. Not only had I struck out on the NS heritage units, I had struck out on the CSX consolation prizes.

But all was not lost. As a Q353 manifest freight made its way through downtown Kent, I spotted a couple in kayaks in the Cuyahoga River.

After the train had passed, they would make their way down the river toward the Main Street bridge.

Apparently the object of what they were doing was to work the rapids for a while and then move down the river to work some more rapids.

I enjoyed photographing them and having something different to capture. So many of the trains that we photograph are routine and we come away with some rather ordinary shots. It was nice to have something a little different to work with.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The kayaks are still working this spot of the river as the rear of the train approaches.

The kayaks are still working this spot of the river as the rear of the train approaches.

Bringing up the EOT on the Q353 was this empty vessel that conveys heavy high and wide loads.

Bringing up the EOT on the Q353 was this empty vessel that conveys heavy high and wide loads.

The couple in the kayaks have moved down to the vicinity of the Main Street bridge. After pausing along the bank, they are read to work some more rapids.

The couple in the kayaks have moved down to the vicinity of the Main Street bridge. After pausing along the bank, they are read to work some more rapids.

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