Archive for May, 2014

NS and CSX for Threeeeeeee

May 31, 2014

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With Norfolk Southern and CSX each having double track mainline, there is the potential for four trains to be moving simultaneously through the Berea interlocking.

I’ve never seen four trains at the same time in Berea, but on occasion I’ve seen three. One of those occasions occurred on a recent Sunday when a pair of CSX intermodal trains plus an eastbound NS  auto rack train were passing through at the same time.

Seeing that the westbound CSX train had a number of “bare tables,” I spotted an opportunity to capture all three trains in the same image. As luck would have it, a “bare table” came along just when I needed it. I even managed to get BE tower in the frame as well.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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I Almost Had It

May 31, 2014

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I was sitting at Berea on a Sunday afternoon just chilling out and watching some trains. An eastbound Norfolk Southern coal train came rumbling into the plant. The second of the three units looked different.

As it neared BE tower I could see that it was a Santa Fe Warbonnet. The red has badly faded and the silver doesn’t gleam like it once did. But a Warbonnet is a Warbonnet. I don’t see them very often.

I scrambled to get out of my car and into position to get a side shot. The open area immediately east of BE tower would work best because it was right in front of me.

As I got into position I noticed a fast-approach eastbound CSX stack train. It was going to be close.

I snapped the first shot and moved the camera slightly to the right to frame the full side view of the Warbonnet.

Even before looking at the second image  you probably already figured out what happened next. The CSX train “won” the race. We’ve all had those days at Berea.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

 

Orrville Depot Damaged in Car Crash

May 21, 2014
The west wall of the Orrville Union Depot Museum was shattered by a colliding car on 5/20/2014. The baggage cart was pushed in front of the crash site after to prevent entry.

The west wall of the Orrville Union Depot Museum was shattered by a colliding car on 5/20/2014. The baggage cart was pushed in front of the crash site after to prevent entry.

Orrville School System has conducted tours of the Orrville Historic District for third grade students for several years.

It is a walking history lesson for the students. The district is comprised of the Smith Orr homestead, the Orrville History Museum and the Orrville Union Depot Museum. All are related to the early founders of Orrville and the Pennsylvania Railroad.

On Tuesday May 20, approximately 120 students took the history tour. They were in groups of about 12 students who rotated from one site to the next.

Just before noon the last group was inside the Orrville Union Depot Museum, the home of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society. ORHS member Roger Scott had just finished talking about the artifacts in a large wood and glass showcase in the former depot waiting room.

A few seconds after they moved to another display a large crash filled the room with a loud bang. A car had backed into the west depot wall, caving it in and spreading debris inside.

The large showcase was toppled and shoved several feet into the room. Shattered glass was everywhere. Roger and the students were still in the waiting room, but luckily were no longer in front of the toppled showcase. Thankfully, no one had been injured.

The driver of the car had been escorting the student groups to and from the depot. Since it was the last group of the morning, he climbed into his car to leave. As he was backing from his parking spot, his foot slipped off the brake pedal and onto the accelerator. This caused his car to careen into the depot wall.

When you have a trackside historic museum, you are always concerned about a derailed train coming through the wall. It happened to the Wooster depot by a Conrail freight train after it had been painted for restoration as a museum by a local history group. That depot was a total loss.

Today’s crash was much less serious than that, but could have caused many injuries. It was a blessing that it did not.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

Bricks from the depot's west wall litter the floor of the main waiting room after the crash.

Bricks from the depot’s west wall litter the floor of the main waiting room after the crash.

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Railroad artifact debris fills the toppled showcase.

Railroad artifact debris fills the toppled showcase.

Crossing Tulip Trestle on the Indiana Rail Road

May 20, 2014
The excursion train is about ready for boarding.

The excursion train is about ready for boarding.

Last Friday I had the opportunity to ride a VIP train to the famed Tulip Trestle on the Indiana Rail Road. The bridge is 2,295 feet in length and 157 feet above the ground at its highest point, making it one of the largest such railroad structures in the United States.

INRD operated the train for Indiana University Press, which used the occasion to honor its authors, friends and the contributions of recent retirees from the Press.

The guest of honor was the founding series editor for the Railroads Past and Present series, George M. Smerk.

I was invited because IU Press has published two of my books and I’ve reviewed manuscripts and proposals for the Press.

Smerk is a retired professor at Indiana University who has been a tireless advocate of rail transportation. He continues to be a co-editor of the railroad book series and to write a column for Railfan and Railroad on mass transit topics.

H. Roger Grant, a history professor at Clemson University as well as a long-time Akron Railroad Club member, recently was named as co-editor of the railroad book series.

Grant, a former professor at the University of Akron, has published numerous railroad history books.

We boarded the four-car train in Bloomington at a crossing on the IU campus. All of the cars were of Santa Fe heritage and still look much the same as they did in their Santa Fe days.

Included in the consist was Santa Fe business car No. 56, which is now owned by Thomas G. Hoback and his wife. Hoback, the president and CEO of the INRD, was one of the railroad’s founders in 1986.

Also in the consist was ex-Santa Fe lounge car 1389 and coach 2820. Both had their original interiors although No. 2820 now has former Amtrak coach seats.

The train traveled 20 miles west to Tulip Trestle, located in Greene County near Solsberry. It was built in 1905-1906 by the Indianapolis Southern with funding from the Illinois Central Railroad. The IC took over the Indianapolis Southern in 1911.

The route, which linked Indianapolis and Effingham, Ill., was known as the “hi and dry” because of its many bridges and fills.

Hoback, a former coal marketing executive at the IC, was part of an investor group that purchased 110 miles of the line in 1986 from the Illinois Central Gulf.

The primary purpose of the line was to haul coal to a power plant in Indianapolis, but the route had and continues to have some merchandise freight.

The IU Press excursion ambled along at a leisurely pace as passengers feasted on cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

I positioned myself on the observation platform of AT&SF No. 56. The train had a locomotive at each end, which kept me from getting the view and images I had hoped to get from the rear of No. 56 as the train crossed Tulip Trestle. Nonetheless, the view still was spectacular and the hospitality was first rate.

Soon we were crossing the Tulip Trestle, a structure that I had seen once from the ground and it located in a remote location. It spans a broad valley that includes Richland Creek.

There has been at least one public excursion over the trestle during INRD ownership. That trip was pulled by Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 587. Some have ridden across the trestle on the annual Santa Claus trains operated by INRD.

After crossing the trestle, the train halted, the head-end crew changed ends and it was back across again. On the second crossing of the trestle, I stood at an open Dutch door.

All too soon we were back in Bloomington. It had been an impressive trip that I was fortunate to have been invited to ride.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

George Smerk (center to the right of the man with the white striped shirt) enjoys the excursion to Tulip Trestle aboard Santa Fe lounge car 1389.

George Smerk (center to the right of the man with the white striped shirt) enjoys the excursion to Tulip Trestle aboard Santa Fe lounge car 1389.

Rolling along through the Southern Indiana countryside, which can be rugged in these parts.

Rolling along through the Southern Indiana countryside, which can be rugged in these parts.

Approaching Tulip Trestle from the east end. At the time of its construction, it was the third largest bridge of its type in the world.

Approaching Tulip Trestle from the east end. At the time of its construction, it was the third largest bridge of its type in the world.

The panoramic view. Tulip trestle cost $246,504 to build in the early 20th century. The laborers were paid 30 cents an hour. A number of them were killed during construction, but no definitive number has been identified.

The panoramic view. Tulip trestle cost $246,504 to build in the early 20th century. The laborers were paid 30 cents an hour. A number of them were killed during construction, but no definitive number has been identified.

Yes, it's a long ways down, 157 feet at one point. The view was taken from the observation platform of Santa Fe No. 56.

Yes, it’s a long ways down, 157 feet at one point. The view was taken from the observation platform of Santa Fe No. 56.

You can see through the ties in this image of the ditch lights of GP38 No. 3803 and Santa Fe No. 56.

You can see through the ties in this image of the ditch lights of GP38 No. 3803 and Santa Fe No. 56.

Crossing Richland Creek. Look carefully and you'll see a reflecting of the footing and tower on the side of Santa Fe 56, which gives the illusion of seeing a complete support tower.

Crossing Richland Creek. Look carefully and you’ll see a reflection of the footing and tower on the side of Santa Fe 56, which gives the illusion of seeing a complete support tower.

The west end of the trestle is in sight. The bridge does not have a walkway at track level, but that hasn't stopped some from walking out onto it.

The west end of the trestle is in sight. The bridge does not have a walkway at track level, but that hasn’t stopped some from walking out onto it.

Looking out onto the trestle from the west side from the observation platform of Santa Fe No. 56. Some sources say the bridge is 2,307 feet in length.

Looking out onto the trestle from the west side from the observation platform of Santa Fe No. 56. Some sources say the bridge is 2,307 feet in length.

A ground-level view at the west end on the fireman's side out toward the trestle.

A ground-level view at the west end on the fireman’s side out toward the trestle.

Late afternoon lighting casts shadows on the north side of the trestle. The structure has 38 upright steel structures, most of which are in pairs.

Late afternoon lighting casts shadows on the north side of the trestle. The structure has 38 upright steel structures, most of which are in pairs.

Aside from the installation of two 45-sections in 1916, Tulip Trestle is "as built" in 1906.

Aside from the installation of two 45-sections in 1916, Tulip Trestle is “as built” in 1906.

High-level eats on the trestle.

High-level eats on the trestle.

A passenger views the valley from the lounge car as the excursion train crosses back over Tulip Trestle en route back to Bloomington.

A passenger views the valley from the lounge car as the excursion train crosses back over Tulip Trestle en route back to Bloomington.

 

Biden Visits Cleveland to Plug Transportation Bill

May 20, 2014

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s shops facility served as the backdrop for a visit by Vice President Joe Biden last week to make a pitch for transit rail and the need to bolster the nation’s transportation infrastructure.

Biden spoke at the RTA’s central rail complex and called for Congress to pass the Obama administration’s $302 billion transportation bill.

The current law, known as MAP-21, expires Sept. 30, but the federal Highway Trust Fund, which pays for highway and transit projects across the nation, is expected to run out of money before that.

“If our Congress doesn’t act soon, the funding that pays for our transportation projects will run out,” Biden said. “The Department of Transportation won’t have a dime to go toward more than 112,000 projects happening around the country. Nearly 700,000 good jobs would be at risk. And some states are already slowing down projects because they’re anticipating this inaction.”

Biden also highlighted federal investment in the improvement and renewal of transit-rail infrastructure in RTA facilities.

This includes $12.5 million in federal funding for a new RTA station for the Red Line in Little Italy-University Circle and $10.5 million to rebuild the Red Line and bus transfer facility at the University-Cedar station, which RTA said is its busiest east side bus terminal.

A $20 million federal grant was also awarded for the construction of a bus transfer facility in Kent and $98 million in federal funding has helped CSX upgrade its tracks through Ohio and other states as part of the development of the railroad’s National Gateway project.

Federal funding has also been used to launch construction of a streetcar line under development in Cincinnati.

Supporting Biden was Midwest High Speed Rail Association Executive Director Richard Harnish.

“Investment in upgrading railroads is a huge generator of jobs and revenue — so it’s a linchpin of economic recovery in Ohio and all across the region,” Harnish said. Harnish called for daylight Amtrak service from Cleveland to Chicago and New York City.

Currently, Amtrak offers only only late-night service at Cleveland, which he said limits its usefulness for business and recreational travel.

“The fact is, the Midwest urgently needs daylight trains to connect local economies and bring people together,” he said. “Midwestern cities depend on fast, convenient and affordable rail service to drive business.”

Supporters Rally Around Pennsylvania Tourist RR

May 20, 2014

Despite problems involving a volunteer who allegedly stole nearly $100,000 from the Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern Railroad, the Kempton, Pa., organization has also found that it has a loyal cadre of supporters who say they will continue to ride the trains.

Some have said they plan to ride this summer others want to help out the railroad financially.
“The railroad is still going to be there,” said President Oliver Blatt. “We’re still going to be operating trains and we’re going to recover from this.”

WK&S celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The 2.7-mile line offers a leisurely ride through scenic territory of Berks County in eastern Pennsylvania.

The theft allegations involved former treasurer James Krause, who reportedly left the tourist railroad with only about $15,000 in the bank.

Steam, Early Diesels to be Featured at May 23 Program at the Akron Railroad Club Meeting

May 19, 2014

Akron Railroad Club members will be taking yet another journey to the West and back in time during the program at the May meeting on Friday.

Member Don Woods will be showing two trays of slides that he acquired from Tom Gildersleeve that show vintage images from such western railroads as the Southern Pacific, Denver & Rio Grande Western, Santa Fe and Union Pacific. There will also be images of the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway.

Most of the images are Kodachrome slides taken in the 1950s and earlier. The images feature steam locomotives in action as well as first generation diesels pulling freight and passenger trains in California, Colorado, Kansas and Minnesota.

We’ll get a glimpse of Rail Diesel Cars on the Missabe and doodlebugs on the UP in Kansas.

There will also be some action from the early 1980s of Santa Fe and SP freight, thus giving the show first and second generation Santa Fe Warbonnet action in California on Tehachapi Loop.

The Friday, May 23 ARRC meeting will begin at 8 p.m. with a half-hour business meeting followed by the program at approximately 8:45 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

Some members gather at about 6 p.m. for dinner at Duffy’s Grill, 231 Darrow Road. Following the meeting, members meet at the Eat ‘n Park restaurant at Howe and Main streets in Cuyahoga Falls for a late dinner, dessert or an early breakfast.

Visitors are always welcome at Akron Railroad Club meetings.

Productive Train Chase on Saturday

May 19, 2014

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I ended up chasing the 25V with the Southern and Wabash heritage units on Saturday.

But first I went to Kent where I caught an Iowa, Chicago & Eastern engine, the City of Lansing, leading a CSX train.

I’ve been told that all of the IC&E SD40-2s will have been sold to Genesee & Wyoming by the end of this month so that is now a rare catch.

Then it was off to Brady Lake where I caught the 25V.  My next stop was Berea where I got other trains before the 25V showed up.  One of those trains had a Union Pacific/Chicago & North Western patch job in the consist.

After getting the 25V again I had a decision to make. My plan was to wait for the Z4R oil train with the Penn Central heritage unit leading.

However, that train had been sitting in Toledo all afternoon – it was now 4 p.m. – and it didn’t look like it would get moving anytime soon.

I was told the 25V would change crews at Bellevue so that would be a good opportunity to catch it a few more times. So, off to Bellevue I went.

After arriving at Kimball, I discovered that I had missed the Penn Central unit by 15 minutes, such are the breaks.

Well, I waited and waited, and waited some more.  Finally, an ethanol train came after an hour later but no 25V.  I decided to head into Bellevue and at least see some moving trains.

I went back to the Route 4 overpass for some more activity and finally the 25V arrived.

I managed to get it by the old Pennsylvania Railroad tower and again at Route 18 west of town with the sun finally making an appearance.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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Amtrak Warns of Delays on CSX in New York State

May 19, 2014

Amtrak is warning of possible delays to its trains operating on CSX in New York State due to track work being performed between Amsterdam and Syracuse.

Trains affected include Maple Leaf trains 63 and 64 and Empire Service trains 280, 281, 283 and 284. Although the eastbound Lake Shore Limited was not listed, it operates through the affected work zone during daylight hours.

The track work is being conducted between May 18 and 31, and between June 15 and 28.

Amtrak Adding Wolverine Service for the Summer

May 19, 2014

Amtrak is adding Sunday and Monday only Wolverine Service trains for the summer while modifying other schedules to accommodate track work in western Michigan.

The schedules are effective between May 19 and Aug. 31. The track work includes the replacement of 44,000 crossties along with signal improvements.

The greatest change involves the westbound Blue Water from Port Huron to Chicago. No. 365 will be departing Port Huron an hour earlier. The schedule of the eastbound Blue Water will not be affected.

The summer schedule for No. 365 has it departing Port Huron at 5:20 a.m. and arriving in Chicago at 10:55 a.m. Times at intermediate station will be approximately one hour earlier.

The schedule shows an additional Wolverine Service trip on Sundays along with an additional westbound trip on Mondays.

Eastbound daily Wolverine Service trains will depart Chicago at 7 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 6 p.m. Westbound daily Wolverine Service trains will depart Pontiac, Mich., at 5 a.m. and 5:40 p.m. A third daily train will depart Pontiac at 2:18 p.m., but will not operate on Sunday.

Sunday-only service from Chicago to Pontiac will depart at 12:50 p.m. while the Sunday-only train from Pontiac will leave at 10:35 a.m.

A Monday-only train to Chicago will depart from Dearborn at 3:38 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 8:04 a.m.

Some Wolverine Service schedule exceptions will be in place for the Memorial Day weekend. They are as follows:

  • Train 349 will not operate on May 19 and 26, but will operate on May 27.
  • Train 352 will not operate on May 25, but will operate on May 26.
  • Train 353 will not operate on May 25, but will operate on May 26.
  • Train 354 terminates in Pontiac on May 25, and terminates in Detroit on May 26.
  • Train 359 will operate on May 25, but will not operate on May 26.

For detailed schedules, click on the link below.

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=AM_Alert_C&pagename=am/AM_Alert_C/Alerts_Popup&cid=1251626113243