Archive for January, 2015

After the Conrail-Penn Central ‘Breakup’

January 30, 2015
A zoom in shot showing 8098 and the 195 signal bridge.

A zoom in shot showing 8098 and the 195 signal bridge.

Due to work obligations I wasn’t able to get the Conrail/Penn Central heritage duo together when they returned to Cleveland on Wednesday, but I did manage to catch them both after they were separated.

First it was the 27N with the Conrail H unit now doing its solo gig at Lewis Road in Olmsted Falls passing under the 195 signal bridge.

Then it was back over to Rockport Yard in Cleveland to photograph the sitting duck PC unit. Prior to the 27N showing up, the 15N headed west with three BNSF units.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Closer view of Big Blue.

Closer view of Big Blue.

Roster view of the 1073.

Roster view of the 1073.

PC unit with 14N and the Rockport yard office in the background. Note CR coil car behind the 1073 that is still in a patched PC green.

PC unit with 14N and the Rockport yard office in the background. Note CR coil car behind the 1073 that is still in a patched PC green.

It is one busy railroad at Lewis Road.

It is one busy railroad at Lewis Road.

The 15N with the three BNSF units heads west.

The 15N with the three BNSF units heads west.

 

 

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Amtrak’s Hoosier State Gets 60-Day Extension

January 30, 2015

Amtrak’s Hoosier State has received a 60-day lease on life. The quad-weekly Chicago-Indianapolis train was to end after its contract expired on Saturday although Amtrak and Indiana Department of Transportation officials had hinted that it would continue rolling.

The two parties announced on Friday that they have agreed to continue negotiating a long-term contract whereby Amtrak will continue to operate the train but an INDOT contractor would provide some services.

“INDOT is negotiating renewal of the service on behalf of the state, Beech Grove, Crawfordsville, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Rensselaer, Tippecanoe County and West Lafayette,” the agency said in a news release.

Those communities had agreed in 2013 to fund the Hoosier State through early 2014.

“In recent weeks we have made much progress on a long-term deal,” said INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield, adding that he expected the deal to be finished before the extension is exhausted on April 1.

The survival of the Hoosier State was cast into doubt after Congress voted in 2008 to require states to absorb most of the funding of Amtrak trains with routes shorter than 750 miles.

The change affected 19 states and all but Indiana have found funding solutions.

Initially, INDOT and its seven local government partners agreed to pay Amtrak $2.7 million to keep the Hoosier State rolling for a year with a clause that the deal could be extended through Jan. 31, 2014.

Last June INDOT said that a private company, Corridor Capital, would take over the Hoosier State on Oct. 1, but the parties involved were unable to negotiate a contract.

Iowa Pacific, which had responded to INDOT’s request for proposals in early 2014, has been discussed as providing marketing and onboard service for the Hoosier State.

It is not clear if the train will continue to operate with Amtrak equipment, but it appears likely to continue to have Amtrak operating personnel.

The Hoosier State operates on days that the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal does not operate between Indianapolis and Chicago. Both trains serve the same stations.

All of the communities served by the Hoosier State except Dyer have been helping to fund it for the past year.

CSX To Spend $2.5B in 2015 Capital Projects

January 30, 2015

CSX said that it plans to spend $2.5 billion in capital improvement projects in 2015 that it said will result in increased efficiency over its 21,000-mile network.

In particular, CSX will reopen a locomotive service facility in Buffalo, N.Y., and construct an intermodal terminal in Pittsburgh that will be part of the railroad’s National Gateway Project.

As part of the latter, CSX will also launch work on starting the enlargement of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel in Washington D.C., so that double-stacked container trains can use it.

Other highlights of the CSX capital budget for 2015 include:

  • Deployment of about 3 million tons of ballast.
  • Replacement of about 3.2 million crossties.
  • Replacing 500 miles of rail and resurfacing an additional 5,300 miles.
  • Repairing about 200 bridges.
  • The purchase and delivery of 200 General Electric ES44AH locomotives.
  • Rebuilding about 95 locomotives.
  • Rebuilding or purchasing about 3,300 railcars.
  • The purchase of 1,000 new containers.
  • Increasing clearances over 425 new miles to accommodate double-stack container trains..
  • Investing $105 million in technology enhancements.

Amtrak to Help Fund Chicago Station Project

January 30, 2015

Amtrak will pony up $12 million toward rehabilitating Chicago Union Station. As the owner of the station, Amtrak will work with the City of Chicago, the Illinois Department of Transportation, commuter rail agency Metra and the federal government.

“By bringing Union Station into the 21st century, we will bring more economic opportunities to residents all throughout the City of Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “A modern transit system is essential to a thriving economy for Chicago. With this investment in the future of Union Station we will provide a more reliable link between downtown and our neighborhoods, connecting residents to work and keeping Chicago on the move.”

Union Station is America’s third busiest rail terminal with about 120,000 passengers using it daily.

Ridership increased on both Amtrak and Metra has resulted in the facility reaching its maximum capacity, resulting in overcrowded waiting areas and platforms.

Amtrak said that its funding will be used to createcapacity improvements that will result in a more comfortable atmosphere for riders.

This will include a larger passenger concourse, safety improvements, and enhancing temperature controls throughout the terminal.

The Union Station renovation project will be supported by several other projects already underway to connect Amtrak, Metra, and the Chicago Transit Authority with downtown destinations.

 

 

Bill Introduced in Indiana Senate Would Fine Railroads for Excessive Grade Crossing Blocking

January 30, 2015

A bill has been introduced in the Indiana Senate that would fine railroads for excessive blocking of highway grade crossings.

Senate Bill 27 would impose civil penalties on railroads for obstructions of grade crossings that exceed 10 minutes with fines imposed on a sliding scale tied to how long the crossing was blocked.

The bill also “provides that the civil penalties are in addition to any judgments for infractions.”

The bi-partisan proposal was submitted by Sen. Dennis Kruse and Sen. Carlin Yoder, and co-authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman, Sen. Earline Rogers, and Sen. Frank Mrvan.

The bill provides for fines up to $500 for a blockage up to 20 minutes, fines up to $700 for a blockage up to 25 minutes, fines up to $900 for a blockage up to 30 minutes, and fines up to $1,000 for a blockage more than 30 minutes, plus an additional $500 for each five minute increment beyond that.

At the request of organized labor, the bill was revised so that the fines are levied against railroad companies and not crew members of the offending trains.

That change came after testimony from union member railroad workers. As originally written, the bill would have imposed fines on railroad crew members.

Saving a ‘Condemned’ Image from Oblivion

January 30, 2015

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It was a cloudy day on June 17, 1977, just before the rain came. I was in Bangor, Maine, to photograph the Bangor & Aroostook.

The top image is a scan of the original slide. It was condemned to never be shown. BAR 42 (an EMD F-3A) looked as grubby as the day surrounding it.

In the middle image, I experimented by using Adobe Lightroom 5 to make the image black and white.

I clicked on the “Black and White” treatment under Development “Basic.” After trying to get a good black and white image, I edited it in Photoshop Elements 11 to tweak it and size it for the Akron Railroad Club blog. I liked what I saw.

Thankfully, I had not sized the original image in Photoshop Elements 11, so I went back to Lightroom 5 to get the image.

Because the image was now black and white and the original was from a color slide, I took the original image and went to “Basic” treatment “Color” and clicked it.

To my surprise, making the image look good in black and white had given me a good color image also (bottom image).

The new color image isn’t perfect, but it certainly looks a lot better than the original slide.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

 

 

NS Crude Oil Train Uses ex-PRR Mainline

January 30, 2015

After months of speculation on railfan chat lists, the first Norfolk Southern train used the upgraded Fort Wayne Line this week between Tolleston, Ind., (Gary) and Alliance.

The Z6X was led by Canadian Pacific 8946 and 9535. The units were reported to have been working hard up Big Run near Wooster about 11 p.m. on Wednesday night.

The train had a load of crude oil and used a pusher unit from Mace to Canton.

At Alliance, the train continued down the single track Cleveland Line, which alleviated the need to add an NS unit for the cab signal territory on the Fort Wayne Line east of Alliance.

A field report said the train operated at 25 mph between Lima and Dunkirk and then dropped down to 10 mph. at CP Kirk.

The railfan filing the report said he heard a Chicago, Ft. Wayne & Eastern crew near Lima on the radio say that it was supposed to be 40 mph all the way to Colsan now.

The Fort Wayne Line is owned by CSX west of Crestline, but leased to the CF&E. The route was formerly the mainline of the Pennsylvania Railroad between Chicago and Pittsburgh.

 

 

Everett RR Expansion to Benefit Excursions

January 30, 2015

The Everett Railroad is planning a $1 million expansion that will benefit its excursion train service.

The railroad is expanding along Loop Road near Hollidaysburg, Pa. Plans are to build structures for public excursions.

The Everett is a 23-mile Class III railroad serving Blair County. Its uses former Pennsylvania Railroad tracks passing through Duncansville, Hollidaysburg, Roaring Spring, Martinsburg and Claysburg. It connects with the Norfolk Southern.

The company website says that the excursions pass by “the farmlands of Morrisons Cove, historic Roaring Spring, and along the banks of the Juniata River.”

Excursions operate throughout the year and include fall foliage specials and Santa trains. The trains are pulled by one or more of the three diesel locomotives that are used in regular freight service.

Coaches include three former Delaware Lackawanna & Western multiple-unit cars owned by the Horseshoe Curve Chapter of the National Railway Historic Society.

Major commodities handled in freight service include grain and feed ingredients, pulp, paper, lumber, industrial raw materials and manufactured goods.

Cleveland RTA Rail Ridership Fell in 2014

January 29, 2015

Although overall ridership was up, Cleveland RTA reported on Thursday that its rail ridership fell in 2014 by 3.5 percent.

The transit agency blamed construction-related interruptions of service last summer for the drop in rail patronage.

RTA had total ridership of 49.25 million on its buses, trains and other services.

The news release posted on the RTA website that announced the 2014 ridership figures did not specify how many rail passengers that RTA carried in 2014.

Among the construction projects that interrupted rail service was work on a new station on the Red Line in Little Italy and the completion of work on a new station on Cedar Road near University Circle and Case Western Reserve University.

The increase in overall ridership across the RTA system was the fourth consecutive year of patronage growth.

December’s overall ridership rose 8 percent, the largest monthly increase in four years, agency officials said. Leading the increase was a 10 percent rise in bus and HealthLine trips.

Cleveland RTA said its ridership goal for 2015 is 51.25 million trips, which would represent a 2.5 percent increase over 2014.

Conrail, PC H Units Split up in Cleveland

January 29, 2015

The pairing of the Conrail and Penn Central heritage locomotives of Norfolk Southern came to an unceremonious end on Wednesday afternoon in Rockport Yard in Cleveland.

The duo came into town around 1 p.m. leading the 27N, an auto rack train bound for Fairlane Yard near Amherst.

At Rockport, the NS 1073 (Penn Central) and NS 1011 were removed and the 27N left town behind only the NS 8098 (Conrail).

Online reports indicate that a small number of fans were gathered in Berea to witness the second coming of the Conrail/Penn Central duo but had to settle for just Conrail.

The Conrail and PC pair had emerged last Sunday from Chicago leading the 24M, an intermodal train bound for Baltimore.

After arriving there on Monday, the pair along with NS 1011 were cut off and subsequently assigned to the 33A, which operated to Enola Yard near Harrisburg, Pa.

That brought them to their last assignment together, the 27N.