Archive for April, 2015

Northeast Ohio Train Day Activities Set for May 9

April 30, 2015

A full slate of activities, including equipment displays, art displays and model railroad layouts, will highlight the May 9 Northeast Ohio Train Day.

Carrying the theme “a day of celebrating railroads past, present and future,” the activities will be spread over venues in Cleveland, Sebring and Alliance.

The event is part of the Amtrak Train Days national event being celebrated across the country.

At the Cleveland Amtrak Station (200 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway), there will be displays of railroad freight equipment from CSX, Norfolk Southern and the Cleveland Harbor Belt.

Displays inside the station will include Amtrak travel information and timetables along with book authors and other displays of railroadiana.

Also having displays will be All Aboard Ohio, the National Association of Railroad Passengers and the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.

At the former Cleveland Union Terminal, now known as Tower City Center, there will be activities for children, tours of the onetime train station and views from the observation deck ($5).

The Midwest Railway Preservation Society will host a night photo session on Saturday (May 9) at the former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse at 2800 W. Third St. in Cleveland.

The photo session will be held from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.  Admission is $20 in advance and $25 at the gate.

The Sebring Model Railroad Club, 135 E. Vermont, will have an open house at its layout housed in the former Pennsylvania Railroad station.

Train watching and other activities are planned for the Alliance Amtrak Station at 820 E. Main St.

For additional info contact David Mangold at davemangold@hotmail.com or at atdcleveland@neo.rr.com. A website devoted to Northeast Ohio Train Day has been established at www.neotraindayCleveland.com

To find out about other train day events, visit the Amtrak Trains Days website at: www.amtraktraindays.com

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N&W 611 Excursion Train Consist Announced

April 30, 2015

The consist that Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 will pull on May 30 will have 18 coaches and first class cars representing an array of railroad heritages.

The manifest will include cars from eight railroads, including Norfolk & Western, Great Northern, New York Central, Chesapeake & Ohio, Southern Railway, Florida East Coast, Seaboard Air Line and the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The front half of the train will have eight Tuscan-red Norfolk Southern coaches rebuilt in the past four years for excursion service.

Then will come two Watauga Valley National Railway Historical Society coaches, one an N&W-painted car.

Following those will be six first-class cars, including a full-length ex-Great Northern dome, two standard domes and ex-Seaboard Air Line lounge Hollywood Beach.

Three original N&W cars, including Watauga coach No. 539 in original lettering and colors and NS 28 and 29 in NS lettering and colors, will be in the consist.

Former New York Central tavern-lounge No. 43, and Southern Railway sleeper-lounge Crescent Harbor are among the first class cars.

The tool car that the 611 carried on excursions from 1982 to 1994, the Roanoke Chapter’s Norfolk & Western mail-storage car No. 1407 and a merchandise car, Paul Revere, will round out the consist.

Preston Claytor of the Virginia Museum of Transportation, which owns the 611, said that five suites will be available for four people – three drawing rooms on the Crescent Harbor and two on the Hollywood Beach with the partition removed.

Excursion tickets went on sale Monday to donors of more than $611 to the restoration effort. Public sales begin May 6 at www.fireup611.org.

The streamlined 1950 Roanoke-built Class J is nearing completion of its restoration at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C.

Painting of the locomotive began this week, and it should be attached to its tender soon. The 611 will return to its home in Roanoke, Va., on May 30.

NS Reports Decline in 1st Quarter Net Income

April 30, 2015

A drop in coal revenue was instrumental in a 16 percent drop in net income for Norfolk Southern during the first quarter of 2015.

The railroad announced this week that its operating ratio – which shows the operating expenses as a percentage of revenue – rose from 75.2 percent to 76.4 percent compared with the same quarter in 2014.

Net income for the quarter was $310 million compared with $368 million during the same period of 2014. Diluted earnings per share were $1 compared with $1.17 per diluted share in first-quarter 2014.

NS said its coal revenues were $455 million, a 16 percent drop from the first quarter of 2014.

The railroad blamed a weak global export market and fewer shipments of coal utilities for the drop in volume.

“Our first-quarter results reflected weaknesses in our coal markets along with a slowdown in network velocity in part caused by severe winter weather that impacted both our expenses and our volumes,” said NS CEO Wick Moorman. “Looking ahead, while the market uncertainties remain, the resources that we are deploying are driving improved network performance, and we expect our service levels will be significantly higher in the second half.”

Railway operating revenues were $2.6 billion, 5 percent lower than the first quarter of 2014. NS attributed that to lower fuel surcharge revenues in each of its three commodity groups, lower coal volumes and lower average revenue per unit related to the mix of business

Total volume increased by 2 percent or about 40,000 units, reflecting gains in intermodal and merchandise traffic.

Railway operating expenses declined 3 percent to $2 billion, primarily due to lower fuel costs, compared with the same period of 2014.

Income from railway operations was $606 million, 9 percent lower than the first quarter of 2014.

Some Conrail Heritage and Some Spring

April 29, 2015
The Conrail heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern leads an eastbound intermodal train through Bedford, Ohio, on April 27, 2015.

The Conrail heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern leads an eastbound intermodal train through Bedford, Ohio, on April 27, 2015.

It has become something of a tradition. On the afternoon of the April meeting of the Akron Railroad Club I swing by the Bedford Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks to catch some Norfolk Southern action on the Cleveland Line as well as make some photographs that show trains and spring.

Last Friday, I spent just over an hour there. Rail traffic was good and the trees were starting to bud. However, they were not in full bloom as has been the case in the past. Chalk it up to a late spring triggered by the long and tough winter that we had.

Two days later reports made their way into the railfan cyberspace world that the NS Conrail heritage locomotive was leading a 20E intermodal train across Ohio.

It would reach Cleveland in late afternoon so I headed again for Bedford where I knew I would be able to catch the NS 8098 in good side lighting. As had been the case on Friday, the weather was sunny and nice.

I heard the 20E calling a signal shortly after I arrived. It would be held briefly at CP 114 for a westbound crude oil tanker train that was crossing over from Track 1 to Track 2.

The Cleveland Line dispatcher informed two trains holding near Motor Yard in Macedonia that they would be following the 20E because of single tracking on the Cleveland Line heading out of Cleveland.

I sought to duplicate with the NS 8098 a similar photo setup that I had made with the Penn Central heritage locomotive. I had photographed it during spring in Bedford on the lead of an eastbound train.

In both instances, I photographed the lead locomotive as it traveled over the plate girder bridge carrying the trains over the access road into the Bedford Reservation.

The results with the NS 8098 can be seen above. It could easily be a scene from the 1990s when this was still Conrail territory.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The 20E approaches on the high line passing through Bedford. It is at least the fourth NS heritage unit that I've photographed here.

The 20E approaches on the high line passing through Bedford. It is at least the fourth NS heritage unit that I’ve photographed here.

The trees are budding and blooming at last in Northeast Ohio.

The trees are budding and blooming at last in Northeast Ohio.

The lead unit of an eastbound crude oil train.

The lead unit of an eastbound crude oil train.

An eastbound intermodal train meets a westbound RoadRailer in Bedford on Friday, April 24.

An eastbound intermodal train meets a westbound RoadRailer in Bedford on Friday, April 24.

 

Date Set to Move BC&G No. 4 to West Virginia

April 29, 2015

May 19 has been set as the date that Buffalo Creek & Gauley No. 4 will move to the Cass Scenic Railroad from the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

The 2-8-0 will be delivered the Cass Scenic Railroad, now operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, on May 20. Nos 4’s tender arrived in Cass on April 8.

After restoration, No. 4 will appear as it did in operation on the BC&G in the 1960s. No. 4 has been recognized as having been one of the last steam locomotives in regular service in the nation.

Because it was a saturated steam locomotive, it often showed signs of leakage on its front, which earned it the moniker “Old Slobberface.”

The Cass Shops hopes to have the locomotive in operating condition for its 90th birthday in 2016. The Cass Scenic Railroad is owned by the state of West Virginia.

Built by Baldwin in 1926, No. 4 was restored in 1986 by the North Carolina museum, which lettered and numbered it as a replica of Southern Railway 2-8-0 No. 604.

As No. 604, it pulled pulled three-mile excursions before its making its last trips in November 2001.

Finding Four Iterations of a Steam Locomotive

April 28, 2015
The slide that started the search for a story. There was much to find about this locomotive.

The slide that started the search for a story. There was much to find about this locomotive.

Leaving Baltic on the Ohio Central.

Leaving Baltic on the Ohio Central.

Working on the Laurel Mountain Railroad.

Working on the Laurel Mountain Railroad.

On the BC&G.

On the BC&G.

When I discovered a slide (top image) of South Penn Museum 622 that I had taken in Ridgely, W.Va., on July 9, 1973, I thought it looked familiar and that there might be more to the story.

So, I Googled “South Penn Museum” and found a friend.

We know it as Jerry Jacobson’s Ohio Central No. 13. Here it is with a northbound train leaving Baltic, Ohio, on July 4, 1996.

Hadn’t I seen it somewhere else? Yes. Here it is in Somerset, Pa., in the late 1960s or very early 1970s as Laurel Mountain Railroad No. 13.

But wait! There’s more! Now I sound like an infomercial.

Several years ago a local railfan who was not a member of the Akron Railroad Club passed away and his slides were given to the ARRC to give to its members.

Although he hadn’t left any information, the slide mount said the slide was processed in 1958, so here is the better of the two BC&G 13 slides he had. I can certainly be thankful for these memories of BC&G 13.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

Amtrak Adds Service to Wolverine Route, Adjusts All Michigan Route Schedules for the Summer

April 28, 2015

Amtrak has added service to the Wolverine route between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) for the summer while making adjustments to schedules of all of its routes serving Michigan.

The new schedules went into effect on April 20 and will be in effect through Oct. 30. The additional service is a Sunday-only train from Chicago to Pontiac and a Monday-only train from Dearborn to Chicago.

Here is a summary of the schedule changes:

Eastbound

No. 350 now departs Chicago 10 minutes earlier at 7:10 a.m. daily, but is still scheduled to arrive in Pontiac at 3:03 p.m.

No. 352, the former mid-day train to Pontiac, will now operate on Sundays only, departing Chicago at 12:45 p.m. and arriving in Pontiac at 7:42 p.m. This train will stop only at Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Detroit, Royal Oak and Troy.

No. 358 will assume the role previously served by No. 352. It will depart Chicago at 3:10 p.m. daily and arrive in Pontiac at 10:44 p.m.

No. 354 will continue to depart Chicago at 6 p.m. daily, but is now scheduled to arrive in Pontiac at 1:29 a.m., 10 minutes later than the previous schedule. It will not operate east of Detroit on Sundays.

Westbound

No. 351 will now depart Pontiac at 5 a.m. daily, which is 45 minutes earlier than the previous schedule. It is scheduled to reach Chicago at 10:12 a.m.

No. 353 will depart Pontiac at 10:35 a.m. on Sundays only and is scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 4:08 p.m.

No. 359 will depart Pontiac at 2:30 p.m. daily except Sunday and arrive in Chicago at 8:03 p.m.

No. 355 will depart Pontiac at 5:35 p.m. daily, which is five minutes earlier than its previous schedule. It is scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 11:02 p.m.

No. 349 will depart Dearborn on Mondays only at 3:38 a.m. and arrive in Chicago at 7:59 a.m.

Blue Water

The schedule of eastbound train No. 364 from Chicago to Port Huron remains unchanged, but westbound No. 365 will now depart Port Huron 40 minutes earlier at 5:40 a.m. The scheduled arrival time in Chicago is now 11:05 a.m.

Pere Marquette

Effective May 4, westbound No. 371 will begin departing Grand Rapids at 6 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 9:11 a.m. Eastbound No. 370 will depart Chicago at 6:30 p.m. and arrive in Grand Rapids at 11:39 p.m.

N&W 611 Gets Parts Back on; Fire Up 611! Committee Assigns Claytor Additional Duties

April 28, 2015

Workers have placed the lagging, jacketing, skyline casing and bullet nose of the Norfolk & Western No. 611 back onto the locomotive boiler

The J Class 4-8-4 is now ready to be painted. Other tasks that remain to be completed to restore the locomotive to operating condition include the application of main rods, piston valves and pistons, final servicing of the air brake and electrical systems, and installation of the air compressors.

The work is being done at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C.

The Fire Up 611! Committee also announced the appointment of Preston Claytor as excursion director.

Claytor, the son of the late Robert B. Clayor, has already been serving as project manager for the 611 restoration. The senior Claytor served as the first chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern and pushed for restoration of the 611 in the early 1980s.

The junior Claytor has been negotiating equipment leases, communicating with Norfolk Southern about upcoming operations, and coordinating arrangements with the cities that are origin and destination stations for upcoming excursions to be pulled by the 611.

Gary Gray has been named Fire Up 611! excursion manager and will oversee car hosts, concession staff and telephone support representatives. He also coordinate arrangements for parking and destination entertainment.

LSL Boston Section Operating as Shuttle Train

April 28, 2015

The Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited (Nos. 448/449) is running as a connecting train or bus through late May. This has resulted in shorter equipment consists for the Lake Shore Limited (Nos. 48/49) west of Albany-Rensselaer, N.Y.

Amtrak said CSX track work on the former Boston & Albany line used by Nos. 448/449 is the cause of the service changes.

On Sundays through Wednesdays until April 29, Nos. 448/449 have been replaced by a bus in both directions east of Albany.

The bus serves the intermediate stations in Massachusetts of Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester, and Framingham.

The bus does not stop at Back Bay station in Boston. Amtrak has advised Bay Bay passengers to use MBTA for travel between there and Boston’s South Station.

Amtrak has been running a connecting train between Albany and Boston on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays. Effective April 30 that connecting train will operate daily.

Field reports indicate that the 448/449 shuttle has featured a single P42 locomotive, Viewliner baggage car and three or four Amfleet coaches.

Nos. 48/49 have been operating between Chicago and New York with four or five Amfleet coaches, an Amcafe, full-service diner, three Viewliner sleepers and a Viewliner baggage car.

Amtrak said the Boston-Albany shuttle train will operate through May 22, serving all stations.

Ex-B&LE Locomotives Getting CN Colors, Markings

April 28, 2015

Trains magazine reported Monday that the first former Bessemer & Lake Erie SD40-3 has been repainted into Canadian National colors and markings.

B&LE No. 902 was sent to Quality Rail Services in Venice, Ill., for rebuilding and repainting earlier this spring.

For now, the repainted locomotive has been placed into storage and CN expects other former B&LE SD40-3s will be repainted and rebuilt at Quality Rail Services during 2015.

CN has 11 former B&LE SD40-3s that were rebuilt in 1999 and 2000. They carry roster numbers 900-910.

All are former former Southern Pacific and St. Louis Southwestern SD45T-2 units. Last month CN assigned former Illinois Central SD70s still wearing IC markings to its Bessemer Subdivision in Ohio and Pennsylvania.