Archive for May, 2015

Once Upon a Time in NE Ohio

May 31, 2015

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Over the years Northeast Ohio has been an interesting area to railfan. Here are a couple images from the mid 1980s.

If you look carefully, you’ll see many changes in trackage, buildings and motive power from what these scenes look like now.

Surroundings have changed and locations may not be available now because of trees and brush.

In the top image, Conrail 8222 is ready to take its high and wide load into the yard at Orrville on Oct. 11, 1985. One change is that this is now a single track line east of here.

In the other image, Baltimore & Ohio No. 7615 leads a westbound Chessie System freight through Clinton (Warwick) in early 1987. Notice that this trackage is still double-tracked.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

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NS Train Knocks out Window on Amtrak 30

May 31, 2015

No injuries occurred after a door on a freight car knocked out a window on the eastbound Capitol Limited as it traveled from Cleveland to Alliance early Saturday in Franklin Township of Portage County.

The unsecured door of a Norfolk Southern freight train swung open and damaged two windows of the passing Amtrak train, one of which was pushed inside the train onto an unoccupied seat.

The Chicago to Washington, D.C., train was delayed about an hour. Amtrak crew members  moved passengers from the damaged car to seating elsewhere in the train.

One of the damaged windows was repaired in Pittsburgh and the coach remained unoccupied as the train continued to Washington.

Brandon Tidd, a Northeast Ohio Media Group digital sales representative, was traveling on the train. He was sleeping when he said was awakened by a loud noise that sounded like luggage falling from the overhead rack.

Tidd said he saw the window that was knocked into the seat a few rows behind him.

“The Amtrak crew did a great job at keeping us safe and informed both during and after the incident,” Tidd said.

Lease Renewal Challenged in NE Pennsylvania

May 31, 2015

A Pennsylvania railroad company is contesting the decision of the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority to extend the lease of another railroad company without submitting the operation to competitive bidding.

The Authority last week announced that it had renewed for five years the contract of Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad to provide freight service over 90 miles of track to the Northeast Pennsylvania counties of Lackawanna, Wayne, Monroe and Northampton.

Now the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern wants the authority to reopen the case and enable other railroads to bid on the service.

The Authority had rejected a bid by RBM&N 18 months ago in favor of the contract with Delaware-Lackawanna. That contract expires in late August.

RBM&N has notified the Authority of its intent to continue to challenge extending the Delaware-Lackawanna lease.

Keeping My B&LE Motive Power Streak Intact

May 29, 2015
Illinois Central 1034 leads a coal train into Conneaut in a view looking west on Old Main Street.

Illinois Central 1034 leads a coal train into Conneaut in a view looking west on Old Main Street.

Since March the number of former Bessemer & Lake Erie locomotives clad in orange and carrying B&LE markings has dwindled. Owner Canadian National sent former Illinois Central SD70 units to its Bessemer Subdivision to replace the former B&LE SD40T units.

Being a fan of the IC, I’ve made three trips over to the Bessemer since March to photograph the “new” IC units. They actually are not new at all, having been built years ago before CN swallowed the IC.

One B&LE tunnel motor continues to provide road service on the ex-Bessemer. The 905 has soldiered on, usually as a trailing unit among two or three IC SD70s.

The scuttlebutt among B&LE fans is that the 905 won’t last much longer on its home rails. Presumably, it, too, will be sent west for rehab and re-assignment. The fans doubt that the tunnels motors will be sent back to the ex-B&LE.

Whatever the case, a recent visit to Conneaut, netted me a sighting of the 905 along with three IC SD70s. That keeps my streak of seeing at least one B&LE unit in a motive power consist on the Bessemer Sub alive, even if that streak, like the tunnel motors, appears to be living on borrowed time.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A spot of orange reflects in Conneaut Creek. For now, there is still Bessemer orange to be seen.

A spot of orange reflects in Conneaut Creek. For now, there is still Bessemer orange to be seen.

En route to the upper yard, I get a glimpse for the first time of a train on the lead over Conneaut Creek. The water was calm enough to make a reflection.

En route to the upper yard, I get a glimpse for the first time of a train on the lead over Conneaut Creek. The water was calm enough to make a reflection.

It's work in the upper yard complete, the power set returns light to the lower yard, crossing Conneaut Creek in front of the boat launch site.

It’s work in the upper yard complete, the power set returns light to the lower yard, crossing Conneaut Creek in front of the boat launch site.

Pulling out of the yard for head room as the road job goes about making up its train.

Pulling out of the yard for head room as the road job goes about making up its train.

My favorite image of the day was made when the train sauntered out of town along Conneaut Creek with the ex-Nickel Plate trestle in the background.

My favorite image of the day was made when the train sauntered out of town along Conneaut Creek with the ex-Nickel Plate trestle in the background.

We only had time to chase the train to Pond Road just inside of Pennsylvania. Alas, the light was against us.

We only had time to chase the train to Pond Road just inside of Pennsylvania. Alas, the light was against us.

A wide-angled perspective at Pond Road.

A wide-angled perspective at Pond Road.

Gaining speed as the train heads into a wide tunnel of trees.

Gaining speed as the train heads into a wide tunnel of trees.

Kicking up a little dust in a parting shot.

Kicking up a little dust in a parting shot.

CSX Executive Train Visits Northeast Ohio

May 29, 2015

Thursday morning was a good time to be in Berea. In about a half-hour’s time, the CSX executive train went east while just before that Amtrak’s late westbound Lake Shore Limited went past with Phase I heritage locomotive No. 156 on the point.

The Amtrak train went through about 8:35 a.m. with the CSX executive train showing up at 8:43 a.m.

Operating as train P902, the CSX train had left the St. Louis area on Wednesday and spent the night in Crestline. It left for, reportedly, Rochester, New York, on Thursday morning. Its eventual destination is Selkirk, New York.

Online reports had it passing Lagrange at 8:26 a.m., Willoughby at 9:30 a.m. and Fairview, Pennsylvania, at 10:25 a.m.

Leading the train was F40PH No. 9998 with the 9998 and 9999 trailing.  The train had eight cars with a theater car trailing.

Amtrak No. 156 had left Chicago on Tuesday as the trailing unit on the eastbound Lake Shore Limited.

No. 49 on Thursday did not arrive in Chicago until 3:11 p.m., making it nearly 5.5 hours late. It had arrived in Cleveland at 8:03 a.m., 4 hours, 36 minutes late.

No. 156 returned to Northeast Ohio on Friday, this time leading the eastbound Lake Shore Limited.  No. 48 was reported past Berea at 6 a.m. The Amtrak website reported that the train arrived in Cleveland at 6:16 a.m., 41 minutes late.

NE Pa. Authority Extends Lease of Short Line

May 29, 2015

The Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority has voted unanimously to approve a five-year extension of the lease with a short line operator.

The Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad will continue to operate over 90 miles of track in Lackawanna, Wayne, Monroe, and Northampton counties in northeast Pennsylvania.

Delaware-Lackawanna is a subsidiary of GVT Rail and serves more than 25 customers. It employs 30 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The railroad has a motive power fleet of Alco locomotives and in 2014 it posted a 12.4 percent increase in carloads compared over 2013 levels. Railroad officials expect to add four new customers in 2015.

Double Capture of the NYC H Unit on ex-NKP

May 28, 2015

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Last Monday (Memorial Day) evening, I saw on HeritageUnits.com that Norfolk Southern 1066 – the New York Central heritage locomotive – was heading west on the former Nickel Plate Road line to Cleveland. It left Conneaut just after 10 p.m.

The 1066 had led a train eastward over the ex-NKP early Saturday morning.

Since many times H units make just one round trip on the ex-NKP, I figured I’d better try to get it. I was working on Saturday when it went east.

I got it at about 10:40 p.m. in Painesville.

On Tuesday night, there was speculation on Trainordrs.com that the NYC H unit would be leading NS train 206 on Wednesday 206.

Here are the results at the Painesville trestle over the Grand River where Ursula, myself and five other railfans were waiting at just before noon Wednesday when the 206 came by.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Detroit, Cincinnati Streetcar Project Updates

May 28, 2015

Quicken Loans Inc. will get to name the M-1 Rail streetcar project in Detroit.

It won the right to do that by providing financial support during the project’s fundraising campaign.

The 3.3-mile streetcar line is expected to open in late 2016 and cost $140 to build. Construction is currently underway.

Quicken Loans, which is based in Detroit, was founded by Dan Gilbert, who is the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers as well as the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland.

M1 rail officials said recognition of other project donors is in process.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati workers poured the last section of concrete for the Queen City’s streetcar line on Walnut Street.

City officials said that marked the end of construction work along that street.

Laying of track continues along Main Street, where construction has progressed to 8th Street from 12th Street.

The 3.6-mile Cincinnati Streetcar line is projected to open in September 2016. The cost of the project has been put at $147.8 million.

New Signals Going Up in Berea

May 27, 2015
The new signals for the Toledo connection stand ready to be turned and placed into service as a westbound tanker train passes on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern with the Interstate heritage locomotive in the consist.

The new signals for the Toledo connection stand ready to be turned and placed into service as a westbound tanker train passes on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern with the Interstate heritage locomotive in the consist.

Soon, these signals heads will be turned.

Soon, these signals heads will be turned.

The old and the new even if the old dates back to the Conrail era. The Type G signal heads have performed well over the years.

The old and the new even if the old dates back to the Conrail era. The Type G signal heads have performed well over the years.

During the Conrail era, the Toledo connection in Berea was a busy piece of railroad. But use of that track all but ended after Norfolk Southern and CSX divided Conrail in 1999.

But the connection remains in place because the railroads have an agreement that each can use the other’s tracks even if that seldom occurs.

In recent weeks, crews have been busy installing new signals in Berea, including modern Safetran signals on the Toledo connection.

Reportedly, the work is part of a project to enable CSX to have control of its own tracks through the CP 194 interlocking. At present, NS controls the interlocking even through CSX trains do nothing more than pass through.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

NS Completes Repainting Classic UP Locomotive

May 27, 2015

Norfolk Southern has completed repainting former Union Pacific DDA40X No. 6944 at its Juniata shops in Altoona, Pa.

The 6936 is the last remaining DDA40X in operation today and is used in special excursion service.

NS painted the locomotive as part of agreement with the St. Louis-based Museum of Transportation, the locomotive’s owner.
The unit left the museum bound for Altoona in July 2014.

The twin-engine, 6,600 horsepower Electro-Motive Division DDA40X locomotives were used on UP between 1969 and 1984.

Thirteen of the 47 units in the series were donated for public display in parks and museums.