Catching Up with NS 9-1-1

Norfolk Southern SD60E No. 9-1-1 leads the Whistle-Stop Safety Train on the Cleveland Line near Egbert Road in Bedford on Thursday afternoon. This is my favorite image of the day that I made of t he train.

Norfolk Southern SD60E No. 9-1-1 leads the Whistle-Stop Safety Train on the Cleveland Line near Egbert Road in Bedford on Thursday afternoon. This is my favorite image of the day that I made of the train.

The first time that I saw Norfolk Southern 9-1-1 was in a photograph released by the company.

I was duly impressed and made a mental note that I had to see and photograph that locomotive, which pays tribute to the nation’s fire fighters, police and EMTs.

The first time I saw the 9-1-1 in person I didn’t recognize it. We were driving across the Ohio Route 4 bridge in Bellevue looking for the NS Whistle-Stop Safety Train, which was being led across the state by the 9-1-1 on a three-day journey that began in Cincinnati and also included stops in Dayton and Columbus.

Maybe it was the early morning sunlight, but I spotted a locomotive in the yard with a whitish-looking nose and mistakenly thought it might be a Union Pacific unit.

My memory of the 9-1-1 is that its nose is mostly red. There is a lot of red on the nose, but the area around the cab windows is solid white and when that combines with the broad white stripes on the nose the locomotive looks white coming at you from a distance.

That factoid was just one of many that I learned about the 9-1-1 during a chase of the safety train from Bellevue to Bedford.

I also learned you have to see the 9-1-1 in person to appreciate its striking features.

I didn’t realize until I photographed the 9-1-1 for the third time that there is much detail on the roof, including gold paint on the air conditioning units and exhaust fans.

NS went to great lengths to give this locomotive a distinctive look.

Fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and I teamed up on Thursday to chase and photograph NS 9-1-1 and the NS safety train in Kimball, Olmsted Falls and Bedford.

The 9-1-1 led a four-car train of invited guests that included local officials, Operation Lifesaver officials, school transportation directors and first responders.

The first group of passengers boarded in Bellevue and had an hour-and-a-half ride to Rockport Yard in Cleveland before being bused back to Bellevue.

Another group boarded in Cleveland and rode to Alliance.

The consist included two coaches, the NS exhibit car and an open-air platform business car.

As we expected, the train rolled right along from Bellevue to Cleveland. It was following traffic on the Chicago Line so that slowed it somewhat when it encountered approach indications.

At Olmsted Falls, we met a woman with a camera. She had propped up her cell phone on a board placed on a pile of ballast to use as a makeshift tripod to get video of the train.

We learned that her husband, Andy Wolf, was the locomotive engineer of the safety train from Bellevue to Cleveland.

An online report indicated that the train left had Rockport at about 11:15 a.m., but it must have encountered congestion because it didn’t show up at Egbert Road in Bedford until nearly two hours later.

The images that I made at Egbert Road were my favorites of the day. You have to see the 9-1-1 from above to view all of the care that went into the design of this livery.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Splitting the signals at Kimball where the Cleveland District goes to single track east of Bellevue.

Splitting the signals at Kimball where the Cleveland District goes to single track east of Bellevue.

I liked the contrast of the bright locomotive nose with the dark green leaves of the tree behind the train.

I liked the contrast of the bright locomotive nose with the dark green leaves of the tree behind the train.

Roster-like shot at Kimball.

Roster-like shot at Kimball.

Fortunately for us, NS 974 was following traffic into Cleveland and was slowed by an approach signal at MP 200. That gave us a little more cushion to get into place at Olmsted Falls.

Fortunately for us, NS 974 was following traffic into Cleveland and was slowed by an approach signal at MP 200. That gave us a little more cushion to get into place at Olmsted Falls.

NS 911 (5)-x

No one was on the platform of the NS business car as the train rolled through Olmsted Falls. The NS train ahead is stopped in the Berea Siding near Lewis Road.

No one was on the platform of the NS business car as the train rolled through Olmsted Falls. The NS train ahead is stopped in the Berea Siding near Lewis Road.

A telephoto view from the Egbert Road crossing.

A telephoto view from the Egbert Road crossing.

A handful of passengers enjoy the view of the Cleveland Line as the train approaches the Motor Yard.

A handful of passengers enjoy the view of the Cleveland Line as the train approaches the Motor Yard, which lies beyond the bridge in the background.

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