Archive for October, 2015

Lake Shore Limited Began 40 Years Ago Today

October 31, 2015
Ad advertisement for Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited that was placed in newspapers in Massachusetts in early November 1975.

Ad advertisement for Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited that was placed in newspapers in Massachusetts in early November 1975.

Forty years ago today Cleveland, Toledo and Elyria returned to the Amtrak map with the inauguration of the Lake Shore Limited between Chicago and New York/Boston.

All three cities had been left out of the Amtrak network when the rail passenger carrier began service on May 1, 1971.

The only city in Northeast Ohio at which Amtrak stopped was Canton on the route of the Chicago-New York Broadway Limited.

A short-lived Chicago-New York train named the Lake Shore served Toledo and Cleveland slightly less than seven months.

That service, which began in mid May 1971, was premised on the promises of the states served by the train to underwrite its losses. But none of them put up any money and Amtrak canceled the train in early January.

The Amtrak Improvement Act of 1973 required Amtrak to launch one experimental route a year.

Ohio officials lobbied Amtrak hard for service to be reinstated to Cleveland and Toledo via the former Water Level Route of the New York Central, which by the time Amtrak arrived had become Penn Central.

At the time that Amtrak began in 1971, Cleveland was the largest city in the county not served by Amtrak.

Secretary of Transportation Claude S. Brinegar announced on June 27, 1974, that Chicago-Boston would be Amtrak’s experimental route for 1974. A week later, Amtrak said the train would have a New York section.

Service was expected to begin within six months but was delayed for more than a year due to an equipment shortage, particularly of sleeping cars.

A public relations special operated eastbound over the route on Oct. 28-29, 1975.

Amtrak President Paul Reistrup was aboard the special and he spoke at the Cleveland stop along with Ohio Senator Robert Taft Jr., who had pushed Amtrak hard for restoration of service via Cleveland.

Taft noted that it had been a long and hard fight to get intercity passenger service restored via the former New York Central route through northern Ohio.

Reistrup had favored the route all along, saying he was amazed that it had not been part of the Amtrak network.

“This was an unwanted child, no secret about it,” Resitrup said in Cleveland. “They (Amtrak) didn’t want to run this train.”

The publicity special arrived in Cleveland at 5:30 p.m. to a crowd of about 500. The train was pulled by a pair of SDP40F locomotives, the newest equipment in the consist.

The Cleveland station was a pair of trailers, the current station having not yet been built.

“This probably will be the most important inaugural I take part in,” Reistrup told the crowd. “It’s up to you out there in this crowd to keep this train running.”

When Nos. 48/448 and 49/449 began service on Friday, Oct. 31, 1975, the Chicago-New York running time was 21 hours, which was two-and-a-half hours slower than the Lake Shore of 1971.

The Chicago-Boston running time was 25 hours, which included a backup move the train had to make at Castleton Junction, New York, because the connection that Boston-bound New York Central trains had made for decades east of Rensselaer had been removed by Penn Central.

Amtrak officials emphasized at every stop of the publicity trip that the Lake Shore Limited was experimental and if ridership was poor it would be discontinued after a two-year trial.

On the day that scheduled service began, a crowd of 300 showed up at the Cleveland Amtrak station. Most of them were bus company employees who protested federal funding of the train. They said that made rail cheaper than the bus, which threatened their jobs.

But the public embraced the train and two years after it began the Lake Shore Limited was averaging 272 passengers per trip, a figure that eclipsed the Chicago-New York Broadway Limited.

The U.S. Department of Transportation lifted the experimental status for the Lake Shore Limited on May 9, 1978.

The Lake Shore Limited was the first direct Chicago-Boston train since the Dec. 3, 1967, discontinuance by the New York Central of the New England States.

However, the NYC and later Penn Central ran through cars between the two cities that were interchanged at Buffalo, New York.

News accounts published in October 1975, noted the longer travel time for Amtrak compared to what the New York Central once offered.

Amtrak officials blamed that on poor track conditions. Conrail would not take over the route until the following spring and it would take years to rebuild the track.

When it began, the Lake Shore Limited was scheduled to arrive and depart Chicago in mid afternoon.

The westbound train was scheduled out of Cleveland at 7:30 a.m. The eastbound train was scheduled at 11:20 p.m.

At that time, not all of the western long-distance trains departed Chicago as they do today by mid afternoon.

Advertisements

Failed Inspection Sidelines Hoosier State

October 31, 2015

A failed inspection prompted the cancellation of the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State this past week. Passengers were transported by bus.

The cancelations occurred on Wednesday morning after Amtrak inspectors cited the train for having wheel tolerances that failed to comply with federal regulations.

The inspectors ordered the defects on the two Iowa Pacific Holdings locomotives to be repaired.

The Hoosier State operates with Iowa Pacific equipment and an Amtrak operating crew.

Amtrak performed the repairs at its Chicago maintenance facility and the Hoosier State operated as scheduled Wednesday night to Indianapolis.

Trains magazine reported that Iowa Pacific asked for a separate inspection of its locomotives by a Federal Railroad Administration inspector before any work was done on the wheels.

However, Amtrak worker had already made the repairs before a joint FRA-Iowa Pacific-Amtrak inspection took place Wednesday morning.

The Indiana Department of Transportation pays Amtrak to perform needed repairs before the train leaves Chicago.

“At [Indiana’s] request, we have repeatedly made unscheduled repairs to multiple defects in its vendor’s equipment…and disrupted scheduled work on our own equipment in order to make every effort to dispatch these trains on time,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

No Ohio Rail Projects Get 2015 TIGER Grant

October 31, 2015

No Ohio rail project applications made the final cut when it came time to hand out the 2015 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants.

The U.S. Department of Transportation this past week announced that 16 rail-related projects had won TIGER grants.

The Ports of Indiana was awarded $10 million to construct a double rail loop and rail-to-barge transfer facility in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

The project also includes construction of a nearly mile-long siding extension that will allow railroads to deliver a 90-car unit train to the port. The project will also construct a truck-to-rail intermodal facility to accommodate increasing truck traffic expected from the East End Bridge over the Ohio River.

Buffalo, New York, received $18 million to o rebuild the lower Main Street segment of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s Metro Rail light rail service.

The Metra commuter rail agency of Chicago received $15 million to replace a bridge over the Fox River in Elgin, Illinois, on a route owned by Canadian Pacific.

The TIGER grants were begun in 2009. This year there were 627 eligible applications that collectively sought $10.1 billion when there was just $500 million available.

The applications came from all 50 states. Grants were awarded to 39 projects in 34 states and more than $245 million was awarded to rail-related projects.

R.J. Corman Razes ex-B&O Depot in Dover

October 31, 2015

We’ve received word that sometime this week R.J. Corman tore down Dover’s last remaining railroad station.

The station once served the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad line that extended to Wheeling, West Virginia, via Massillon and Holloway.

A period American Sheet & Tin Plate Company building across the street also was razed a year or two ago.

The former Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling’s Uhrich Junction freight station is likely to be demolished next as RJC continues its purge of old and no longer used structures.

An Early CSX ‘Where is It?’

October 30, 2015

img671-Edit-Edit1000G

It is the summer of 1987 and Chesapeake & Ohio No. 4168 is heading its train westbound. Where was this taken?

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Gray Day Gave Way to Sunny Skies and Bright Colors of Autumn on the CVSR Last Sunday

October 30, 2015
The view of a southbound Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train from the Ohio Route 82 bridge in Brecksville.

The view of a southbound Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train from the Ohio Route 82 bridge in Brecksville.

It began as a gray day, a very gray day. Overcast skies don’t exactly beckon you to grab your camera and head out to make images even if you know that the fall foliage is at its peak color.

So I kept one eye out for the window for signs of improvement and another on the clock.

The National Weather Service had said that a high pressure system would move in on Sunday. The Intellicast website forecast predicted peeks of sun by afternoon.

About 10:30 a.m. I was tired of waiting. I gathered my camera bag along with some drinks and snacks and headed for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The clouds to the north and northwest were breaking up and “peeks of sunshine” illuminated my house as I backed out of the driveway. I took that as a good omen.

But farther east and to the south were heavy cloud banks that were not going to move out right away.

I kept driving for it would take more than a half-hour to get to the park.

There were still quite a few clouds overhead as I arrived at the Brecksville station of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

There was some nice color right by the station, but I elected to climb the hill south of Chippewa Creek. The view yielded some good colorful background foliage.

Autumn color doesn’t always present itself as a massive and solid block. You have to learn to appreciate its variegated nature.

The issue I grappled with on that hillside, though, was not lack of color but shadows from the clouds.

The peeks of sunlight illuminated nicely the trees beyond the train, but the latter was in shadows.

By the time that the second southbound CVSR Scenic got underway, though, there were mostly sunny skies.

My first view of that run of the Scenic came from atop the Ohio Route 82 bridge. Most of the trees along the Cuyahoga River were at their peak color and the view was quite stunning.

One of the most dramatic autumn photos I’ve ever seen was made from this bridge by the late Dave McKay of a southbound Cuyahoga Valley Lines train led by steam locomotive 4020, the former Grand Trunk Western engine.

What I captured of CVSR FPA-4 No. 800 was not quite as dramatic as Dave’s image, but that Baltimore & Ohio tribute locomotive looked good amid that sea of fall colors.

It was then off to Indigo Lake where I wanted to duplicate with No. 800 a scene I had made three years earlier of a southbound coming out of the woods around a curve and into Howe Meadow.

I perched myself on a hillside and waited. The Scenic tends to run behind schedule during the leaf peeping season because of the high volume of passengers getting on and off.

By the time the Scenic reached Indigo Lake it was 20 minutes behind schedule.

I bumped into fellow Akron Railroad Club member Todd Dillon and we chatted while waiting for the train to arrive.

I had time to kill before the Scenic returned north so I visited the covered bridge near Everett, a site I had never seen but had long been on my “to do” list.

Then it was off to Deep Lock Quarry park and a hike on the towpath trail to an opening along the Cuyahoga River south of Peninsula.

The Scenic continued to run late. I waited at Jaite until it came south for the final time of the day.

It was there that I made my only significant blunder of the day. My plan was to listen on the radio for the train to leave Brecksville and then drive down Riverview Road to an open area where I would zoom in across a field of the two FPA-4 locomotives running tail to tail. Those engines would look good in the late day light.

I heard the train call milepost 58. At that point I should have gotten started. But I momentarily forgot that mileposts on the CVSR get lower going southward.

Milepost 59 is just north of Brecksville station and I thought that 58 was north of there.

When the train called milepost 57 I was jolted out of my sense of complacency. Milepost 57 is just north of Jaite. The train was just about on top of me.

I quickly headed out and probably should have parked on the shoulder opposite of where I wanted to shoot. But I wasn’t sure if that was level enough ground to get off the road and I didn’t want to find out that it wasn’t.

There is a pull-off beyond where I wanted to be. I got into it all right, but there wasn’t time to walk to where the photo location where I wanted to be.

I could shoot across an open area right by the pull-off, which is what I wound up doing. Alas, my view was marred slightly by a small tree.

My final location for the day was at Indigo Lake. With the Scenic continuing to run 15 minutes late, I feared that the sun might slip below the tree line before the Scenic arrived.

I didn’t want to end my day by missing the shot I wanted due to lack of direct sunlight. Shadows enveloped the rails along Riverview Road as I drove south of Peninsula.

But there is enough open area at Indigo Lake to ensure good lighting for what I wanted to do, which was to shoot across the lake with the train and fall foliage reflections in the water. The results were as dramatic as I had expected and then some.

After stopping at Szalay’s Market, I headed for home. It had been a quite satisfying day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Stopping at Brecksville station in late morning.

Stopping at Brecksville station in late morning.

At least the sun came out to light up the trees.

At least the sun came out to light up the trees.

There was still plenty of color left at Brecksville station.

There was still plenty of color left at Brecksville station.

Another perspective of the train from the Route 82 bridge in Brecksville.

Another perspective of the train from the Route 82 bridge in Brecksville.

Looking down on a dome car.

Looking down on a dome car.

Duplicating a scene at this same spot that I made in October 2012. That image made the cover of Passenger Train Journal.

Duplicating a scene at this same spot that I made in October 2012. That image made the cover of Passenger Train Journal.

Where is an Alco there will be smoke. A southbound Scenic accelerates out of Indigo Lake.

Where there is an Alco there will be smoke. A southbound Scenic accelerates out of Indigo Lake.

Coming into Howell Meadow as passersby watch.

Coming into Howe Meadow as passersby watch.

The dome section of the Silver Bronco was the place to be.

The dome section of the Silver Bronco was the place to be.

Along the Cuyahoga River south of Peninsula.

Along the Cuyahoga River south of Peninsula.

Here comes the train north of Boston Mill.

Here comes the train north of Boston Mill.

A pair of FPA-4 Alcos running tail to tail along Riverview Road.

A pair of FPA-4 Alcos running tail to tail along Riverview Road.

Arriving at Indigo Lake. Despite the late hour, the late day light held up nicely.

Arriving at Indigo Lake. Despite the late hour, the late day light held up nicely.

Reflections of fall.

Reflections of fall.

The train stretches from edge to edge of this frame. The CVSR runs some long trains during the leaf peeping season.

The train stretches from edge to edge of this frame. The CVSR runs some long trains during the leaf peeping season.

Still waters and fall foliage makes a nice combination.

Still waters and fall foliage makes a nice combination.

A reflection at Indigo Lake.

A reflection at Indigo Lake.

Horizon Rail 8420 trails at Indigo Lake.

Horizon Rail 8420 trails at Indigo Lake.

NS Kicks off NY Bridge Replacement Project

October 30, 2015

Work to replace the former Erie Railroad bridge over the Genesee River Gorge in Letchworth State Park in New York began Thursday with a ground-breaking ceremony.

Norfolk Southern, which owns the Southern Tier route, plans to construct a $70 million single-track steel arch span over the gorge.

The bridge will be 900 feet in length and positioned 75 feet south of the current iron truss bridge.

As part of the project, the railroad will install 1,200 feet of new track on each side of the gorge to align the tracks.

The new span will take three years to construct and is being built in part with public funding.

The project budget includes $3 million in design costs and $2.5 million in construction costs from the New York Department of Transportation; a $2 million grant from the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council; and a $10 million grant from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. The remaining funding will come from NS.

“This successful public-private partnership underscores the strong confidence we all have in the ongoing potential of the Southern Tier,” said NS Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer James Squires. “Norfolk Southern has a robust bridge program, and the new Portageville Bridge will be a testament to today’s expert engineers and the craftsmanship of today’s railroaders.”

Steam Debuts on the Everett Railroad

October 29, 2015
Everett Railroad No. 11 makes a deadhead move at Brookville Junction.

Everett Railroad No. 11 makes a deadhead move at Brookville Junction.

Here is a series of photos from my visit to Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania, to see Everett No. 11 on its first public excursion since its rebuild.

Originally built by the Cooke Works of Alco for Cuba in 1920, that deal fell through.

Sold again in 1923 as “new” to the Narragansett Pier Railroad (Rhode Island), it worked a number of years then got shuffled around among different owners, the B&H being one of them. The owner of the Everett Railroad picked it up in 2006 and it was slowly rebuilt at the Western Maryland Scenic shops.

The little 2-6-0 ran light from Claysburg to Holidaysburg the morning of the first trip.

I picked it up at Brooksville Junction and followed it north. Weather conditions were all over the map, but I did get a peek at the sun once and a while.

The last shot of it entering Holidaysburg was No. 11 passing another old steam engine cab and a new Genset cab at Curry Rail.

While waiting to pull up to the station to load, the Norfolk Southern local showed up. That allowed for a side-by-side photo.

After a short chase of the first run it was back over the mountain and head west to intercept the NS 1700.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

The sun poked out just in time to brighten up the yellow trees.

The sun poked out just in time to brighten up the yellow trees.

Passing the old steamer cab at Holidaysburg.

Passing the old steamer cab at Holidaysburg.

About two miles out the sun came out in this nice scene.

About two miles out the sun came out in this nice scene.

The Norfolk Southern local pulls alongside No. 11.

The Norfolk Southern local pulls alongside No. 11.

Side view departing Holidaysburg.

Side view departing Holidaysburg.

An ex-Delaware, Lackawanna & Western MU car brought up the markers.

An ex-Delaware, Lackawanna & Western MU car brought up the markers.

Local photographer shooting one very cold model

Local photographer shooting one very cold model

Last shot of the chase was with this horse striking a pose. That's a fine snow coming down.

Last shot of the chase was with this horse striking a pose. That’s a fine snow coming down.

Senate Approves Stopgap Transportation Funding

October 29, 2015

The Senate on Wednesday adopted the stopgap transportation funding bill approved earlier this week by the House and with it gave the green light to a three-year extension of the positive train control deadline.

President Obama is expected to sign the legislation, which would mean that passenger train operations and the carriage of hazardous cargo will continue unabated in 2016.

The legislation extended federal transportation highway and transit spending authority through Nov. 20. That authority was set to expire today (Oct.  29).

Congress is expected to work out a longer term authorization of federal transportation spending before the end of this year.

Federal law has given the nation’s railroads until Dec. 31 to install PTC on lines carrying passengers and hazardous cargo.

The railroad industry had said that it will be unable to meet that deadline and threatened to embargo passenger trains and hazardous cargo rather than pay fines imposed by the Federal Railroad Administration.

NS 3rd Quarter Income, Traffic Show Decline

October 29, 2015

Norfolk Southern reported on Wednesday that its third quarter income fell to $452 million compared with $559 million in the same period in 2014.

Also down in the quarter was traffic, which fell by 1.9 million units (3 percent).

However, the railroad said than its operating revenues declined by 10 percent to $2.7 billion, largely due to lower fuel costs.

Income from railway operations was $822 million, 18 percent lower compared with third-quarter 2014.

NS said its operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenue, was 69.7 percent, compared with 67.0 percent in the same quarter last year.

NS said that the third-quarter performance reflected the $37 million cost to restructure its Triple Crown Services subsidiary and close its offices in Roanoke, Virginia.

“Norfolk Southern’s third-quarter results reflect commodities markets that continue to soften, as well as costs associated with restructuring initiatives to strengthen our company going forward. These pressures will linger in the fourth quarter, while traffic volume to date continues to lag last year. However, looking ahead to 2016, we are confident that with a reasonably stable economy and our own intense focus on service, returns and growth, we are poised for better results,” said NS Chairman, President and CEO James A. Squires in a statement.

In a news release, NS said that general merchandise revenues were $1.6 billion, 7 percent lower than the same period last year.

Volume declined 1 percent largely due to a 9 percent decline in metals and construction traffic due to softer steel production.

Four of the five general merchandise commodity groups reported lower revenue results on a year-over-year basis, principally the result of lower fuel surcharge revenue:

  •  Agriculture: $380 million, up 4 percent
  •  Metals/Construction: $330 million, down 20 percent
  •  Automotive: $246 million, down 3 percent
  •  Paper/Forest: $203 million, down 3 percent
  • Chemicals: $451 million, down 8 percent

Intermodal revenues were $621 million, 7 percent lower compared with third-quarter 2014, as lower fuel surcharges and fewer domestic shipments combined to reduce revenues. Total volume declined 1 percent.

Coal revenues were $482 million, 23 percent lower compared with the third quarter of 2014. A weak global export market and lower natural gas prices in the utility market combined to decrease volume by 16 percent.