Archive for January, 2016

NS and the T&OC Station in Bucyrus

January 30, 2016
An eastbound container train passes the former Toledo & Ohio Central depot in Bucyrus, Ohio.

An eastbound container train passes the former Toledo & Ohio Central depot in Bucyrus, Ohio.

Marty Surdyk introduced me to the restored Toledo & Ohio Central station in Bucyrus several years ago.

He was showing me the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern when we went into Bucyrus to take a look around.

I was impressed with that station the first time I saw it. I might have exposed a slide film frame or two, but I made a mental note that I’ve got to get back here someday to see what I could do with that station and the trains on the adjacent Sandusky District.

NS logo 2Bucyrus is one of those places that is not too far away, yet just far enough to be somewhere you don’t get to all that often.

Marion is nearby and if you are going to drive that far you might as well go to a place that features more rail traffic.

Bucyrus has crossing rail lines, too, but one of them is the NS Fort Wayne Line and it doesn’t’ have that much traffic.

I did get to Bucyrus once on an outing with Peter Bowler, but we didn’t hang around there all that long.

In July 2012, I was in Bucyrus when the Nickel Plate Road 765 was pulling NS employee appreciation specials that turned on the wye.

But during none of those trips did I have the opportunity to hang out and try to make the T&OC station the focus of my photography efforts.

That changed last fall when I drove to Bucyrus on a warm, sunny day with the priority of getting images of the station and NS trains.

I had noted during a previous trip that that might be more difficult to do than it might seem because the T&OC station is not right on the Sandusky District or the Fort Wayne Line.

In the old days, the T&OC tracks were on the east side of the station. The Sandusky District, which used to be a Pennsylvania Railroad branch, had its own station that is now long gone.

Bucyrus is not a bad place to spend a day. There is ample parking right by the depot and the Sandusky District has a high level of traffic.

The Fort Wayne Line, which used to be the rail route in Bucyrus, remains a lightly-used rail line, although I did see three trains on it during my visit.

As I suspected, it is possible to make images that include the T&OC station and NS trains on the Sandusky District, but it takes some work because of the tough photo angles.

I’ll have to get back to Bucyrus sometime this year and try it again. Some things just take multiple efforts to work out.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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CAK Saw Dip in Passenger Traffic in 2015

January 30, 2016

A churn in airline service during 2015 led to a 1.3 percent decline in passengers using the Akron-Canton Airport.

The airport served 1,546,954 passengers last year compared with 1,566,638 in 2014.

Akron-Canton AirportWith Southwest Airlines set to impose service cutbacks in April, airport officials are bracing for a further decline in passengers in 2016 and it could be a sharp drop. Southwest dropped service to four destinations in 2015 and will end service to four more in April.

Airport President Rick McQueen said the passenger count may fall close to 1.3 million. He is expecting, though, a rise in passenger traffic during 2017.

Airport officials continue to meet with airlines to seek to persuade them to increase service to Akron-Canton. However, there are fewer airlines now and they are taking a measured approach to expansion.

“Even though we may not be on their radar yet, some day we might be,” McQueen said.

A $36.8 million terminal renovation and expansion plan is also being touted by airport officials as part of their efforts to attract new business.

The project includes an expanded and renovated ticketing area that is expected to be finished by spring.

Work is also being done to improve the parking lots and main entrance to the airport. That work is expected to be completed by late summer or early fall.

The passenger count at Akron-Canton peaked in 2012 at 1.8 million.

Airport officials credited the arrival of AirTran at the airport for driving up the passenger count, which had been around 500,000 in preceding years.

AirTran, which later was acquired by Southwest, carried 47 percent of the passengers from Akron-Canton in 2012.

Studies done by the airport have found that 60 percent of those who fly from Akron-Canton are price-conscious leisure travelers. The other 40 percent are business travelers.

Rail Depot May Become Buffalo Transit Stop

January 30, 2016

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is seeking to expand to the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Terminal in Buffalo, New York.

Buffalo transit agencyThe light rail system has used the terminal as storage space, but now it may provide revenue service there.

An increase in downtown renewal projects is driving the move to use the former railroad station.

Officials said a new “streetscape” hub would create easy access to the downtown area, with suburban shopping malls, city universities, and neighboring attractions, such as Niagara Falls, all benefiting.

The downtown renewal projects are crediting with helping to increase ridership on the light rail line by 39 percent over the past five years.

2 Indiana Ports Set 2015 Records

January 30, 2016

Two Indiana ports reported record shipping levels in 2015, the Ports of Indiana said.

The Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon handled more than 6.6 million tons, a 36 percent increase over the 2014 mark and a 30 percent increase over the previous record set in 1994.

Ports of IndianaMount Vernon also saw the highest annual increase in total tons handled at the port.

Most of the shipments were coal, agricultural products, steel and other bulk commodities.

During 2015, 3,600 barges 37,000 rail cars and 160,000 trucks used the port.

The Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville set an annual record in 2015 with 2.8 million tons, an increase of nearly 16 percent over 2014. Much of the traffic was agriculture and steel products.

During 2015, Jeffersonville handled 1,300 barges, 17,000 rail cars and 180,000 trucks.

The Jeffersonville port will use a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help fund a $17 million intermodal project.

The port last yer broke ground on a $30 million transportation corridor that will link the port to the River Ridge Commerce Center’s industrial park.

The projects will expand the port’s rail and bulk-loading capacity, said Port Director Scott Stewart.

A Little of the Bay State in Berea

January 29, 2016

NBTA 2000 (MP40PH-3C) at Berea

I was sitting in Berea one day last fall when a westbound CSX train approached. As usual, I looked at the lead locomotive, saw that it was a CSX unit and sat back in my seat.

Then the train got closer and I spotted something looking very foreign trailing in the motive power consist.

It was Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority HSP-46 No. 2000. If that model designation seems foreign to you, it was to me, too.

An HSP-46 is a 4,650 horsepower, four-axle locomotive built by MotivePower, Inc., for commuter train service. That means that we won’t be seeing those units very often in Northeast Ohio.

The locomotives are EPA Tier 3 compliant and MBTA was the launch customer. The first HSP-46 to arrive on the property, No. 2001, was delivered to MBTA on Oct. 24, 2013, for testing and training.

No. 2001 began revenue service on April 16, 2014.

So what was No. 2000 doing going westbound and away from Boston? I will never know for sure, but MotivePower is based in Boise, Idaho, and I can only speculate that No. 2000 was headed there to have addressed a mechanical issue.

What I do know is that I could have made a better photo of No. 2000. By the time I realized that this CSX train had something unusual in its motive power consist, it was too late to get out of my car and step back to get in a better position.

So the angle of this image is not what I would have liked. But I still managed to come away with something and something is almost always better than nothing.

Photograph and Article by Craig Sanders

CAK Still Has Lowest Average Air Fares

January 29, 2016

Akron-Canton Airport continues to have the lowest average fares of the four largest commercial airports that draw passenger traffic from Northeast Ohio.

Statistics for the second quarter of 2015 – the latest figures available – show that the average roundtrip airfare from Akron-Canton was $322.46.

Akron-Canton AirportThat compared with $371.24 at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, $391.75 at Pittsburgh International Airport and $409.27 at Port Columbus International Airport, according to the study released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

When compared with fares for the same quarter of 2014, fares at Akron-Canton were 11 percent lower.

The DOT figures are based on domestic itineraries from each airport.

In the case of Akron-Canton, this occurred before Southwest Airlines ended nonstop service to Denver, Washington, Boston and New York, and before United Airlines began flying to Newark and American Airlines began flying to New York.

All of the four airports that draw passengers from the Northeast Ohio air travel market serve more than 1 million passengers annually.

The addition of service in May 2015 by Allegiant Air has helped to keep fares at Akron-Canton lower than airports in Columbus, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Allegiant is a vacation travel service known for occupying the ultra low-fare niche of the airline industry.

New Bridges in Ohio to Receive Fences

January 29, 2016

The Ohio Department of Transportation has agreed to install fences on all new bridges constructed over other roads.

The change was prompted in part by lobbying done by the family of a Stark County teacher who was nearly killed after being struck by a rock thrown from an overpass that smashed through the windshield of a car in which she was a passenger traveling on Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania.

ODOT 2The woman suffered a shattered skull and has had seven major surgical procedures since the incident occurred.

Four teenagers were later arrested in connection with the attack and are now serving prison time.

The new ODOT rule, which took effect on Jan. 1, applies only to new construction. Fencing will be applied to existing bridges or those already under construction on a case-by-case basis.

ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning said 167 bridges and overpasses will receive fencing over the next five years.

He said that approximately 921 of Ohio’s 3,780 grade-separated bridges over traffic routes already have fences.

Bruning said that exceptions to the rule would include county or township roads, bridges over waterways and some railroad bridges.

Officials say it would be cost prohibitive to install fences on all existing bridges.

Bridge Work to Begin on Turnpike Bridge

January 29, 2016

Construction will begin the week of Feb. 1 on a bridge deck replacement project on Ohio Route 83 (Avon-Belden Road) over the Ohio Turnpike in North Ridgeville.

Ohio turnpikeMotorist can expect daily lane closures on Route 83 as construction crews close the southbound lane and maintain one-way traffic over the bridge.

That traffic will be controlled by traffic lights.

The northbound lane will be closed the week of March 28 and one-way traffic will be maintained over the bridge.

Kokosing Construction has the contract to perform the work. For ongoing updates visit

http://www.ohioturnpike.org/constructionupdates

Railroading as it Once Was: Another Day at Work on the Erie Lackawanna at McCoy Street Yard

January 28, 2016

McCoy yard

Today the Akron Railroad Club blog launches a new feature that will spotlight photographs made by club member Roger Durfee that present railroading as it once was. Roger thus joins ARRC member Robert Farkas in presenting images of things you can’t see anymore and scenes that have changed over time.

This view was made in 1976 from the Thornton Street bridge in Akron. An Erie Lackawanna RS-3 is working the yard as a switcher rests at the engine house in the background on the left. The EL was folded into Conrail on April 1, 1976, and before long the EL yard was phased out in favor of South Akron Yard of the former Pennsylvania Railroad.

Photograph by Roger Durfee

AAR Upbeat on State of Railroad Industry

January 28, 2016

In its first state of the industry report, the Association of American Railroads gave an upbeat assessment of the industry while noting that it faces key challenges.

“Our industry maintains its leadership position through innovations designed to improve the performance of our employees, our equipment and even the rail itself,” said AAR President and CEO, Edward R. Hamberger. “This new report outlines how the railroad industry provides innovative, on-the-ground technologies and community programs that safeguard our customers’ cargo, the communities we serve and our employees.”

AARDesigned to educate lawmakers, business leaders and the public about the freight railroad industry’s top priorities, the report also reflects the views of such experts as John Tunna, director of the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Research and Development and Tony Sultana, a principal investigator at the Transportation Technology Center.

The AAR said the railroad industry continues to address safety and cited a 45 percent decline in the train accident rate since 2000 and 80 percent since 1980.

“The exciting thing right now is that technology is moving into the transportation field at a rapid rate,” Tunna said in the report.

The industry continues to implement positive train control technology and to take advantage of such emerging technologies as drones while providing community-based training and outreach.

Among the innovations discussed in the report is the development of an ultrasonic detection system that allows a better view into steel rail to locate track defects before they cause problems.

Drones are being considered for inspection of track, bridge and other freight rail infrastructure, as well as monitoring air quality.

Hamberger said the ultimate takeaway from the report is an increased emphasis on rail network investments —$25 billion annually over the last five years on average — collaboration with customers and government, and the development of new technologies. All of these are designed to improve safety.

“The sweeping reduction in freight rail accidents and injuries over the last several decades is the result of stepped-up employee training as well as a dedicated team of safety experts who conduct rigorous research, examine problems in new ways, apply technological advances and novel changes to processes that ultimately make a safe system of transportation even safer,” he said. “We are proud of the industry’s efforts, including those highlighted in this report, and look forward to promoting more developments in the future.”

The AAR will issue multiple state of the industry reports each year, including two more in 2016. Each report will focus on a particular theme.