Archive for July, 2016

Couple Encounters With Michigan Shore Railroad

July 31, 2016
A Michigan Shore Railroad train crosses Jackson Avenue in Grand Haven, Michigan

A Michigan Shore Railroad train crosses Jackson Avenue in Grand Haven, Michigan

We were driving to Grand Haven, Michigan, during a vacation trip to the Lake Michigan shore of Western Michigan.

Railfanning was not on my agenda on this day, but I did notice there was a railroad track running parallel to U.S. 31.

Somewhere along the way I noticed the headlight a train stopped at a rural grade crossing, so I swung over there and photographed a short manifest freight of the Michigan Shore Railroad, a Genesee & Wyoming property.

Some quick research found that this is a former Pere Marquette line. The railroad’s website showed that the MS operates between Fremont and Port Sheldon, Michigan, via Muskegon and Grand Haven. It interchanges with CSX in Holland.

The railroad’s website said that its primary commodities handled include sand and chemicals.

The train I saw turned out to be the Z627 and there was a G&W pickup truck parked trackside. It is driven by the conductor so that he can get ahead of the train as it leaves Muskegon and open the swing bridge at Grand Haven.

The train then parks at Fillmore Road, which is near the end of the MSR property, and waits for CSX to give the crew clearance to come into Waverly Yard in Holland to interchange traffic.  I was able to get a few images and continued on to Grand Haven.

It turned out I was not yet done with the Michigan Shore Railroad. After spending some time at a beach in Grand Haven and photographing a pair of lighthouses, I then sought to find the former Pere Marquette passenger station, which is now a professional office building.

As I was photographing the depot, Mary Ann said she heard a train horn in the distance.

A few minutes later the same set of motive power I had seen earlier in the day showed up with the same GP38 leading. The train turns on a wye in Holland while on CSX so that the engineer doesn’t have to trade locomotives.

I am guessing that this train interchanged with CSX. The consist of my second sighting of the Michigan Shore train is similar to the first with tank cars and boxcars although fewer of them.

After recording the train going away, we left and this time I was done with railfanning for the day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The next three images were all made at Fillmore Street along U.S. 31 south of Grand Haven.

The next three images were all made at Fillmore Street along U.S. 31 south of Grand Haven.

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Approaching Jackson Avenue and the former Pere Marquette station in Grand Haven.

Approaching Jackson Avenue and the former Pere Marquette station in Grand Haven.

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Railroading as It Once Was: When Power Companies Had Their Own Locomotive Fleets

July 30, 2016

Detroit Edison

Five pretty clean Detroit Edison units hustle the empties back to the mines along Conrail’s Cleveland Line a few miles west of Alliance in April 1988.

The empty moves were good for catching all the power up front as the loaded trains would have two “slave” units cut in back in the train.

The lead U30C has the newer colors applied where a light gray replaced the metallic silver.

Photograph by Roger Durfee

The Evolution of Service on an Ex-Erie Line

July 30, 2016

EL 1234 at Radburn 1975

EL Switcher At Radburn 1975

EL Switcher At Radburn 1975

Conrail 5977 at Radburn 1977

Conrail 6152 at Radburn 1977

NJT 4014 at Radburn 2015

NS 5612 at Radburn 2015

With your current theme of then and now, I thought you might like to see action through Fair Lawn, New Jersey, over the years.

All pictures are at Radburn Station and were made between 1975 and 2015. The first three images are from 1975, the next two are from 1977 and the final two are from 2015.

Times have changed here, too. The local freight that serves the Fair Lawn Industrial Park no longer serves Kodak, of which no trace remains.

The only customer still served by rail in the industrial park is Nabisco. At the other end of town is Zerega and Sons pasta factory.

These two industries are the only freight customers left in Fair Lawn.

The tracks, the former Erie Railroad/Erie Lackawanna Bergen County Line, are now owned by New Jersey Transit and freight service is provided by Norfolk Southern.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

Amtrak to Launch New On-board Magazine

July 30, 2016

Amtrak is planning to launch a new on-board magazine that will be distributed nationwide and replace its current publication, Arrive.

Amtrak logoThe magazine will be named The National and is part of a marketing effort by Amtrak to portray itself as a more upscale travel brand.

The National is set to launch in October and will be published bimonthly by Ink, a British travel magazine publisher that plans to emphasize beautiful travel photography and long-form journalism.

“It’s much more about Americana, the view from the train, the whole country,” Ink Chief Executive Simon Leslie said. “There will be stories about things going on around the network and stories about people on the train.”

Amtrak’s current magazine Arrive is oriented toward the Northeast Corridor although it has made its way westward on some long-distance trains such as the Lake Shore Limited.

The staff for The National will be based in New York. Ink publishes custom titles for the London-to-Paris Eurostar train service and for American and United airlines

Such publications often involve little to no cost for the carrier and the publisher makes money from advertising sales. In some instances, the carrier gets a cut of the ad revenue.

The carrier is responsible for placing the magazine in seatbacks.

Interstate H Unit at Hines Hill Road

July 29, 2016

_DSC5915 NS Interstate heritage 8105 RES

This is my only recent Norfolk Southern heritage unit catch, courtesy of good timing from the  site and a clear personal calendar on the afternoon.

I saw the notice and left my mother-in-law’s house in Broadview Heights, hustling to where I felt there would be a clear shot.

This is at Hines Hill Road looking east at the westbound train. I arrived with approximately 15 minutes to spare.

It is hard to catch something with good nose light on the C&P in the afternoon  without a longish drive from my house.

Given that the Interstate heritage unit leading the train was already to Ravenna when the notice appeared, I felt this is all I had time to do.

In retrospect a better lighted shot might have been from the Cuyahoga River, either side of lift bridge. This is not bad.

It has nice side light, good sun that was a bit of luck as the clouds were often blocking it that day. This was made on July 1 at 2:30 p.m.

Article and Photograph by Peter Bowler

STB Issues Two Rulings in Passenger Cases

July 29, 2016

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board this week decided that it would consider on-time arrival and departure performance at all stations along a passenger train’s route for purposes of assessing overall on-time performance.

STBThe STB said in a news release that it deem a train to be “on time” if it arrives at or departs from a station no more than 15 minutes after its scheduled arrival or departure time.

In a related decision, the STB said it is withdrawing a proposed policy statement on issues that may arise and evidence to be presented in proceedings under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 in favor of a case-by-case approach.

“Reflecting careful consideration of an extensive public and stakeholder response to our most recent passenger rail proposals, these decisions will better position the Board to implement its responsibilities under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008,” said Board Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III in a statement. “Improved passenger train on-time performance is an important goal, and the Board’s decisions will support that goal by clarifying the trigger for starting a proceeding, while allowing more complex and detailed issues to be resolved in the context of individual cases.”

Another Landslide Hits WMSR

July 29, 2016

Another landslide has hit the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, making it all but certain that the tourist railroad won’t be running to Frostburg, Maryland, until sometime in 2017.

Western Maryland ScenicAn earlier landslide last March near milepost 179 had severed the line, but officials had predicted that damage from that incident would be repaired in time for a return to Frostburg by the middle of September.

The latest landslide occurred 10 miles from Cumberland near milepost 175 and is unrelated to the earlier landslide.

WMSR General Superintendent John Garner told Trains magazine that a geology firm detected movement in a hillside adjacent to tracks about two miles away from the location of the March landslide.

Garner said the location, known as Woodcock Hollow in Mt. Savage, has been a problem spot for years with the original Western Maryland having to stabilize the hillside from falling rock and other debris.

Movement on the hillside was only detected recently when soil and rock-like material moved down and outward about an inch as a result of heavy rainfall.

For now, WMSR trains are operating from Cumberland to Maryland Junction in West Virginia and back into Maryland as far west as Milepost 174.

Locomotives are being placed on both ends of the train and passengers will travel on a 24-mile roundtrip excursion.

Garner told Trains that ridership is up by around 1,000 passengers this season.

STB Proposing Competitive Switching Rule

July 29, 2016

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is accepting comments through Sept. 26 on a proposed rule that would allow shippers to switch cargo among railroads if a shipper can show the arrangement is “practicable and in the public interest” or “necessary to provide competitive rail service.”

STBKnown as reciprocal or competitive switching, the STB rule would allow a railroad that does not own tracks leading to a shipper’s facility to access those tracks by paying a fee to the owning railroad. This often done in the form of a per-car switching charge.

The STB was acting in response to a petition filed by the National Industrial League in 2011 asking the board to modify the standard for mandatory reciprocal or competitive switching.

The NIL wants certain captive shippers in terminal areas to be granted access to a competing railroad if there is a working interchange within 30 miles.

A competitive switching arrangement, though, would not be ordered if either railroad proves that it isn’t feasible or safe, or would unduly hamper either one’s ability to serve customers.

The Association of American Railroads opposes the rule change, calling it “a step backward from the deregulatory path that has allowed railroads to make the capacity investments required to meet customer demand and further modernize a nationwide rail network that benefits shippers and consumers.”

The AAR has argued that STB rules protect rail shippers as railroads voluntarily switch traffic under the current system. If freight can get from its origin to final destination only if it is carried by two or more railroads, then by law the railroads must cooperate to move the shipments.

2016 Tiger Grant Winners Being Named

July 29, 2016

Although the U.S. Department of Transportation has not announced the winners of the 2016 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants, word is beginning to leak out about which bids have been chosen.

Thus far public officials in Tiger grantsIllinois, Mississippi, New York, Rhode Island and Washington have issued news releases detailing funding awarded to projects in those states.

DOT is awarding $500 million for the eighth round of TIGER. It received 585 applications requesting $9.3 billion.

The agency has said that its 2016 focus is on capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation for urban and rural communities.

Chasing the PRR H Unit on the ex-Pennsy

July 28, 2016


Last Sunday the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit led Norfolk Southern train 12V across the former Pennsy mainline via Bucyrus and Alliance.

With our club picnic being held in nearby Warwick Park, four ARRC members were out in force to catch this move.

My first stop was Mace interlocking in Massillon where the PRR crosses the former Baltimore & Ohio from Warwick.

Myself, Craig Sanders, Steve McMullen and a few others were there to witness its passage.

I also found out that a 66Z with Canadian Pacific motive power was following the 12V. I didn’t stick around for that as I wanted to catch 12V at some other spots.

Next up I went to Wandle crossing in Canton. Jim Mastramatteo and Ron McElrath were already set up.

After that I went to Fairhope which is the east end of Canton yard. The 12V was doing some switching there and I caught a meet with a westbound coal train, the NS 776.

Next was Beech Road at Maximo where Don Woods and Dave Shepherd were there waiting. They had a slight scare as the NS 169 showed up right before 12V, but it was on the opposite track and all was well.

It had been overcast and even raining but here the sun came out, which made for some nice photos.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon