Archive for October, 2016

Return to Horseshoe Curve

October 31, 2016
A Norfolk Southern stack train with a Union Pacific unit in the motive power consist makes its way around Horseshoe Curve west of Altoona, Pennsylvania.

A Norfolk Southern stack train with a Union Pacific unit in the motive power consist makes its way around Horseshoe Curve west of Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, Pennsylvania, is one of railroadings’s most notable engineering achievements in the Eastern United States.

Opened on Feb. 15, 1854, the curve has hosted trains of the Pennsylvania, Penn Central, Conrail and now Norfolk Southern. Amtrak’s New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian traverses the curve daily.

Earlier this year NS cleared quite a bit of brush and trees from around the Curve, thus opening some view for photography.

Akron Railroad Club members Ed Ribinksas and Jeff Troutman venture to the Curve in mid October and Ed shares in this post some of his favorite images that he made that day.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas







Akron Railroads is Released Today

October 31, 2016

Today is one of those landmark days in my life that I probably won’t remember, but it is important. My seventh published book, Akron Railroads, is being released today by Arcadia Publishing.

It is the second book of the same title that I’ve published with Arcadia and the identical names aside, they do not have quite the same focus.

book-coverMy first Akron Railroads, published in 2007, focused more on the overall history of railroads serving Akron, Ohio, thus having a broader focus in time. It was part of Arcadia’s Images of Rail series and featured black and white photographs.

The second Akron Railroads has a narrower focus of 1960 to present. Nearly all of the images in that book are in color.

I was able to receive an advance copy of the book about a month ago and was pleased with how it turned out. The quality of the printing is good and it has a glossy cover.

All of the photographs in this edition of Akron Railroads, were contributed by members of the Akron Railroad Club. Some of those members had contributed photographs that appeared in the first edition of Akron Railroads.

Here is the summary of the content of the second edition of Akron Railroads that I wrote that appears on the back cover:

“In the six decades preceding 1960, Akron’s network of railroads had been relatively stable. Then a series of mergers began that year, changing the face of the city’s railroad network. By the early 1970s, the industrial base-particularly the rubber industry-that had sustained the region’s economy was in decline, and the fortunes of the railroad industry fell with it.

“The self-described “rubber capital of the world” was hit hard, and the production of tires for the automotive industry all but disappeared. The 1960s also saw a precipitous decline in rail passenger service, with the last passenger trains discontinued in 1971. A restructuring of the railroad industry that began in the mid-1970s left the Akron region with three railroad companies. Some railroad lines were abandoned, while others saw the scope of their operations changed or reduced. Today’s rail network in Akron may be slimmer, but the railroads are financially healthy and continue to play a major role in meeting the region’s transportation needs.

The book retails for $22.95 and is available from

LSL Chicago-Boston Cars Resume Operation

October 31, 2016

Through sleepers and coaches between Chicago and Boston on the Lake Shore Limited resumed operation last week after being absent for more than a year.

Amtrak Lake Shore LimitedAmtrak had instead operated a stub-end train between Boston and Albany-Rensselaer, New York, with passengers making an across-the-platform connection.

Through Boston cars were dropped during a track reconstruction program in Albany-Rensselaer.

The resumption of Boston through cars coincided with the introduction of business class service between Chicago and Boston.

That service is being provided in 2-1 seating in one end of the café car that operates between the two cities. Business class seating is not yet available between Chicago and New York on Nos. 48 and 49, but is offered on the Chicago-New York Cardinal via Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

Food service between New York and Albany-Rensselaer is being provided by an Amfleet II “diner-lite” car.

N.F. Says Amtrak Depot Lease Getting Closer

October 31, 2016

Officials in Niagara Falls, New York, have once again said they are close to signing a lease with Amtrak for its use of a new intermodal facility.

Amtrak 4No date has been announced for when Amtrak might begin using the facility.

City Planner Thomas DeSantis said negotiations have taken longer than the city expected, but all of the parties involved are trying to reach a conclusion as soon as possible.

DeSantis said it will likely take Amtrak a few weeks to get settled into the new facility once a lease is signed.

He said that the terminal received a certificate of occupancy last week that allow tenants to use the building after signing a lease.

In its 2017 budget proposal, the city of Niagara Falls projected receiving from Amtrak annual lease payments of $172,800.

A museum to be operated by the Underground Railroad Heritage Area is expected to earn $19,000.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will also occupy a portion of the station, but payments leasing that space will be part of the Amtrak lease payments.

Niagara Falls is served by Amtrak’s Maple Leaf and Empire Service trains.

Buffalo Station Study Gets Funding

October 31, 2016

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has approved awarding $1 million to conduct a study of a new Amtrak station in Buffalo, New York.

Amtrak 4Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown will lead a study committee that will study station sites.

Work on the study is expected to begin in six months.

Buffalo has two Amtrak stations, Exchange Street Station in the city served the Maple Leaf and Empire Service trains. A station in suburban Depew serves all those trains plus the Lake Shore Limited.

A&BB Crossing Wooster Road

October 29, 2016


Today the background in this image is an empty field, but in October 1980, Pittsburgh Plate Glass had a large plant in full operation. Akron & Barberton Belt 4201 crosses Wooster Road West as it leaves the plant. The 4201 was leased from Precision National.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian in Altoona

October 29, 2016




Amtrak’s New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian passes through Altoona, Pennsylvania, in late morning eastbound and late afternoon westbound.

The usual consist of Nos. 42 and 43 is a single P42DC locomotive and six Amfleet cars, one of them a food service car that offers business class service.

The westbound Pennsylvanian is shown on Horseshoe Curve west of Altoona and passing the former Alto Tower in downtown Altoona.

In mid-October the train was running with one of Amtrak’s Phase III livery heritage units.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Thompson Named RTA Rail Manager

October 29, 2016

Sean Thompson has been appointed as director of rail operations for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.


Sean Thompson

Thompson, who will assume his post on Oct. 31, most recently worked for the Federal Transit Administration overseeing rail safety for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

He has 20 years of experience in rail, including a stint with Cleveland RTA in 2010-11 as the agency’s rail training manager.

He left Cleveland RTA to work for the Federal Railroad Administration as an operating practices inspector and later served as a deputy regional administrator in Sacramento, California.

Thompson also has worked on light- and commuter-rail operations in Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; and Salt Lake City.

“[GCRTA] is privileged to have someone of his caliber on board,” said Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese in a statement. “With Sean’s expertise, we can sharpen our focus on safety, while we advance state of good repair initiatives.”

AAR Wants STB Switching Rules Dropped

October 29, 2016

The Association of American Railroads this week contended that proposed rules on reciprocal or competitive switching are unlawful and is demanding that the Surface Transportation Board drop them.

STBReciprocal switching refers to a situation in which a railroad has physical access to a specific shipper facility in which it does not own the rails leading to that facility.

The second railroad typically pays the owning railroad in the form of a per-car switching charge.

The AAR contends the STB’s proposed rules are “contrary to the established law dating back well before the Staggers Act and providing that a shipper must show ‘actual necessity’ to obtain an order of forced switching” and that they ignore statutory language that requires a showing of necessity for a switching order

“The rules give no weight to provisions of the Rail Transportation Policy directing the agency to allow market forces to govern railroad commercial activity to the maximum extent possible and to minimize regulatory intervention into the market,” The AAR asserted in a brief filed with the STB.

In a related move, a coalition of organizations that oppose the STB’s proposed reciprocal switching rules has asked Congress to prevent the STB from enforcing them.

The coalition said the rules, if adopted, would return the rail industry to pre-Staggers Act days of heavy regulation by the federal government.

“We believe that freight rail deregulation—culminating in the Staggers Rail Act of 1980—represents one of the most significant economic policy successes in the history of the United States and that these reforms must be protected,” The Competitive Enterprise Institute argued in a letter sent to members of Congress.

Flight Cuts Hurt Youngstown Airport

October 29, 2016

The commercial airline woes continue for the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, which is losing flights and revenue.

Youngstown AirportAirport officials expect the yearly passenger count at the airport this year to be 110,000, which would be 20,000 less than in 2015.

The latest flight cutbacks were the cancellation of flights by Allegiant Air between Youngstown and Punta Gorda, Florida, near Fort Myers.

Aviation Director Dan Dickten said there is no clear date for when the Punta Gorda flights might be reinstated.

In late August the airport lost service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport by Great Lakes Jet Express.

Dickten said the lost flights have resulted in falling parking revenue. In 2015, the airport made $400,000 in parking revenue, but expects that to fall to about $315,000 this year.

Allegiant this year has expanded service to Akron-Canton Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport, which Dickten said has reduced the customer base for the Youngstown airport.

Allegiant announced earlier that it will move its flights from Akron-Canton to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and it is not clear what effect, if any, this would have on Allegiant operations in Youngstown.