Archive for February, 2017

Ohio Central Steam Memory on the CVSR

February 28, 2017

oc-steam

Most photographs that Northeast Ohio railfans made of Ohio Central 4-6-2 No. 1293 were made on its former home rails, which are now operated by Genesee & Wyoming.

By the Pacific-type owned by Jerry Jacobson made three visits to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, that last of which occurred in September 2012.

The first excursion of that visit occurred on Sept. 8 and ran from Rockside Road Station to Indigo Lake.

It carried those passengers attending the CVSR’s 40th anniversary gala held at Hale Farm and Village.

Shown in the cab are Mark Perri (left) and engineer Tim Sposato.

Amtrak to Repave Kalamazoo Crossings

February 28, 2017

Amtrak will be repaving four railroad crossings in Kalamazoo this summer.

michiganAlthough the work is not expected to affect operations of Amtrak trains, when combined with another road construction project planned for downtown Kalamazoo, it will create challenges getting to and from the station.

The crossing are located at West Main Street, West Kalamazoo Avenue, North Westnedge Avenue and North Park Street. Detours will be posted for the four crossing.

The Michigan Department of Transportation also will launch a rebuilding of a four-mile stretch of  M-43.

During that project, M-43 will be reduced to a single lane for most of 2017.

MDOT plans to mill and replace pavement on a section of M-43, also known as West Michigan Avenue, from US-131 east to Michikal Street, and a section of M-43, also known as West Kalamazoo Avenue, from Pitcher Street east to Douglas Avenue.

Kalamazoo is served by Amtrak’ Wolverine Service and Blue Water.

PennDOT Takes New Planning Approach

February 28, 2017

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said last week that it is adopting a new approach to transportation project planning and development that will require more collaboration with local and planning stakeholders before project plans are developed

penndot-4Known as PennDOT Connects, the approach will require discussion of such matters as safety; bicycle and pedestrian accommodations; transit access; stormwater management; utilities; local and regional plans and studies; and freight-generating land uses.

In a news release, PennDOT said that collaboration will occur for projects without previously defined project phases, those that haven’t started preliminary engineering or started preliminary engineering after July 1, 2016.

That equates to about 280 projects worth $2 billion, state officials said.

It Wasn’t Just a ‘Slide’ Show. So What was it?

February 27, 2017

I first noticed the “s” word as I wheeled a cart loaded with digital technology toward the social hall where the Akron Railroad Club was having its annual pizza party and member’s night programs.

on-photography-newA sign pointed in the direction of the ARRC “slide show.” The next day I noticed that “slides” had been used on the front page of the February ARRC Bulletin to promote the event.

Slides were shown at the event, but it was not a slide show. Digital presenters outnumbered slide presenters 6-4.

“Slide” is used by some as a generic description meaning photographic images projected by light onto a screen.

It is not unlike “Kleenex,” a trademark name that many people use interchangeably to describe any brand of facial tissue.

Kimberly-Clark, the holder of the Kleenex trademark, used to buy advertisements in Editor & Publisher to implore journalists not to use “Kleenex” as a generic term.

Slide is not a trademark, but has a specific meaning as a single frame of film mounted in cardboard or plastic.

For many years slides were the predominant medium for projecting photographs at ARRC meetings.

In the club’s early years movies were common, but they gave way to slides and, at times, video tape.

It is possible that a slide could be a photograph of a photograph, but that doesn’t happen often.

But digital is a more flexible medium that can be used to show images scanned from slides, film negatives or printed photographs. It can also be used to project movies, video and, of course, images made with a digital camera or smart phone.

One digital presenters at last Saturday’s ARRC member’s showed images scanned from prints. Another showed movies that had been digitized.

About 40 percent of the images I plan to present in my digital program next month will have been scanned from slides.

“Slide” also has taken on another meaning. I’ve come to associate it with old photographs.

Only one of the four presenters at the ARRC’s member’s night showed slides that were made within the past six months. Most of the slides shown were at least 20 years old.

I’m reminded of the trademark of another company that used to advertise in Editor & Publisher.

Xerox Corporation used to plead with journalists not to use the name of their company as a generic term for a photo copy.

But it wasn’t just journalists. I heard quite often people talk about making a “Xerox copy” of a paper document.

It is a term, though, that seems to have fallen by the wayside in favor of “copy.”

The novelty of copy machines has long since worn off and there are so many brands of them that most people probably aren’t aware of which one they’re using.

And so use of the word “slide” probably will fade away as the generations that grew up making images on film pass on and slide become a novelty.

North Pole Express Tickets on Sale

February 27, 2017

Tickets are now on sale for the North Pole Express trips hosted by the Steam Railroading Institute of Owosso, Michigan, to be run later this year.

Steam Railroading InstituteThe trips will be pulled by Pere Marquette No. 1225, the locomotive that was used as the prototype for the steam engine in the 2004 Warner Bros movie The Polar Express.

The four-hour trips begin on Nov. 17 and will operate through Dec. 17. Trains leave from the SRI facility in Owosso and travel to the Country Christmas festival in Ashley, Michigan. The trip includes a two-hour layover in Ashley.

New for this year will be cocoa class tickets ($79), which include unlimited hot chocolate, a souvenir mug and bell, and a 1225 collector’s item.

SRI is also introducing economy plus bi-level class ($49), which provides a seat in a bi-level coach.

Other ticket classes are economy ($39), caboose ($1,500) and coach ($59). To purchase tickets call 989-399-7589 or visit www.michigansteamtrain.com

 

30 Enjoy ARRC Member’s Night Programs

February 26, 2017

pizza-night

Thirty Akron Railroad Club members and guests munched on pizza and viewed a wide range of railroad photographs during the club’s annual member’s night held Saturday night (Feb. 25).

Eleven attendees presented digital images, slides and video that had a decidedly eastern United States and Northeast Ohio focus.

We put away in short order the eight pizzas delivered by Marcos that arrived shortly before 6 p.m. There were also chips, cookies and several types of soda pop.

Ed Ribinskas led off the member’s night presentations with a self-described hodgepodge of digital images and photographs that had been digitized.

His program showed futuristic trains at Walt Disney World, replica steam locomotive Leviathan, some other assorted steam locomotive power, Norfolk Southern heritage locomotives in Northeast Ohio, Nickel Plate Road No. 765 in Ohio, and some late-running editions of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited.

Todd Dillon took us along on his recent Florida vacation where he spent most of his time trackside rather than at the beach.

Todd’s program included views of the new SunRail commuter service in Orlando, some Florida East Coast action and Amtrak’s Silver Meteor and Auto Train.

He rounded out his program by showing some of the last runs of the Orange Blossom Cannonball of the Tavares, Eustis & Gulf Railroad.

Club President Craig Sanders had the only images of the night that were made west of the Mississippi River.

Craig’s program focused on railroads and grain elevators. He showed grain elevators in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba that he made while riding The Canadian of VIA Rail Canada in May 2014.

But the focus of the program was grain elevators in east central Illinois, most notably along the former Illinois Central. This featured trains of Canadian National – which now owns the ex-IC mainline – Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and Amtrak.

Dennis Taksar attended a wedding in Tennessee not long ago and showed us various rail operations that he photographed on his trip there and back,

This included Norfolk Southern operations, the tourist railroad at Dollywood, the kitsch of Pigeon Forge, and vintage locomotives and cars at a repository of old equipment near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Tom Fritsch made a trip to West Virginia to do some tourist railroad fanning, which included riding and photographing the Durbin & Greenbrier, and the Cass Scenic Railroad.

Alex Bruchac had some of the oldest images shown during the evening during his 10-minute video made from movies of two railfan transit excursions in Cleveland.

The movies were made during 1968 and 1970 excursions of vintage streetcars traveling today’s Red, Green and Blue lines of Cleveland RTA.

David Mangold took us to the Illinois Railway Museum for a look at its collection and views of interurban cars, steam trains and a visiting Union Pacific passenger special.

Marty Surdyk led off the slide presenters with images he made on New Year’s Day this year during a railfan outing to downtown Cleveland that he wrote about in the January Bulletin.

We saw NS trains on the Chicago Line and cars of the RTA Waterfront Line.

He fleshed out the program by showing images made last fall on the CSX New Castle Subdivision between Lodi and Sullivan and the Wheeling & Lake Erie west of Spencer on the former Akron, Canton & Youngstown line to Carey.

In part II of a program that he presented to the ARRC last year, Paul Woodring showed us the rest of the Best of the Rest.

These were slides that didn’t make the cut for the original program. The theme for Paul’s member’s night program was things that don’t exist anymore. Nothing was newer than 20 years old.

This included the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad (which is now owned by CSX), Baltimore & Ohio Rail Diesel Cars that were used in Washington, D.C., commuter service, the West Virginia Northern, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company “yellowbird” locomotives, Detroit Edison coal trains, E units painted in the colors of the Pennsylvania Railroad of the Blue Mountain & Reading, long-since retired South Shore equipment, and Amtrak odds and ends.

The latter included E units, E60 electric locomotives used on the Northeast Corridor in the 1970s, the experimental Swedish-built X2000, which tested in the 1990s, and a switcher built in 1939 that was once the passenger carrier’s oldest locomotive.

Paul also dropped in photographs of a Southern Railway steam excursion program trip and railfans who have since died.

Jim Mastromatteo is an aficionado of the Wheeling & Lake Erie and his program featured a gallery of Wheeling locomotives from primarily the 1990s.

Wrapping up the evening was Richard Antibus, who took us back in time in Akron to an era when Conrail was primarily responsible for the maintenance of the line it shared with CSX between AY and Warwick.

Akron was a far outpost for Conrail and it skimped on the track repairs. That led to slow trains and numerous derailments, the latter of which was the focus of Rich’s program.

CVSR Names Mazur as Next President

February 26, 2017

Just as was the case with his predecessor, the new president of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad comes from a world of wheels.

CVSRBut whereas retired CVSR head Craig B. Tallman had been an executive with a trucking company, his replacement, Joe Mazur, comes from much smaller and non-motorized vehicles.

Mazur is the president of the International Soap Box Derby in Akron and will assume the post of head of the CVSR on March 21.

The 51-year-old Mazur will leave the Soap Box Derby and won’t have to go far to see a CVSR train in action.

He lives in a log cabin less than 2 miles from the CVSR tracks. His affinity for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was enough to pull him away from a job with the Soap Box Derby that he enjoyed.

“To be able to live and work in the park is a dream,” Mazur told the Akron Beacon Journal. “The national park is one of the greatest treasures of Northeast Ohio.”

Railroad board Chairman Ray Labuda said that Mazur’s mix of nonprofit and private sector experience was attractive.

At one point in his career Mazur worked at Thistle­down Racetrack in North Randall, where he served as assistant controller.

His background also has included a post at SMG, a Pennsylvania company that manages sports facilities and arenas around the world, and as finance director for Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center among other positions.

Mazur told the Beacon Journal that he had lunch with Tallman five years ago and expressed a fascination with running the railroad because it is a rolling events venue.

When Tallman retired at the end of 2016, Mazur decided to consider the position. He said he looks forward to working with railroad and park staff as well as raising money.

Progress Testing New Tier 4 Switcher

February 26, 2017

progress-diesel

Progress Rail has finished initial testing of a new type of Tier 4 locomotive, the EMD24B.

The EMD24B features a pre-1973 locomotive core that has been rebuilt to meet EPA Tier 4 emission standards.

It comes with a Cat® 3512C HD engine and after-treatment technologies that have been proven to lower emissions, Progress said in a news release.

The prototype is rated at 2,000 horsepower and has rebuilt EMD-style locomotive components, and a remanufactured under frame and cab from an EMD GP40 locomotive.

Progress is currently testing the unit in California on the Pacific Harbor Line to meet that state’s 3,000-hour in-service verification testing.

Class 1 Employment Fell 1.19% in January

February 26, 2017

Class 1 Railroad employment fell 1.19 percent in January to 148,427 workers when compared with December 2016 employment, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board reported.

STBThe STB said the January figures are down 5.22 percent from a two years ago benchmark.

All but two employment categories reflected workforce decreases in employment. The two categories posting increases were executives, officials and staff assistants, up 1 percent to 9,076 workers; and professional and administrative, up 0.5 percent to 13,189 workers.

Compared with December 2016, the number of maintenance of way and structures employees fell 0.67 percent to 34,174; maintenance of equipment and stores employees declined 0.93 percent to 28,034; transportation (other than train and engine) slipped 0.19 percent to 5,911; and transportation (train and engine) dropped 2.42 percent to 58,043.

On a year over year basis, all reported categories reflected decreases. Executives, officials and staff assistants were down 4.93 percent; professional and administrative, down 6.27 percent; maintenance of way and structures, down 4.65 percent; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 6.4 percent; transportation (other than T&E), down 9.2 percent; and transportation (T&E), down 4.35 percent.

Vandals Hit Detroit Streetcars

February 26, 2017

Vandals recently struck Detroit’s new streetcar system, finding their way through a gated area and spray painting graffiti on one of the QLine streetcars.

Police are investigating the incident involving the 3.3-mile system that is slated to open this spring. The streetcar that was vandalized were built by Brookville Equipment Corporation.