Archive for May, 2017

Different Point of View on Arcade & Attica

May 29, 2017

Akron Railroad Club members Edward Ribinskas and Jeff Troutman ventured to New York State on Saturday to chase the Arcade & Attica steam tourist train.

They’ve been there before but what was different this time was that A&A was celebrating its 100th anniversary by operating its 2-8-0 Alco No. 18 with its nose facing west rather than east as is the custom.

In the top photograph, No. 18 is read to depart from Curriers, New York. In the bottom photograph No. 18 rests at Curriers during its first run.

The A&A ran two trips last Saturday, both of them departing from Arcade, New York.

Photographs by Jeff Troutman

CSX, CP May Launch Run-Through Trains

May 29, 2017

CSX and Canadian Pacific are reportedly discussing ways to eliminate traffic congestion in Chicago, including creating run-through trains.

 “We’ve had some discussions with CSX operationally as well as commercially,” CP CEO Keith Creel said last week at an investor conference.
Noting that the talks are in the early stages, Creel said that the goal is to reduce transit time and improve service reliability.

CP currently relies on Norfolk Southern to move CP trains between Chicago and Detroit because CP does not have its own route from the east.

Stack trains cannot use the Windsor Tunnel beneath the Detroit River and CP has used CSX in recent years to move double stacked container between Chicago and Buffalo.

This puts CP at  competitive disadvantage against its chief rival Canadian National, which reaches Chicago over the former Grand Trunk Western and when can get through Chicago on the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, which CN acquired in 2009.

CSX and CP interchange about 400 cars per day in Chicago, making CSX CP’s largest interchange partner railroad there.

Creel told the investor conference that 100 of those cars could be sent deep into CSX territory as a run-through train to avoid handling in Chicago. CSX could build trains destined for points on CP.

It Bike Aboard Season Again on the CVSR

May 27, 2017

The Bike Aboard program is back for another year on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

Shown is a long line of bikes waiting to be boarded in the baggage car at Peninsula. It’s a Saturday morning and this is the first southbound National Park Scenic train of the day.

Swelling the numbers was a Boy  Scout troop that was riding the train one way and biking back to Peninsula, perhaps from Akron.

The waiting bicyclists made for an impressive sight.

N&W 611 May Expand its Excursion Range

May 27, 2017

Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 might be pulling excursions outside of Virginia and North Carolina if the Virginia Museum of Transportation has its way.

“We cannot sustain excursions in the North Carolina, Virginia area after the exposure we’ve already had,” said museum Executive Director Beverly T. Fitzpatrick Jr.

Fitzpatrick said the market for tickets for trips in those two states is about played out.

“There are just [not] a lot of people that are going to ride anymore that haven’t already ridden,” Fitzpatrick said. “So we are now talking to Amtrak about broadening that base to see if we can go a lot of other places.”

He said it is uncertain what opportunities there might be to operate the J Class locomotive in excursion service elsewhere.

“Everything is not known at the moment but it’s exciting because nobody is saying no. Everybody wants to talk about the opportunities,” Fitzpatrick said.

Forgotten Photograph, Not Forgotten Man

May 27, 2017

I ran across this photograph recently while clearing out an electronic file folder on my computer.

The image was made in August 2014 in Amherst during a picnic of the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts, a Cleveland-based group.

You probably recognize the man making a photo as the late Tim Krogg, who served as secretary of the ARRC between 1989 and his death in March 2015.

This westbound Norfolk Southern train was among the last that he photographed. I don’t know how active Tim was in photographing while trackside, but I get the impression he didn’t make photographs very often.

Maybe this is the last train he photographed. It is likely the last image made of him photographing a train.

We’ve never had a practice in the ARRC of paying tribute to our deceased members aside from the annual Dave McKay Day outing in Berea in April.

Memorial Day is approaching and it’s a time to remember those who have gone before us.

Waving From a Train

May 26, 2017

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad crew members are encouraged to wave at people they see watching their train at stations and within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Of course waving at or from a train is a common practice in many other places, too. It is a practice as American as apple pie.

Some locomotives engineers will wave at railfans along the tracks and many railfans like to wave at trains whether the crew reciprocates or not.

These images were made of CVSR crew members waving in Peninsula on a recent Saturday.

In my experience, CVSR passengers like to get into the act, particularly if they see you photographing a train leaving or arriving at a station.

That included that man in the Saint Lucie Sound shown above.

Ohio OLI to Receive Grade Crossing Safety Grant

May 26, 2017

Ohio is among 15 states that have received part of the $219,000 in grant money awarded by Operation Lifesaver to fund grade-crossing safety education projects.

The grants will be used for public awareness campaigns and community events that deliver safety tips to target audiences, including motorists of all ages and professional drivers, OLI said in a news release.

“It is our hope that the grant projects in these states, as part of our U.S. Rail Safety Week efforts, will raise awareness of the need for caution near highway-rail grade crossings and help prevent families and communities from enduring the tragic crossing collisions that are far too frequent throughout the country,” said OLI President and CEO Bonnie Murphy.

The grants were awarded through a competitive bidding process. Other state OLI organizations receiving grants are located in California, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin.

Selection was based on how OLI state organizations leverage federal funds with private partnerships, targeted messaging and the frequency of highway-rail collisions in their respective state.

The safety awareness projects will be presented in conjunction with OLI’s U.S. Rail Safety Week, Sept. 24-30.

North Shore Named NS Short Line of Year

May 26, 2017

The Pennsylvania-based North Shore Railroad has been named as Norfolk Southern’s short line of the year.

North Shore, which manages six short-line railroads in central Pennsylvania, said its Lycoming Valley and Union County Industrial railroads were presented with business initiative awards by NS.

Earlier, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association presented North Shore with its 2017 marketing award.

“Receiving these awards from these prominent organizations is a true testament of the success of our dedicated, hardworking employees,” said Jeb Stotter, vice president and chief operating officer of the North Shore. “We appreciate our partnership with NS and are humbled by this recognition.”

AAPA Critical of Proposed Funding Cuts

May 26, 2017

Another transportation interest group has come out in opposition to the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts for fiscal year 2018.

The Association of Port Authorities this week said the proposed cuts would reduce funding to programs that are “critically important to ports.” In a statement, the group singled out Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants and port security grants.

The AAPA said the Trump budget would reduce Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund outlays and assistance in reducing diesel emissions.

The group favors spending $66 billion in federal funds for port-related infrastructure over the next 10 years and investing $33.8 billion to maintain and modernize deep-draft shipping channels, as well as $32.03 billion to build vital road and rail connections to ports and improve port facility infrastructure.

The Trump budget does seek money for harbor deepening projects in Boston and Savannah, Georgia, but AAPA noted that Congress has authorized 15 such projects.

AAPA did say it was encouraged by the administration’s infrastructure proposal and favors the concept of using federal funds to leverage private sector investments. It said that competitive grants often attract non-federal dollars, including money from the private sector.

Tooling With Thomas

May 25, 2017

Most railroad photographers give little thought to getting out to photograph Thomas the Tank Engine. I didn’t either until this year.

It is hard to take seriously a pint-sized steam locomotive that’s not really a locomotive but a “shoving platform” that is a cartoon character designed to appeal to children.

I’ve done my share of mocking Thomas by referring to him as “Thomas the tanked engine” and “man, is our Thomas tanked.” The word tanked in this context refers to being intoxicated.

The fictional steam locomotive first appeared in The Railway Series books by British authors Wilbert and Christopher Awdry and later became the star of a television series.

There is nothing small about Thomas, though, when it comes to money. For many tourist railroads, Thomas pulls in badly needed dollars to fund restoration and maintenance work. Trains magazine recently described him as “Thomas the bank engine.”

The Thomas franchise operates worldwide and is worth $1 billion annually in sales.

Since making his first appearance on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in May 1998, Thomas has become the second most popular special event behind the Polar Express – another children’s story – and draws 25,000 to 26,000 passengers a year.

That is far more than who ride behind a real steam locomotive, Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

There are multiple versions of Thomas that tour the United States, often appearing on tourist railroads. One Thomas was converted from a 1916 steam locomotive that served Brooklyn Dock & Terminal in New York City.

Google “Thomas the Tank Engine” and you’ll find that in some quarters there is an intense dislike of Thomas, with one commentator saying the TV program featuring Thomas is filled with messages of classism, sexism and anti-environmentalism bordering on racism.

Other parents have been critical of Thomas by saying he and his friends are nasty, negative and set a bad example for children, particularly in their shirking of their responsibilities, showing off and competing against each other.

Such thinking, though, hasn’t kept Thomas from becoming a superstar among children or kept many parents from taking their children to see and ride behind Thomas.

Earlier this year when I was working on my book about the CVSR, I decided I would get out to see Thomas this year. I wanted to document Thomas because, like him or not, he is a part of the story of the CVSR.

The half-hour Thomas excursions leave from Boston Mill station every hour at half past the hour.

As I approached Boston Mill while driving southbound on Riverview Road, there was a long line of people waiting to get into a large tent, presumably the passengers for the 9:30 a.m. trip.

I knew from reading the CVSR website that various ancillary activities surround the visit of Thomas – most of which are designed to appeal to children – but I was surprised at how much the area around the station resembled a carnival minus the Ferris wheel and tilt-a-wheel rides.

Much of the carnival was located on the west side of Riverview on the property of Boston Mill ski resort. You can’t gain access to the site without a ticket.

So much for my idea of walking around and getting a feel for the Thomas experience.

On every other excursion, Thomas would meet the CVSR National Park Scenic train in Peninsula.

So that was where I waited. At 10:44 a.m., Thomas came steaming into town and went into the siding.

Maybe “steaming” isn’t the right word to use since Thomas is not a live steam locomotive. But he does make smoke, although not consistently.

Thomas has a steam whistle, which isn’t that loud, but it’s a whistle. There is one light on his right side that at first glance resembles a ditch light.

His eyes go back and forth and his mouth moves, too. I didn’t know that Thomas could talk, but he does.

The Thomas specials on the CVSR were being pulled and propelled by CVSR FPA-4 No. 6777. A crew member in the cab of Thomas communicated with the 6777 by radio.

Shortly after the arrival of Thomas and his train, the southbound Scenic arrived. Thomas departed and the Scenic did its station work.

My plan to photograph Thomas next to CVSR 4241 was marred somewhat by people standing in front of Thomas when the Scenic arrived.

A small crowd of onlookers was drawn to Thomas with their smart phone cameras out.

I stayed in Peninsula until the next meet occurred between the Scenic and Thomas. This time the Scenic did its station work before Thomas got there and I was able to get a clearer view of No. 4241 and Thomas. The Scenic left and Thomas followed it out of town a few minutes later.

I had made enough photographs of Thomas, to satisfy my curiosity and to fill a void in my CVSR collection so I left, too.

Thomas takes the siding at Peninsula to allow the CVSR Scenic to pass on the mainline.

Thomas is modeled after a British steam locomotive design.

Here comes Thomas minus his friends.

CVSR crew members have their smart phones out as Thomas chugs into Peninsula for a meet with the CVSR Scenic.

Children aboard the CVSR Scenic get a glimpse of Thomas as the two trains pass in Peninsula.

Thomas steams out of Peninsula to return to Boston Mill.