Archive for October, 2018

Elevated View of the CVSR

October 31, 2018

There are very few places to photograph trains on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad from above.

Rockside Road soars over the tracks immediately north of Rockside Road station in Independence, but if you photograph there you are looking southward toward the sunlight.

Trains rarely venture north of the bridge so opportunities to get images there are rare as well.

On the southern end of the railroad, the Y bridge in Akron is situated just to the east of Northside station.

In past years, you could get good images with a telephoto lens. But to prevent jumpers, the city put up fences on the Y bridge.

The only bridge between those points carries East Pleasant Valley Road over the tracks.

It doesn’t have a fence, but it also doesn’t have sidewalks. In theory, you could park on the side of the road, but that is a dicey proposition.

I’ve always parked by the gate where Riverview Road is now cut off. It’s a safe place to park, but located some distance from the bridge.

That’s why I’ve seldom photographed from Pleasant Valley except when Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 is in town.

The photograph above was made on one such occasion. It shows the National Park Scenic that preceded the steam train.

In looking at my photo archives, I determined that I’ve only photographed CVSR trains from the Pleasant Valley bridge once when I wasn’t there to get the NKP 765.

It’s a viable photo location, but one that takes some work.

Minnesota Museum Wants ex-GN Car in Columbus

October 31, 2018

A Minnesota museum is seeking to raise money to move a former Great Northern passenger car from its current location in Columbus.

The Minnesota Transportation Museum wants to move Empire Builder “Ranch” lounge White Pines Lake, which is now sitting at The Depot Event Center in Columbus.

The owners of the car have agreed to donate it to the Minnesota museum when the latter is able to pay to move it.

The museum is trying to raise $50,000 through a Go Fund Me page and grants.

Once funding is secured the car will be moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, by truck and rail.

The museum owns three other ex-GM passengers cars that were built in 1951 for the Empire Builder.

G&W 3rd Quarter Net Income $69.6M

October 31, 2018

Genesee & Wyoming reported third-quarter net income of $69.6 million, or $1.16 per diluted common share, compared with net income of $50.2 million, or 80 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2017.

In a news release, G&W said operating revenue rose 4.6 percent to $603.3 million; operating income increased 16.4 percent to $127.8 million; and adjusted operating income jumped 14.3 percent to $130.5 million compared with the third quarter of 2017.

Adjusted diluted earnings per share rose 51.9 percent to $1.23.

G&W CEO Jack Hellman described the financial results as strong.

“Our North American financial results (approximately 80 percent of operating income) were uniformly positive led by 11.5 percent revenue growth, an operating ratio that improved around 300 basis points to 71.2 percent and a 25 percent increase in operating income,” he said.

Hellman said G&W’s commercial outlook remains positive in all three geographic segments but the company expects fourth-quarter results to be adversely affected by three issues.

In North America that include the effect of  Hurricane Michael, which struck the Bay Line Railroad and customer facilities in Panama City, Florida.

In mid-October, G&W completed a previously announced $300 million share repurchase program, and the board recently approved a share repurchase program for an additional $500 million of common stock.

Under Normal Circumstances a Pleasing Sight

October 30, 2018

Under normal circumstances, I would be happy to see a Union Pacific locomotive leading a train eastbound on Norfolk Southern in Marion.

I was on this day, too, but . . . the auto racks it was toting would block my view a few seconds later of a westbound train being led by the Norfolk Southern heritage unit.

If its any consolation if I was going to be blocked, at least the image I did get was something other than a run of the mill NS wide cab.

PUCO Approves W&LE Crossing Upgrade

October 30, 2018

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has approved upgrading a grade crossing in Crawford County used by the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

The W&LE will install lights and gates at the East Main Street/Ohio Route 103 crossing in New Washington.

The work is to be completed by Oct. 24, 2019, with the railroad and the Ohio Rail Development Commission paying for the project costs.

R&N Vows to Appeal Loss in Court

October 30, 2018

Pennsylvania-based Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern will appeal a summary judgment issued by a court to the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority  regarding the solicitation of an operating agreement for the authority’s short lines.

The dispute arose after the R&N challenged the first phase of a request for proposals that the agency issued in 2014 seeking qualified operators for its rail lines.

The Northumberland County Court of Common Pleas awarded summary judgment in favor of the agency after R&N sued it and other proposers in the RFP process.

The decision dismissed all open claims in the case.

In a news release, R&N contends that the court dismissed its case without giving any credence to the evidence and arguments based on information taken from more than 20 depositions.

R&N also contends that the agency turned over the RFP process and decision-making to a subgroup with a bias toward the current rail carrier, North Shore Railroad.

“We are disappointed but not surprised by the court’s decision, which ignores all of our arguments and evidence. The court has consistently ruled in favor of the local rail authority and it has been clear since the beginning of the case that we would need to seek relief at the appellate level,” said R&N President Wayne Michel.

In a statement, R&N charged that the agency engaged in illegal competition with private industry and to showcase to the appellate court what the trial judge chose to ignore: the overwhelming evidence of bias and corruption that infected the entire process.

Going Green

October 28, 2018

A lot of companies with which you do business through the mail are trying to entice you to switch to online payment of bills.

They often use the slogan “go green,” to make it seem as though paying online is environmentally sound.

It might be in the sense that it creates less paper, but I’ve always suspected that the real motivation is cost cutting.

This image of a westbound Norfolk Southern stack train rumbling through Olmsted Falls gives another meaning to the phrase “going green” as the first block of containers are all painted green.

Study Favors Chicago-Ft. Wayne Service

October 28, 2018

A preliminary study has determined that intercity rail passenger service between Fort Wayne and Chicago is possible between 2026 and 2030.

The study estimated the trains on the route could carry between 387,000 and 765,000 passengers a year by 2035.

Ridership will hinge on the average train speed and number of trips offered. The study examined various scenarios ranging from a top speed of 79 mph to 101 mph.

Although the study looked only at the segment between Chicago and Fort Wayne, that corridor is part of a larger route between Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, via Valparaiso, Gary, Plymouth, and Warsaw in Indiana, and Lima in Ohio.

The route between Chicago and Lima would follow or run parallel to the former route of Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Broadway Limited, which was rerouted away from those cities in late 1990.

The study, conducted by consulting firm HNTB, determined that the estimated capital costs are about $898 million for 79-mph service and $1.2 billion for 101 mph.

East Lansing Ticket Office Closing Monday

October 28, 2018

The Amtrak agent in East Lansing, Michigan, will be removed effective Oct. 29.

Amtrak said passengers boarding or people meeting detraining passengers from the Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan Blue Water will continue to have access to the station’s waiting area and restrooms each day.

The access for westbound Train 365 will begin at 7 a.m. while access for eastbound Train 364 will state at 8 p.m.


How Do They Unload Those Things?

October 27, 2018

At the beginning of summer I was hanging out on the above-ground reservoir in New London by the CSX Greenwich Subdivision.

Traffic was decent given that CSX operates fewer trains these days.

I heard a Wheeling & Lake Erie eastbound train get permission to enter CSX tracks at Greenwich for the trip to New London where it would get back on its own railroad.

My enthusiasm for seeing a W&LE train amid a stream of CSX action was tempered somewhat by the fact that both locomotives were running long hood forward.

Much of the consist of the train was gondolas loaded with limestone. That raised a question in mind as to how the stone is unloaded.

Most of the stone I’ve seen shipped by rail moves in hopper cars with doors that open at the bottom. Gravity then does the unloading.

But how do you get stone out of a gondola. My guess is either you use a clamshell bucket or you have to turn the car upside down as is down with some cars carrying coal.

My hunch is these cars are not turned upside down when unloaded.