Archive for May, 2019

Workers Cleaning Up Wellington Derailment

May 30, 2019

Workers were on the scene Wednesday of a CSX deailment in Wellington to clean up the mess.

Traffic began flowing through town although CSX said in a statement that some trains had been rerouted due to the derailment that occurred early Tuesday morning.

CSX said in a statement that 22 cars and two locomotives derailed. Although the train carried some hazardous materials it was not contained in any of the derailed cars.

Much of the freight in the derailed cars was produce and building materials.

Emergency workers also cleaned up some diesel fuel that spilled from some derailed cars. Some of that fuel got into the town’s sewer system and workers are monitoring it.

Officials said no injuries occurred and there was no threat to public safety.

On Wednesday railroad officials told local news media that the cleanup of the derailment would take several days.’

Wellington Fire Chief Bill Brown told reporters that the two CSX crew members aboard the locomotive said they were trying to slow their train as it approached downtown Wellington when the derailment occurred.

Most of the derailed cars were located toward the front of the train.

A car carrying onions caught fire and burned for much of Tuesday. Firefighters said they had difficulty reaching the fire because it occurred beneath pallets and spilled produce.

A video posted at the website of television station Fox8 Cleveland shows the train derailing. The video reportedly came from a home security camera.

It can be viewed at

CSX said the cause of the derailment remains under investigation, but the video shows that it appeared to originate with the third locomotive in the motive power consist.

The reefer cars behind it can be seen derailed and buckling in the video.

“It seems like this was the best-case scenario of a bad situation,” said Hans Schneider, mayor of Wellington in an interview with The Chronicle of Ellyria. “I’m just thankful that obviously things like this could be a lot worse, and I’m just really happy with the response from the village and that it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it cold have been.”


CSX Names New Senior Vice President

May 30, 2019

CSX has named Farrukh A. Bezar as senior vice president and chief strategy officer.

In a news release, CSX said that Bezar will the development of strategic initiatives that support the class 1 carrier’s “intensified focus on growth and adding value for its customers and shareholders.

The appointment is effective May 29.

Bezar has 25 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry, most recently serving as founder and managing partner of Lynwood Partners.

Before that he served in senior leadership roles within the transportation and logistics functions at Clarendon, Booz Allen Hamilton, and A.T. Kearney.

He previously held sales and marketing positions at Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and served as a financial analyst with Chase Manhattan Bank.

He received a BA in Economics and Political Science from Northwestern University and an MBA in Management, Marketing and Transportation from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

No Injuries in CSX Derailment in Wellington

May 28, 2019

No injuries were reported in an early Monday morning derailment of a CSX manifest freight in Wellington on the Greenwich Subdivision.

The derailment was reported at 6 a.m. and for nearly two hours authorities had Ohio Routes 58 and 18 closed in town.

CSX said 22 cars and all three locomotives of the eastbound train derailed. The train had 89 loads, most of which was produce and building materials. There were 28 empties.

An online report identified the train as Q590 and many of the cars were Union Pacific reefer cars.

CSX said no hazardous materials were being carried by the train.

The derailment occurred near the intersection of Magyar and Wheeling streets, and also blocked the tracks of the Hartland Subdivision of the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

Fire broke out in at least one of the derailed cars and authorities said some diesel fuel was spilled.

ARRC Memorial Day Weekend Memories

May 27, 2019

Although The May meeting of the Akron Railroad Club meeting almost always is on the Friday leading into the Memorial Day weekend, the club has generally avoided having outings near or on holidays.

It made an exception in 2006. Even though I was in my second year as president then, I don’t recall why we chose the holiday weekend that year for an outing.

The plan was to go to Greenwich, but Marty Surdyk said he would spend the first part of the day at the above ground reservoir in nearby New London.

I’d never been there at the time so I and several others followed his lead and met there in the morning.

Most of the group spent a few hours atop the reservoir, which offers a nice panoramic view of CSX trains on what it today is known as the Greenwich Subdivision.

It can be fun and even instructive to look back at images you made during long-ago photo expeditions to see how much things have changed.

Consider the top photograph of an eastbound passing the reservoir. Note how new the BNSF “War Bonnet” looks. Yet, it had been in service for nine years when this image was made.

Your long ago photographs can also show what hasn’t changed in the intervening years, including the basic Norfolk Southern locomotive livery as seen in the trailing unit behind BNSF 757.

If you’ve seen a War Bonnet, you know that the paint has badly faded on many of them and BNSF has shown no inclination to give them a touch up or refreshing.

The middle image shows a surprise sighting of a caboose still wearing Chessie System colors but with CSX markings along with a liberal amount of graffiti. It was also on the rear of a westbound and we weren’t sure where it was going or why it was traveling there.

By mid afternoon the New London contingent had relocated to Greenwich to join the ARRC members who had spent all day there.

We were watching an oncoming westbound on the former Big Four, which had a signal for a straight move onto what is today the Mt. Victory Subdivision.

Marty was looking at the train through a telephoto lens and proclaimed, “that looks like an F40.”

I didn’t believe him at first. What would a passenger unit be doing pulling a train on a holiday weekend?

But he was correct. CSX F40PH 9992 was pulling three passenger cars from the railroad’s executive fleet.

We speculated that the train was bound for Indianapolis to pick up VIPs attending the Indianapolis 500, which was held that day.

The train had a theater car on the rear but the shades were pulled over the windows, suggesting the train did not have any passengers.

It would be the first and thus far only time that I’ve spotted the CSX executive train.

No. 9992 was built by EMD in August 1981 as Amtrak No. 390. A review of my trip logs shows I’ve ridden behind it twice on Amtrak.

It was on the point of the San Francisco Zephyr when I rode it from Chicago to Denver in October 1981, when it was about two months old. It also led the Cardinal in April 1990 on a trip I rode from Chicago to Indianapolis.

Not too long after the passage of the passenger train, the ARRC outing in Greenwich came to a close. I don’t recall us going anywhere to have dinner together as some guys typically have done at the conclusion of a longest day outing.

And that’s the way it was on May 28, 2006, which has turned out to be the last time the ARRC held an outing in New London or Greenwich.

CVSR Adds Fine Dining Aboard Dome Cars

May 27, 2019

Dinner trains have been a staple of some tourist railroads for many years. Locally, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has offered breakfast and brunch aboard select runs of its National Park Scenic.

Now it has added fine dining with gourmet dinners being served aboard its new former California Zephyr dome cars Silver Solarium and Silver Lariat.

The dinner trains operate on Friday nights, leaving from Rockside Road station at 7:30 p.m. with boarding beginning at 7 a.m. for cocktails and appetizers.

Unlike the breakfast and brunch trains, which feature catered meals prepared at a restaurant off the train, the fare served aboard the dinner trains is prepared on board by an executive chef using made from scratch recipes.

Passengers are treated to a four course-meal whose menu will change every two weeks.

For the trips of June 7 and 14, passengers will begin their meal with a first course of smoked trout dip with pachino tomatoes, capers and cream cheese. The second course is bacon and eggs salad featuring soft boiled egg, Applewood bacon, pickled red onion, shaved brussels sprouts, local greens, and mustard and chive vinaigrette.

The entrée will be veal short rob garnished with succotash, herb jus and chimichurri.

Dessert will be vanilla bean cheesecake with a raspberry and riesling compote, and streusel topping.

A vegan, gluten free or vegetarian meal is available upon request made at least one week in advance of travel. However, no other dietary restrictions can be accommodated.

A complimentary bar will serve guests during the two-hour journey and wine will be poured at the table throughout the courses.

Be advised, though, that this experience is not inexpensive. Tickets cost $115 per passenger for dome-level seating and $105 for lower-level seating in the Silver Lariat. All seating will be assigned.

The dinner trains will operate through October and are sold out through early August.

Reservations can be made at, by calling 800-468-4070 (extension 240) or sending an email to

Tickets are non-exchangeable and non-refundable without the purchase of refund protection, which is offered at checkout.

Analyst Says Cost Cutting Leaves Railroads Vulnerable

May 26, 2019

Class 1 railroads in North America are captive to the desires of Wall Street and that has left them vulnerable to unexpected although predictable calamities.

Rick Patterson, who works for Loop Capital Markets and was one employed as a railroader in Australia, said that as a result railroads get caught with shortages of crews and locomotives and can’t recover quickly from such things as hurricanes or polar vortexes.

Speaking at a meeting of the North American Rail Shippers Association, Patterson said that in the past five years rail service has been poor more often than it’s been good. He said the industry is trying to please Wall Street stock analysts who are laser focused on operating ratios, which are the percentage of revenue earned by a railroad that goes to pay operating expenses.

That has led to widespread cost-cutting moves, including idling locomotives and reducing the workforce, most often in the name of implementing the precision scheduled railroading model.

Patterson said as a result railroads try to perfectly match crew and motive power resources with their current traffic levels, a process that leaves then with no margin for error.

He said rail service can either be bad, good or truck-like.

Bad service occurs when operating metrics fall 10 percent or more below average and take six to 15 months to recover.

Good service occurs when freight generally arrives on the right day but is neither time-definite nor dependable.

Truck-like service occurs when service has day- and time-definite reliability and predictability.

By his calculations, Patterson said over the past five years service was good only in the past 22 percent of the quarters. It was bad in 35 percent of the quarters and showed no clear trend in the remaining quarters.

Patterson called CSX the best operating railroad in North America at present with its service composite is 41 percent higher than its historic average.

However, it had service problems during a polar vortex in 2013-2014 and during the early months of its transformation to PSR under the late E. Hunger Harrison.

“Hunter Harrison cuts the merchandise network over to PSR without apparently telling anybody, including his own operating people,” Paterson says. “But as usual, he was right and everything worked out and all was forgiven.”

Although PSR encourages cost cutting, Patterson said the operating model is a good one, noting that CSX recovered quickly after a pair of hurricanes last year that hindered service.

However, Norfolk Southern, which was hindered by the same storms, saw its velocity sink to the lowest levels since the Conrail split of 1999.

Patterson said railroads should plan for adverse weather, saying that climate change is likely to produce more extreme flooding, cold snaps, and wildfires.

The carriers could keep a buffer supply of crews and motive power relatively at low cost, which Paterson said would help maintain service levels during trying conditions.

He predicted that the pursuit of lower operating ratios will someday halt as carriers are unable to justify above-inflation freight rate increases and will be forced to seek more robust volume growth, which will require more power and crews.

Patterson called on shippers to encourage railroads to provide more consistent service by doing a better job of communicating expected freight volumes to the railroads.

He also said railroads could reduce locomotive risk by supporting multiple manufacturers and reduce crew risk by moving toward partial autonomous operations.

FRA Won’t Impose Minimum Crew Size Rule

May 26, 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration said this week it will not implement a rule requiring a specific number of people in the cab of a freight train.

The crew size rule making proceeding began in March 2016 and FRA Administrator Ronald Batory said there is not enough data to support the need for more than one person in the cab of a train.

Batory’s statement drew sharp criticism from railroad labor unions, but was lauded by the Association of American Railroads.

The minimum crew size standard proceeding began after the derailment of an oil train in 2013 in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, when the parked oil train began moving and derailed after the locomotive engineer, who was working alone, failed to apply an adequate number of hand brakes to keep the train stationary. The resulting explosion and fire left 47 dead.

Canadian investigators concluded the use of a one-person crew did not directly contribute to the derailment, which Batory cited in his statement.

The FRA held hearings on a minimum crew size rule in 2013 and 2014 before initiating a rule making proceeding in 2016.

In his statement, Batory said the FRA’s action will pre-empt efforts in some states, including Colorado and Nevada, that have approved or are considering implementing a minimum crew size law.

CVSR Summer Schedule to Resume June 1

May 24, 2019

Operations of the National Park Scenic of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad will resume on June 1.

The Scenic will operate two round trips between Rockside Road station in Indepence and Northside station in Akron on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and three round trips between those points on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays.

The train will not operate on Monday and Tuesday, which is a reversion to the schedule pattern of previous summers. Last year the CVSR featured Tuesday service.

Currently the Scenic is operating to round trips between Rockside and Akron on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays that stop at all intermediate stations except Boston Mill.

The Boston Mill station is temporarily closed through October due to construction of a nearby visitor’s center for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The Scenic will operate this Monday (May 27) on Memorial Day. Bike Aboard service has also resumed for the season.

Fundraiser to Benefit Reading 2100 Restoration

May 24, 2019

Reading 2100 sits inside the former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse in Cleveland on May 10, 2019, as it undergoes restoration to operating condition.

Steam impresario Ross Rowland will headline a fundraising dinner on Sept. 21 in Cleveland to raise money for the restoration of Reading Company T-1 No. 2100.

Rowland will give a presentation at the event about his career in railroad preservation ranging from his work on the American Freedom Train, the Chessie Steam Specials and his involvement in an earlier restoration of the 2100.

The event, which begins at 4:30 p.m., will be held at the former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse that is now the home of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society.

Aside from a dinner catered by Ohio City BBQ, attendees will be invited to view the MRPS’s collection of equipment and take a short ride on a Pullman car that stared in the movie The Natural. The 2100 will also be on display.

Tickets are $99 per person and seating is limited. Members of the American Steam Railroad, Midwest Railway Preservation Society, and Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society will be offered a discounted ticket price of $89.

For ticket information contact for the discount link.

All proceeds from the event will help with the restoration of Reading 2100, which is being undertaken by American Steam Railroad.

Something Special From CSX in NEO

May 23, 2019

CSX recently repainted two of its ES44AH locomotives to honor veterans and first responders.

The first responders unit is numbered 911 and named Spirit of Our First Responders. Spirit of Our Veterans is number 1776.

Since being released the two units have traveled as a pair. They recently passed through Northeast Ohio, going east on Q020 in the early morning hours and returning west on Wednesday on the Q017.

It was while pulling the latter train that most NEO photographer captured the pair.

Among the many Akron Railroad Club members who went trackside to get the 911 and the 1776 was Edward Ribinskas, who captured the Q017 at Perry in mid afternoon.

As this was posted about 7 p.m. on Thursday, the 1776 and 911 were leading eastbound stack train Q015, which should pass through Akron in around sunset or later.