Archive for March, 2020

B&O in Kent

March 31, 2020

The controls of the wayback machine are set to the period of the late 1960s to early 1970s. The railroad selected is Baltimore & Ohio. The location selected is Kent.

And that is how we wound up finding this B&O train headed eastbound. On the point is GP30 No. 6902.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Rio Grande of the East: Part 3

March 31, 2020

At one point The Wheeling & Lake Erie had seven former Denver & Rio Grande Western engines on its roster and all still were painted for their former owner.

This included one GP35, four GP40s and two SD40T-2s. The GP35 has since been rebuilt and repainted as have two of the GP40s, one of which was destroyed in a wreck. That leaves just four engines still in Rio Grande paint.

Here are some photos of the former Rio Grande units from when they were still painted and lettered for the Rio Grande.

The top photograph was made in Glenwillow, the middle photograph in Parma and the bottom photograph in Carey.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

CVSR Extends Service Suspension to April 30

March 31, 2020

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad announced Monday it will extend its cancellation of train service through April 30 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the CVSR said it acted in the interests of the safety and health of its passengers, staff and volunteers.

“CVSR feels a responsibility to the community and we believe the appropriate response to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to cancel train rides,” the statement said.

Passengers who purchased tickets for rides between March 13 and April 30 will be able to submit them for an exchange, gift certificate reimbursement or refund by contacting

The railroad said that due to the high volume of calls and emails the customer service office is expecting a response may take up to 24 hours.

CVSR officials said they would adjust the operational plan as additional information becomes available from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health authorities.

Strasburg Freight Traffic Booms

March 31, 2020

Although its passengers operations are on hiatus, the Strasburg Rail Road said it has seen a boost in freight traffic this month.

Freight traffic has risen by 169 percent over the 4.5-mile railroad.

News reports indicated the Strasburg has handled 43 incoming freight cars, which is 27 more than the same month a year ago and has another 28 cars en route.

“Railcars loaded with commodities such as wheat, oats, soybeans, corn and more are keeping local mills and other facilities in operation so consumer products like bread, Pop Tarts, dog food and even kitty litter can be adequately stocked on local grocery store shelves,” said Steve Barrall, vice president of guest experience.

The COVID-18 pandemic has, though, prompted the railroad to delay a project to expand its freight yard.

The $2.47 million project is being funded in part by a $1.7 million state grant.

Unemployed Rail Workers to Get Benefits

March 31, 2020

Unemployed railroad workers will have access to unemployment and sickness benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic the Association of American Railroad announced.

AAR said that relief was included in the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act approved last week.

Railroad workers do not receive unemployment benefits through state-administered programs, but through the Railroad Retirement Board’s Railroad Unemployment Insurance Program.

The CARES law waives the seven-day waiting period for filing a sickness or unemployment claim with the RRB and provides $50 million to cover the costs of providing these additional benefits.

It also increases unemployment benefits through an additional $1,200 biweekly benefit, provides $425 million to cover the costs of providing these additional benefits through July 31, and allows RRB to access about $130 million of remaining American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to provide extended benefits through Dec. 3.

The law also appropriated $5 million to RRB for additional administrative costs.

Emery Trust Makes Awards, NYC Box Car Saved

March 31, 2020

The John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust has announced its 2020 grant awards.

Although no grants were awarded to any organizations based in Ohio, the Kentucky Railway Museum received $43,000 for firebox and boiler work on Chesapeake & Ohio 2-8-4 No. 2716.

The Erie Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society received a $25,000 award for restoring diner 469/470.

In an unrelated development, The Wabash Valley Railroad Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, said it will work with CSX to preserve a 98-year-old New York Central boxcar.

CSX will move the car, weather permitting, from Greencastle, Indiana, to the museum site next to CSX tracks in Terre Haute on March 31.

NYC No. 155524 was built by American Car & Foundry in 1922, rebuilt with steel sides in 1939, and placed near the NYC depot in Greencastle for storage use in 1965.

It had been ticketed to be scrapped until the Hailey Tower Historical & Technical Society, which owns the museum, was able to save it.

The Society is seeking donations to offset the $15,000 cost of moving the car and building a display track.

Donations can be made at the museum website or by mail to the Haley Tower Historical & Technical Society, P.O. Box 10291, Terre Haute, IN 47801.

VIA Makes More Service Cuts

March 31, 2020

VIA Rail Canada said that beginning March 31 it will further cut service on most routes.

The new schedule calls for only one train per day on all routes in the Quebec City-Windsor, Ontario, corridor.

All trains will stop at every station on all routes.

Montreal-Jonquiere, Quebec; Montreal-Senneterre, Que; and Sudbury-White River, Ontario, routes will operate with one round trip per week.

The Winnipeg-Churchill, Manitoba, train is no longer offering Sleeper Plus service.

Other operations, including the Canadian and Ocean, have been suspended through May 1.

VIA said carry-on baggage assistance offered by employees is temporarily suspended on all trains across the network.

However, it said it will continue to offer the same level of assistance to passengers with disabilities and/or limited mobility.

Checked baggage service has been temporarily suspended on all routes except Sudbury-White River and Winnipeg-Churchill.

In the United States, Amtrak and CTrail Hartford Line trains have begun operating on an even more reduced schedule with a combined 11 round trips (six CTrail, five Amtrak) on weekdays and revised weekend schedules on Amtrak’s Hartford line between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts.

Rio Grande of the East: Part 2

March 30, 2020

Last weekend the Wheeling & Lake Erie sent its two Rio Grande painted tunnel motors to Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

For many years seeing either one of these on the east end was a rarity. It was pokicy to keep them west of Brewster because of their larger wheelbase.

Recently this has changed. As a result of CSX and NS converting to Positive Train control the Wheeling has been equipping many of their engines with PTC to run on those lines.

The two former Rio Grande tunnel motors have not and will not be so equipped.

As a result they will be confined to ares of the railroad that do not require PTC use. I caught the pair leading a train into Connellsville this past Saturday.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Amtrak’s CZ Operation Reduced, Canada Bans Travel

March 30, 2020

The first service reduction that is related to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Amtrak’s long-distance network although it was an unintended consequence.

Amtrak said on Sunday it would truncate the route of the California Zephyr to Chicago-Denver because an Amtrak worker assigned to the train has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

An email sent to Amtrak employees said workers exposed to that employee have gone into a 14-day self-quarantine.

That has resulted in Amtrak being short on crew members to staff the train.

On its Twitter feed Amtrak said eastbound No. 6 is to originate in Denver on March 30.

The westbound Zephyr that departed Chicago on Sunday would terminate in Denver.

No. 6 that departed Emeryville on Sunday was to turn at Reno, Nevada, with passengers continuing eastward by bus.

An online report indicated the consist of the Zephyr in recent days has been two P42DC locomotives, two sleepers, two coaches, a dining car and a Sightseer lounge.

Baggage generally cars have been removed from Amtrak trains that had them before the pandemic broke out.

In other related developments, the suspension of the Pennsylvanian, which normally operates between New York and Pittsburgh, and Keystone Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has been extended to April 5.

Amtrak also has announced that the Auto Train will not originate on either March 30 or 31. No explanation was given, but this train derailed last week in Florida and the cancellations may are likely related to that in some manner.

In a related announcement, Amtrak said the Silver Meteor and Silver Star will originate in Miami on Monday as scheduled.

They had been originating in Jacksonville, Florida, as a byproduct of the Auto Train derailment.

North of the border, Canada has restricted domestic travel by those showing such symptoms of the coronaviras as fever, coughing, or difficulty breathing.

Transport Canada that VIA Rail Canada, intercity rail operators, and airlines screen passengers for symptoms by asking health questions and looking for visible signs of illness.

Would-be passengers showing symptoms will be prohibited from travel for 14 days or until they can present a medical certificate confirming the symptoms are not related to COVID-19.

The order does not affect commuter rail and bus travel.

Ex-Wisconsin Central on the Wheeling

March 30, 2020

A Wheeling & Lake Erie SD40-2 still in its former Wisconsin Central colors sits at Summit Street in Akron on Oct. 21, 2009.

This well traveled unit was built as Algoma Central No. 183 in August 1973.

Chris Toth’s W&LE motive power website shows that this unit is no longer on the Wheeling’s active roster.

Photograph by Robert Farkas