Archive for July, 2022

It’s Actually a CSX Train

July 31, 2022

Baltimore & Ohio GP40 No. 4001 is on the point of a westbound CSX train in Clinton in January 1987. Also in the motive power consists is Chesapeake & Ohio 7568, B&O 4422, B&O 4106 and B&O 4242. This is actually a CSX train even if it appears as through it’s still the Chessie System era.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Indiana Museum Tests Steam Locomotive

July 31, 2022

The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum conducted test runs last week with 0-4-4T Bock Lumber Company No. 1.

Video of the test runs was posted online at the museum’s Facebook page.

The museum said that as crews become certified on the locomotive it will announce the dates of public steam runs.

The steamer was built in 1908 by Baldwin Locomotive Works and is the only operating example of a standard gauge Forney-type in North America.

The Forney design has two powered leading axles followed by two unpowered axles in a trailing truck that supports the weight of the water tank and fuel bunker.

The museum is in North Judson, Indiana, and offers train rides on Saturdays in the summer and fall.

NS to Reopen Hump in Bellevue

July 31, 2022

NS grain train 54G passes the cemetery in Sommerville, Ohio, on the New Castle District on July 13, 2022.

Norfolk Southern plans to resume hump operations in Bellevue, Trains magazine reported on its website.

The move was announced during the Class 1 railroad’s second quarter earnings call last week.

NS Chief Operating Officer Cindy Sanborn said reopening the Bellevue hump is part of the carrier’s new operating plan.

Since 2020 Bellevue has been a flat switching yard. NS also has resumed humping operations in Macon, Georgia.

Sanborn said reactivation of the two humps was done to create more capacity in the regions each yard serves. She said the changes will free up yard crews for assignment to local service.

Workers are doing maintenance work in Bellevue and once the hump reopens NS plans to use half of the two yard bowls.

Sanborn would not say if the hump resumptions at both yards is temporary or permanent. “It may be short term, it may be longer term, we’ll just see how it evolves,” she said.

NS once had humps at 10 classification yards but with its embrace of the precision scheduled railroading operations model it closed six of them. At the time officials said the move was made in favor of more block swapping en route rather than routing cars through a hump in a classification yard.

 Bellevue was the nation’s second largest hump yard and classified traffic on five routes.

During her presentation, Sanborn said NS has increased by 20 percent the number of trains using distributed motive power.

The new operating plan includes changing train schedules to minimize meets or situations in which one train needs to pass another.

That has resulted in changes to the schedules of 180 of NS’s 200 scheduled road trains. Some changes were made to local services.

NS officials said during the earnings call that changes between Chicago and Conway Yard near Pittsburgh will mean some merchandise trains will have faster schedules while others will have longer running times.

The officials said the changes were made to avoid delaying intermodal trains on the route.

In some instances, trains are doing less en-route switching in order to increase their average speed.

On a systemwide basis, NS has increased the number of daily intermodal trains from 79 to 85.

Starting in August, NS will re-symbol four intermodal trains in each direction between Chicago and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The new symbols will be 28U, 22X, 20X, and 28M eastbound, and 263, 23G, 27G, and 25G westbound.

More information about the NS operating changes can be found in a story posted on the Trains magazine website at

Ex-CSX CEO Hays Watkins Dies

July 31, 2022

Former Chessie System and CSX CEO Hays T. Watkins Jr. has died. He was 96.

Watkins was a Kentucky native who oversaw the merger of the Chessie and Seaboard Coast Line into CSX.

Hays T. Watkins

While serving as chairman of the Chessie, Watkins in 1978 approached Seaboard CEO Prime F. Osborn about a merger.

The two agreed on a deal in which each man would serve as co-CEO of the newly formed company. The board of directors and top management team was split 50-50 between former Chessie and Seaboard members.

“That,” Watkins would say later, “is why we had our 50/50 merger; Prime and I agreed on everything, and if the two of us didn’t agree, we didn’t do it.”

Osborn retired two years after the merger, leaving Watkins as the sole CSX CEO.

Watkins retired in 1991, bringing to an end a 40-year railroad career that also included serving as an executive of the Chesapeake & Ohio where he was vice president-finance and later, president and CEO.

During his time at C&O, Watkins diversified the railroad by buying a gas company as a hedge against rising fuel costs, a pipeline company and a barge line.

He oversaw the formation of Sea-Land Service, a trucking company that also transported shipping containers.

Born in Fern Creek, Kentucky, near Louisville, Watkins earned a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green Business University (now Western Kentucky University) in 1947 and a master’s degree from Northwestern University in 1948.

Class 1 Employment Up in June

July 31, 2022

U.S. Class 1 railroads employed 116,251 in June, people, a 0.41 percent increase compared with May and a 0.28 percent over June 2021.

Figures released by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board showed four out of six employment categories posted gains this past June.

They included professional and administrative, up 3.31 percent to 9,859 employees; executives, officials and staff assistants, up 0.99 percent to 7,763; maintenance of way and structures, up 0.45 percent to 28,492; and transportation (train and engine), up 0.01 percent to 48,080.

Losing ground were transportation (other than train and engine), which fell 0.38 percent to 4,675 workers; and maintenance of equipment and stores, which dropped 0.14 percent to 17,382.

On a year over year comparison, executives, officials, and staff assistants, gained 5.73 percent; and transportation (train and engine), gained 1.34 percent.

Losses were posted by professional and administrative, down 2.29 percent; transportation (other train and engine), 1.6 percent; maintenance of equipment and stores, 1.57 percent;  and maintenance of way and structures, 0.53 percent.

NS Awards College Scholarships

July 31, 2022

Norfolk Southern has awarded its Thoroughbred Scholars program scholarships, which will provide up to $10,000 to 100 children of NS employees.

The program will provide $2,500 per year, renewable for up to four years, to full-time students pursuing an undergraduate degree at an accredited two- or four-year institution.

In a news release, NS officials said the program received more than 500 applications.

Ninety of the 100 scholarships are designated for children of the Class I’s front-line field employees, such as conductors, engineers and mechanics. Scholarship recipients come from 16 states across the NS network.

Steam Saturday: ARRC Steam Trip Memories

July 30, 2022

Here are three of one of my favorite steam locomotives in action on Oct. 13, 2001, with an Akron Railroad Club excursion on the Ohio Central

Former Grand Trunk Western 4-8-4 No. 6325 is shown in Pearl on the point for a photo runby for the photographers.

The other two images were made at a location that I did not record. It is shown in the bottom image backing up to Sugarcreek to pick up the excursion train. Having passed me, I took the going away photo (middle image) at the same location.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

LSL Disrupted Due to Hazard in Albany

July 30, 2022

Amtrak is operating a bus over a portion of the route of the Lake Shore Limited due to a hazard near the train’s route in Albany, New York.

In a Tweet sent Friday night, the passenger carrier said passengers would ride a bus between Albany and Schenectady, New York.

The Boston section will originate and terminate in Schenectady with passengers riding a bus between there and Boston. The bus arrangement involving the New York and Boston sections is in effect through Aug. 5.

Amtrak No. 48 was cancelled on Thursday night and the train scheduled to depart on Friday night was shown as having a service disruption. No. 49 was cancelled Thursday and Friday.

The developments followed an earlier announcement by Amtrak that the Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf and other Empire Service trains were being suspended west of Albany, New York, because officials fear a building next to the tracks could collapse.

The structure is the Central Warehouse, a 12-story building built in 1927 and nearly vacant since 1990.

City officials cited a structural engineering report in declaring a state of emergency regarding the building because its southerly wall is in imminent danger of collapsing. That wall is the closest to the tracks.

“We are working closely with local, state, and federal partners and engineering experts to determine the extend to the structural failure and develop a plan to insure the safety of our residents and businesses, and get the trains running on time and interstate commerce back on track,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan in a statement.

The cost of razing the warehouse, which has thick concrete walls, was put at more than $10 million. That figure also includes the cost of asbestos abatement would exceed $10 million.

On Friday night Amtrak issued a service advisory saying it would provide alternative bus service for the Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf and Ethan Allen Express.

The advisory said full service will continue between Albany and New York City.

Alcos on the Gettysburg Railroad

July 29, 2022

Gettysburg Railroad Alco RS3 No. 56 and No. 1559 are in Aspers, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 21, 1978. The 56 was used on the Pennsylvania short line between 1978 and 1983. It is now on static display at the Railroad Museum of Long Island where it has been given roster number 1556.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

SEPTA Station To be Named for Store Chain

July 29, 2022

Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is naming a new rail station and rail line after convenience store chain Wawa.

The Media/Elwyn Regional Rail Line will now be called the Media/Wawa Line to reflect the new terminus at 1490 W. Baltimore Pike in Wawa, Pennsylvania.

The convenience store chain is based in Wawa and has stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and Washington, D.C.

In a news release, SEPTA said it has been working since 2018 to restore more than 3.5 miles of Regional Rail service west of Elwyn to the new Wawa Station. SEPTA trains last served the area in 1986.

The extension is the SEPTA’s first since the Airport Line began operating in 1985.

The Wawa Station will be fully ADA accessible with a pedestrian underpass and restroom facilities. It will feature a 600-space parking deck. It will connect with SEPTA Bus Routes 111 and 114.

The partnership with Wawa is SEPTA’s fifth major naming rights agreement since 2010.