Archive for November, 2022

AC&Y FM Diesel in Akron

November 30, 2022

This is from one of my earliest scans, but it has been redone for higher quality. Akron, Canton &Youngstown Fairbanks Morse H16=44 No. 202 in Akron in December 1966 or January 1967. While the H24-66 was called a Train Master, and the H16-66 was nicknamed a Baby Train Master, to my knowledge the H16-44 had no nickname.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

When Jim Wrinn Came to Town

November 30, 2022

Back in April 2011 Jim Wrinn, the editor of Trains magazine, came to Akron to speak to a banquet of the Akron Railroad Club to celebrate the group’s 75th anniversary.

The banquet was held on the night of April 23, but earlier in the day we arranged for Jim to have a cab ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. He also got to operate SD18M No. 321 at Shelly Materials in Kent, courtesy of ARRC member and Shelly worker Bob Rohal.

In the image above, Jim speaks from the engineer’s seat of No. 321, which was known as “Flash” in honor the Kent State University Golden Flashes athletic teams.

Wrinn died last March of cancer and No. 321 is no longer on the property at Shelly’s Kent facility.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

House Vote Expected Today to Thwart Rail Stoppage

November 30, 2022

The House of Representatives was expected to vote today on a resolution that would forestall a national railroad work stoppage that could begin as early as Dec. 9.

Throughout Tuesday members of the House and Senate expressed support for the resolution, which would impose the terms of an amended contract agreed to in late September by leaders of 12 railroad labor unions and the National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents railroad management.

Some members of Congress, though expressed reservations that the resolution will not address the issue of sick days for unionized railroad workers.

The Politico website reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-California) plans to address that in part by having the House vote on two resolutions.

One resolution will impose the September tentative contract agreement while the other would grant seven sick days to railroad workers.

The sick days resolution was characterized by the Politico report as a way to appease House Democrats who have sided with rail labor unions on the sick days issue, but don’t want to an economy-damaging railroad work stoppage.

The resolution is expected to pass the House and probably will be approved by the Senate although there could be bumps in the road to passage.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said Tuesday that Congress needs to act soon, saying that without congressional action shipments of critical freight will halt in preparation for a shutdown.

That includes chemicals used to treat drinking water, feed for livestock, and “just in time delivery” of components used in manufacturing.

On Monday President Joseph R. Biden called for Congress to act, saying that a negotiated settlement of the contract dispute was unlikely to occur.

Members of four railroad labor unions have voted to reject the amended contract while members of eight unions have ratified it.

Secretary of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will meet with Senate Democrats on Thursday about averting a rail strike, Politico reported.

He will reportedly tell lawmakers that the September tentative agreement is the best possible contract that could be achieved through negotiations.

Walsh was involved in brokering that agreement during an all-night negotiating session.

McConnell said Congress needs to head off a railroad work stoppage but said some of his members have mixed feeling about the matter

“I think some may be inclined to vote against it,” McConnell said. “And others are arguing that the economic price of doing that is too great.”

Schumer said he and McConnell both want to see the resolution pass the Senate quickly, but did not say how soon that will likely occur.

Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont said he will push for a vote on a resolution to give rail workers more paid sick leave.

In pressuring Congress to act quickly, various trade groups representing railroad shippers have said that carriers are likely to begin to embargo shipments of some freight this weekend ahead of a possible work stoppage.

At least one of the railroad labor unions whose members rejected the tentative agreement, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, issued a statement disagreeing with Congress imposing a settlement of the contract dispute.

The statement noted that Congressional action would not resolve the sick leave issue and would deny union members their right to strike.

The last national railroad work stoppage occurred in 1992 and was ended by congressional action.

Railway Age reported on its website that it had obtained a draft of the joint resolution that will be voted on by the House today.

The resolution cites the Commerce Clause of the Constitution as giving Congress the authority to ensure the uninterrupted operation of essential transportation services.

The magazine’s report said House rules require only 15 minutes of debate on each side and do not provide for “holds” or “filibusters.”

But the Senate does allow for unlimited debate although Senate Majority Leader Schumer is expected to seek unanimous consent  to send the House resolution to the Senate floor for a vote, where it would need only 51 votes for passage.

If even one senator objects to the call for unanimous consent, Senate rules require 30 hours of debate, one intervening day and 60 votes to cut off debate and advance the bill to the floor for a vote.

Railway Age reported that if the bid for unanimous consist fails, there is expected to be enough Republicans in favor of cutting off debate although that might mean the proceedings will linger into the weekend.

The Railway Age report said that as of Tuesday night neither of the two largest railroad labor unions or the National Carriers’ Conference Committee had issued statements on the prospect of congressional action to avert a railroad work stoppage.

Amtrak Crows About Ridership Gains

November 30, 2022

Amtrak on Tuesday touted ridership gains during fiscal year 2021 in a news release issued two days before a public meeting of its board of directors.

The release, though, presented a mixed picture of the passenger rail carrier’s finances.

Although ridership was up substantially on Amtrak’s three business lines, revenue fell in two of the three.

The report covers the period of Oct. 1, 2021, to Sept.30, 2022, which mirrors the federal fiscal year.

Ridership in the Northeast Corridor rose 110 percent while state corridor services ridership was up 85 percent and long-distance train patronage was up 56 percent.

However, the operating revenue of $2.8 billion in FY2022 was 15 percent below that of FY 2019, the last period to begin before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March 2020 and sent ridership and revenue plummeting across all business lines.

The report sought to put a positive spin on revenue by saying the adjusted operating earnings at $884.9 million were an 18.2 percent improvement over fiscal 2021 and “$145 million ahead of Amtrak’s FY22 plan due to strong ticket revenue growth.”

The report will be presented to Amtrak’s directors at a meeting on Thursday in St. Louis.

The report released on Tuesday does not provide revenue information by route or business category.

That is consistent with past practices of the carrier to omit this information from public reports.

Earlier this year, Trains magazine reported that information it obtained showed long-distance revenue was up 23 percent in FY2022 compared with FY2019 while revenue for the Northeast Corridor and state corridor services were both down about 30 percent.

The report Amtrak released this week said it expects ridership and revenue to improve above 90 percent of pre-COVID levels by the end of FY2023.

NICTD Hire Firm to Study New South Bend Station

November 30, 2022

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District has approved a contract for engineering work to study moving the South Shore Line’s South Bend terminal.

South Shore trains now terminate near the passenger terminal of South Bend International Airport.

The engineering firm DLZ will study relocating the South Shore station to  another location on the airport as well as a new route into the airfield. NICTD’s board of directors on Monday approved the $6 million engineering study.

South Shore management has said a new South Bend station would cut the travel time to Chicago. Trains take more than 10 minutes to travel two miles upon reaching the airport property.

The engineering study will eye moving the South Shore station to the west side of the airport. It is currently located on the east side.

The DLZ study is expected to be completed by March 2024 with a preliminary environmental study to be issued by September 2023.

NICTD President Michael Noland told the board extending the South Shore tracks into downtown South Bend remains a possibility if the City of South Bend wants to pursue it.

INRD Santa Train to Run This Weekend

November 30, 2022

The annual Santa Claus train of the Indiana Rail Road will run this weekend, making 12 stops in Indiana and Illinois.

Visitors will be permitted to board the train at 11 of the stops to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. At another stop Santa will instead disembark and receive visitors at a nearby community building.

In a news release, INRD said Santa and his helpers will be portrayed by volunteers of railroad workers and their families.

The event is free, and coats, hats, and gloves will be distributed to help children in need prepare for winter weather.

The INRD Santa train began in 1989 as a volunteer project. It was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ran in modified form in 2021.

Last year visitors were not permitted aboard the train and Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted the crowd from the back of a caboose.

CPL Two for Tuesday

November 29, 2022

Here are two photos including long-gone ex-Baltimore & Ohio color position light block signals.

In the top image R.J. Corman RP20BD No. 5400 and its train are on Corman trackage in Clinton after interchanging with CSX on June 25, 2012.

The CPL on the right is for westbounds. I believe the CPL to its left is for RJ Corman trains to enter CSX tracks.

In the bottom image, after passing the eastbound signal at CP Lambert on the CSX New Castle Subdivision, Akron Barberton Cluster SW1500 No. 1502 is heading east on June 26, 2012. Notice 1502’s old number from Conrail on the number boards on the front.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

Ohio Central Geeps Two for Tuesday

November 29, 2022

During the time that it was owned by the late Jerry Jacobson, the Ohio Central System has a locomotive fleet that could fairly be described as eclectic.

Most OC units were painted in the railroad’s maroon and gold livery but not all of them. It was not unusual to see a unit in an oddball scheme pulling trains until it found its way to the paint shop or was sold to another company.

The top image was made in Dennison on May 21, 1994. No. 3216 is a GP40 wearing the OC livery that at the time was still somewhat new. It was built in November 1968 for Penn Central and wound up on the Conrail motive power roster.

No. 3216 would later go to work for the Buckingham Branch Railroad in Virginia.

The bottom image was made at Morgan Run on June 8, 2002, and shows a GP10 still in the colors it came with. This unit began life in January 1956 as an Illinois Central GP9.

It had a series of owners before it showed up on the OC including Qwest Communications Corporation, which painted it silver and black, and MidSouth and Gulf & Mississippi. It would later wind up on the Everett Railroad in Pennsylvania.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

Biden Wants Congress to Head Off Rail Work Stoppage

November 29, 2022

The four railroad labor unions that rejected a contract proposal may end up having that very contract forced upon them by Congress.

On Monday President Joseph R. Biden called on Congress to take action to avoid a national railroad work stoppage that could occur as early as Dec. 9 if lawmakers do not act.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) issued a statement that said the House is ready to drafy legislation to head off a railroad work stoppage.

Biden’s statement called Congressional intervention the best course of action, saying unions and railroad management agree with that.

 “This agreement was approved by labor and management negotiators in September,” Biden’s statement said. “On the day that it was announced, labor leaders, business leaders and elected officials all hailed it as a fair resolution of the dispute between the hard-working men and women of the rail freight unions and the companies in that industry.”

Biden’s statement said the secretaries of labor, agriculture and transportation have been in regular touch with labor leaders and management and have concluded that a negotiated settlement is unlikely to be reached.

Members of eight of the 12 railroad labor unions that agreed to the tentative contract in September have voted to ratify that agreement.

In the past couple weeks various trade associations representing railroad shippers have called on Congress to intervene to prevent a railroad work stoppage, saying it would harm the economy.

Biden noted his pro-labor beliefs made him reluctant to “override the ratification procedures and the views of those who voted against the agreement. But in this case—where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt millions of other working people and families—I believe Congress must use its powers to adopt this deal.”

Railway Age Washington correspondent Frank Wilner wrote on the magazine’s website that “the behind the scenes chatter is that carriers and labor cannot find a way out of this stalemate” but neither side wants a work stoppage.

Wilner noted that most unionized railroad workers who voted on the contract favored it, including members of the second largest union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

Members of the largest railroad labor union, the SMART-Transportation Division, rejected the contract by a narrow margin.

Wilner noted that a Congressional settlement of the contract dispute would insulate the leaders of unions whose members voted to reject the contract.

Another consideration was that Republicans will take control of the House in early January and Democrats want to resolve the rail labor contract dispute while they control both houses of Congress.

In her statement, Pelosi said the bill being drafted in the House  will not contain “poison pills or changes to the negotiated terms.”

Under federal railway labor laws, contracts in the railroad industry never expire. Instead, the contracts can be amended, usually about every five years.

The last national railroad work stoppage occurred in 1992. There have been four railroad work stoppages since the end of World War II with the longest being four days.

In all four work stoppages, Congress voted to end them by imposing new contract terms.

CN Appoints New Chief Operating Officer

November 29, 2022

Canadian National has replaced its chief operating officer.

The Montreal-based Class I railroad has named Edmond “Ed” Harris as executive vice president and chief operating officer effective immediately. He succeeds Rob Reilly.

Harris has been a consultant to CN since April 2022. He previously served as executive vice president of operations at CSX (2018 to 2020) and chief operations officer at Canadian Pacific (2010 to 2012.

Harris also held executive positions at Illinois Central and CN, including serving as CN’s executive vice president of operations.

In a news release, CN said Harris in a consulting capacity “worked closely with the entire CN operations leadership team on the company’s operational and service excellence initiatives, as the team delivered meaningful rail operations performance and customer service improvements.”