Archive for December, 2022

Steam Saturday: My First A&A Visit

December 31, 2022

I made my first visit to the Arcade & Attica short line railroad in New York State on July 17, 2010. It was part of an outing held by the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts.

I was in a party that traveled in a van that stopped at Bort Road near North East, Pennsylvania, while en route to Arcade, New York. That was my first visit there. We drove along the GE Erie test track but nothing was out running at the time.

We wrapped up the outing by driving up to Amtrak’s station in Depew, New York, which serves Buffalo.

The star attraction on the A&A was 2-8-0 No. 18, which had been built by Alco in 1920. We rode the first excursion of the day from Arcade to Curriers, and stuck around to photograph No. 18 leaving town for its second trip.

In both images No. 18 is pulling up to couple onto its train and will run tender first back to Arcade.

The two images above were made at Curriers during the layover. There is not much to see there, but the locomotive’s runaround move proved to be of interest to some passengers.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The Pennsy Yard Scene in Dennison in 1967

December 31, 2022

Mike Ondecker and I found this Pennsylvania Railroad scene at the yard in Dennison in mid-1967. Notice the damaged boxcar.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Amtrak Reinstates Suspended Trains, Southwest Airlines Back to Near Normal Operations

December 31, 2022

Amtrak was back to normal on Friday with all trains that had been suspended in the past week back to their normal schedules.

For the first time in more than a week the Empire Builder departed Chicago en route to its West Coast terminals of Seattle and Portland. No service suspensions were posted on the Amtrak website.

The suspensions began four days before Christmas as a massive winter storm that brought subzero temperatures and heavy snow raced across the country, hitting the upper Midwest and western New York State particularly hard.

The same storm disrupted airline travel during the Christmas weekend but Southwest Airlines had particular difficulty coping with the storm and its aftermath.

The carrier cancelled approximately 5,800 flights between Dec. 22 and 29. On Friday Southwest operated most of its flights with the website reporting that just 43 Southwest flights had been cancelled by 6 p.m. EST.

On a typical day Southwest operates 3,900 flights. Flightaware said that nationwide, airlines cancelled just 153 flights on Friday, which was the lowest number since before the winter storm arrived just before the Christmas weekend.

Most Southwest flights scheduled to operate this past week from Cleveland Hopkins Airport were cancelled.

Every Southwest flight out of Hopkins on Monday was scrapped and only a handful of flights operated Tuesday through Thursday.

Most Southwest flight from Cleveland operate to Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Nashville, Atlanta and Baltimore.

Some Southwest passengers from Cleveland were told the soonest they could be accommodated would be Saturday.

Hopkins Raising Parking Fees, CAK CEO Says Airport Has Lowest Fares in Northeast Ohio

December 31, 2022

The new year will bring higher parking rates at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

New rates that become effective Jan. 1 will see charges increase by $2 to $1 per day for vehicles parked over a 24-hour period.

The new rates will be Smart Garage: $22 (originally $20); Red Lot: $20 (originally $19); Blue Lot: $20 (originally $19); Orange Lot: $17 (originally $16); and Brown Lot: $14 (originally $13)

In other Northeast Ohio airport news, the head of the Akron-Canton Airport said recently that the airport located near Green between its namesake cities now features the lowest average fares in the region.

CEO Ren Camacho said it was part of a transformation of the airport that has played out over the past three years.

Camacho lauded the loyalty of local businesses using the airport and said the addition of low fare carriers Allegiant Air and Breeze Airways within the past two years has helped to keep fares lower.

He noted that as recently as 2019 Akron-Canton had some of the highest average air fares in Northeast Ohio.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic also has transformed the flight offerings from Akron-Canton.

The airport has lost direct service to Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, Washington Dulles Airport, and Houston.

It also has lost Spirit Airlines, which in early summer suspended its flights from CAK with plans to resume them in November. But as that month approached Spirit said it wasn’t returning to Akron-Canton.

Both Breeze and Allegiant offer less-than-daily service, much of it oriented to Florida with flights also serving Las Vegas; Charleston, South Carolina; and Nashville, Tennessee. Some routes are seasonal.

Daily service has shrunk to flights to Chicago O’Hare Airport by United Express; Charlotte, North Carolina, by American Eagle; and Reagan Washington National Airport by American Eagle.

Long Way From its Illinois Roots

December 30, 2022

Norfolk & Western 1210 used to be Illinois Terminal 1210. The SW1200 was on lease to the Akron & Barberton Belt when it was captured working in Barberton on July 31, 1982. That’s the A&BB office is in the background. The 1210 arrived in Ohio this same year and with sister unit 1205 was stenciled as leased units, the two A&BB locomotives to be so marked.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Howes Honored with R&LHS Award Category

December 30, 2022

Former railroad executive William F. Howes Jr. is being honored by the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society with an award named after him.

The society has created a seventh category to its Railway History Awards program that will recognize “excellence in magazine journalism devoted to past or present passenger rail service.”

It will be named the William F. Howes Jr. Passenger Rail Article Award with the winner receiving a certificate and a $250 honorarium.

Howes spent most of his career working for the Baltimore & Ohio and Chessie System railroads. This included a stint as vice president of passenger services for the B&O and Chesapeake & Ohio railroads.

Howes, who died earlier this year, also served as R&LHS president from 1994 to 2003.

In an unrelated announcement, the R&LHS has awarded two $2,500 research grants to the Center for Railroad Photography & Art and Chicago author Sandra Jackson-Opoku.

Based in Madison, Wisconsin, the CRP&A will use its grant to help sort, categorize, and conserve photo collections of longtime industry senior executives James McClellan of Norfolk Southern (1939-2016) and Railroad Development Chairman Henry Posner III, to make them accessible for public research.

Jackson-Opoku is a retired academic, literary scholar, and author of prose, poetry, and drama. She is working on research and revisions of Black Rice, a historical novel that explores centuries-long connections between China and people of African descent.

 “The role of Cantonese immigrants in building the Transcontinental Railroad is well-documented. Less recognized is their work on southern railroads, and the resulting contact zones that developed between the Chinese immigrants and African American communities,” she wrote in her grant application.

In particular Jackson-Opoku is interested in 19th-century Mississippi railroad culture.

FRA Issues Safety Advisory on Unintended Brake Release on a Stopped Train

December 30, 2022

The Federal Railroad Administration this week issued a safety advisory pertaining to issues encountered by train crews who experience an unintended brake release while stopped at a signal.

The advisory recommends four steps to address the unintended release of train air brakes.

Safety Advisory 2033-02 was published in the Federal Register.

The advisory was prompted by a June 22 incident during a thunderstorm involving an intermodal train with three locomotives, 47 loaded cars, and six empty cars, totaling 9,204 feet in length and 7,392 tons in weight.

The train had stopped on on a downhill grade of 0.9 to 1.18 percent near the signal governing the train’s movement, set the train’s air brakes at approximately 12 pounds, and fully set the locomotive consist’s independent brakes.

The train sat for three hours and then began rolling toward the signal as it continued to display a stop indication.

The locomotive consist’s independent brakes remained fully applied but due to the grade, tonnage and wet rail could not solely hold the train without the automatic air brakes also being applied.

As that incident unfoled, an opposing train movement was about to enter the interlocking in front of the rolling train.

The crew was able to stop the train, in part by activating the emergency brake valve and the train stopped short of the signal. The crew then, after contacting the dispatcher, set a sufficient number of car handbrakes to hold the train on the grade.

Among the FRA recommendations are train crews should not expect a service rate or emergency brake application to indefinitely maintain application of a train’s air brakes; if a train is stopped with air brakes set, and the train begins moving, the crew should immediately apply the emergency brake and after the train is stopped set a sufficient number of handbrakes to secure the train from further unintended movement before releasing the brakes and recharging the train’s air brake system.

Other recommendations included that each railroad should adopt and implement an air brake procedure that addresses unintended brake releases.; and railroads should have an operating supervisor conduct a face-to-face meeting with each locomotive engineer and conductor to explain and reinforce the contents of this advisory.

Cruising Creston

December 28, 2022

CSX GP40-2 No. 6907 is eastbound in Creston, Ohio on Feb. 20, 2012. The locomotive was built in February 1980 for the Chesapeake & Ohio.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

LSL, Midwest Corridor Trains Back on Track

December 28, 2022

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited returned to service on Wednesday and no Midwest Corridor trains have been cancelled for Thursday.

Some services remain suspended in New York State and a handful of Midwest trains were cancelled on Wednesday.

Trains that did not operate on Wednesday included Woverine Service Nos. 351 and 353 between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac); Lincoln Service No. 300 from St. Louis to Chicago; Blue Water No. 365 from Port Huron, Michigan, to Chicago; and Illinois Zephyr No. 382 from Quincy, Illinois, to Chicago.

In New York State, cancellations for Thursday include the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf between Toronto and Rochester; Empire Service No. 250 between Niagara Falls and Albany -Rensselaer; and Empire Service Trains 281, 281 and 284 between Niagara Falls and Syracuse.

The Empire Service trains will operate to and from New York City east of Rochester and Syracuse.

Amtrak’s Empire Builder has resumed operating between Chicago and St. Paul, Minnesota, for remains suspended west of St. Paul.

Class I Employment Rose in November

December 28, 2022

U.S. Class 1 railroad employment edged up in mid-November by 0.62 percent the Surface Transportation Board reported this week.

The railroads employed 118,944, an increase of 4.38 percent when compared to last year during the same period.

Five of six employment categories posted employment gains between October and November. They were: transportation (other than train and engine), up 1.34 percent to 4,779 employees; professional and administrative, up 1.11 percent to 9,998; executives, officials and staff assistants, up 0.96 percent to 8,030; maintenance of equipment and stores, up 0.77 percent to 17,774; and transportation (train and engine), up 0.74 percent to 49,934.

Losing ground was maintenance of way and structures, which fell 0.05 percent to 28,429 employees.

On a year-over-year comparison, all categories saw gains. This included executives, officials and staff assistants, up 10.29 percent; transportation (T&E), up 6.29 percent; maintenance of equipment and stores, up 3.15 percent; transportation (other than T&E), up 2.8 percent; professional and administrative, up 2.47 percent; and maintenance of way and structures, up 1.31 percent