Archive for February, 2023

Vestiges of Massillon Railroad History

February 28, 2023

Conrail SD40-2 No. 6467 leads an eastbound in Massillon on May 25, 1996. To the left of the train are the remains of the right-of-way of the then recently torn out former Wheeling & Lake Erie line to Dalton which curved to the left here and crossed what is now the RJ Corman.

The W&LE line, which was operated by the Nickel Plate Road, Norfolk & Western, and Norfolk Southern, was the original path of the Wheeling before the bypass route was built via Orrville.

The Corman line was once a Baltimore & Ohio secondary mainline that ran from Warwick Tower in Clinton to Bridgeport, Ohio.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Scenes From the EBT Winter Spectacular

February 28, 2023

There may not have been any snow on the ground to indicate that it was still winter, but the Winter Specular at the East Broad Top Railroad in Pennsylvania was, in a word, spectacular. Scores of traveled to the historic narrow gauge railroad to witness and photograph the triumphant return of steam to EBT rails. Here are some of the many scenes from the event.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

Cleanup of Derailment Site Resumed

February 28, 2023

Work resumed on Monday cleaning up the site of a Norfolk Southern derailment after federal regulators ordered the cleanup temporarily halted.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the order after hearing concerns expressed by residents of East Palestine, where the Feb. 3 derailment occurred, and from residents of locations where contaminated soil  and water was being shipped.

The EPA said waste from the derailment site will be moved to EPA-certified sites in Ohio.

Federal environmental regulators will review the transport of some of this waste over long distances and seek certified sites to take waste. Some waste had been taken to sites in Texas and Michigan.

In related developments, NS has paid $825,000 to the East Palestine Fire Department approximately to replace equipment used in the derailment response.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources now estimates that more than 43,000 fish and other forms of aquatic life were killed as a result of the derailment.

That includes more than 38,000 minnows and about 5,500 other species, such as crayfish and amphibians located within 5 miles of the derailment site that were killed within 24 hours of the incident.

Since then Ohio officials said, there have been no signs of fish in distress within the affected area.

SEPTA Rail Contract Being Reviewed

February 28, 2023

The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation has launched an investigation into the procurement of new rail cars by the Southeast Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

SEPTA awarded a $138 million contract to China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation to build 45 rail cars.

The OIG audit will review whether the contract violates the Federal Transit Authority’s Buy America requirements for the acquisition of rolling stock.

In a news release, the USDOT OIG said the audit will examine FTA’s oversight of SEPTA’s certification of CRRC’s adherence to Buy America requirements, and SEPTA’s calculation of the total value of foreign components. The audit is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

Class 1 Employment Up in January

February 28, 2023

Class I railroad employment rose 6.2 percent in mid-January compared with the same month in January 2022.

Figures released by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board showed the railroads employed employed 119,245 people in mid-January 2023 However, that was a drop of 0.09 percent decrease compared with December 2022.

Four of six employment categories saw gains between December 2022 and January 2023. Those were transportation (other than train and engine), up 0.68 percent to 4,854 workers; professional and administrative, up 0.53 percent to 10,081; transportation (train and engine), up 0.27 percent to 50,313; and executives, officials and staff assistants, up 0.01 percent to 7,998.

Losing ground were maintenance of way and structures, down 1.09 percent to 28,205 employees, and maintenance of equipment and stores, down 0.09 percent to 17,794.

In comparing January 2023 with January 2022, all employment categories posted increases.

This included transportation (train and engine), up 9.93 percent; executives, officials and staff assistants, up 6.75 percent; maintenance of equipment and stores, up 4.98 percent; transportation (other than train and engine), up 4.03 percent; maintenance of way and structures, up 2.68 percent; and professional and administrative, up 2.22 percent.

EL Monday: Prototype Lash-Up in Kent

February 27, 2023

Erie Lackawanna U25B No. 2511 leads a westbound in Kent in1967-1968. Other units in the motive consist include two other U25Bs, an Alco PA, and and F3B. While the PA and F3B were not likely to be running, this still photo makes one of those “There’s a prototype for everything.” Lash-ups. Note the semaphore signal and light tower for the yard.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Looking at EBT Infrastructure

February 27, 2023

During my visit at East Broad Top Railroad I took a little time photographing the right of way details.

The top image is Pogue Trestle which will be restored hopefully later this year. The railroad is making great progress working south from Rockhill Furnace in this regard.

The second and third imagea are in the yard at Rockhill Furnace.  EBT used Harp switches, which don’t have points like regular switches but instead the rails move to line up the route.

This an example of a 3-way Harp switch, which is very rare.

The third image is the old coal dump at Mt. Union. This is not owned by the EBT Foundation so I’m not sure what the future holds for this but it is in a deteriorated state.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

CSX CEO Calls for Focus on Volume Growth

February 27, 2023

CSX CEO Joe Hinrichs last week vowed to focus on traffic volume growth rather than cost cutting as a way to bump up the company’s profits over the long term.

Speaking to the Barclays Industrial Select Conference, he said there is only so much savings the railroad can squeeze out of operations.

Describing the CSX operating ratio, which is the percentage of revenue devoted to paying expenses, as not perfect, Trains magazine reported that Hinrichs said the Class 1 railroad’s operating ratio will not be a primary focus of CSX management concern.

He called instead for taking a balanced approach to financial performance of which the operation ratio is just one component.

“The end game is to provide a solution and provide a service to the customer that they’re willing to pay for that allows you to make an attractive margin,” Hinrichs said.

Hinrichs acknowledged that traffic growth is not a given and said a key to achieving it will be strong customer service.

He pointed to growth in intermodal traffic as an example of where CSX hopes to gain traffic share from other modes of transportation.

Another potential source of new traffic could be new industrial plants being constructed along CSX routes.

Trolleys on Parade

February 25, 2023

East Broad Top wasn’t the only railroad running at Winter Spectacular. The Rockhill Trolley Museum also put on a show.

And put on a show they did with pretty much everything that runs pulled out of the carbarns and taking its turn.  

This included the Brill Bullet, a 1931 built streamliined interurban car. It’s design was one of he first to use a wind tunnel.

Also running was the 1941 built Liberty Liner one of the two Electroliner sets built for the North Shore and sold to the Philadelphia & Western after that line shut down in 1963. 

Over 100 people ode the Liberty Liner on it’s only trip on Saturday. 

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Cruising in North Lawrence

February 25, 2023

Conrail SD40-2 No. 6400 is eastbound in North Lawrence, Ohio, on March 26, 1985, on the Fort Wayne Line. It is located between Massillon and Orrville. No. 6400 was built in August 1977 and would later service CSX. The train has a load of covered hopper cars.

Photograph by Robert Farkas