Archive for March, 2023

Heading Toward the Drake Loop

March 31, 2023

Port Authority of Allegheny County car No. 4009 is heading west towards the Drake Loop in Castle Shannon, Pennsylvania, in August 1998.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

CVSR Eyes Peninsula-Akron Service

March 31, 2023

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is eyeing resumption of service between Peninsula and Akron. No date for the service inauguration has been announced.

Last weekend the tourist railroad received permission to move a train set from its Fitzwater maintenance site to Peninsula in preparation for instituting the service.

In a post on its Facebook page, the CVSR said the move was allowed by the National Park Service after an independent engineering firm determined it was safe to operate an equipment move over an area along the Cuyahoga River where erosion is threatening the tracks.

CVSR shut down service in early March due to those erosion concerns. The problems with erosion date from last year and cancelled most service on the line last Fall.

The annual holiday trips featuring Santa Claus operated only between Rockside Road station in Independence and Fitzwater.

Ohio Legislature Passes Rail Safety Program

March 31, 2023

The Ohio General Assembly had adopted a rail safety program and sent it to Gov. Mike DeWine for consideration.

The measure was part of a $13.5 billion transportation funding bill.

It remains to be seen if the rules will be enforced because there is a question about whether federal law and regulatory agencies have precedent over state laws and regulatory agencies when it comes to regulating railroad operations.

The rail safety measure would require two-person crews for freights trains and require railroad employees who receive information from wayside defect detectors about potentially unsafe conditions to relay that information to the crew operating the train.

Defect detectors under the law would be required to be spaced 10 to 15 miles apart.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency are being directed to submit reports to the legislature about the transportation  of hazardous materials.

PUCO also was directed to review different types of defect detectors and video surveillance systems and report its findings to lawmakers.

The Ohio Railroad Association argued during debate on the bill that federal law supersedes state law on many rail safety matters.

For example, the Federal Railroad Administration allows wayside defect detectors to be spaced up to 25 miles apart.

The transportation bill contains funding for the next two years of primarily bridge and highway projects.

Under the bill, registration fees for hybrid vehicles will be cut from $200 to $150.

The bill also raises the threshold of how much a local government can spend on projects infrastructure projects by its own public workforce before it must bid them out to private contractors.

15 Cars of CN Train Derail in Pennsylvania

March 31, 2023

News reports indicate that 15 cars of a Canadian National train derailed north of Pittsburgh on Wednesday on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie.

No hazardous materials were involved in the derailment, which occurred about 8 a.m. on Wednesday in Brady Township in Butler County.

The derailment site is about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh. Workers were still cleaning up the derailment site on Wednesday night.

Crossing the Fort Wayne Line at CP Mace

March 29, 2023

It is July 27, 1987, in Massillon. Seaboard No. 6821 leads the Dover local southward toward Dover.

The train is crossing the Conrail Fort Wayne Line at CP Mace. Originally B&O trackage, today this track is owned by R.J. Corman. The Corman track today enters the Fort Wayne line, now owned by Norfolk Southern, at a switch and almost immediately leaves the NS tracks at a second switch.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Legislature Clearing Path for Sale of Cincinnati Line

March 29, 2023

The Ohio General Assembly is poised to adopt legislation that could clear the way for the sale of the Cincinnati Southern Railway to Norfolk Southern.

The CSR is owned by the City of Cincinnati and leased to NS. It runs from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Ohio lawmakers are working out differences in clauses of the state’s transportation bill that was earlier approved by the House and Senate.

Legislation is needed to allow the city to put the question of selling the CSR before voters for their approval.

A legislative conference committee recently approved a compromise that would enable funds from the sale of the rail line to be used by the city for capital projects.

At present, Cincinnati uses lease payments it receives from NS for capital projects. Without a legislative change, the proceeds of the sale of the line could legally only be used to retire public debt.

The language adopted by the conference committee allows NS to buy the rail line and places limits on principal in a trust to be managed by the CSR Board of Trustees.

The legislation would allow sale of the line to be submitted to voters in 2023 or 2024.

The transportation bill was expected to be approved by both chambers on Wednesday.

Agencies Want Amtrak Back in Louisville

March 29, 2023

Two Kentucky agencies plan to seek a federal planning grant to study a revival of Amtrak service to Louisville.

The application for the $500,000 grant will be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration by the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency, and Metro Government.

The agencies are eyeing a revival of a route between Indianapolis and Louisville that last hosted Amtrak service in 2003.

That train, the Kentucky Cardinal, was hindered by low ridership and a slow route. It was launched by Amtrak in a bid to capture express business.

The Kentucky Cardinal operated daily between Chicago and Louisville, and combined with the Chicago-Washington Cardinal three days a week in each direction between Chicago and Indianapolis.

The Kentucky agency application is intended to complement a request by the Indiana Department of Transportation for a grant to study additional Amtrak service between Chicago and Indianapolis.

Amtrak has named Chicago-Indianapolis-Louisville as a route that would be developed under its Amtrak Connects US plan.

Conrail Museum Sets Grand Opening for April 1

March 29, 2023

The Conrail Historical Society has reiterated its plans to open a museum in Pennsylvania on April 1 with a grand opening event.

The museum will be housed in a former Conrail boxcar on static display in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.

This year marks the 47th anniversary of Conrail although most of the network was devided by CSX and Norfolk Southern in 1999.

The museum is located alongside the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail and near the Cumberland Valley Railroad Museum. 

The Conrail museum contains artifacts and documents from the Conrail era. It will be open daily from sunrise to sunset.

CSX Wants Shippers to Use GPS Tags

March 29, 2023

CSX wants its shippers to install GPS tags on rail cars and containers as a part of an effort to provide teal-time information on shipments.

The Class I railroad said in a statement that it has used GPS for years on its locomotives and that use of the technology to track freight shipments would be a “significant improvement” over the automated equipment identification it now uses.

The latter relies on wayside detectors to identify rail cars fitted with transponder tags. A car’s location can only be determined when it passes a detector.

GPS tags transmit electronic signals to communication satellites, which relay location coordinates back to CSX’s ShipCSX shipment-tracking database.

Once a Common Sight on the N&W

March 29, 2023

It’s strange to think how common these Norfolk & Western Fairbanks-Morse switchers were in the Brewster/Gambrinus (Canton) area in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Until around mid-1974, a trip to Brewster or Gambrinus could usually produce at least one of them. Then all of a sudden, they were gone. How sad. Shown is N&W 2155 (FM H12-44) in Gambrinus in March 1974.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas