Archive for April, 2023

EL Monday: The ‘B&M Era’ on the EL

April 30, 2023

Boston & Maine No. 1724 is on the point of an eastbound train in the Erie Lackawanna’s yard in Kent sometime between 1967 and 1972. This is one of several B&M run-throughs I saw on the EL during those years. 

Photograph by Robert Farkas

FRA Issues Long Train Advisory

April 30, 2023

The Federal Railroad Administration last week released an advisory regarding train length.

The advisory addresses train makeup and, the agency said in a statement, seeks “to increase awareness of the potential complexities associated with operating longer trains, and push railroads to take appropriate measures to address those complexities to ensure safety.”

In issuing the advisory the FRA cited three derailments involving long trains, two of which occurred in Ohio on Norfolk Southern.

The Ohio derailments occurred in Springfield on March 4 and in Ravenna last November. All three of the derailments involved trains of more than 200 cars, a length of at least 12,500 feet, and a weight of more than 17,000 tons.

Eight recommendations are made in the advisory pertaining to changes to crew training; train handling procedures; train makeup; distributed power unit requirements; limitations to length or tonnage; speed restrictions; track, mechanical, and brake inspection; and maintenance requirements necessary to ensure safe operations of longer trains.

Ohio, Indiana OLI Chapters Get Grants

April 30, 2023

Operation Lifesaver chapters in Ohio and Indiana will share in the awarding of $214,075 in rail safety awareness grants.

The grant money includes $200,000 provided by the Federal Highway Administration.

Grants are to be used for public education campaigns focused on the need for safety around grade crossings. The campaigns will run during Rail Safety Week, Sept. 18-24.

Working for the P&LE

April 30, 2023

Pittsburgh & Lake Erie MP15DC No. 1595 is in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, on April 23, 1983. The unit was built by EMD in May 1975. It would later go to work for Amtrak where it had roster number 538.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Laying Over in Alliance

April 30, 2023

Loran rail griding equipment is laying over between assignments in the Norfolk Southern yard in Alliance in September 1996. More than likely, the equipment was working on nearby NS lines as the time.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Truck Driver Pleads Not Guilty to Charges

April 30, 2023

A Cleveland truck driver has pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular manslaughter involving the death of a Norfolk Southern conductor in a grade crossing incident on March 7.

Ryan Hundley, the driver of a dump truck that struck and killed conductor Louis Schuster, appeared in Cleveland Municipal Court for an arraignment hearing last Thursday. A judge set Hundley’s bond at $10,000.

The incident occurred on the property of Cleveland Cliffs at a grade crossing marked only with a stop sign.

The NS train was working in the plant at the time of the collision and was making a reverse move.

A police report said the scene was dimly lighted and the design of the truck’s cab partly obstructed the driver’s view.

Hundley reportedly stopped at the crossing and then moved ahead.

CSX Union OKs Sick Leave Pact

April 30, 2023

Members of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division GO-049 labor union have voted to ratify a sick leave agreement with CSX.

The union said a majority of the ballots returned favored ratification of the pact. Specific vote totals were not released.

The pact covers 2,400 conductors and trainmen on CSX northern lines.

In a statement, the union said the agreement also adopts an attendance policy put in place by CSX in the most recent collective bargaining agreement.

In return CSX management gained flexibility and cost savings through provisions that allow conductors and trainmen to drive company vehicles under certain conditions.

The agreement also resolved a long-term dispute between regarding assignment placement.

Steam Saturday: Reading 2102 in Reading

April 29, 2023

Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern T-1 No. 2102 pulls a Philadelphia & Reading Railroad 150th anniversary trip in Reading, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1988.

Photograph by Paul Woodring

NS Reaches Pact With Conductors on Work Rules

April 29, 2023

Norfolk Southern has reached agreement on work rule issues with the union representing its conductors.

The Class 1 carrier and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers–Transportation Division (SMART-TD) said on Friday that the agreement would offer “a comprehensive suite of new benefits and workplace enhancements to improve quality of life for NS’s conductors.”

In a news release NS said the changes include technology-driven enhancements that offer all conductors scheduled days off and greater certainty around their weekly assignments; tools and work-rule changes that provide greater transparency and flexibility to enjoy their vacation and other paid time off; higher reimbursement for meals when away from home, and additional compensation when working weekends and spending time away from home; and up to seven days of paid sick leave, including five new paid sick days and the option to use two days of existing leave, to care for their personal well-being.

The agreement is subject to ratification by union members. NS said the pact also fulfills a stipulation in the 2022 new contract to discuss scheduling enhancements and other related work rule items.

Shippers Protest Amtrak Track Closure in Pa.

April 29, 2023

Amtrak’s plans to suspend freight service on its Keystone Corridor in Pennsylvania has drawn the ire of two feed mills along the line.

They have asked the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to require Amtrak to allow Norfolk Southern to continue to serve them during a six-week maintenance project on the Philadelphia-Harrisburg line.

As part of that project, Amtrak plans to close Track 1 to all rail traffic next month, which means NS freight trains would not be able to reach the feed mills.

In a filing with the STB, the shippers said the track closing violates Amtrak’s common carrier obligation to provide service upon reasonable request.

The feed mills provide feed for livestock in the Northeast. They have asked regulators to order Amtrak to continue allowing NS to serve their facilities.

They said in their filing that losing rail service for six weeks would have “devastating consequences” for their businesses.

NS has trackage rights on the Keystone Corridor and serves the feed mills five days a week. The STB has ordered Amtrak and NS to respond by May 1 to the shipper’s petition.

During the shutdown of Track 1, Amtrak plans to reconfigure the schedules of its own trains that use the route so that all trains operate on Track 2.

The maintenance project involves rebuilding the track and roadbed between Lancaster and Harrisburg.