Archive for the ‘Other News’ Category

Chicago-Columbus Passenger Line Hearings Set

October 17, 2018

Four public meeting have been scheduled in Indiana and Ohio to discuss a proposed intercity rail passenger route between Chicago and Columbus via Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The meetings are being conducted by the Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association and will cover recent work that has been done to bring the service to fruition as well as how to secure funding for the service.

The only Ohio hearings will be held Oct. 23 between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in Lima at the Lima Municipal Center.

Other hearings are set for Oct. 24 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne; Oct. 24 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the city hall council chambers in Warsaw, Indiana; and Oct. 25 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.  at the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce in Valparaiso, Indiana.

At each meeting, there will be a brief presentation from HNTB, a consulting firm hired to complete an analysis required under federal law in order for the rail project to receive federal funding.

The analysis includes a purpose and need assessment, a public involvement plan, an analysis of the route options, development of service alternatives along the preferred route, and preliminary engineering to develop cost estimates of the service alternatives.

That work is being done in phases and the meetings and analysis to be presented will focus on the corridor between Lima and Gary, Indiana.

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Coal Booster Plans Quietly Dropped

October 17, 2018

The Trump administration has quietly set aside its plans to bolster the coal industry amid opposition from within and outside the administration.

Politico reported that various ideas to force utility companies to keep coal-fired generating plants operating were opposed by members of the National Security Council and National Economic Council.

The report did not say whether President Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on a pledge to revive the coal industry, agreed with or made the decision himself.

Coal remains the single-largest commodity by carload volume hauled by Class 1 railroads, but that traffic has sharply declined in the past decade as utility companies have retired coal-fired plants or switched them to burning natural gas.

The Politico article said the coal industry has been frustrated by lack of progress in the administration’s effort to boost coal production and use.

In particular, they have been hoping for economic assistance, but that has met with fierce opposition from oil and gas producers, consumer groups worried about rising energy costs, environmentalists, and conservatives fighting federal intervention in markets that might cost billions of dollars.

C&O 1309 To be Fired up for Open House

October 16, 2018

An open house is being planned to show off Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309, whose boiler will be fired up for the occasion.

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad will conduct the event at 3 p.m. on Oct. 30.

Tickets for the event will cost $130.90 and may be ordered from public.whistletix.com.

Ticket holders will be given a look at the boiler in steam and a chance to blow the whistle. They will also ride a diesel-powered dinner train that departs at 6 p.m.

The boiler of the 1309 was test fired earlier this month, the first time it had been in steam since 1957.

The restoration of the locomotive is being done under contract by Diversified Rail Services.

The 1309 was built by Baldwin in 1949.

WMSR officials recently said that newly-profiled wheels for the 1309 are expected to arrive soon followed by the installation of the boiler jacketing.

The railroad said it will cost $300,000 to complete restoration, includes construction of a coal storage and ashpit areas at the shop in Ridgeley, West Virginia.

AOS Acquires ex-W&LE Steam Locomotive

October 15, 2018

A former Wheeling & Lake Erie steam locomotive has been shipped by truck to the Age of Steam Roundhouse, which plans to cosmetically restore it

The 0-6-0 was owned by the City of Canton where it sat on static display for 33 years.

In 1991 No. 3960 was moved in anticipation that it would be restored to operating condition by Silver Throttle Engine and Museum.

That didn’t happen and in recent years it has been stored in a disassembled state in Minerva.

During the time that No. 3960 was stored in Canton many of its appliances and parts were stolen.

AOS has some parts that have been stored in boxcars for more than 10 years and it plans to give the 0-6-0 a new cab and replace rusted, lost, and stolen parts.

The 21st steam locomotive to be acquired by AOS was built by the Wheeling in 1935 at its Brewster shops.

It was part of a class of 20 0-8-0s and 30 0-6-0s locomotives built to a USRA design.

The locomotives 51-inch driving wheels with No. 3960 capable of producing 41,200 pounds of tractive effort and a boiler pressure of 200 pounds.

After the Nickel Plate Road leased the W&LE in late 1949, No. 3960 became NKP 360.

It operated in revenue service for the final time on Oct. 31, 1957. After being cosmetically by the Wheeling, it was put on display in Canton’s Mother Goose Land Park. It was re-lettered to W&LE 3960 in 1973.

Contractor Helping RTA Replace Wheels

October 10, 2018

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has hired a Pennsylvania Company to help it replace wheels used on cars on its Red Line.

RTA officials say that the wheels used on Red Line cars have worn down faster than its maintenance forces can replace them.

UTCRAS of Morton, Pennsylvania, will replace wheels on seven of the Red Line’s 40 cars. The company is also expected to receive a $265,574 contract to repair the chassis of 13 cars.

By hiring an outside contractor, RTA officials said they will get the repairs done sooner and that, in turn, will enable RTA to resume running two-car trains for each rush hour schedule.

RTA needs 24 cars to provide two-car trains during rush hours. Although there are 24 serviceable cars available, if one or more of those cars needs repairs RTA is caught short.

Although new wheels were ordered in July 2017, they didn’t arrive until earlier this year.

As some cars were in the shop to get repairs, the wheels on cars in revenue service began wearing out faster than anticipated.

RTA began a second shift and redeployed some of its mechanics to accelerate the repair work.

The agency has also begun hiring to replace vacant positions and started ordering parts farther in advance.

Hiring UTCRAS enabled RTA to install new wheels on five cars in four weeks, which exceeded the pace of 2.2 cars per month when the work was done solely by RTA workers.

RTA hopes to have 32 cars in revenue service by next April.

In an unrelated development, RTA is also holding a sweepstakes to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Red Line’s extension to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

The winner will receive two tickets on Icelandair for travel between Cleveland and Iceland. The winner will also receive four nights of hotel accommodations that include breakfast, airport and hotel transfers, as well as a tour of the Golden Circle.

Entries can be made on the RTA website through Nov. 11. Only one entry per valid email address will be allowed.

PUCO Sets Public Hearings on Crossing Exemptions

October 10, 2018

Two public hearings will be held this month by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on a proposal to exempt nine public grade crossings in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

If approved, it would mean that school buses and motor vehicles transporting certain hazardous materials would not be required to stop at the crossings at Diehl Road, Bailey Road, Ellsworth Road, State Route 14, State Route 534 and U.S. Route 224 in Mahoning County; and State Route 82, State Route 534 and County Highway 114D/Braceville Robinson Road in Trumbull County.

A hearing has been set for 1 p.m. on Oct. 19 at the Braceville Township Administration Building in Newton Falls for the Mahoning County crossings.

The Trumbull County crossings will be discussed at an Oct. 19 hearing at 2:30 p.m. at the West Branch High School library in Beloit.

Local highway officials have sought the exemption from an Ohio law that mandates that  bus, school or motor vehicle transporting certain hazardous materials stop, look and listen for oncoming trains at every public rail crossing before crossing the tracks.

Indiana Museum Gets Switcher

October 8, 2018

A museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, has received a switcher that was donated by Harbor Rail Services of Pasadena, California, but most recently used in Indiana.

The Wabash Valley Railroad Museum received a 1947 General Electric 45-ton, side-rod driven locomotive that was once owned by Public Service Indiana (now Duke Energy).

When it worked in Indiana, it moved hopper cars around a power generating plant.

The unit was built in Erie, Pennsylvania, and may have been used at a military installation for a while before being sold to the utility company.

It was most recently used at a rail car repair facility owned by Harbor Rail Services in Clinton, Indiana.

The locomotive, known as a little critter, is 29 feet in length and was trucked to the museum.

BLET Re-Elects Pierce as President

October 8, 2018

Dennis Pierce was elected to this third full term recently as president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

During BLET’s national convention held in Las Vegas, union members also elected all advisory board members without opposition for terms that begin on Jan. 1, 2019

BLET members adopted a resolution that cited the Coordinated Bargaining Group’s success in the most recent round of national contract negotiations and supported coalition bargaining in national negotiations.

The union expressed support for Amtrak’s national network, noting that the number of passengers has continued to grow over the years “in spite of attempts to kill the service,” BLET officials said.

That resolution condemned actions by Amtrak management, Congress, the president or freight-rail carriers to “downgrade, erode or eliminate U.S. passenger-rail train service.

Hesston Museum Test Fires 2-6-0

October 5, 2018

The Hesston Steam Museum recently test fired the 3-foot gauge Porter 2-6-0 No. 2 that it is restoring.

The Indiana-based group is bringing back to life a 1911 locomotive that had been heavily damaged by a May 1985 fire.

The fire also damaged Shay No. 7 and destroyed several narrow gauge Rio Grande freight cars.

The restoration of the Mogul type locomotive has included the rebuilding or replacement of most of the engine’s parts.

This included installation of new boiler and turret, and fabricating a new larger tender frame and superstructure new brake rigging.

“The 2 was like building a new locomotive,” said Ted Rita, the museum’s director and general manager.

“Everything was modified in the field so really the only things left from the original build was the frame, wheelsets and, engines,” he said. “We’ve set her up for ease of maintenance and will be economical for us to operate for years to come.

“Once we complete our steam tests and shake down runs it will be our primary motive power and will insure we can run steam every weekend for our guests. We’ll then roll her into our maintenance schedule with our other operational locomotives. ”

No. 2 was built for the United Fruit Company and worked at a banana plantation in Guatemala. It was retired in the early 1950s.

By 1961, the locomotive had become derelict, but was saved from scrap by Elliott Donnelley. It was eventually repaired by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy shops in Clyde, Illinois, in Chicago where its running gear was repaired.

The Hesston museum used No. 2 on its two-mile railroad whose 5.5 percent grades and tight curves resemble a logging railroad.

The museum plans additional tests on No. 2 this fall and hopes to have it operational by next spring when a planned rebranding of the museum is expected to be implemented.

That will include a new name that will better reflect a 1929 theme and the museum’s geographical location.

C&O 1309 Undergoes Successful Test Firing

October 4, 2018

A stationary test fire was conducted this week of former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309.

Workers rebuilding the locomotive increased its boiler pressure to 210 pounds.

Gary Bensman, president of Diversified Rail Services, a contractor that is rebuilding No. 1309 for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, told Trains magazine that the test firing went as expected.

“We tested the injectors and generally just inspected the boiler for leaks. There are no leaks on the boiler,” Bensman said.

Workers also opened the throttle to blow steam through the superheater units to clean out welding residue, dust, and grinding dirt from the header and branch pipes.

Bensman said that was necessary to keep the pistons and valves from collecting dirt after reassembly.

The next major step in the restoration process is to put back the lagging and jacket to the boiler, which is expected to begin in the next month or so.

No. 1309 was built by Baldwin in 1949. Its restoration has been hindered by financial problems that at times have halted the work.

Once the 1309 is restored to operating condition, it will be the one of the largest steam locomotives running in America and the only Mallet type in operation east of the Mississippi.