Archive for the ‘Railroad News’ Category

Happy 45th Anniversary, Amtrak

May 1, 2016

45 year Amtrak TT

Amtrak 1st day loco

Today (May 1) marks the 45th anniversary since the startup of Amtrak. Shown at top is a comparison of the passenger carrier’s first timetable and, as turns out, what will be the last system timetable that it plans to print.

A lot of changed in 45 years and not just the front covers of the system timetables. In 1971, Amtrak was mostly just a name. It had a handful of employees and relied on its contract railroads to perform nearly every task involved in getting the trains over the road as well as serviced and re-stocked.

For a first day ceremony, Amtrak had Penn Central E8A No. 4316 painted in a one-of-a-kind livery. The Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive continued to work in Amtrak service in this livery for several months and sometimes passed through Northeast Ohio on the Broadway Limited.

In the bottom photograph above, it is shown in Chicago. It would later become Amtrak No. 322 and, in 1977, Amtrak No. 461, the second locomotive to wear that number. It was retired from the Amtrak roster in July 1981.

CSX Executive Train to Visit Kentucky Derby

April 30, 2016

CSX plans to send an executive train to Louisville, Kentucky, for the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby on May 7.

The train will bring VIP guests and policymakers aboard a train pulled by F40PH locomotives.

Jay Westbrook, CSX assistant vice president of passenger operations, said that in some years the trains has had as many as 15 cars.

CSX logo 3Westbrook said CSX views the train as another way to serve customers and collaborate with Kentucky officials on new ways to spur economic development.

One passenger who won’t be aboard will be Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. He was invited, but said he was unable to make the trip.

The train will deadhead from Jacksonville, Florida, to the Kentucky capital city of Frankfort in the days before the Derby.

It will depart Frankfort on the morning of the Derby, which is run in late afternoon.

CSX has arrangements to lease additional passenger cars if needed and to use R.J. Corman Railroad Group tracks between Frankfort and Anchorage.

Special trains to the Derby are as old as the race itself and at one time 12 to 15 special trains descended upon Louisville on Derby Day.

Some specials came from as far away as Texas, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta, New Orleans and Chicago.

Upwards of 200 Pullmans would be parked near Louisville Union Station, with many of them providing hotel accommodations for the railroad guests.

Corman and Norfolk Southern have also operated specials to the Derby, but it is not yet known if the NS executive train will be a visitor.

The NS office car train did not operate this year to The Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

Another One of its Kind No. 611

April 29, 2016



There is only one surviving diesel from the Lehigh & New England Railroad . . . and it was at Rockport last Monday. L&NE No. 611 is destined for restoration over east. It’s on a Read and Ready flat car. I was lucky the train in front of it was also flat cars.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Another Akron Landmark is Falling

April 28, 2016



Work continues on the demolition of the former Akron Brewing building near Voris Street in Akron. I’m sad to see this one go as it’s been in thousands of my photos over the years. I was happy to catch a trio of “tigers” passing it last week as the demolition started.

Photographs by Roger Durfee




LSL Operating With 1 Locomotive

April 28, 2016

Reports on a railfan chat list indicate that the Lake Shore Limited is now operating with one locomotive between Chicago and Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

The change was reported to have begun on Tuesday and field reports indicated that that Nos. 48 and 49 each has one locomotive rather than two on that date.

Amtrak Lake Shore LimitedA dual-mode locomotive will pull the Lake Shore Limited between New York and Albany-Rensselaer where one unit has been the practice.

In past years, the motive power between Chicago and Albany-Rensselaer operated through to Boston on Nos. 448 and 449. But the latter trains have operated only between Boston and Albany-Rensselaer for the past year with through passengers having to switch trains in Albany-Rensselaer.

Amtrak has said that construction at the Albany-Rensselaer station has been the reason for operating No. 448/449 as a shuttle train rather than as a through operation to and from Chicago.

Another online report indicated that the Chicago-Boston through cars will not return until early October.

Operating with one locomotive is not an unusual practice at Amtrak, particularly on routes that are relatively flat. Among the trains that have routinely operated with one unit are the City of New Orleans and Texas Eagle.

However, the Chicago-New York Cardinal operates through mountainous West Virginia and it regularly has one locomotive. The Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited also operates with one locomotive during the winter when its consist is reduced.

Recent photographs posted on line show that single-unit running is also taking place on the Silver Star and Silver Meteor between Washington and Miami.

CN Reports ‘Strong’ 1st Quarter Results

April 28, 2016

Canadian National said this week that its first quarter 2016 income rose 13 percent while its operating ratio fell to 58.9 percent.

The Montreal-based carrier said it earned net income of C$792 million, while diluted earnings per share rose 16 percent to C$1 when compared with the first quarter of 2015.

OperatingCanadian National income increased 14 percent to C$1.22 billion while operating expenses declined 14 percent to C$1.75 billion.

The operating ratio represented an an improvement of 6.8 points over the first quarter of 2015.

Revenues decreased by 4 percent to C$2.96 billion, car loadings fell by 7 percent and revenue ton-miles declined 9 percent.

In a news release, CN said the declines in freight business reflected overall industry trends.

“The decrease in revenues was mainly attributable to decreased shipments of energy-related commodities including crude oil, frac sand, drilling pipe and semi-finished steel products as a result of declining energy markets,” said CN President and CEO Claude Mongeau.

CN said it suffered specific declines in petroleum and chemicals, metals and minerals, and coal. Business was up, for automotive, forest products and intermodal.

Pets to be Welcome on 5 Midwest Routes

April 28, 2016

Fido and Fluffy will have more trains to ride when Amtrak expands on May 2 its pets on board program to state-supported routes in Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin,

Amtrak logoSmall dogs and cats may be taken aboard in carriers with passengers riding the Blue Water, Wolverine Service, Pere Marquette, Missouri River Runners and Hiawatha Service trains.

Owners must pay a $25 fee to reserve space for their pet on the train and the animals must meet the following requirements:

  • The maximum weight of a pet including the carrier is limited to 20 pounds.
  • Owners can reserve a space for their pet for a $25 fee with a limit of one pet per passenger.
  • For the safety and comfort of all passengers, pets must remain in a carrier at all times and carriers must remain under the seat of that passenger.
  • All five pet reservations are allotted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Amtrak began a pilot program in Illinois in 2014 of carrying pets with their owners. The passenger carrier said that more than 6,300 pets have traveled aboard Amtrak since then.

The pets aboard trains program was expanded to Northeast Corridor routes last October and to many long-distance trains earlier this year.

Wolverine Schedules Changed For Track Work

April 27, 2016

Amtrak’s Wolverine Service schedules have been modified to accommodate summer track and signal work as part of the Michigan Accelerated Rail Program.

Amtrak logoThe program, which seeks to create a smoother ride as well as prepare for an expansion of 110-mph service, is being overseen by the Michigan Department of Transportation, which owns much of the route used by the Wolverines between Detroit and Battle Creek.

The temporary schedules will be in effect between April 25 and Sept. 23.

The most significant change will affect train 352 which will operate only from Chicago to Battle Creek, Michigan, on Monday through Saturday.

The train, which is scheduled to depart Chicago at 7:10 a.m., will resume its Chicago-Pontiac, Michigan, route on Sundays.

To pick up the slack, Amtrak has scheduled an extra train from Chicago to Pontiac that will operate Monday through Saturday.

No. 358 will depart Chicago at 4:30 p.m. and arrive in Pontiac at 12:11 a.m.

The equipment making up train 352 will turn at Battle Creek Monday through Saturday to become train 357, departing at 12:25 p.m. and arriving in Chicago at 2:30 p.m.

Other Wolverine Service trains will operate on slightly different schedules.

The schedules of the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water and Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette will not be affected.

NS Cutting Fort Wayne Line Operations

April 26, 2016

Online reports indicate that traffic on the Fort Wayne Line of Norfolk Southern is in decline again.

Reports are that NS has ceased routing crude oil trains via Fort Wayne and instead is sending them over the Chicago Line via Cleveland. It is not clear if this is permanent or temporary.

NS logo 2A year ago NS paid the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern to upgrade the Fort Wayne line west of Bucyrus in preparation for additional traffic between there and Fort Wayne.

Although the Fort Wayne Line is owned by CSX west of Crestline, the CF&E leases it and NS has trackage rights. NS has a handful of trains to and from Bellevue that use the Fort Wayne Line east of Bucyrus.

The online report, which cited unnamed sources at NS, indicated that the NS manager who had the idea of routing tank car trains over the Fort Wayne Line is no longer with the company and current management has had a change in operating philosophy.

NS apparently will continue to route one train from Fort Wayne eastward over the Fort Wayne Line. Operations east of Bucyrus will remain unchanged with manifest freight working in Mansfield and Canton continuing to use the route.

The online report also said that NS has been repairing the track between Mansfield and Alliance.

Keep in mind that this information came from a railfan chat list and its accuracy is not guaranteed. Railroads generally do not make public announcements of operating pattern changes. Some information in the railfan chat list thread came from field reports, including one report of having seen additional crude oil trains operating through Cleveland.

This report, though, does make sense given that NS is seeking to run longer trains and that some of its freight traffic is down. The Chicago Line may not be as congested as it was during the summer of 2014.

The Fort Wayne Line continues to be a secondary route for NS even if, for now, an important one.

Another consideration is that NS has indicated that it will downgrade, sell, abandon or lease lines that have lesser levels of traffic.

Reward Offered in CSX Fireworks Heist

April 26, 2016

A $5,000 reward is being offered for information about the thief or thieves who stole commercial-grade aerial fireworks last week from a CSX train.

CSX logo 1Federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives have recovered 31 of the 32 cases of stolen explosives.

The 500 pounds of the explosives were taken from a Chicago-to-Detroit train with the theft discovered after the train had arrived in Detroit.

The 31 cases recovered by the ATF were found in a field inside the city limits. Agents went to the field after receiving a anonymous tip.

An ATF spokesman said there were no indications of terrorism in the theft, but that officials do not know the motive of thieves.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the ATF Detroit field office at 313-202-3400.


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