Archive for the ‘Railroad News’ Category

Fostoria’s F Tower Set to Close on Monday

March 28, 2015

F Tower in Fostoria will close at 9 a.m. on Monday, March 30. The information is contained in a bulletin order issued by the CSX Great Lake Division that was posted online on a railfan chat list.

The order notes that the IP dispatcher based in Indianapolis will take control of the Fostoria Subdivision.

Fostoria is the location of the intersection at grade of two CSX mainlines with one Norfolk Southern mainline.

The IP dispatcher also controlled the Chicago-Pittsburgh line (former Baltimore & Ohio) east and west of Fostoria between Greenwich and Deshler.

The other CSX route passing through Fostoria is the ex-Chesapeake & Ohio line between Columbus and Toledo and is under the direction of the RL dispatcher.

Norfolk Southern crosses both CSX routes on its Bellevue-Fort Line line (ex-Nickel Plate Road).

One of the few interlocking towers still in operation in the Great Lake region, F Tower had already been changed to computer control.

An online report indicated that all of the dispatchers assigned to the IP desk have visited F Tower in preparation for the changeover.



Ohio Central Receives Safety Recognition

March 27, 2015

The Ohio Central was among several short line and regional railroads recognized for its safety practices in 2014 by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

The Coschocton-based regional received a President’s Awards for maintaining the best safety rate in the category of 50,000 to 150,000 man-hours worked.

Other railroads receiving the award and their category included: Union Railroad (500,000 or more man-hours worked), Portland & Western (250,000 to 500,000 man-hours worked),  Fort Worth & Western (150,000 to 250,000 man-hours worked) and Florida Central Railroad (less than 50,000 man-hours worked).

In a news release, ASLRRA said 274 railroad members earned 2014 Jake Awards with Distinction for reaching the goal of achieving a 0.00 Frequency/Severity Index (FSI) for the year.

Forty additional railroads received 2014 Jake Awards for having an injury rate lower than the industry average FSI of 2.68.

Ohio Railroad Manager Wins Safety Award

March 26, 2015

An Ohio railroad manager has received the 2014 safety person of the year award from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

Billie Johnson, general manager of OmniTrax short lines Newburgh & South Shore Railroad and Northern Ohio & Western Railway, will be honoured at the ASLRRA convention in Orlando, Fla., this weekend.

Billie Johnson

Billie Johnson

Between 1995 and early 2015, Northern Ohio & Western had no Federal Railroad Administration  reportable derailments. It also went more than 663 days without a human factor incident and recorded more than 4,050 injury fee days.

During that same time period, Cleveland-based Newburgh & South Shore went more than 748  days since its last human factor incident, 5,210-plus days since the last reportable derailment, and more than 6,589 days since its last reportable injury.

“Billie continues to demonstrate the most outstanding safety achievements of any manager on our network of railroads,” said OmniTRAX CEO Kevin Shuba. “She is dedicated to safe operations and emphasizes initiatives that improve associate safety in the workplace. I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of the ASLRRA Safety Person of the Year award.”

“In the 18 years I’ve spent working with Billie, she has always been a source of honesty and knowledge,” said OmniTRAX Vice President of Operations Bob Ellman. “She is willing to help where needed and is a vital member of our leadership team. The fact that she has never had any type of workplace injury, much less an FRA reportable injury, shows her dedication to safe operations.”

“In the year I have worked with Billie it has been very evident that her determination to develop her properties and employees to be the safest in the industry is extraordinary,” said OmniTRAX Vice President of Safety Bill Kelly. “She treats her team members like they are family, and it shows in her results.”

Johnson began her railroad career as a keypunch operator at the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad in 1969 before being promoted to terminal manager.

In 1981, she joined the Chicago Rail Link Railroad and in 1991 transferred to the Newburgh & South Shore, working as a clerk, conductor, and certified engineer.

She became the general manager of the Northern Ohio & Western in 1995 and later added oversight of the Newburgh & South Shore to her duties.

A long time member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Tiffin, Johnson as a volunteer has been instrumental in organizing the church’s annual festival as well as other activities.

She has also served as a member of the Tiffin Economic Development Board.

NS Annual Report Cites Record Performances

March 26, 2015

Norfolk Southern touted earning “record-setting net income, revenues, operating income, earnings per share, and operating ratio” in its 2014 annual report.

“2014 was an outstanding year,” wrote CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman in a letter that accompanied the report. “Our performance during the year demonstrated the increasing demand for our services, the growing value of freight rail transportation in the marketplace, and Norfolk Southern’s progress in enhancing service to meet the needs of customers and create long-term value for shareholders.”

“As business began to rise dramatically following the difficult winter, we invested significant resources to align our people, equipment, and rail capacity with the volumes we were experiencing on the network,” Moorman said.

NS hired 1,344 train and engine employees during 2014 and placed 169 locomotives into service.

It also oversaw several infrastructure projects in Chicago and the upper Midwest to increase system capacity and operating flexibility.

“We remain committed to our proven strategy of operating an efficient, high-velocity railroad, which enables us to offer the best possible customer service and retain and grow business at rates that provide a superior return for our shareholders,” Moorman said.

The report, titled “Behind Every Train” is posted online at

Amtrak Viewliner II Baggage Cars Enter Service

March 26, 2015

Amtrak’s new Viewliner II baggage cars entered revenue service this week on the East Coast.

The first trains to carry the cars were the northbound Silver Meteor (New York-Miami) and northbound Carolinian (New York-Charlotte, N.C.).

Altogether, Amtrak ordered 55 of the cars and plans to assign them to all of its 15 long-distance routes.

The cars were built at the CAF USA plant near Elmira, N.Y. Earlier, they were ferried to Amtrak’s Hialeah maintenance facility in Miami for inspection.

Amtrak has ordered 130 single-level, long-distance passenger cars, including diners, sleepers and baggage-dorm cars.

IC SD70s Enter Service on Bessemer & Lake Erie

March 25, 2015

A few years ago a rumor made its way through the railfan grapevine that Illinois Central locomotives would be assigned by Canadian National to its Bessemer & Lake Erie Subdivision. But the months went by and B&LE trains remained all orange.

Now, the rumor has become reality. CN is assigning six former IC SD70 units to the B&LE and they have begun to enter service. The units all still wear their IC black and white “deathstar” livery.

Since last year three locomotives painted in CN colors showed up on the B&LE, but the motive power consists were still dominated by the traditional orange B&LE SD40T locomotives.

Orange B&LE units continue to pull trains on the railroad, but the days of solid orange motive power consist will be gone, if they are not already.

The scuttlebutt on railfan chats lists is that the B&LE tunnel motors are being retired due to their age.

One report is that it has been 15 years since their last rebuild and most of the B&LE locomotives are more than 40 years old.

There currently are 5 B&LE SD40Ts still on the Bessemer Sub (901, 905, 908, 907 and 910).

Cab Units Show up on Indiana Short Line

March 25, 2015

Two Erie Mining F unit have made their way to Indiana short line Vermilion Valley. The cab units arrived on the 8-mile line last Saturday.

A part of the Indiana Boxcar family, the Vermilion Valley operates from Olin, Ind., to Danville, Ill., where it connects with CSX, Kankakee, Beaverville & Southern, and Norfolk Southern.

NS Celebrates Expansion of ‘Railroad University’

March 23, 2015

Norfolk Southern held a ribbon cutting ceremony last week to mark the expansion of it’s “railroad university” in Georgia.

“This facility is all about investing in our people,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “The better we equip and train our conductors, engineers, and other craft and supervisory employees to do their jobs safely and efficiently, the more opportunity we have to achieve and surpass the level of service our customers expect and that we commit to provide.”

The facility is located in McDonough, Ga., near Atlanta. The two-story expansion to the building increased classroom space from 27,000 to 50,000 square feet.

Opened in December 1974, it was the first facility of its kind to train operating employees. Also receiving training there are track and signal workers.

The facility includes four miles of track and a four-track railroad yard with locomotives and rolling stock.

“After their classroom and practical experiences at the training center, employees go on assignment with the tools and perspective to make immediate contributions to the success of a 21st century railroad and the customers and communities that depend on us,” said Dominik Browne, manager of the facility.

NS said in a news release that the training center has nearly 400 employees and could host as many as 900 students.

“Employees in the new space will receive enhanced technology-enabled interactive instruction, including use of tablets, touch screens, and simulation training,” NS said.

VIA May Seek New Ontario Route for Canadian

March 23, 2015

VIA Rail Canada may be in the market for a new route for its transcontinental Canadian, which has suffered months of late running over its congested Canadian National route through Northern Ontario.

On March 11, the famed streamliner was suspended between Winnipeg and Toronto in the wake of two CN derailments of crude oil trains.

One route that VIA is reportedly eyeing would put the Canadian back on Canadian Pacific tracks for part of its route.

The Canadian began as a CP train and many have long argued that CP has the more scenic route through the Rocky Mountains.

However, VIA seems to be most interested in using CP tracks east of the Rockies between Winnipeg and Sudbury, Ontario.

VIA CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano said last November in an interview with Railway Age that using CP east of Winnipeg would give it a more scenic route closer to the Great Lakes while also serving more communities.

For now, VIA’s primary concern is to ensure that the Canadian is ready for operations by the summer tourism season.

It could take up to two months for VIA to study the CP route and negotiate a contract with CP to host the train.

Michigan Firm to Take over Algoma Central Trains

March 18, 2015

Trains magazine reported on Tuesday that Michigan-based Railmark Holdings Inc. will take over passenger operations on the former Algoma Central Railway in Ontario on April 1.

Railmark, which is based in Wixon, Mich., provides railroad operation, track construction and maintenance, rail freight logistics, and railcar repair services.

The Ontario service has been in jeopardy for the past year after Transport Canada announced in January 2014 that it would cut its annual subsidy for the service, which is now operated by Canadian National.

Although an agreement was reached to continue the trains, that funding will expire at the end of March.


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