Posts Tagged ‘Ann Arbor Railroad’

Catching Some ‘Annie’ in Toledo

October 6, 2021

Ann Arbor GP35 No. 393 is in Toledo on Aug. 24, 1977. It was built in June 1964 and later worked for the Tuscola & Saginaw Bay as well as the Great Lakes Central.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

3 Short Lines Lauded for Business Development

July 10, 2020

The efforts of three Midwest short line railroads to grow new business have been honored by a trade organization representing the short line industry.

The three, which were recognized for their efforts to develop new business, are the Ann Arbor Railroad, the Indiana Rail Road and the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern.

They along with a Delaware-based carrier were winners of the 2020 Business Development Awards from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

The Ann Arbor Railroad’s efforts to create an auto distribution center grew out of an analysis of auto sales and production trends in Toledo.

That review found a need for additional capacity in the finished vehicle distribution network, particularly for sport utility vehicles and trucks.

The Ann Arbor created a partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to build a distribution center in Toledo that opened in time for the July 2019 launch of the Jeep Gladiator model.

The Silver Creek distribution facility was the Ann Arbor’s fifth vehicle distribution center in Toledo.

Located on 20 acres, the facility has a 12-car rail spot and can accommodate a 90-car autorack train in support of FCA’s Toledo and Detroit assembly production with a daily 1,800-car throughput capacity.

In 2018, the Ann Arbor began using its Temperance yard in Toledo as a dedicated finished vehicle distribution center.

The yard had been used for transloading and mechanical projects but lacked significant volume.

Ann Arbor owner Watco said the distribution center played a key role in reducing FCA’s costs and maintaining its vehicles in Toledo.

That enabled work to remain in Toledo that FCA might have moved elsewhere.

The Indiana Rail Road was recognized for its work with an Indianapolis-based trucking company, Venture Logistics, to build a 406,000 square-foot distribution center in Indianapolis.

Opened in 2016, the facility with its 58 truck docks and 15 indoor rail car spots, has doubled its volume since 2017 to 2,600 carloads.

INRD CEO Pete Mills said the warehouse is a valuable asset in an era in which Class 1 railroads are practicing precision scheduled railroading and seeking to turn freight cars quickly to avoid demurrage payments.

“We can provide service six days a week and turn equipment fast with no demurrage bills,” Mills said.

The dry warehouse initially handled mostly rolled or cut stock paper, but has since expanded into food and building products, and engines and metals.

Venture provided $20 million to build the warehouse while INRD spent less than $1 million for track infrastructure.

The warehouse business has enabled INRD to broaden its traffic base beyond coal, which for many years was the short line’s primary traffic.

“We love coal, but that business is in jeopardy,” Mills said.

In Pennsylvania, the RBN&N undertook a project of providing more transloading services as a way to better serve existing shippers and attract new ones.

The railroad created new transloading facilities in West Hazleton and Ransom, and launched a trucking company that serves all four of its transload facilities.

These facilities enabled RBM&N to pick up 900 new carloads last year, which helped the short line handle a record 34,000-plus carloads for a year-over-year traffic growth of 6 percent.

RBMN purchased a former Proctor and Gamble warehouse in Ransom in October 2018. At 80,000 square feet, it’s three times larger than the railroad’s previous transload facility in the area.

CEO Any Muller said his company prefers not to lease facilities because “a lease is just throwing dollars out the window.”

He said the RBM&N has been transloading for 30 years “and it can be a big part of business, but it’s hard to accomplish. There is lots of competition.”

The Ransom facility serves five customers, handling bales of wood pulp.

The West Hazleton facility , which opened in November 2019, handles steel coils for one customer but could generate 440 carloads per year.

The short line created its own trucking company to serve its transload facilities, which enables it to provide customers with timelier and more seamless services.

3 Short Lines Win Business Development Awards

May 5, 2020

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association said that short line railroads based in Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania have won an annual Business Development Award.

The trade group said that to win the award a railroad must demonstrate one or more of the following: Utilization of the railroad’s unique operating characteristics to deliver value; partnership with other development authorities, Class I’s or companies; delivering economic success to both the railroad and the community it serves.

Honored were the Ann Arbor Railroad, the Indiana Rail Road and the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad.

The Ann Arbor was selected for its analysis of the auto industry’s sales and production trends, coupled with the identification of an under-utilized facility in Toledo which led to a partnership opportunity with Fiat Chrysler to create a new distribution center for finished automobiles—the Silver Creek Vehicle Distribution and Homologation Center.

Construction of the facility began in 2018, in time for the Jeep Gladiator launch in July 2019.

The facility supports Fiat Chrysler’s Toledo and Detroit assembly production with an 1,800-car through-put capacity per day, has created 102 new jobs and has helped stabilize the local economy.

The INRD forged a partnership with Indianapolis-based trucking company Venture Logistics to build a 406,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, rail-served distribution center in Indianapolis.

The warehouse has 58 truck docks and 15 indoor rail car spots, and is the most modern rail-served facility in central Indiana.

In its first full year of operation in 2017, INRD moved more than 1,200 carloads into the warehouse and volume more than doubled to 2,600 carloads in 2019.

RBM&N opened two new transload facilities in 2019, in West Hazelton and Ransom, Pennsylvania.

That same year it brought the trucking piece of transloading in-house at all four of its transload locations.

The addition of truck-loading services provides a competitive advantage over other operators. Thetransloading efforts have resulted in nearly 900 carloads in 2019, contributing to the company’s overall carload traffic growth of 6 percent.

RBM&N handled a record-breaking 34,000-plus carloads in 2019.

Hallett Tower in Toledo Has Closed

September 7, 2019

The Ann Arbor crossed the Toledo Terminal at Hallett Tower on the north side of Toledo. This image was made in March 2013 and is looking north on the Ann Arbor.

Hallett Tower in Toledo closed on Friday, its dispatching duties having been shifted to a Watco Companies office in Pittsburg, Kansas.

Hallett, which once controlled the crossing of the “back side” of the former Toledo Terminal (now CSX) and Ann Arbor Railroad was the last interlocking tower still open in Toledo.

Until its closing, operators at Hallett had dispatched the AA from Osmer (north of Ann Arbor, Michigan) to Toledo.

That territory included a combination of centralized traffic control and track warrants.

Last April control of the interlocking controls at Hallett had been shifted to a CSX dispatching office in Jacksonville, Florida.

That change coincided with the replacement of signals by CSX at the junction.

Hallett Tower, located off Matzinger Road on the north side of Toledo, was the last interlocking tower still operating in Ohio.

“We used to hang orders for every northbound and southbound train on [what is now] CSX, and on the Ann Arbor we gave northbound trains orders while southbounds gave us their consists” — lists of their trains’ cars that were then given to yardmasters in nearby Ottawa Yard, said Larry Bohland in an interview with The Blade newspaper of Toledo.

Excluding drawbridge towers, as recently as 1994 there were eight open interlocking towers in Toledo controlling railroad junctions.

John Vance, the Ann Arbor general manager in Toledo, said that Hallett survived because neither the Ann Arbor, which owned the tower nor CSX, which paid two-thirds of its operating costs under a decades-long operating agreement, had a significant incentive to replace it.

Besides, the Ann Arbor would need dispatchers when it was spun off from the former Michigan Interstate Railroad in 1985 so Hallett Tower was tapped to serve that purpose.

Vance told the Blade that the tower building will remain standing for now to provide storage for the Ann Arbor’s signal department.

He said Watco is open to the idea of donating all or part of it to a museum.

Drawbridge Tower in Cleveland is still open with operators there raising and lowering the lift bridge over the Cuyahoga River under the direction of NS dispatchers in Atlanta, who also line the switches and signals there.

The four operators at Hallett were given the opportunity to transfer to the Kansas office, but all elected instead to take a severance payment.

An Ann Arbor Memory

August 28, 2019

The Ann Arbor Railroad had most of its track in Michigan, but it’s southern terminus was in Toledo.

The “Annie” as many called it, had 294 miles of track at its peak and a car ferry operation across Lake Michigan.

The AA filed for bankruptcy protection in 1973 and ceased operating in 1976 when Conrail took it over.

But soon the State of Michigan acquired the AA and later sold it in pieces to various short-line railroads.

Shown is Ann Arbor No. 301, an RS2 that was photographed in Toledo on June 21, 1983, during the time when it was operated by the Michigan Interstate Railway, a division of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Toledo National Train Day is May 5

May 1, 2018

The Ann Arbor Railroad and Norfolk Southern might have equipment displays at this year’s National Train Day event in Toledo on Saturday (May 5).

In an announcement on Facebook, the event organizers said NS and AA participation is contingent on traffic levels at the time of the event.

Although NS did not send a locomotive to the event last year, it has sent in the past heritage and special interest locomotives.

The event will be open between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. and feature more than 40 exhibitors and such activities as handcar and motorcar rides, operating model-train layouts, display booths and other train-themed activities.

Clowns and musicians will perform, there will be children’s activities and food will be available.

A passenger-train advocate from Maine will be the featured guest speaker. Richard Rudolph retired in 1996 as an academic dean at the University of Massachusetts.

He was a founding member and chairman of Amtrak’s Customer Service Committee and is chairman of the Rail Users’ Network, a nationwide advocacy organization.

Rudolph and other local rail advocates and public officials will participate in a panel discussion.

“The goal is to increase community awareness of the critical role of passenger and freight rail in our multimodal transportation system,” event organizers said in a statement.

Although there will be no displays of passenger train equipment, Amtrak tickets will be among the event’s raffle prizes.

This will be the 11th National Train Day in Toledo, which often draws 6,000 to 8,000 attendees. Admission and parking are free, with overflow parking and a free shuttle service provided at the Owens Corning lot.

NS to Have Loco at Toledo Train Day Event

May 3, 2017

The organizers of the Toledo National Train Day festival have confirmed that a Norfolk Southern locomotive will be on display on Saturday, but it is not clear yet if it will be a heritage unit, tribute unit or just a work-a-day locomotive.

What is certain is that Amtrak will not have any equipment at Toledo Central Union Terminal for the 10th edition of the event.

Amtrak last year announced it would no longer support National Train Day, but did send Phase I livery P42DC heritage locomotive No. 156 to the event along with a baggage car, Viewliner sleeper, café car and an Amfleet coach.

Watco Companies has agreed to display its Ann Arbor heritage unit at the festival.

Also present at Martin Luther King, Jr., Plaza, as the station is now called will be exhibits and programming that will include track car rides, operating model-train layouts, and a drawing for free Amtrak tickets aboard the Lake Shore Limited to a destination east of Toledo.

There are expected to be five model-train layouts and various vendors in the station’s former main concourse.

Operation Lifesaver will sponsor children’s rail-safety workshops and Boy Scouts who pre-register can participate in a railroading merit badge workshop.

Local food trucks and vendors will be on hand selling their wares.

The track car rides are being offered by the Ohio Valley Railcar organization.

The hours of the free event are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the station at 415 Emerald Ave. Scheduled speakers during the opening ceremony will include:

  • Peter LeCody, chairman of the board for the National Association of Railroad Passengers in Washington.
  • Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association in Chicago.
  • Ken Prendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio.
  • Eric Thurlow, commercial manager of the Watco/​Ann Arbor Railroad.
  • Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.
  • Toledo City Councilman Peter Ujvagi.

Following the opening ceremony there will be roundtable discussion featuring many of the speakers.

Toledo National Train Day Set for May 6

April 12, 2017

Toledo still plans to hold a National Train Day this year, although it will not apparently have the headliner external exhibits that it has had in the past.

The event will be held on May 6 at the former Central Union Terminal – now known as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza – between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. There is no admission charge.

Thus far the only announced railroad exhibit will be Ann Arbor Railroad GP38 No. 3879.

Built in 1969, the locomotive has been painted in a commemorative livery to honor the history of the Ann Arbor, which is now a Watco Companies property.

This year’s event will be the 10th National Train Day celebration in Toledo.

Past events have featured heritage and special livery locomotives of Norfolk Southern as well as an Amtrak exhibit train.

It is not clear yet if either NS or Amtrak will be participating in the event.

The event’s sponsors say on their Facebook page that as in past years the festival will feature vendors, model railroad displays, children’s train rides, a safety workshop oriented to children, food and train watching of the nearby NS Chicago Line from the Amtrak station platforms.

NS 9-1-1, Amtrak 156, Ann Arbor Heritage Unit Shine Under Friday Night Lights at Toledo C.U.T.

May 9, 2016


Amtrak’s Phase I heritage locomotive was on the point of a four car display train that mimicked the consist of the Lake Shore Limited.

Here is a selection of the night photos from Toledo’s National Train Day festival that were made on Friday night.

The engineer is Engineer Steve, one of the main driving forces behind the National Train Day in Toledo and the one who set up the equipment. Lighting was provided by David Patch, a transportation reporter with The Blade of Toledo.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Norfolk Southern's  first responders tribute unit looks spiffy. Behind it is Ann Arbor GP38 No. 3879.

Norfolk Southern’s
first responders tribute unit looks spiffy. Behind it is Ann Arbor GP38 No. 3879.

Watco brought out its Ann Arbor heritage locomotive, a GP38.

Watco brought out its Ann Arbor heritage locomotive, a GP38.

Engineer Steve poses at the controls of SD60E No. 9-1-1 on display at Toledo Central Union Terminal.

Engineer Steve poses at the controls of SD60E No. 9-1-1 on display at Toledo Central Union Terminal.

Engineer Steve climbs aboard Amtrak P42DC No. 156 as he "goes to work."

Engineer Steve climbs aboard Amtrak P42DC No. 156 as he “goes to work.”

NS 9-1-1 and the photographers that captured it under the lights.

NS 9-1-1 and the photographers that captured it under the lights.


Sights at Toledo National Train Day

May 8, 2016

The NS 9-1-1 and Watco No. 3879 sit on display at Toledo Central Union Terminal.

The NS 9-1-1 and Watco No. 3879 sit on display at Toledo Central Union Terminal.

Honing in on the Ann Arbor heritage GP38, which is now operated by Watco.

Honing in on the Ann Arbor heritage GP38, which is now operated by Watco.

Getting "nosey" with NS 9-1-1, an SD60E that honors the nation's first responders.

Getting “nosey” with NS 9-1-1, an SD60E that honors the nation’s first responders.

Amtrak No. 156, the Phase I heritage locomotive, led a train of a Viewliner baggage car, an Amfleet II coach, an Amfleet cafe car and a Viewliner sleeper.

Amtrak No. 156, the Phase I heritage locomotive, led a train of a Viewliner baggage car, an Amfleet II coach, an Amfleet cafe car and a Viewliner sleeper.

Toledo held its annual National Train Day festival on Saturday (May 7) at Central Union Terminal. Among the exhibits were Norfolk Southern Southern 9-1-1, the first responders tribute locomotive; Watco GP38 No. 3879, which is painted in an Ann Arbor Railroad heritage livery; Amtrak P42DC No. 156, which is painted in the Phase I heritage livery; and an Amtrak display train that was a miniature version of the Lake Shore Limited.

There also were speeder rides; model train layouts; vendors selling videos, books and other railroad related items; and informational displays by various organizations.

Several Akron Railroad club members were on hand as either visitors or vendors.

Here is look at the major prototypes that were on display.

Photographs by Craig Sanders