Posts Tagged ‘Canadian National locomotives’

CN to Return Some Leased Locomotives

November 14, 2018

Canadian National said this week it has completed a $400 million project to improve network capacity and plans to return two dozen of the oldest and least reliable of the 130 locomotives it leased this year.

However, it will hang on to the rest of its leased units to ensure that he has enough motive power during cold weather when train lengths are reduced in size and traffic must move on additional trains.

Next spring CN plans to return more leased locomotives. The Montreal-based Class 1 railroad will take delivery of 60 new General Electric units this year.

By next March it will also receive the first 70 units of 140 GE locomotives on order for 2019.

CN Chief Financial Officer Ghislain Houle said completion of the expansion in the western regions of its system has resulted in improvements in key operating metrics and reduced costs.

Trains are moving faster and cars are spending less time in yards.


Seeing Red (Again)

October 22, 2018

A while back I wrote a post titled Seeing Red that featured a collection of images I made last year of trains on CSX and Norfolk Southern that had locomotives of either Canadian National or Canadian Pacific in the motive power consist.

In looking through my folder of images I’ve made this year but not yet posted I see that I have another collection of red locomotives. So here is Seeing Red II.

The top photo was made in Bucyrus on Memorial Day Weekend. The train is taking the connection from the Sandusky District to the Fort Wayne Line to continue its eastward journey.

It’s a grain train and I’m not sure where it originated or where it is going. This same train is shown in the second image (from the top) as it was just starting to take the connection.

The third image is Q165, a stack train that routinely has Canadian Pacific motive power because it is a CP train operating on CSX from Buffalo, New York, to Chicago.

It is shown blasting past the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania, back in late May.

The fourth image dates back to last winter and shows an eastbound ethanol train passing through Berea on CSX. Unlike most CN units that we see in NEO, this one has a standard cab on the point. Note the second unit belongs to NS.

Most intermodal trains that pass through NEO on CSX or NS usually have motive power of those railroads. But not always.

Image five shows NS strack train 206 in Berea with a CN unit on the point. Because this train goes east of Cleveland on the former Nickel Plate Road route to Buffalo, it doesn’t need a lead unit with cab signals.

This image was made in late January. Note that the trailing unit is Union Pacific.

The sixth and final image in this series was also made last winter and shows NS westbound train M7N in Berea with three CN locomotives, all of them trailing. A former Burlington Northern “Grinstein” has also made its way into the consist.

CN Orders 60 More Locomotives From GE

September 6, 2018

Canadian National has ordered another 60 new locomotives from GE Transportation. That will bring the carrier’s order of new units to 260.

CN ordered 200 new locomotives last December with all of the units to be built in Fort Worth, Texas, and coming with a multiyear service agreement.

The locomotives include Tier 4 Evolution Series locomotives, which are equipped with GE’s GoLINC Platform, Trip Optimizer System and Distributed Power LOCOTROL eXpanded Architecture, GE officials said.

In upping its locomotive  order, CN cited traffic growth this year, with North American rail volume up 3.5 percent so far this year.

CN Locomotives Honor Canada’s Indigenous People

July 18, 2018

Canadian National ES44AC No. 3806 is carrying a logo on its nose that shows a circular shield logo that is of symbolic value to Canada’s Indigenous people.

CN Spokesperson Patrick Waldron said the shield was designed by students in the University of Winnipeg’s Indigenous Studies program.

The tribute is designed to celebrate CN’s ties to Aboriginal communities across its network.

Waldron said 200 new GE locomotives will feature the logo.

CN operates within or adjacent to more than 100 different Aboriginal communities.

CN Begins Receiving New Locomotives

June 7, 2018

Canadian National took delivery this week of the first of 200 new locomotives that it ordered from GE Transportation.

The units, which are being built at an assembly plant in Fort Worth, Texas, are the first of 200 new locomotives that CN ordered and were the largest locomotive contract by a Class I with any manufacturer since 2014.

The order includes Tier 3- and Tier 4-compliant Evolution Series locomotives equipped with GE Transportation’s GoLINC platform, Trip Optimizer™ system and Distributed Power LOCOTROL® system.

CN’s contract with GE also includes a locomotive training package and guarantees for reliability, fuel consumption and out-of-service intervals related to GE-prescribed field modifications.

Circle Trip of Reservoirs and Railroads

June 5, 2018

My original plan for railfanning on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend was to drive down to New London and “recreate” a memorable Akron Railroad Club outing of 2006.

I remember that outing for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that it was billed as a trip to Greenwich but started out in New London because that is where Marty Surdyk wanted it to begin.

We did get to Greenwich, eventually, but not until mid to late afternoon.

I had never been to either location so I had to rely on Marty for directions on getting there.

My memories from that day include seeing the CSX executive train headed westbound through Greenwich, seeing a caboose on an eastbound manifest freight at New London and catching a BNSF warbonnet leading a train at New London.

There was also the emphatic manner in which the late Tim Krogg suggested that it was time to get some bleeping lunch and how Peter Bowler schooled us in how a flock of buzzards is known as a kettle.

I enjoyed that outing so much that I suggested in 2013 that we do it again. It was scheduled, but I was the only person who showed up.

As I was heading west on Interstate 480 I decided to modify my plans.

I would make this a reservoir circle trip with stops in Wellington, New London and Attica. By day’s end I wanted to have photographs of trains and water at four reservoirs, three of them located above ground.

This would hinge, of course, on the cooperation of CSX, which since the onset of scheduled precision railroading has reduced the number of trains it operates. Those that do run tend to be much longer.

Sure enough, CSX was dead when I arrived in Wellington. I would wait 45 minutes before finally hearing an eastbound stack train calling signals on the radio.

Making images of an above-ground reservoir and trains is a challenge because of the distance between the shoreline and the tracks.

If you feature the shoreline that is closet to the rails, you have to use a wide-angle lens, which guarantees you’ll only get a portion of the water. In proportion to the scene the train will be small.

The latter doesn’t bother me but it does some railfan photographers.

You can also try to shoot across the water with a telephoto lens but you might not get the train. Remember, these are above ground reservoirs.

My first catch of the day in Wellington was an eastbound stack train with a pair of BNSF locomotives running elephant style. Not bad.

It was late morning so I decided to move on to New London. But as I was walking toward my car I heard the westbound Q163 stack train calling signals and decided to wait for it.

I tried a different angle, going for the north shoreline that is perpendicular to the tracks. The downside of this view is that I could get very little of the train into the image. Interestingly, the Q163 also had BNSF motive power.

I arrived in New London during another CSX lull that also lasted about 45 minutes.

I could hear other CSX trains on the radio, but nothing that would be coming through New London.

I also heard a Wheeling & Lake Erie train get track authority from Hartland to Spencer, meaning I would have seen it had I stayed in Wellington.

I finally got a train just before noon, an eastbound crude oil train with three BNSF units.

Hmmmm. I’m starting to see a pattern here. Did BNSF buy CSX and I didn’t know about it? Fat chance of that.

My idea was to shoot this train in the same manner that I did the Q163 at Wellington. It would have worked had I been paying more attention to the water and less to the locomotives.

I managed to create an image that didn’t show any of the water.

That would not be the case with the next train, a W&LE train off the Carey
Subdivision carrying stone in gondola cars and a few covered hoppers.

I heard this train get permission from the IP dispatcher in Jacksonville to enter CSX track at Greenwich at GN Tower.

At the time time, I thought this was fantastic news. I would be getting a Wheeling train after all.

Yet when the train showed up, it’s locomotives were both running long hood forward.

At least I got some water in this image and the lead unit is a former BNSF locomotive still in its BNSF colors. That sort of kept my BNSF motive power streak alive.

That streak was snapped when the Q348 showed up with CSX motive power. It stopped at CP 47 to allow the Q008 to pass.

I got the Q008 passing the manifest freight and some water.

The chatter on the radio indicated that more trains were coming, including the Q010 so I stayed a little longer at New London.

That paid off when a westbound auto rack train came past with a CREX (Citirail) ES44AC in the lead.

I’ve always like the color scheme of these Citirail units, but I’ve seldom been able to catch them leading a train.

The trailing unit of the auto rack train, by the way, was, you guessed it, a BNSF unit, which would be the final binsiff I would see on this day.

After the passage of the Q010, I set out for Attica but distractions along the way kept me from getting to the Attica reservoirs until late afternoon.

First, I stopped in Greenwich to photograph an eastbound CSX auto rack train whose headlight I saw in the distance as I crossed the Mt. Victory Subdivision tracks on U.S. Route 224.

Upon crossing the Sandusky District tracks of Norfolk Southern in Attica, I saw the rear of an eastbound and decided to check it out.

It turned out to be a grain train with three Canadian National units for motive power that I wound up chasing to Bucyrus where I got it going around the connection to the Fort Wayne Line.

I made further stops near Chatfield to photograph across a field a stopped eastbound NS manifest freight and to make some non-rail photographs in Chatfield of a hardware store that is going out of business.

By the time I got to the lower Attica reservoir, the Sandusky District had been turned into a parking lot because of a malfunctioning switch at Colsan in Bucyrus.

I waited a while before catching the eastbound 188 passing the reservoir, which had surprisingly smooth water for a windy day. That yielded a nice reflection image.

I had heard the 20E calling signals and thought I’d get it at the upper Attica reservoir a short distance away.

The dispatcher had told the 188 to stop at County Line Road and maybe the 20E would stop behind it.

I drove up to the top of the upper Attica reservoir, but there was no 20E. It was getting late and I didn’t want to get home too late, so I decided to forgo getting an image from my fourth reservoir of the day.

Although I looked, I never did see the 20E. Either the train I photographed at the lower Attica reservoir had been the 20E or it slipped past me as I was driving through Attica.



No Diamonds, But Still a Tower

May 3, 2018

I sometimes wonder what Wheeling Tower in Bellevue looked like as late as the 1960s and 1970s.

At one time, it controlled diamonds over which a Wheeling & Lake Erie line to Toledo and a New York Central line to Milbury Junction crossed the Nickel Plate Road and Pennsylvania railroads here.

I’m not sure when these diamonds were removed. The ex-NYC was not conveyed the Conrail and was abandoned after the latter began operations on April 1, 1976.

The Norfolk & Western acquired the Nickel Plate in 1964 but in 1949 the NKP had acquired the W&LE. Yet the diamonds was removed sometime after the N&W arrived on the scene.

In the photo above, Norfolk Southern train 14Q is coming into Bellevue on the Toledo District, formerly the W&LE route to Toledo and making the turn to head into Moorman Yard.

The original W&LE tracks would have crossed to the right of the tower as you look at it and the NYC to the left.

CN Details Service Improvement Plans

March 26, 2018

In response to a U.S. Surface Transportation Board request for information from North American Class 1 railroads about their service plans for the remainder of the year, Canadian National has said that it is adding crews and motive power. That along with capacity expansion projects should help it improve service.

CN was the first railroad to respond to the STB’s call for information.

The Montreal-based carrier is leasing 130 locomotives and has 60 new GE locomotives scheduled for delivery this year

It also plans to hire 2,000 people this year, including 400 new conductors who are already on the job.

“We have taken immediate action across our network to relieve our congestion, particularly in our busy Chicago to Winnipeg corridor,” said interim CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest in a letter to the Board.

Ruest said CN was caught off guard when traffic surged by 20 percent in western Canada, leading to congestion and crew shortages.

CN said its primary challenge in moving automobile traffic is receiving empties back from other railroads through the industry pool,

Ruest said CN has taken steps to improve cycle times in Michigan and to more quickly return bad-order cars to service.

CN Service Issues Led to CEO Ouster

March 15, 2018

Like CSX, Canadian National encountered service issues last year. Unlike at CSX, the Montreal-based CN decided that it needed more capital spending and to hire additional employees to resolve the problems. It also decided it needed a new CEO.

Speaking on Wednesday at the J.P. Morgan Aviation, Transportation & Industrials Conference, CN’s interim president and CEO said the railroad’s board of directors had been considering for several months replacing CEO Luc Jobin before ousting him last week.

“The board has been thinking long and hard about the leadership at CN,” said Jean-Jacques Ruest, who replaced Jobin. “They decided it was a time to make a change in leadership,” in order to bring more energy and a sense of urgency to fixing the railroad’s service problems, Ruest said.

In fairness, the services issues that CN faced had different roots than those at CSX.

Nonetheless, in commenting about CN’s dismissal of Jobin, Trains magazine noted that it is uncommon for a railroad to get rid of its CEO when the carrier faces a severe service crisis.

The magazine noted that in the past 25 years railroads have stood by their CEOs amid such situations as Union Pacific’s meltdown after acquiring Southern Pacific, the problems that persisted after CSX and Norfolk Southern divided Conrail, and BNSF’s congestion issues in 2013 and 2014.

CN’s woes began last fall when traffic surged by more than 20 percent in western Canada. The result was congestion on main lines and yards that left CN short of operating crews and motive power.

Further aggravating the situation was hard winter weather, derailments, and related line shutdowns that prompted CN to shorten, delay and detour trains.

That increased costs, lowered average train speeds and increased the time that cars spent in yards.

Ruest said the worst of the cold weather has ended and CN has begun to lengthen its trains.

CN management also decided to acquire additional locomotives, hire additional crews and increase track capacity in western Canada.

The added motive power will include 130 leased units and 200 new engines. The latter will be built between 2018 and 2020 and include GE Transportation ET44AC and ES44AC models.

Ruest said it’s likely that CN will see how the network is performing later this year before determining how to proceed as new motive power arrives.

He also said CN is seeking to perfect its traffic volume forecasting and capital planning process so as to avoid service problems again.

Ruest said CN still expects 2018 volume traffic growth of 3 to 5 percent and will continue its long-term strategy to collaborate with customers and grow faster than the overall North American economy.

“We have not changed strategy even though we have changed the CEO of the company,” Ruest said.

In the meantime the CN board is seeking a permanent CEO and many financial analysts expect Ruest to get the nod.

One Day 49 Years ago at London, Ontario

March 7, 2018

Was it really 49 years ago that I took this photo of my first Montreal Locomotive Works FPA-4? Here is a photo that still brings a smile. Canadian National 6786 is at the station in London, Ontario, on November 30, 1968. Mike Ondecker, John Woodworth and I had originally intended to go to Toledo on Nov. 29 for an overnight stay but finished there and spent the night in London were this was taken.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas