Posts Tagged ‘Canadian National locomotives’

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.

Advertisements

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

 

Trying Something Different in Berea

February 27, 2018

I’ve been going to Berea to watch trains for more than 20 years. I’ve pretty much exhausted about every photo angle I can think of short of trespassing on railroad property.

About the only thing new to get in Berea is to catch a particular locomotive or rail car that I haven’t photographed there before. Or so I thought.

While in Berea not long ago on a rare sunny winter day, I had the idea of photographing trains splitting the signals that have been installed within the past couple of years.

In the top image, eastbound Norfolk Southern intermodal train 206 has a Canadian National unit leading. Although not visible, the trailing unit belongs to Union Pacific.

In the middle image, westbound NS manifest freight 309 is framed by the signals on the Toledo connection between NS and CSX. Behind the lead unit is the Wabash heritage unit.

The bottom images shows a westbound NS stack train framed by several signals, including the westbound home signals for CP 194 on the Chicago Line.

Red and Orange in Olmsted Falls

December 29, 2017

NS train 60E not only has a Canadian National leader, it is a narrow cab one to boot.

You  can pretty much count on most trains passing through Olmsted Falls on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern having NS locomotives on the lead.

That’s because most of the traffic is going to or coming from the Cleveland Line, which has cab signals. Most foreign locomotives are not equipped with a cab signal device compatible with the Cleveland Line.

One exception to this NS-only locomotives rule is trains going to or coming from the Cleveland District toward Buffalo, New York. They diverge by Rockport Yard and don’t need a unit on the point with cab signal capability.

On occasion a train will come in with a foreign unit and be shunted into the Berea siding to await a cab signal equipped leader to come out and hook on.

So when you get the chance to photograph a train on the Chicago Line in the Falls with foreign power leading, better grab it.

CN Orders 200 new Locomotives from GE

December 23, 2017

Canadian National has ordered 200 new locomotive from GE Transportation.

The units will be built starting next year at the assembly plant in Fort Worth, Texas, with delivery running through 2020.

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

“We are bullish on the North American economy and on our ability to compete and win new business with our superior service model. In the years ahead, these GE locomotives and their digital technology will support and enhance our operational efficiency,” said CN President and Chief Executive Officer Luc Jobin in a statement.

I See the IC

December 19, 2017

One of my primary motivations for going to Conneaut to railfan is the hope of catching a Canadian National train on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie. Of course, my objective in doing that is getting the former Illinois Central SD70 locomotives that have been assigned to the route since March 2015.

Since the IC units have been assigned to the ex-B&LE, every train I’ve spotted on the line has had IC motive power.

The IC units are not always leading. Much of the time, the motive power consist includes at least one engine painted in CN colors and markings.

On a rare occasion, there has been a unit still wearing its B&LE colors and markings. I’ve also seen pure IC motive power consists.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, I was sitting by the Main Street crossing monitoring the rail traffic on Norfolk Southern.

Then the gates started coming down on the B&LE tracks at the Main Street crossing. The incoming train had CN 5422 leading and IC 1034 and IC 1018 trailing.

That was good news. It would mean IC power would be leading when the train came out of the yard heading south.

Last September, the last time I caught a B&LE train, there had been a CN unit leading southbound.

I didn’t chase this train out of town. I photographed it from the east bank of Conneaut Creek, from the Main Street crossing, and from the U.S. 20 bridge. That was enough for this day.