Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Fort Wayne & Eastern Railroad’

Getting Lucky With the CF&E — Twice

July 11, 2020


Seeing this guy coming prompted me to abandon any idea of catching up with the Norfolk Southern train I was chasing.

In my experience I’m most likely to catch a short line railroad in operation when I’m out looking for something else on a Class 1 railroad.

Such was the case on an early June Sunday when I had driven to Warsaw, Indiana, to photograph the street running on the Marion Branch of Norfolk Southern.

I had been sitting next to the NS tracks for about an hour when I thought I heard a locomotive horn.

A few minutes later I heard it again. I had not heard anything on the NS road channel so I figured I’d better go investigate.

It sounded like it was coming from the east but the Marion Branch here is a north-south railroad.

As I crossed the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern tracks, I saw a headlight to the east belonging to a westbound train.

I had gone to Warsaw knowing the CF&E crosses the Marion Branch just south of the end of the street running.

There was a possibility of catching a CF&E train but I didn’t know how often they ran or when. I would have to get lucky. It would turn out that I would get lucky twice.

Catching the westbound was a good news-bad news situation. The good news is that I had a train to photograph. The bad news is that the lighting was less than ideal for a westbound on the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline that the CF&E leases from CSX.

I made a right turn onto a side street and was driving north toward the tracks when the gates began going down.

I parked, grabbed my camera and got out to make some photographs. The train had all flat cars that I later determined were rigged to carry wind turbine blades.

The former Pennsy in Warsaw has some quasi-street running so I was able to work with that.

There is one track here now yet but during the Pennsy days this was a double-track mainline.

The scene today looks like a short line environment and it is difficult to imagine the PRR’s mighty Broadway Limited raced through here at high speed, its whistle or horn blowing nearly continuously.

That must have been some sight to see and hear.

For that matter it is hard to image that Amtrak’s Broadway Limited did the same although in the Penn Central era the track conditions had deteriorated due to years of deferred maintenance.

I thought about chasing the CF&E train westward but decided against it for two reasons.

First, I had come to Warsaw to photograph NS street running and didn’t want to miss that.

Second, one of the more memorable railfan trip reports I’ve read in recent years involved a prominent Akron Railroad Club member and his brother who one Labor Day weekend gave chase to a westbound CF&E train.

They drove for 40 miles and spent two hours “chasing air” because the train had halted in Warsaw and the crew had tied it down. They went off the clock while the train stayed put.

Rather than risk chasing air and missing something on NS, I went back to the Marion Branch where I waited for more than an hour and a half before an NS train showed up.

After photographing the NS train in the street I began driving southward to see if I could catch it and get more photos.

As I crossed the CF&E, I looked to the west and saw the headlight of an eastbound train.

I went back to the same location where I’d photographed the westbound along Jefferson Street.

The eastbound was a slow-moving manifest freight. If it was continuing on I figured I could get ahead of it.

I made sure the train was, indeed, leaving Warsaw before committing to the chase and was able to easily get ahead of it.

One of the first towns east of Warsaw is Pierceton. I’d never been there but there might have a grain elevator to use as a photo prop.

There was no grain elevator in Pierceton but a former PRR depot was still standing and being used as a restaurant.

Next to it was a former Atlantic Coast Line passenger car. Further investigation revealed this had likely been a freight house and not a passenger station because of the type of doors on the side of the structure facing the tracks.

That didn’t matter because it still looked like a railroad station.

I could see the CF&E train in the distance but it was moving even slower than I expected. There must be a 25-mile per hour or slower slow order for this section of track.

That gave me plenty of time to check the photo angles here.

After the train was through Pieceton I thought about getting it further east. I gave chase but the train had gotten a big jump on me.

I changed my mind and decided to return to Warsaw to try to get one more NS train in the street, which I was able to do.

As best I could determine the flat cars in this train was used to transport wind turbine blades. No blades were being moved on this day, though.

Another look at the motive power for the flat car train.

I presume this train was headed to pick up some wind turbine blades.

Did the best trains of the Pennsylvania Railroad between Chicago and New York really once use these tracks? That is hard to imagine now.

I wish I knew the story behind this former Atlantic Coast Line passenger car sitting next to a former Pennsy station in Pierceton, Indiana.

This eastbound manifest freight was moving slowly through Pierceton.

CP Contract to Affect Ohio Valley Market

February 27, 2018

Canadian Pacific doesn’t own a foot of track in Ohio and the Port of Vancouver, British Columbia, is thousands of miles away, but the Buckeye State looks to benefit from a recent contract that CP reached that will increase its share of intermodal traffic in Vancouver.

CP will begin hauling starting April 1, about 85 percent of the Ocean Network Express traffic passing through the Port of Vancouver.

How does that affect Ohio? It will boost traffic in the Ohio Valley intermodal partnership that CP has with the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern and Indiana & Ohio.

Ocean Network Express is a consortium of shipping companies K-Line, MOL, and NYK.

Canadian National has 70 percent of the container traffic moving through the Port of Vancouver, but CN officials say they will have to turn away some business due to capacity constraints.

International intermodal traffic moving on CN has experienced faster-than-expected growth and increases in traffic in frac sand, grain, and other commodities have left CN congested, particularly in Western Canada.

CP said the agreement with Ocean Network Express is worth $80 million annually over the three-year contract.

Interestingly, CP is gaining back traffic it walked away from when E. Hunter Harrison was CEO of CP because he thought domestic intermodal traffic was more profitable.

But now CP says its costs are similar to those of CN, which puts it in a position to vie for lower-margin international intermodal traffic.

NS Crude Oil Train Uses ex-PRR Mainline

January 30, 2015

After months of speculation on railfan chat lists, the first Norfolk Southern train used the upgraded Fort Wayne Line this week between Tolleston, Ind., (Gary) and Alliance.

The Z6X was led by Canadian Pacific 8946 and 9535. The units were reported to have been working hard up Big Run near Wooster about 11 p.m. on Wednesday night.

The train had a load of crude oil and used a pusher unit from Mace to Canton.

At Alliance, the train continued down the single track Cleveland Line, which alleviated the need to add an NS unit for the cab signal territory on the Fort Wayne Line east of Alliance.

A field report said the train operated at 25 mph between Lima and Dunkirk and then dropped down to 10 mph. at CP Kirk.

The railfan filing the report said he heard a Chicago, Ft. Wayne & Eastern crew near Lima on the radio say that it was supposed to be 40 mph all the way to Colsan now.

The Fort Wayne Line is owned by CSX west of Crestline, but leased to the CF&E. The route was formerly the mainline of the Pennsylvania Railroad between Chicago and Pittsburgh.



CF&E Track Rehabilitation Nears Completion

January 29, 2015

The Chicago, Ft. Wayne & Eastern Railroad expects to complete by late January a rail rehabilitation project between Crestline and Tolleston, Ind.

The improvements to the 315-mile line include leveling and aligning nearly 50 track miles, replacing segments of rail and installing more than 10,000 new ties.

When finished, the top speed on the line, which was formerly the Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline of the Pennsylvania Railroad, will be 40 mph.

CF&E officials said that up to six additional eastbound freight trains will be using the line daily. Those will be Norfolk Southern trains carrying crude oil, grain, general merchandise and other freight.

NS has operating rights over the line and dispatches all trains on the route. Railroad officials said use of the line will alleviate freight-rail congestion in Chicago by creating an alternate route.

There are more than 400 public and private grade crossings on the line, of which 213 already accommodate 40-mph train speeds.

After the work is completed, train speeds will be increased to 40 mph at another 221 crossings.

“This private-sector investment enhances an important piece of transportation infrastructure in Indiana and Ohio,” said CF&E President Chuck McBride. “By increasing the railroad’s capacity to transport freight, the improvement project benefits existing customers, and also makes the CFE corridor more attractive for potential new customers and economic development opportunities along the line.”

Pretty Orange Locomotives Ready to Roll

January 29, 2013

A trip to southern Ohio on Sunday yielded several freshly painted diesel locomotives at The Ohio Central facility at Morgan Run. These were tunnel motors, one of which was lettered for Indiana & Ohio and another for the Chicago, Ft Wayne & Eastern. A third SD40 was lettered Ohio Central I believe, but I didn’t get a close look.

The first two railroads are new to the Genesee & Wyoming family, which bought Ohio Central a few years back. These were part of the RailAmerica short line system that has now been merged into the G&W system.

Union Pacific has been called the “borg” of railroading, assimilating smaller railroads along the way. Genesee & Wyoming is earning a reputation as the “borg” of short line railroading and seems to be living up to that here.

The last picture below is of some Ohio Central power awaiting its turn to be painted.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon