Posts Tagged ‘Conrail’

30 Enjoy ARRC End of Year Dinner

December 5, 2016
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Roger Durfee (right) adjusts the slide projector prior to his program as Marty Surdyk looks on during the Akron Railroad Club end of year dinner on Saturday.

Thirty Akron Railroad Club members and guests enjoyed dinner and a program about the evolution of Conrail motive power on Saturday, Dec. 3 at the club’s annual end of year dinner.

Held at Beef ‘O’Brady’s restaurant in Stow, the highlight of the event was a slide show presented by ARRC member Roger Durfee that summarized the locomotives used by Conrail during its existence between April 1, 1976, when it was formed from by consolidating many of the assets of multiple bankrupt railroads, to its being divided on June 1, 1999, by Norfolk Southern and CSX.

Roger had just begun his photography career when Conrail came along and he was able to photograph the railroad’s operations from the beginning to the end.

By the time Conrail was carved up in 1999, Roger had been a employee of the railroad since 1998, working out of the Altoona, Pennsylvania, terminal.

The program was not intended to be a comprehensive review of Conrail motive power or the railroad’s sprawling network.

Over its lifetime, Conrail had several dozen makes, models and types of locomotives, many of which it inherited from its predecessor railroads.

In his program, Roger gave viewers a sense of what how Conrail motive power evolved to become the fleet that it had when it ended, although Conrail still exists in the sense that some of its properties operate under the Conrail shared assets banner or NS and CSX.

Roger focused his program on some of the older models that were frequent sights in Northeast Ohio, which was the location where most of the images he presented were made.

Conrail based in Cleveland many of the F units it operated in its early years. Most, although not all, of them came from Penn Central and served Conrail in a utilitarian black livery with a “CR” stenciled on  the nose and flanks.

However, Conrail found itself short of working power so it brought out of retirement for a time a number of former Erie Lackawanna F units wearing the EL’s  colorful livery.

Aside from Conrail in the Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown regions, Roger also took us to eastern Pennsylvania, including the Northeast Corridor to view Conrail locomotives that seldom if ever ventured westward.

The end of year dinner was the last ARRC activity o f 2016. An issue of eBulletin will be issued this week, but the paper Bulletin will not be published this month.

Railroading as It Once Was: Getting a Roll by From Operator Laird at RU Tower in Sterling

November 30, 2016

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In August 1977 Conrail was still running a handful of trains on the former Erie Lackawanna west of Akron. Still wearing its Reading Lines colors but patched for “CR,” this eastbound freighter is passing RU tower in Sterling and getting a roll by from operator Charlie Laird. There is a slow order over the Chessie diamonds just ahead. The tower and the former EL were removed many years ago.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

All Tickets Distributed for End of Year Dinner

November 28, 2016

We can’t call it a sellout because the tickets were free. But all of the 32 tickets available for the Akron Railroad Club’s end of year dinner have been distributed.

ARRC logoThe dinner will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s restaurant in Stow at 3732 Darrow Road.

Roger Durfee will present a slide program titled “One Man’s Journey With Big Blue.” Durfee will show with photographs and discuss how Conrail developed and evolved from its April 1, 1976, inception to its final years before being divided between Norfolk Southern and CSX on June 1, 1999.

Durfee, a conductor for NS, began his railroad career with Conrail.

The end of year dinner is limited to 32 attendees due to the small size of the meeting room in which it is held.

The event will begin with cocktails starting at approximately 5:30 p.m. We will order from the restaurant’s regular menu starting about 6 p.m. The program should get underway around 8 p.m.

The event is held on an individual settlement basis.

It will be the final ARRC activity for 2016. The club’s next event will be the January meeting.

Although the paper Bulletin is not published in December, the eBulletin will be distributed during the week of Dec. 4.

Railroading as it Once Was: Penn Central Begins to ‘Invade’ the Erie Lackawanna in Akron

November 3, 2016

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It didn’t take long for solid sets of Penn Central power to start showing up on former Erie Lackawanna lines. The new Conrail is only a few weeks old in this April 1976 photo in Akron. A westbound on the former EL has a neat PC GP38-2, SD-45, C636 trio as it waits for railroad at Voris Street. EL pup No. 408 is sorting a few cars out on the McCoy Street yard lead. The tracks the trains are on are long gone.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

Railroading as it Once Was: One Day in Hudson

October 27, 2016

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A UCI train (Cleveland Electric Illuminating) has outlawed at Hudson on a cold February 1979 afternoon.

The caboose of a Conrail eastbound is just clearing the CEI units. Hudson station still had an operator at this point who controlled this busy location.

The Cleveland & Pittsburgh mains, the crossovers, the wye to the Akron Branch (several trains a day), and the westward and eastward siding switches were handled by the operator as well as the Servo machine.

Today this former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline is as busy as ever, but the wye is only used to spin power. The branch is out of service 400 feet south of the point switch.

The eastward siding is gone and the westward siding is stub-ended and little used.

The station has been leveled and the “Yellowbirds” are no longer Cleveland Electric units.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

Railroading as it Once Was: Finding a Pure Erie Lackawanna Power Set Passing Warwick Tower

October 13, 2016

EL at Warwick

Right from the get go Conrail started routing trains off the former Erie Lackawanna main, using a connection built between the Penn Central and EL in Akron to access the former PC Ft Wayne Line in Orrville using the Cleveland-Akron-Columbus between the two.

As power was being mixed up real fast, one of my early goals was to catch a set of EL power passing the Penn Central tower at Warwick (Clinton) along that CA&C route.

I figured that would show the merger as good as anything.

Anyway, after several tries and trains in the first couple weeks of April 1976 I got lucky and caught a pure set of EL power passing the former PC tower. Mission accomplished.

Today the tower still stands and is used by CSX signal people, but the track the train is on is long gone. Photograph scanned from a Kodacolor negative.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

Dispute Leaves Michigan Shippers Without Rail Service; STB Asked to Break the Deadlock

September 21, 2016

A dispute between the Grand Elk Railroad and CSX has left a half-dozen Michigan shippers without rail service for the past six weeks.

STBThe two railroads are arguing over a 3-mile stretch of track in Grand Rapids, Michigan, owned by CSX and over which Norfolk Southern had trackage rights.

CSX last month said that Grand Elk can not use the track because the NS trackage rights were not conveyed to the Grand Elk when it leased an NS line in 2008.

Grand Elk, which is owned by Watco, has asked the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to rule on the matter, asking the board to render a decision as soon as possible.

The short line said the trackage rights were “inadvertently” left out of Watco’s agreement with NS.

For its part, CSX has asked the STB to deny Grand Elk’s petition and argues that the short line has been operating illegally on the track in dispute.

Grand Elk, which began operating the former Conrail line in 2009, contends that it assumed that trackage rights had been assigned to it even if they were not specifically stated in the lease agreement.

In a filing before the STB, Grand Elk said if the trackage rights had been excluded, it would make no sense to sign the lease agreement.

CSX told the STB that Grand Elk had six opportunities to include the disputed trackage, but failed to do so when it negotiated the lease agreement with NS.

“CSX believes that [Grand Elk] has been operating surreptitiously over the line to mislead shippers about the product it is selling,” a CSX filing said.

It said Grand Elk’s failure to obtain STB authorization for more than seven years should not be viewed as an oversight but part of an illegal operation on CSX track.

CSX also contends that all previous trackage rights agreements expired in 2014. Grand Elk has sought to circumvent this by asking the STB to make the trackage rights retroactive to 2009.

The dispute dates to an effort in the 1980s by the city of Grand Rapids and the Michigan Department of Transportation to reduce the number of railroad lines in Grand Rapids in order to improve traffic safety.

The Chesapeake & Ohio gave Conrail trackage rights so it could abandon its right-of-way.

The 122-mile Conrail route in question extends from Grand Rapids to Elkhart, Indiana, and was conveyed to NS as part of the 1999 Conrail breakup.

Supporting the Grand Elk are shippers, city government and state elected officials.

One such shipper is Brink Farms, which in 2015 built a $2 million transload facility in Grand Rapids that has sat idle due to the trackage rights dispute.

Brink, which provides bulk transportation service for farmers, including feed, fertilizer, and grain, has another Grand Rapids facility that is not affected by the dispute.

Filings in the case indicate that CSX has said it will provide switching at the new Brink facility for $300 per car move, whereas Grand Elk would charge $105.

Brink said the CSX charges make it cost-prohibitive to use its new transload site. Brink Farms ships about 1,000 cars per year.

Railroading as it Once Was: A CR Locomotive So Ugly That it Actually Looked Quite Good to Me

September 8, 2016

Early CR ratty

This is just a roster grab at Collinwood in Cleveland in June 1978.

If I’m going to see a rag-tag unit, I like ‘em like this – history showing through layers of paint.

This GE U25B started its career on the New Haven Railroad, became a Penn Central unit when the NYNH&H was folded into that losing cause, and eventually became property of Conrail.

So it’s all here with the New Haven orange stripe showing through, some PC black over the NH stripes, the CR on the nose, and yes, a Conrail blue battery box cover.

It’s so ratty that she looks good in my humble opinion.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

Like Turning Back the Clock

August 25, 2016

_DSC6318 CROPPED Conrail Olm Falls with sig RES (1)

It was a Wednesday. Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler noticed online that Norfolk Southern heritage unit 8098 was leading a westbound intermodal train.

He had enough lead time so he headed for Olmsted Falls to intercept the ES44AC paying tribute to Conrail as it led train 21Q.

According to HeritageUnits.com, the 21Q was reported through Olmsted Falls at 3:05 p.m.

It would continue to Chicago where it apparently flipped and came back east the next day when was reported to be leading the 20Q.

The 8098 spent a few days out east before coming back through Northeast Ohio and then making another return trip shortly thereafter.

It can be interesting to track the travels of a heritage unit. In the case of the 8098, since Peter photographed it the unit has been in 10 states, assuming that all of those reports on HU are accurate.

During much of its travels in the past month the Conrail H unit has burnished former Conrail  routes — such as the one shown here — and had its photograph taken who knows how many times.

The fascination with NS heritage units is still going strong more than four years after No. 8098 because the first of those locomotives to be released from the shop for duty.

Photograph by Peter Bowler

Conrail H Unit Passes through N.E. Ohio

August 8, 2016

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The past several weeks the Conrail heritage unit of Norfolk Southern has been leading trains through Northeast Ohio.

Two weeks ago I caught it going by Berea tower (top photograph). This is a significant location both locally but also for the Conrail system.

Conrail’s route structure was basically an X with the lines crossing at Cleveland and, specifically, at Berea tower.

On Saturday, I caught the Conrail H unit leading again, this time at East Conway (middle and bottom photographs). Conway Yard was an important point on the former Pennsylvania Railroad ever since it opened in 1957. This continued through Penn Central and Conrail and remains so with Norfolk Southern.

Many photos have been taken throughout the years at this iconic spot and I thought this would be a worthy inclusion with those.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon