Posts Tagged ‘Conrail’

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, 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




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

Railroading as It Once Was: When Power Companies Had Their Own Locomotive Fleets

July 30, 2016

Detroit Edison

Five pretty clean Detroit Edison units hustle the empties back to the mines along Conrail’s Cleveland Line a few miles west of Alliance in April 1988.

The empty moves were good for catching all the power up front as the loaded trains would have two “slave” units cut in back in the train.

The lead U30C has the newer colors applied where a light gray replaced the metallic silver.

Photograph by Roger Durfee

Railroading as it Once Was: Early Conrail Colors on the Former Erie Lackawanna Mainline in Akron

July 21, 2016

With U25B bookends, this colorful set of power heads east on the former Erie in Akron in July 1978. Most of the old buildings behind the train are gone now and all will be gone soon to make way for a highway project. The tracks the train is on are, of course, long gone.

Photograph by Roger Durfee

How Things Have Changed at MACE Tower

July 7, 2016


It is June 3, 1977, in Massillon. Conrail No. 7878 and PNC No. 1506 are westbound helpers on Conrail’s Fort Wayne line.

They are at MACE Tower on the diamonds and are crossing the Chessie System (ex-Baltimore & Ohio) line that goes to Holloway and then to the Ohio River.

MACE Tower is still an active tower. The tracks closest to the viewer are part of the Conrail yard tracks and the line that goes north to Warwick.

If you closely look around the curve, you can see the ex-Pennsylvania Railroad signal bridge and to its right a now-removed factory.

How things have changed. Trees now cover the hillside. MACE Tower, the diamonds for the crossing, one of the two lines that made up the Fort Wayne line at that time, and some of the yard tracks are gone.

The Conrail line is now Norfolk Southern while the ex-B&O line is the single track R.J. Corman line that only goes as far south as Urichsville.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas

Railroading as it Once Was: Outlawed in Hudson

June 30, 2016


A trio of Alco C-628s on an ore empty have “outlawed” at Hudson in November 1976. While the leader has had the “CR” (Conrail) treatment applied, the two Lehigh Valley units are unpatched. Along with the Alcos the Hudson station and platform are gone, too.

Photograph  by Roger Durfee

Railroading as it Once Was: Conrail Wreck Train in Akron. These Trains Were Always Interesting

June 16, 2016

Conrail wreck train in Akron

A common sight during those first few years on Conrail was the relief train or wreck train as it was often called.

I’m not sure what had happened or where, but the entire train with crane and some cripples was eastbound at Akron in August 1978.

This train is on the former Erie and the blue GP9 is a former Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive. The trains were always interesting with gondolas full of track panels and wheel sets, and old converted passenger equipment.

The hook is in Conrail blue and I’m guessing it was the former Erie Lackawanna Brier Hill (Youngstown) hook.

To those who know Akron, this was before they turned those old Quaker Oats silos into a hotel . . . and before the EL was ripped out at this location.

The train has entered JO interlocking. Note the signal bridge.

The tracks to the left of the train were the joint Penn Central/Baltimore & Ohio mains, which was CR/Chessie System by this date.

Also note the elevated side track up in the weeds along that white building on the right, which at one time provided access to the oats yard up above.

It branched off the EL in the distance and reconnected with the B&O on the other side of JO.

I remember watching an eastbound detour train come off the EL main and up this siding to get to the B&O, but the grade and probably some slippery weeds stalled the train.

All that remains here today is the two former B&O/PC mains, which are now the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee