Posts Tagged ‘CSX Erie West Subdivision’

Roll em Salad Shooter, Roll em

August 13, 2017

Running as L090, the salad shooter approaches Bort Road in North East, Pennsylvania.

The white refrigerated reefers on the end are a hallmark of the salad shooter.

Q090 passes has just passed the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

Qo90 is one of those trains that I can go for months without seeing and then I go through a spell where I see it regularly.

I seem to be in the latter mode this summer with the train that some CSX crews have nicknamed the salad shooter, a handle that has stuck in the railfan community.

It is a train of perishable produce that originates in California and the Pacific Northwest on Union Pacific with the two sections joining somewhere on the UP network.

Operating on an expedited schedule, the train is handed off to CSX in Chicago which takes it to a warehouse near Albany, New York.

I have rarely seen the return trip, which operates as Q091. I don’t believe this is a daily train. Almost always when I’ve seen it it has been a Sunday.

I’ve never seen the salad shooter have anything other than UP motive power.

In past years, the train had a fairly uniform consist of white refrigerated boxcars.

Those along with the UP motive power was a tell-tale sign that the train you were seeing was the Q090.

But in recent sightings, the consist has included what appear to be regular boxcars, many of them lettered for Golden West Service.

The cars appear to be marshaled in a series of cuts, which might reflect a series of loading docks and/or shippers.

I’ve never seen the Tropicana Juice train, but in my mind the salad shooter plays a similar role across the northern tier of CSX between Chicago and the Middle Atlantic. Both are a specialized service moving products that need to get there in a hurry in order to stay fresh.

Seeing Red

August 10, 2017

Train Q165 roars past the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

On a couple of back-to-back outings I had the good luck of seeing Canadian Pacific motive power on four trains.

Two of them were Q165 and Q166, which are Chicago-Buffalo, New York, run through trains on CSX that have been operating for a few years now.

I used to somewhat regularly see one of those trains at Berea, but that hasn’t been the case for a while.

I’ve only seen both of them in the same day twice and each time I was in North East, Pennsylvania.

I also found CP motive power leading a pair of Norfolk Southern trains, the 216 and the 67X. One of those was moving and the other was tied down.

I didn’t mind seeing so much red and wouldn’t mind seeing it again now that CP has resumed putting its beaver tail logo on the flanks of some locomotives.

The light was less than ideal to get Q166, which was one of five consecutive eastbounds allowed to move as CSX was single-tracking the Erie West Subdivision between North East, Pennsylvania, and a point in New York York State.

A pair of CPs lead NS 216 through the vineyard country near Bort Road in North East, Pennsylvania.

The first of two views of NS train 67X tied down near Lewis Road in Olmsted Falls, Ohio.

 

Some Doings In North East

July 11, 2017

The Canadian Pacific run-through intermodal train still operates from Buffalo, New York, to Chicago on CSX.

I made two trips to North East, Pennsylvania, last month. Both found me spending some time at the Lake Shore Railway Museum.

It’s a good place to watch trains yet can be a challenging place to photograph them, depending on the hour of the day and the time of the year.

Shown here is selection of images from the two outings. They are not presented in any particular order.

A westbound work train is loaded with track equipment for the summer track work season.

The museum provided some lighting of the CSX tracks.

Another experiment in hand-holding a camera for night shots. This is an eastbound ethanol train.

A grandfather and his grandson watch a westbound stack train from the museum grounds.

Eastbound and westbound stack trains pass in front of the museum.

The rear of a local headed to drop off and pick up cars in Erie.

The local is finished working in Erie and returning to, I presume, Buffalo as it passes the two former Great Northern passenger cars in the museum’s collection.

Everyone is along the fence to see a westbound ethanol train pass by during the night at the museum event.

This westbound ethanol train was led by an older model Canadian National unit.

The lead unit of this eastbound auto rack train appears to to have been freshly painted. Or is is the mid-morning sunlight making it gleam?

While Waiting for Amtrak at Bort Road

July 5, 2017

Here comes CSX train Q112 bearing down on Bort Road.

Another view of the Q112.

Red and gold containers on the Q112.

Not far behind the Q112 was an eastbound trash train.

The one-lane wood bridge at Bort Road near North East, Pennsylvania, is one of my favorite places to photograph.

It spans the CSX Erie West Subdivision and road traffic on the bridge is not heavy.

In fact during an early June visit the road traffic was non-existent because the bridge was closed.

The timbers of the Norfolk Southern crossing had been removed and crews were the process of renovating the crossing.

My primary purpose in visiting Bort Road on this day was to catch Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited.

It was running about 45 minutes late and there were other CSX trains to occupy my attention, including the ones shown here.

Out of the Blue Hour

June 24, 2017

The main event for me during the night at the museum at the Lake Shore Railway Museum was the night photo shoot of former Chesapeake & Ohio No. 8272.

But there was time to kill before that began so I tried some things as day turned into night.

Shown is westbound CSX Q218, an auto rack train. I made this image hand holding my camera and zooming out as far as my lens would go. A shutter speed off 100th of a second provided reasonable clarity.

It was the edge of the blue hour, that magic time between sunset and darkness so that provided a little color in the background.

Overall, I was pleased with how this image turned out.

IC, CP and an All Day Wait for NS 1074

May 6, 2017

Achieving my first objective of the day was easy. A Canadian National train with three Illinois Central locomotives showed up shortly after I arrived in Conneaut.

Last Sunday didn’t get off to a good start. I got up later than I expected or wanted.

I had toyed with the idea of leaving at 5 a.m. and trying to catch the eastbound Lake Shore Limited in Conneaut or North East, Pennsylvania.

But with the weather looking iffy, I didn’t want to get an early start only to have mostly cloudy skies. Catching No. 48 can wait for a better day.

Shortly before 7 a.m. someone posted on Heritageunits.com that the Lackawanna heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern was leading the 14M at Wampum, Pennsylvania.

A quick online check of NS train symbols showed the 14M to be a Conway to Buffalo, New York, train.

How long would it take to get to Conneaut? I figured it to be a manifest freight that might work in Youngstown and even in Conneaut. Somewhere along the way it would need to change crews.

I didn’t get away until about 8:30. As I drove on I-90 past Carson Yard on the NS Youngstown Line south of Ashtabula I looked to see if the 14M was there. It wasn’t.

Once in Conneaut I headed north on Mill Street but nothing was sitting in the yard other than the usual yard power.

I got stopped at the CSX crossing by an eastbound ballast train. I parked in the lot for the Conneaut Historical Society across from the CSX Erie West Subdivision tracks.

I had three objectives for the day. Catch a train on Canadian National – the former Bessemer & Lake Erie – get the 14M and bag a pair of those Citirail units that CSX has been leasing of late.

There was no guarantee the Bessemer would be operating today from Conneaut, but there was  a good chance that it would and that it would have Illinois Central motive power.

The 14M looked like a good bet but bagging the Citirail units would be a long shot.

I set up my antenna, checked the frequencies on my scanner and waited. Less than two minutes later I heard a transmission on the B&LE channel. A train was working in the yard.

Over to the Main Street crossing I went. The B&LE channel got quiet for about 10 to 15 minutes before the switching moves resumed.

By now NS 316 had arrived in town and was working the yard. In the process they discovered they had a loaded car destined for Bellevue. Should they leave it in Conneaut or take it to Buffalo?

“Take it with you,” was the response of the Youngstown Line dispatcher.

It was getting to be late morning when Illinois Central 1034 and two sister IC units came out of the yard and poked their noses out beyond the NS trestle over Conneaut Creek.

The crew was wrapping up putting together its train. I was hoping to get the lead unit of the NS 316 crossing the trestle above IC 1034, but it was not to be.

The CN train had left town by the time the 316 ambled eastbound with Canadian Pacific No. 8917 on the point.

Under normal circumstances, I would have chased the CN train into Pennsylvania. But today I still had unfinished business. I returned to the historical society parking lot next to the CSX tracks.

It was about noon when I heard the Youngstown Line dispatcher make radio contact with the 14M.

The discussion occurred on the Youngstown Line frequency so 14M still had yet to reach Ashtabula.

Eastbound traffic on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline through Ashtabula was heavy, so the dispatcher agreed to recrew the 14M at Carson.

In the eastbound parade were intermodal trains 22K and 206 along with auto rack train 28N.

I didn’t bother to seek out the 22K or 206. Instead I focused on CSX for awhile.

An eastbound rail train came through around 12:30 p.m. that was followed by an eastbound stack train.

Shortly thereafter, a westbound monster freight, the Q393, slowly made its way through town with all 15,000 feet of it making all of 30 mph.

Welcome to the world of E. Hunter Harrison’s precision scheduled railroading.

I later heard the IH dispatcher tell another train he would do his best to get that train around the Q393, but it would be difficult.

Around 1:38 p.m. the Youngstown Line dispatcher talked with the 14M again. The new crew was on board and the train was on the move.

It must have moved slowly because by mid-afternoon it still wasn’t out of Ashtabula. It would follow train 310.

In the meantime, another story began playing out on NS. I had heard the dispatcher periodically tell the crew of westbound 287, an auto rack train, that it would be waiting in yet another siding for yet another eastbound.

The 287 must have been in and out of every siding between here and Buffalo.

Around 3 p.m. the dispatcher told the 287 it would have to go into the siding at PA for the 310 and the 14M. The latter was just now coming around the Buffalo connection in Ashtabula.

The 287 crew reminded the dispatcher it had been on duty since 5 a.m. But his brushed that aside saying they needed to take that up with the first trick dispatcher who was on duty “when that baby was born.”

I also learned that the 14M would be dropping off a locomotive at Conneaut. Less than 15 minutes later the dispatcher, his supervisor or the NS computer program that makes train dispatching decisions had a change of heart.

The 287 would come into Conneaut for a recrew. But the new crew would have the same experience the old crew old had, having to wait for opposing traffic. In this case it would mean waiting at the west end of Parish siding for the 310 and 14M.

It was getting to be late afternoon and I was getting impatient. Where was the 14M?

I decided to go look for it. I drove out to Parish Road on the west side of Conneaut, parked and walked up onto the bridge.

But there was no sign of the 14M and the signal at the west end of the yard for eastbounds was red. A CSX westbound passed by but I didn’t pay it much mind.

I noticed that the connecting track from NS to CSX, which I’ve been told was put in during the Conrail era and once hosted a detour of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited, is still in place, but overgrown with weeds.

NS has altered the switch so that it now appears to act as a derail yet it is no longer possible to move a train into the connection track to CSX.

As I waited for the 14M, a large bank of clouds moved in and covered the sun. It had been sun and clouds for most of the day, but the weather was taking a turn.

I was about to give up and go back into town when I heard a horn to the west. Maybe that was the 14M.

Soon a headlight popped up on the horizon. The signal at the west end of the yard was still red and the train was moving slowly.

A glimpse through my telephoto lens confirmed that the Lackawanna H unit was on the point.

The 14M stopped but it didn’t last long because the signal turned to an approach indication.

I got my photographs and drove back to the historical society. Shortly after arriving, the heavens opened and we had an intense, although brief, shower that produced small hail pellets.

I listened to the 14M on the radio as it worked in the Conneaut Yard. During the process I got a CSX westbound freight that was a mere 300 plus axles. I guess those cars wouldn’t fit on the Q393.

By now it was apparent I wasn’t going to get any Citirail units leading on CSX today.

The 14M finished its work and I drove over to the Main Street crossing of the B&LE to photograph NS 1074 on the trestle over Conneaut Creek.

It was nearly 5:30 p.m. and I needed to head for home. It had taken all day, but I had finally got a heritage unit, the first one I’ve photographed since January.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Looks like it is going to be a nice spring day.

IC 1034 and its train will be leaving town shortly.

Looking west down Main Street.

NS train 316 had a Canadian Pacific leader and a loaded car that was supposed to have been routed to Bellevue.

The W021 has a load of rail bound for some eastern work site.

The ATVs racing along side this eastbound CSX stack train were not part of the original plan for making this image.

Trying to show Q017 along with a pair of flowering trees.

The crew of NS train 287 was relieved to hear the dispatcher say there had been a change of plans and they would come into Conneaut sooner rather than later.

A black locomotive and a bright red garage.

At last the 14M is approaching Conneaut with the feature attraction of the day on NS.

Coming into Conneaut on an approach.

After the rain came a short by today’s CSX standards manifest freight.

The last image of the day was one I waited several hours to get.

My First Railfan Outing of 2017

January 17, 2017
My first train of 2017 had a few things in common with my first train of 2016.

My first train of 2017 had a few things in common with my first train of 2016.

It had been more than a month since I had been trackside. Holiday activities, bad weather and other factors had kept me at home.

The stars finally lined up on Sunday, Jan. 15. I drove to Painesville to meet with Ed Ribinskas to take care of business related to the transfer of the Akron Railroad Club’s treasurer duties.

It was a sunny day and we moseyed over to Perry where the Erie West Subdivision of CSX and the Great Lakes District of Norfolk Southern run a block apart.

Let the record show that the first train of 2017 that I photographed had a few things in common with the first train that I photographed in 2016.

Both were short, headed eastbound, captured in January and there was no snow on the ground.

But the first train of 2017 was a CSX intermodal whereas the first train of 2016 had been an NS local.

Does this mean anything? Not really, but it is of passing interest.

We arrived in Perry around 11:30 a.m. and by the time we left at 4:30 p.m. we had logged 12 trains.

Three of them were on NS, all eastbounds. Interestingly, the NS traffic came within a 45-minute window.

Otherwise, NS was quiet the rest of the day and there was not so much as a peep of a westbound.

CSX offered some moderate variation. Six of its nine trains were intermodals with a seventh being the Canadian Pacific run-through train that is mostly stacked containers with some manifest freight tacked on.

The CP train had CP motive power and an eastbound crude oil train had a pair of BNSF pumpkins. NS train 206 had a Union Pacific unit trailing. That was the day’s foreign power.

CSX also ran a westbound auto rack train, but we never saw one of those 500 plus axles of a monster manifest freight that CSX has become known for within the past year. In fact, we never saw a manifest freight of any length on CSX.

We also seldom heard the dispatcher of either railroad on the radio. Most dispatcher transmissions had to do with speaking to maintenance of way personnel. Only once did the dispatcher give operating information to a train.

As the afternoon wore on the clouds began thickening although it never reached overcast conditions. The sun continued to pop through even if it was filtered light.

All in all it was a nice way to kick off the 2017 railfanning season.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Eastbound NS 22K was the first NS train that I photographed in 2017. The leader is one digit off from being the bar code unit.

Eastbound NS 22K was the first NS train that I photographed in 2017. The leader is one digit off from being the bar code unit.

That's the Perry nuclear power plant blowing off steam behind a westbound CSX stack train.

That’s the Perry nuclear power plant blowing off steam behind a westbound CSX stack train.

NS train 206 passes a westbound CSX stack train. Twice CSX sent a westbound intermodal train past as we waited for an eastbound NS intermodal train.

NS train 206 passes a westbound CSX stack train. CSX twice sent a westbound intermodal train past as we waited for an eastbound NS intermodal train.

The lead of NS train 310 reflected in a pool of water in a drainage ditch. It was the only manifest freight we saw in five hours of railfanning.

The lead unit of NS train 310 reflected in a pool of water in a drainage ditch. It was the only manifest freight we saw in five hours of railfanning.

Another short intermodal train. Is this about giving better customer service or was the business handled by the train way down?

Another short intermodal train. Is this about giving better customer service or was the business handled by this train way down?

Bright colors for the motive power of an eastbound crude oil train.

Bright colors for the motive power of an eastbound crude oil train.

A westbound auto rack train cruises along on Track No. 1

A westbound auto rack train cruises along on Track No. 1

The day ended as it started with an eastbound CSX intermodal train.

The day ended as it started with an eastbound CSX intermodal train.

Labor Day Wanderings: 2

September 7, 2016
The hogger at the throttle of Amtrak P42DC No. 12 gave me a toot of the horn as he blasted past at track speed on Track No. 2 of the Erie West Subdivision of CSX.

The hogger at the throttle of Amtrak P42DC No. 12 gave me a toot of the horn as he blasted past at track speed on Track No. 2 of the Erie West Subdivision of CSX.

Unlike the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, Sunday followed a tightly scripted plan. I got up before dawn and drove to North East, Pennsylvania, to catch Amtrak 48 at Bort Road.

My motivation for doing that was multi-fold. First, I have only seen Amtrak just once in 2016. Yes, that’s right. The guy who lists Amtrak as his second favorite railroad behind the Illinois Central, has hardly seen it this year.

Second, I have not seen the Lake Shore Limited since it went to single locomotive operation last spring.

Third, there are reports that the Bort Road bridge may be razed and not replaced. That might be a year or more away, but you never know.

The character of Bort Road as a place to photograph trains would change even if a replacement bridge is built because it likely would have fences.

The existing bridge is a throwback to an earlier era when the tracks belonged to the New York Central and the Nickel Plate Road and each had a fleet of steam locomotives.

I made better time than expected, arriving at Bort Road before the sun rose over the horizon. That turned out to be a bonus because I was able to get good sunrise images.

My first train was a short Norfolk Southern No. 145. It had two locomotives and that was it.

It was the second time that I’ve seen the 145 this year running light. That also might have been on a Sunday.

There was just enough light from the rising sun to create an image, one of the more interesting photographs that I’ve created this year.

I was hoping to get a CSX westbound with the rising sun behind it. I sort of got that, but the sun was higher in the sky than I would have liked. But it still turned out well.

Two CSX westbounds passed by before Amtrak began talking on the radio. Amtrak Julie had reported that No. 48 was expected to arrive in Erie on time at 7:20 a.m. but depart three minutes late. I don’t know how she knew that.

After Amtrak blew past, I hung around until 9 a.m. There were no trains on NS during that time and two westbounds ran on CSX. Nothing ran east, which was too bad because the light favored eastbounds.

I did some experimenting with the westbound trains and was able to produce some images that I liked.

My plan was to drive to Westfield, New York, and add another Great Lakes lighthouse to my collection.

This one stands over Barcelona Harbor and is a stately stone structure. It is the eighth new for me lighthouse I’ve photographed this summer.

I wound up at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East where I spent the rest of the afternoon.

The light was not favorable for photographing any NS trains, so I just watched them go by. I was able to do a little photography with CSX despite some tough lighting conditions during my time there.

Interestingly, I was able to make two images I had wanted to do during my last visit to the museum but couldn’t due to a lack of westbound traffic.

With CSX these days, it is difficult to tell if it is having a good or bad day traffic wise. There seemed to be more auto rack trains than I expected and, by the end of the day, about the same level of intermodal traffic as I would have expected.

But the manifest freights seemed fewer in number and longer than usual. The first CSX train I saw, the Q393, had 696 axles according to the detector at Ripley, New York.

About 3 p.m. I decided to heading for home, stopping at a Wegman’s grocery store in Erie on the way for a couple of items I can’t get in Cleveland.

Despite some miscues on Saturday, it had been a good weekend with sunny skies and warm but not hot temperatures. I could not have asked for better weather.

There had been some unexpected and pleasant surprises and I came away pleased, overall, with what I was able to find.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

NS train 145 is running light, really light, as another day dawns in the northeast corner of northwest Pennsylvania.

NS train 145 is running light, really light, as another day dawns in the northeast corner of northwest Pennsylvania.

Here comes the sun, which is just climbing over the horizon and casting the first light of day on CSX rails.

A golden glow to the rails of the NS Lake Erie District.

The sun rises above the head end of CSX Q393, which was a monster-size manifest freight.

The sun rises above the head end of CSX Q393, which was a monster-size manifest freight.

Conditions were ideal for early morning light glint shots. Note the second unit of this westbound CSX grain train is from BNSF.

Conditions were ideal for early morning light glint shots. Note the second unit of this westbound CSX grain train is from BNSF.

The grain train passes grape vineyards. Not much grain is grown around here.

The grain train passes grape vineyards. Not much grain is grown around here.

Auto rack cars catch the early morning light.

Auto rack cars catch the early morning light.

How much longer will vehicles be able to traverse this old one-lane bridge over the CSX tracks?

How much longer will vehicles be able to traverse this old one-lane bridge over the CSX tracks?

I've always like the panoramic perspective afforded from the Bort Road bridge of the grape country of Pennsylvania along Lake Erie.

I’ve always like the panoramic perspective afforded from the Bort Road bridge of the grape country of Pennsylvania along Lake Erie.

There were no private cars on the back of Amtrak No. 48 today.

There were no private cars on the back of Amtrak No. 48 today.

An eastbound CSX auto rack train chugs through North East.

An eastbound CSX auto rack train chugs through North East.

Three museum visitors inspect an eastbound CSX auto rack train.

Three museum visitors inspect an eastbound CSX auto rack train.

A CSX stack train passes the baggage cart on display at the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern station in North East.

A CSX stack train passes the baggage cart on display at the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern station in North East.

It's a meet. An eastbound CSX manifest freight clears just as a Canadian Pacific run-through train arrives.

It’s a meet. An eastbound CSX manifest freight clears just as a Canadian Pacific run-through train arrives.

A CP unit passes a former Great Northern dining car. Both seem to be out of place in Pennsylvania.

A CP unit passes a former Great Northern dining car. Both seem to be out of place in Pennsylvania.

This Erie-built New York Central until probably never hauled a passenger consist that looked like this.

This Erie-built New York Central until probably never hauled a passenger consist that looked like this.

A caboose is supposed to be red, right? I end this report with this caboose in the collection of the Lake Shore Railway Museum.

A caboose is supposed to be red, right? I end this report with this caboose in the collection of the Lake Shore Railway Museum.

 

Some Recent Conneaut Doings

August 19, 2016
An eastbound CSX stack train passes by the water tower in Conneaut. The town name on the tank could use a touch up.

An eastbound CSX stack train passes by the water tower in Conneaut. The town name on the tank could use a touch up.

I’ve made a few trips to  Conneaut this summer in search of action on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie. But while killing time waiting on the B&LE, I’ve also photographed CSX and Norfolk Southern activity.

Of the two, the NS is easier to get because I can stake out the B&LE and see NS trains crossing Conneaut Creek at the same time. To get CSX means having to be away from the Bessemer tracks.

But CSX is also far busier than NS so there is a greater chance of getting a train on CSX. Presented here are a number of photographs made in Conneaut during the past few months.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

NS train 145 is running light today, really light.

NS train 145 is running light today, really light.

Now there is something you don't see every day. A Feromex unit is part of the motive power consist of a westbound NS auto rack train.

Now there is something you don’t see every day. A Feromex unit is part of the motive power consist of a westbound NS auto rack train.

Catching an eastbound manifest freight coming off the east end of the trestle over Conneaut Creek.

Catching an eastbound manifest freight coming off the east end of the trestle over Conneaut Creek.

This eastbound was relatively short as it goes into the siding to await a meet.

This eastbound was relatively short as it goes into the siding to await a meet.

The rear car of the NS train had paper strung over it.

The rear car of the NS train had paper strung over it.

Another eastbound on NS crossing the B&LE and Conneaut Creek.

Eastbound train 206 on NS crossing the B&LE and Conneaut Creek.

CSX locomotives are smoking it up while leading a westbound tanker train past a house overlooking the tracks. I wonder if the guy who owns it is a railfan.

CSX locomotives are smoking it up while leading a westbound tanker train past a house overlooking the tracks. I wonder if the guy who owns it is a railfan.

A Couple in Conneaut

July 22, 2016
CSX westbound Q393 has a BNSF unit on the point as it passes the Conneaut Hstorical Railroad Museum.

CSX westbound Q393 has a BNSF unit on the point as it passes the Conneaut Hstorical Railroad Museum.

The 22K soars over Conneaut Creek.

The 22K soars over Conneaut Creek.

On some days you wind up seeing more trains than you photograph. Maybe you are out of position too often or you can’t get to where you want to be in time to get the photograph that you want.

I had one of those days in early May in Conneaut. But I didn’t come away empty handed, either. Here are a couple images that I was able to make.

Photographs by Craig Sanders