Posts Tagged ‘CSX Erie West Subdivision’

More Conneaut Doings

December 12, 2017

NS eastbound manifest freight 316 has a pair of Union Pacific locomotives in charge as it crosses Conneaut Creek in a view made from the U.S. 20 bridge.

In a recent post I described a recent Sunday afternoon catching a Canadian National train in Conneaut on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie. CN wasn’t the only operations that I observed and photographed.

Traffic on Norfolk Southern was slow for most of the morning with nothing running. Things began picking up before noon when the 22K showed up followed by the 206, the 098 and the 316.

I never saw or heard of a westbound on NS during my time in Conneaut.

I spent most of the morning on CSX where traffic was heavy after I arrived with four trains coming through in the first hour that I was there.

I was surprised that none of the CSX trains I saw were intermodals. Once NS got into action, I moved away from the CSX tracks.

After the CN train showed up around 1 p.m., the likelihood of my going back trackside along the CSX Erie West Subdivision became minimal.

Here are some highlights of what I saw on NS and CSX on this day.

It’s the eastbound stack train 22K.

NS train 206 has one of the DC to AC conversion units on the point today.

Can you guess which way the 098 is going? It is headed for work in Pennsylvania.

A two-image sequence of a westbound CSX crude oil train.

A westbound CSX manifest freight passes the former New York Central freight house, which is now owned by the Conneaut Historical Society.

CSX eastbound auto rack train Q254 passes the Conneaut water tank.

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Traces of the Central

October 19, 2017

The last New York Central passenger train to board passengers in Conneaut did so on October 25, 1962.

It was not, of course, the last passenger train to pass by the Conneaut depot. NYC and later Penn Central varnish rushed past until May 1, 1971.

Amtrak restored service a few weeks later but ended it in early January 1972. Until the coming of the Lake Shore Limited in October 1975, the former Water Level Route was freight only.

The Conneaut depot is now a museum and it has many artifacts related to the NYC and the other railroads in town, the Nickel Plate Road and the Bessemer & Lake Erie.

The NYC passenger platform is still visible next to the CSX Erie West Subdivision tracks.

Most people look at this image and see what it is, which is containers headed eastward on CSX train Q020.

But in my mind’s eye, I see an NYC passenger train arriving. The conductor is standing on the folding vestibule steps, his left hand on the railing of the silver Budd passenger car and his eyes scanning the platform for passengers.

People whose names I do not know are waiting, tickets in hand, to board for Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati Cleveland, St. Louis or who knows where else. All of those were cities you could travel to from this platform.

A check of the Official Guide of the Railways for June 1962 shows that the last NYC trains scheduled to stop in Conneaut were unnamed No. 222 eastbound from Chicago to Buffalo, New York; and No. 35, the Iroquois from New York to Chicago.

Everything else blew past without stopping just as Amtrak does today.

Hearing Set on Closing Bridge in Erie over CSX

October 14, 2017

A hearing has been set for Oct. 25 in Erie, Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on a proposal to remove the McBride Viaduct over the CSX Erie West Subdivision tracks between East 12th and East 19th streets.

The bridge was built in 1938 and has been deemed to be structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.

PennDOT said it plans to remove the 1,170-foot bridge and all piers, steps and ramps. Fencing would be installed to prohibit pedestrians from crossing the tracks.

The North Side is Nice, Too

September 29, 2017

The book on photographing CSX in Conneaut during the morning hours is to be on the south side of the tracks.

The classic image features the town’s water tank with an eastbound train coming around a curve.

I’ve done that before and was looking to do it again earlier this month on a Sunday morning that featured sunny skies.

I parked by the historical society, which is housed in the former New York Central freight depot on the north side of the tracks and turned my scanner on.

I figured to get enough warning to get out, walk to the other side of the tracks and to get into position in advance of a train.

However, I forgot to bring my railroad employee timetable pages for that area and couldn’t remember the mileposts on the CSX Erie West Subdivision.

That was how I got caught flat footed as I was sitting in my car and the gates started to go down. I had heard the eastbound Q116 calling signals but it was not as far west as I thought it was.

So I got out and did the best I could on the north side of the tracks. Shown in the top photograph, that photo op turned out better than I expected.

There was ample nose light and the sides of the containers were not as much in shadows as I feared they would be.  One reason for being on the south side of the tracks is to get sunlight bathing the entire train.

When an eastbound ethanol train came along about half-hour later, I deliberately stood on the north side of the tracks.

Shown in the middle, this image of a train that identified itself on the radio with symbol number 452, had some side shadows, but in the past year I’ve grown to like those because it gives an image some contrast, which in turn creates visual tension.

As much as I liked what I was getting on the north side, I still wanted to get the classic view, so when the Q388 was nearing town, I moved to the south side. The result can be seen in the bottom image, which has a BNSF unit trailing the lead CSX locomotive.

The Conneaut water tank is better positioned in this image than it is in the middle photograph. Also, standing on the south side puts the photographer on the inside of the curve.

There are multiple advantages of being on the south side of the rails when in Conneaut at the Mill Street crossing. But you can get some pleasing results on the other of the tracks, too.

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.