Posts Tagged ‘CSX in Marion Ohio’

Striking But Short Lived Livery

November 17, 2022

I often have referred to leased locomotive power as a “rent a wreck.” That moniker comes from the fact that much leased power often looked battered and bruised.

Leasing companies usually acquired used locomotives from Class 1 carriers, painted out the markings and then applied their own reporting marks on the original livery before sending the units out to work.

A few leasing companies had a recognizable livery but those often were rather bland. Then First Union Rail began sending out leased units in a striking silver and green scheme that looked quite good.

Shown is FURX SD40-2 No. 3048 trailing a CSX SD50 on an eastbound train in Marion on the Mt. Victory Subdivision on May 7, 2000.

The 3048 had been built in July 1978 for the Southern Railway. In this image it appears to have been repainted not too long ago.

I never caught as many of these FURZ green and silver units as I would have liked. I haven’t seen one in years. Like most leased motive power liveries that I remember this look seemed to have come and gone.

Indeed leased motive power seems to be largely a product of the past at Class 1 railroads, which have mothballed dozens of their own locomotives as a result of the move toward precision scheduled railroading and its reliance on fewer and longer trains.

Like so many things involving railroading, it’s a matter of “get ’em while you can.”

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Fireball in Marion

August 27, 2019

I don’t know anyone who goes out of his way to photograph the CSX emblem locomotives.

They just don’t have the panache of the heritage locomotives of Norfolk Southern or the splashy appearance of the Union Pacific H units.

The emblem units feature a logo of a CSX predecessor railroad affixed to the nose, but the emblem is rather small in relation to the size of the locomotive and thus doesn’t show up that prominently in most photographs made trackside.

The emblem units must have their fans because they are frequently reported on Heritage

I was in Marion for Summerail on a Saturday morning when a report surfaced that the Q261 had been seen in Galion with the Western Maryland emblem unit on the point.

It would reach Marion about an hour later, being held on the east side of town for two eastbounds.

Standing on the top landing of the steps of AC Tower I was able to get a good view of the emblem and, of course, a photograph.

This is not the first time that I’ve photographed the “Wild Mary” emblem unit.

I caught it leading a westbound CSX train in Perry, Ohio, a couple of years ago.

Now an Oldie But Goodie

September 13, 2018

Conrail has been gone for 19 years, but it doesn’t seem like it because there are so many reminders of it still around.

For starters Conrail still lives in the form of Conrail Shared Assets territories in Detroit and on the East Coast.

Also, there are still numerous freight cars still in Conrail markings running around.

A handful of cabooses still wearing their Conrail colors and markings are also still out there.

One of those used to be assigned to a CSX local in Marion.

This image was made in June 2015 when the local still had a touch of Big Blue. It is shown returning to the yard.

I’ve since seen locals working in Marion, but not with cabooses.

The Long Line of Auto Racks

July 15, 2018

Auto rack trains aren’t the most attractive trains on the rails. Their tall and solid profile blocks your view of other tracks and trains, particularly if you are railfanning in Berea and a CSX auto rack train comes past on the the track closest to you.

As unit trains, they also tend to have a consistent appearance, although even that is not as uniform as, say, a tank car or coal train, because some auto rack cars might have slightly different sizes and colors.

As an example of the latter, look at the roofs of the cars above in an eastbound auto rack train rolling through Marion on the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision.

Some roofs are white while others are a silver gray. Some cars feature yellow on their sides, but others are white.

Still, something about these auto racks caught my eye and captured my imagination.

Marion Madness

March 27, 2018

I didn’t catch a symbol on this eastbound NS manifest freight, but it came through with an all BNSF motive power consist right before I was ready to leave.

Not all intermodal trains have the same priority. NS 234 cooled its heels for a couple hours waiting for the work window to expire whereas the tie gang had cleared up to allow the 218 to pass earlier in the day.

The Q008 looked liked it always has with no cuts of auto racks appended to it. But I saw two auto rack trains earlier that had cuts of double-stacked containers in the consist.

The first weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament featured more than its share of March Madness.

Headlining the opening round of the tournament was the upset of overall No. 1 seed Virginia by the unheralded University of Maryland-Baltimore County, the first time in the tournament’s history that a No. 1 seeded team fell to a No. 16 seeded team.

The UMBC Retrievers fell in the round of 32, but not the Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers, a No. 11 seed that knocked out No. 6 seeded University of Miami and then No. 3 seed Tennessee during the opening weekend.

I experienced my own version of March Madness during an outing to Marion that same weekend.

I arrived around 11 a.m. on Sunday to find Norfolk Southern’s Sandusky District strangely quiet.

Eastbound intermodal train 218 rumbled through just after 11:30 a.m. but NS didn’t run anything else for more than two hours.

CSX was being CSX. I never saw any trains on the Columbus Subdivision nor did I hear of any on the radio that were remotely nearby.

The only traffic on the Columbus Sub was a track car that went south.

As for the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision, the Q008 went east a half-hour after I arrived and the Q277 came west an hour after that. Then CSX joined NS in featuring only empty tracks in Marion for more than two hours.

Before I departed around 5 p.m., CSX would send through two more eastbounds on the Mt. Victory Sub, the Q254 auto rack train with its more than 500 axles and the monster-length Q364 manifest freight.

If you’re counting, I saw four CSX trains in six hours.

NS traffic was lulled to sleep by a tie gang working south of Marion. NS traffic picked up once its work window expired at 3 p.m. but was not as heavy as I had expected.

It wasn’t a bad day, but not quite what I’ve become accustomed to in Marion during my past outings there.

Maintaining the Tracks in Marion

February 15, 2018

I was in Marion last summer when a train calling symbol W053 on the radio approached from the north on the Columbus Subdivision.

It turned out to be a work train that was spraying weeds along the right of way.

The machine was turned off as the train passed Marion Union Station.

The Tables Were Bare

September 7, 2017

In my experience, you can count on a CSX intermodal train to roll through Marion anywhere between late morning, say after 11 a.m., to very early afternoon, say by 1 p.m.

With its UPS trailers train Q008 is one of the hottest things on rails. Typically, the Q008 and the Q010, a train from Chicago with a similar consist, will come through Berea in late afternoon.

But on a Sunday visit to Marion in early July, the Q008 seemed to be uncharacteristically late. Furthermore, it was following the Q254, an auto rack train

The Q008 finally got to Marion shortly after 3 p.m. There was nothing out of the ordinary about its passage.

But on the end was a long string of bare tables. I’m not sure if “bare table” is a railroad jargon term or something that railfans made up.┬áMore to the point, these are empty well cars.

More Reflections of CSX

September 1, 2017

CSX train Q254 passes AC Tower in Marion. With the pole line gone, it is easier to get reflection images such as this one.

You go your way and I’ll go mine. An eastbound manifest freight on the CSX Columbus Sub is about to bang the diamonds of the Mt. Victory Sub in Marion.

During a trip to Marion on a Sunday earlier this year I was surprised to find that traffic on the CSX Columbus Subdivision was heavier than on the Mt. Victory Sub. Usually it is the other way around.

Chalk it up to the dispatcher on the Columbus Sub bunching up the traffic as well the precision scheduled railroading plan of the CSX CEO E. Hunter Harrison.

One strategy of the plan is to take commodities that once ran in dedicated trains and add them to manifest freights.

This has been particularly the case with auto racks and aggregates. Earlier in the day, the Q363 came through with what in the past would have been the consists of two trains.

Aside from the usual array of manifest freight, the Q363 had on the rear a very long string of auto racks.

Whenever I see an auto rack train these days on CSX I wonder why it is still running and how much longer it might be running as a single-commodity unit train.

Summerail and Train Watching in Marion

August 14, 2017

Summerail returned to Marion last Saturday and there are indications that it will be back there again in 2018.

Master of ceremonies Ron Flanary announced toward the end of the program that the 2018 event will be held on Aug. 11 at the Palace Theater in Marion, where it was also held in 2016.

Traditionally, Summerail has been held in Cincinnati, but was moved to Marion last year due to construction at Cincinnati Union Terminal.

The move to Marion was expected to be for just two years, but Marion does offer some advantages over Cincinnati, primarily the use of an auditorium with expansive seating.

Past sessions of Summerail have sold out weeks before the event, but the Palace Theater has enough seating to make possible walk-up sales of tickets on the day of the event.

The 22nd edition of Summerail offered 10 multi-media programs with images set to music. Each program was about 45 minutes in duration and featured digital images.

A few programs had introductory commentary and videos embedded amid the usual progression of still images.

None of the programs were presented by Northeast Ohio residents and scenes of railroading from Northeast Ohio were scarce.

I spotted several Akron Railroad Club members in Marion during the day including Peter Bowler, Ron McElrath, Mark Demaline, Jim Mastrommateo, David Mangold, Richard Antibus and Tom Fritsch.

Some of them spent their day watching trains at Marion Union Station rather than viewing the Summerail programs.

The original Norfolk Southern heritage unit led an eastbound NS coal train through Marion in late afternoon, but I missed it because its passage occurred during the last set of afternoon programs.

Some Summerail regulars have a practice of dining at a Skyline Chili restaurant in Cincinnati during the dinner break.

Although Skyline has several franchises outside of southwestern Ohio, there are none in Marion.

Railfan & Railroad magazine arranged a catered Skyline chili dinner at Marion Union Station.

Tickets were $12 with a portion of the proceeds going to the station association.

The dinner was catered by a Skyline franchise in Westerville, a Columbus suburb.

A railfan sits at the operator’s desk in AC Tower as CSX train Q007 passes by.

BNSF motive power leads an eastbound grain train on the Columbus Subdivision of CSX.

Some Summerail attendees spent part of their dinner break watching trains. An eastbound NS manifest freight passes the photo line.

CSX westbound stack train Q007 had a pair of Kansas City Southern “Belles” in the motive power consist.

As westbound Q007 passes AC Tower, NS train 234 waits in the background.

The rear of NS train 234 passes the Erie Lackawanna caboose, which sits at the site of a former Erie Railroad division headquarters building.



NS 961, a light power move from Columbus to Bellevue, passes AC Tower.

Master of ceremonies Ron Flanary introduces a program.

Dishing out the Skyline Chili.

Railfan & Railroad editor Steve Barry dives into a cheese coney in the waiting room of Marion Union Station.