Posts Tagged ‘CSX locomotives’

May ARRC Program to Highlight CSX Locomotives

May 22, 2017

The program at the Akron Railroad Club meeting on May 26 will be a slide show by Jim Mastromatteo focusing on CSX locomotives of the early 1990s.

At the time, CSX was less than a decade removed from the merger of the Chessie System and Seaboard Systems and a lot of “heritage” motive power was still moving around the systems.

CSX also had some liveries in that era that have fallen by the wayside. Remember the “gray ghosts?”

The meeting will begin with a short business meeting followed by the program at approximately 8:30 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

Following the meeting, some members gather at the Eat ‘n Park restaurant at Howe and Main streets in Cuyahoga Falls for a late dinner, dessert or an early breakfast.

Visitors are always welcome at Akron Railroad Club meetings.

Chessie System Locomotive on the Move

May 18, 2017

The cosmetically restored Chessie System GE B30-7 has been reported to be en route to its new home at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

The locomotive was spotted earlier this week dead-in-tow heading for Russell, Kentucky.

From there it was expected to travel via Columbus, Willard and Cleveland to North East.

The locomotive was repainted into the Chessie livery by the CSX locomotive shops in Huntington, West Virginia.

The unit was built in 1980 as C&O No. 8272 and also was CSX No. 5554.

Stumbling Into a Photograph

May 11, 2017

Nothing about this photograph was planned. At the time that it was made, I was chasing after a Wheeling & Lake Erie train that was leaving the siding at Hiles east of New London.

The case began at the northwest parking lot for the New London reservoir. You can sit there and watch trains on the CSX Greenwich Subdivision.

With a good antenna and radio you can also pick up radio transmissions on the W&LE frequency.

And so that was how I learned that a tank train I had seen earlier in the day in the Hiles siding was reading to go east.

I wasn’t sure that I could catch that train before it got to Spencer. I started to move, then sat back down. There is too much distance.

A moment later I began having second thoughts. The train will be accelerating from a standing start. It won’t be moving all that fast. In a worse case scenario I can catch it at Spencer.

So I drove out of the parking lot and on the spur of the moment decided to take a road that would go south of New London, which I thought would save time as opposed to going through town.

I had been on the road earlier that day when I had a false start trying to chase that Wheeling tank train. In that case, the conversation I heard on the radio was not the crew of the tank train.

I’m racing along eastward on a road I don’t know well but had been on earlier in the day. I make a left turn on a road that I think will lead me to Ohio Route 162.

It did, but it wasn’t the road I wanted. I turned on Chenango Road when what I really needed was Butler Road.

Chenango Road crosses the W&LE tracks, but by the time I reached them the tank train was gone. I also realized that I had the wrong road.

OK, I thought, I’ll go north a short distance and then turn east. Except that there were no crossroads.

Maybe there would be one just beyond the CSX crossing. As I was crossing the CSX tracks, I looked to my right and saw the headlight of a westbound train. That gave me a jolt.

Just as or just after I cleared the tracks, the gates started to come down. That gave me another jolt.

At that point instinct and experience kicked in. Something told me I could get a photograph of this train.

There was a dirt road to the right. I pulled in, grabbed my camera and headed for an opening near the tracks.

There was no time to think through the shot. I spotted a puddle and instinct and experience kicked in again.

In retrospect had I been standing back a little further I might have been able to capture the ditch lights and locomotive nose in the heart of the puddle rather than on the edges.

I also had the misfortune of photographing as a cloud blocked the sun. It was one of five times when that happened.

This, like most of the photographs that I made on this day, turned out to be less than ideal. It was that kind of a day.

But at least I didn’t come away from this photo op empty handed as I had earlier when just as I was catching up to the head end of an eastbound stack train on the New Castle Subdivision, I ran out of highway because U.S. 224 was closed for construction east of Nova.

Both Sides Now

May 9, 2017

I look at this photograph and I think of that Joni Mitchell song Both Sides Now. She sings about how clouds can be rows and flows of angel hair and ice castles in the air.

Clouds can add beauty and drama to an image, but they can also, as the second stanza of Both Sides Now reminds us, block the sun.

And so it was as CSX eastbound intermodal train Q010 came along as I stood atop the reservoir at New London.

My objective in making this image was clouds. I got the clouds all right, but at the crucial moment one of them blocked the sun.

Anyone who has spent time trackside has seen clouds from both sides. It is sometimes called getting cloud skunked.

I made the photograph anyway even though the train was in the shadows.

Of course, shadows can be a wonderful thing, too. But like clouds, they, too, are multifaceted. They can be your friend or they can be your adversary. Sometimes they are both at the same time.

So this image didn’t work out as I had planned, but at least I got some nice clouds.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

CSX 1st Quarter Net Income up 2%

April 21, 2017

CSX said on Thursday that its first quarter 2017 net income rose 2 percent to $362 million, or 39 cents per share.

In a news release, CSX said that discounting a $173 million restructuring charge, the adjusted earnings were 51 cents per share.

Those numbers compare with net income of $356 million, or 37 cents per share in the first quarter of 2016.

During the first quarter of this year revenue was up 10 percent to $2.87 billion compared with $2.6 billion in 2016.

CSX attributed the revenue growth to volume growth across most markets, overall core pricing gains and increased fuel recovery.

The railroad believes that its second quarter outlook is favorable because of anticipated growth in most markets, including agriculture and food, export coal, fertilizers, forest products, intermodal and minerals.

The business outlook is neutral outlook for automotive, chemicals, metals and equipment. The domestic coal market has an unfavorable outlook for domestic coal.

CEO E. Hunter Harrison said during a conference call that CSX expects to have an operating ratio in 2017 in the mid-60s, earnings per share growth of around 25 percent off the 2016 reported base of $1.81, and free cash flow before dividends of around $1.5 billion.

The CSX board of directors have approved a $1 billion share repurchase program, which management expects to complete by the end of the first quarter of 2018.

CSX began buying back shares of its stock in April 2015 and has spent $2 billion on that to date.

As for capital spending, CSX now expects to invest $2.1 billion in 2017, including approximately $270 million for Positive Train Control.

More than half of the 2017 capital spending will be used to sustain core infrastructure with the balance allocated to projects supporting profitable growth, efficiency initiatives and service improvements.

CSX trimmed its capital budget for this year by $100 million. Some planned capital projects are being paused as management continues to study its terminal and operating plans.

As expected, CSX plans to continue creating longer passing sidings, particularly in the Chicago-Florida corridor where train lengths are limited by 6,500-foot sidings.

Under the Michael Ward administration, CSX had announced plans to extending or add 27 sidings in that corridor. Harrison expects to move some sidings to create a longer siding elsewhere.

“If we have sidings that are too short for the longer trains, we’re certainly not going to leave those sitting in the ground and not being utilized,” he said. “We’ll pick up one 6,500-foot siding and move it 15 miles down the railroad and put it with another 6,500. We’ve got a 13,000-foot siding.”

Since Harrison took over as CEO last month, CSX has laid off 765 employees – about 3 percent of its workforce – and further announcements are expected of continued cost cutting initiatives.

CSX chopped a record $420 million of expenses in 2016 and expects to top that this year.

Among the expected moves will be consolidating the railroad’s nine divisions. Also likely to be consolidated are the nine dispatching centers CSX now operates.

The streamlining of operations will result in 550 of the railroad’s 4,400 locomotives being removed from service and stored by the end of the summer. CSX has already mothballed another 550 locomotives.  About 25,000 freight cars will be stored.

CSX wants to impose a balance of operations over seven days a week and reduce the average terminal dwell time from 26 hours to somewhere in the high teens.

During the conference call, Harrison suggested that he does not expect any mergers or acquisitions to occur during the four-year life of his contract.

Technology Predicts CSX Locomotive Failures

March 28, 2017

CSX has been working with a new technology that predicts when a locomotive might fail.

The system developed by Mtll of Aspen Technology, is expected to save CSX millions of dollars while helping it get the most out of its motive power fleet.

CSX executives have been so impressed with the system that they have named Mtll as winner of the railroad’s Supplier Innovation Award for 2016.

Trains magazine reports that the Mtll system uses real-time data and maintenance information to predict when a locomotive might fail by as much as two to six weeks in advance.

Thus far CSX has installed the system on 3,800 locomotives. The analysis that the software conducts compares a locomotive’s performance against a list of common locomotive failure indicators.

Mtll says its system can catch about 95 percent of locomotive failures.

The company’s next step is to apply the system to defect detectors to search for potential failures in rolling stock.

CSX Gets SD303E ‘Echo” Locomotives

February 2, 2017

CSX has taken delivery of the first of 13 Eco locomotives that are being rebuilt from EMD SD40-2 units by Progress Rail at its plant in Muncie, Indiana.

CSX logo 3The ex-CSX units are now classified as SD40E3 and carry roster numbers in the 1700 series.

Trains magazine reported that the units will be assigned to terminals in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Camden, New Jersey.

The SD40E3s will be assigned to yard duty and on local freights.

“The low emission locomotives are ideal for moving and sorting freight in our yards, providing a more environmentally friendly way to build trains around the clock and efficiently serve customers,” CSX Media Relations Manager Laura Phelps told Trains.

Phelps said the SD40E3s are not intended to replace SD40-3 locomotives that have been rebuilt by MotivePower in Idaho from SD40-2s.

She said CSX continues to evaluate the role that SD40-3 motive power will play at the railroad.

NS Marathon: Day in Olmsted Falls (2)

December 27, 2016
This was the only "foreign power" that I saw all day leading an NS train. I wound up seeing CSX after all.

This was the only “foreign power” that I saw all day leading an NS train. I wound up seeing CSX after all.

One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

The downside to spending so much time railfanning in one location is that you might lack the motivation to move on.

Last July, I spent the morning in Olmsted Falls next to the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern. My plan was to drive to Berea about noon so that I could catch some CSX action. I wouldn’t miss anything on NS.

But as noon drew near, I found myself putting off heading for Berea. In part that was because I wanted to photograph aircraft landing at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport where making their final approaches over the Falls. I was enjoying photographing aircraft about as much as I was photographing trains.

In looking back at my 2016 railfan activities, I’ve probably spent more time with NS than with CSX. In part that is due to the erratic nature of CSX traffic these days.

An operating plan implanted within the past year has sought to have regular trains leave on a schedule of something like every 26 hours rather than every 24 hours.

Some symbol freights have been combined, others abolished and trains have become much longer.

During my times in Berea this year, it has seemed as though NS traffic – though still subject to lull periods – has been steadier than CSX traffic.

But I haven’t conducted any empirical studies of that so at best I am conveying an impression than a conclusion based on hard evidence.

On this July day, NS did go through some long lulls during the afternoon hours, particularly in late afternoon. But it didn’t seem so empty because I had airplanes to watch.

I kept putting off my time to relocate to Berea until a car pulled in that didn’t look familiar, but the driver did.

It was Marty Surdyk and his brother Robert. The car belonged to the girlfriend of Marty’s brother John.

Once Marty arrived, my plans to move over to Berea vanished because we started visiting and talking trains.

The model railroad club housed in the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot in Olmsted Falls was open and Marty and I spent some time talking with club members and checking out their HO scale layout.

That also effective ended my keeping a log of the trains that we saw because my log book was in my camera bag, which was in my car on the other side of the tracks.

There was shade next to the depot, but not in the parking lot on the north side of the tracks.

The afternoon traffic mix was not as diverse as it had been earlier in the day.

Intermodal trains predominated, but there were two auto rack trains, a couple of tanker trains and a couple of manifest freights.

The auto rack train was a one hit wonder with a CSX locomotive. It might have been the CSX train that uses NS trackage rights between Cleveland and Toledo.

It would be the only train I would see all day that did not have an NS unit leading.

Marty had to take Robert home around 5 or 5:30 p.m. but said he’d be back for the evening.

We ended up sticking around until just after 8 p.m. As luck would have it, the only trains we caught after 5:30 were westbounds.

That was a good thing because the light favored westbounds over eastbounds.

By 8 p.m. the shadows were growing long and I began thinking about getting home to fix dinner.

And so ended my all-day NS marathon in Olmsted Falls. I probably won’t be doing anything like that again until next year’s Dave McKay Day in early April.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Going green with a bit of orange thrown in.

Going green with a bit of orange thrown in.

After sitting in the Berea siding for quite a while, this train got a new crew and headed westward.

After sitting in the Berea siding for quite a while, this train got a new crew and headed westward.

I've always enjoyed stack trains of a nearly uniform consist. All of this train fit into the frame.

I’ve always enjoyed stack trains of a nearly uniform consist. All of this train fit into the frame.

I'm pretty sure this was an NS auto rack train.

I’m pretty sure this was an NS auto rack train.

Train L13 came in from Bellevue running light. Between the time it arrived and departed nearly two hours later, just one train would pass by.

Train L13 came in from Bellevue running light. Between the time it arrived and departed nearly two hours later, just one train would pass by.

Train L13 had a cut of brand new tank cars.

Train L13 had a cut of brand new tank cars.

Bellevue-bound L13 passes the Olmsted Falls depot.

Bellevue-bound L13 passes the Olmsted Falls depot.

I had a pair of tanker trains in the morning and another pair in the late afternoon.

I had a pair of tanker trains in the morning and another pair in the late afternoon.

I managed to work in a landing plane at Hopkins passing over this westbound tanker train. And I got the sun in the image to boot.

I managed to work in a landing plane at Hopkins passing over this westbound tanker train. And I got the sun in the image to boot.

A Union Pacific until in trailing in this consist was the only Western Class 1 unit I saw.

A Union Pacific until that is trailing in this consist was the only Western Class 1 unit I saw.

The late day light was really sweet.

The late day light was really sweet.

A Few From a Late Year Outing in Berea

December 23, 2016

A railfan is in position at right to get a photograph of a westbound CSX intermodal train.

I took my camera with during a late November outing in Berea, even though I wasn’t expecting to photograph all that much.

There were no Norfolk Southern heritage units that were likely to come through when I was there and nothing out of the ordinary came past on CSX. Yet it was a mostly sunny day so I kept my camera nearby just in case I saw something interesting.

It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the railroads didn’t seem to be quite back to their normal operations. All of the trains that I saw on CSX were intermodal trains.

But with CSX the way it is these days who can say what is normal. Nonetheless, on a typical day in Berea, CSX can be expected to send through at least a handful of manifest freights.

But none operated on this Sunday afternoon when I was around.

Although NS had a more diverse traffic mix, most of its offerings also were intermodal trains. The most unusual sight that I saw on NS was a tanker train with its lead unit running long hood forward.

The train had arrived at CP Max near Rockport Yard with three units, but the lead unit was cut off because the power desk needed to assign it to a train that needed cab signal leader.

I don’t know if there was any discussion about running a westbound train with a lead unit whose cab faced east. I just know what I saw when the train came through Berea.

With the sun low in the sky, I decided to stick it out until sunset. I was hoping to get a westbound on CSX with low light on the nose of the lead unit.

As the day got late, things starting falling into place to get the image I wanted.

The sunlight reflection on a signal box indicated that the lighting was just what I wanted. To the east I could see the headlight of an approaching intermodal train.

But clouds were gathering to the west and by the time the CSX train arrived, the sunlight was heavily filtered and I was unable to get the image as I had wanted it. I would been able to get it had the train had arrived a couple minutes earlier. Maybe next time.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

There seemed to be a lot of locomotives on this train.

There seemed to be a lot of locomotives on this train.

I got the train, but the lighting was not as ideal as it had been a few minutes later.

I got the train, but the lighting was not as ideal as it had been a few minutes later. The filthy nose didn’t help matters, either.

Chasing the setting sun on CSX in Berea.

Chasing the setting sun on CSX in Berea.


The Disappearing Cuyahoga River in Kent

November 2, 2016



I mentioned in  a post earlier this year that the trees growing along the bank of the Cuyahoga River in downtown Kent are obscuring the river.

When I went to Kent on a recent Saturday morning I was presented with graphic evidence of how much that is the case.

In the top photograph, the river is somewhat visible in an image made with a telephoto lens.

But it won’t be long before those trees growing between the CSX tracks and the river are tall enough to block the view of the river entirely.

The bottom photograph was made with a wide-angle focal length. The river is only partially visible toward the lower left-hand corner of the frame. Yet the dense foliage makes the water almost an afterthought that you need to search to find it.

There remains open views of the river and the decorative dam if you stand along the fence above the tracks south of the Main Street bridge. But the view of the river from the bridge is going, going almost gone.

The train, by the way, is a westbound manifest freight. I think it was the Q353. The detector at Munroe Falls said it had more than 500 axles.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders