Posts Tagged ‘CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision’

Feast for the Birds

September 7, 2018

Leaking doors of covered hopper cars are good news for birds and other animals that eat grain.

A sparrow sits at the table — in this case a railroad crosstie — in Marion to enjoy some corn that fell from a passing CSX train on the Mt. Victory Subdivision.

Loose Bolt in Marion

July 20, 2018

Earlier this year I was in Marion when I noticed a loose bolt in one of the diamonds at the intersection of the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern with the Mt. Victory Subdivision of CSX.

The top photo shows the loose bolt. The second image shows an eastbound CSX auto rack train passing over the diamonds and making enough vibration to rattle the bolt out of its position.

Later that afternoon, an NS maintenance of way crews stopped by to put in a new bolt and do other repairs to the diamond (third image)

The bottom image shows the new bolt in place and the old bolt discarded along the tracks.

Circle Trip of Reservoirs and Railroads

June 5, 2018


My original plan for railfanning on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend was to drive down to New London and “recreate” a memorable Akron Railroad Club outing of 2006.

I remember that outing for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that it was billed as a trip to Greenwich but started out in New London because that is where Marty Surdyk wanted it to begin.

We did get to Greenwich, eventually, but not until mid to late afternoon.

I had never been to either location so I had to rely on Marty for directions on getting there.

My memories from that day include seeing the CSX executive train headed westbound through Greenwich, seeing a caboose on an eastbound manifest freight at New London and catching a BNSF warbonnet leading a train at New London.

There was also the emphatic manner in which the late Tim Krogg suggested that it was time to get some bleeping lunch and how Peter Bowler schooled us in how a flock of buzzards is known as a kettle.

I enjoyed that outing so much that I suggested in 2013 that we do it again. It was scheduled, but I was the only person who showed up.

As I was heading west on Interstate 480 I decided to modify my plans.

I would make this a reservoir circle trip with stops in Wellington, New London and Attica. By day’s end I wanted to have photographs of trains and water at four reservoirs, three of them located above ground.

This would hinge, of course, on the cooperation of CSX, which since the onset of scheduled precision railroading has reduced the number of trains it operates. Those that do run tend to be much longer.

Sure enough, CSX was dead when I arrived in Wellington. I would wait 45 minutes before finally hearing an eastbound stack train calling signals on the radio.

Making images of an above-ground reservoir and trains is a challenge because of the distance between the shoreline and the tracks.

If you feature the shoreline that is closet to the rails, you have to use a wide-angle lens, which guarantees you’ll only get a portion of the water. In proportion to the scene the train will be small.

The latter doesn’t bother me but it does some railfan photographers.

You can also try to shoot across the water with a telephoto lens but you might not get the train. Remember, these are above ground reservoirs.

My first catch of the day in Wellington was an eastbound stack train with a pair of BNSF locomotives running elephant style. Not bad.

It was late morning so I decided to move on to New London. But as I was walking toward my car I heard the westbound Q163 stack train calling signals and decided to wait for it.

I tried a different angle, going for the north shoreline that is perpendicular to the tracks. The downside of this view is that I could get very little of the train into the image. Interestingly, the Q163 also had BNSF motive power.

I arrived in New London during another CSX lull that also lasted about 45 minutes.

I could hear other CSX trains on the radio, but nothing that would be coming through New London.

I also heard a Wheeling & Lake Erie train get track authority from Hartland to Spencer, meaning I would have seen it had I stayed in Wellington.

I finally got a train just before noon, an eastbound crude oil train with three BNSF units.

Hmmmm. I’m starting to see a pattern here. Did BNSF buy CSX and I didn’t know about it? Fat chance of that.

My idea was to shoot this train in the same manner that I did the Q163 at Wellington. It would have worked had I been paying more attention to the water and less to the locomotives.

I managed to create an image that didn’t show any of the water.

That would not be the case with the next train, a W&LE train off the Carey
Subdivision carrying stone in gondola cars and a few covered hoppers.

I heard this train get permission from the IP dispatcher in Jacksonville to enter CSX track at Greenwich at GN Tower.

At the time time, I thought this was fantastic news. I would be getting a Wheeling train after all.

Yet when the train showed up, it’s locomotives were both running long hood forward.

At least I got some water in this image and the lead unit is a former BNSF locomotive still in its BNSF colors. That sort of kept my BNSF motive power streak alive.

That streak was snapped when the Q348 showed up with CSX motive power. It stopped at CP 47 to allow the Q008 to pass.

I got the Q008 passing the manifest freight and some water.

The chatter on the radio indicated that more trains were coming, including the Q010 so I stayed a little longer at New London.

That paid off when a westbound auto rack train came past with a CREX (Citirail) ES44AC in the lead.

I’ve always like the color scheme of these Citirail units, but I’ve seldom been able to catch them leading a train.

The trailing unit of the auto rack train, by the way, was, you guessed it, a BNSF unit, which would be the final binsiff I would see on this day.

After the passage of the Q010, I set out for Attica but distractions along the way kept me from getting to the Attica reservoirs until late afternoon.

First, I stopped in Greenwich to photograph an eastbound CSX auto rack train whose headlight I saw in the distance as I crossed the Mt. Victory Subdivision tracks on U.S. Route 224.

Upon crossing the Sandusky District tracks of Norfolk Southern in Attica, I saw the rear of an eastbound and decided to check it out.

It turned out to be a grain train with three Canadian National units for motive power that I wound up chasing to Bucyrus where I got it going around the connection to the Fort Wayne Line.

I made further stops near Chatfield to photograph across a field a stopped eastbound NS manifest freight and to make some non-rail photographs in Chatfield of a hardware store that is going out of business.

By the time I got to the lower Attica reservoir, the Sandusky District had been turned into a parking lot because of a malfunctioning switch at Colsan in Bucyrus.

I waited a while before catching the eastbound 188 passing the reservoir, which had surprisingly smooth water for a windy day. That yielded a nice reflection image.

I had heard the 20E calling signals and thought I’d get it at the upper Attica reservoir a short distance away.

The dispatcher had told the 188 to stop at County Line Road and maybe the 20E would stop behind it.

I drove up to the top of the upper Attica reservoir, but there was no 20E. It was getting late and I didn’t want to get home too late, so I decided to forgo getting an image from my fourth reservoir of the day.

Although I looked, I never did see the 20E. Either the train I photographed at the lower Attica reservoir had been the 20E or it slipped past me as I was driving through Attica.

 

 

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.

July Morning in Galion

February 26, 2018

CSX U700 passes the Galion depot en route to Crestline and a crew change.

I haven’t done much photography in Galion. As I wrote in a post last summer, it is too easy to drive through Galion when Marion is not far away and promises to provide far more train traffic.

But last July I made it a point to stop in Galion to photograph CSX trains with the former New York Central station as a backdrop.

At one time Galion was a busy place. The New York Central’s lines to St. Louis and Cincinnati split here and the Erie Railroad mainline between Chicago and the East passed through.

But the Erie is gone now and CSX owns the former NYC routes. Even before E. Hunter Harrison took over CSX there was talk that the line between Galion and Columbus would be spun off to a short-line railroad or only maintained to branch line standards.

CSX still has a moderate level of traffic on the line to St. Louis and Indianapolis so that route isn’t going to change.

But as I expected, it took awhile before I got my first train, the Q363. It was a long, slow-moving creature that had a long cut of auto rack cars on the rear.

Welcome to the world of precision scheduled railroading under the “master” E. Hunter Harrison.

It would be an even longer wait to catch the next train, the eastbound U700. After it passed by about 10:30 a.m., I decided to head for Marion. That was a good choice.

It would be several hours before another eastbound headed through Galion.

The motive power of the Q363.

The rear of the Q363 passes the station.

Another view of the motive power pulling CSX train U700.

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. More 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.

Competitors and Partners

June 13, 2017

I recently read a quotation from a railroad trade group official to the effect that trucks are among the strongest competitors for railroads and at the same time one of their best partners.

Trucks have taken away large quantities of business from railroads over the years and yet given large amounts of business in return.

Shown is CSX eastbound train Q226 on the Mt. Victory Subdivision in Greenwich.

I heard it coming and was looking for a location to photograph it before it went into the connection to the New Castle Sub to head toward Akron and Youngstown.

Framing the lead locomotive with a fleet of trailers sitting near the tracks was a last-minute decision.