Posts Tagged ‘CSX trains’

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.

Advertisements

Northeast Ohio Memory

February 3, 2018

We don’t usually think of images of CSX as being vintage until they are showing one of its predecessor railroads still wearing a fallen flag livery.

Yet CSX has been around since 1986 and although it remains a major player in the Northeast Ohio railroad scene that you can seen every day, even it has a history worth retelling.

Consider, for example, this image made by Akron Railroad Club member Bob Farkas.

It is early 1999 in Kent and CSX 8185 is passing the ex-Baltimore & Ohio freight station.

The freight station has since been razed and although standard cab locomotives are not extinct at CSX, they are far less common than they used to be, particularly when running in pairs.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Returning for Another Load of Lettuce

February 2, 2018

CSX and Union Pacific team up to haul perishable produce between warehouses in California and Washington state and distribution centers in New York state.

The trains typically have UP motive power and fans and railroaders alike have dubbed them the “salad shooter.”

On a trip to Conneaut last fall, the salad shooter was the first train that I saw and photographed.

It is shown rushing westbound past the former New York Central passenger station and beneath the iconic town water tank.

Difference of Four Days

January 25, 2018

The money shot of a CSX train crossing the frozen Grand River in Painesville. After making it, Peter said, “we’re done here.”

Peter Bowler and I made plans to get out on a recent Sunday for a day of winter photography.

Yes, we planned to catch some trains, but we also wanted to get some snow and ice images, particularly along the Lake Erie shore.

Our plan was to meet at 7:20 a.m. at the Golden Gate Shopping Center  just off Interstate 271 in Mayfield Heights where I’d leave my car and Peter would drive.

Things did not get off to a promising start. My hopes that Amtrak would be running late were dashed. The eastbound Lake Shore Limited was late, but not late enough.

A check of the HeritageUnits.com site didn’t show promise of catching anything out of the ordinary.

The temperature was in the middle teens as I waited for Peter to arrive. He was late because he had lost track of the time.

That didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but it would turn out to be good thing later.

He wanted to photograph a train on the CSX Erie West Subdivision crossing over the Grand River on a concrete arch bridge in Painesville.

Just after we arrived there, a westbound manifest freight led by a Canadian National unit ran by, but we didn’t have enough time to get into position to photograph it.

I got my radio out and it wasn’t long before we heard an eastbound auto rack train call a clear signal at CP 154. We weren’t sure how close that was, but it was closer than we knew.

Peter has a friend, Robert Butler, who said during a program he gave to the ARRC a few years ago that one of his principles of photograph is chance favors the prepared mind.

Had we done our homework and determined before arriving at what milepost the bridge is located we would have known that we needed to start making tracks through the snow to the bridge from our parking spot on the street as soon as we heard that train call the signal at CP 154.

But we didn’t and we missed the photograph, although I arrived in time to get a medicore image of some auto rack cars on the bridge. The motive power consist  had Union Pacific and BNSF units.

CSX then went on a hiatus and we talked about how the railfan gods must be punishing us.

We heard a Norfolk Southern train on the radio and motored over to check the status of the new bridge being built over the Grand River.

Finally, we did something right and made a nice photo of the old and new at the trestle. But as we waited for the NS train to show up, we heard a CSX train in the distance.

Back to the CSX bridge we went and waited for what seemed an interminable amount of time before the sun, the moon and the stars lined up in our favor with a westbound CSX stack train.

We had other objectives, so we headed out in search of them. This included getting ice on Lake Erie at Headlands Beach State Park.

Also on our “to do list” was Conneaut. As we came into town I heard a scratchy transmission on the Canadian National radio channel that told us the southbound train that day was by Albion, Pennsylvania. So getting something on the former Bessemer was out.

Conneaut Creek was frozen over and it would make a great shot of an NS train going over it on the trestle.

We waited for more than an hour, but heard nothing on the NS channel except a train in the yard doing some switching. We watched the shadows grow ever longer over the ice-covered river and creep up the bridge piers.

Not only had we struck out on getting CN, we also struck out on getting NS crossing a snowy river.

On the drive back to Cleveland we talked about doing a second trip to these same locations  later in the week. The ice wasn’t going to melt and more snow was predicted to fall on Monday.

Peter wanted another chance to do the CSX over the Grand River image.

The plan was to meet again at Golden Gate at 7:20 a.m., this time with me driving and Peter leaving his car in the lot.

I checked Amtrak after getting up around 5 a.m. and it running two hours late. I called Peter and he agreed to arrive at the shopping center much earlier so that we could get Amtrak Train 48.

Fortunately for us, No. 48 kept losing time as it went eastward even if the Amtrak computer kept predicting that it would make up time.

The temperature on the morning of our “do over” outing was even colder than it had been on Sunday. The wind chill was sub zero and quite nasty.

I said to Peter as we left the shopping center parking lot that we must be a couple of morons to be out in this weather before dawn chasing trains.

We wanted to get Amtrak on the Painesville bridge, but feared the shadows on the river would make it a medicore image at best. We instead got Amtrak in Geneva.

Then we backtracked west on U.S. 20 toward Painesville. When planning this trip I had wondered aloud if the Grand River might be ice covered.

On Sunday the river had been ice covered in Grand River village and at the mouth of Lake Erie. but not where Route 20 and CSX crossed it.

I had observed on Sunday ice chunks floating in the water and thought that by Thursday those might have backed up enough to create a more wintry look.

I parked, got out my radio and we waited. There was activity on NS, but CSX was silent.

About 15 minutes later a scratchy transmission on the CSX channel sent us scrambling toward the bridge. I was quite pleased to see that the river had frozen over since Sunday.

The train we had heard was a westbound manifest freight, perhaps the one we had missed earlier in the week.

It wasn’t long before an eastbound tank car train showed up with a BNSF unit on the point and a Citirail lease unit trailing.

Peter had expressed the hope of getting foreign power on the bridge and I wasn’t sure we’d get that. But there it was.

If anything we got better images four days later than we would have made on Sunday even if things had worked out.

Had we photographed the trains we had missed on Sunday, we might not have gone back to Painesville on Thursday. We would have missed the ice-covered river.

The moral of the story is not to botch your railfanning excursions in hopes that it will lead to something better. No, the lesson is that sometimes when things don’t go to according to plan it might be setting you up for something better if you stay with it.

The sole train we were able to photograph the way that we wanted on the Sunday when we first visited the bridge over the Grand River in Painesville.

A westbound crosses the Grand River four days after we first attempted to photograph here.

Golden Light

January 18, 2018

There is golden light and then there is golden light. The golden hour is a term used by photographers to describe an hour before sunset.

Sunlight during that time tends to be warm and give objects a golden glow.

Even light in the last two to three hours of the day can be warm, particularly during the winter months when there is a low sun angle.

To take advantage of golden light at its best, you have to move fast because that light doesn’t last long. If you enjoy photographing trains you have to be lucky that one will come along during that small window of opportunity.

On this particular day that type of luck was not with us. We couldn’t get a westbound when we really needed it.

But we didn’t do too bad, either. That light looks nice on those aluminum signal standards and the train working in the yard in Ashtabula.

The vantage point is from the grade crossing of North Bend Road on the west side of Ashtabula.

Good Old Bort Road

January 16, 2018

Q363 passes beneath the venerable Bort Road bridge over the CSX Eries West Subdivision tracks near North East, Pennsylvania.

One of my favorite places to railfan is the one-lane rickety bridge carrying Bort Road over the CSX tracks near North East, Pennsylvania.

The bridge has stood there for decades and probably dates well into the steam era.

Such ancient bridges are fast being removed and the Bort Road bridge is not likely to be standing too much longer.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is studying how to replace it. One idea is to build a new bridge at the site of the existing one. Another idea is to build the new bridge further west of the current bridge.

The bridge project will also change the roads in the area, which has aroused some opposition.

One way or another, though, I can’t imagine Bort Road bridge standing too much longer.

I don’t get there often, but last July I made a couple of visits. Most of the action was on CSX, which was to be expected.

Although not shown in this gallery of photographs, Bort Road is one of my “go to” places to photograph Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited. But that’s a morning occurrence and I was here in July in the late afternoon to early evening hours.

Getting a little glint on the Q008. It followed the Q010 by 10 minutes and got the sunlight that eluded the Q010.

Here comes the Q010.

Westbound manifest freight Q389 has a Guilford locomotive tucked away in its motive power consist.

Grain train G309 comes lumbering along.

An Uncle Pete is spliced between two NS units in the motive power consist of the 216. We were hoping to get a westbound on NS but got shut out both times.

NS train 216 passes beneath Interstate 90. A short distance to the left I-90 crosses into New York state.

The classic westbound train shot at Bort Road shows it splitting the milepost 70 markers. Shown is the Q007.

An endless line of auto rack cars on the rear of the Q363. These cars used to move in a dedicated auto rack train.

Consolation Prizes on a Frustrating Day

January 5, 2018

I found the three images posted here in a folder while going through another folder in which I store images that I want to post online.

Like so many images that get sideline, I had forgotten what I had until I opened this folder during a house-cleaning operation.

All three images were made in Perry during an outing I had with Peter Bowler last May.

It had been a frustrating day. We missed an opportunity to photograph a late running eastbound Lake Shore Limited because we neglected to check if No. 48 was running on time or late.

Then we heard on the radio that the Norfolk Southern local to Fairport Harbor was operating today. Despite multiple efforts, we never could find it in a place where we could photograph it.

Our last “failure” occurred in Perry while waiting for it to return to home rails and go back to Conneaut.

We ran out of time. The consolation prize was getting a few CSX and NS trains on the mainlines that run through Perry.

Although you have to look for it, in the middle photograph, CSX locomotive 5327 has the Western Maryland “fireball” emblem.

Back When We Still Were Wearing Shorts

December 23, 2017

Remember last July? Remember the day of the Akron Railroad Club picnic? It was warm that day and most of us had shorts on with t-shirts or short sleeve shirts.

CSX cooperated and ran some trains. Nothing out of the ordinary came past that day. Unlike at the 2016 picnic, a report of a heritage unit on the Fort Wayne Line of Norfolk Southern didn’t send several of us scurrying to intercept it at Massillon or some other point.

As is typical of the CSX New Castle Subdivision, there were some long lulls between trains.

The action picked up some late in the day. Those of us still there even walked down the street and stood next to the easternmost building in “downtown” Warwick to catch the K182 as it rolled into the nice early evening light.

About 15 minutes earlier, the photo line had captured local D750 returning to its home base after working in Akron and Barberton.

It remains to be determined if the ARRC will return to Warwick in 2018 for its annual picnic or go elsewhere. The officers will hash that out in January.

In the meantime, here are a few memories of this year’s picnic.

The K182 had a hopper car still wearing the Family Lines markings.

After a long day, the D750 returns to its home base in Warwick.

The rear of the U700 lumbering eastbound.

Westbound train Q375 makes an appearance.

The westbound Q299 had a road slug in its motive power consist.

Here comes the Q299 making some smoke as it accelerates.

The Q235 rolls around the curve and into Warwick. It was one of two auto rack trains that came through town during the late morning hours.

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.

CSX Touts Improved Transit Times

June 16, 2017

A CSX executive said this week that by closing hump yards, reducing car handlings, and adjusting its operating plan, the railroad has been able to reduce the transit time of merchandise carloads by nearly a day.

Speaking at the Citi 2017 Industrials Conference, CSX Chief Marketing Officer Fredrik Eliasson said the decrease in average transit time is a 15-percent improvement. It had been 5.9 days.

Eliasson said CSX also cut coal train cycle times by reducing loaded transit time to 2.3 days, down from three days in March.

The executive attributed the improvements to the implementation of the scheduled precision railroading operating plan of CEO E. Hunter Harrison, who presumed his position on March 6.

On-time originations have improved 12 percent, while on-time arrivals have improved 36 percent, Eliasson said, noting that premium intermodal trains have arrived on time 97 percent of the time in the second quarter.

“For our customers this is a big deal,” Eliasson said. CSX management believes that reduced transit times and more consistent service will enable the railroad to capture business from trucks.

Eliasson said there have been some problem spots in the wake of the conversion of seven 12 hump yards to flat switching.

And the pace of the changes has meant that despite a commitment to communicate with customers about service changes and seek their views that it has not always been possible to touch base with shippers before operational changes are implemented.

Eliasson said that earlier this year about 25 percent of intermodal trains operated daily. Now, half of them do, which he said reflects Harrison’s belief in operating a balanced network.

In some instances trains have been combined due to volume and scheduling reasons.

CSX also is continue to reduce the number of trains it operates but is still moving roughly the same amount of tonnage.

It has stored 700 locomotives stored — up from 551 in May — and retired more than 24,000 freight cars through storage, scrapping or returning them to lessors.

Eliasson  said CSX doesn’t expect to order new locomotives anytime soon. “Overall, we are good on locomotives,” he said.

CSX second-quarter volumes have increased 1 percent in the second quarter, which is slightly lower than expected. The company expects volume to improve later this year as trucking capacity tightens.