Posts Tagged ‘Erie Pennsylvania’

Running Down the Street in Erie

January 11, 2021

Over the years areas east and west had popular locations that were attractive for railfanning.

One spot was the Norfolk Southern (ex-Nickel Plate Road) 19th Street trackage in Erie, Pennsylvania.

It was in place for over 100 years from 1882 until October 2001. Anytime we were in the area we always found photo and video opportunities if trains were nearby.

The trains we saw included regular freights and excursions pulled by Norfolk & Western steam locomotives 611 and 1218.

There was one time Robert Surdyk was with me and we were about a minute too late to photograph NKP 765. As Maxwell Smart would say, we missed it by thatmuch.

The street running in Erie would be eliminated by relocating the route to parallel the CSX (ex-New York Central) right of way that was north of 19th Street.

When word got out that street trackage would be eliminated we made several trips to document its remaining days.

The final NS freight ran down the street on Sept. 27, 2001. On Oct. 12, 2001, a four-car special that included the NS Exhibit Car ran down the street. After it passed, a rail on each end of the street running was turned over to mark taking the line out of service. It was the formal end of the street running.

Above are photographs of a westbound on Sept. 17, 2001. Being a school day in the afternoon, kids on the way home from school are witnessing the last days of street running.

Twenty years later, I still miss the 10 mph trains on 19th Street.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Pennsy Locos on a Former Pennsy Route

December 30, 2020

Bennett Levin’s former Pennsylvania Railroad E8s powered a rare mileage private car excursion on Aug. 19, 2001, on a former Pennsy route from Harrisburg to Erie, Pennsylvania.

From Emporium, Pennsylvania, to Erie the railroad was operated as the Allegheny & Eastern and since it was a secondary route for the Pennsy the operating speeds were more relaxed.

Marty Surdyk and his brother Robert studied that route and that was where we focused our photography of the excursion.

Listening to the scanner on our trek eastward we set up initially at  St. Marys (top photograph) in pouring rain.

As the day went on the rain let up but the weather mainly remained overcast. We were able to find 12 photo locations. Five of the best are here in this story. 

They included crossing the Allegheny River in Warren, Pennsylvania; Garland, Pennsylvania; and passing a mural of a Climax steam locomotive in Corry, Pennsylvania, the home of Climax Manufacturing, which built the famous logging locomotives.

Our final photo location was in Erie where the excursion train arrived at the Erie Union Station, which today is still used by Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited.  

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Wabtec to Cut 150 Jobs in Erie

October 19, 2020

Wabtec plans to eliminate 150 jobs at its Erie locomotive assembly plant between mid-November and the first quarter of 2021.

Those come on top of 300 previously announced layoffs.

A Wabtec spokesman said the job cuts were being made “to align with today’s volume realities,” explaining that locomotive orders have fallen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wabtec last week had announced that it was opening a facility at Neighborhood 19, an additive manufacturing facility at Pittsburgh International Airport that will build on the use of 3D printing technologies that are used at its Erie and Grove City, Pennsylvania, facilities.

$21M Federal Build Grant to be Used to Revamp CSX Tracks in Downtown Erie, Pennsylvania

September 18, 2020

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $21 million grant to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for a project in downtown Erie that will involve removing some CSX tracks and building a multimodal bridge.

The work is part of the Erie Bayfront Parkway Mobility and Freight Improvement Program that seeks to improve traffic flow.

The $63.8 million project also includes reconstructing three major highway intersections, and creating a bike and pedestrian trail.

The track to be removed is 2,400 feet in length and currently used for freight car storage.

To mitigate the loss of track, the project calls for building a multimodal bridge that will replace two grade crossings.

The bridge will be located adjacent to the Pennsylvania Soliders’ and Sailors’ Home. The project will enable CSX to extend its freight yard further to the east.

Proponents of the project say it will provide better connections between Erie’s central business district with the Lake Erie waterfront and close gaps in a multi-use trail network.

This will, proponents say, increase transportation choices to the waterfront area by removing remove physical barriers.

The federal funds are coming from the Better Using Investments to Leverage Development program.

The same program will also provide $13.5 million for a Kentucky project to replace four bridges on U.S. Route 79 in Russellville, including one over CSX tracks that will increase clearance for trains.

Erie Man Indicted For Transporting Drugs on Amtrak

November 22, 2019

An Erie, Pennsylvania, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of bringing methamphetamine from Michigan to Erie on an Amtrak train in September.

Sean K. Williams, 30, was indicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute 500 or more grams of methamphetamine.

If convicted, he faces up to a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted in U.S. District Court in Erie.

A news release issued by federal prosecutors in Erie said Williams allegedly transported the methamphetamine to Erie from Dearborn, Michigan.

Pennsylvania State Police previously charged Williams with possessing 10 pounds of suspected methamphetamine.

Williams was arrested at the Erie Amtrak station and taken to Erie County Prison on $500,000 bond to await prosecution on charges including possession with intent to deliver and resisting arrest.

Erie Amtrak Station Getting a Makeover

September 23, 2019

The owner of the Amtrak station in Erie, Pennsylvania, is renovating the facility, which is plagued by peeling wallpaper, broken flooring and other structure issues.

Logistics Plus, which owns the former Union Station, has already repainted and cleaned up the front door and entrance, and installed new lighting in the hallway and waiting room.

Workers also have replaced the old flooring in the bathrooms with new floor tiles.

The company is working with a mechanical engineering firm to update the HVAC system and the specifications will be sent to bid with the contractors.

A company official told Erie News Now that once the HVAC work is completed, work will begin on renovating the lobby and walkways.

The HVAC system must be overhauled before other repairs can be made.

Other planned work includes securing the man doors and replacing the front entrance cement, and replacing the platform doors and adding bars for protection.

New signs will be added and once the work is completed the station will be compliant with ADA standards.

Much of the renovation work is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The Logistics Plus official said the facelift is needed to provide a more positive image of Erie to visitors who arrive or leave the city by train.

Erie is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited.

Erie Locomotive Plant to Get Additional Work

September 19, 2019

The future is looking brighter for the former GE locomotive assembly plant in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Wabtec said this week it will move work now performed at its Motive Power Industries plant in Boise, Idaho, to the Erie facility in Lawrence Park.

Wabtec is reportedly interested in building passenger locomotives, something MPI specialized in doing.

GE Transportation had not built passenger-oriented locomotives for several years for the U.S. market.

Amtrak’s Genesis series of motive power was built by GE, but the passenger carrier is looking to replace those units with Chargers built by Siemens.

“Decisions like this are never easy but will help simplify and optimize the company’s manufacturing footprint in today’s cyclical environment, as well as better position Wabtec for success,” Wabtec said in a statement. “The company remains fully committed to all customer commitments and providing impacted employees with resources and benefits to manage the transition.”

MPI was acquired by Wabtec in 1999. It was previously controlled by Morrison Knudsen.

In recent years it built the MP36 commuter railroad locomotive, part of its MPXpress model line.

GE Transportation once teamed up with MPI to build a commuter locomotive, the HSP46 that used components made by both companies.

The unit encountered operating difficulties and few were built.

Currently, MPI builds and sells a Tier 4 compliant MP54AC commuter locomotive that thus far has only been purchased by Toronto GO Transit.

Industry observers note that MPI’s Idaho plant is small, has less than 500 employees and cannot be easily expanded.

It also lacks a dedicated test track, something the Erie facility has.

Catenary Being Removed From Erie Test Track

August 28, 2019

The catenary infrastructure on the former GE Transportation test track near Erie, Pennsylvania, is being removed.

Now owned by Wabtec, the 4-mile test track has had catenary since 1906. It is formally known as the East Erie Commercial Railroad.

Officials said that in recent years the catenary has suffered neglect and damage, and become a target for copper thieves.

The test track was once part of the Buffalo & Lake Erie Traction Company and has been used to test countless locomotives, including the famed GG1 electric motors of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Wabtec will retain some of the hardware from the catenary infrastructure and has not ruled out the possibility of building electric locomotives at the Erie plant.

The electricity to the catenary system was switched off in the 1990s due to fading locomotive sales and the preference of most customers for diesel engines.

In 2016 a falling tree severed the wires. That area also was targeted by copper thieves and at one point the work of the thieves caused some wires to fall.

Inspectors also found that some of the wood poles supporting the catenary had rotted to the point that they created a potential safety hazard to crews operating on the line.

Workers OK New Contract at Erie Locomotive Plant

June 16, 2019

Union workers in Erie, Pennsylvania, last week ratified a new contract with Wabtec that will bring labor peace to the locomotive assembly plant for the next four years.

Members of locals 506 and 618 of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America approved the pact after 128 days of negotiations and a nine-day strike in March. The union represents 1,700 workers.

The former GE Transportation facility in Lawrence Park had been threatened with closure.

News reports indicated that both sides gave in on some of their demands.

New hires will be paid less than existing employees but be put on a 10-year path toward reaching the top of the pay scale. Current employees will continue to be paid at the existing wage rates.

Wabtec agreed to continue building new locomotive at the Erie plant operating and to hire 100 new workers, although that was short of the 400 jobs the union had wanted.

The two sides also compromised on overtime with Wabtec agreeing that it would be voluntary and not mandatory as the company had sought.

Wabtec Erie Workers to Vote on Contract

June 10, 2019

Union workers at the Wabetec plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, have reached a tentative four-year contract agreement to end a dispute that had triggered a nine-day strike in March.

The pact will considered by members of United Electrical, Machine and Radio Workers of America in a June 12 vote. The union represents 1,700 members in two locals in the Erie area.

The workers are employed at the former General Electric locomotive assembly plant in Lawrence Park.

Since March the two sides have engaged in 90 days of mediated bargaining and two days of working.

News reports indicate that both sides made concessions, but the union won a promise of job security, including Wabtec’s agreement to add 100 jobs by the end of the contract.

Wabtec, based in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wilmerding, agreed to pay existing employees an average of $35 an hour, but demanded that new hires be paid an average of $22 an hour.

Eventually the two sides agreed that new employees would be paid less but rise to the full union wage scale over a 10-year period.

The company also agreed that overtime would be voluntary and not mandatory.

During the negotiations, Wabtec had described Erie as the least competitive of its 80 plants and threatened to move a substantial amount of work out of Erie.

Even before Wabtec acquired the Erie plant earlier this year its previous owner GE had long been shifting work to a newer and non-union plant in Fort Worth, Texas, amid a challenging market for new locomotives.

GE had at one point announced that it would end locomotive production in Erie, although it said it continue to have a ongoing although largely unspecified role.

The new contract, if it’s ratified, will apparently allay the fears that work will be moved away from Erie.

Wabtec has talked about adding new work and making investments in the Erie plant.

Greg Sbrocco, Wabtec’s senior vice president of global operations, described the contract agreement as “a good first step at driving competitiveness at the Erie plant.”