Posts Tagged ‘Ethanol trains’

The Red Grain Elevator of Wellington

May 19, 2017

A certain member of the Akron Railroad Club is known for his passion for photographing trains and grain elevators.

I know that in particular he likes the red grain facility in Wellington alongside the Greenwich Subdivision of CSX.

It makes for a dramatic  image in late afternoon sunlight. From what I can see, the facility is no longer served by rail.

I didn’t go there on a recent outing just to capture the red grain elevator. As much as anything I went there because Wellington wasn’t being covered  by clouds.

CSX cooperated beautifully by sending a pair of westbounds through town, a stack train and an ethanol train.

The ethanol train shown at top was the second of the pair and I tend to like that image the best of the two.

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Agencies Take Action on Crude Oil Train Safety

April 21, 2015

An array of actions are being advanced by the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration that the agencies say will address issues raised in the wake of a spate of recent derailments involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail.

The proposals are the latest in a series of more than two dozen that DOT has initiated over the past 19 months.

The announcement includes one emergency order, two safety advisories, and notices to industry that are intended to further enhance the safe shipment of Class 3 flammable liquids.

The FRA also has asked the Association of American Railroads to help develop a formal process by which specific information becomes available to emergency responders and investigators within 90 minutes of initial contact with an investigator.

That information includes the train consist, including locomotives, cars and end-of-train device; waybill data; Safety Data Sheets for hazardous materials onboard; results of any product testing undertaken prior to transport to classify the materials; names and locations of companies and facilities handling the materials prior to a derailment; and the names of the railroads handling the materials and a timeline of custody for each.

The AAR said some of this information is not tracked by the railroads and it is not a requirement for customers to provide it.

DOT said that Emergency Order No. 30, Notice No. 1, establishes a maximum authorized speed of 40 mph for trains transporting large amounts of Class 3 flammable liquid through certain highly populated areas, known as High Thread Urban Areas.

The order is effective on trains containing 20 or more loaded tank cars in a continuous block (35 or more loaded tank cars) f Class 3 flammable liquid; and at least one DOT-111 tank car, including those built in accordance with Association of American Railroads CPC-1232 standards, if that car is loaded with a Class 3 flammable liquid.

“The boom in crude oil production, and transportation of that crude, poses a serious threat to public safety,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “The measures we are announcing today are a result of lessons learned from recent accidents and are steps we are able to take today to improve safety. Our efforts in partnership with agencies throughout this Administration show that this is more than a transportation issue, and we are not done yet.”

The AAR, generally, is supportive of the government’s safety efforts.

“The freight railroad industry shares the belief that there is no greater priority than safety. It is always our goal to make a safe network even safer, and as FRA data shows, 2014 was the safest year for train accidents in railroad history,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger in a statement.

Since 2013, there have been 23 crude oil-related train accidents in the U.S., the majority of which have not resulted in a release of oil.

Tank Cars Everywhere

December 10, 2014

Berea tankers

It was bound to happen. With the proliferation of trains carrying crude oil it is no surprise that while railfanning in Berea you might be able to see tank car trains passing simultaneously on Norfolk Southern and CSX.

However, in the interest of accuracy, the train on CSX being lead by a Canadian Pacific locomotive is carrying ethanol. The tanker train on NS, though, is carrying crude oil.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Saturday Sunset at Olmsted Falls

October 2, 2014

OF sunset1

OF sunset2

Every picture tells a story or so they say. I’ve always been interested, though, in the stories that lie behind the pictures.

At face value, the story that these two images tell is that of a westbound ethanol train on Norfolk Southern lumbering through Olmsted Falls on a Saturday night. For the record, this was train 65V.

The sun is about to sink beneath the tree line and in many ways these are the kind of “sweet light” photos that photographers crave.

You might think that after making these images that I went home satisfied. I can feel that way now. But that was far from how I felt at the time.

The story began that morning when I received an email that the Monongahela heritage unit was leading intermodal train 25V and likely would reach Cleveland between 4 and 6 p.m.

Hmmm. That would put the train through Olmsted Falls in late day light.

I followed the train’s progress online and when it was reported past Leetonia, Ohio, at 3:21 p.m., I grabbed my camera bag and out the door I went.

By the time I arrived in the Falls, the 25V was on the southeast side of Cleveland. But the radio chatter between the Toledo East dispatcher and various trains and NS supervisors revealed that the Chicago Line east of Cleveland was, again, more parking lot than speedway.

Nothing was moving west out of Cleveland and it remained that way for the next two plus hours.

I was able to ascertain from the conversations between the Cleveland Terminal dispatcher and various trains that the 25V was fourth in line to go west once traffic got moving.

The 65V came through Berea at about 6:45. The sun was slightly south of the tracks so I set up there at the Brookside Road crossing. Then I saw a headlight to the west and quickly crossed over, lest that eastbound block my shot.

It would be 15 minutes before the next westbound, a 21Q, came by. The 65V was getting an approach signal somewhere to the west and everything was moving slower than normal.

It was a given that I wouldn’t get the 25V and the Monongahela H unit in sunlight or even in daylight.

It was downright dark when the NS 25V with the NS 8025 on point came past the Olmsted Falls depot where the railroad club that owns the building was having a picnic.

Even with a digital camera that has a high ISO capability, getting even a fair shot was mission all but impossible.

I tried, but the image was too dark and blurry. Many photographers wouldn’t have bothered and others would have deleted their images.

I went home deeply disappointed. The heritage unit photography gods had turned their backs on me yet again.

A few days later I’m still disappointed about how that sortie turned out, yet as I studied the images I made of the 65V I’ve come to a new appreciation of what I was able to do with what I had.

Sometimes studying a photograph days reveals things that escaped your attention as you peered through the viewfinder. So it was with the 65V.

In the top shot, I ended up liking a few qualities that I missed when making the photo. Although I would have preferred to have been on the south side of the tracks, there was just enough light down the sides of the tank cars to create a nice streak that contrasts with the shadows of the rest of those cars.

The angle from the north side of the tracks enabled me to capture several utility poles in full lighting. Ordinarily, photographers don’t like having poles in their images, but in this case the poles and even the multitude of wires that cross above the tracks convey the aura of “urban setting.”

In its own way, this image is a good snapshot of railroading in 2014. Tank car trains have increased in numbers in the past few years due to the crude oil boom in North Dakota. Hence, tanker trains represent the au courant in this image.

Look in the background. See that signal bridge erected by the New York Central goodness knows how many decades ago? It provides some historical contrast. A lot of petroleum products used to move by rail back in the era when those signals went up, but then that business went away only to come back.

Late day light also enables you to see inside the locomotive cab. Notice that the conductor is giving some kind of sign – a peace sign? – as the 65V approaches. That might have been for the benefit of the crew of that rapidly closing in eastbound train.

These image will always remind me of the train I really wanted to get in this warm, sweet light and how circumstances intervened to foil those plans.

I made the most of the situation and came away with some pretty fair images. But don’t forget heritage unit photography gods that you still owe me one.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Getting in Some Winter Shots Before a Thaw

January 31, 2013
The eastbound NS train near Brady Lake in a view taken from the Lake Rockwell Road bridge.

An eastbound Norfolk Southern ethanol train nears Brady Lake in a view taken from the Lake Rockwell Road bridge. Note the Union Pacific power trailing.

On Tuesday, I reported on a chase of a Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway train that Roger Durfee and I made last Sunday between Mogadore and Kent, Ohio. After getting our last photos of the W&LE train we ambled over to the Norfolk Southern Cleveland Line to catch an eastbound ethanol train.

We were hoping to get swirling snow from the train, but by late Sunday morning nearly all of the snow from the day before had been blown off the rails.

We drove into Kent to check out the CSX tracks. There was plenty of snow between the rails, but with curves in town the trains weren’t moving fast enough to kick up any snow.

By noontime, the clouds had begun gathering and conditions would range from mostly cloudy to some filtered sunlight. A wave of warm air and rain showers were approaching that by Monday would wash away most of the snow.

We had a rapidly closing window to capture some winter weather images because the weather forecast for the week called for warmer than normal temperatures.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A westbound intermodal train passes the former Baltimore & Ohio passenger station in Kent. I liked the pattern in the snow made by the tire tracks by the station.

A westbound intermodal train passes the former Baltimore & Ohio passenger station in Kent. I liked the pattern in the snow made by the tire tracks by the station.

A westbound manifest freight is about to pass the passenger station. Note the icicles hanging from the edge of the depot’s roof.

A westbound manifest freight is about to pass the B&O passenger station. Note the icicles hanging from the edge of the depot’s roof.

An eastbound intermodal train splits the signals in Kent near milepost 117.

An eastbound intermodal train splits the signals in Kent near milepost 117.

An eastbound empty coke train rumbles through downtown Kent. I liked how the patterns that the snowcover created on the retaining wall next to the Cuyahoga River and on the remains of the dam and onetime locks. The locomotives and the ex-Erie depot are the dominant color. Everything else is pretty much black, white, gray and brown.

An eastbound empty coke train rumbles through downtown Kent. I liked how the patterns that the snowcover created on the retaining wall next to the Cuyahoga River and on the remains of the dam and onetime locks. The locomotives and the ex-Erie depot are the dominant color. Everything else is pretty much black, white, gray and brown.

A westbound intermodal train cruises along the Cuyahoga River in downtown Kent. Like the photo above, the locomotive lends about the only real splash of color. Again, I liked how the snowfall created predominantly black, white, gray and brown tones.

A westbound intermodal train cruises along the Cuyahoga River in downtown Kent. Like the photo above, the locomotive lends about the only real splash of color. Again, I liked how the snowfall created predominantly black, white, gray and brown tones.

ICE was Nice on a Hot Day

July 1, 2012

I spent a couple hours on Saturday afternoon walking on the trail between Brady Lake and Kent that uses part of the right of way of the former Erie Railroad. Near Kent the trail is immediately next to the CSX New Castle Subdivision, a former Baltimore & Ohio mainline between Chicago and Pittsburgh.

A clear signal for Track No. 2 at “Davey Tree” indicated that the route was linedup for an eastbound. Due to track work in the area on Track No. 1, this is a single track railroad between FS and CP 120.

I continued walking and shortly upon reaching the section of the trail that is next to the CSX tracks I heard a horn in Kent. That must be the eastbound.

I quickly scouted for photo locations. The sun angles were not ideal, but not awful either. The horn had sounded strange but I figured it would not be the ubiquitous Gevo or other widecab CSX locomotives.

It turned out to be an ethanol train with an Iowa, Chicago & Eastern with an SD40-2 in the lead lettered “City of Buffalo.” Trailing was a Canadian Pacific SD40-2 in well-worn paint. What a pleasant surprise.

Such sites on CSX are not uncommon although not an every day occurrence either. It was the first time I’d seen an ethanol train on the New Castle Subvision. The ICE sure was nice sight on a hot afternoon.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Snow . . . and ICE at Perry

January 16, 2012

The remnants of the high pressure system that brought sunshine to Northeastern Ohio over the weekend following Saturday’s snowstorms lingered over the region on Monday morning before giving way to cloudy skies and warmer temperatures. With Monday being Martin Luther King Jr. day and a holiday where I work, it was an ideal time to catch some snow action.

Fellow Akron Railroad Club member Ed Ribinskas and I headed for Perry where we managed to find a parking spot next to the CSX tracks. Lake County was particularly hard hit by the Saturday storm, with some areas getting up to 2 feet of snow. Perry was one of those places with deep snow.

To be sure, the snow had packed down by Monday morning, but there was still plenty enough of the white stuff around to make for some interesting photography. We had scarcely parked when we heard horns to the west, which signaled what turned out to be the first of three eastbound intermodal trains running in rapid sucession.

We had heard the dispatcher on the radio tell a K symbol train at Collinwood yard that he would be following a couple of eastbound van trains.

Soon enough the K train showed up and added some ICE to the scene. OK, so technically these are Canadian Pacific locomotives and not Iowa, Chicago & Eastern units because the former has controlled the latter since 2008. 

Still, it looked like an ICE train pulling ethanol tank cars. Leading the way was SD40-2 No. 6367, the City of New Ulm, wearing Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern markings. Trailing was No. 6445, also an SD40-2, the City of Bettendorf, in a traditional ICE livery.

The train lumbered through Perry, leaving a swirling mist of snow in its wake. Yes, the ICE had been nice, real nice.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders