Posts Tagged ‘National Train Day 2015’

Scenes from Cleveland’s National Train Day

May 17, 2015
An overview of the equipment display at Cleveland's National Train Day event as seen from the parking deck next to City Hall. on top of the bluffs overlooking Lake Erie.

An overview of the equipment display at Cleveland’s National Train Day event as seen from the parking deck next to City Hall. on top of the bluffs overlooking Lake Erie.

Cleveland held its first National Train Day celebration on Saturday, May 9 at the Amtrak station along the lakefront. Other events were held at the roundhouse of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society in Cleveland as well as in Sebring and Alliance. At the Cleveland Amtrak station, Norfolk Southern had a pair of locomotives along with a caboose painted in Conrail colors and markings. Reportedly, this was the last caboose built for Conrail. Also on hand was a locomotive used by the Cleveland Harbor Belt, which is a subsidiary of the Cleveland Commercial Railroad.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

You wanted trains on National Train Day? There were several trains to be seen.

You wanted trains on National Train Day? There were several trains to be seen.

Norfolk Southern ran several trains past the NTD festivities. Although not shown, the Southern Railway heritage locomotive made an appearance, albeit in a trailing position.

Norfolk Southern ran several trains past the NTD festivities. Although not shown, the Southern Railway heritage locomotive made an appearance, albeit in a trailing position.

NS 4658, an Operation Lifesaver unit, is a GP59. It was accompanied by slug No. 615, which is now classified as an RP-E4C.

NS 4658, an Operation Lifesaver unit, is a GP59. It was accompanied by slug No. 615, which is now classified as an RP-E4C.

Conrail caboose 21313 as seen from the parking deck.

Conrail caboose 21313 as seen from the parking deck.

Cleveland Harbor Belt 2639 is a former Missouri-Kansas-Texas GP39-2.

Cleveland Harbor Belt 2639 is a former Missouri-Kansas-Texas GP39-2.

A Waterfront line RTA car cruises past the Cleveland Amtrak Station and  in the background) First Energy Field.

A Waterfront line RTA car cruises past the Cleveland Amtrak Station and in the background) First Energy Stadium.

A Conrail EOT.

A Conrail EOT.

Some railfans record the passage of an RTA Waterfront train.

Some railfans record the passage of an RTA Waterfront train.

Amtrak passengers must cross the RTA Waterfront line tracks to board their train. These grade crossing flashers warn them of an approaching RTA train.

Amtrak passengers must cross the RTA Waterfront line tracks to board their train. These grade crossing flashers warn them of an approaching RTA train.

John Barnett, a former Conrail dispatcher and operator at Berea Tower, is all smile as he poses from the cab of NS 615.

John Barnett, a former Conrail dispatcher and operator at Berea Tower, is all smile as he poses from the cab of NS 615.

Paul Berg, one of the co-organizers of the Cleveland National Train Day, is interviewed by WJR-TV in Cleveland.

Paul Berg, one of the co-organizers of the Cleveland National Train Day, is interviewed by WJR-TV in Cleveland.

Ryan Durfee, the son of ARRC member Roger Durfee, tries out the controls of an NS locomotive.

Ryan Durfee, the son of ARRC member Roger Durfee, tries out the controls of an NS locomotive.

Don Wetzel was one of the men connected with the New York Central’s M-497 jet powered Rail Diesel Car project in 1966. He was on hand to talk about his involvement in the project.

A helmet worn by crew members during the test run of the jet-powered RDC.

A helmet worn by crew members during the test run of the jet-powered RDC.

Another Test Firing Set for N&W 611

May 9, 2015

Norfolk & Western No. 611 was linked to its tender this past Wednesday and workers were scrambling late in the week to finish the restoration of the venerable Class J.

The locomotive painting was being finished and crews put the metal jacketing around the cylinders, fitted the washout plugs and filled the tender with water.

The tender’s first load of coal was delivered on Friday and plans were underway to put the 4-8-4 into steam for a National Train Day celebration on Saturday at the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

The 611 will remain stationary during the train day event and the crew is looking at the steaming as another test firing.

Crew members will fill the boiler with compressed air in order to be able to use use the stoker to dress the firebox with coal. Hand shoveling coal into a large firebox is impractical.

The Tribute Units Were Nice, But it was an F40 That Stole My Heart at Toledo National Train Day

May 5, 2015
It can't pull a train anymore, but F40PH No. 406 still looks the part.

It can’t pull a train anymore, but F40PH No. 406 still looks the part.

Sure, seeing the Norfolk Southern GoRail locomotive motivated me to drive to Toledo last Saturday for the National Train Day event.

But what I really wanted to see was Amtrak P42 No. 42. It is dressed in a striking livery that honor’s America’s veterans. It was every bit as classy looking as I expected it be and it was my first time seeing it in person.

And then there was Amtrak No. 406. Built in July 1988 by EMD, this F40PH has since had its traction motors removed and been converted to a NPCU, meaning that it can provide head-end power and be used to control a locomotive, but it can’t pull a train.

Yet for appearances, it looks just like it did when it came out of the EMD factory, complete with a Phase III livery.

Last Saturday it provided HEP for the Amtrak exhibit train and I found myself being transported back a decade or two when the F40 was the king of the Amtrak diesel fleet.

During their heyday, the F40 was the Rodney Dangerfield of locomotives.

A lot of railfans didn’t care for them. They made a lot of noise when standing in the station and they were diminutive in stature compared with their big six-axle freight cousins.

Not too many people are going to say they prefer the look of an F40 over the sleek streamlining of an EMD E or F unit.

I’ve always been partial to the short-lived SDP40Fs that Amtrak purchased in 1973 and 1974, but the F40 proved to be the locomotive that enjoyed the longer life even if it had been designed with corridor service in mind.

So I spent some time looking over the 406 and remembering all of the trips I made behind the F40 fleet until it began to be replaced in the middle 1990s.

It’s funny how something that was so common two decades can seemingly vanish overnight.

In time the same will likely happen with the P42. Will I someday have pangs of nostalgia upon seeing one of those? Probably, yes I will. But that day hasn’t come yet.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

What I came to see.

What I came to see.

It's almost highball time for the next Amtrak train to New York at Toledo's Central Union Terminal. If only it were true.

It’s almost highball time for the next Amtrak train to New York at Toledo’s Central Union Terminal. If only it were true.

A father and his daughter spend some quality time in the Sightseer lounge, imagining they are taking a train trip.

A father and his daughter spend some quality time in the Sightseer lounge, imagining they are taking a train trip.

Built in 1950 for Union Pacific, sleeper Pacific Bend has racked up thousands of miles and seen a lot of places in its lifetime. No longer carrying revenue passengers, it is now assigned to the Amtrak exhibit train.

Built in 1950 for Union Pacific, sleeper Pacific Bend has racked up thousands of miles and seen a lot of places in its lifetime. No longer carrying revenue passengers, it is now assigned to the Amtrak exhibit train.

Amtrak's latest slogan on the side of former baggage cars turned exhibit cars.

Amtrak’s latest slogan on the side of former baggage cars turned exhibit cars.

The gray of P42 No. 42 is a throwback of sorts to the days of New York Central vanish sitting on these very same tracks.

The gray of P42 No. 42 is a throwback of sorts to the days of New York Central vanish sitting on these very same tracks.

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No Escaping Me This Time

May 3, 2015
Norfplk Southern No. 6963 at National Train Day in Toledo.

Norfplk Southern No. 6963 at National Train Day in Toledo.

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Last August during the Akron Railroad Club outing in Vermilion, I arrived just in time to watch a westbound train led by Norfolk Southern No. 6963, the GoRail tribute locomotive.

On that day it went flying past me before I could get my camera out of the bag. I was not pleased.

On Saturday I had another opportunity to catch the 6963 and this time there was not missing. No. 6963 sat on static display as part of the National Train Day celebration in Toledo.

I had not known that the SD60E locomotive had begun life as a Chicago & North Western SD60 No. 8004 in August 1986. NS acquired it from Helm in 2012 and subsequently put it through the SD60E conversion process at the Juniata shops in Altoona, Pa.

The Go Rail unit livery was designed to pay tribute to GoRail, a non-profit organization founded in 2004 with the support of the nation’s railroad and railroad suppliers to promote shipping by rail.

NS unveiled the unit in March 2014 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

In a news release, NS described the design this way: “The SD60E model features a paint scheme combining the infinity lines of the Norfolk Southern livery with the tracks of the GoRail logo. The lines end in an arrow to depict movement, and the GoRail colors carry through the modified speed lines to show the unity of GoRail and Norfolk Southern, creating the look of land as seen from above and signifying freight movement.”

In Toledo, No. 6963 was placed between a locomotive from the Ann Arbor Railroad (out of sight to the left) and the Amtrak veteran’s tribute P42 locomotive.

Toward the end of my time at the Toledo festival I encountered fellow ARRC member Todd Vander Sluis, a Vermilion resident who had suggested the club have an outing in his hometown.

I had half forgotten my missed encounter with the NS 6963 until he reminded me of it and noted I wouldn’t miss it this time. Indeed, I did not.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Northeast Ohio Train Day Activities Set for May 9

April 30, 2015

A full slate of activities, including equipment displays, art displays and model railroad layouts, will highlight the May 9 Northeast Ohio Train Day.

Carrying the theme “a day of celebrating railroads past, present and future,” the activities will be spread over venues in Cleveland, Sebring and Alliance.

The event is part of the Amtrak Train Days national event being celebrated across the country.

At the Cleveland Amtrak Station (200 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway), there will be displays of railroad freight equipment from CSX, Norfolk Southern and the Cleveland Harbor Belt.

Displays inside the station will include Amtrak travel information and timetables along with book authors and other displays of railroadiana.

Also having displays will be All Aboard Ohio, the National Association of Railroad Passengers and the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.

At the former Cleveland Union Terminal, now known as Tower City Center, there will be activities for children, tours of the onetime train station and views from the observation deck ($5).

The Midwest Railway Preservation Society will host a night photo session on Saturday (May 9) at the former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse at 2800 W. Third St. in Cleveland.

The photo session will be held from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.  Admission is $20 in advance and $25 at the gate.

The Sebring Model Railroad Club, 135 E. Vermont, will have an open house at its layout housed in the former Pennsylvania Railroad station.

Train watching and other activities are planned for the Alliance Amtrak Station at 820 E. Main St.

For additional info contact David Mangold at davemangold@hotmail.com or at atdcleveland@neo.rr.com. A website devoted to Northeast Ohio Train Day has been established at www.neotraindayCleveland.com

To find out about other train day events, visit the Amtrak Trains Days website at: www.amtraktraindays.com