Posts Tagged ‘Nickel Plate Road 765’

NKP 765 Chicago Trips Still Expected to Run

April 12, 2018

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society hopes to begin selling tickets in late May for its September excursions in Chicago behind Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 765.

The opening of sales was suspended about two weeks ago after word got out that Amtrak is restricting its carriage of privately-owned passenger cars.

Mainline steam excursions rely heavily on private cars to make up the consists for these trains and their owners often ferry the cars on the back of scheduled Amtrak trains.

In a news release, the FtWRHS said that it is seeking to finish arranging the consist for the Joliet Rocket excursions by May 1 and begin selling tickets within 30 days of that.

The excursions on Sept. 15 and 16 will use Metra tracks between Chicago and Joliet that were once owned by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific.

After those excursions, which drew more than 2,500 passengers last year, the NKP 765 is expected to travel to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for excursions on two weekends in late October.

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Private Car Owners Scramble in Wake of Amtrak Policy Change

March 30, 2018

Amtrak’s recent decision to cease running charter trains and specials as well as to curtail carriage of privately-owned passenger cars on its trains has sent a trade organization scrambling to rally its members to seek to apply political pressure on the passenger carrier to reverse the decision.

The American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners sent a memorandum to its members this week urging them to contact lawmakers and opinion leaders about the significance of private cars but acknowledged that there is little it can do to attack Amtrak’s decision in court.

AAPRCO told its members in the memo that it is “working to get the most accurate information about the full extent of Amtrak’s policy, which may not yet be firmly in place, and to mount the strongest possible effort to push back against it.”

In the meantime, Amtrak’s decision has prompted the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society to delay selling tickets for a planned trip in Chicago in September behind its 2-8-4 Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

The steam locomotive is to pull excursions between Chicago and Joliet, Illinois, on track owned by commuter railroad Metra.

However, the Fort Wayne group relies on privately-owned cars that would use Amtrak trains and facilities to reach Chicago.

Several private car owners have reported in recent weeks that Amtrak has rejected some of their requests to move their cars.

Amtrak’s new policy pertaining to the carriage of private passenger cars will prohibit attaching and detaching those cars to Amtrak trains at points where an Amtrak train is scheduled to dwell for less than 30 minutes.

However, the carrier has yet to spell out in detail how it will handle private cars going forward.

“At this time, we feel it would be imprudent to open ticket sales as previously scheduled before we have more clarity on the situation,” said a Fort Wayne Society news release. “As such, this policy will force us to revisit our contractual agreements with car owners, re-confirm both their availability and costs, and confirm Amtrak’s ability to transport them to our venue. Amtrak’s participation was critical to last year’s Joliet Rocket trips.”

It is not known yet if these development will affect a planned visit of the NKP 765 to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in late September.

For those excursions, the FtWRHS uses CVSR’s own passenger fleet and does not need to bring in private passenger cars.

As for Amtrak’s policy change pertaining to charter trains and special trains, AAPRCO President Robert Donnelley told his members that the association’s annual convention and mid-year special trains are at risk.

“Amtrak’s stated rationale for these changes is that private varnish has the potential to worsen on-time performance, which is a major concern of President and CEO Richard Anderson,” Donnelley wrote. However, he took issue with that.

Another private car owner trade group, the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance said it has contacted Amtrak to express its concerns but it also has told its members that the implications of the Amtrak policy change are ominous.

“The policy as officially released on March 28, 2018, will have drastic effects on many private car owners, excursion operators, private companies, and tourism in many communities that utilize Amtrak’s service,” RPCA President W. Roger Fuehring told Trains magazine.

“As we move forward, we hope to have an open dialogue with Amtrak in regards to discussing this policy. We look forward to returning not only the revenue stream to Amtrak that we produce with our clientele, but the goodwill that we generate on behalf of Amtrak with every trip.”

One point of contention in talks with Amtrak and the private car owners will be how much revenue the national passenger carrier receives from fees charged to handle the cars.

AAPRCO contends that the private car business adds $10 million in gross revenues to Amtrak, but a recent Wall Street Journal article said it was $4 million.

The memo written by Amtrak President Anderson and sent to employees that announced the ban on most special moves and charters suggested that Amtrak has not been recovering its fully allocated costs for those trains and that they have become a distraction.

AAPRCO’s Donnelley has instructed his group’s members to talk up the importance of private passenger cars and the number of jobs associated with the industry.

His memo said this would include employment at shops and other vendor facilities that support private passenger cars.

The railroad preservation community has launched an online petition to protest Amtrak’s decision at the website change.org. The petition has received more than 450 signatures with a goal of 500.

NKP 765 Plans CVSR Trips, Chicago Excursions

March 6, 2018

Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 is planning to come to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad this year although no dates have yet been announced.

That news was buried in the last sentence of a news release announcing an excursion for the 765 in Chicago on Sept. 15 and 16.

The release said that the CVSR excursions were being planned for “later this year.”

As for the Chicago trips, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society said the Berkshire-type steam locomotive will pull trips named the Joliet Rocket over former Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific trackage between Joliet, Illinois, and Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station twice daily on both days.

The society said that each trip will have food, cocktails and live music. Passengers are encouraged to dress in vintage-style clothes

FtWRHS members may begin buying tickets on April 2 with sales opening to everyone else on April 4. No ticket prices have been disclosed.

The Chicago excursions drew more than 2,500 passengers in 2017 from 30 states.

FtWRHS Vice President Kelly Lynch said this year’s excursions will have a longer layover time, an improved catering service and more dome cars.

The society said the Joliet Rocket will be among the 765’s last mainline excursions until it installs positive train control technology on the locomotive.

The Chicago excursions will use tracks owned by Chicago commuter rail agency Metra.

NKP 765 Schedule Release Expected Within Month

February 14, 2018

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society expects to release within the next month its excursion schedule for this year involving Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.

In an earlier report at the website of Trains magazine, the society had indicated that it was eyeing trips in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.

For the past several years the Berkshire-type locomotive has appeared on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in September.

In the meantime, the society is using the downtime between excursions to carry out a required boiler inspection.

Federal Railroad Administration rules require operating steam locomotives to undergo a boiler inspection and rebuild every 15 years or 1,472 service days.

Typically, that process is done at one time, but the FtWRHS won FRA approval to conduct it in stages over a two-year period so as to not miss an excursion season.

FtWRHS Vice President Kelly Lynch said the inspection and rebuild is expensive and time consuming, and the society devotes a portion of is excursion revenue toward that endeavor.

During the current winter, society personnel have been conducting an external and ultrasound boiler inspection of the boiler.

The ultrasound survey is about 99 percent done, Lynch said, and crews have found that 765’s boiler is in good condition with little or no deterioration of its steel.

Warm Memories of NKP 765 on the CVSR

January 10, 2018

Nickel Plate Road No. 765 cruises along the Cuyahoga River where it runs parallel to the tracks along Riverside Road north of Boston Mill station. Alas, the vegetation is obscuring most of the river.

I have many motivations for making photographs, but chief among them is to relive later something about which I have fond memories.

There are some experiences in life that seem warmer when you look back on them than they did at the time you actually experienced them.

It wasn’t that you didn’t enjoy it at the time, but some experiences have that ability to bring sunshine to a cloudy day, warmth to a cold day, and happiness to a trying day.

Such is the case with memories of Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 plying the rails of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

The big Berkshire has run on the CVSR enough times that many railfans in Northeast Ohio have grown complacent about it. It is no longer a “must see and photograph” event for them.

Maybe so, but every time it comes I remind myself that it might not happen again. And how often can you see a mainline steam locomotive in operation?

This galley of photographs includes images that didn’t quite fit the story line of my previous postings about the NKP 765 that I wrote last September.

I purposely saved them for winter when cold temperatures and snow storms would have us pining for the warmer days of late summer and early fall.

All of these images take me back to an outing I won’t soon forget and will always remember with fondness.

Along Riverside Road during the Akron Railroad Club picnic at the Valley Picnic Area on the other side of the road.

Southbound at Hillside Road during the second excursion of the day from Rockside Road station.

Arriving at the CVSR’s Rockside Road station. Ultimately, it’s all about having an experience that can’t easily be had anymore.

The photo line captures memories to be cherished later as the NKP 765 arrives at Rockside Road station.

Greetings from the fireman’s side. Note the tribute to the late Jerry Jacobson.

The NKP 765 crew waves to the crowd waiting to board at Rockside Road station.

NKP 765 Eyes 2018 Excursions

December 29, 2017

No trips have been announced, but the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society is making plans to run its Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 on the road in 2018.

Vice President Kelly Lynch told Trains magazine that the society is planning excursions that it hopes will take the Berkshire locomotive to Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri.

“About half of the possible locations are places to which we have been before, but some of them are new,” Lynch said. “We had been considering going to some of these destinations in 2017, but we ran out of time to do the marketing. It didn’t look like we were going to have our ducks in a row soon enough to allow for that if we had tried those additional excursions in 2017.”

This past year the NKP 765 pulled trips on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in Northeast Ohio and on Chicago’s Metra commuter rail line between Joliet, Illinois, and Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station.

The reference to planning trips in Ohio combined with Lynch’s comments suggests that the 765 will be back on the CVSR next year.

Traditionally, the 765 has operated on the CVSR in September.

Sanders Photo Published in Railfan & Railroad

November 21, 2017

A photograph of Nickel Plate Road No. 765 made by Akron Railroad Club President Craig Sanders was recently published in Railfan & Railroad magazine.

The image, which was made on Sept. 24, shows the 2-8-4 Berkshire-type locomotive steaming past Brecksville station on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. At the time, the engine and its train were making a ferry move to Akron.

The photograph was published on Page 16 in the Preservation Railnews section of the November issue of R&R.

Riding That 765 Train (Part 2)

October 4, 2017

Nickel Plate Road 765 backs up at Rockside Road station. I got better images of the Berkshire-type engine here than I did at the photo runby site at Boston Mills.

Second of two parts

A handful of Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad personnel were on the ground as the excursion train pulled by RS18 1822 came into Boston Mills station and stopped.

At last I would get to experience life inside the cattle pen as Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 executed its photo runbys.

Having that experience wasn’t my primary reason for buying a ticket to ride behind the 765. But I did wonder what it would be like.

On the CVSR website, would-be passengers are told that they will get to watch the 765 do a runby at a secure location.

If you are standing outside the photo runby site fence, you’ve learned the meaning of the word “secure.”

If you dare cross Riverview Road to stand on the fringe of the orange plastic fence, either a CVSR official or a police officer will shoo you back to the other side of the road.

As I stood in the cattle pen, I saw a couple guys cross the road toward the far north end of the ski resort.

A Peninsula police officer saw it, too, and raced to the scene in his cruiser with the emergency lights on.

Although my train was not sold out, it did have a large crowd and it takes time to unload a few hundred people.

I was among the first people off the train, in part because my car had a small number of passengers.

A CVSR volunteer instructed us to stand behind a line of small orange cones.

That was the extent of the instructions that we received. For that matter, there was no announcement over the PA or by the car host about the photo runby. It was as though CVSR personnel figured that everyone knew what was going on.

The line of orange cones stretched back toward the Boston Mills station and was set up on an angle.

I avoided the far north end of the line, which was where many people congregated.

I heard the CVSR volunteer tell those there that the 765 would make two runbys. She asked those toward the front to get down and after the first runby to trade places with those in the back.

People were nearly shoulder to shoulder where I was standing, but I didn’t feel overly crowded.

I didn’t expect to get great photographs during the runby. One reason I had wanted to ride the afternoon trip was because the lighting would be better. The sun would be on the west side of the tracks.

Although the runbys for my excursion were performed at about 11:15 a.m., the lighting still favored the east side of the tracks.

But the west side of the train was not in deep enough shadows to mar the images by making it difficult to see the detail of the locomotive.

Many who got off the train were not photographing, just watching. Among those who did photograph, many of the images – and maybe most of them – were made with smart phones.

It used to be that “ordinary” people made photographs with point and shoot digital cameras. Now they use smart phones.

Not as many people clustered around the cab of the 765 as I expected. Instead, most people found a place in the photo line and stayed there.

There was a construction project underway across the road and shortly before the 765 began backing up for the first runby I heard that safety squawk that construction vehicles make in reverse.

I wasn’t doing video so it didn’t bother me. But I know guys who would have gone ballistic upon hearing that sound.

The beep, beep, beep was short lived and not repeated during either runby.

The runbys were nice, but not overly spectacular. I thought the 765 put on a better show when pulling into Rockside Road station earlier that morning.

I’ve also seen better smoke displays from the locomotive at other places along the CVSR.

But most of those in the photo line weren’t looking for a spectacular display of steam and smoke.

They wanted to see the big engine run by, which is what it did, twice. Many have probably never seen such a sight.

About the only advantage to being inside the Boston Mills cattle pen from a photography standpoint is being able to see the 765 coming straight at you.

There is a curve north of Boston Mills and inside the viewing area is the best place to see that without any obstruction.

Boston Mills also offers an open field, but that’s nothing that you can’t find in other places along the CVSR if you know the territory.

I didn’t have any trouble with heads or arms getting in the way of my views and everyone was well behaved.

The runbys complete, it was time to get in line and back on the train.

The rest of the trip was routine. We stopped at Fitzwater Yard to pick up the afternoon on-board crew members.

I lingered on the platform after disembarking at Rockside Road station.

The 765 and its train would go north of the station to make room for the Scenic inbound from Akron.

By now it was almost 12:30 p.m. Clouds were forming, but it was still sunny as I got my last photographs of the 765 as it backed northward.

As it turned out, the afternoon trip was 25 minutes late leaving Rockside due to late passengers and other issues I wasn’t on hand to observe.

That trip only went as far south as Peninsula and by the time the photo runbys at Boston Mills were executed, the skies had turned mostly cloudy.

It had been an enjoyable experience riding behind the 765 even if I never saw it while it was pulling the train. But I knew it was there.

The CVSR is one of the few places where the 765 can operate. Every year there is talk about the 765 going to various unspecified places, but those trips seldom seem to materialize.

This year the 765 has run on Metra in Chicago and on the CVSR. No fall excursions have been announced of which I am aware.

Many Northeast Ohio railfans have probably become indifferent toward the 765 running on the CVSR. Been there, done that.

The Berkshire-type locomotive has been a regular fixture on the CVSR since 2010 except for a couple of years.

Yet I always treat each appearance of the 2-8-4 as its last because some day that might be the case.

Disembarking at Boston Mills for the photo runbys. I’ve made many photographs over the years of people getting off from the outside perspective, but never from the on the train perspective.

Getting a photograph of the NKP 765 backing up for the first of two photo runbys at Boston Mills.

Here comes the first photo runby.

Not everyone disembarked at Boston Mills for the photo runbys. They enjoyed waving and taking in the scene.

The second photo runby is getting underway as the 765 charges southward toward the waiting crowd.

Blowing the whistle at Boston Mills. The 765 crew paid tribute to the late Jerry Jacobson by placing his name on both sides of the cab.

Time to get back on board the train following the runbys. We’ll need that step box.

He’s wearing a NKP hat, sitting in a former NKP coach and riding behind a NKP steam locomotive.

Reviewing the video that they made on their smart phones of the 765.

A pair of youthful photographers watch for the steam engine at Hillside Road.

Lending a helping hand to a detraining passenger at Rockside Road.

A wave from my car host as the train leaves the station at Rockside Road.

Riding that 765 Train (Part 1)

October 3, 2017

Nickel Plate Road 765 backs up beneath Rockside Road to make way for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train scheduled into Rockside Road station in about 15 minutes.

First of two parts

The idea seemed to come out of nowhere. I was thinking ahead to chasing Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 during its first weekend on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

What could I do with the 765 that I haven’t done before? Why not ride behind it?

Actually, I have ridden behind the 765, but that had been in September 2010 out of Akron. I had not ridden behind the 765 on the north end of the CVSR.

I knew from writing stories for the Akron Railroad Club blog that coach tickets were $25, which is not much more than the fare to ride the CVSR’s National Park Scenic.

Besides, I wanted to experience what it was like to be inside the Boston Mills cattle pen during the photo runbys of the Berkshire-type locomotive.

In the early years of steam returns to the Valley, you could walk into the station area and mingle among the paying passengers.

But in the past few years security has been tight, keeping the riff raff away from the station and confining non-passengers to Boston Park or the parking area of the Boston Mill ski resort on the west side of Riverview Road.

It was late in the week when I went onto the CVSR website to buy my ticket. I planned to ride the afternoon trip out of Rockside Road station, but it was sold out.

There were plenty of tickets for the morning trip, scheduled to depart at 9:30 a.m., a half-hour after the departure of the first run of the Scenic.

The 765 trip had five coaches and I deliberately chose No. 5. My thinking was that most people would buy tickets in the first car that came up.

Presuming that the morning trip didn’t sell out, I figured that coach 5 would be the least crowded.

As it turned out, my reasoning that coach 5 would be less crowded proved to be correct.

I arrived at the Rockside Road station at 8:15 a.m.,which was just in time to see the steam train slowly rolling past the station and north of Rockside Road to clear up for the Scenic.

I found a parking space close to the tracks and was trackside in plenty of time to photograph the 765 being towed northward on its ferry move. The early morning light was nice.

CVSR personnel do not allow passengers on the platform before the arrival of a train, so my views of the inbound ferry move of the Scenic from Fitzwater yard were limited and hindered by a wood fence.

The Scenic arrived at 8:45 a.m. and departed on schedule at 9. The 765 rolled into the station about 10 minutes later.

Rockside has two gates to the platform and I had stationed myself at the northernmost one. A CVSR trainman said coach 5 would board from there.

It turned out, though, that coach 5 was spotted south of the southernmost gate. So I had to walk nearly the length of the platform to board.

The advantage of being at the northernmost gate, though, was a more open view of the steam locomotive as it came into the station.

Longtime Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society member Rich Melvin retired as a steam locomotive engineer last year, but is still part of the operating crew.

He handled the radio communications during Saturday’s trips and appeared to be performing a supervisory role.

He directed the engineer to make lots of smoke and steam as the 765 entered the station.

The CVSR trainman opened the north gate to the platform shortly after the steam train halted.

However, the south gate remained closed and a long line of people stood behind it.

I was the sole person on the platform other than CVSR personnel as I walked toward the vestibule for coach 5.

It turned out that nearly all of the premium fare passengers, those in the open-window coaches, the Saint Lucie Sound and the dome car Silver Bronco, would board through the same vestibule that I did.

That was because those cars were beyond the south end of the platform. I was the first passenger to board coach 5. I elected to sit toward the rear of the car.

The next car to the north was the concession car and the doors between coach 5 and that car were open, allowing the scent of fresh popcorn to waft through my car.

I sat on the west side of the train because the lighting would be better for from-the-train photographs. It also meant I would not see as many trackside photographers because most would be on the east side of the tracks to take advantage of the best light angles.

We left shortly after our scheduled departure time of 9:30 a.m. The operating plan was to go as far south as Botzum, reverse direction and stop at Boston Mills for the photo runbys.

I would later learn, though, that going to Botzum was just a suggestion and maybe even a subterfuge to mess with photographers listening on the radio. In actual practice, the crew would run as far as they could until 10:30 a.m., stop and reverse direction.

It takes a few minutes to do the latter because control of the train is transferred from the 765 to the diesel on the north end – in this case RS18u No. 1822 – and a brake test must be completed.

We didn’t make it to Botzum, instead getting as far as Indigo Lake. I would later learn that some photographers had heard the highball for Botzum  and were waiting at Howe Meadow. They never saw the 765 pass their position.

Not far into our journey, the conductor radioed the 765 to say we needed to make a stop at Brecksville station to pick up three passengers.

I was surprised that at no point during our journey were there ever any announcements made to welcome us aboard or to provide instructions for the photo runby. In fact, there no announcements about anything.

Nor did the car host check our tickets. Not once during my trip did any CVSR personnel ask to see my ticket.

The run down to Indigo Lake was uneventful. There were photographers and train watchers along the route, but not a high number of them.

On the return leg, the train made an unexpected stop in Peninsula. In response to a question from the engineer of the 1822, Rich Melvin had said he would spot the train at Boston Mills.

But as the train came into Peninsula the 1822 engineer confused it with Boston Mills and halted the train.

The conducted immediately asked the 1822 on the radio “what’s going on?”

The engineer said he was waiting for the 765 to spot him, but stopped when that did not happen.

The conductor told the engineer that was to be at Boston Mills, not Peninsula.

Melvin chimed in with a similar retort. The engineer admitted his confusion and we continued northward.

Gotta sell tee shirts and sweat shirts to earn money to buy coal.

A CVSR trainman ponders his duties once the 765 and its train arrive at Rockside Road. In the background is the Scenic train.

Capturing the move of the 765 into the station on a tablet.

The 765 engineer heeded Rich Melvin’s command to make smoke and steam as the engine arrived into the station at Rockside Road. What a nice show.

Rich Melvin surveys the platform at Rockside Road as the train arrives.

For a brief time I had the platform virtually to myself and was the first to board at the south end.

Outside the windows of CVSR coach 166 a line has formed to board.

Camera are out at Jaite.

Crossing the Cuyahoga River.

If I wasn’t riding I, too, might be watching and photographing at Deep Lock Quarry.

On its Way Back Home to Indiana

September 27, 2017

Here are four images of Nickel Plate Road No. 765’s westward ferry movement through the Bellevue area on Tuesday.

The top image is east of Bellevue at a place referred to as Kimball.

The remaining images were taken in Bellevue as the 765 headed west on the wye to the Fostoria District of Norfolk Southern.

A big thank you goes out to the crew of NKP 765 and all who brought the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s  2017 “Steam in the Valley” together. With the sweltering heat of the last couple weeks it must have been brutal!

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas