Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

Dave No Doubt Approved

April 5, 2019

In my mind’s eye it was just a couple of years ago when I would drive to Berea on Saturday mornings and spot a man sitting in a folding chair beneath a tree watching for trains of Norfolk Southern or CSX.

That man was Dave McKay and when he wasn’t traveling to chase trains elsewhere you often could find him on weekends sitting in that chair in Berea.

Dave died in late December 2004. That’s 14 years ago so it only seems like it was just yesterday.

In 2005, Dave’s many friends in the Cleveland railfanning community arranged to create a memorial to Dave near the spot where he often set up his chair.

The Akron Railroad Club, which Dave served as president of for 12 years, started a tradition of railfanning in Berea on the first Saturday in April in memory of Dave.

Much has changed since Dave’s death, although the ownership of the tracks through Berea is not among those changes.

Dave didn’t live long enough to see the 2012 roll out by Norfolk Southern of its fleet of heritage locomotives but if he had I’m sure he would have made images of all of them rolling through Berea.

Knowing how much Dave used to travel in his younger years he probably photographed all or nearly all of the heritage liveries when they were used by the NS predecessor railroads that they commemorate.

I can’t even guess how many thousands of images that Dave made of Conrail trains at Berea and elsewhere.

On a nice early spring afternoon I ventured to Berea to photograph the NS Conrail heritage unit.

It was the sole motive power pulling train 14N, which was parked in the Berea siding awaiting a new crew.

It had arrived about 9:20 a.m. and didn’t move until 4 p.m. I wasn’t in Berea all that time, but I did spend three hours waiting.

By the time the 14N got moving the lighting conditions were adverse.

Would Dave have made the image anyway? Probably. And so did I.

I walked down to the McKay Memorial and incorporated it into the image that appears above.

The ARRC will conduct its annual Dave McKay Dave this year on May 4. The current leadership decided to move to event to May in hopes of having better weather.

I’ve attended all 14 McKay Days held thus far and I know how the weather can range from feeling like summer to feeling like mid January.

But traditions die hard and tomorrow I plan to be in Berea out of nostalgia. I should be at the “official” McKay Day next month, but going to Berea on the first Saturday of April has become a tradition I’d like to keep while I can.

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Empty Table

November 14, 2018

Alliance is a good place to watch Norfolk Southern action because it is the junction of two mainlines.

Most of the traffic through Alliance transitions from the Cleveland Line to the Fort Wayne Line or vice versa.

Few moves take the Fort Wayne Line straight through town. Even rarer are trains going to and from the Cleveland line east of Alliance via Bayard.

Shown is eastbound intermodal train 24M making the transition from the Cleveland Line to the Fort Wayne Line.

I made this image before an Akron Railroad Club meeting and because it was winter I was the only railfan present at the time.

NS Honored as Military Friendly

November 14, 2018

Norfolk Southern was among five railroads honored as military friendly employers by G.I. Jobs magazine.

NS won a bronze award in the air and rail transportation category for companies with annual revenue over $1 billion.

Other railroads lauded included Union Pacific (gold) and Canadian Pacific (silver). Also cited were BNSF and Amtrak.

The magazine each year recognizes organizations that offer military veterans opportunities for education and careers. Companies are evaluated using public and governmental data sources, and an employer survey developed by an independent research firm.

Criteria evaluated includes veteran recruiting and sourcing; career opportunities and advancement; culture and commitment; military support and retention; and military employee policies and compliance.

PSR To Help NS Close Gaps With CSX

November 13, 2018

A Norfolk Southern executive said recently that moving toward the precision scheduled railroading operating model is expected to enable the carrier to close productivity and operating ratio gaps it has with CSX, its primary competitor.

Speaking at a financial conference, NS Chief Financial Officer Cynthia Earhart said the Class 1 carrier will approach implementation of PSR with a much slower timetable that will avoid the type of disruptive change that occurred when CSX moved to PSR in 2017.

NS is using a process it has described as “clean sheeting” to redesign local service at yards and terminals that will make better use of locomotives, cars and operating crews.

Once that is completed sometime in 2019, the carrier will then turn its attention to a new systemwide service plan for  road trains that will be implemented gradually to minimize the potential for service problems.

“The biggest difference for us is we’re really trying to communicate very closely with our customers so that they understand what the changes are going to be and give them time to plan,” Earhart said.

She said there will be a lot of change to the way NS operates and that will affect shippers. NS officials have said they will provide more details of the plan to move to PSR during an investor day to be held next February.

Since switching to PSX, CSX has lowered its operating ratio by more than 10 points to 58.7 percent.

The NS operating ratio in the third quarter of 2018 was 65.4 percent. The operating ratio shows how much of revenue is devoted to expenses.

NS Eyes Building HQ Building in Midtown Atlanta

November 13, 2018

Norfolk Southern has proposed building a new headquarters bulding in Midtown Atlanta.

Documents released by Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development agency, show that NS is considering creating a facility of 750,000 square feet of office space and a daycare center for employees’ children.

The cost of the building was put at $575 million. NS, which has operational headquarters in Atlanta, said relocating its corporate headquarters from Norfolk, Virginia, would create 850 new jobs to go with the 2,025 employees it already has in Atlanta.

The building would be located at West Peachtree Street at Ponce de Leon Avenue and Third Street.

The Atlanta City Council has approved up to $1.9 million in public financing to CIM Group, a California developer, to redevelop an area known as the Gulch area of downtown Atlanta.

NS owns 16 acres in the Gulch, which consists of parking lots and rail lines and it selling its Gulch properties to CIM Group and using the proceeds to invest in its new headquarters.

Neither Failure Nor Complete Success

November 10, 2018

Sometimes you can wait for hours and never get the train you want to make for the photograph that you have in mind.

Back in August Marty Surdyk, Todd Vander Sluis and myself waited for more than hour with hopes of getting a westbound Norfolk Southern train passing beneath the new and old signal bridges in Huron, Ohio at CP 232.

It was apparent that the NS signal department planned to cut in the new signals any day now and take down the old signals, which were among the few still in operation on the NS Chicago Line with Type G signal heads.

We didn’t have the luxury of coming back on another day if we didn’t get the image we wanted on this day.

It was frustrating to hear the Toledo East dispatcher talking to trains to the west and east of Huron.

Finally, we got a train, but it was an eastbound. I made the image that appears in the bottom of the sequence above.

Not longer after that train passed our opportunity to get a westbound came.

So did a bank of clouds. I got the image I wanted, but not in the brilliant later afternoon sunshine that had been present for much of our wait.

It would be the only westbound that passed through Huron before we had to leave. At least I came away with something.

NS Hires Executive to Over See PSR Implementation

November 10, 2018

Norfolk Southern has appoint Michael Farrell as senior vice president of transportation.

He will help the carrier oversee the implementation of the precision scheduled railroading operating model.

In a news release, NS said that Farrell’s duties will include all transportation operations, division mechanical and rail terminal management functions..

He will report to Michael Wheeler, NS executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Prior to his appointment, Farrell served for more than a year as a consultant to the railroad as it sought to redesign local operations, starting in terminals and local serving yards.

Farrell served as general manager operations and mechanical of the Prairie and U.S. West divisions of Canadian Pacific. He also was general manager for the U.S. network operations center in Minneapolis.

Before that, Farrell served as general superintendent the Chicago terminal of Canadian National and general superintendent of terminals in North America. He began his railroad career in 1990 at Union Pacific.

No NS Black to be Seen

November 5, 2018

Most Norfolk Southern trains passing through Berea on the Chicago Line have at least one NS unit on the point.

That’s because most of those trains are going to or from the Cleveland Line east of Cleveland and it is equipped with cab signals.

But trains going to or from the former Nickel Plate Road mainline east of Cleveland can be led by any locomotive. No cab signal system is needed.

Twice earlier this year I saw two stack trains headed for the NKP being pulled by an all foreign power motive consist.

Such sights are not rare, but not common, either.

Shown is train 206 with a pair of Uncle Petes (Union Pacific) doing the pulling.

Toledo-Detroit Passenger Rail Restoration Eyed

November 1, 2018

The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Government is contributing $20,000 toward a feasibility study of reinstating intercity rail passenger service between Toledo and Detroit.

The study is expected to cost $50,000 and the City of Toledo has been asked to provide the remaining funds needed.

The study is expected to examine such questions as which route will work out the best and which railroad is most likely to be cooperative.

Toledo and Detroit are linked by routes of Norfolk Southern, CSX and Canadian National.

It is expected that whichever route is chosen will require capital work to bring it up to passenger standards.

The last intercity service between the cities was discontinued in April 1995 when Amtrak ended the Toledo-Detroit leg of the Chicago-Toledo Lake Cities.

Under Normal Circumstances a Pleasing Sight

October 30, 2018

Under normal circumstances, I would be happy to see a Union Pacific locomotive leading a train eastbound on Norfolk Southern in Marion.

I was on this day, too, but . . . the auto racks it was toting would block my view a few seconds later of a westbound train being led by the Norfolk Southern heritage unit.

If its any consolation if I was going to be blocked, at least the image I did get was something other than a run of the mill NS wide cab.