Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

NS to Close Central Division HQ in Knoxville

July 20, 2017

Norfolk Southern said this week that it will parcel out the Central Division headquarters operations in Knoxville, Tennessee, into three surrounding divisions.

The changes, expected to take effect on or about Nov. 1, will reduce the number of operating divisions from 10 to nine.

In a news release, NS said that dispatching responsibilities now handled from the Central Division, which includes track primarily in Tennessee and Kentucky, will be divided among operating divisions headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama; Decatur, Illinois; and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Affected will be 50 employees who work at the Central Division headquarters in management, dispatching, and clerical positions.

NS said dispatchers will have the opportunity to transfer to one of the other three divisions or apply for vacancies across the system. Administrative and clerical employees will be offered opportunities to apply for vacant positions elsewhere.

Current yard and field operations on the Central Division will not be affected by the changes but will be reassigned among the other three divisions.

After the operating changes are made, NS will employ more than 250 in Knoxville.

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What Has Roger Seen Lately? Take a Look

July 18, 2017

Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee has been catching up on showing some of his more recent photographs.

He writes that this gallery is nothing too special, just some stuff from around work and nearby locations that he has captured.

The top image was made on one of the rails in the yard. Conrail’s welded rail plant was Lucknow in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

A splash of Kansas City Southern color on train 22K passed the Brookpark yard office when Roger was nearby.

Then there are these two views of LMIX 132, a car billed to Amtrak. Note the gas grill on the one end of the platform.

The Savannah & Atlanta heritage unit on was NS train 310 passing through Sheffield Lake. “[I] did the best I could with the higher summer sun,” Roger wrote.

You never know what you might find, including a restored Lake Shore Electric car in Avon.

Finally, here is the “Blue Mane” DC to AC conversion No. 4004 at Rockport.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Appeals Court Strikes Down STB On-Time Standards

July 18, 2017

Another federal court has struck a blow to the efforts of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to establish on-time standards for Amtrak trains.

The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the STB standards to be unconstitutional, saying that the STB had “exceeded its authority” in creating the standards.

The appeals court ruling came in the wake of a similar U.S. Supreme Court decision that development of on-time metrics by the Federal Railroad Administration and Amtrak as directed by Section 207 of 2008’s Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act was unconstitutional.

In the Eighth Circuit ruling, Chief Judge Lavenski R. Smith acknowledged that the absence of on-time standards would make it impossible for the STB to investigate or adjudicate disputes brought by Amtrak against its host railroads in the event that punctuality fell below 80 percent for two consecutive quarters.

However, the court in essence decided that the STB’s inability to measure on-time performance is not a problem for the judiciary to solve.

There are two cases pending before the STB in which Amtrak alleges that host railroads needlessly delayed Amtrak trains.

One case involves the handling by Canadian National of the Saluki and Illini between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois, while the other regards Norfolk Southern’s handling of the Capitol Limited west of Pittsburgh.

In both cases, Amtrak contends that dispatching decisions made by the host railroads are delaying its trains.

The STB had contended that it had the legal right to establish on-time standards “by virtue of its authority to adjudicate complaints brought by Amtrak. Any other result would gut the remedial scheme, a result Congress clearly did not intend.”

Supporting the STB’s position were 13 intervenors, including the National Association of Railroad Passengers and its state affiliates, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Challenging the on-time standards were Union Pacific, CSX, CN and the Association of American Railroads.

They argued that the “gap-filling rationale does not allow one agency to assume the authority expressly delegated to another.”

The court found that the only place in federal law where the 80 percent standard was spelled out was in section 207, which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional because Amtrak had a hand in developing it.

Although the court let stand Congress’ setting a statutory right of passenger train “priority” over freight trains, the practical effect of the court decision is that Amtrak has no way to challenge a host railroad’s systematic denial of that right.

Instead, the only motivation for railroads to keep Amtrak trains on time are the proprietary and confidential incentive contracts Amtrak has been able to negotiate with its host railroads pertaining to on-time handling.

The only action Amtrak can take against a host railroad would be to refuse to make incentive payments due to non-performance under the terms of its operating contract with a host railroad.

The court rulings do suggest that Congress could give the FRA a mandate to establish on-time standards provided that Amtrak was not a participant in the writing of those standards.

Erie Heritage Unit Leads 22K

July 16, 2017

I saw on Saturday morning that Erie 1068 was on 22K. I had things to do and got home about 2 p.m. and, luckily,  it wasn’t by yet. I got it at 3:20 p.m. at the Painesville trestle. Each week it will be a different view with all the construction of the new bridge underway.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Amtrak Running Super Late Again

July 15, 2017

The past two Sundays have seen some extraordinary late running for Amtrak trains serving Northeast Ohio.

Now we can add today (Saturday, July 15) to that list. As this is written around 6: 30 a.m., the westbound Capitol Limited is still not in Pittsburgh. Amtrak’s website estimates it will arrive in Cleveland at 9:34 a.m., which is 6 hours and 41 minutes late.

An online report said the train left Washington late due to malfunctioning air conditioning in two cars.

Amtrak also reports that the westbound Cardinal is running 6 hours, 15 minutes late today.

The reasons for the last running the past two weekends have varied.

On July 2, flooding in New York State and Norfolk Southern track work in Ohio combined to force the westbound Lake Shore Limited to run more than five hours late and take a detour via Bellevue that added even more lateness as well as rare mileage for the train’s passengers.

On July 9 the westbound Capitol Limited suffered a locomotive failure in Pennsylvania that forced it to rely on freight units from its host railroads.

No. 29 became an afternoon train in Ohio rather than a middle of the night one.

Will this Sunday bring another catastrophic bout of late running? Probably not, but for those who missed the daylight westbound Capitol Limited, here is a look back at it passing through Elyria.

Looks like the AC might have failed on the NS unit given that it has an open nose door. On the rear was a string of private passenger cars.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Cleveland Commercial to Upgrade Crossing

July 14, 2017

The Cleveland Commercial Railroad will improve a grade crossing in Cleveland following action of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

PUCO approved the project, which involves upgrading the grade crossing signals at East 116th Street.

The work must be completed by April 12, 2018, and will be funded in part by the federal government.

PUCO also directed Norfolk Southern to relocate existing warning devices at the Wilkins Road/County Road 108 crossing in Lucas County to accommodate a track expansion project.  The work must be completed by Oct. 12.

Pair of Uncles Petes Minutes Apart in Marion

July 13, 2017

NS train 175 pounds the diamonds with the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision as it passes AC Tower in Marion, Ohio, on the NS Sandusky District.

NS Train 195 approaches AC Tower in Marion.

Union Pacific motive power is hardly a rarity on the Norfolk Southern lines radiating from Bellevue.

What might be a little out of the ordinary is seeing two trains led by UP locomotives in a span of less than five minutes.

That was the treat for trackside observers in Marion last Sunday afternoon when train No. 175, a Bellevue to Macon, Georgia, (Brosnan Yard) manifest freight cruised through town and past AC Tower with a pair of faded UP units on the point.

The 175 met at South Marion the 195, a Linwood, North Carolina, to Bellevue manifest freight that was led by a newer UP unit.

Minutes after the 175 cleared AC Tower, the 195 came roaring past.

CSX Service Metrics Were Mixed in June

July 8, 2017

CSX has encountered growing pains in implementing the precision scheduled railroading operating philosophy of its new CEO E. Hunter Harrison.

Trains magazine reported that although average train speed has improved since Harrison took over in March, it fell last month compared to what it was in May.

The magazine reported that terminal dwell time is slightly higher than when Harrison took over with some yards showing significantly higher dwell times than during the last week of May.

“As CSX implements Precision Scheduled Railroading across our network, some variation in performance metrics such as train velocity and terminal dwell are expected,” CSX spokeswoman Laura Phelps said. “CSX will continue to make adjustments as we identify new opportunities to improve asset utilization and control costs, while maintaining a relentless focus on serving our customers.”

She noted that the speed of intermodal and merchandise trains has improved when compared with what it was a year ago.

In the first few months of Harrison’s administration, transit time was down and on-time performance was up due to trains moving faster, stopping at fewer terminals, and cars spending less time in yards.

But in June CSX gave up some of those gains. Intermodal train speed fell nearly 1 mph, to 28 mph and the speed of manifest freights was down to 19.9 mph versus 20.4 mph in May.

Unchanged was the average speed of coal trains, 18.3 mph. Grain was moving  at 17.9 mph versus 18.4 mph in May

The overall system velocity was 21.3 mph compared with 22.2 in May.

Terminal dwell time through late June had risen to 26.6 hours on average versus 23.7 hours in May and 25.1 hours in the second quarter of 2016.

Among the CSX terminals reporting increases in dwell times were  Baltimore; Buffalo, New York; Cincinnati; Corbin, Kentucky; Indianapolis; Louisville, Kentucky; Montgomery, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee; Russell, Kentucky; Toledo, Ohio; Waycross, Georgia; and Willard, Ohio.

On competitor Norfolk Southern, terminal dwell has increased system wide to 26.8 hours, up from 24.7 in May and 23.1 in the second quarter of 2016.

Sunday Afternoon Foray to the Sandusky District

July 4, 2017

Norfolk Southern train No. 175 seems to be skimming the tops of the corn plants south of Flat Rock on the Sandusky District.

It was mid-afternoon of the Akron Railroad Club’s longest day outing in Bellevue.

Todd Vander Sluis asked Marty Surdyk if there was somewhere else we could go for a change of scenery. I was game to come along.

We had spent all morning and a couple of hours of the afternoon photographing a steady parade of trains through the mini plant.

It’s good to see rail traffic, but the mini plant is not the most photogenic location. After a while, all of your photographs look alike.

Marty said that once train 175 was ready to go east then we would head out on the Sandusky District to chase it and, perhaps, catch another train or two or three.

By then the sun would have shifted to the west of the tracks.

No. 175 originates in Bellevue and terminates in Brosnan Yard in Macon, Georgia.

It left town around 2:30 p.m. although we easily got out ahead of it in Marty’s Jeep Patriot.

The first photo stop was in a small rural cemetery south of Flat Rock where the corn wasn’t too high to prevent an across-the field image.

Marty is an old hand when it comes to railfanning the Sandusky District and he claims to know it like the back of his hand.

As we headed south on Ohio Route 4, we could see the 175 in the distance. It was slowing because there was a train ahead of it at West Attica waiting for a signal to cross CSX at Attica Junction.

CSX was doing track work and had a single-track railroad on both side of Attica Junction. Trains of both railroads faced long waits, with some NS trains waiting more than an hour to get across.

We set up west of the Ohio Route 163 crossing to catch the 175 again, working barns into the shots to give them added interest and a rural feel.

In the meantime, westbound NS train 195, a Linwood, North Carolina (Spencer) to Bellevue train finally had gotten the signal at Attica Junction after a long wait.

We stayed along Route 162 to get the 195 coming north, using an old barn and the fields as photo props. It was one of one of those afternoons of sun and clouds and I sought to emphasize clouds in some of my images.

But those clouds were dense and when a train came past I often got cloud skunked.

After the passage of the train 195, we continued our trek southward with the objective of getting the 175 at the old Attica reservoir at Caroline.

But CSX decided to run some more eastbound traffic, including the “salad shooter,” which we saw from a distance.

As we approached Attica, we saw NS train 29G, a Norfolk to Detroit stack train pass us headed west.

The radio traffic on the NS road channel indicated that the 29G would have to wait at Attica Junction for, it turned out, an eastbound CSX auto rack train. Then it would be allowed to cross.

But the 175, which was waiting at West Attica, would stay put. We surmised that the short length of the 29G enticed the CSX dispatcher to clear the signal for it.

We saw most of the CSX auto rack train while stopped at the crossing in Siam, the hometown of Attica Junction.

Marty wanted to catch the 29G near County Road 24 (Seneca County), but missed the turn. We ended up instead getting it at Township Road 126.

There is a home next to the tracks there and a guy was out on a riding mower cutting the grass. That added a touch of human interest.

After the passage of the 29G, we headed back toward Caroline with a few diversions along the way.

We saw from a distance a westbound CSX manifest freight finally get the signal at Attica Junction to cross the NS tracks. We had seen that train sitting at the signal twice while passing through Siam.

After an hour and 25-minute wait, the 175 finally got the signal at West Attica and Attica Junction.

In the meantime, Paul Woodring had called Marty to report that a potash train had left Bellevue headed for the Sandusky District.

Train 60U, I think it was, caught a break. It was allowed to cross CSX at Attica Junction following the 175.

We photographed both trains at the reservoir in Caroline. My image of the 60U skirting the reservoir would be my favorite image of the day.

After the passage of the 60U it was 5:30 p.m. and time to make our way back to Bellevue to rejoin what remained of the nearly dozen ARRC members who had ventured west for the longest day outing.

Train 175 as seen between a pair of barns along Ohio Route 162 near Omar.

This wold not be out last view of the 175.

I made good use of that old barn, this time to frame westbound train 195.

In the foreground is NS train 195. In the distance on the other side of those trees is the rear of the 175, which is waiting at West Attica.

I wonder why those trees are there as the motive power of NS train 195 passes by.

Working the sky and clouds with NS train 195.

Getting a bead on the 29G.

Saying farewell to the 29G.

A CSX westbound manifest freight has the signal at Attica Junction. NS trains, meanwhile, continued to cool their heels.

This turned out to be my favorite image of the day. The 60U skirts the old reservoir at Caroline.

Amtrak Where You Don’t Normally See It

July 3, 2017

It isn’t every day that you an Amtrak train in Bellevue. The National passenger carrier has never run through here in scheduled service, only on detour moves.

Amtrak No. 49 takes the Toledo District in the mini plant in Bellevue on its circuitous detour

Crossing the Portage River in Oak Harbor.

On Sunday (July 2) Norfolk Southern was changing out the diamonds at Sandusky and Vickers (Toledo). As a result Amtrak 49, the westbound Lake Shore Limited, needed to detour through Bellevue.

Normally this would not have been an issue; however, it was running about 5 1/2 hours late when it reached Cleveland. The other Amtrak trains did not need to detour as they were on time.

No. 49 took the Sandusky district to Bellevue and the Toledo district west. It would have an interesting route to get to Toledo going past Ironville tower and the Wheeling Belt before regaining the Chicago Line. I didn’t chase the train that far however I was able to get a few photos at Bellevue and Oak Harbor Ohio.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon