Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

NS Opens New Chicago Locomotive Shop

February 15, 2017

Norfolk Southern has opened a new locomotive shop in Chicago adjacent to its 47th Street intermodal facility.

NS logo 2The $9.5 million facility has 16,300 square feet and comes with a 125-ton drop table to inspect, repair, or replace traction motors; a mobile, 7.5–ton overhead gantry crane, and a 77-foot-long inspection pit.

It can handle four locomotives indoors at once and will employ 25 craft workers around the clock.

“The new facility is strategically located on Norfolk Southern’s primary rail line serving Chicago, and it will allow NS to rapidly make repairs to locomotives moving freight to our major terminals,” said NS vice president mechanical Don Graab in a statement. “The investment is part of NS’s commitment to provide timely and reliable service and will enable us to move goods even more efficiently across the Chicago gateway and benefit intermodal customers shipping freight to East Coast markets.”

With the opening of the shop NS will no longer have to move locomotives requiring extensive maintenance to other shops on its system.

NS also operates a minor repairs shop in Chicago at Calumet Yard. NS has six yards in the Chicago region that handle more than 100 trains a day.

Burns Harbor Handled 2.6M Tons in 2016

February 11, 2017

Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor said this week that it handled 2.6 million tons of cargo last year, making 2016 the port’s third highest tonnage year in the past decade.

Ports of IndianaIn a news release the port said that major cargoes handled included steel, limestone, carbon products, grain and iron ore. Grain shipments soared 57 percent, while coal shipments climbed 11 percent.

The port also reported an increase in heavy-lift cargoes, saying that large-dimensional cargoes rose 25 percent last year.

These included multiple large cranes and containers of crane components from Europe, storage tanks and wind tower components and blades.

During the past year, Ratner Steel Supply Company said it would add 100,000 square feet to load and unload steel shipments at the port. That $8 million investment is expected to be finished in March.

The port said that during 2016 it invested nearly $2.5 million in infrastructure, including dredging and adding stabilization stones to two berths to increase the number of docks capable of handling full Seaway draft vessels.

Other capital improvements included replacing 2,000 feet of rail and rebuilding three switches. The port is served by Norfolk Southern.

Yes, GATX Also Has Box Cars for Lease

February 10, 2017


When I think of GATX I think of tank cars. The Chicago-based equipment finance company has its initials on thousands of tank cars.

In fact, the company says that it has a fleet of more than 125,000 railcars and 600 locomotives. Of its railcars, more than 59,000 are tank cars.

But GATX has a few boxcars, too. I ran across this one on a Norfolk Southern train in Bellevue last summer.

The GTAX website doesn’t say how many boxcars that it has for lease, only that they come in 50-, 60- and 86-foot lengths.

This particular car is carrying reporting marks for the Laurinburg & Southern, a short-line railroad with 28 miles of track in North Carolina.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

NS Bridges of Oak Harbor

February 7, 2017




One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

The Toledo District of Norfolk Southern in Oak Harbor has two bridges that make for good photo props.

One bridge carries the tracks over the NS Chicago Line on the west side of town while the other carries the Toledo District over the Portage River.

In the top and middle photograph above, a westbound NS tanker train cruises westbound on the Chicago Line and ducks beneath the Toledo District.

I don’t know the age of that plate girder bridge but it might have been installed by the original Wheeling & Lake Erie. The modern day NS Toledo District was back in the day the W&LE’s mainline to Toledo.

A lot of trains of the New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail and now NS have passed beneath that bridge.

The modern W&LE has trackage rights on the NS Toledo District so you can still see Wheeling trains on the bridge.

The bottom photograph shows an NS train crossing the bridge over the Portage River in a view that was made from the Oak Harbor cemetery.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Chasing a 1984 Passenger Excursion

February 3, 2017

Eastbound crossing the Chessie System (now R.J. Corman) track east of Brewster yard.

Here is something a little bit different. This is from an excursion 32 years ago. I don’t know if this is a Norfolk Southern excursion or perhaps Orrville Railroad Heritage Society excursion. It may have been ORHS’ first excursion. It began in Orrville or Brewster, but I photographed it from Brewster to Zanesville. These photos were taken on what is now mostly the Ohio Central as the train ran southbound on Oct. 6, 1984.

Photographs by Robert Farkas


Southbound under the Route 93 bridge in Dundee.





The power has cut off in Zanesville.

Consol Eyes Getting out of Coal Mine Business

February 2, 2017

A Pennsylvania company that operates coal mines in the southwest corner of the state is considering getting out of the coal business in order to focus on its natural gas  initiatives.

consol-energyConsol Energy said it may sell its coal mines as early as this year or spin them off into a entity separate from Consol.

Consol Chief Financial Officer David Khani told investors that the company lost more than $320 million loss during the fourth quarter, much of it due to declining coal business.

Among the Consol holdings in Pennsylvania are the Bailey, Enlow Fork and Harvey mines.

Consol is the largest shipper using the former Monongahela Railway, which hosts trains of CSX, Norfolk Southern and the Buffalo & Pittsburgh.

With an annual production capacity of more than 11 million tons of coal, the Bailey mine is said to be the highest capacity train loadout facility in the East with the capability of handling multiple unit trains simultaneously.

Consol is based in Cecil township near Pittsburgh.

Middletown Station Timeline Announced

February 1, 2017

Construction of a new $24.4 million Amtrak station in Middletown, Pennsylvania, is projected to begin in late 2018 according to a timeline released by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Amtrak 4PennDOT said that Keystone Connections, a consortium of six partners, has been formed to develop parking and businesses at the station site as well as to construct a pedestrian bridge over Route 230 to the Penn State Harrisburg campus and to extend Emaus Street to the station.

PennDOT said it expects to receive a detailed proposal from Keystone later this year.

The station is a joint project involving PennDot, Amtrak and Norfolk Southern.

The timeline said that site preparation is already underway and expected to be completed by May at a cost of $2.6 million.

NS will then begin track work later this year. That work is expected to cost $4.3 million. Amtrak will start its own track work in late 2018 when station construction gets underway. The Amtrak track work will cost $4.3 million.

Middletown is served Amtrak’s Keystone Service and the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

5 Class 1 RRs to Cut 2017 Capital Spending

January 28, 2017

Five of North America’s seven Class 1 railroads plan to spend less in 2017 on capital spending than they did last year.

train image2Norfolk Southern’s capital budget will remain static at $1.9 billion while at CSX capital spending will fall from $2.7 billion to $2.2 billion.

The NS budget includes $930 million for track maintenance, $290 million for locomotives, $240 million for positive train control, $170 million for facilities and terminals, $110 million for technology and similar initiatives, $80 million for infrastructure, and $50 million for freight cars.

The CSX budget figures include $307 million in payments for locomotives that were purchased under seller financing and delivered in 2015.

In 2017 equipment investments are significantly less due to the completion of locomotive purchases.

Canadian Pacific plans to spend C$1.25, an increase of 6 percent from the 2016 budget with around 70 percent of that earmarked for basic replacement and maintenance of way work

Union Pacific has cut its capital budget by 11 percent compared with 2016. The western freight hauler plans to spend $3.1 billion, compared with $3.5 billion last year.

BNSF is cutting capital spending by 13 percent from $3.9 billion to $3.4 billion, saying it has invested a lot of capital in network improvements and growth during the past several years.

At Canadian National, capital spending for 2017 has been set at C$2.9 billion of which C$1.6 billion is for for basic track infrastructure work.

Kansas City Southern has slashed capital spending by about $30 million and expects to spend between $550 million to $560 million in 2017.

NS Helped 71 Industries Expand in 2016

January 27, 2017

Norfolk Southern said that during 2016 it helped 71 industries locate or expand along NS rail lines.

NS logo 2This included 58 new and 13 expanded industries that collectively invested $4 billion and are projected to create more than 4,600 new jobs and generate more than 50,000 carloads of new rail traffic.

The railroad works with business through its Industrial Development Department, which in turn works with state and local economic development authorities on such matters as site location and infrastructure to connect customers to its rail system.

NS provides free and confidential facility location services, including industrial park planning, site layout, track design, and supply chain analysis.

NS said in a news release that during the past 10 years it has participated in the location or expansion of 945 facilities representing an investment of more than $60 billion and creating more than 43,000 direct new customer jobs in the territory it serves.

“We were pleased to see a steady stream of manufacturing projects and a markedly stronger portfolio overall near the end of the year, and that is an encouraging indicator for activity in the coming year,” said Assistant Vice President Industrial Development Jason Reiner. “Sixteen manufacturing-related projects contributed nearly $2 billion in new investment by customers and 3,000 new jobs during 2016.”

Changing Times at Oak Harbor

January 26, 2017




One in a period series of images I made last summer

I don’t get to Oak Harbor that often. It is just far enough away to discourage a day trip there.

But I did get there last summer during an all-day outing that focused primarily on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

At the far west end of Oak Harbor just east of North Benton Street is a set of intermediate signals.

I remembered photographing NS trains passing those signals during my first visit to Oak Harbor about 10 years ago.

In particular, I set my camera’s shutter speed to 30th of a second so I could create a blur as the train whizzed by with the blur making it seem as though the train was going 500 miles an hour.

During last summer’s visit to Oak Harbor those old type G signals were still in place, but newer signals were standing next to them waiting to be activated.

Given how little I get to Oak Harbor this was likely going to be the last time I’d photograph those old signals.

So I waited for an intermodal train to come, set the shutter speed of 30th of a second and recreated something I had made years earlier on slide film.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders