Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

Sunday Surprise (and Prize) in Bellevue

April 10, 2017

Illinois Central No. 1028 leads the W08 off the Toledo District of Norfolk Southern in Bellevue and into the mini plant.

I knew I wanted to go to Bellevue this past weekend. The question was whether it would be Saturday or Sunday.

The original plan was to go on Saturday. But as Friday night approached I began having second thoughts. I had work to do at home over the weekend and the banquet of the Railroad Enthusiasts to attend on Saturday night.

The weather forecast for Sunday called for temperatures in the 70s and mostly sunny skies. It would be warmer than it was going to be on Saturday. And I’d have more time if I went on Sunday because I wouldn’t have to leave as early to attend an evening event.

So I went with Sunday. Of course Saturday would be the day that two Norfolk Southern heritage locomotives — the Interstate and the Norfolk Southern units — passed through Bellevue.

I would learn that four Ferromex locomotives also made an appearance in Bellevue on Saturday. So there would have been much to see had I gone out there on Saturday.

I had time to think about what I had missed on Saturday during my first hour in Bellevue on Sunday, which wasn’t too bad. Traffic was steady and a couple of trains were led by Union Pacific motive power, not that that is all that unusual of a sight in Northern Ohio.

I mentioned to the railfan who gave me the “what I missed on Saturday report” that I was hoping to something great today.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait long for that.

About 10:30 a.m., the railfan was looking through his binoculars and said an inbound train on the Toledo District had what looked like an Illinois Central unit in the lead.

What! An Illinois Central locomotive on an NS train in Bellevue? That seemed to good to be true.

There aren’t that many ICRR units left and they hardly ever show up in Northern Ohio, let alone leading a train.

But it was true. IC SD70 No. 1028 was on the point with a Canadian National unit trailing of the W08 making its way into Moorman Yard.

For what it’s worth, I never did see any NS heritage units on this day. I did see a Wheeling & Lake Erie train come into town and into the yard on the Brewster connection. The railfan who gave me the Saturday report said the Wheeling didn’t come in on Saturday.

If you know me, though, then you know how Sunday was the better day for me to have been in Bellevue.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Trains of 5 Railroads in 6 Hours

April 6, 2017

New Jersey Transit in Newark station.

I went railfanning out at Bound Brook, New Jersey, last week. I took New Jersey Transit to get there.

At Bound Brook, the old Central of New Jersey and the old Lehigh Valley mainlines are about 50 feet apart.

You can stand on the NJT platform and photograph both lines. The LV line today is Conrail Shared Assets, hosting Norfolk Southern, CSX and local Conrail action.

The CNJ line is strictly the domain of NJT. It was used by the Baltimore & Ohio, Reading and CNJ.

After Conrail formed the CNJ eventually went to NJT and the Reading/B&O connection was switched over to connect with the LV line instead. Any local freight service is handled by NS.

In my travels I also had to change trains at Penn Station in Newark, New Jersey. Here are some shots from the day, including short line Morristown & Erie bringing freight down to Harrison, New Jersey via the old Lackawanna mainline, for interchange with CSX.

It’s a 1964 Alco C424 in actual freight service in 2017. The Pennsylvania Railroad bench is in Penn Station. Some things change, some remain the same.

In all, I made photographs  of five railroads in six hours.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

 

Enjoying Warmer Weather and NS Action

April 5, 2017

Norfolk Southern Train 18M at CP Shriver near Flat Rock with the Virginian heritage locomotive on the point.

Despite some meandering clouds, I wanted to get out and enjoy some warmer weather last Sunday.

So I headed for the Bellevue area, where the Virginian heritage unit of Norfolk Southern was leading an 18M east out of Bellevue after changing crews.

He had to wait for some traffic to clear, which helped me as I got a late start from home.

While waiting at CP Shriver in Flat Rock for the 18M to depart the siding on the ex-Wheeling & Lake Erie/Nickel Plate Road Toledo main back in Bellevue, a westbound freight with a Union Pacific-NS combo showed up.

The good news was he didn’t block the shot of the 18M, which showed up about 10 minutes   later.

I caught the 18M just out of Bellevue at Flat Rock, at the CP Shriver crossovers

After waiting for two CSX trains to clear the diamonds at Attica Junction, he finally came   around the curve at the old Sunrise elevator in the town of Attica

Then it was back to Bellevue where I lucked into a 2-for-1 photo op as a westbound 941 work train, led by the NS 3535, departed toward Toledo, while an eastbound set of light power, with NS 7596 on the point, was coming by on the ex-Pennsylvania Railroad’s Columbus main.

Article and Photographs by Mark Demaline

The 18M rounds the curve as it cruises into Attica.

The UP-NS combination of this train did not block the 18M

A light power move headed for the Sandusky District passes a work extra on the Toledo main in Bellevue at the mini plant in Bellevue.

Wabash H Unit, Citirail Locomotives Highlight 13th ARRC Dave McKay Day Outing in Berea

April 3, 2017

Late day sun illuminates the nose of a westbound CSX auto rack train during the waning hours of the annual Dave McKay Day in Berea.

It took nearly all day and six years but we finally got one. A Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive led a train through Berea during the annual Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day outing last Saturday.

NS No. 1070, the SD70ACe that pays tribute to the Wabash Railroad, was on the point of eastbound intermodal train No. 294 through Berea at 6:19 p.m.

We had known since mid-morning that it was coming and it would be a late afternoon train.

ARRC member Todd Dillon, who did not attend the event, sent some timely texts updating us on the progress of the Wabash unit.

So knew that THE WABASH IS COMING! THE WABASH IS COMING!

But when it finally got here it caught those of us still in Berea unprepared and no one got a photograph of it.

It was but one of the highlights of the 13th McKay Day, the all-day outing in Berea on the first Saturday in April to remember the late David McKay, who served as ARRC president between 1993 and 2004.

Twelve ARRC members and guests attended the event, which featured overcast skies and chilly temperatures for most of the day.

The sun finally broke through at 5:27 p.m. With the clouds having moved out, the temperatures at last reached the 50s. If only it had been that nice in the morning.

We recorded 49 movements between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., but that comes with a couple of asterisks.

The ARRC’s newest member, Jack Norris, watched Amtrak 48, the eastbound Lake Shore Limited, pass through Berea on the Berea webcam from his home in New Jersey.

Two of the trains in the tally were ones I spotted while en route to Berea, an eastbound NS loaded coal train at CP Max and an eastbound CSX train that I could see from Interstate 480 that was waiting for permission to go through the tunnels.

That train, Q260, would cause more than its share of headaches for the first trick IG dispatcher because it went into emergency twice before reaching Collinwood Yard.

That resulted in backed-up trains and a lot of discussion over the radio about the proper procedures for inspecting a train that goes into emergency that has a load of hazardous materials.

At one point the dispatcher read on the air word for word the applicable rule from the rule book. During another conversation he said he had checked with his boss who had checked with his boss.

Some of the discussion involved whether the Q123 could pass the Q260 and if so at what speed.

Also figuring into the situation was a maintainer in a track car who was following the Q260 and doing track inspections in its wake.

Early in the day that same dispatcher had told the maintainer in one of many radio conversations they had in which the latter received track warrant authority that he (dispatcher) was going to go to his favorite brewery in Indianapolis once he finished his shift to help it celebrate its first anniversary.

Given the day he had had that beer must have tasted pretty good once he got to the bar.

In another conversation the IG dispatcher revealed that many operational changes are occurring, including the abolition of some symbol freights.

Road freights are now going to handle switching in some places, e.g., 84 Lumber in the Cleveland suburbs, rather than a local.

The road freights are also going to start handling stone trains. If I understood the dispatcher correctly, the number of classification tracks at Avon Yard west of Indianapolis is being reduced.

Such is life these days in E. Hunter Harrison land where the employees must feel that they are the hunted.

At the same time that the first trick IG dispatcher had his hands full, the first trick NS Toledo East dispatcher had a train that left Cleveland with no re-crew available in Toledo.

He advised the crew of gondola train 60S to take it easy coming toward Toledo.

Later, he said he would be putting the 60S into a siding to kill time. The crew probably would have preferred to have gotten to Toledo in due time and then gone off duty. But it didn’t work out that way.

Among the other interesting occurrences throughout the day was an involved maneuver involving the 20R picking up a new locomotive at Rockport Yard to replace a unit that was experiencing mechanical troubles.

NS sent an eastbound Herzog ballast train through Berea in the afternoon that was the subject of a lot of radio traffic.

It was a moderately good day for foreign power with BNSF locomotives showing up on two trains, Canadian National power leading a westbound CSX ethanol train and a lone Union Pacific unit trailing in the motive power consist of an NS train.

But the sighting of the day was a pair of Citirail (CREX) ES44AC units leading CSX train Q384.

As for the Wabash H unit, the plan was for four of us – Craig Sanders, Marty Surdyk, Paul Woodring and Alan Nagy – who planned to have dinner at the Berea Union Depot Taverne to go there at 5 p.m. We figured that the NS 1070 would be coming along after 6, probably closer to 6:30 p.m.

After eating we could get into position to get photographs of the first H unit to lead a train through Berea on a McKay Day.

We’ve seen heritage units on McKay Day in the past, most notably the Wabash H unit in 2014. But it had been trailing.

The plan might have worked had we gotten to the restaurant at exactly 5. But we decided to wait for the westbound CSX Q009, which didn’t arrive until 5:11. Two other NS trains also passed by and we didn’t get to the depot and seated until about 5:20.

As the Wabash unit was leading No. 294 through Berea we had just gotten up to leave. Not everyone in the party saw it.

Had anyone been really ambitious and gotten to Berea in the early hours of McKay Day he would have seen three other heritage units.

The New York Central H unit led NS train 54K through town during the darkness hours. It was reported at Amherst at 9:38 p.m. on Friday night and at Macedonia at 2:13 a.m., so it is unclear when it was in Berea.

Amtrak No. 184, the Phase IV H unit, was trailing in the motive power consist of the westbound Lake Shore Limited at 4:05 a.m.

The Virginia heritage unit must have been a nocturnal visitor leading the 17N. It was reported at Wauseon at 9:48 a.m. on Saturday and the previous report for it had been in Conway late Friday morning.

CSX intermodal train Q009 passes the marker honoring Dave McKay in Berea.

A westbound ethanol train on CSX had a pair of Canadian National locomotives.

Looking like a giant candy cane, the Herzog ballast train slowly makes it way eastward through Berea on Norfolk Southern tracks.

NS May be Planning New Painesville Bridge

March 31, 2017

Norfolk Southern train No. 206 rattles the trestle over the Grand River in Painesville in 2014.

Norfolk Southern appears to be taking steps that might result in the building of a new bridge over the Grand River in Painesville.

Akron Railroad Club member Ed Ribinskas reports that in recent weeks crews have been out putting in small flags and markers that point toward building a new bridge south of the existing single-track trestle.

Crews have also been removing trees and brush on both banks of the river valley.

Known as a steel stringer bridge, the current trestle was built by the Nickel Plate Road and is now part of the NS Lake Erie District.

Ed said that based on the location of the flags in the ground, the single track would bend a little southward to cross the new bridge.

NS Executive Train Passes Through NE Ohio

March 29, 2017

This past Tuesday the Norfolk Southern office car special came through northeast Ohio on its way to the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. The railfan community was out in force to document this move.

The top photograph was made in Alliance. The weather wasn’t great so I did mine in black and white. Next is the special at Canton in a photograph made by Michael Punzalan.

The final photograph was made at Lucas by Matt Arnold.

Article by Todd Dillon

NS VP Calls for Infrastructure Invesment

March 29, 2017

A Norfolk Southern vice president recently called for making transportation infrastructure investment a priority during a conference in Florida.

Darrell Wilson, NS vice president of government relations, said the federal government should make infrastructure its top priority followed by some form of deregulation and tax reform.

He spoke to the Jaxport Logistics & Intermodal conference in Jacksonville, Florida.

Wilson spoke during a panel session. His panel expressed skepticism about the Trump administration’s calls for trade protectionism, but said that U.S. businesses could benefit from a renegotiation of the North America Free Trade Agreement.

PUCO OKs 3 Grade Crossing Upgrades

March 28, 2017

Railroad grade crossings in Allen, Ashtabula and Crawford counties will get new warning signals as a result of recent action by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

The Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern will install lights and gates at the North Rumbaugh Road/Township Road 232 grade crossing in Allen County.

Norfolk Southern will install lights and gates at the Marrian Road/Township Road 183 grade crossing in Ashtabula County and at the Lemert Road/Township Road 29 grade crossing in Crawford County.

All three projects are to be completed by Dec. 22 and will be paid for with federal funding channeled through the Ohio Rail Development Commission.

Wabash Heritage Unit Makes Appearance

March 23, 2017

The Wabash H-unit made a pass through Cleveland on Tuesday leading the 21Q. I was lucky enough to be able to get off work in time to catch it. As luck would have it, 21Q was held up near where I had set up to photograph it. Both scenes are in Olmsted Falls, the first one at Milepost 196 (Lewis Road) and then near the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

NS Cites 2016 Progress in Meeting Strategic Goals

March 23, 2017

Norfolk Southern released it 2016 annual report this week and claims to be well on its way to achieving goals that it hopes to reach by 2020.

NS CEO James Squires said in a news release that the railroad is in the midst of implementing a five-year strategic plan to streamline operations and drive profitability and growth.

Squires told NS stockholders that the railroad in 2016  met or exceeded its targets to lower operating costs, increase profitability and improve customer service.

In a news release, NS said that during 2016 it:

• Achieved an all-time best operating ratio of 68.9 percent.
• Reduced expenses in all areas of operations to generate $250 million worth of savings, surpassing a targeted $130 million.
• Increased income from railway operations and net income by 7 percent each, driven by an 11 percent decrease in operating costs.
• Disposed of 1,000 miles of secondary rail lines.

Squires said NS also made progress in its efforts to improve locomotive fuel-efficiency, reliability and emissions reduction continued as a cornerstone of the company’s sustainability and business strategy, he said.

NS is seeking to be “more focused than ever on services that will help convert freight from highway to rail,” Squires said.

This means focusing on customer-service initiatives that range from modernizing its e-commerce platforms to developing shared performance indicators for measuring service.

“We are changing the way we do business in order to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations and to drive superior value creation for shareholders,” Squires said.