While Cleveland is showcasing its patriotism in the media with the Republican party presidential wannabes, Norfolk Southern quietly showed its patriotism with the eastbound passing of the veterans exhibit Train through Cleveland with the No. 9-1-1, the first responders tribute locomotive, in the lead.
Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’
Norfolk Southern’s Whistle-Stop Safety Train began its journey through Ohio this morning when it left Cincinnati en route to Columbus.
Although NS has not announced the schedule for the train, it is reportedly scheduled to leave at 9 a.m. on each of the days that it operates in Ohio.
Reports on Heritage Units.com today supported the information that the safety train will depart at 9 a.m.
On Wednesday the train will travel from Columbus to Bellevue while on Thursday it will travel from Bellevue to Alliance via Cleveland.
A 9 a.m. departure from Bellevue would put the train into Cleveland by late morning. Given that the train will be bound for Alliance, it is likely to take the connection in Vermilion to the Chicago Line.
The train is being pulled by NS 9-1-1, the tribute unit to first responders. Select first responders along with elected officials and other invited guests will be aboard the safety special, which is being co-sponsored by Ohio Operation Lifesaver.
Although an NS news release spoke of the train making “stops” in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Bellevue, Cleveland and Alliance, it does not appear that those will be public events. The stops appear to be for the purpose of boarding and discharging invited guests.
Before coming to Ohio, the safety train made a swing through North Carolina and South Carolina.
A Michigan Department of Transportation official is predicting that Amtrak trains will be traveling 110 mph near Battle Creek, Michigan, within the next three years.
MDOT Office of Rail Director Tim Hoeffner said a $3.3 million contract for track and signal improvements is being prepared to send out for bidding.
The work will involve tie and rail replacement as well as installation of new ballast.
The completion date for that work is late 2017 when some 30 minutes will be cut from the travel times between Dearborn and Kalamazoo on track now owned by the state of Michigan.
Currently, Amtrak trains are limited to a 79 p.m. top speed between those points.
On Amtrak-owned tracks between Kalamazoo and Porter, Indiana, trains are already hitting 100 mph on some segments.
MDOT’s goal is to cut the travel time between Chicago and Detroit from 5.5 hours to 4 hours.
“We are trying to increase the frequency and increase the number of trains running between Chicago and Detroit — and increase the reliability,” Hoeffner said. “You really need to do all of those things.”
Nearly 478,000 people rode Wolverine Service trains on the Chicago-Detroit route in 2014. A decade earlier the ridership was 301,000.
Hoeffner said ridership has gone up 50 percent in the past decade while revenue has doubled.
MDOT manages 665 miles of state-owned rail lines. In December 2012, it purchased the 135-mile route between Kalamazoo and Dearborn from Norfolk Southern for $140 million.
In September 2013, the state received $9 million in federal grant money to rebuild the line.
“Whether it be roads or airports or railroads, transit systems are expensive infrastructures,” Hoeffner said. “These are some complicated systems. Really, what we’re doing is upgrading the existing route.”
Patronage of the route ranges from elderly people avoiding driving to young people looking to enjoy Internet access during a trip. There are also families taking their children on a train ride.
“A lot of younger folks today, really it isn’t that they don’t want to drive, they want to be mobile,” Hoeffner said. “But being mobile doesn’t necessarily mean to own or drive a car. Mobile means having access to that smart technology. And being on board the train where you can use it, versus being in the driver’s seat of a car and not having access to that smart technology, is adding into more and more younger folks’ travel decisions.”
Federal funding also helped fund a $3.6 million renovation in 2012 of the Battle Creek Intermodal Transportation Center.
Battle Creek Transportation Director Larry Bowron said the station and rail line rebuilding underscore the importance of passenger rail to the public transportation system.
“People have a choice,” he said. “I think people are going to continue to choose rail.”
“If they improve on-time performance, if they improve the experience — why wouldn’t people take the train?”
The Whistle-Stop Safety Train of Norfolk Southern will made stops this week in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Bellevue, Cleveland and Alliance.
Pulling the train will be NS SD60E No. 9-1-1, which honors first responders across the railroad’s 22-state network.
The train consist has two restored Pullman passenger rail cars with television monitors showing a live video feed from a camera mounted on the lead locomotive. Passengers see firsthand what engineers see from the locomotive cab.
“Ohio had a 21 percent increase in the number of grade crossing collisions in 2014, which underscores why this train and its message are so important for Ohioans to hear,” said Cayela Wimberly, grade crossing safety director at NS. “We will be talking this week to motorists, parents, school officials, photographers, rail fans, public safety officers, and others about a common sense safety message – when you see tracks, think train.”
“This Ohio Whistle-Stop tour is about building partnerships in our communities with people who can become safety advocates,” said Gena Shelton, state coordinator for Operation Lifesaver Ohio. “Have a conversation with your neighbors, your friends, your children about why you should obey traffic signals at grade crossings and stay away from railroad property. It could save a life.”
With 86 grade crossing accident in 2014, Ohio had the eighth highest number of grade crossing collisions in the nation compared with 71 in 2013.
There were four fatalities in 2014 in Ohio. Trespassing on railroad property accounted for 13 people killed in 2014, a 38 percent drop compared with 21 fatalities in 2013.
“We will remain vigilant and promote safety until that number is zero,” Wimberly said. “Trespassing on railroad property is not only illegal, it puts your life at risk. It’s not worth it.”
The Whistle-Stop Safety Train Schedule is:
- Tuesday, Aug. 4: Cincinnati-Dayton-Columbus
- Wednesday, Aug. 5: Columbus-Bellevue
- Thursday, Aug. 6: Bellevue-Cleveland-Alliance
Invited guests on the train will include county and municipal leaders, state and local transportation officials, law enforcement officers, emergency responders, school transportation directors, trucking officials, news media, and others who have a vested interest in public safety.
Midwest Terminals has opened a freight car repair facility in Ironville near the Port of Toledo.
The MWT Reaircar Repair Shop, is located on 175 acres and served by Norfolk Southern. Midwest also has terminals in Toledo and Cadiz.
Services provided in Ironville include railcar inspection and assessment, slack adjusters (MA156), unit train inspections and repairs, railcar general repair, off-lease inspection, overcoating and stenciling, and on-site car scrapping.
The facility is served by two GP-9 locomotives and a Plymouth yard engine. It has 20,000 feet of track, 18,000 square feet of shop space with 40 feet of clear height and a 25-ton overhead crane.
The shop features AWS D15.1-certified welders, in-house certified welding inspectors and NDT (non-destructive testing) Level II technicians, electronic estimate submittals, AAR electronic billing, and air brake testing.
It must have been my lucky day. Not only did I get some good images of Nickel Plate Road 765 during a ferry move, but I also managed to snag Union Pacific motive power leading freight trains of CSX and Norfolk Southern into the sunrise in Painesville.
Fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and I rose early to go to Painesville to catch the 765. We figured if we’re going to get up early, we may as well catch Amtrak while we’re there.
We set up by the former New York Central station in the county seat of Lake County and caught No. 48. We then stuck around for some CSX action.
Not too far behind Amtrak was an eastbound manifest with a trio of UP motors and a slew of UP rolling stock. If this was still the Conrail era, I’d think it was the NPSE (North Platte to Selkirk), a train that originated on UP in Nebraska.
The sunlight wasn’t quite above the trees enough to light the tracks by the Painesville depot. But I was still pleased with what I was able to do.
We then relocated to the Norfolk Southern tracks by the trestle over the Grand River. We had been there less than about 10 minutes when I heard train 316 calling a signal over the radio.
The light favored being on the north side of the tracks whereas at the ex-New York Central depot on CSX the sunlight had favored the south side.
I got into position by the Riverside Drive crossing and waited. To my surprise and pleasure, the 316 had a UP leader.
That made me two for two on getting UP locomotives going into the sunrise in Painesville in a single morning.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
In chasing the Nickel Plate Road 765 Ashtabula trips last weekend I discovered two things.
First, it is not very easy to chase this line. Second, the majority of good photos were in Youngstown.
Yes, there are some nice locations along the line but at the speeds that the 765 was travelling it was difficult to keep up. No four lane highway directly parallels the Youngstown Line as ws the case for the Indiana trip chase.
However, in Youngstown there were several good spots in close proximity. Even better, the train made several reverse moves to access the loading facility at the Covelli Center.
In the afternoon, the sequence was as follows. The train would pull in from Ashtabula with the 765 leading. Then it would back in on the line to unload.
After unloading, the 765 would pull east. The train would reverse to Hubbard where a wye is located.
The train would turn here and then back into the Haselton Yard to stay overnight. An SD40-2 was provided to assist with these and stayed with the train to help at Ashtabula.
All these moves were at slow speed and provided many good opportunities for photographs and video.
Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon
Norfolk Southern Corporation reported that its second quarter operating revenue fell 11 percent to $2.7 billion. The railroad company attributed the drop to weak coal demand and lower fuel surcharges revenues.
Income from railway operations was $814 million, a drop of percent.
Nonetheless, NS reported that it posted a net income of $433 million, even though it was a drop of 23 percent, and diluted earnings of $1.41 per share, a drop of down 21 percent.
The company’s volume was 1.9 million units, down 2 percent, and its operating ratio was 70 percent, a gain of 3.5 points compared with the second quarter of 2014 results.
NS also said that its operating expenses declined 6 percent to $1.9 billion because fuel costs plunged 38 percent to $519 million and materials and other supply costs dropped 5 percent to $235 million.
In a news release, the company said its financial performance was affected by falling natural gas prices, declining fuel surcharges and growing oversupply globally.
Domestic utility coal volume fell 23 percent to 175,400 units and export coal volume plunged 38 percent to 36,600 units. Total coal revenue fell 33 percent to $453 million while volume declined 21 percent to 275,700 units.
General merchandise revenue decreased 5 percent to $1.6 billion but volume inched up 1 percent to 661,500 units.
Volume growth in chemicals, automotive and paper shipments helped to offset traffic declines in steel, fertilizers and wheat. Chemicals volume rose 13 percent to 137,300 units primarily due to traffic gains in crude oil and natural gas liquids.
Intermodal revenue slipped 3 percent to $633 million, but volume rose by 2 percent to 999,900 units.
NS President and Chief Executive Officer James Squires said the volume growth in intermodal and merchandise was encouraging as were significant service improvements.
He said there remain good prospects for volume growth in the near and long term in the intermodal, energy, manufacturing and housing markets.
“We are confident in our long-term strategy,” Squires said. “Norfolk Southern is well positioned to continue improving service, which will reduce costs and add value to our customers. We have a strong legacy of success, and we are taking the right steps to continue value creation.”
Executive Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer Marta Stewart said that NS has scaled back its capital spending budget for 2015 by $130 million or 5 percent. Earlier this year, NS had projected 2015 capital expenditures of about $2.4 billion.
While photographing Nickel Plate Road No. 765 on Thursday in Ashtabula as it made a service stop, I heard Rich Melvin of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society talk about there being a “hell of a hill” on the Youngstown Line of Norfolk Southern leaving town.
On Saturday afternoon I decided to check it out as the 2-8-4 Lima-built Berkshire assaulted the hill with a load of passengers on the return leg of a public excursion between Youngstown and Ashtabula.
I decided to forego going into town to look for the train in favor of scouting photo locations. I liked Plymouth Road because the tracks curve to the south here and the location is fairly open and parking would not be difficult.
A handful of other fans were on hand, including Drayton Blackgrove, a Michigan college student I had met while chasing the 765 last year on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. He runs an outfit named Delay in Block Productions and posts videos on YouTube.com.
This year he had a drone and it was the first time that I got to see someone up close operate one of those things. I was amazed at how quickly that thing can take off.
Although I heard the 765 talking on the radio when it was ready to leave, what I was really listening for was the sound of a steam locomotive working upgrade.
I was not disappointed. Melvin was at the throttle as the 765 ascended Carson hill, putting on a show that was a pure delight for the eyes and the ears alike.
I later caught the 765 just south of Dorset, although I got there a little too late, and again at the U.S. 322 crossing at Wick. With that I decided to head for home. It had been a most enjoyable day chasing the 765.