Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

Sunset Over Belluevue

June 26, 2015

Bellevue sunset-x

The sun has sunk below the horizon in Bellevue, Ohio. The water tower you see silhouetted against the sky sits near the entrance to the Norfolk Southern yard. Look carefully to the right of the tower and you can make out the outline of the hump tower in the yard.

The air is still, but the sounds of flanges pressing against rails can be heard in the near distance. It may be the end of the day for most people, but in the newly renamed Moorman Yard, the works on goes on all night long as trains continue to roll in and cars need to be switched and sorted.

On the railroad time just goes on. There is always more work to be done whether it be day or night.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Watching Steel Rust on the Fort Wayne Line

June 24, 2015
The first NS train through Orrville arrived a half-hour after I did. Then I had a four-hour wait for the next one.

The first NS train through Orrville arrived a half-hour after I did. Then I had a four-hour wait for the next one.

Last winter the railfan cyberspace world was abuzz with reports that Norfolk Southern was rehabilitating the tracks of the Fort Wayne Line west of Bucyrus.

This was remarkable news for a number of reasons. First, NS doesn’t own these tracks. CSX does.

Second, CSX doesn’t use this line. The Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern does.

Yes, NS does have the right under the terms of the Conrail breakup to operate as many as six trains a day west of Bucyrus, but it has seldom taken advantage of those rights.

But after the meltdown on the Chicago Line last summer, railroad officials began looking for alternative routes for some trains.

One of those alternatives was the Fort Wayne Line. Even before the Conrail breakup, this former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline in western Ohio saw little traffic.

The segment between Crestline and Alliance was moderately busy under Conrail, but once NS took it over the traffic levels dropped precipitously.

NS operates a pair of Conway-Bellevue manifest freights over the line daily. The route also sees locals out of Mansfield that operate as far east as Orrville. There are some coal trains.

But otherwise, traffic on the Fort Wayne Line is rather sparse.

As I read the reports that traffic on the Fort Wayne Line was picking up, I made a mental note that I needed to get down there this summer and see just much more traffic is using the line.

In particular, NS is routing eastbound crude oil trains over the route. I had seen posted photos taken of some of those trains, which led me to believe that they operated during daylight hours.

On the first Saturday in June, I set out for Orrville. I wasn’t expecting to see a flood of new traffic, but I was hopeful that there would be enough to make it worth the trip.

I got a later start than I wanted so it was about 10:30 a.m. when I arrived, parked next to the tracks, set up my scanner and waited.

Shortly after 11 a.m. I could hear the scratchy sound on the radio of a train calling signals.

The signal became stronger and clearer. That a train was coming a half-hour after I had arrived was a good omen.

It was a westbound coal train and it had one of those massive ex-Union Pacific SD90MACs as the second of two locomotives.

Then things got quiet, real quiet. And that was the way it was for the next four hours. That’s right, four hours.

To pass the time I read that day’s Akron Beacon Journal and the latest issue of Trains. The Fort Wayne Line has a long and colorful history and I had plenty of time to think about it.

I had expected lulls between trains, but not this long. I was about to give up for the day when I heard a scratchy sound on my scanner.

Shortly after 3:30 p.m., an eastbound oil train showed up with a set of helper units on the rear.

I was curious how far I’d be able to hear that train call signals over the radio so I stuck around and listened.

That train must have been past Massillon when I thought I heard the oil train crew speaking with the crew of another train.

Could it be that a westbound was waiting at Massillon for the oil train to pass? I decided to wait awhile longer. It was an agonizingly long wait.

I was, again, about to pack it in when I thought I heard a distant radio transmission. It took awhile but it got stronger and my earlier hunch had been right. There had been a westbound near Massillon.

That train, another coal train with an ex-UP SD90MAC in the motive power consist, finally reached Orrville at almost 4:30 p.m. After its passage, I headed home.

I’d like to give Orrville and the Fort Wayne Line another try, preferably getting there in the early morning.

It has always seemed as though more trains pass through Northeast Ohio in the morning hours than during the middle of the day.

Maybe that’s not true for the Fort Wayne Line, but I’d like to give it a try.

I’d also like to go down during the week when the locals are running and when the R.J. Corman train for Wooster comes and goes.

It may be technically accurate to say that there is more traffic on the Fort Wayne Line than there used to be.

But when the previous traffic levels were already quite thin, adding another couple of trains a day isn’t going to make that much of a difference.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The tower at Orrville used to be on the other side of the tracks and farther west. I can't remember a time when it wasn't where is is today. But my first visit to Orrville came in 1995.

The tower at Orrville used to be on the other side of the tracks and farther west. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t where is is today. But my first visit to Orrville came in 1995.

This former Pennsy cabin car has been in display for years in Orrville, but no one has gotten around to restoring the PRR keystone and markings.

This former Pennsy cabin car has been in display for years in Orrville, but no one has gotten around to restoring the PRR keystone and markings.

After a wait of four hours I could not believe my eyes. There is training coming on the Fort Wayne Line.

After a wait of four hours I could not believe my eyes. There is training coming on the Fort Wayne Line.

The first and (only) eastbound of the day (for me at least) passes the Orrville station. The view was made from the steps of the former Orrville Tower.

The first and (only) eastbound of the day (for me at least) passes the Orrville station. The view was made from the steps of the former Orrville Tower.

What a nice surprise. There were helper locomotives on the rear of the 66W, the eastbound crude oil train.

What a nice surprise. There were helper locomotives on the rear of the 66W, the eastbound crude oil train.

Orrville is located at milespost 124 on the Fort Wayne Line. I had plenty of time to memorize this fact.

Orrville is located at milespost 124 on the Fort Wayne Line. I had plenty of time to memorize this fact.

The rear of the morning westbound coal train passes the restored Orrville depot, now the home of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society.

The rear of the morning westbound coal train passes the restored Orrville depot, now the home of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society.

Parsec to Operate NS W.Va. Intermodal Terminal

June 23, 2015

The West Virginia Public Port Authority has awarded Parsec Inc., a contract to operate a Norfolk Southern intermodal terminal in Pritchard, West Virginia.

The terminal will be used for container traffic from the Port of Virginia along the railroad’s Heartland Corridor between Norfolk, Virginia, and Chicago.

Parsec will begin operating the terminal in late summer to prepare for its opening in December.

“The Heartland Intermodal Gateway serves as an example of how the collaborative efforts of a few can have a significant impact on the lives of many,” said the West Virginia governor’s office in a statement. “Not only will this facility have a lasting effect and help expand West Virginia’s economy, it will improve the productivity of [our] existing manufacturing plants and factories.”

 

Fostoria ‘Drag Race’ on Norfolk Southern

June 22, 2015

S&A Meet 2

CSX track work had the former Baltimore & Ohio mainline through Fostoria reduced to one track between East Fostoria and North Baltimore for  much of Sunday. The crews were also working on and near the diamond with Norfolk Southern just west of Main Street.

Late Sunday morning a pair of NS stack trains halted short of the diamonds and waited. It would not be a short wait.

After running some CSX traffic, the IP dispatcher gave both NS trains verbal permission to cross the diamonds. Each NS train also contacted its own dispatcher to reiterate that permission.

In the process of doing that, the NS Fostoria dispatcher indicated that the 218 would go first at Ilers where the former Nickel Plate Road track goes from double to single track.

We took more than  passing interest in the 218. It had on the point NS 1065, the Savannah & Atlanta heritage locomotive. It would be on the near track to the Iron Triangle railfan park. That was more good news.

Finally, each train began moving. The 218 nosed ahead, but was soon overtaken by the other train, which I believe was the 234.

That train was leading when it leaned into the curve by the railfan park. But the 218 with the S&A unit leading soon caught and overtook it. The 218 was far shorter in length than the other train.

It made for a captivating experience as the engineers of both trains were sounding their horns as they approached the grade crossings. The different-sounding horns made for a nice symphony if you like to hear the sound of locomotive horns.

Fellow Akron Railroad Club member Paul Woodring commented that it was the first time he had seen an NS heritage locomotive that wasn’t attached to the Nickel Plate Road No. 765 steam engine.

“That’s one down and 19 more to go,” he said after his first sighting of an NS heritage locomotive leading a train.

It would turn out to be the highlight of the ARRC’s longest day outing in Fostoria, which attracted three members and a guest.

Aided by the CSX track work, the day featured steady rail traffic. More photographs from the outing will be posted later this week.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Bridge Collapse Closes NS Line in Indiana

June 18, 2015

Rising flood waters caused by heavy rains in Indiana resulted in a bridge collapsing on the former Wabash Railroad mainline between Fort Wayne and Peru.

That resulted in Norfolk Southern traffic having to close the route on its Lake Division for a short time and rerouting some of the traffic.

The route, which is part of NS routes between Fort Wayne and Kansas City/St. Louis, sees about 25 trains a day.

Some trains were re-routed via Muncie, Indiana, with intermodal train 21T detouring via Cincinnati and Louisville.

Some eastbound trains used Canadian National rails from Gibson City, Illinois, to Chicago.

An abutment failure on the single-track bridge over the Wabash River left at least one span of the structure dipping toward the water with the rails hanging in open air.

NS advised customers that shipments using the route could expect 48- to 72-hour delays.

Parked NS Trains Irritating Hudson Area Residents

June 16, 2015

Parked trains on the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern has irritated some motorists and officials in Hudson.

They say that trains have been blocking crossings for an hour or more, particularly on busy Hines Hill Road. Hudson officials say Hines Hill Road is used by an average of 4,000 cars per day.

“It ranges everywhere from 20 minutes to an hour,” Hudson spokeswoman Jody Roberts said.

Former Summit County Councilman Bill Roemer said he’s received multiple complaints from people in the area about trains sitting at the crossing for 30 minutes or more.

For its part, NS says it is trying when possible to hold trains short of Hines Hill Road and continues to talk with local officials about constructing a grade separation.

The railroad attributed the stopped trains to increased rail traffic.

The crossing gates on Hines Hill Road are set up so that they will go back up if a train stops short of the crossing.

One long-term solution would be to construct an overpass as was done at Boston Mills Road and Ohio Route 303.

NS spokesman Dave Pidgeon said that railroad is also seeking to improve traffic flow on the busy Cleveland Line.

“We are in the business of moving trains, not parking trains,” Pidgeon said. “We have seen that uptick in the number of cars, that’s a great sign for the economy and our economic engine, but it does come with growing pains because we have a limited amount of capacity.”

Runaway Coal Truck Damages NS Tracks

June 16, 2015

Rail traffic was halted for a time late last week on the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern after a runaway coal truck damaged two tracks.

The incident occurred on June 12 when the truck lost its brakes and the driver was unable to turn or stop at the bottom of a hill on Jackson Street in Summerhill, Pennsylvania.

Track 3 was damaged and Track 2 was knocked out of alignment. Although not damaged, Track 1 was covered in coal.

Westbound train 11A was able to stop in time and dispatchers held rail traffic on all three tracks until they could be repaired. All tracks had reopened by Saturday.

Bellevue Yard to be Named in Honor of Moorman

June 8, 2015

Bellevue Yard is being named after Norfolk Southern’s recently-retired CEO Charles W. “Wick” Moorman.

Moorman retired June 1 after a 45-year career and assumed the position of executive chairman of the NS board of directors.

Wick

Charles W. “Wick” Moorman

After the completion of an expansion earlier this year, Bellevue Yard became the largest classification yard in the NS system.

NS President and CEO Jim Squires said that Moorman is being honored “for his leadership in support of freight railroads and their investors, customers, and employees. Wick’s incredible talent has been to bring the entire Thoroughbred team forward in the same direction—always forward, always with enthusiasm and the right intent, always with the sense that we can do great things. Shareholders, employees, business partners—all are better for it. This is timely and well-deserved recognition for a railroader who thinks big, who thinks long-term, and who does the right things in the right ways.”

Moorman began his career in 1970 with the Southern Railway as a co-op student.

He began as a track worker and worked his way up to various senior-level management positions before being appointed chairman, president and CEO in 2006.

The $160 million improvement of Bellevue yard doubles the size of the facility that was built in 1966 by the Norfolk & Western. Previously Bellevue had hosted a smaller yard and shop facilities for the Nickel Plate Road.

Bellevue is one of 11 primary classification yards at NS. Five NS routes converge on Bellevue and the yard handles about 3,200 carloads daily.

Between 100 to 110 trains a day pass through Belleveue with 20 to 30 trains originating there.

Most of the trains carry automobiles and parts, agricultural products and consumer products.

UP Centennial Diesel Ferries Through NE Ohio

June 8, 2015

centennial 035_17958683744_l

After waiting the past three days, the Union Pacific DD40AX centennial locomotive No. 6944 came through the Akron/Cleveland area on Sunday evening.

It had spent almost the last year getting a new paint job at Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Part of why it took this long is the extreme length of the engine. It is about 105 feet long.

Also, the old paint job contained lead-based paint, which took extra care to remove.

After moving from Altoona to Conway on Thursday it was supposed to continue its journey on Friday.

Unfortunately, it developed problems with the train air line and had to be removed for repairs. On Saturday it still remained in Conway and it appeared it would stay there until Sunday.

About dinnertime on Sunday, the Internet started to blow up with reports that 6944 would indeed be moving west on NS train 35N.

I drove to Alliance got several freights and the 35N arrived.

A short but intense chase then ensued on parallel state route 183 to Atwater.  I managed to get several locations but was blocked by another train at Limaville.

Online reports indicated that the 35N passed through Macedonia at 7:33 p.m., Brook Park at 8:35 p.m., Berea at 8 40 p.m., Amherst at 9:05 p.m., Sandusky at 9:50 p.m., and Swanton (west of Toledo) at 1:10 a.m.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

centennial 028_18555063066_l

centennial 029_18555063086_l

centennial 034_17958683764_l

Centennial_18580663961_l

 

NS Dedicates 9-1-1 Tribute Locomotive

June 5, 2015

NS 911

Norfolk Southern dedicated its latest tribute locomotive this week at a ceremony at Union Station in Washington, D.C.

SD60E No. 911 recognizes America’s police, fire and emergency services workers.

The locomotive wears a striking livery of vibrant red, white and black with gold accents and insignia recognizing the number 9-1-1. The design displays the Maltese Cross of fire services, the Emergency Medical Services’ “Star of Life,” and the Police shield.

It also features the logo for Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response, a national outreach organization dedicated to providing education and resources to help raise the level of emergency preparedness for rail incidents.

The livery was designed by NS’s visual communications department and applied at the Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, Pennsylvania

NS said in a news release that it is “a nationally recognized leader in providing training and educational resources to first responders.

NS earned TRANSCAER’s 2014 National Achievement Award, the 15th time TRANSCAER has recognized NS for its efforts to help communities prepare for and respond to hazmat transportation incidents.

The railroad said it conducted or participated in 98 TRANSCAER community outreach events in 17 states during 2014.

These included classroom and hands-on training, tabletop simulations and full-scale exercises that provided training for 5,442 emergency first responders.

Also, NS assisted in the development of the AskRail app that allows first responders to use their mobile phones to look up commodity and response information on shipments. NS said it reaffirmed its commitment to providing high-level training at the Security and Emergency Response Training Center at TTCI in Pueblo, Colorado.

“The relationships we have with first responders across our network are vital components of operating a safe transportation system,” said NS President and CEO Jim Squires. “We hope everyone who sees this locomotive will think about the dedication, the expertise and the sacrifices first responders make to serve our communities. We at Norfolk Southern are grateful for their support, bravery, and partnership. Incidents involving trains and hazardous materials are rare. This is a safe mode of transportation. To make it even safer, communities and Norfolk Southern work together to raise the level of emergency preparedness, which is why we continuously facilitate training, dialogue and partnerships with emergency response leaders across our network.”


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