Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

NS, CSX to Upgrade Railroad Crossings

May 10, 2017

CSX and Norfolk Southern have been authorized by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to improve grade crossings in Marion and Miami counties.

NS will upgrade the Bellefontaine Avenue/ State Route 739 grade crossing in the city of Marion, Marion County.

CSX will renovate the Piqua Sidney Road/ County Road 25A grade crossing in Piqua.

Both projects must be completed by Feb. 3, 2018, and will paid for with federal funding provided through the Ohio Rail Development Commission.

Pa. Short Line Move Draws Opposition

May 9, 2017

NIMBY opposition has arisen to a plan by a Pennsylvania short-line railroad to move its interchange point with Norfolk Southern.

The 6-5-mile Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad now interchanges with NS in Middletown, but wants to move that to Hummelstown.

Most of the opposition has centered on how the additional rail traffic will affect a major highway crossing just outside the town. Others are concerns about hazardous materials being shipped through the region.

More than 50 people attended a public meeting held recently to hear more information about the plan.

M&H officials said moving the interchange point would mean better service for its customers, all of which are in Middletown.

Railroad officials said the train to Hummelstown will operate two to three times a week and consist of a locomotive and three or four cars.

The M&H uses a former Reading branch line and also operates a tourist train during the summer.

IC, CP and an All Day Wait for NS 1074

May 6, 2017

Achieving my first objective of the day was easy. A Canadian National train with three Illinois Central locomotives showed up shortly after I arrived in Conneaut.

Last Sunday didn’t get off to a good start. I got up later than I expected or wanted.

I had toyed with the idea of leaving at 5 a.m. and trying to catch the eastbound Lake Shore Limited in Conneaut or North East, Pennsylvania.

But with the weather looking iffy, I didn’t want to get an early start only to have mostly cloudy skies. Catching No. 48 can wait for a better day.

Shortly before 7 a.m. someone posted on Heritageunits.com that the Lackawanna heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern was leading the 14M at Wampum, Pennsylvania.

A quick online check of NS train symbols showed the 14M to be a Conway to Buffalo, New York, train.

How long would it take to get to Conneaut? I figured it to be a manifest freight that might work in Youngstown and even in Conneaut. Somewhere along the way it would need to change crews.

I didn’t get away until about 8:30. As I drove on I-90 past Carson Yard on the NS Youngstown Line south of Ashtabula I looked to see if the 14M was there. It wasn’t.

Once in Conneaut I headed north on Mill Street but nothing was sitting in the yard other than the usual yard power.

I got stopped at the CSX crossing by an eastbound ballast train. I parked in the lot for the Conneaut Historical Society across from the CSX Erie West Subdivision tracks.

I had three objectives for the day. Catch a train on Canadian National – the former Bessemer & Lake Erie – get the 14M and bag a pair of those Citirail units that CSX has been leasing of late.

There was no guarantee the Bessemer would be operating today from Conneaut, but there was  a good chance that it would and that it would have Illinois Central motive power.

The 14M looked like a good bet but bagging the Citirail units would be a long shot.

I set up my antenna, checked the frequencies on my scanner and waited. Less than two minutes later I heard a transmission on the B&LE channel. A train was working in the yard.

Over to the Main Street crossing I went. The B&LE channel got quiet for about 10 to 15 minutes before the switching moves resumed.

By now NS 316 had arrived in town and was working the yard. In the process they discovered they had a loaded car destined for Bellevue. Should they leave it in Conneaut or take it to Buffalo?

“Take it with you,” was the response of the Youngstown Line dispatcher.

It was getting to be late morning when Illinois Central 1034 and two sister IC units came out of the yard and poked their noses out beyond the NS trestle over Conneaut Creek.

The crew was wrapping up putting together its train. I was hoping to get the lead unit of the NS 316 crossing the trestle above IC 1034, but it was not to be.

The CN train had left town by the time the 316 ambled eastbound with Canadian Pacific No. 8917 on the point.

Under normal circumstances, I would have chased the CN train into Pennsylvania. But today I still had unfinished business. I returned to the historical society parking lot next to the CSX tracks.

It was about noon when I heard the Youngstown Line dispatcher make radio contact with the 14M.

The discussion occurred on the Youngstown Line frequency so 14M still had yet to reach Ashtabula.

Eastbound traffic on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline through Ashtabula was heavy, so the dispatcher agreed to recrew the 14M at Carson.

In the eastbound parade were intermodal trains 22K and 206 along with auto rack train 28N.

I didn’t bother to seek out the 22K or 206. Instead I focused on CSX for awhile.

An eastbound rail train came through around 12:30 p.m. that was followed by an eastbound stack train.

Shortly thereafter, a westbound monster freight, the Q393, slowly made its way through town with all 15,000 feet of it making all of 30 mph.

Welcome to the world of E. Hunter Harrison’s precision scheduled railroading.

I later heard the IH dispatcher tell another train he would do his best to get that train around the Q393, but it would be difficult.

Around 1:38 p.m. the Youngstown Line dispatcher talked with the 14M again. The new crew was on board and the train was on the move.

It must have moved slowly because by mid-afternoon it still wasn’t out of Ashtabula. It would follow train 310.

In the meantime, another story began playing out on NS. I had heard the dispatcher periodically tell the crew of westbound 287, an auto rack train, that it would be waiting in yet another siding for yet another eastbound.

The 287 must have been in and out of every siding between here and Buffalo.

Around 3 p.m. the dispatcher told the 287 it would have to go into the siding at PA for the 310 and the 14M. The latter was just now coming around the Buffalo connection in Ashtabula.

The 287 crew reminded the dispatcher it had been on duty since 5 a.m. But his brushed that aside saying they needed to take that up with the first trick dispatcher who was on duty “when that baby was born.”

I also learned that the 14M would be dropping off a locomotive at Conneaut. Less than 15 minutes later the dispatcher, his supervisor or the NS computer program that makes train dispatching decisions had a change of heart.

The 287 would come into Conneaut for a recrew. But the new crew would have the same experience the old crew old had, having to wait for opposing traffic. In this case it would mean waiting at the west end of Parish siding for the 310 and 14M.

It was getting to be late afternoon and I was getting impatient. Where was the 14M?

I decided to go look for it. I drove out to Parish Road on the west side of Conneaut, parked and walked up onto the bridge.

But there was no sign of the 14M and the signal at the west end of the yard for eastbounds was red. A CSX westbound passed by but I didn’t pay it much mind.

I noticed that the connecting track from NS to CSX, which I’ve been told was put in during the Conrail era and once hosted a detour of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited, is still in place, but overgrown with weeds.

NS has altered the switch so that it now appears to act as a derail yet it is no longer possible to move a train into the connection track to CSX.

As I waited for the 14M, a large bank of clouds moved in and covered the sun. It had been sun and clouds for most of the day, but the weather was taking a turn.

I was about to give up and go back into town when I heard a horn to the west. Maybe that was the 14M.

Soon a headlight popped up on the horizon. The signal at the west end of the yard was still red and the train was moving slowly.

A glimpse through my telephoto lens confirmed that the Lackawanna H unit was on the point.

The 14M stopped but it didn’t last long because the signal turned to an approach indication.

I got my photographs and drove back to the historical society. Shortly after arriving, the heavens opened and we had an intense, although brief, shower that produced small hail pellets.

I listened to the 14M on the radio as it worked in the Conneaut Yard. During the process I got a CSX westbound freight that was a mere 300 plus axles. I guess those cars wouldn’t fit on the Q393.

By now it was apparent I wasn’t going to get any Citirail units leading on CSX today.

The 14M finished its work and I drove over to the Main Street crossing of the B&LE to photograph NS 1074 on the trestle over Conneaut Creek.

It was nearly 5:30 p.m. and I needed to head for home. It had taken all day, but I had finally got a heritage unit, the first one I’ve photographed since January.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Looks like it is going to be a nice spring day.

IC 1034 and its train will be leaving town shortly.

Looking west down Main Street.

NS train 316 had a Canadian Pacific leader and a loaded car that was supposed to have been routed to Bellevue.

The W021 has a load of rail bound for some eastern work site.

The ATVs racing along side this eastbound CSX stack train were not part of the original plan for making this image.

Trying to show Q017 along with a pair of flowering trees.

The crew of NS train 287 was relieved to hear the dispatcher say there had been a change of plans and they would come into Conneaut sooner rather than later.

A black locomotive and a bright red garage.

At last the 14M is approaching Conneaut with the feature attraction of the day on NS.

Coming into Conneaut on an approach.

After the rain came a short by today’s CSX standards manifest freight.

The last image of the day was one I waited several hours to get.

NS To Use New Software for Crew Scheduling

May 4, 2017

Norfolk Southern said it is joining with software company PS Technology to develop a new train crew management and payroll system.

In a news release, NS said the goal of the automated system is to improve efficiency, costs and productivity.

“Incorporating PS Technology’s CrewPro software with our operating and data platforms will save costs and streamline Norfolk Southern’s train crew management and payroll processes,” said Fred Ehlers, NS vice president information technology.

Ehlers said that once the system is deployed it will expand the railroad’s digital capabilities to enhance interactions with train crews.

CrewPro will optimize train crew assignments by factoring in an employee’s work schedules and geographical operating credentials, federal regulations and labor contract rules, Ehlers said.

“In effect, the software analyzes data to come up with the best, most efficient match of crew and train,” he said.

The software also will manage payroll, taxi and lodging services, and vacation scheduling for 11,700 NS transportation employees in train and engine service.

NS to Have Loco at Toledo Train Day Event

May 3, 2017

The organizers of the Toledo National Train Day festival have confirmed that a Norfolk Southern locomotive will be on display on Saturday, but it is not clear yet if it will be a heritage unit, tribute unit or just a work-a-day locomotive.

What is certain is that Amtrak will not have any equipment at Toledo Central Union Terminal for the 10th edition of the event.

Amtrak last year announced it would no longer support National Train Day, but did send Phase I livery P42DC heritage locomotive No. 156 to the event along with a baggage car, Viewliner sleeper, café car and an Amfleet coach.

Watco Companies has agreed to display its Ann Arbor heritage unit at the festival.

Also present at Martin Luther King, Jr., Plaza, as the station is now called will be exhibits and programming that will include track car rides, operating model-train layouts, and a drawing for free Amtrak tickets aboard the Lake Shore Limited to a destination east of Toledo.

There are expected to be five model-train layouts and various vendors in the station’s former main concourse.

Operation Lifesaver will sponsor children’s rail-safety workshops and Boy Scouts who pre-register can participate in a railroading merit badge workshop.

Local food trucks and vendors will be on hand selling their wares.

The track car rides are being offered by the Ohio Valley Railcar organization.

The hours of the free event are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the station at 415 Emerald Ave. Scheduled speakers during the opening ceremony will include:

  • Peter LeCody, chairman of the board for the National Association of Railroad Passengers in Washington.
  • Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association in Chicago.
  • Ken Prendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio.
  • Eric Thurlow, commercial manager of the Watco/​Ann Arbor Railroad.
  • Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.
  • Toledo City Councilman Peter Ujvagi.

Following the opening ceremony there will be roundtable discussion featuring many of the speakers.

An ‘All Day’ Heritage Unit Chase

May 2, 2017

It took nearly all day, but I finally caught Norfolk Southern No. 1074, the Lackawanna heritage locomotive, on  Sunday in Conneaut.

No. 1974 was on the point of train 14M, a Conway to Buffalo, New York, manifest freight.

It is shown at Parish Road just before entering the Conneaut Yard.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Planes Were the Objective Along With the Trains

May 1, 2017

Having picked up a third unit, the motive power set of the 20R is returning to its train, which was parked east of CP 194.

When I saw the weather forecast for Sunday, April 23, I knew I just had to get out someplace trackside.

The winds were going to be northeasterly, which sealed the deal on going to Olmsted Falls. Why? Because aircraft landing at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport would be landing on runway 6 left and that would put their final approach path just to the west of the depot.

I could photograph trains and planes. Maybe I would get lucky and get a heritage plane as well as an NS heritage unit.

It turned out that I got neither. All of the motive power was standard NS black. All of the planes were in their usual colors and markings.

Not a single foreign unit led a single train during my nearly nine hours there.

I did succeed, though, in photographing for the first time Allegiant Air, which began flying into Hopkins in February. That same month Allegiant stopped serving the Akron-Canton Airport.

I also got an American Airlines MD80 in its original livery. American plans to phase the MD80 out of its fleet later this year so those planes are flying on short time.

This outing had something in common with the ARRC’s Dave McKay Day back on April 1.

On McKay Day, NS train 20R had to pick up another locomotive. The same thing happened on this day, too.

The 17N cut off its power and dropped a spare unit at the far west end of the Berea siding. The 20R power set ran light through the Falls to pick it up.

Otherwise, it was a pretty routine day, but even a routine day can be a good day when you are trackside on a nice spring day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Eastbound 22K passing a budding tree by the depot.

The crew of NS train 17N returns to its train after dropping off a unit for the 20R in the Berea siding.

A stack train with a colorful set of containers approaches the Olmsted Falls depot.

I believe this is NS train 206.

Big wheels keep on turning. Tractors hitch a ride on eastbound NS train 14A.

An Allegiant MD80 is lined up to land on at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Catching Allegiant for the first time was at the top of my objective list for this outing. This flight is inbound from Orlando Sanford Airport.

Chasing the N&W 611

April 29, 2017

Last Sunday morning I chased the Norfolk & Western No. 611 trip from Greensboro, North Carolina, to Roanoke Virginia.

The first two photos are from Reidsville, North Carolina. Strangely enough, I had this overpass all to myself not another railfan in sight.

Next is a rural overpass east of Chatham, North Carolina. Picture four is at Danville, Virginia.

The last one is near Hurt, Virginia, where the trip gets off the Southern mainline and takes the old Virginian route to get to Roanoke. From there I was unable to chase due to not being familiar with the roads.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Neither Flipping nor Flopping in Bellevue

April 28, 2017

Of course the highlight of the day, or any day for that matter, for me is catching an Illinois Central unit. It is leading train W08 on the Toledo District into the mini plant.

OK, so what did my trip to Bellevue in early April have in common with Marty Surdyk’s venture there last winter that he wrote about this week in the Akron Railroad Club Bulletin and the ARRC blog?

Actually, very little. The soles on both of my shoes stayed firmed in place and I did not do any flipping or flopping while waiting for trains. I’m still laughing about that story.

I didn’t get any NS heritage units as Marty did in catching the Lehigh Valley H unit on northbound train No. 174.

But I did chase No. 194 southward (railroad eastbound) and my catch of the day was a former Illinois Central SD70 leading a train into town on the Toledo District.

I posted a photograph earlier of the IC unit along with a few other highlights of my day, so here are a few more images from my day in Belleveue, which also involved a chase down the Sandusky District.

The first train that I saw was a monster Wheeling & Lake Erie manifest freight sitting outside of town.

A railfan who goes by the screen name of Camcorder Sam on Trainorders.com, said that the W&LE didn’t come into Bellevue on Saturday so the Sunday train was extra long.

I would get it creeping around the Brewster Connection at Center Street.

If it wasn’t such a great day for heritage locomotives, it was a good day for western foreign power. Two trains had Union Pacific power sets leading them. BNSF power led the 44G, a grain train that came in on the Fostoria District and west south on the Sandusky District.

The crew putting together the 12V had the mini plant tied up for a good half-hour to 45 minutes, causing three trains to have to sit and wait before they could leave town or come into town.

The dispatcher used a term to describe this that I’ve never heard before. It sound like “shopping” but it could have been “chopping.” Whatever work it was had an “op” sound to it.

The crew of L14 toured the mini plant as they spun their motive power set because the original lead unit had some type of issue.

ARRC members will be going to Bellevue in June for our annual longest day outing and Bellevue will be the subject of the cover story in the June ARRC eBulletin.

Just remember to wear a good pair of shoes that day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Union Pacific No. 4012 leads train into town as another one leaves town. They are passing at Southwest Street.

A trio of UP units leads a train out of town.

The W&LE always seems to have to wait before it gets into the NS yard in Bellevue. An inbound train is shown on the Brewster Connection.

It’s all about steel wheels on steel rails. Shown are the wheels of a car on the W&LE train.

The L14 maneuvers around the Mad River Connection in the background as seen between two auto rack cars on an inbound train coming off the Fostoria District.

After spinning its power the L14 finally got underway. It is passing the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum on the Mad River Connection.

As the 12V was being assembled and had the mini plant tied up, it operated as symbol L07.

Train 194 had to wait for the 12V to finish its assembly work before it could leave town. The 12V picked up a Mansfield Crew near Flat Rock and the 194 went around and out ahead of it. The 194 is leaving Bellevue with a CSX unit tucked behind lead locomotive 2661.

The 194 had to wait for a CSX intermodal train at Attica Junction before it could resume its journey. It is shown on the south edge of Siam (Attica Junction)

The 12V saunters through Attica in a view made from the cemetery along the tracks.

Tank cars bring up the rear of NS train 188 as it crosses the Fort Wayne Line at Colson in Bucyrus. The 44G was waiting for it to clear.

 

NS to Create Second Stack Route in Pittsburgh

April 28, 2017

Norfolk Southern plans to use a grant from the Pennsylvania State Transportation Commission to create a second route through Pittsburgh for double-stacked container trains.

The railroad sought the funding after a landslide on Mount Washington last June adversely affected traffic between Cleveland and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for 11 days.

The grant will fund $22.7 million of the $28.6-million project, which will involve 14 bridges. Many of those bridges were already in need of renovation. Crews will lower tracks or raise roadways to create additional clearances for stack trains.

The route to be upgraded involves the Fort Wayne Line and Pittsburgh Line, which cross the Allegheny River north of its confluence with the Monongahela River and travels through Pittsburgh, Swissvale, and Braddock, Pennsylvania.

Currently, stack trains must take the Mon Line, which bypasses downtown Pittsburgh.