Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

Weather Woes Continue to Delay Amtrak

January 9, 2015

The eastbound Lake Shore Limited that was supposed to have left Chicago Wednesday night was still making it way to New York City early Friday morning.

In the meantime, the Thursday night edition of No. 48 was doing better, but still running well off the schedule.

The Thursday night Lake Shore Limited left Chicago Union Station at 1:27 a.m. and was nearly 5 hour behind scheduled when departing from Elkhart, Ind., at 5:15 a.m.

The westbound Lake Shore arrived in Cleveland at 6:19 a.m., nearly 3 hours late. It had departed from New York 2 hours and 18 minutes late.

The eastbound Capitol Limited of Thursday night didn’t get out of Chicago until 10:15 p.m., 3 hours and 35 minutes late. It was running 5 hours and 37 minutes late at Sandusky.

But the winter weather had not hampered the westbound Capitol Limited, which was just 38 minutes down out of Toledo on Friday morning.

As for that Lake Shore Limited that was running nearly 15 hours late on Thursday, it finally reached Cleveland at 8 p.m. and departed five minutes later, 14 hours and 15 minutes late.

It was shown as having arrived at Albany-Rensselaer, N.Y., at 5:47 a.m., 14 hours and 57 minutes late.

A report posted on the website of CNN quoted a Norfolk Southern spokesman as saying that that railroad turned away Amtrak No. 48 on Thursday morning because the Amtrak crew had just 15 minutes left to work before exceeding the hours of service law.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari also told CNN that the equipment assigned to No. 48 experienced sticking breaks, which contributed to the delay.

Earlier reports had quoted Magliari as saying that the mechanical problems that delayed the train also included locomotive failures.

Magliari told CNN that passengers will receive full refunds.

The passengers had waited most of the night in a very cold Chicago Union Station. One passenger told CNN that the heat had been turned down and wasn’t turned up again until 3 a.m. Even then, the passenger said, the facilities worker said it was for the benefit of the morning rush hour.

Amtrak was far from alone in having problems in Chicago. The CNN story reported that more than 400 flights were canceled at O’Hare and Midway Airports due to complications caused by winter weather.




NS Helped 94 Customers Locate Facilities

January 9, 2015

Norfolk Southern said this week that it helped customers locate or expand 94 facilities along its system, resulting in 72 new and 22 expanded plants in 2014.

The projects represented an investment of $5.7 billion. NS said in a news release that the projects are projected to create more than 4,420 new jobs and generate more than 205,000 carloads of new traffic annually.

“The energy sector continued to be a major driver of industrial development projects in 2014, and we began to see the return of more traditional industrial projects such as steel mills, auto assembly plants, tire manufacturers and food processing facilities,” said Jason Reiner, NS assistant vice president of industrial development. “We expect continued development in the energy sector, as well as growing activity in manufacturing, in 2015.”

During the past decade NS said that its industrial development department has participated in the construction or expansion of 1,017 facilities for an investment of $57 billion.

NS works with state and local governments and economic development agencies in 18 states to identify locations for new or expanded facilities while also assisting with the development of infrastructure needed to connect customers to its rail system.

NS Releases GP33ECO for Road Testing

January 6, 2015

NS locoNorfolk Southern announced on Tuesday that the first emissions-friendly locomotives funded by the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program will be entering road testing.

The GP33ECO locomotive was renovated by the Juniata Locomotive shops in Altoona, Pa.

NS will have 25 of the GP33ECO switching locomotives and they will feature a distinctive paint scheme that reflects their environmentally friendly mission.

The locomotives will be assigned to their respective grant award areas of Chicago and Atlanta.
Funding for the locomotive to be used in the Chicago area was awarded by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency, sponsored by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Funding for the locomotive to be used in Georgia on the NS Atlanta Terminal was awarded by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division.



Iconic Southern Tier Rail Bridge to be Replaced

January 4, 2015

An iconic bridge on the Southern Tier route will be replaced soon after the Federal Highway Administration approved the design and construction of the replacement span.

The Portageville Viaduct over the Genesee River on the former Erie Railroad has been a favorite of photographers almost since it was built in the 1870s. It features waterfalls crashing beneath it.

Located in Letchworth State Park, the bridge soars about 245 feet above the river gorge. The wrought iron viaduct is 820 feet long and sits on six steel towers constructed in 1875.

Three spans of pin-locked deck trusses and 10 spans of deck plate girders were built in 1903.

The bridge is at milepost SR 361.66 in the Town of Portage and the Town of Genesee Falls. It will be removed once the new bridge is completed in three years.

Norfolk Southern acquired the Southern Tier route in 1999 as part of the Conrail breakup.

Construction of the new bridge will begin this year with the new span located just south of the existing bridge.

The New York Department of Transportation is paying $3 million in design costs and landed secured $12.5 million in state and federal funds for construction. The balance will be provided by Norfolk Southern.

The bridge was been labeled as one of the 10 most significant rail bottlenecks in New York.

Once completed, trains on the bridge will operate at Federal Railroad Administration Class 4 speeds. NS also expects to reduce ongoing maintenance efforts and costs.



NS, BLET Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

January 2, 2015

Norfolk Southern has reached a tentative work agreement with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen that has been submitted to a ratification vote by BLET members.

Voting on the agreement will be conducted through Jan. 29. The contract will establish pay rates and work rules for more than 4,500 locomotive engineers. Agreement details will not be announced until after the ratification vote.

In September 2008, BLET members ratified a six-year agreement with NS that provided general wage increases totaling 19 percent over the contract’s term and bonuses that BLET members could earn based on the railroad’s financial performance.

Year End Present From Norfolk Southern

January 1, 2015

Interstate in the Falls

The last day of 2014 was sunny, but cold. I had no plans to get out trackside. There were things to do at home.

Then I got a phone call that the Interstate heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern was leading an eastbound train at Sandusky. My plans for the rest of the morning quickly changed.

So here is Norfolk Southern’s going away present to me for and others for 2014, one of its heritage units on the lead in winter sunshine passing through Northeast Ohio.

It’s funny how heritage sightings work for me. For a long time NS 8105 had eluded me. I had not had as much as one near miss with it. But since October I’ve seen and photographed it three times.

For the record, the train is the 20R and I photographed it in Olmsted Falls at 12:05 p.m.

It’s now a new year and I can only wonder what heritage units will cross my path in 2015. Here is hoping that the the last two that I have yet to photograph, NS 8101 and NS 8098 find their way into my viewfinder along with the four other H units I need to photograph leading a train. I also wouldn’t mind if Amtrak No. 156 also made its way to me some day when I’m trackside with my camera.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Checking Out Bellevue’s New Railfan Park

December 30, 2014
A railfan keeps an eye out for the next train to pop out of Bellevue yard. The shelter at the Kemper Rail Park was completed in November.

A railfan keeps an eye out for the next train to pop out of Bellevue yard. The shelter at the Kemper Rail Park was completed in November.

There has been talk about having an Akron Railroad Club outing in 2015 at the new Kemper Rail Park.

It is Fostoria’s turn in the rotation for the ARRC’s longest day outing in late June and there is a new railfan park in that city, too.

There is no reason why we couldn’t hold outings in both towns as each is a superb place to spend a day watching trains.

With the club’s interest in holding a Bellevue outing in mind next spring, summer or fall, I paid a visit to the Kemper Rail Park recently to check it out.

The shelter was completed last month just before Thanksgiving and I wanted to spend some time there watching and photographing trains.

Arguably, the strength of the park is its location. Situated along Monroe Street inside a wye located just beyond the Mini Plant, you have excellent views of passing trains on the Toledo and Sandusky/Fostoria districts.

The view of the Mad River Connection is good, although more distant. The shelter affords a good view of trains coming out of the yard.

You can’t see from the park trains on the New Haven Connection making the transition between the Fostoria and Sandusky districts out by Slaughterhouse Road.

Signals on the Sandusky/Fostoria District and at the Mini Plant can be easily seen from the park. You can see one of the westbound signals on the Toledo District, but need to walk across the tracks to see the eastbound signals because of the angle at which they are positioned.

But those trains must traverse the Mini Plant and the signals for the Toledo District in the Mini Plant are easily seen from the park.

The sheltered area of the railfan park measures 24 feet by 24 feet and is a bit small. There are no electrical outlets and, thus far, no picnic tables.

Seating is concrete and wood benches, all of which are set up to face the tracks. There is enough open space around the shelter to place lawn chairs.

Perhaps the park’s major drawback is minimal parking space. That’s not a problem if there are only a small number of people there.

But lack of adequate parking spaces could be an issue with larger groups. There is parking in a nearby vacant lot across from Wheeling Tower. Railfans have been hanging out in that lot for years.

Parking is also available at the close-by Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum, which is a short walk from the railfan park.

Norfolk Southern maintenance forces still use the area right by Wheeling Tower, so parking there might seem convenient, but is ill advised. You could be cited for trespassing.

From a photography perspective, there are number of photo angles available from the railfan park, including framing trains passing beneath the signals on the Sandusky/Fostoria districts. A long telephoto lens could yield views of trains coming out of the yard.

On the Toledo District, you could make images of trains rounding the curve coming toward the Mini Plant and of trains coming out of the Mini Plant. You’ll need a wide angle lens to get the latter images.

Of course, you can walk around the immediate vicinity to try out other photo angles. One nice thing about the railfan park is that you can photograph trains in virtually every direction.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie comes into Bellevue on two routes, the Brewster Connection and the Lake Shore Connection. Neither passes directly past the railfan park, but can be seen from the park.

The W&LE has installed a talking defect detector just outside Bellevue that I was able to hear on my scanner. W&LE crews also must use their radios to “key up” the remote control switches.

One Wheeling train came into town during my time at the railfan park and I was able to hear it sounding its horn for grade crossings as well as see it by looking down the former W&LE right of way.

As for eating, there are two pizza joints within sight of the railfan park. Other eateries are not far away although you would likely want to drive to them.

Bellevue is one of Ohio’s premier railfanning hotspots and the addition of the Kemper Railfan Park is a welcome addition. I’m looking forward to our 2015 ARRC outing there.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

There are plenty of benches at the Kemper Rail Park in Bellevue, but ample space to set up lawn chairs on the grass or under the shelter.

There are plenty of benches at the Kemper Rail Park in Bellevue, but ample space to set up lawn chairs on the grass or under the shelter. The view is looking toward the Toledo District.

An NS westbound as seen from inside the pavilion of the Kemper Rail Park in Bellevue.

An NS westbound as seen from inside the pavilion of the Kemper Rail Park in Bellevue.

A westbound Norfolk Southern train accelerates out of the Mini Plant in Bellevue as it heads for the Fostoria District. The view is from the Kemper Rail Park.

A westbound Norfolk Southern train accelerates out of the Mini Plant in Bellevue as it heads for the Fostoria District. The view is from the Kemper Rail Park.


NS Trains to Take a Holiday on Christmas

December 14, 2014

Norfolk Southern has announced that it plans to shut down most of its operations for Christmas, but will operate a normal main line schedule for New Year’s Day.
NS will begin scaling back most operations starting at 3 p.m. on Dec. 24, with resumption of normal operations on Friday, Dec. 26.

Locals and unit trains will operate according to prearranged customer requirements. Interchanges will remain open for traffic delivered from connecting carriers.
On New Year’s Day, NS said it plans to operate a normal road train schedule but some local train operations may be reduced due to customer closures for the holiday.



NS Moving Trains to Lightly-Used Ohio Routes

December 12, 2014

There has been much talk in railfan forums of late about how Norfolk Southern has been shifting traffic around in Ohio in an effort to alleviate congestion on the busy Chicago Line between Cleveland and Chicago.

The need to address congestion on this route became quite clear this summer and fall when Amtrak trains were delayed for hours due to freight trains sitting on the tracks ahead awaiting new crews.

NS routes in Northern Ohio has or will be seeing increased traffic as NS reworks routings to more efficiently move traffic.

The somnolent former Nickel Plate Road route between Vermilion and Cleveland is sleepy no more. NS is now routing 10 to 12 trains daily on average over this line, most of which have been re-routed from the Chicago Line through Cleveland.

This includes trains 145, 14T, 287, 310, 316 and 309, which no longer use the connection at Vermilion to access the Chicago Line.

Instead, these trains run through Cleveland on the ex-NKP through Lakewood, Rocky River and Bay Village.

The pickup and setoffs that were once done by trains 145 and 14T at Rockport Yard are now handled by a Rockport-Bellevue turn job, the 364.

Also operating via the ex-NKP east of Vermilion are Conway (Pittsburgh)-Bellevue trains 14K and 15K. These trains operate between Conway and Ashtabula via the Youngstown Line and then take the southwest connection between that route and the ex-NKP in Ashtabula.

Traditional ex-NKP line trains that continue to reach the Chicago Line in Cleveland via the Cloggsville connection include 22K, 23K, 205 and 206.

Before the latest increase in the use of the ex-NKP on the west side of Cleveland, the route averaged about two trains a day.

To handle the increase in traffic, NS has reinstated the first shift operator at the Lorain drawbridge, which is now open 24/7.

NS also plans to increase traffic on the Fort Wayne Line west of Alliance, Ohio.

The scope of increased NS operations via the Fort Wayne Line remains to be seen, but word is that crude oil and other heavy trains may be shifted to that route all the way to Fort Wayne, Ind.

Reportedly, NS is establishing a crew district between Mansfield and Fort Wayne.

NS currently owns the Fort Wayne Line between Pittsburgh and Crestline. West of Crestline, CSX owns the route to Bucyrus.

Since the Conrail breakup in 1999, NS has continued to route some traffic on the Fort Wayne Line as far west as Bucyrus where it can take connecting tracks to go south to Columbus or north to Bellevue via the Sandusky District.

Between Crestline and Bucyrus, NS has authority to operate eight trains per day and six daily west of Bucyrus. It has not operated west of Bucyrus on a regular basis, though.

The primary user of the route west of Bucyrus is the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern, which also uses the Fort Wayne Line east to Crestline.

Online reports indicate that although CSX owns the land on which the Fort Wayne Line sits west of Bucyrus, the CF&E owns the rails. NS, though, continues to dispatch the Fort Wayne Line.

CSX has never made much use of the Fort Wayne Line west of Crestline. This is because of a number of factors that also hinder NS’ use of the route.

One of the major operating challenges in using the Fort Wayne Line is the lack of passing sidings. The existing sidings also tend to be short.

The line has just two passing sidings between Bucyrus and Fort Wayne, located at Upper Sandusky and Lima.

The track on the Fort Wayne Line west of Bucyrus has not received much maintenance and speed limits are low.

Another factor is that the railroads is “dark” west of Bucyrus with the only signals being located at interlockings.

Both Penn Central and Conrail saw the Fort Wayne as secondary to other routes when it came to routing traffic between Pittsburgh and the Midwest.

Conrail did make use of the Fort Wayne Line east of Crestline with trains originating in Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and St. Louis that were bound for Pittsburgh and beyond using the route.

But that traffic pretty much ended with the Conrail breakup. The late 1990 rerouting of Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and Broadway Limited off the Fort Wayne Line also resulted in further cutbacks in maintenance, particularly west of Bucyrus.

One recent online report cited unnamed sources as saying that the Fort Wayne Line would be seeing as many as 30 trains a day west of Alliance within three months.

Some raised questions about that number, but from outward appearances, there is reason to believe that NS will be increasing its use of the Fort Wayne Line.

In late fall, the NS executive train made a trip over the Fort Wayne Line and online postings have reported seeing an increase in track work on the Fort Wayne Line in western Ohio.

In the meantime, NS has increased the number of coal trains that it routes over the Ohio Central between Columbus and Mingo Junction.

Until this fall, NS has exercised its right to use the former Pennsylvania mainline east of Columbus on an as needed basis.

One report has it that by routing coal trains over the OC, NS saves two NS crews per trip. As NS adds additional crews in Mansfield, it may make less use of the OC route for coal traffic.

Finally, there is a report that NS is eyeing the Peavine route between Cincinnati and Portsmouth, Ohio.

A short line operator, Frontier Rail, has been serving customers in the Cincinnati area after NS ceased using the former Norfolk & Western route.

The coming months are going to be interesting ones in which to observe how NS operations in Ohio continue to shake out.

Photographers who have forsaken the Fort Wayne due to lack of action may have to re-evaluate their plans.

It also might be time to make a trip south to the stretch of the ex-Pennsy Pittsburgh-St. Louis line that is jointly used by Ohio Central and the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

To be sure, none of the traffic moves have transformed these light- to moderately-used routes into busy mainlines hosting trains at streetcar frequencies. It does mean, though, that the odds of finding a train in daylight have been enhanced.

Although the route changes mean fewer NS trains rolling through Berea, there still promises to be plenty of action there to satisfy train watchers.

The Sun and I Found the NS Veterans Unit

December 2, 2014
NS 6920 was sitting in the Avery siding when I first encountered it.

NS 6920 was sitting in the Avery siding when I first encountered it.

With a few sucker holes hypnotizing me I headed west last Friday in hopes that I might run into NS 6920, the Honoring Our Veterans unit.

I found it parked with no crew in the Avery siding. That’s very close to the Route 250-Ohio Turnpike interchange just north of Milan.

In short order a crew showed up to drag that empty grainer into Bellevue. I still had sun at Strecker Road but after that the clouds rolled in, so I did a few more photos around Bellevue then called it a day.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Catching it again, this time at Strecker Road.

Catching it again, this time at Strecker Road.

At the Route 99 crossing at the east end of Bellevue yard.

At the Route 99 crossing at the east end of Bellevue yard.

Pulling through the yard as seen from the Ohio Route 4 bridge.

Pulling through the yard as seen from the Ohio Route 4 bridge.

Wide shot after it cut away with the old NKP roundhouse in the background.

Wide shot after it cut away with the old NKP roundhouse in the background.


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