Posts Tagged ‘NS auto rack trains’

Nice Catch

December 6, 2020

I ventured out to the Frankfort District of Norfolk Southern on Friday wanting to check out the street running in Elwood, Indiana, and the former passenger station in Tipton.

I only caught one moving train, but what a catch it was. This westbound auto rack train shown in Hobbs, Indiana, had a Canadian Pacific leader and a BNSF trailing unit.

It was delayed for a while east of town after a semi got stuck on a steep approach crossing, its load of large coiled tubing balancing over the tracks.

The truck was pulled off the crossing by a tow truck and the auto rack train was soon on its way.

The Frankfort District, was a former Nickel Plate Road line between Sandusky, Ohio, and Peoria, Illinois. Before the NKP took it over, it was part of the Lake Erie & Western.

The Tradition Continues

August 8, 2018

Uncle Pete lends a hand to NS train 209 on the Chicago Line in Amherst.

I have a tradition during the annual picnic of the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts in Amherst of walking to the Jackson Street bridge over the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

The picnic is always held on a Saturday and doesn’t get underway until mid afternoon, so I’m always going up to the bridge in late afternoon.

Usually, I’m joined by RRE member Jerry Jordak. This year was no exception.

We took our places on the bridge around 5 p.m. and staked it out for the next hour and a half.

The light at that time of day clearly favors westbound traffic, which is good because there is a fence on the west side of the bridge where the sidewalk is located.

Fortunately, Jackson Street is not overly busy so we are able to walk to the east edge, get our images and scurry back to the sidewalk.

NS cooperated nicely this year by sending four westbounds our way. This included a pair of stack trains, manifest freight No. 309 and auto rack train No. 287.

The 309 had a Union Pacific leader, which marked the first time I’ve landed foreign power leading a train through Amherst.

The 287 took the siding at CP 213 located just east of Jackson Street en route to Fairlane Yard.

In all the years I’ve photographed from Jackson Street I’ve never caught an NS heritage or special tribute locomotive.

The most interesting sighting we’ve made was the NS executive train in 2014.

There is still bit of heritage left in Amherst. The eastbound home signals for CP 313 still have Type G signal heads even though they now are mounted on a modern support stand.

We also spotted a former Santa Fe cover hopper car that still carried its original markings and reporting numbers.

That was an appropriate find given that the program presented later that evening by Marty Surdyk prominently featured images of Santa Fe trains in in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, California and other points.

 

2 NS Crew Members Hurt in Derailment

February 16, 2018

Two Norfolk Southern crew members were injured Thursday afternoon after an eastbound auto rack train derailed in a remote location near Attica, New York, on the Southern Tier line.

The injured workers were the conductor and engineer, both of whom were taken to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York.

The train had two locomotives and 43 loaded auto rack cars. Both locomotives derailed along with nine cars.

NS spokesman Jonathan Glass said the injuries were not life-threatening.

Online reports indicated that the train was symbol freight 28N and Glass said it was en route to Mechanicville, New York.

After the derailment, fire broke out on the lead locomotives and authorities decided to let the fire burn itself out, in part because the derailment site is difficult for fire fighters to reach.

However, several fire departments and hazmat units were at the scene.

The derailment was reported at 4:03 p.m. on a stretch of track with a top speed of 35 miles per hour. The cause of the derailment has not yet been disclosed.

NS said that although the train was not carrying hazardous materials it was sending its environmental specialists to clean up spilled diesel fuel, a process expected to take several days.

Authorities said both locomotives and some rail cars of the train went over an embankment and landed in a ravine.

The track in that vicinity is about 50 to 75 feet above a nearby farm field.

NS is reportedly detouring trains that normally use the Southern Tier route west of Binghamton, New York, via Sunbury and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and then westward.

Into the Siding Leading to Fairlane

August 30, 2017

Passing the 213 milepost in Amherst as train 287 takes the siding.

About to duck beneath the Jackson Street bridge.

A parting shot as the auto rack cars catch a little glint from the filtered late day sunlight.

Traffic on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern has all but dried up.

A lull of more than an hour was broken by a radio transmission from the Toledo East dispatcher to westbound auto rack train No. 287.

The dispatcher informed the crew it would be going into the siding whose eastern end begins in Amherst beneath the Ohio Route 58 bridge.

They also received yarding instructions for Fairlane.

That prompted me to begin walking briskly from the restored former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot in Amherst to the bridge carrying Jackson Street over the NS tracks.

I had been shooting the breeze with the guys at the joint picnic hosted by the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts to which Akron Railroad Club members had been invited.

The RRE annually has its picnic in Amherst and every year I’ve attended I’ve spent time photographing on the Jackson Street bridge.

The headlight of the lead unit of the 287 was already in sight as I reached the bridge.

Slowly the train made its way into the siding, making it the first train I’ve shot in this siding.

For awhile I wasn’t sure if I would keep my Amherst bridge tradition going. So I felt better as I walked back to the depot knowing the streak had been kept alive.

NS Marathon: A Day in Olmsted Falls (1)

December 26, 2016

When you are out all day in one spot you look for ways to get creative by trying things such as shooting a train through a fence.

When you are out all day in one spot you look for ways to get creative by trying things such as shooting a train through a fence.

One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

There are some days when you just want to camp out in one location along a busy railroad line and let the trains come to you.

I had one of those days last July. My plan was to spend the morning at Olmsted Falls and move onto Berea in early afternoon.

It would not quite work out that way and I wound up staying in the Falls all day.

Berea has more traffic, but I’ve always felt Olmsted Falls was a better place to railfan because you can hang out on either side of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

Berea has two railroads whereas Olmsted Falls has one, but NS alone provide enough traffic throughout the day to keep things interesting.

I also wanted to spend a day in one place to get a sense of the NS traffic flow these days.

With traffic generally down this year, railroads have been seeking to cut costs by operating longer and fewer trains.

That trend seems more pronounced on CSX but NS has not been immune from it.

Coal and crude oil traffic in particular has fallen off on both railroads and there have been some days this year when I spent hours railfanning and didn’t see a coal and/or oil train.

On this particular day, though, I would see pretty much all of the traffic that NS operates.

I tried to keep a log of all of the trains I saw, but gave that up after logging 21 trains.

I’ll have more to say about that in the second part of this report.

The weather was sunny skies and warm temperatures. It was in many ways an ideal day to be trackside.

I didn’t see much in way of motive power that was out of the ordinary. No NS heritage units came past, whether leading or trailing.

Foreign power was, in general, scarce. What little foreign power there was was trailing.

The busiest time on NS was during the morning hours. It was quite busy shortly after I arrived around 8:30 a.m.

As a bonus, aircraft landing at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport were landing to the northeast, meaning they made their final approach over Olmsted Falls.

I spent a fair amount of time between trains photographing landing jetliners.

Accompanying this report are some of my best images made between my arrival and early afternoon.

Articles and Photographs by Craig Sanders

My first train of the day was a westbound auto rack.

My first train of the day was a westbound auto rack.

Most eastbound trains were on Track No. 1

Most eastbound trains were on Track No. 1

Some tank trains have all black car . . .

Some tank trains have all black cars . . .

 . . . and some are all white.

. . . and some are all white.

Trying to capture a sense of place.

Trying to capture a sense of place.

One of the few meets that I witnessed during the day.

One of the few meets that I witnessed during the day.

This eastbound manifest freight would be the only one I would photograph at a location other than near the depot.

This eastbound manifest freight would be the only one I would photograph at a location other than near the depot.

Getting Lucky in Graytown

October 18, 2016

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ns-graytown-01-x

One in a periodic series of images I made last summer.

I had never been to Graytown until last July. I knew of it because Marty Surdyk has photographed there a few times.

You might have guessed by now that Marty knows of Graytown because it has a large grain elevator on the north side of the Norfolk Southern Chicago Line.

My fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and I were in Graytown to get the elevator and a westbound auto rack train. That image is featured in another post.

During our time in Graytown, we caught a couple of eastbounds, one of which is shown passing the westbound auto rack train in the top photo.

The second train, which had Union Pacific motive power, was a grain train that later headed down the Toledo District at Oak Harbor.

We got lucky and were able to get the grain train passing the Luckey Farmers Inc. facility located across the road from the grain elevator.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Sunday Afternoon at the Garfield Sag

October 12, 2016

The money shot of the day was the westbound 25T coming out of the Garfield sag. A portion of the rear of auto rack train 18N is visible in the distance.

The money shot of the day was the westbound 25T coming out of the Garfield sag. A portion of the rear of auto rack train 18N is visible in the distance.

Marty Surdyk and I were discussing Akron Railroad Club matters by phone on a Saturday evening when I mentioned that I wanted to go east of Alliance on Sunday and photograph at the Garfield sag.

Did he want to meet me in Sebring? He didn’t say yes, but didn’t say no, only to keep my cell phone on.

We exchange a few text messages on Sunday morning and he said he would be coming after he finished some errands.

By the time Marty got to Sebring it was nearly 1 p.m. and I was just finishing the tuna salad wrap I had gotten at Sheetz.

We chatted a bit with fellow ARRC member Dennis Sautter who was on his way to a meeting of the Sebring Model Railroad club, which is based in the former Pennsylvania Railroad depot in Sebring.

Then it was time to head for the sag. I’ve only been there once and it was back in the days when I was still using slide film. I was with ARRC member Roger Durfee and we stood on the rear of his Jeep to get a little more elevation.

I caught just one train, which made a nice photo, yet it was a little soft. I’ve wanted to get back to the sag ever since but wasn’t sure I could find it.

Marty pulled into an access road on the north side of the crossing of the Fort Wayne Line of Norfolk Southern and Ellett road and we waited for what seemed like an hour before a train appeared. Although named for the hamlet of Garfield and the sag is located just east of Beloit.

A westbound manifest freight showed up about 2:30 p.m. We didn’t catch its symbol, but by the time the head end reached our position at Ellett Road, the sun was behind a cloud.

We didn’t have to wait long for the next train, the eastbound 18N, an auto rack train that would be involved in a three-train meet at CP Murph.

The Cleveland Line dispatcher told the 18N it would be stopping at Murph to allow the 24M to run around it.

The dispatcher later told the westbound 25T that it would be waiting at Murph for the 24M, a hot intermodal train that carries UPS trailers.

Although the feature attraction where we were hanging out was the Garfield sag, the crossing of Ellett Road is at the top of crown that features sloping terrain in both directions. Hence the images we made of the 18N and 24M show those trains it climbing a grade out of Beloit.

The Garfield sag, though, is impressive for how with a good telephoto lens you can see the train descending and ascending.

The rear of the 18N was stopped just beyond Smith Goshen Road, the next crossing east of Ellett Road.

The 24M was not long so I was able to get the entirety of it in the sag with its head end passing the rear end of the 18N.

We elected to remain at Ellett Road and wait for the 25T. It, too, was a short train and I got all of it in the sag and all of it in sunlight.

With the three-train meet concluded, we headed to Salem. The NS executive train was coming and we would get it at Salem because the lighting would be better there.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The stretch version of the 25T approaching Ellett road. Notice that the rear of the 18N is now out of sight.

The stretch version of the 25T approaching Ellett road. Notice that the rear of the 18N is now out of sight.

The sun decided to hide behind a cloud just as the motive power of the first train we saw reached Ellett Road.

The sun decided to hide behind a cloud just as the motive power of the first train we saw reached Ellett Road.

The rear end of the 18N is covered in shadows, but the rest of the train is in the bright afternoon sunlight.

The rear end of the 18N is covered in shadows, but the rest of the train is in the bright afternoon sunlight.

The head end of the 24M is about to overtake the rear of the 18H. The profile of the 24M sh ows that it has containers and UPS trailers.

The head end of the 24M is about to overtake the rear of the 18H. The profile of the 24M sh ows that it has containers and UPS trailers.

The head end and the rear end of the 24M both fit into this view.

The head end and the rear end of the 24M both fit into this view.

Here comes the 24M. Two trains were stopped to await its passage.

Here comes the 24M. Two trains were stopped to await its passage.

The 18N climbs the grade leading up to Ellett Road just east of Beloit.

The 18N climbs the grade leading up to Ellett Road just east of Beloit.

The rear of the 18N is just beyond Smith Gosen Road. The grain silos above the train are located in Garfield.

The rear of the 18N is just beyond Smith Gosen Road. The grain silos above the train are located in Garfield.

The visual drama of trains traversing the Garfield sag is not as pronounced when photographing them with a wide angle lens.

The visual drama of trains traversing the Garfield sag is not as pronounced when photographing them with a wide angle lens.

Yellow on the Rails, Yellow in the Sky

May 4, 2016

NS train 287 with an SD90 MAC leading passes a stack train in Olmsted Falls. For some reason the nose of No. 7246 being even with the containers appealed to me.

NS train 287 with an SD90 MAC leading passes a stack train in Olmsted Falls. For some reason the nose of No. 7246 being even with the containers appealed to me.

This is sort of the the photograph that I wanted to make of the 287 passing the Olmsted Falls depot during an open house of its model railroad club owners.

This is sort of the photograph I wanted to make of NS train 287 passing the Olmsted Falls depot during an open house of its model railroad club owners.

NS train 287 was a one hit wonder with a unit that does not bring to mind the image of Norfolk Southern. But that was all right with me.

NS train 287 was a one hit wonder with a unit that does not bring to mind the image of Norfolk Southern. But that was all right with me.

An Airbus 319 adds a little "spirit" to the day as it makes its final approach to Hopkins.

An Airbus 319 adds a little “spirit” to the day as it makes its final approach to Hopkins. The lettering on the engine reads “home of the bare fare.”

While driving to Olmsted Falls recently I noticed that NS 7246 was leading an auto rack train out of Rockport Yard.

The SD90MAC still wears its Union Pacific colors, although the UP markings have been wiped out. In time, NS will get around to repainting these units into its black and white scheme, but for now some of them are running around the system wearing yellow.

I’ve seen these units before but most of the time they have been trailing. I’ve had few opportunities to catch one leading.

My plan was to work into the image the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot, which is now owned by a model railroad club.

In fact members of the Cuyahoga Valley and West Shore model railroad club were having their spring open house when I arrived and several members and guests were sitting trackside waiting for NS action.

My idea, though, was foiled by an eastbound stack train that was moving slowly because it was following a covered hopper train going into Rockport.

A string of bare tables gave me an opening to feature the depot and the nose of the NS 7246.

The auto rack train was the 287 and its crew was on short time. The Cleveland Terminal dispatcher told them they would be working at Fairlane Yard.

Shortly before train 287 arrived, another splash of yellow passed by in the form of a Spirit Airlines Airbus 319. The flight from Boston was on final approach to runway 6L at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. The jet featured the yellow Spirit livery.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

5 Locomotives, 4 Auto Rack Cars

December 1, 2015

Bellevue Nov 20 03-x

I don’t know what motor vehicles were in those four auto rack cars, but they must have been high priority because five locomotives were assigned to pull them.

The train is shown in Bellevue behind a brace of four Norfolk Southern units and one Union Pacific locomotive.

Perhaps as much as anything this train was being used to move motive power. Not long after the passage of this train, a normal length auto rack train came into town pulled by a mere two locomotives.

Whether the those trains have any connection I can’t say. But it just seemed odd seeing four auto racks pulled by this much motive power.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Out of the Ordinary Tale of an Ordinary NS Train

October 4, 2015

Young guy-x

I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of the city park that hugs the north side of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Olmsted Falls. It was early on a nice, but cool Sunday afternoon.

I had my scanner on and my camera sat in my open camera bag on the seat next to me. But photographing trains wasn’t my primary reason for being there.

I had a three Sunday newspapers with me that I intended to read them between trains.

As far as I knew, nothing out of the ordinary was likely to come by. No NS heritage locomotives were within a couple hundred miles.

An eastbound NS train had tripped the detector near milepost 199 so I knew that something was coming. Just before it arrived, a newer model blue car came rushing into the parking lot.

At first I thought it was a vehicle turning around because the driver made a U-turn and was headed back toward North Depot Street.

But the vehicle stopped and a young man got out. A split rail fence surrounds the parking lot on three sides and although he was 6 feet or less away from the edge of the fence, he climbed up and over it and headed toward the railroad tracks.

At that point, I concluded that he must be a railfan who knew something about the approaching train that I didn’t know. In fact, I assumed that he knew there was something special about this train.

The fact that he raced into the parking lot and hurried to get trackside was the first piece of evidence.

But his age was another clue. Many of the young railfans I know – meaning age 25 or younger – have an intelligence network that I often envy.

If there is a something out of the ordinary moving on any railroad, they’ll know about it because they are constantly texting each other with that information.

I could see that this young man had a smart phone in his hand. For a young railfan, a smart phone is a more valuable railfanning tool than a scanner and almost as valued as a camera.

The young man sat in the grass, looked at his phone and then photographed the train with his phone as it approached.

By now I had grabbed my camera and walked up to the fence in anticipation of something out of the ordinary.

But what passed by was an everyday auto rack train with two run-of-the-mill NS wide cab locomotives.

The young man didn’t even stay to watch the entire train. After shooting the head end, he got back in his car and left.

Maybe he wasn’t a railfan at all. Maybe he had been crossing the NS tracks at Brookside Drive, seen the headlight in the distance and on a whim decided to photograph the train.

But even if that were the case he likely would have to have some interest in railroad operations to stop and make an image.

I’ll never know. But I got a moment of enjoyment out of what otherwise was just another train.

The story wasn’t the train; it was the young man who made a brief stop to catch a train and was gone as fast as he had come.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders