Posts Tagged ‘NS Chicago Line’

There Will Be a Brief Delay

February 24, 2018

The new crew was on board and ready to head west out of the Berea siding in Olmsted Falls.

They called the Toledo West Dispatcher and got the OK to take ’em west.

There would, though, be a slight delay at CP 197. The dispatcher had given higher priority to a westbound stack train that is shown catching up to the rear of the departing manifest on the Berea siding.

The delay would be brief and the manifest would follow the stack train on Track No. 1.


NS Wants to Remove Bridge in Toledo

January 24, 2018

A bridge over the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Toledo that is often used by railfan photographers may be coming down soon.

The railroad has offered to the city of Toledo to remove the bridge at no expense to the city.

The bridge, which is located at the west end of Central Union Terminal, now know as Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, is no longer open to vehicular traffic, but is used by pedestrians.

An NS government affairs officer told the Toledo City Council that the bridge presents a problem if the tracks need repair.

“The underlying track bed that the trains ride on top of is limited for maintenance because you’re unable to do any sort of raising of the underlying track bed at the location because of the tightness of where the bridge is,” he told the council.

Councilman Peter Ujvagi asked that the vote be delayed until he has the opportunity to meet with residents of the neighborhood who use the bridge.

Councilman Tyrone Riley expressed general concerns about NS bridges in the city, saying they need maintenance and are “in very deplorable condition.”

Kristin Cousino, a senior engineer with the City of Toledo, agrees with Riley. “[NS has] been reluctant to do so to the standards that the city will like.”

Looks Like We Got Ourselves a Convoy

January 19, 2018

I was railfanning in Olmsted Falls on a Friday afternoon last year when an eastbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight came rolling by.

Tucked into the consist were several flats cars of military equipment. On occasion you’ll find a dedicated military train, but you also are liable to find military equipment being moved on regular trains as was the case on this day.

I have no idea where this equipment originated or where it was going. Maybe it received special handling and maybe NS treated it as nothing more than another load of freight.

But it made for something out of the ordinary to see amid the usual parade of intermodal trains, unit trains and manifest freights.

NS to Expand Maple Heights Intermodal Yard, Complete New Vermilion Connection in 2018

January 13, 2018

Norfolk Southern plans to expand its intermodal yard in Maple Heights in 2018 and finally finish a new connection in Vermilion.

Those projects are among the capital spending plans for the railroad this year.

Work on the Vermilion connection began a couple of years ago but stalled due to lack of funding.

NS is installing connections between the Chicago Line (former New York Central) and Cleveland District (former Nickel Plate Road) that will enable trains from either line to access the other and go east or west.

There is currently a connection between the two lines, but it does not enable an eastbound train on the Chicago Line to go westward on the Cleveland District toward Bellevue or a train from Bellevue to go westward on the Chicago Line.

NS said it will also increase mainline capacity in Buechel, Kentucky; Charleston, South Carolina; and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Intermodal capacity will be expanded in Kansas City, Missouri; and at Calumet Yard in Chicago.

Tie and rail replacement will remain in 2018 at the same levels of 2017. NS will lay 272.7 miles of dual rail and 177.3 miles of single rail. That equals 86,492 tons of rail of which 88 percent will be new 136-pound rail.

Track gangs are expected to put down 2.48 million new crossties and 2.13 million tons of ballast.

NS officials have could not provide a total capital spending figure because the company has not yet finalized its 2018 capital budget.

Red and Orange in Olmsted Falls

December 29, 2017

NS train 60E not only has a Canadian National leader, it is a narrow cab one to boot.

You  can pretty much count on most trains passing through Olmsted Falls on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern having NS locomotives on the lead.

That’s because most of the traffic is going to or coming from the Cleveland Line, which has cab signals. Most foreign locomotives are not equipped with a cab signal device compatible with the Cleveland Line.

One exception to this NS-only locomotives rule is trains going to or coming from the Cleveland District toward Buffalo, New York. They diverge by Rockport Yard and don’t need a unit on the point with cab signal capability.

On occasion a train will come in with a foreign unit and be shunted into the Berea siding to await a cab signal equipped leader to come out and hook on.

So when you get the chance to photograph a train on the Chicago Line in the Falls with foreign power leading, better grab it.

Late Summer in Vermilion

December 27, 2017

NS train L13 passes the railfan platform in downtown Vermilion on the Chicago Line.

The Akron Railroad Club has in recent years held an all-day outing in Vermilion. Most of the action is focused on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

The NS Cleveland District also passes through Vermilion, but has little traffic through town. Most trains that use the Cleveland District diverge west of town to a connection to the Chicago Line.

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts also held a day in Vermilion this past September, but it was poorly attended.

It’s not that the ARRC Vermilion day gets great attendance, either, but it does attract a core of regulars.

The typical modus operandi for ARRC outings in Vermilion is to begin the morning at the boat launch along the Vermilion River.

The attraction here is the Chicago Line bridge over the river. The Cleveland District bridge over the river is nearby in case there is any traffic there.

In the afternoon, we then move to the railfan platform in downtown Vermilion although some of us have a tradition of heading west of town to photograph trains.

Many of the images in this gallery were made west of the city at the Joppa Road grade crossing on the Chicago Line. The crossing is located toward the middle of a curve, which adds a little interest to your images.

Back in town at the railfan platform the classic images feature either the water tower or the former New York Central passenger station.

The latter is now privately owned, by a church I believe, but can be worked into photographs in late day light once the sun has crossed the tracks.

NS68D and the Vermilion water tower in a classic Vermilion pose.

NS westbound 25T chases the setting sun as it passes the former Vermilion passenger station.

The late day light illuminates the interior of the cab of the lead unit pulling NS westbound M1K.

It’s the M1K again, this time passing the Vermilion station.

Rails have been removed and cut off for disposal near Joppa Road.

Westbound stack train 21Q approaches the Joppa Road crossing in a two-shot sequence.

The rear of eastbound train 16E leans into the curve. The train is carrying sand used in fracking operations.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Day

December 26, 2017

A westbound NS coal train passes the former New York Central passenger station in Olmsted Falls in early evening last August.

Nothing is finer in Olmsted Falls than to be there in early evening on a summer evening. The golden hour light makes everything seem to be a little brighter.

Summer is not the only season during which you can find warm light bathing westbound trains in the Falls.

Some of the images in this gallery were made in autumn and one was made in winter.

Late day light comes earlier in October. Shown is NS train 287.

It was really late when this auto rack train showed up.

A westbound coke train. That is Marty Surdyk waiting for the train at the crossing in his Jeep.

Autumn late day light illuminates the westbound 17N.

Traces of what turned out to be the last significant snow fall of the winter of 2016-2017 still hangs on in shady areas.


My Shortest Day Outing

December 22, 2017

CSX crude oil train K048 has a pair of BNSF units and a badly faded Union Pacific motor as it passes westbound NS manifest freight 309 in Berea.

NS local B14 heads west to do some work in Olmsted Falls. It is shown passing through Berea.

It’s the westbound manifest freight 35N with a standard NS motive power consist as it slices through Olmsted Falls en route from Conway Yard near Pittsburgh to Decatur, Illinois.

For several years the Akron Railroad Club has had a tradition of holding a “longest day” outing in June, usually on a Sunday after the summer solstice.

I’ve often thought if we have a longest day outing why not have a shortest day outing.

However, the winter solstice falls in December just before Christmas when winter weather is a good possibility. The ARRC is in slumber mode for most of December.

Undeterred by that, I held a “shortest day” outing of my own on Wednesday in Berea and Olmsted Falls.

The actual winter solstice was on Thursday, but I had a doctor’s appointment that day and other plans for the afternoon.

Besides, the weather was better on Wednesday with mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures. Maybe I should have put the word “mild” in quotation marks because some might question whether temperatures in the 30s qualify as mild.

But coming on the heels of a week with temperatures in the teens and wind chills in the low single digits, it felt downright balmy outside.

I didn’t spend as much time trackside as I would on a longest day outing. I got to Berea about 10:30 a.m. just as a westbound intermodal train was passing through on Norfolk Southern.

A few minutes later an eastbound stack train came roaring through on CSX.

By the time the 11 o’clock hour arrived, I had seen five trains. Four more came past before noon.

Then things died on both railroad lines. I wouldn’t see another train until 1 p.m. By then I had shifted to Olmsted Falls, primarily because with the wind out of the north that meant aircraft landing at Cleveland Hopkins Airport would landing to the northeast.

On the rails, nothing out of the ordinary came by. It was the usual mix of intermodal trains with a couple of crude oil trains thrown in and a pair of manifest freights on NS.

Aside from a pair of BNSF units leading a CSX eastbound crude oil train, the motive power was the same old, same old. No NS heritage units were anywhere in the picture.

In all, I spotted 16 trains, although that number rises to 17 if I double count NS local B14, which I saw twice. Both times it had one locomotive and three boxcars.

I had to leave just after 3 p.m. because of an obligation at home. On the whole, it was a nice day.

See the Train, Mommy

December 21, 2017

A mother and her young son watch the approaching steel coil train 60W in Olmsted Falls on a late September day. The woman and her two children spent time train watching before moving on to other things. Notice that her other child is watching the train from the rear of the vehicle.

Let Those Stackers Roll

December 20, 2017

Stacker is a term that some railfans use to describe a double-stacked container train. These trains are ubiquitous on all Class 1 North American railroads although they are more common on some lines rather than others.

If stack trains are your passion, you would do well to spend time along the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Olmsted Falls.

Unlike such routes as the CSX New Castle Subdivision, which has just one pair of stack trains a day through Northeast Ohio,  there are a dozen or more stack trains on the NS Chicago Line.

If you spend any amount of time on the Chicago Line no matter the time of day you’ll will see a stack train go by eventually.

Most of the stack trains on the Chicago line are bound for or coming from Chicago. Some will run through as interchange trains with other railroads while others will originate or terminate in the Windy City.

Although stack trains tend to have a uniform appearance, there is some variation in the colors and markings of the containers hauled on the trains.

And I’ve always wondered what was in those containers. Probably just about anything you can imagine that moves by rail.