Posts Tagged ‘NS Chicago Line’

It’s an Auto Rack Train

April 8, 2022

Auto rack trains used to be a common sight on busy Class 1 railroad mainlines. Then precision scheduled railroading happened and management decided why run two trains and pay two crews when you can run one train and pay just one crew.

So that meant auto racks and general freight began merging in consists. In some instances it was intermodal and auto racks that were merged.

Of late, auto rack traffic has been a bit scarce because auto production has taken a hit due to ongoing supply chain issues. That has meant the auto makers are producing fewer new vehicles and that in turn has reduced the demand for auto racks to carry them to distribution centers.

That has meant fewer auto rack cars to see, even in combined auto rack and manifest freights.

So it was a pleasant surprise to find this auto rack train on the NS Chicago Line in Goshen, Indiana, back on March 20. The 17N had another surprise with a pair of relatively clean Canadian Pacific units on the point.

Early Morning at CP 367

April 3, 2022

It is early on a Sunday morning in late March in Waterloo, Indiana, on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern. An eastbound manifest freight has a clear signal on Track 2 at CP 367, which controls a set of crossover switches, one of which can be seen in this image.

I didn’t get the symbol for this freight but chances are it originated in the classification yard in Elkhart, Indiana, 55 miles to the west.

I made this image while standing on the Amtrak boarding platform. The Chicago Line was busy with eastbounds on this morning, In less than an hour’s time I caught four of them, including a coal train, two intermodal trains and the manifest freight shown above.

Not a bad way to begin a day of railfanning.

Pumpkin on NS Two for Tuesday

March 22, 2022

BNSF “pumpkins” leading trains on CSX or Norfolk Southern are not necessarily rare occurrences but they can still turn your head and lead you to press the shutter release button on your camera when you see one. I was in Goshen, Indiana, on the NS Chicago Line in early afternoon on Sunday when train 60E came east through CP 412 (top photograph) with a motive power consist of one BNSF unit on the point followed by two Union Pacific units trailing.

The train is handed over to NS in Chicago by Canadian National at Calumet Yard and then heads for Mingo Junction with a load of covered hoppers containing frac sand. It operates as needed. There is a another frac sand train that CN turns over to NS at Calumet Yard, the 60F, that interchanges in Radebaugh, Pennsylvania, to the Allegheny Valley Railroad.

In the bottom photograph, the 60E is passing Oak Ridge Cemetery, which is to the north of the tracks.

NS Changes Chicago Line Dispatching Assignments

February 2, 2022

Norfolk Southern has changed the dispatcher districts on its Chicago line, an online report said.

Effective at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, NS abolished the Toledo East desk and redistributed dispatching duties between the Cleveland East desk and the Toledo Terminal desk.

Cleveland East now controls the Chicago Line between CP 194 (Berea) and CP 242 (Sandusky).

West of CP 242 is now controlled by the Toledo Terminal dispatcher.

The Toledo Terminal controls the Chicago Line as far west as CP 352 (Edgerton) where the Elkhart desk takes over.

However, the online report indicated that Toledo Terminal control may change to end at CP 320 (Wauseon)

In another Northeast Ohio rail news development, Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited on Tuesday ferried a P42DC locomotive for CTrail, a commuter rail operation operated by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

It was placed behind the two Amtrak P42DC units assigned to pull No. 48. That same day the Lake Shore operated without its New York section baggage car.

On Monday No. 48 ran without its Boston section Viewliner sleeper.

Chicago Line Sunrise Two for Tuesday

January 18, 2022

I’m standing in the rear door of a coach on Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited watching the sun rise as the train charges along on Norfolk Southern’s Chicago Line. Sunrise occurred just before we reached Edgerton, Ohio.

It was the first leg of a circle trip I made out of Cleveland in May 2014 that involved No. 29; the westbound Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle; a Cascades Service Talgo train from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia; VIA Rail Canada’s The Canadian from Vancouver to Toronto; the Maple Leaf from Toronto to Syracuse, New York; and the Lake Shore Limited back to Cleveland.

I had never done a trip quite like it before and might not do another one again.

Both images above were made between Edgerton and Butler, Indiana.

Striking Autumn Gold in Goshen

November 6, 2021

The Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern skirts the southern boundary of Oak Ridge Cemetery in Goshen, Indiana. In autumn, some of the trees near the tracks put on a colorful display.

On Friday I sent some time there in late afternoon. River Avenue runs parallel to the tracks for a short distance and offers marked parking spaces. You can see the westbound home signals of CP 412.

In the top image, a pair of BNSF pumpkins wheel intermodal train 206 past the cemetery on Track 1. About 10 minutes earlier manifest freight 174 came off the Marion Branch as seen in the second image.

Image three shows the rear of train 14J, which also came off the Marion Branch. I had seen this train earlier in the day in Warsaw.

Finally, there is a cut of stacked containers on the rear of the 174.

NS Expanding LCL Service

October 10, 2021

Earlier this year Norfolk Southern launched an experimental less than carload service that involved moving freight in boxcars attached to intermodal trains.

The first trains to provide that service operated in the Chicago-Atlanta-Florida service lane.

It appears, though, that the LCL service has been extended to intermodal trains operating between Chicago and the Middle Atlantic region.

Shown is a boxcar in the consist of the 21M at Waterloo, Indiana, bound for Chicago (63rd Street) from Croxton, New Jersey, on the NS Chicago Line.

Curses, Foiled Again

October 7, 2021

I was sitting in Waterloo, Indiana, next to the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern when I heard talk on the radio about a train 880.

The 880 is a loaded Powder River coal train handed over to NS in Chicago by BNSF at Cicero Yard and it usually has BNSF motive power.

It is destined for a Detroit Edison power plant in the Monroe/Trenton, Michigan, area.

Although it was late morning, the lighting remained favorable for an eastbound. I planned to get the lead unit of the 880 passing a former freight station.

As soon as I heard the defect detector go off near milepost 370 I started getting into position because the train was less than three miles away.

I was standing in a city parking lot next to the former New York Central passenger station, which also serves as an Amtrak waiting room although the boarding platform is a block west.

The tracks here are slightly elevated from the level of the parking lot.

I heard a locomotive horn and figured that to be the 880 blowing for a crossing on the west side of town.

Just as the orange nose of the lead BNSF unit came into sight on Track 2, out of nowhere came a westbound manifest freight on Track 1, which blocked the shot I planned to get of the 880. I was able to get a glimpse of the 800 but that was it.

To be honest, what I said was stronger than the favorite saying of cartoon character Oil Can Harry of Mighty Mouse fame whenever something didn’t go his way.

It turned out the horn I heard was that of the westbound for a crossing about a block to the east. I had heard another train making scratchy calls on the radio, but it didn’t seem that close. Alas, it was closer than I thought.

What else can I say? Things like this happen when you’re trackside.

New Bridges Bring New Vantages points for Rail Photographers in Cleveland, Akron

October 3, 2021

On a recent Sunday, I had the opportunity to head to Wendy Park at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River and check out the new foot bridge over the Norfolk Southern tracks at CP Drawbridge.

The foot bridge brings the Towpath Trail to its northern terminus at Lake Erie.

For us railfans it means an elevated vantage point to photograph NS Chicago Line trains. Lighting during the afternoon I spent there was perfect for westbounds coming off the Cuyahoga River lift bridge.

Depending on where the sun is you can get buildings in downtown Cleveland as your backdrop, or, as it was when I was there, FirstEnergy Stadium and the industrial structures on the east bank of the river.

To access the footbridge you park at Wendy Park or on the west bank near the Willow Street lift bridge over the old river bed.

A short walk up the ramp will get you to the best spots for photography. The fence is the large chain link so most camera lenses will fit between the links.

In Akron, the new Evans Avenue overpass over the CSX New Castle Subdivision at the east end of Akron Yard will be opening soon. The new bridge will have a fence on it over the tracks, but we’ll have to see what it looks like from beside the fencing for shots of CSX trains on the former Baltimore & Ohio.

Akron Railroad Club member Ron McElrath visited the bridge site on Sept. 17 and reported the bridge was about to open.

An access road descends toward the former grade crossing, which at the time still had working gates and lights despite the lack of a road.

The new bridge has a sidewalk that is fenced over the tracks. The Freedom Trail, which uses a portion of the former Erie Lackawanna right of way, offers good vantage points, particularly the wood stairs opposite the connection to the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Reminiscent of the Illinois Central

September 27, 2021

Norfolk Southern manifest freight 14N had something quite out of the ordinary in its consist when it left Elkhart, Indiana, on Sunday afternoon en route to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

Tacked on the rear were two former Iowa Pacific passenger cars reportedly en route to the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern, a Pennsylvania regional railroad.

The cars are painted in a livery inspired by the orange and chocolate brown of Illinois Central passenger trains, which reflected the interests of former IP CEO Ed Ellis.

The observation-type car is named Lookout Mountain and lettered “Rio Grande Scenic,” one of a number of passengers operations once operated by IP.

The cars were sold in the wake of financial difficulties that led to IP filing for bankruptcy protection in March 2021. As part of that proceeding, the trustees of IP began selling the company’s fleet of passenger equipment.

The train is shown at the west end of the CP 367 interlocking in Waterloo, Indiana.