Posts Tagged ‘NS locomotive power’

The Paint Was Barely Dry on NS 7328

April 26, 2017

Norfolk Southern 7328 used to be Union Pacific 8263.

There was something that looked different about the Norfolk Southern train of hoppers as it approached Olmsted Falls.

The lead unit of train 547 was gleaming in the mid-morning sunlight and there was a couple of specs of orange behind it.

It turned out that NS 7328 had just been repainted. That was good news and bad news.

The good news is that a freshly-painted locomotive, even one that is black, makes for a nice image. The bad news is that this is one of the former Union Pacific SD9043MACs that NS purchased used a while back.

These units ran around in UP Armour yellow for a while, sans their UP markings, and added a spot of color to the otherwise all black NS world.

Sure, NS has heritage locomotives and special tribute locomotives to break up the black monotony, but it is still good to get some color every now and then.

In the case of this train the two trailing BNSF “pumpkins” helped to provide just enough of that to enhance the interest of this motive power set.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Let’s Get Behind the Horses

April 19, 2017

Many years ago when I was a kid we were on a family vacation out east. We saw a billboard that read, “let’s get behind the birds,” making a reference to the Baltimore Orioles Major League Baseball team.

The billboard had a team photo that was taken from behind the players, not in front of them.

The vast majority of the time, railroad photographs show the nose of a locomotive approaching the photographer.

This Norfolk Southern light power move — symbol 967 — is headed from Columbus to Bellevue.

With the exception of DPU units, it is not often that the rear of a locomotive is also the rear of the train.

Chasing a 1984 Passenger Excursion

February 3, 2017

Eastbound crossing the Chessie System (now R.J. Corman) track east of Brewster yard.

Here is something a little bit different. This is from an excursion 32 years ago. I don’t know if this is a Norfolk Southern excursion or perhaps Orrville Railroad Heritage Society excursion. It may have been ORHS’ first excursion. It began in Orrville or Brewster, but I photographed it from Brewster to Zanesville. These photos were taken on what is now mostly the Ohio Central as the train ran southbound on Oct. 6, 1984.

Photographs by Robert Farkas


Southbound under the Route 93 bridge in Dundee.





The power has cut off in Zanesville.

Pair of Pennsy Keystones

December 6, 2016
It's a Pennsylvania Railroad keystone rolling over the top of another Pennsy keystone in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. NS No. 8102 is leading westbound stack train 21Q.

It’s one Pennsylvania Railroad keystone rolling over the top of another Pennsy keystone in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. NS No. 8102 is leading westbound stack train 21Q, which is passing an eastbound stack train on the Fort Wayne Line.

Last Saturday my friend Adam Barr and I headed for Pittsburgh for a morning of railfanning Norfolk Southern in the steel city.

We had been in town about a half-hour when an an online report popped up that the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit was headed west past Manor, Pennsylvania, with a load of sea cans. That turned out to be stack train 21Q.

Manor is east of the Pittsburgh where the Pennsylvania Turnpike crosses over the NS Pittsburgh line between Pittsburgh and Altoona, Pennsylvania.

We headed for California Avenue with the idea of getting an image of the locomotive paying tribute to the PRR on a structure that was built by the PRR, the Ohio Connecting Bridge that today carries the NS Mon Line.

When I think of railroads in Pittsburgh, structures such as this come to mind. I also think of the former Pennsylvania Railroad.

We were able to get ahead of the train and catch it at CP Leets in Leetsdale. Although I had my scanner on, we didn’t get any warning of the train approaching because I didn’t pick it up calling any signals.

Our “heads up” was another railfan bolting from his car and running toward the bridge over the tracks that carries a road leading into an industrial park. I was barely able to get the shot I wanted of the Pennsy heritage unit passing former Pennsy position light signals.

We weren’t sure if we could beat the 21Q to East Conway because it was moving along at a good clip. But it turned out the stacker would have a long wait there because of traffic working in Conway Yard that needed to come out to East Conway for head room as well as the need for the 21Q to change crews.

Our last photo op of the 21Q was planned for the bridge over the Beaver River in Beaver Falls. But things did not go according to plan because Adam, who was driving, could not find a parking spot in a timely manner.

He dropped me off at the east end of the sidewalk of the bridge and I walked as fast as I could toward the river. I wouldn’t make it.

The 21Q had already called the signal at the Brighton and I could see its headlight illuminating the sides of the containers of an eastbound stack train that was slowly making its way toward Conway.

I noticed the Fort Wayne Line bridge had an old, but faded Pennsylvania Railroad keystone and decided to make that the focal point of my last photograph of NS 8102, thus ending my chase of the 21Q with an image of a pair of Pennsy keystones.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders


Coming at you on the OC bridge.


When I think of Pittsburgh I think of massive bridges and the Pennsylvania Railroad. This is as close as I can come to recreating the golden age of the PRR in the steel city.


For the second time in 2016, I caught the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage locomotive passing by former PRR position light signals.


With a new crew on board, the 21Q gets underway at East Conway.


A roster-type shot at East Conway of NS 8102.

Getting Lucky in Graytown

October 18, 2016



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

NS To Take Delivery of Tier 4 Locomotives

May 20, 2016

General Electric Transportation expects to deliver Tier-4 compliant locomotives to Norfolk Southern this spring, making it the fifth Class I railroad to receive ET44ACs.

The units are being built  in Fort Worth, Texas, and are part of a 47-unit order.

NS logo 2Tier 4 emission standards were issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and took effect last year.

The first of the locomotives, No. 3600, will be tested by the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio before being delivered to NS. The units will have roster numbers 3600-3646.

NS also has on order three ES44AC locomotives that meet Tier 3 emission standards, but are permitted under existing regulations by having the builder apply emission credits already banked toward the locomotives.

Those credits were earned by applying energy-saving design technologies to locomotives already built and in operation.

Carrying roster numbers 8166-8168, those units are being built in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern are the only North American Class I railroads that have yet to buy Tier 4-compliant locomotives.

Look What I Found in Bellevue

March 22, 2016




On Sunday I drove out to Bellevue to catch the Rio Grande tunnel motor pair. While driving by the Norfolk Southern yard on Ohio Route 4, I spotted a strange sight.

I turned around to park and got these photos of NS 8509 a GE C40-8.5 just out of the rebuild program. It and several sisters are testing in road service, most without a full paint job.

Unlike the SD60e program, which has been fairly successful, this rebuild program is not going so well. The other day 8505 was leading a train and failed on the road.

Currently, just the engines that have been finished will remain in use but further rebuilds have been canceled.

Article and Photograph by Todd Dillon

NS Displays GP33ECO Switchers in Atlanta

September 3, 2015

NS eco 1

NS eco 2

Norfolk Southern showed off this week its new GP33ECO switcher locomotive fleet that it plans to use in Atlanta.

Designed and built in the NS Altoona, Pennsylvania, Juniata locomotive shops, 10 of the four-axle EPA Tier-3 compliant units have been finished.

They are to be assigned to Inman Yard, a major NS intermodal hub located northwest of downtown Atlanta.

NS said that 65 percent of the cost of the locomotives has been underwritten by a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program grant administered through various federal and state agencies, including the Federal Highway Administration, the Georgia Department of Transportation Environmental Protection Division and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Based on an EMD GP50, the 3,000 horsepower GP33ECOs have 12N-710G3BT3 (“710 ECO Kit”) prime-mover from Electro-Motive Diesel, D87 traction motors, new radiators with two-speed fans, electrical cabinets with EM 2000 microprocessor, an AR15 main traction alternator (retained from the GP50) and a CA6 companion alternator (a replacement for the D 18).

Each unit has also been fitted with an NS Admiral Cab. The flared radiators “are similar to those of an SD70,” said NS Mechanical Engineer-Locomotive Design Mark Duve.

A GP33ECO mother unit will be attached to a ballasted slug unit equipped with four DC traction motors and two EMD electrical cabinets.

“Unlike other slugs, this one goes through transition and does not cut out at 20 mph,” Duve said. “The combination gets very close to Tier 4, compared to two switcher locomotives operating as a multiple unit. It runs at a higher, more efficient throttle notch setting, notches 4 through 6. We estimate its tractive effort to be equivalent to that of a new GP59.”

The railroad said the using the locomotives  “will help Atlanta achieve federal clean air standards and will produce significant, measurable emissions reductions and fuel savings.”

NS plans to use additional CMAQ grants to create GP33ECO locomotives for use in yard in Macon and Rome, Georgia, and in Chicago.

The GP33ECO features a stylistic green paint scheme with a Georgia-shaped icon and the slogan “Working Together for a Cleaner State.”

NS calculates that the 10 Eco units will account for 6.6 fewer tons of particulate matter and 155 fewer tons of nitrogen oxides in the air.

“In addition to lower emissions and fuel savings, benefits include operating efficiencies, as each Eco unit can replace two older, less-efficient locomotives,” said NS Chief Operating Officer Mark Manion. “Over the past five years, we have significantly lowered greenhouse gas emissions of our locomotive fleet, achieving an 8.5 percent reduction per revenue ton-mile.”