Posts Tagged ‘NS motive power’

Coming Into Camden

August 25, 2022

Led by a Union Pacific unit, an eastbound Norfolk Southern merchandise train rolls into Camden, Ohio, on the New Castle District in the southwest corner of the state. The train is crossing Barnetts Mill Road on the north edge of town. There is a passing siding here and a westbound was sitting in the siding having been there for several hours awaiting a new crew. The image was made April 2, 2022.

NS Local Switching in Orrville

August 25, 2022

Here are three from Orrville made on Oct. 19, 2021. The Norfolk Southern local that switches Orrville and other locations runs push-pull in order to make the reverse move and to switch industries. NS 6345 and NS 6308 are westbound at the still in-use ex-Pennsylvania Railroad westbound signal at the east end of Orrville. Having pulled into Orrville, the local reverses with NS 5607 on the point as the train heads up the spur to Smucker’s and an industrial park. The two locomotives are being towed up the spur.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

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.

Here Comes the NS 145 in Painesville

January 30, 2022

For several years in late January or early February, I would get together with Ed Ribinskas and Marty Surdyk for a day of railfanning in Lake County. Sometimes Jeff Troutman would join us.

We would spend much of the day on the CSX Erie West Subdivision and the Lake Erie District of Norfolk Southern in and near Perry.

This being Northeast Ohio, we always expected winter weather. By that I mean snow. But not every year saw bountiful snow on the ground despite Lake County being in a region of Ohio known for heavy snow.

During a few of those outings, the day was dark and dreary with little evidence of the beauty of winter.

That was not the case, though, during our outing of Feb. 2, 2014.

Overnight it had rained and then snow fell as the temperatures dropped.

The wet conditions meant that snow clung to just about everything in sight and pretty much stayed that way all day.

The result was one of the best winter railfanning outings I’ve ever had.

Several image from that day I’ve posted on this site before and Marty has shown during Akron Railroad Club programs some of the slides he made that day.

Ed won a monthly “best photograph” contest at Dodd Camera and received a free framed enlargement of that image that he has hanging on a wall of the dining room of his house.

That winning image was made late in the afternoon of westbound NS manifest freight 145 crossing the trestle over the Grand River in Painesville.

Last week I was rummaging through some of my digital file folders from early 2014 when I came across the images I made on Feb. 2.

Much to my surprise, I’ve only posted a few of those images on my Flickr page.

So I spent a couple days selecting and processing in Photoshop some images that had never been processed.

Shown above is a three-image sequence of the 145 crossing the now replaced Grand River trestle.

We were standing just beyond the west end of the bridge with all of us taking slightly different angles. What I liked about this series is how each image offers a different perspective.

The sequence begins with the train approaching the trestle from the east end, which captures that sense of anticipation that something memorable is about to happen.

It continues with an image of the train about halfway across the trestle and offers that compressed view common with images made with a telephoto lens.

The final image is what many would consider the money shot. Ed won the photo contest with an image similar to this one.

The train has reached the west edge of the bridge but is not yet off of it. The image combines the elements of a close train with a wide scenic view in a sort of convergence.

When I originally processed that image nearly eight years ago I converted it to black and white. There wasn’t much color in the scene and the conditions just seemed to say “black and white world.”

But after working with the image in color I decided it looks good in that form, too.

This day was one of the very few times I ever photographed NS operations on the Painesville trestle at the west end. I have numerous images from the east end, but rarely sought to do the west end.

The trestle had been built decades earlier by the Nickel Plate Road and was one of those structures that was always there even though ownership of the railroad changed to Norfolk & Western and then to Norfolk Southern.

It was always there even after the steam locomotives were retired, after the passenger trains were discontinued and after one generation of diesel locomotives had made way for another.

Generations of railroaders hired out and later retired after having crossed this bridge countless times during their long careers.

And then, so it seemed, one day the trestle was gone, replaced by a bridge that seems nondescript by comparison.

When viewed in this context, I’m even more pleased that we took the time in 2014 to get the photographs that we did of the 145 crossing the trestle.

Interestingly, that day was the only time I ever photographed an NS train crossing the trestle from ground level. But that is a story for another day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

NS Local in Orrville

January 28, 2022

We’re back trackside in Orrville and watching the local at work. In the image above, the train is moving eastbound on the Fort Wayne Line.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

NS Revising its Operating Plan

January 28, 2022

Norfolk Southern has given its operating plan a new name.

During a fourth quarter earnings call with investors this week, company officials said the new plan, known as TOP SPG, involves a reworking of the railroad’s merchandise operating plan.

TOP, which denotes Thoroughbred Operating Plan, is the NS version of precision scheduled railroading, which the company implemented in summer 2019.

SPG stands for service, productivity and growth, which Chief Operating Officer Cindy Sanborn described as the three facets of the plan.

The operating plan covers all types of trains and freight. The plan calls for long trains and a more balanced train plan that NS President Alan Shaw said seeks to improve efficiency and service.

The new operating plan will be implemented this spring as NS places into service a new wave of conductors who are going through training.

Sanborn acknowledged that during the fourth quarter service quality was not where the company wanted it to be, which she attributed in part to crew shortages in some regions of the NS network when the number of operating personnel fell by 8 percent.

NS has sought to compensate for this by boosting its locomotive fleet by 5 percent by putting back into service idled units. It also has been operating fewer but longer trains.

During the fourth quarter average train speed declined 17 percent compared with the same period in 2020. Terminal dwell increased 24 percent.

Sanborn said both metrics have improved this month but NS remains hindered by crew shortages stemming from COVID-19 infections and quarantines.

NS plans to continue to convert locomotives from DC to AC traction operation. Sanborn said the motive power fleet is now 60 percent AC traction and two-thirds of it is capable of being used as distributed power.

During the fourth quarter NS completed one siding project and plans eight additional siding projects in the Southeast where many routes are single track.

Adding siding capacity is key to being able to operate longer trains.

First Train of the Day

December 7, 2021

Getting that first train of the day during a photography outing can feel special, particularly if it comes along shortly after you’ve reached trackside.

Shown is NS train 25A at Ball interlocking in Cowan, Indiana, on the New Castle District. Ball is a set of crossovers toward the middle of a long passing siding south of Muncie, the home of Ball State University and a glass jar manufacturer in whose honor the college is named.

I had first spotted the 25A in Muncie and hustled out here to make this image. I’ve photographed several westbounds in Cowan but never an eastbound.

This train is typical of railroading in the precision scheduled railroading era. The 25A is, in theory, an intermodal train operating from Calumet Yard in Chicago to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

It did have some containers in the consist but these days you can find just about anything in the consist of many trains.

The 25A would not be operating very much further beyond Ball before halting near York Point, where the siding ends. The 142 was coming west.

I didn’t wait around to see that meet. I was heading back into Muncie to catch the 142 on a bridge over the White River.

NS Excursion Train in Coshocton

October 29, 2021

It’s Sept. 28, 1985, and a pair of Norfolk Southern high hood units are pulling an excursion train through Coshocton. We don’t have any information as to where this train originated or was going. If you know, drop us a line.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Eastbound in Massillon

October 13, 2021

NS 4390 leads a herd of its stablemates on eastbound at CP Mace in Massillon on June 12, 2021. The train is on the Fort Wayne Line, which these days sees only a few trains a day.

Photogoraph by Robert Farkas

Pole Line Remnants

June 3, 2021

There was a time when major railroad lines had poles carrying code lines used in communications systems. Newer forms of technology did in pole lines and many railroads have removed the poles and wires.

The latter in particular were often targeted by thieves seeking to steal the copper wire to sell at a salvage yard.

When pole lines were common, some railroad photographers disliked them, seeing them as clutter. But I’ve come to view pole lines or what is left of them in a different way.

Where they exist they add a sense of railroad history to a scene.

The photographs above were made on May 29 on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern just west of Brimfield, Indiana.

I had heard the eastbound 20E calling signals over the radio and looked for a grade crossing at which to catch it. When I saw the remnants of a pole line here I knew this was the place.

It also was nice to have some adjacent farm fields in which the corn is coming up for another harvest season.