Posts Tagged ‘NS RoadRailers’

RoadRailer Rambles

July 19, 2020

An eastbound Norfolk Southern RoadRailer train passes through downtown Cleveland on Aug. 6, 1989.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s the Norfolk Southern RoadRailer was sort of the in thing as the heritage units are currently.

I was never able to see the Conrail or Union Pacific RoadRailers and missed an opportunity to see the CSX rendition. We were set up in Kentucky to catch the CSX RoadRailer train led by the F-units but it was out of service on this day.

However I did have good luck with NS and  here are some of my favorite catches.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Crossing the Grand River in Painesville on April 16, 1989.

Soaring over Conneaut Creek and the Bessemer & Lake Erie tracks in Conneaut on April 16, 1989.

In Bellevue on April 30, 1989.

In April 1989 the former Nickel Plate still crossed the former Wheeling & Lake Erie in Bellevue on a diamond.

At Spring City, Tennessee, on June 28, 1989.

Going into the siding at Conneaut on Aug. 12, 1989, as a westbound steam special waits.

Already Forgotten?

February 20, 2016

Triple Crown in the Falls

It is has been merely a matter of a few months, but it seems as though Norfolk Southern RoadRailers have been gone for years.

They used to be a common sight during railfan outings in Northeast Ohio, but changing economic conditions prompted NS to shut down all but one route for its Triple Crown subsidiary, which offered the RoadRailer service.

In the end NS was the last railroad to offer RoadRailer service. Shown above is an eastbound RoadRailer train passing through Olmsted Falls on Sept. 24, 2011.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Consultant Laments the Near End of RoadRailers

November 30, 2015

A railroad industry consultant believes that Norfolk Southern decided to reduce the scope of its RoadRailer operations because it felt uncomfortable being the only railroad to continue to embrace the technology.

Larry Gross told Trains magazine that had other railroads continued to operate RoadRailers then NS might have followed suit.

Instead, NS this month scaled back its RoadRailer operations to one lane, which carries automotive parts between Detroit and Kansas City.

Gross, who has been involved with the RoadRailer program since the 1980s told the magazine that RoadRailers worked best for shorter hauls.

He said they were ideal for the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast, and were well-suited for moving such freight as auto parts

However, as railroads focused more on hauling longer, heavier trains the RoadRailer train became an outlier, Gross said.

Gross, who described himself as a “true believer” in the RoadRailer concept, said that the NS decision to do away with most RoadRailer lanes represents a “missed opportunity” for the industry.

NS operated its RoadRailer service under the Triple Crown brand. Many NS RoadRailer trains that ran through Northeast Ohio had originally been Conrail trains.

Other railroads that operated RoadRailer service for a time included CSX, Amtrak and BNSF.

When it announced that it was doing away with most RoadRailer trains, NS said it would incorporate that traffic into general intermodal services.

The Triple Crown subsidiary of NS was based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. About 200 Triple Crown employees are expected to be out of work as a result of the restructuring.

RoadRailers were specialty trailers that did not need to be loaded onto a flat car. Although the technology dates to the 1950s, the concept did not take off until the 1980s.

Conrail and NS launched Triple Crown Services in 1986. The service moved 5,000 trailer loads during its first year, but by 2007 had grown to 294,000 loads a year.

Last NS RoadRailer Passes Through NE Ohio

November 19, 2015

Online reports indicate that Norfolk Southern’s RoadRailer trains made their last pass through Northeast Ohio on Tuesday.

No. 261, the last westbound RoadRailer, was led by NS 6782 and had a Union Pacific unit trailing.

A few photographers got out to make photographs of the last RoadRailer trains and posted them on TrainOrders.com.

This included one fellow who flew his drone over the Triple Crown yard in Sandusky. Reportedly, this facility will be closed.

There has been speculation that some RoadRailer equipment may pass through in a positioning move now that regular service has ended.

NS announced earlier that it was phasing all out RoadRailer trains except those operating between Detroit and Kansas City.

NS to Cut RoadRailer Service to 1 Route

September 19, 2015

In recent years trackside scuttlebutt among railfans has been that Norfolk Southern was going to get out of the RoadRailer business.

It isn’t going to quite happen that way, but NS did announce on Friday that it plans to pare its RoadRailer operations to one route that will carry automobile parts between Detroit and Kansas City.

Other routes served by RoadRailers will be converted to container trains. In the process, NS expects to lay off by the end of the year about 200 of the 240 employees working for Triple Crown Services, which oversees the RoadRailer service.

NS said in a statement that the affected employees will be eligible for severance pay, job placement assistance and opportunities to apply for positions at NS.

“This change is a natural evolution in the business,” said NS Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Alan H. Shaw. “We want to retain the best of TCS in specific markets, with efficient door-to-door logistics and award-winning customer service.”

RoadRailers are reinforced tractor-trailer boxes that can ride atop a single railroad truck.

The concept has been around since the 1960s, but has failed to gain traction at most railroads, with NS being one of the exceptions. Triple Crown is the last major carrier to use RoadRailer trailers.

President’s Day Morning Sojourn

February 21, 2013
A westbound manifest freight passes through Kent with the stoned arch bridge carrying Main Street over the Cuyahoga River and the CSX New Castle Subdivision in the background.

A westbound manifest freight passes through Kent with the stoned arch bridge carrying Main Street over the Cuyahoga River and the CSX New Castle Subdivision in the background.

The President’s Day holiday gave me a rare Monday off and I headed toward Kent with the objective of photographing the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway job that goes to Ravenna and back out of Akron’s Brittain Yard. The ABC does not operate on the former Erie Railroad line to Kent and Ravenna on weekends.

Before leaving home, I received an email report that the Nickel Plate Road heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern was a trailing unit on a 64N that had stopped at Motor Yard in Macedonia to pick up a buffer car for the rear of the train at around 7:45 a.m.

I’ve photographed the NKP unit before, but always accompanied by the NKP 765 steam locomotive.

I didn’t get away from the house until close to 8:30 so it was a long shot to catch that train. But maybe if it got delayed and I could photograph it at Brady Lake.

I saw the north end of Motor Yard from Interstate 480 but there was no sign of the 64N. I would later learn that I had missed the 64N by, maybe, 10 to 15 minutes.

My inspection of the rails of the ABC at the Ravenna Road crossing led me to conclude that the job to Ravenna had already passed here because there were fresh flange marks in the snow.

I snapped some photos of the ex-Erie bridge over the NS Cleveland Line and then got a westbound RoadRailer train. With the recent discussion that NS may phase out its RoadRailer trains I have been making photographing them a priority.

I couldn’t be certain that the ABC job was in Ravenna, so I went into Kent where I figured I had a better chance of catching it if it only worked in Kent before returning to Brittain Yard.

CSX seems to be busier through Kent in the mornings than the afternoons and I was able to catch a pair of westbounds.

I spotted the ABC job at about 10:45. In an earlier post I described how it stopped for the crew to “repair’ a crossing gate at Main Street.

I caught two more CSX trains, one in each direction, before heading home. I should have stayed out longer, particularly since it was mostly sunny. But it had still been a nice morning and was pleased with what I was able to find.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A peaceful, serene setting at Brady Lake where the former Erie Railroad tracks cross over the NS Cleveland Line. The footprints in the snow belong to ARRC member Todd D Dillon who was here Sunday to photograph NS trains.

A peaceful, serene setting at Brady Lake where the former Erie Railroad tracks cross over the NS Cleveland Line. The footprints in the snow belong to ARRC member Todd D Dillon who was here Sunday to photograph NS trains.

A RoadRailer at Brady Lake is headed toward Cleveland.

A RoadRailer at Brady Lake is headed toward Cleveland.

A westbound CSX coke train passes the Star of the West grain elevator in Kent.

A westbound CSX coke train passes the Star of the West grain elevator in Kent.

A westbound manifest freight is about to duck under Main Street. Note the reflection of the fence on the bridge in the window on the fireman's side of the cab.

A westbound manifest freight is about to duck under Main Street. Note the reflection of the fence on the bridge in the window on the fireman’s side of the cab.

An arch in the Main Street bridge frames an eastbound train of coal hoppers.

An arch in the Main Street bridge frames an eastbound train of coal hoppers.

The ABC job pauses next to the ex-Erie passenger station in Kent.

The ABC job pauses next to the ex-Erie passenger station in Kent.

On the move to Akron the ABC job passes one of the few remaining poles from the Erie days.

On the move to Akron the ABC job passes one of the few remaining poles from the Erie days.

Just about back onto the single track, the ABC job crosses Summit Street.

Just about back onto the single track, the ABC job crosses Summit Street.