Posts Tagged ‘NS trains in Cleveland’

Seeing (CN) Red in Downtown Cleveland

September 17, 2016
Norfolk Southern train 145 had a consist of three Canadian National locomotives as it rolled through Cleveland on the Cleveland District of Norfolk Southern.

Norfolk Southern train 145 had a consist of three Canadian National locomotives as it rolled through Cleveland on the Cleveland District of Norfolk Southern.

Yeah, I'd rather that the three CN units be heading toward me rather than going away, but it is still a good image anyway.

Yeah, I’d rather that the three CN units be heading toward me rather than going away, but it is still a good image anyway.

My friend Adam and I were hanging out at Old Broadway in Cleveland when we heard a westbound train calling signals.

That wasn’t what we had wanted to hear. I wanted to get an eastbound with the Cleveland skyline behind it in all of its glory.

But I wasn’t going to pass up any train. It had been more than an hour since we had arrived and I wanted to get something, anything.

The train was the 145, a westbound that originates in Buffalo, New York, and terminates in Kansas City.

I have an interesting history with the 145. In early February 2014 I bagged the 145 crossing the Painesville trestle over the Grand River on one of the best days for winter photography that I’ve ever experienced.

Ed Ribinskas won a photo contest for his image of the 145 that he made that day and received a free enlargement from Dodd Camera that prominently is displayed in his home.

More recently, I caught the 145 in Conneaut with a pair of Union Pacific locomotives and nothing else. Yes, it was running light as two UP units.

The 145 soon came into sight and as it did I could see the nose wasn’t black. We didn’t know of any Norfolk Southern  heritage units on the former Nickel Plate line.

The lead unit turned out to be a Canadian Pacific locomotive. And so was the trailing unit and so was the third unit. It was an all CN motive power consist.

Those are not necessarily rare, but not common in Cleveland, either. Not a bad way to start the day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

NS Trains at Cleveland’s Old Broadway

September 11, 2016
NS train 206 passes Old Broadway as the Cleveland skyline looms behind it.

NS train 206 passes Old Broadway as the Cleveland skyline looms behind it.

Old Broadway is a favorite go-to place of railfan photographers when a Norfolk Southern heritage unit is leading a train eastward on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline through Cleveland.

It features an open view of eastbound traffic with the Cleveland skyline in the background. I’ve seen a number of H units photographed here, but never done it myself.

Old Broadway is also a place where fellow Akron Railroad Club officer Marty Surdyk likes to photograph. His strategy is to hang out in Berea until the 22K or the 206 comes past and then barrel up Interstate 71 toward downtown to get into position.

He has been known to get his shot at Old Broadway and then hot foot it out to Willoughby and get the iconic Willoughby Coal Company building in an image.

Going back even father to the 1950s, photography Herbert Harwood photographed at Old Broadway, catching Nickel Plate steam and various passengers trains headed to Cleveland Union Terminal.

As for myself, I had never photographed at Old Broadway and it has long been on my “to do” list.

With the help of my friend Adam, I finally was able to cross it off the list.

It turns out that the term “Old Broadway” is something of misnomer. It is actually located off the end of Rockefeller Avenue.

The Old Broadway name dates to the time when, or so I am told, Broadway Avenue crossed the tracks here.

There is still a concrete foundation that appears to have once supported a bridge.

You park in a cul-de-sac that looks modern. I can’t tell you how many vehicles came down Rockefeller, saw the cul-de-sac and then turned around and went back toward where they came. Either these folks don’t have a GPS, have a faulty GPS or can’t read a map.

We were banking on the fact that the 22K and the 206 both seem to be reliably late morning trains through Cleveland.

Maybe so on most days, but not on this day. We arrived about 9 a.m. and sat for an hour-and-a-half before getting a train. It was a westbound, the 145.

Just over a half-hour passed before another train showed up. It, too was a westbound, the 205.

It was almost noon and we decided to give it just a little more time. Then we got lucky.

The scanner brought news that we not had one, but two eastbounds coming, the 206 and the 310.

As we expected, the 206 arrived first. The last containers of the 206 were still in sight when the head end of the 310 came around the curve.

By now the sky had turned to sun and clouds so we played dodge ball with the light and shadows, not always winning.

But the images turned out well enough. We might have to give Old Broadway another try some day. Maybe this one of those eastbounds will have a heritage unit on the lead.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Here comes NS train 206 as Terminal Tower looks on.

Here comes NS train 206 as Terminal Tower looks on.

Getting the train and the buildings of downtown Cleveland both in sunlight provided elusive much of the time as the 206 passed by.

Getting the train and the buildings of downtown Cleveland both in sunlight provided elusive much of the time as the 206 passed by.

Here comes NS train 310 as the last containers of train 206 clear.

Here comes NS train 310 as the last containers of train 206 clear.

Train 310 is walking in sunshine, but much of downtown Cleveland is in shadows.

Train 310 is walking in sunshine, but much of downtown Cleveland is in shadows.

Tracks still lead into Cleveland Union Terminal, but they are the rails of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Show is NS train 310 passing beneath Terminal Tower.

Tracks still lead into Cleveland Union Terminal, but they are the rails of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Show is NS train 310 passing beneath Terminal Tower, which is partly shrouded in shadows.

Another perspective of NS 310 and Terminal Tower.

Another perspective of NS 310 and Terminal Tower.

Getting a last look at the motive power of NS 310.

Getting a last look at the motive power of NS 310.

By the time that NS train 205 showed up in late morning the light was starting to look favorably on westbound trains.

By the time that NS train 205 showed up in late morning the light was starting to look favorably on westbound trains.

A closer view of the motive power of NS train 205 shows that the number boards for NS 8166 have black backgrounds and white numerals rather than the other way around.

A closer view of the motive power of NS train 205 shows that the number boards for NS 8166 have black backgrounds and white numerals rather than the other way around.

Looks like a white snake slinking its way under the gaze of Terminal Tower.

Looks like a white snake slinking its way under the gaze of Terminal Tower.

The tail end of NS train 205. For once the clouds weren't casting any shadows over downtown Cleveland.

The tail end of NS train 205. For once the clouds weren’t casting any shadows over downtown Cleveland.

NS 9-1-1 Spotted in Cleveland Last Sunday

February 2, 2016

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This past Sunday I caught the Norfolk Southern 9-1-1 at Battery Park in Cleveland crossing the new Edgewater Park overpass. I was happy to see several photo ops around the bridge and thought I should let others know about it.

The 9-1-1 was leading the eastbound 16G and was reported through Berea at about 11:30 a.m. About an hour later it rolled through Macedonia as it continued its way down the Cleveland Line toward Pittsburgh.

Photographs by Alex Bruchac

Pair of Special NS Locomotives

December 17, 2015

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Norfolk Southern train 34N on Wednesday didn’t have the ordinary motive power on the point. Pulling it was NS 6920, the veteran’s tribute unit, and the 9-1-1, the first responders tribute unit.

The train passed through Cleveland in late morning. The train is shown passing Battery Park on the near west side of Cleveland.

The two locomotives had worked together last weekend to pull a Santa Claus train on NS out of Decatur, Illinois.

Photograph by Roger Durfee

NS Moving Trains to Lightly-Used Ohio Routes

December 12, 2014

There has been much talk in railfan forums of late about how Norfolk Southern has been shifting traffic around in Ohio in an effort to alleviate congestion on the busy Chicago Line between Cleveland and Chicago.

The need to address congestion on this route became quite clear this summer and fall when Amtrak trains were delayed for hours due to freight trains sitting on the tracks ahead awaiting new crews.

NS routes in Northern Ohio has or will be seeing increased traffic as NS reworks routings to more efficiently move traffic.

The somnolent former Nickel Plate Road route between Vermilion and Cleveland is sleepy no more. NS is now routing 10 to 12 trains daily on average over this line, most of which have been re-routed from the Chicago Line through Cleveland.

This includes trains 145, 14T, 287, 310, 316 and 309, which no longer use the connection at Vermilion to access the Chicago Line.

Instead, these trains run through Cleveland on the ex-NKP through Lakewood, Rocky River and Bay Village.

The pickup and setoffs that were once done by trains 145 and 14T at Rockport Yard are now handled by a Rockport-Bellevue turn job, the 364.

Also operating via the ex-NKP east of Vermilion are Conway (Pittsburgh)-Bellevue trains 14K and 15K. These trains operate between Conway and Ashtabula via the Youngstown Line and then take the southwest connection between that route and the ex-NKP in Ashtabula.

Traditional ex-NKP line trains that continue to reach the Chicago Line in Cleveland via the Cloggsville connection include 22K, 23K, 205 and 206.

Before the latest increase in the use of the ex-NKP on the west side of Cleveland, the route averaged about two trains a day.

To handle the increase in traffic, NS has reinstated the first shift operator at the Lorain drawbridge, which is now open 24/7.

NS also plans to increase traffic on the Fort Wayne Line west of Alliance, Ohio.

The scope of increased NS operations via the Fort Wayne Line remains to be seen, but word is that crude oil and other heavy trains may be shifted to that route all the way to Fort Wayne, Ind.

Reportedly, NS is establishing a crew district between Mansfield and Fort Wayne.

NS currently owns the Fort Wayne Line between Pittsburgh and Crestline. West of Crestline, CSX owns the route to Bucyrus.

Since the Conrail breakup in 1999, NS has continued to route some traffic on the Fort Wayne Line as far west as Bucyrus where it can take connecting tracks to go south to Columbus or north to Bellevue via the Sandusky District.

Between Crestline and Bucyrus, NS has authority to operate eight trains per day and six daily west of Bucyrus. It has not operated west of Bucyrus on a regular basis, though.

The primary user of the route west of Bucyrus is the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern, which also uses the Fort Wayne Line east to Crestline.

Online reports indicate that although CSX owns the land on which the Fort Wayne Line sits west of Bucyrus, the CF&E owns the rails. NS, though, continues to dispatch the Fort Wayne Line.

CSX has never made much use of the Fort Wayne Line west of Crestline. This is because of a number of factors that also hinder NS’ use of the route.

One of the major operating challenges in using the Fort Wayne Line is the lack of passing sidings. The existing sidings also tend to be short.

The line has just two passing sidings between Bucyrus and Fort Wayne, located at Upper Sandusky and Lima.

The track on the Fort Wayne Line west of Bucyrus has not received much maintenance and speed limits are low.

Another factor is that the railroads is “dark” west of Bucyrus with the only signals being located at interlockings.

Both Penn Central and Conrail saw the Fort Wayne as secondary to other routes when it came to routing traffic between Pittsburgh and the Midwest.

Conrail did make use of the Fort Wayne Line east of Crestline with trains originating in Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and St. Louis that were bound for Pittsburgh and beyond using the route.

But that traffic pretty much ended with the Conrail breakup. The late 1990 rerouting of Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and Broadway Limited off the Fort Wayne Line also resulted in further cutbacks in maintenance, particularly west of Bucyrus.

One recent online report cited unnamed sources as saying that the Fort Wayne Line would be seeing as many as 30 trains a day west of Alliance within three months.

Some raised questions about that number, but from outward appearances, there is reason to believe that NS will be increasing its use of the Fort Wayne Line.

In late fall, the NS executive train made a trip over the Fort Wayne Line and online postings have reported seeing an increase in track work on the Fort Wayne Line in western Ohio.

In the meantime, NS has increased the number of coal trains that it routes over the Ohio Central between Columbus and Mingo Junction.

Until this fall, NS has exercised its right to use the former Pennsylvania mainline east of Columbus on an as needed basis.

One report has it that by routing coal trains over the OC, NS saves two NS crews per trip. As NS adds additional crews in Mansfield, it may make less use of the OC route for coal traffic.

Finally, there is a report that NS is eyeing the Peavine route between Cincinnati and Portsmouth, Ohio.

A short line operator, Frontier Rail, has been serving customers in the Cincinnati area after NS ceased using the former Norfolk & Western route.

The coming months are going to be interesting ones in which to observe how NS operations in Ohio continue to shake out.

Photographers who have forsaken the Fort Wayne due to lack of action may have to re-evaluate their plans.

It also might be time to make a trip south to the stretch of the ex-Pennsy Pittsburgh-St. Louis line that is jointly used by Ohio Central and the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

To be sure, none of the traffic moves have transformed these light- to moderately-used routes into busy mainlines hosting trains at streetcar frequencies. It does mean, though, that the odds of finding a train in daylight have been enhanced.

Although the route changes mean fewer NS trains rolling through Berea, there still promises to be plenty of action there to satisfy train watchers.

NS and CSX for Threeeeeeee

May 31, 2014

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With Norfolk Southern and CSX each having double track mainline, there is the potential for four trains to be moving simultaneously through the Berea interlocking.

I’ve never seen four trains at the same time in Berea, but on occasion I’ve seen three. One of those occasions occurred on a recent Sunday when a pair of CSX intermodal trains plus an eastbound NS  auto rack train were passing through at the same time.

Seeing that the westbound CSX train had a number of “bare tables,” I spotted an opportunity to capture all three trains in the same image. As luck would have it, a “bare table” came along just when I needed it. I even managed to get BE tower in the frame as well.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders