Posts Tagged ‘Passenger cars’

Indiana City Donate SAL Passenger Car

February 23, 2021

An Indiana city has donated a former Seaboard Air Line passenger car to a Louisville group that plans to restore it to operating condition.

The observation car had been built in 1939 for use on SAL’s Silver Meteor and has been on static display for the past 25 years in Charlestown, Indiana.

The nonprofit Louisville Railway Co. estimates it will cost $10,000 to $12,000 to move the car and up to $600,000 to rebuild it to Amtrak standards.

The city is donating the car because the site where it is displayed is slated to be developed, and a proposal to move it to another site in the city was deemed to be not feasible.

South Shore to Lease Metra Cars

January 27, 2021

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District plans to lease 26 bi-level gallery cars from Chicago commuter rail operator Metra to handle increased South Shore Line commuter service.

NICTD said the increased service will occur as a result of the double tracking of the mainline between Gary and Michigan City, Indiana, and the West Lake Corridor expansion from Hammond to Dyer.

The lease will cost $3.5 million annually over 15 years. The leased cars were built between 2004 and 2006 and are similar in design to bi-level galley cars the South Shore currently operates.

Metra will refurbish the cars before South Shore takes delivery of them.

In a related development, the NICTD board  has approved a $17.1 million contract for engineering firm WSP to manage construction of the double track project.

Never Know What You’ll Find

December 27, 2020

This is the Central Indiana & Western, a short line that operates about 10 miles of track between Anderson and Lapel in central Indiana.

No, it doesn’t operate passenger service. It is apparently storing equipment owned by Mid America Rail Car Leasing.

That includes former Amtrak baggage car No. 1100, which was built by Budd in 1953 for the Santa Fe, and a former Canadian National sleeper.

The locomotive, which still has some of its former Norfolk Southern markings, is a GP38-2 that is idling on a siding by a grain elevator with the passenger equipment.

Much of the C&IW business is agriculture products, but it also serves a glass company located at the end of track in Lapel, where this image was made in early December.

Some 50 Years Later

July 10, 2019

As much as I like passenger trains, I’ve never been into studying and memorizing the history of individual cars.

I don’t have the encyclopedic knowledge of Dennis Tharp, for example, who has stored in his head a treasure trove of facts about rail passenger cars from the streamliner era.

Yet I was intrigued when Paul Woodring dug up some information about a Pennsylvania Railroad passenger car that showed up in a photograph made by Robert Farkas of the Fort Pitt in Canton in the late 1960s.

By the time Bob caught up with Train No. 53 it had shrunk to one coach and a handful of head-end cars trundling daily from Pittsburgh to Chicago.

Paul obtained the roster number of that lone passenger car in Bob’s photo, which turned out to be No. 1537, a converted PRR 21-roomette car known as Franklin Inn.

It had been built by Budd in 1949 for the Pennsy, which converted it to a coach in 1963 to serve in the Northeast Corridor.

At the time the PRR wanted more modern equipment to serve passengers traveling to the 1964 New York World’s Fair so it converted 50 Inn series cars into coach lounges.

The PRR became part of Penn Central in 1968 and after the formation of Amtrak the former Franklin Inn, now Penn Central 1537 was acquired by Southeast Michigan Transportation Authority in 1976 for use on its commuter trains on the Grand Trunk Western in Detroit.

SEMTA renamed the car Pleasant Ridge. Sometime after SEMTA rail commuter service ended in October 1983, the car was leased to Metro North.

Along the way ownership of the car and the lease to Metro North was transferred to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

After Metro North no longer needed the car, it wound up in the heritage fleet of Maryland Area Regional Commuter, which restored the Franklin Inn name and gave it roster number 142.

DCNRHS acquired Franklin Inn in November 2008. It had been retired from revenue service by MARC in 2001 when newer equipment arrived.

Although originally painted Tuscan red, the car now features the livery used by the PRR during the middle 1960s.

The website of the American Association of Private Rail Car Owners shows that Franklin Inn now carries roster number 800957 and reporting mark NRHX142. It is described as a high-capacity coach.

Paul’s interest in Franklin Inn stems from research he did on the consist of the 1968 Robert F. Kennedy funeral train that operated from New York to Washington on PC rails.

He was curious if any of the former MARC cars that were of PRR heritage that Akron Metro acquired and later conveyed to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad were in the RFK funeral train consist.

None of them were. For that matter the former Franklin Inn was not in the RFK funeral train, either, although 14 cars from former Inn series that had been converted to coaches for Congressional Service assignments.

The Congressional Service cars were normally idle on weekends.

The Franklin Inn has operated through Northeast Ohio on excursions pulled by Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.

Paul reported that it also operated behind Norfolk & Western 611 during some of its excursions in the East and South.

That sent me digging into my archive to see if I had a photograph of the Franklin Inn behind the Berkshire-type steam locomotive.

I found it in the consist of a July 2015 excursion from Ashtabula to Youngstown.

It is shown in the bottom image above on Carson Hill just outside Ashtabula. Interestingly both images show the car from the same end.

I’m not sure if Franklin Inn ever ran on the CVSR, but a sister car, Collinsville Inn has operated there along with ex-PRR car Paul Revere.

It seems odd that a car whose normal assignment was between Washington and New York would find its way to the Fort Pitt.

I wondered if the assignment of Franklin Inn to the Fort Pitt was so that the lounge section could be used in snack-bar coach service.

But a check of my collection of copies of The Official Guide of the Railways published in the late 1960s found that from at least 1965 onward the Fort Pitt was shown as being a coach-only train with no food service.

I also found that the Fort Pitt name was removed early in the Penn Central era.

So perhaps it was assigned to PRR Lines West service for another reason.

On the day that Bob photographed No. 53, he probably viewed this coach as just another passenger car.

There was reason to believe that its future with the Pennsylvania and/or Penn Central was likely to be short given how railroads were lopping off passenger trains as quickly as regulatory officials would allow.

A lot of rail passenger cars would become surplus and many would be scrapped.

But who could have known 50 years ago in Canton what the future held for the Franklin Inn and that it would still be carrying passengers five decades later.

Florida Farm Getting Circus Train Cars

February 14, 2018

A fleet of former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Train cars has found a home at an educational farm in Florida.

Owners of the Kirby Family Farm in north-central Florida said in a news release that it has agreed to take an unspecified number of the cars.

The public is invited to watch them arrive starting at 9 a.m. on Feb. 24. Cranes will lift the cars from a nearby siding to the Kirby Family Farm tracks.

The farm has acquired coaches and flat cars that once helped move the self-proclaimed “Greatest Show on Earth” from town to town.

Once the cars are delivered, the farm will use the equipment as a railroad history display.

Long-term plans are to use the coaches as dorms for overnight experiences and camps for children.

Kirby Family Farm is a 501c3 not-for-profit facility specializing in caring for at-risk and special needs children.

“This is a national treasure and a signature exhibit for our historic railroad collection, we can’t wait to share the history and lessons with all the children that come through our organization, and our guests as well,” said Daryl Kirby, co-founder of Kirby Family Farm in a statement. “We have to thank Feld Entertainment, CSX, U.S. Sugar, and so many others for making this happen.”

Before the circus train was retired in May 2017, it was the longest and most-recognized, privately owned train in the world.

Some Erie Sights

November 16, 2017

Hunter’s railroad wasn’t being very cooperative. I had set up on the West Main Street bridge in downtown Kent hoping to get a train or two on the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

Westbound intermodal trains Q015 and Q137 have been operating in mid to late afternoon of late. But I got crickets. There wasn’t as much as a peep on the radio.

After about 45 minutes of waiting, I got out and walked around to make photographs of whatever caught my eye, including some Erie Railroad relics.

The most prominent of those is the former passenger station, which has been restored and now houses an Italian restaurant.

Just south of the station is a heavyweight passenger car painted in Erie colors. It apparently is used as a meeting room, although I’ve never seen anyone in it.

There is a signal box by the station that I know I’ve seen dozens of times, but never photographed. Today I saw something there as the late afternoon sunlight cast a warm glow on the rust-covered box. Who knows how many years it has been here and how many trains it has seen?

Finally, I checked out the siding for the Star of the West grain elevator. Just the night before during a program at the Railroad Enthusiasts meeting in Cleveland there was speculation as to what will happen with this property, which closed earlier this year.

The Erie would have served this facility as did the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway. Now the siding sits unused.

At one time, one of the mainline tracks would have been here, but it has been a long time since these rails were a double-track mainline.

Siemens Cars to Replace Sharyo Cars

September 5, 2017

Single-level passenger cars built by Siemens will replace bi-level coaches that were to have been built by Nippon Sharyo. The cars are to be used on Amtrak corridor routes funded by state governments.

The departments of transportation of California and some Midwest states had ordered 130 bi-level cars from Sharyo that were to be built in Rochelle, Illinois.

However, design problems and the inability of a prototype to pass federal rigidity tests delayed the order.

The California Department of Transportation, which is leading procurement of the cars, has said it will substitute 130 Siemens cars for the Sharyo order.

The number of seats will be reduced, but state officials said the time frame for delivering the cars will be shortened from five years to 24 to 34 months.

In the Midwest, the Siemens cars are expected to replace Horizon equipment.

CSX Shops Paints ex-PRR Passenger Car Tuscan Red

August 28, 2017

A former Pennsylvania Railroad passenger car is being restored to its original colors at the CSX shops in Huntington, West Virginia.

The Braddock Inn is being repainted into its original Pennsy Tuscan red after wearing Maryland Area Regional Commuter colors for several years.

The car is slated to operate in October on the New River Train, which is hosted by CSX for the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society.

The society owns the 69-year-old car, which it also plans to operate in charter service in Washington, New York, and the Midwest beginning with trips later this year.

It was built in February 1949 as a 21-roomette sleeper and regularly assigned to the Iron City Express between New York City, Washington and Pittsburgh.

A latter assignment found it on the Indianapolis Limited as a through sleeper before it was converted to a stainless steel coach.

New Jersey Transit operated the car for several years before selling it to MARC in 2004.

As part of the restoration process, the Baddock Inn received new floors, shelving, cabinets and other lounge car amenities.

The Monroeville Flyer Doesn’t Run on Saturdays

July 20, 2017

This was the first time I’ve seen the Wheeling & Lake Erie’s “business train. “

I was driving to Bellevue on a Saturday afternoon where I was to present a program at the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum.

As I was passing through Monroeville on U.S. 20, I looked to my left as I passed the grain elevator to the south of the road.

The Sandusky-Willard branch of the Baltimore & Ohio once crossed here.

When passing by I often think about how the Akron Railroad Club in the 1960s sponsored B&O Rail Diesel Car excursions over this line to the Cedar Point amusement park.  Those trips originated at Akron Union Depot.

The line was abandoned in the 1980s but a short stretch remains in place for the Wheeling & Lake Erie to serve the grain elevator next to Route 20.

There always seems to be a small switch engine parked next to the elevator and, sometimes, some covered hopper cars.

The switcher was there as usual, but beyond it was something else and it wasn’t covered hopper cars.

It was W&LE GP35 No. 102 and a passenger car. For reasons not known to me, the Wheeling had parked its “business train” in Monroeville for the weekend.

No. 102 carries an Operation Lifesaver logo so perhaps the car was there for an OLS event. Or maybe it was going to be used for a shipper’s special.

This passenger car has a long and varied history. It was built by Pullman Standard in 1954 as a parlor-buffet lounge car for the Northern Pacific.

Burlington Northern sold it to Amtrak in 1971  and in 1982 it was acquired by the Grand Trunk Western which converted it into a track inspection car with roster number 15013. GTW was controlled by Canadian National, which later sold the car to Robert Bixler of Orrville, Ohio.

Bixler named the car, which was painted blue, the Buckeye Lady. Bixler was one of the principles of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society and the Buckeye Lady often was part of the consist of ORHS excursions.

After Bixler’s death at age 80 on April 24, 2007, the car was acquired a year later by the W&LE.  It was painted in its current livery in 2010.

I am not sure why this car was in Monroeville on this day but perhaps it was was going to be used for an Operation Lifesaver program or a shipper’s special. It is the first time I’ve seen this car since it was repainted in W&LE colors.

I turned onto a side street, parked my car and made this series of images. It has probably been a long time since the wheels of a passenger car polished the rails of that former B&O branch.

Hickory Creek to Ride Rear of LSL

June 14, 2017

Here is a heads up for Akron Railroad Club members. The Hickory Creek, the ex-Twentieth Century Limited tail car will be traveling to Chicago for the Nickel Plate Road 765 trips. It will leave New York City on the Lake Shore Limited on June 14. It will head back to NYC on the Lake Shore on June 19. I don’t know how many members can be trackside at the ungodly hour that the Lake Shore goes through Berea, but I just wanted to let you know that a treat is heading your way.

Article and Photograph by Jack Norris