Posts Tagged ‘Passenger cars’

EL Monday: It’s Not the Lake Cities

April 11, 2022

By 1973, the condition of the tracks in Marion used by Erie Lackawanna and Penn Central was rough as can be seen in this image of a westbound EL train. In the consist is a passenger car that probably is being ferried somewhere. No, the EL had not gotten back into the passenger business by running mixed trains. The Lake Cities, the last EL intercity passenger train, had ceased operating in early January 1970.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Everett Acquires 2 Heavyweight Cars

March 24, 2022

A Pennsylvania short line railroad has acquired two heavyweight passengers from a defunct California tourist railroad.

The Everett Railroad plans to operate the cars on its own tourist trains.

The cars were recently prepared for shipping from the Fillmore & Western Railway via Union Pacific.

The cars being acquired by the Everett include Powhatan Café, a parlor car built by Pullman for the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad; and the Rancho Sespe — named for a large Fillmore ranch — which was once operated by the Colorado & Southern Railway.

Some Varnish on a Wheeling & Lake Erie Train

November 15, 2021

The Wheeling & Lake Erie Lima train No. 430 had a special consist of five passenger cars and a former Nickel Plate Road GP30 added to its compliment of freight cars on Sunday.

I caught it at several location with what turned out to be the first significant snowfall of the year.  The 430 was led by Wheeling No. 5314, an ex-Denver & Rio Grande Western tunnel motor.

The GP30 and passenger cars are going to Brewster to run employee Santa trips the day after Thanksgiving

The first two images were made at Upper Sandusky. The third image shows former Nickel Plate passenger car City of Chicago.

In the fourth photograph are the new signals at North Robinson, Ohio.  These look like Pennsylvania Railroad style position light signals but in fact are new replacements with LED lights

The bottom photograph was made under the signal bridge at Crestline. All of these images were made on the rails of the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Reminiscent of the Illinois Central

September 27, 2021

Norfolk Southern manifest freight 14N had something quite out of the ordinary in its consist when it left Elkhart, Indiana, on Sunday afternoon en route to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

Tacked on the rear were two former Iowa Pacific passenger cars reportedly en route to the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern, a Pennsylvania regional railroad.

The cars are painted in a livery inspired by the orange and chocolate brown of Illinois Central passenger trains, which reflected the interests of former IP CEO Ed Ellis.

The observation-type car is named Lookout Mountain and lettered “Rio Grande Scenic,” one of a number of passengers operations once operated by IP.

The cars were sold in the wake of financial difficulties that led to IP filing for bankruptcy protection in March 2021. As part of that proceeding, the trustees of IP began selling the company’s fleet of passenger equipment.

The train is shown at the west end of the CP 367 interlocking in Waterloo, Indiana.

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.