Posts Tagged ‘passenger trains’

Chasing the AARPCO Specials in Chicago

September 6, 2022

METX 90 backing the train onto the Metra Electric in Blue Island, Illinois.
South Shore 2009 leads across the Canadian National diamond at Stillwell, Indiana.
The AARPCO special navigates the remaining 10th street running at Michigan City, Indiana.
Caritas brings up the rear. This remnant of the street trackage has lost its wires and is only used by freight and diesel-powered equipment moves.  All the houses and businesses on the south side of the street have been torn down and construction of a new double track line has begun. Eleventh Street is already been torn up and a new track is being laid.  When complete the former single track street trackage will be completely double tracked and on private right of way. It’s sad to see but it will certainly improve speeds and schedules by eliminating this bottleneck.

I was in the Chicago area for Labor Day weekend. The plan was to do some railfanning and visit the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois, on Saturday and the Heston Steam Museum in LaPorte County, Indiana, on Sunday.

While I did visit IRM, Sunday’s plans were radically changed.

After railfanning Metra near downtown Chicago, I  proceeded to Grayslake station on the Northwest side.

This is on the former Milwaukee Road North line and sees Metra, Canadian Pacific, and Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service as well as the Empire Builder. Across the street is a hobby shop which I also visited.

Some customers informed me that a passenger car special would go by northbound around 1 p.m. It was just after that so I assumed It had not been by yet (I had not seen it downtown either).

A few other trains went by and then the northbound track which was green changed to a red signal.

A few minutes later a train led by METX No. 90, Metra’s Chicago & North Western heritage paint, came with what turned out to be the American Association of Private Passenger Car Owners special.

As it turned out their convention was in Chicago that weekend and it was running over most of Metra’s routes.

It had left Chicago earlier in the morning and run out to Elgin on the Milwaukee Road West mainline and had returned but taking the wye to turn north. This is how I had missed it.  It was now returning south to Chicago and I got a special catch.

I then continued on my journey to IRM which was open late (9:30 p.m. instead of the usual 6 p.m. closing time). 

I discovered that AARPCO was running a whole series of trips which would continue the rest of Saturday and into the next week.

After I had caught it, the special continued through Union Station and went to Joliet via the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio line. It then reversed and took the Rock Island district to LaSalle Street Station.

This brings me to Sunday morning. Sunday’s trip would go west to Blue Island then east on the Metra Electric to Kensington.

There it would be handed off to the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend to Michigan City, Indiana, through the remaining street running and then head south to Kingsbury on a former Nickel Plate line that the South Shore now operates as freight only.

This is very rare mileage as the Metra Electric has never hosted a diesel powered passenger train and the Kingsbury line has not seen a passenger movement in 75 years.

Needless to say the Heston museum plans were thrown out and the AARPCO special would be the day’s focus.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Wanna Go for a Ride?

June 17, 2022

It is 1967 or 1968 in what looks to be Painesville. New York Central E8A No. 4079 is on the point of this westbound passenger train. Care to take a ride?

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Distinctive Visitors in Berea

May 14, 2022

Catching and photographing the CSX executive train in its distinctive and attractive Baltimore & Ohio inspired livery has been on my “to do” list ever since the scheme debuted.

But the executive train doesn’t operate all that often and when it does you have to be in the right place at the right time.

That right place and right time for me occurred on May 11. I happened to be in Cleveland on business and had the opportunity to spend time in Berea that morning.

I saw on Heritage Units.com that the three CSX F40PH-2 units were on the road, having left Buffalo, New York, around 6:15 a.m. en route to Chicago.

I figured that would put them through Berea around mid to late morning depending on traffic and dispatching preference.

Sure enough, there were some railfans on hand waiting for train P001, including Akron Railroad Club President Todd Dillon. He had information that P001 blew through Collinwood Yard on Cleveland’s east side and would soon be bearing down on us. That would put it through Berea not long after 9 a.m.

I stood near the tree by the Dave McKay memorial with a cluster of other railfans and waited. It wasn’t long before I could hear P001 calling signal indications over the radio.

Then a headlight came into view. I looked through my camera lens and waited. At that point it seemed as though the train had stopped.

In fact, it had. Just east of Berea a broken air hose sent the train into emergency.

Although CSX dispatched a maintenance truck to the scene, it wasn’t needed. The crew resolved the problem and P001 was on the move, albeit at restricted speed.

Among the onlookers watching the train come through were Rita and Rich Volosyn of Brunswick. Their son Paul was the locomotive engineer assigned to P001 and was working from Buffalo to Willard.

Also on hand was a CSX special agent to ensure that no one got too close to the tracks.

The 12-car train was led by CSX1, CSX2 and CSX3. The trio of F40s are former Amtrak units. They were lined up elephant style and made for an impressive sight.

CSX1 was built in April 1978 and given Amtrak roster number 280. After being retired by Amtrak, it was picked up by the Ohio Central System, where it continued to carry roster number 280.

After CSX acquired the unit, it renumbered it 9998. Upon being repainted into the B&O scheme, it was renumbered CSX1.

On the rear of the train was theater car W. Thomas Rice. But its shades were drawn, which suggested no one was aboard. The train also featured dome car Moonlight Dome. Built in 1947 for the Chesapeake & Ohio for its planned but never launched Chessie streamliner.

The B&O acquired the car in December 1950 where it operated on the Shenandoah and, after October 1963, the Capitol Limited. It later ran on the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Coast Line before ending up on the Amtrak roster. After being sold by Amtrak Moonlight Dome had a series of owners, including The Cincinnati Railway Company, which sold it to CSX in 2020.

CSX Executive Train Passes Through Painesville

May 12, 2022

The CSX executive train made a pass through Northeast Ohio on Wednesday morning en route from Buffalo, New York, to Chicago. The train was pulled by three F40 locomotives, CSX 1, CSX 2 and CSX 3, running elephant style and adorned with the Baltimore & Ohio-inspired livery.

The 12-car train is shown above passing through Painesville by the former New York Central passenger station at 8:10 a.m.

Featured in the middle image is dome car Moonlight Dome. The third image shows platform observation car John T. Collinson and theater car W. Thomas Rice.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

On the Point of the Diplomat Near Ravenna

March 26, 2022

Baltimore & Ohio E8A No. 1449 is heading the westbound Diplomat near Ravenna, Ohio in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Friendly Wave From a B&O Trainman

March 23, 2022

Although I lived near Warwick, I only photographed one or two Baltimore & Ohio passenger trains through there. It is 1966 or 1967, and here is Baltimore & Ohio 3516 westbound. I really like the image of the trainman giving a friendly wave.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Long Way From Iowa

February 24, 2022

The not-so-way-back machine has landed us in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, on July 11, 2010, to check out an unusual visitor to the suburb of Pittsburgh.

The Iowa Interstate has sent a two-car business train to Oakmont pulled by GP38-2 No. 709. The train was in town for the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s U.S. Open that was being held at the Oakmont Country Club. The parent company of IAIS is Railroad Development Corporation, which is based in Pittsburgh and may have been a corporate sponsor of the tournament.

No. 709 is no stranger to Pittsburgh. It was built in June 1972 for Penn Central, so it probably worked and passed through the Steel City many times in its PC and, later, Conrail career.

I made this image on the last day of the tournament, a Sunday. That day began with my meeting up with Roger Durfee. Before heading to Pittsburgh to photograph this train, we caught two Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad trains at Akron Northside Station while standing on the All-American Bridge, a.k.a. the Y bridge.

We also got a Wheeling & Lake Erie train in Akron and a westbound Norfolk Southern westbound intermodal train near Columbiana on the Fort Wayne Line. So it was a busy day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Canadian Two for Tuesday

January 11, 2022

We’re going north of the border into Ontario for a two for Tuesday feature. Better warm up those vocal cords before you start singing O Canada.

In the top image Paul Woodring and I were at Bayview Junction, Ontario, in July 1980 when I photographed VIA Rail Canada 6530 heading east to Toronto, as it meets a Canadian National freight.

In the bottom image A Toronto GO Transit commuter train is eastbound on March 23, 1982, Cabin D in Toronto.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

B&O’s Diplomat in Kent

December 29, 2021

Baltimore & Ohio E8A No 1444 and its train, the westbound Diplomat, is pulling into the passenger station in Kent in the late 1960s or early 1970. This train had once been named the Shenadoah and was renamed Shenandoah in 1964

Because it was one of the few B&O passenger trains to serve Northeast Ohio in daylight it was often photographed in Kent and Akron.

On Jan. 6, 1970, the Interstate Commerce Commission decided not to block B&O’s plans to discontinue the Shenandoah and its eastbound counterpart — the Gateway — between Akron and Chicago.

The surviving trains were renamed Shenandoah and operated between Akron and Washington until the coming of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Reading Motive Power on an Excursion

December 10, 2021

Paul Woodring and I caught Reading GP30 No. 5513 and RDG Alco C630 No. 5308 on a railfan weekend on the Blue Mountain & Reading at Ontelaunee, Pennsylvania, in late-June 1988. Both locomotives also spent time on the Conrail motive power roster.

Photograph by Robert Farkas