Posts Tagged ‘passenger trains’

Cranking Up My Not So Far Way Back Machine

June 16, 2018

When Akron Railroad Club member Bob Farkas cranks up his way back machine he usually has in mind going back to the 1970s or earlier.

When I dive into my version of a way back machine I tend to have a much shorter focus in time.

I recently launched a project of reviewing some my older digital images with an eye toward processing and posting some that got overlooked shortly after they were made.

I decided to start with July, August and September of 2011, a period of time that incorporated the first three months that I started doing digital photography.

I was all over the visit that September of Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 when it came to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and pulled a series of excursions.

The image above was made on Sept. 17. The 765 was pulling a trip headed for Canton that was billed as a “total track tour.”

I was waiting for it on the Old Station Road bride that is now part of the towpath trail.

What caught my attention about this photograph is the FL9 that is trailing on the train and will bring it back north later today.

The CVSR used that FL9, a former Amtrak and New Haven unit, between 2009 and early 2012.

It was paired with NKP 765 during its September 2011 visit, which would turn out to be the waning days of No. 484’s tenure in the Valley.

No. 484 at the time was owned by F.P. Flynn but has since moved on to working in Canada.

Another notable fact about this train is the presence of two dome cars. The dome with the blue, gold and gray paint was named Emerson at the time and had just been joined by the former Silver Bronco, which was already wearing CVSR colors.

The ex-Silver Bronco assumed the Emerson name for a while before reverting to its original Denver & Rio Grande Western name.

The blue, gold and gray dome in this train is a former Great Northern car than ran on the CVSR between 2009 and 2011.

As I processed this image I also noticed something that had escaped my attention at the time.

Can you find the Akron Railroad Club member in this photo? He is standing  next a tripod with a video camera and has a still photo camera around his neck. Look a little to the left of the Buckeye crossbuck at the grade crossing.

It is Paul Wooding who was part of the impromptu photo line.

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FRA Head Seeks Better Communication

June 13, 2018

Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Ron Batory says communication and not litigation is the key to resolving conflicts between passenger and freight trains on shared tracks.

Ron Batory

Batory said that litigation makes communication more challenging.

Speaking to a meeting of the American Public Transportation Association, Batory disputed that there is a void between passenger and freight operations.

“I think that’s because of an absence of communication,” he said.

Batory believes that “a path of commonality can be reached” in which both sides feel a little pain.

“Throughout my entire career, I gave priority to passenger trains, whether in a dispatching office or elsewhere [on the railroad],” Batory said.

Most of Batory’s comments during the session focused on the looming Dec. 31 deadline set by federal law for much of the railroad industry to install positive train control.

He said the FRA has hired additional staff and contractors in anticipation of numerous documents that the FRA will need to review before the deadline.

Railroads that are granted what Batory termed an “alternate schedule” to extend their full implementation deadline to the end of 2020 will have all of 2021 to work out any bugs in their system before facing fines.

Chasing UP 1943 in Pennsylvania, Ohio

June 7, 2018

Here are a few images of Union Pacific No. 1943 leading the passenger special that recently ran on Norfolk Southern to and from New Jersey/New York.

I started off in Altoona. It was cloudy but that kind of helped since it would have been a harsh “noon in June” high sun when it first came through.

The first two images are from Altoona and include a train and roster grab. The third photo is from the Route 22 bridge in Cresson.

The fourth is from Leetsdale. The last one is a “in your face” type of shot. I went with that to highlight the nose as from what I can tell this is the only non Armour Yellow unit to wear the wings.  It was made at Smith Goshen Road just east of Sebring, Ohio.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

UP Special Saunters Through Northeast Ohio

June 5, 2018

The Union Pacific passenger train that ran to New Jersey and New York to help a bank celebrate its bicentennial, came back through Northeast Ohio Monday night.

By the time it reached Cleveland, it was dusk or getting to be dusk.

Operating as Norfolk Southern symbol 066, the train was led by UP 1943, the Spirit of Union Pacific.

It made good time on the Cleveland line after a crew change at Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

The train was reported at Leetonia at 7:22 p.m., Sebring at 7:43 p.m., Alliance at 7:48 p.m., Rootstown at 8:05 p.m., Hudson at 8:18 p.m., Garfield Heights at 8:40 p.m. and Berea at 9:33 p.m. It had reached Chesterton, Indiana, at 6:19 a.m.

Photographers who ventured out to see the special got a bonus. Train 65E ran nearly a half-hour ahead of the passenger train with the Virginian heritage locomotive in the lead.

The 65E was through Hudson at 7:20 p.m., Macedonia at 7:35 p.m. and Bedford at 8:05 p.m.

On its way east, the UP special slipped through Cleveland in darkness on May 31. In both directions, the best place to catch the special was in central Pennsylvania.

UP OCS to Pass Through NE Ohio Today

June 4, 2018

After much anticipation the Union Pacific office car special on the former Erie Railroad to Harriman, New York, and back on Sunday.

Akron Railroad Club member Jack Norris said the weather was crazy with rain and clouds, sun and rain. “None of the photo locations I wanted to do were really great for this due to the time of day and weather, so I ended up in WC Tower in Waldwick, New Jersey, for an operators view. Heck, anyone can shoot from a bridge.”

There was a big car show in Waldwick as the train came through. My girlfriend caught the train up near Tuxedo, New York, about a half hour later. Our wet winter and spring has made for some lush greenery.

The train is slated to leave New Jersey today. ARRC Vice President Todd Dillon said the tentative schedule is to leave New Jersey at 5 a.m. from Croxton Yard.

There is a crew called at Conway Yard near Pittsburgh for 4 p.m. and the estimated time at Berea is 8:45 p.m.

But this is the railroad so times are subject to change. If anyone wants to catch this in daylight for certain, you probably should head east to at least Pittsburgh and possibly even further east depending on the train’s progress.

As for why the train went east in the first place, there is speculation that it had to do with the bicentennial celebration of Brown Brothers Harriman Company Bank, which was established in 1818.

Henry Harriman was a UP President and his son, E. Roland Harriman, was a UP chairman years later, thus giving the family a connection to UP history.

The celebration may have been held at the Harriman Mansion in Arden, New York.

Photographs by Jack Norris

2 Days Before the Summer Hiatus

May 29, 2018

Due to construction on the Spuyten Duyvil bridge and Empire Tunnel on its route in New York City this summer, the New York section of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited is being suspended between May 26 and early September south of Albany, New York.

New York-bound passengers are being directed to make an across-the-platform transfer at the Albany-Rensselaer station to an Empire Service train that will take them to New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

Of course back in the day the Lake Shore Limited as well as all New York Central Water Level Route passenger trains terminated at Grand Central.

No. 48, shown here near North East Pennsylvania, had just four more trips to make to Penn Station before the summer hiatus was to begin when I made this image from the Bort Road bridge.

And it will be a little over a week before changes are made to the food service being offered to passengers on Nos. 48 and 49.

Reportedly, a new Viewliner dining car will be assigned to the trains, but it will operate as a sleeping car passenger lounge rather than a dining car.

The immediate future of the Lake Shore Limited is as gloomy as the fog shrouding the surrounding hills of the Lake Erie escarpment here.

Sampling Florida’s New Brightline Service

April 20, 2018

One of the goals of my Florida trip was to explore the new Brightline service.

On Tuesday we went to Miami and rode the train from Ft Lauderdale to West Palm Beach and return.

I had seen pictures and online reviews but, honestly, I did not expect what I experienced.

When you walk into the train station it has the look and feel of an airport not a typical railroad station.

Tickets can be purchased at a kiosk or with a smartphone app. Any large bags must be checked in just like an airline.

You scan your ticket and go through a security checkpoint to gain access to the station lounge area.

Security is similar to TSA at an airport with small bags going through a scanner but otherwise it’s not as intense as at an airport.

The passenger waiting lounge is also designed like a modern airport terminal.

Seats are comfortable and each has an electric outlet and a USB charging port. This is a nod to the digital age in which we live.

Snacks and beverages are also available along with Brightline merchandise.

Tickets are at an introductory rate of either $10 one way for Smart car service or $15 for Select service.

We rode in the Smart car. Seating is very comfortable with plenty of legroom and, again, there are plenty of outlets and USB ports available.

The trains have free 4G Wi-Fi, which was very good. It was fast and we did not experience any drop in coverage.

On the train the crew does a beverage and snack cart. Smart car customers can purchase onboard.

However, Select service customers’ snacks and beverages, including beer and wine, are complimentary. Select service also has larger seats.

The ride was smooth and took about a half hour to go the 40 miles between stations. The Brightline staff was courteous and professional throughout the process.

The only downside was that riders are not allowed on the platform until the train has arrived and is ready for boarding. For most travelers this is not an issue but might be for railfans.

I was able to get photos of the arriving train from the overhead concourse and also a Florida East Coast freight train that passed by.

Currently, Brightline operates between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. But the Miami station is complete and test trains are operating into it. There weren’t any running the day that we visited, unfortunately.

Eventually, Brightline will build a line into Orlando international Airport where the station has already been built.

A brand new railroad will be constructed between there and Titusville, Florida, where it will join the Florida East Coast to continue its trip to Miami.

Speeds are 79 mph and will be 110 mph on the new line. Brightline is projected to have this line open by 2020. Further expansion plans include Orlando to Tampa and West Palm to Jacksonville.

The trains themselves are built by Siemens. The engines are SC44 Chargers, which run on bio diesel fuel. Each train has two engines and four passenger cars. Each train is painted in a different color scheme.

I was very impressed by the whole operation both from a railfan perspective and also as a traveler.

Brightline is the future for railroad passenger travel and is all the more interesting because it is entirely funded by private capital.

No tax dollars are used in its construction or operation. One of my companions sadly remarked that this is what the Tri-C corridor in Ohio could have been.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Stand Here, Kids

April 14, 2018

A father instructs his two young children to stand on a step box at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad station in Peninsula so that he can photograph them next to the train. By the looks of things, the boy isn’t quite sure that he likes this idea.

The CVSR National Park Scenic is operating twice a day on Saturday and Sundays throughout April. The schedule will expand next month.

30 Years Gone From VIA

March 7, 2018

Do you realize that VIA Rail Canada took its FPA-4 locomotives out of service 30 years ago? Yet two of them were on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s National Park Scenic train last Saturday.

The top and middle images were taken in Peninsula while the bottom photograph was made in Akron as Baltimore & Ohio No. 800 was being towed north.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Last Year of IC Varnish

February 13, 2018

I was going through some glassine envelopes of negatives and found this. Illinois Central No. 4035 is in Centralia, Illinois, in August 1970. The Train name/number are unknown to me.

John Woodworth, Mike Ondecker, and I were in Centralia to photograph IC passenger trains. I never guessed that in less than a year there would no longer be IC passenger trains.

Photograph by Robert Farkas