Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania’

Judge Rules in Favor of Carload Express in SEDA-COG Contract Awarding Dispute

May 9, 2018

The SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority has been ordered by a Pennsylvania court to award a freight railroad operating contract to Carload Express.

The contract covers operating rights over five short-line railroads in Centre, Lycoming, Northumberland, Mifflin, Montour, Columbia and Clinton counties owned by SEDA-COG and serving 70 customers over 200 miles of track.

Carload Express would replace Susquehanna Union Railroad, the parent company of North Shore Railroad, as operator of the lines.

At issue is SEDA-COG’s interpretation of how many board members are needed to award a contract.

SEDA-COG argued that at least nine of its 16 voting board members are needed to determine to award an operating contract.

In 2014, SEDA-COG sought proposals to operate the short lines and received three bids. It later chose two finalists, Carload Express and Susquehanna Union.

At a July 2015 board meeting, six board members withdrew from the contract vote because of potential conflicts of interest.

Seven of the 10 voting members favored awarding the contract to Carload Express.

But SEDA-COG said because that fell short of a majority of the board – meaning nine or more board members – the vote failed to meet its requirement to award an operating contract to Carload Express of Allegheny County.

A Clinton County Court of Common Pleas later ruled in SEDA-COG’s favor in a lawsuit filed by Carload Express.

The latest ruling overturns that decision and was made by a Commonwealth Court judge.

In response to the Commonwealth Court’s decision, Susquehanna Union said it is considering its legal options.

Susquehanna had pending a lawsuit of its own in Clinton Country that alleges that the request for proposals to operate the SEDA-COG lines was tainted by a board member who committed ethical violations.

Susquehanna contents that the outcome of its lawsuit could negate the award to Carload by the Commonwealth Court.

In the meantime, SEDA-COG has held off awarding the contract to Carload Express, instead voting unanimously to hold a special meeting to discuss the litigation.

Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson found in the state court opinion that a 7-3 vote from the 16-member SEDA-COG was a valid endorsement of a contract with Carload Express.

Simpson relied on the state Municipal Authorities Act, which states that a contract can be awarded based on a vote of the majority of an authority’s members who are present.

North Shore is based in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, and has 80 employees. It interchanges freight with Norfolk Southern.

Advertisements

Chasing Steam, Amtrak, NS in Pennsylvania

April 25, 2018

Here are a few are a few highlights from this past weekend. Jeff [Troutman] and myself left about 2:30 p.m. on Friday. Since I drove I made reservations for a Microtel in Clarion, Pennsylvania. We got there about 5:15 p.m.

I wanted to be on the road by 7 a.m. Saturday so we would get to Summerhill to get Amtrak No. 42 since it would depart Johnstown at 9:03 a.m.

Breakfast started at 6:30 a.m., which was perfect. But ice and fogged up windows from overnight delayed our departure by 20 minutes.

Jeff kept checking Julie as we were heading on Pennsylvania Route 219. We were on the far bridge and guess who was about to go under us.

I knew it was P42DC engine No. 86 on head end. And exactly like Agent 86 Maxwell Smart we missed it by that much.

As you can see in photo No. 1 the lighting was perfect of the empty tracks.

Photo No. 2 is of the Everett steam train at Brook Mills on the line heading to Roaring Spring.

Photo No. 3 is at Roaring Spring. There are two photo lines including the road crossing where I shot last September with the station and the Pennsylvania Railroad caboose.

Where I am and looking down to my right I was amazed at what I saw that I never noticed twice last September and last May: A double semaphore turned with slight foliage somewhat hiding it.

Photo 5 shows Everett No. 11 on the return trip from Martinsburg at Route 36 just southeast of Roaring Spring.

After eating lunch we went to Tyrone, Pennsylvania, where we photographed the cabooses located on what used to be the east leg of the wye.

The beautiful stone memorial is in a park between the cabooses and the station.

Saturday afternoon found us in Fostoria, Pennsylvania, along the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern. This time Amtrak did not elude us.

On Sunday morning it was back to Fostoria to catch Amtrak No. 42 passing beneath the PRR position light signals.

We then spent a little over three hours at Horseshoe Curve before heading home. We saw eight trains and two helper movements.

What was unusual was that the first three trains were two eastbound loaded coal hoppers and one empty hopper train.

Again, the weather was perfect and it was tough to leave.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

 

 

Pennsylvania Funding 27 Rail Projects

March 29, 2018

The Pennsylvania State Transportation Commission this week announced funding of 27 freight-rail improvement projects.

The projects will receive $32 million through the Rail Transportation Assistance Program and the Rail Freight Assistance Program.

Among the projects approved were:

 R. J. Corman Railroad Group, to rehabilitate 36 miles of track including rail, ties, ballast, and track surfacing on the Clearfield Cluster’s Cherry Tree, Cresson, and Wallaceton subdivisions, $4.2 million.

• Norfolk Southern, to realign track in Middletown to provide greater clearances for freight trains and reduce track curvature, $3.9 million.

• Shell Chemical Appalachia to construct 10 miles of track from Aliquippa to Monaca to transport construction materials for Shell’s plant and outbound product from the completed plant, $3.8 million.

• Allegheny Valley Railroad, to rehabilitate 10 miles of the P&W subdivision from Bakerstown to Glenwood Yard, including replacing continuous welded rail and surfacing track, $2.9 million.

• Wheeling & Lake Erie, to rehabilitate 18 railroad bridges on the Pittsburgh and Rook subdivisions, including structural and bridge deck, $2.3 million.

• Buffalo Pittsburgh Railroad, to rehabilitate 20 miles of track between Brookville and Falls Creek, facilitating continued freight-rail service to Brookville Equipment Corp., $2.1 million.

Catching Up With the Union Railroad

March 21, 2018

I also caught last weekend during my trip to Pennsylvania a Union Railroad train climbing Dravosburg grade on Sunday morning. Notice it’s a mainline but both tracks are jointed rail. Also the tracks are weathered from heavy sand use. Finally, a caboose brings up the rear. All Union trains still use cabooses. It’s a throwback to old school railroading in this modern era.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Train That Crashed Was a CSX Train

March 7, 2018

Additional information shows that a train that struck a truck carrying hydrochloric acid belonged to CSX, although it was being operated by Norfolk Southern employees on the NS Mon Line.

The accident occurred on Tuesday at Route 88 and Maple Grove Road in Centerville, Pennsylvania, at 10:38 a.m.

Two crew members aboard the train were taken to a hospital for evaluation. The truck driver also was injured and flown by helicopter to a Pittsburgh hospital.

Authorities said an estimated 4,000 gallons of acid was spilled. The train was carrying empty coal hoppers.

Police said the accident occurred when the truck was making a left turn to go into a facility owned by Forum Energy Technologies. The truck was drug about 100 yards after it was struck by the train.

Fumes from the spilled acid prompted authorities to evacuate the residents of 15 nearby homes. Workers at the Forum Energy site were also evacuated.

An NS spokesperson said the train had three locomotives and 102 cars. It was traveling from Newell to a coal mine near Claysville, Pennsylvania.

Pa. Trains Require Reservations for Easter Travel

February 28, 2018

Amtrak will require reservations for travel aboard the Pennsylvanian and Keystone Service trains for travel during the Easter travel period of March 29 to April 2.

In a service advisory, the passenger carrier said monthly and 10-ride tickets will be accepted on these dates.

 

PA Short Line Sets Traffic Record

January 11, 2018

The Pennsylvania-based Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad reported this week hauling a record 8,572 revenue carloads in 2017.

The broke the previous record of 8,048 cars handled in 2015. Larry Malski, president of the Pennsylvania Northeast Railroad Authority, said in a statement that last year’s traffic figure is indicative of economic growth among the 20-plus industries served by the DL.

Malski said the 2017 carload figures represented a 31 percent increase over 2016.

Helping fuel the carload traffic growth was the addition of two new customers, Scranton Transload and Northwoods Paper.

The DL also handled more than 100 special high-and-wide carloads of components for the new Invenergy Jessup Power Plant.

Major commodities handled by the DL include wheat and flour, sand, plastic, lumber, propane and consumer products.

DL is seeking a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation grant to fund double-tracking its Carbondale Line because of “rapidly increasing” carloads on that line, Malski said.

“Since 1982 when the authority was formed to save the approximately 100 miles of rail lines that the private sector railroad were abandoning and liquidating, a true rail renaissance has transpired in northeastern Pennsylvania with thousands of jobs saved and created by the many industries that need freight-rail service to stay competitive,” Malski said.

R&N Set Freight Traffic Records in 2017

January 9, 2018

Rising coal traffic helped the Pennsylvania-based Reading & Northern set a traffic record in 2017.

The Class II railroad said it handled 31,175 carloads in 2017, a 15 percent increase over 2016.

The figure is a 50 percent increase over the past five years.

The company credited 40 percent growth in anthracite coal traffic for playing a major role in the traffic increase.

“This unprecedented growth came across all of the many commodity lanes handled by R&N,” the railroad said. “Once again, R&N is ‘The Road of Anthracite.’”

Much of the increase in coal traffic involved hauling Pennsylvania anthracite bound for markets in the Ukraine, where it replaced Russian coal.

R&N said that during 2017 it added hundreds of new cars of business at its transload facilities and warehouses. The forest products group handled more than 10,000 carloads in 2017.

“At year end, we had more employees, track, locomotives, freight cars, facilities and customers than at any point in our history,” said CEO/Owner Andy Muller, Jr.

Narrow Gauge Combine Moved to EBT

November 29, 2017

A combine car from the former Tuscarora Valley Railroad has been moved to the East Broad Top Railroad in Pennsylvania.

Car No.101 is in temporary storage on the EBT at Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania, where the Friends of the East Broad Top are helping to restore the car, which ran on a narrow-gauge line in another part of the state.

The car is the last remaining piece of rolling stock left from the 3-foot-gauge Tuscarora Valley, which ran for 27 miles from Port Royal to Blairs Mills in Juniata and Huntingdon counties between 1891 and 1934.

The Tuscarora Valley had intended to connect with the EBT’s Shade Gap branch at Richvale but never did.

The combine was built as a coach in the 1880s by Billmeyer & Small of York, Pennsylvania, and converted into a combine in 1916. The Tuscarora bought the car used in 1895.

In recent years, the car has been serving as a woodshed on a farm whose owner, Bernie Rowels, donated the carbody to the Friends of the East Broad Top.

After the Friend group was unable to move the car from Rowels’ property, the Darrow family acquired it and began restoration work.

The car has since been bought by Stephen Lane, a part-time steam engineer on the Everett Railroad, who arranged to have it sent to Rockhill Furnace.

The EBT is for sale and a long-term storage agreement cannot be achieved at this time. The EBT has not carried passengers since 2011.

Quest for Keystone Fall Foliage: 3

November 2, 2017

NS westbound 19G approaches the east portal of the Gallitzen tunnels as fall color fills the hillsides of the east slope.

Last of Three Parts

My next destination was Cresson, where I didn’t plan to stay long, but NS had other ideas.

But first I had to find my way out of Lilly. I had no trouble getting onto Pennsylvania Route 53, but I missed a turn in downtown.

I swear there was no sign showing that you have to make a right turn at the intersection where Route 53 juts eastward.

I went straight and wound up on a dead-end street. I had to zig zag my way back.

I had brought maps of all the towns I planned to visit, but hadn’t studied the map of Lilly enough determine how to get out of Lilly other than to stay on Route 53.

There is a large parking lot next to the railfan viewing platform in Cresson. I parked and walked up onto the platform. There was just one other person there and he spotted me and came over.

He was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and we had a nice conversation about railroad operations in Pennsylvania and the highways in the Keystone State.

He been headed toward State College on U.S. 322, but got into heavy traffic of football fans leaving town. Those would have been the fans who stayed overnight after the conclusion of the Saturday night game.

That traffic led him to go another direction on his motorcycle and he wound up in Cresson.

We had plenty of time to talk because NS decided to go on siesta again. My radio was silent for a long time until the 21M showed up around 2:30 p.m.

Across the tracks from the viewing platform were three R.J. Corman locomotives that weren’t going anywhere. At least I got to see some bright color on a locomotive.

Not long before the 21M showed up, the Pittsburgh East dispatcher called the signal gang foreman to report that he couldn’t get switch 11 to show as having been thrown.

There was a good reason for that. The crew that had been digging around that switch earlier in the day inadvertently had severed a cable. They found some spikes and spiked the switch into position.

Think someone on Monday morning was going to have to answer for that one?

After the 21M headed for points west, I bid farewell to the guy from Lancaster and headed for Gallitzin.

As had happened in Lilly, I made a wrong turn coming town and had to zig zag to where I was going. I knew I was going the wrong way when the street on which I was driving went beneath the NS tracks. Had I followed the proper route I would have remained north of the tracks at all times.

I parked at the railfan park at the west end of the tunnels, but my stay here was brief. Nothing was going on so I motored up the hill to an overlook just off Tunnelhill Street.

The overlook offers an expansive view to the east, although it is somewhat obscured by trees and other vegetation.

But it is open enough to get decent photograph of trains on the east side of the tunnels.

By now the temperatures had finally reached the 70s and I no longer needed to wear a jacket.

I looked up to see a jet high overhead. I had my longest telephoto lens on my camera and snapped a couple of image.

When I enlarged the image on the camera screen I could see that it appeared to be a Boeing 747. But I could not make out any airline markings.

The radio came to life with a detector going off to the east and a westbound 19G calling signals. It was what I wanted to hear.

I could make out the outline of a train through the trees and waited until the head end came into an open area.

As much as anything, it was this image that I had driven to Pennsylvania to get. I wanted a photograph of a train grinding along with the mountainsides in the background wearing their palette of autumn colors.

I got it even if the colors were more muted than I would have liked. But the image says autumn and the lighting was good.

Having gotten “the shot,” it was time to slowly begin making my way west toward home.

I spent some time at the park by the tunnels, getting the helpers on the 19G, a westbound helper set and an eastbound intermodal train.

There was one last spot I wanted to check out and it would turn out to be the one with the brightest color.

I had been told by a guy at Cassandra that the color by the Pennsylvania Route 53 bridge over the NS tracks between Cresson and Gallitzin was particularly good. It was.

Shortly after I arrived, an eastbound trash train came along. I photographed it from both sides of the Route 53 bridge.

I noticed that an abandoned bridge abutment would offer a better place to stand on the south side of the tracks.

I walked over there and caught an eastbound intermodal train. A couple of young railfans joined me and we talked some.

What I really wanted, though, was a westbound. The light favored westbounds and there was good color at the bend where the five-track mainline curves as it heads into Gallitzin.

I had planned to leave for home at 5 p.m. NS had about a half-hour to send me a westbound. But the railroad wasn’t cooperating.

As I walked to my car I heard a scratchy voice on the radio say something like “3 west.” Was it west of Cresson or somewhere east of Gallitzin?

I thought about going back, but the day was getting late and I had a long drive ahead of me.

As I got on U.S. 22 at Cresson, I saw another eastbound coal train passing below.

The skies began clouding up the further west I went. But shortly after cresting ridge of the Laurel Highlands in Jackson Township of Cambria County, I looked to my right at the open view of the valley below and saw the best autumn color I had seen all day.

I was going too fast to pull over, so I found a ramp to reverse direction. I then had to go up and over at an exit to head westbound again.

This time I was able to pull over, put on my flashers and get out for some photographs of color on the hillsides.

Dinner was at a burger and beer joint in Murraysville named Crave.

By the time I left it was nighttime. I had entered Pennsylvania in the dark and I would leave it the same way.

But at least I didn’t have to contend with any more “highway robbery” incidents at the state line.

One of Pennsylvania’s many quirks is that you pay through the nose to enter the state on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Ohio, but they let you leave without paying a dime.

Come back soon Buckeye and don’t forget to bring $7 with you to get in.

A broader perspective of the east slope as the 19G makes its way uphill toward Gallitzin.

Westbound intermodal train 21M splits the old signals and the yet to be turned on new signals in Cresson.

The helpers on the rear of the 19G in Gallitzin.

A westbound helper set running light is about to emerge from Gallitzin Tunnel.

An eastbound stack train casts shadows in the late day light as it passes through Gallitzin Tunnel.

An eastbound empty trash train in the first of a seven-image sequence. The view is looking west off the Pennsylvania Route 53 bridge just outside of Cresson.

 

Last train of the day in a four-shot sequence. The view is near the Pennsylvania Route 53 bridge at Cresson .