Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Alliance Ohio’

Now Working for NS

March 19, 2023

It may look like a Conrail unit, but No. SD40-2 No. 3404 is now working for Norfolk Southern. It is leading a westbound making the transition from the Fort Wayne Line to the Cleveland Line in Alliance on Nov. 12, 2010. The unit was built in November 1978

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Winter Day in Alliance

February 12, 2022

The 14N (left), 170 and an eastbound intermodal in Alliance.
Train 170 heading west.
Train 64N on the Alliance runner.
Train 6K4 taking the Cleveland single.  It would get a new crew about 7 p.m. then reverse back onto the mainline to continue east.

Last Saturday (Feb. 5) I spent the day in Alliance.

Upon arriving I found an eastbound intermodal sitting on Track No. 1 and another eastbound moving slowly on Track No. 2.

The reason for this soon became apparent as train 14N was sitting on Track 1 blocking every railroad crossing in town. It had broken several air hoses and had gone into emergency. 

Also sitting on Track 2 east of town was the 170 waiting to go west.  The slowly moving EB train was taking the runner track, a long siding for parking trains, to get around the 170.

After about an hour, the 14N was able to get moving and continue east; However it would need a new crew before reaching Conway.

Once the 14N cleared, the 170 was able to continue west. The 170 takes the Fort Wayne line to Canton and 14N was blocking his move.

The 170 crew was also on short time and ended up tying down at Freshley Road west of town.

Other trains had backed up behind the 14N including 64N an oil or ethanol train.

This train then took the Alliance runner previously used by the intermodal and tied down to wait for a  new crew. 

A little later train 6K4, another oil or ethanol, took the Cleveland single and tied down on the Mahoning siding south of town. 

An empty coal train came an hour or so later, which picked up this crew.  The 6K4 had a GP38-3 leading some Canadian National engines, which was interesting.

Another train that I had hoped to get was the 171 which had the Virginian heritage unit.  Alas it sat in Canton all afternoon before getting a new crew and going through Alliance about 5 p.m.  I had left by then. 

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Empty Table

November 14, 2018

Alliance is a good place to watch Norfolk Southern action because it is the junction of two mainlines.

Most of the traffic through Alliance transitions from the Cleveland Line to the Fort Wayne Line or vice versa.

Few moves take the Fort Wayne Line straight through town. Even rarer are trains going to and from the Cleveland line east of Alliance via Bayard.

Shown is eastbound intermodal train 24M making the transition from the Cleveland Line to the Fort Wayne Line.

I made this image before an Akron Railroad Club meeting and because it was winter I was the only railfan present at the time.

Out of the Ordinary Sighting in Alliance

May 9, 2018

It was about time to leave after spending a few hours on a Friday afternoon in Alliance.

But the 12V was coming and I decided to stay around for it because it was coming east on the Fort Wayne Line.

I had heard some chatter on the radio from the Cleveland Line dispatcher about a helper set tying on to the head end of the 12V and then going to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

The helper set was on the Alliance runner and I figured the 12V could cross the Cleveland Line at the diamond and continue east on the Fort Wayne Line.

Instead, the 12V made the turn and went from the Fort Wayne Line to the Cleveland Line and would be going to Conway by way of Bayard.

Leading the 12V were a pair of Union Pacific locomotives. It is not unheard of for foreign power to lead a train into Alliance.

If the train goes from the Fort Wayne Line to the Cleveland Line and out of town toward Bayard, there is no need for a lead unit with cab signals.

I can only recall seeing a train go around the connection from the Cleveland Line to the Fort Wayne Line and that was during an Akron Railroad Club outing in August 2005 when a work train did it.

Some Wheeling & Lake Erie in Alliance

March 9, 2018

Alliance is a Norfolk Southern town. But on a Friday afternoon before an Akron Railroad Club meeting I found a bit of the Wheeling & Lake Erie there.

Shown is one of the many W&LE hopper cars on NS train 424, which is headed toward Bayard on the original Cleveland Line.

It would not go very far. The Cleveland Line dispatcher instructed the crew to pull into the Mahoning siding and wait for a westbound.

I never saw the westbound as I had left to go have dinner and then attend the ARRC meeting.

Way Too Early for Amtrak

February 28, 2018

It would be nice to be able to use the Amtrak station signs in Alliance to frame the Capitol Limited arriving into the station.

But No. 29 is scheduled in at 1:39 a.m. and No. 30 at 3:05 a.m. Given Amtrak’s habit of being tardy at intermediate stations, it probably doesn’t happen often that either train arrives at exactly those times.

I’ve yet to be in Alliance railfanning in the middle of the night and I’ve never had any luck getting Amtrak arriving in Alliance several hours late.

So framing a Norfolk Southern westbound stack train at the Amtrak station is the next best thing.

These images were made on the afternoon of the January Akron Railroad Club meeting.

Getting His Train on Video

November 27, 2017

Akron Railroad Club member Tom Kendra keeps on eye on Norfolk Southern eastbound intermodal train 26W as it rolls through Alliance.

Tom was railfanning in Alliance on the afternoon of the November ARRC meeting.

The lone GE ET44AC is plenty of power to pull the short intermodal train toward Pittsburgh on the Fort Wayne Line.

Look Ma, No Wide Cabs

November 21, 2017

Wide cab locomotives are ubiquitous on North America’s Class 1 Railroads. It is not necessarily rare to see a motive power consist with one or more narrow-cab locomotives, but it is not common either.

Hence, I stood up and took notice when NS C80 showed up in Alliance with three narrow cab units. It was a light power move and I’m not sure why this power was in town.

The locomotives came in on Track 2, stopped west of the home signal for CP Alliance, and then moved onto the runner before vanishing off to the east.

After the crew tied the units down, it was picked up by a crew van whose driver had a tough time finding the crew even with the assistance of a GPS.

The individual units have some interesting history behind them. All three were on the Conrail motive power roster with two of them having been built for CR.

RP-E4C No. 712 was rebuilt by NS from a GP38 that was built for Penn Central. SD40E No. 6347 was rebuilt from an SD50 built for Conrail. In the middle of the consist was GP40-2 No. 3014.


A Sense of Urgency to Catch NS 9-1-1

July 23, 2016

Reprinted from the July 2016 Akron Railroad Club Bulletin

“Papa, you want to come see the train?” was the question I overheard when the bro answered his phone while we sat at the picnic table in Alliance.

“Uncle Mart and I are in Alliance right now, Grif.”

Grif was referring to the Norfolk Southern 9-1-1, the First Responder’s Tribute unit. It was coming north on train No. 178. It was sighted at Columbus shortly after we arrived in Alliance.

A few minutes later, it was reported at Lewis Center, a northern suburb of Columbus. I figured we wouldn’t make Bellevue before it did, so we stayed put in Alliance.

Our quarry for the day was either a westbound on the Ft. Wayne Line or an eastbound going down the Bayard Line that we could chase.

In the meantime, we had plenty of intermodal trains to shoot moving from the Cleveland Line to the Ft. Wayne Line.

Henry, Grif’s father, decided to go after the 9-1-1. He, Grif and Nicole, Henry’s wife and Grif’s mother, were heading for Bellevue in hopes of intercepting the colorful NS unit.

We wished them luck and waited patiently for NS to run something in the right direction.

It wasn’t long before I heard the switch roll over west of the diamond. The bro walked east to see if the crossover near the Amtrak platform was also lined. It was.

It looked like our westbound heading for the Ft. Wayne Line was nearing. The Cleveland Line Dispatcher confirmed our sighting.

“580, OK into Alliance”

580 was a westbound loaded coal train, most likely loaded on the former Monongahela in southwest Pennsylvania.

We headed out of town to the cemetery in Maximo for our first shot. The tracks are heading south here, so a morning westbound can be done in good light. Although on this morning high clouds were obscuring the sun.

The 580 had NS 3603 up front, a new unit in fresh black paint. Two additional units trailed.

They were rolling right along, so we couldn’t dawdle if we were to stay with the train.

From Maximo, we made our way west to US 62 West, a four lane divided highway and a 70 mph speed limit until you get to the outskirts of Canton. Then it is 50 mph with numerous traffic lights and lots of congestion. If we were ahead, we soon lost our edge.

US 62 runs with I-77 for a ways through Canton. When we went over the tracks, the 580 was going by underneath.

We picked up US 30 on the south side of Canton and decided on Orrville for our next shot.

We should beat him there because he has Buck Hill west of Massillon to slow him down.

Our arrival in Orrville was slowed by the last few cars of a Wheeling & Lake Erie westbound that was crossing Ohio Route 57 on the south side of Orrville.

We alighted on the south side of the tracks across from the depot and tower. I figured we had a few minutes to kill, so I broke out my sandwich and started to eat lunch. It was a few minutes after noon.

I took about two bites, when the 580 called the distant signal for CP Orr and horns were heard to the east. Time to drop the sandwich and get to my photo spot.

So much for having some time. Buck Hill must have seemed like a speed bump.

We shot the 580 and thought about heading onward, but the Pittsburgh West Dispatcher came on the radio and informed 580 that their re-crew at Mansfield was not on duty until 2 p.m.

We decided to finish our lunch here and regroup. Henry was on the phone seeing if we had any news on the whereabouts of the 9-1-1. It was not in Bellevue yet and they were heading south looking for it.

We were again headed west in a few minutes and the 580 should be nearing Mansfield by now. If we stayed with the 580, we had time to kill or should we continue on US 30 west to Bucyrus and try to intercept the 9-1-1?

Henry and company made it all the way to Marion without a 9-1-1 sighting. Some fans were trackside waiting for it, but no one had seen it yet.

A check of still showed the last sighting at Lewis Center over four hour ago. What the heck happened to it?

With this news to go on, we committed ourselves to the 9-1-1. As we approached Bucyrus, Henry called and OSed 9-1-1 on train 178 at Marion. They and the 9-1-1 were coming north.

We decided to head for Ridgeton, a few miles north of Bucyrus for a shot.

Ridgeton used to be one of my favorite grain elevator shots in Ohio until the elevator was demolished.

I went to the spot where I used to shoot the elevator with a train and did a “what’s missing from this picture?” shot.

The bro stayed on the other side of the tracks. He wanted to stay near the Jeep, so we could get out of town faster after the train passed. The only problem was that I had the keys.

Henry, Grif and Nicole shot the 9-1-1 at the next crossing north of Ridgeton. They missed the road to Ridgeton.

We had our sights set on the new reservoir at Attica for our next photo spot.

Henry got there first; we were about a minute behind. At first I thought we wouldn’t make it; we were not catching and overtaking the 9-1-1 very quickly.

But as it neared the Honey Creek crossovers, it slowed way down. CSX had the diamonds at Attica Junction and he was going to be held for a few minutes.

This gave us time to catch up with the family. Grif was sporting a digital camera of his own. How many 5-year-olds have their own camera? But Nicole had her camera out, so everyone was shooting today.

The 9-1-1 whistled off and resumed its journey to Bellevue. We lensed it and made tracks out of town.

“Papa, come with us!” yelled the Grif. Papa declined, his camera gear was in my Jeep and he might want to change lenses at the next spot, wherever that may be.

The 9-1-1 made good time until it got close to Bellevue. They were going to be held out of town to let some other traffic clear before they would be allowed into the yard.

This gave us a chance for a shot at Shriver south of the town of Flat Rock. He stopped at signals that are called “Flat Rock” on the railroad and waited his turn.

We arrived at the Kemper Railfan Park in Bellevue in time to view an eastbound coming in off the Toledo District, led by a Canadian Pacific unit. Then one came in off the Fostoria District. The 178 with the 9-1-1 was next.

Everyone scattered to their photo spot as the 9-1-1 approached.

Afterwards, Henry and family were going to try for one more view at the Ohio Route 4 overpass in the yard and then head for home. The bro and I were going to hang out here at the platform for a while before calling it a day also.

Behind the 9-1-1 were two more trains. The 866 that made the turn onto the Fostoria District. The 217 did the same. A 28N auto rack train came in off the Fostoria side.

Things got quiet for a few minutes, so we checked out the new connection on the north side of the yard that lets trains access the Sandusky District directly from the yard. Previously, they would have to back out of the yard and reverse directions in order to head to Sandusky.

The trip home on the Ohio Turnpike as quick and uneventful.

I’m glad Grif called his grandfather and let us know that the 9-1-1 was coming. It was had been an interesting day.

Heritage units sometimes just pop up in the darndest places sometimes.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Remembering Conrail on its 40th Anniversary

April 1, 2016







Today is the 40th anniversary of Conrail’s creation and I will take us back to a day in 1999 at Alliance.

At the time I lived in Indiana but one summer afternoon I found myself at Alliance for a couple hours. This was the summer just after the takeover by Norfolk Southern and CSX, both lines in Alliance becoming part of Norfolk Southern.

There was still a lot of Conrail power and much hadn’t even been renumbered as yet so it still had a Conrail feel even if the railroad was NS property now.

About a half dozen freight train passed through as well as the east and westbound Amtrak Pennsylvanian which still went to Chicago. That would end in another year or so leaving the Capitol Limited as the only Amtrak service.

I also had photographed a pair of GP38 helpers at Canton yard earlier that day.

Hard to believe that it’s been almost 17 years since that day and 40 years since Conrail’s creation. Happy 40th Conrail.

Article and photographs by Todd Dillon