Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Berea Ohio’

Pair of Canadians in Berea

March 3, 2017

berea-1

berea-2

Motive power from Canadian National and Canadian Pacific is not rare in Berea, but it is not a given, either.

CP has a pair of run-through trains that use CSX between Chicago and Buffalo, New York, and it is not unusual to see them in Berea during daylight hours.

Given how the North American Class I railroads share motive power, seeing a CN unit is not an unusual thing on either CSX or Norfolk Southern.

But what was a out of the ordinary during a recent railfanning outing in Berea was seeing two westbound NS trains with Canadian motive power on the lead as shown above.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

How Soon We Forget What Might Have Been

March 2, 2017

berea-october-9-x

It was about this time a year ago that E. Hunter Harrison and Canadian Pacific were making a play to acquire Norfolk Southern.

Harrison came at NS hard, but came up short. The NS board of directors opposed the merger and Harrison ran into a buzz saw of opposition from shippers, labor unions and political figures.

The time was not ripe to institute what some see coming as the final round of Class 1 mergers in North America.

Since failing to acquire NS, Harrison has retired (again) and the financier Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital has also left the CP board.

Now Harrison has teamed up with hedge fund Mantle Ridge to try to shakeup CSX management and install Harrison  as CEO.

While railfanning in Berea back in November I photographed a CP unit trailing on a westbound NS train as a reminder of what might have been had Harrison prevailed.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

A Few From a Late Year Outing in Berea

December 23, 2016
berea-november-27-01-x

A railfan is in position at right to get a photograph of a westbound CSX intermodal train.

I took my camera with during a late November outing in Berea, even though I wasn’t expecting to photograph all that much.

There were no Norfolk Southern heritage units that were likely to come through when I was there and nothing out of the ordinary came past on CSX. Yet it was a mostly sunny day so I kept my camera nearby just in case I saw something interesting.

It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the railroads didn’t seem to be quite back to their normal operations. All of the trains that I saw on CSX were intermodal trains.

But with CSX the way it is these days who can say what is normal. Nonetheless, on a typical day in Berea, CSX can be expected to send through at least a handful of manifest freights.

But none operated on this Sunday afternoon when I was around.

Although NS had a more diverse traffic mix, most of its offerings also were intermodal trains. The most unusual sight that I saw on NS was a tanker train with its lead unit running long hood forward.

The train had arrived at CP Max near Rockport Yard with three units, but the lead unit was cut off because the power desk needed to assign it to a train that needed cab signal leader.

I don’t know if there was any discussion about running a westbound train with a lead unit whose cab faced east. I just know what I saw when the train came through Berea.

With the sun low in the sky, I decided to stick it out until sunset. I was hoping to get a westbound on CSX with low light on the nose of the lead unit.

As the day got late, things starting falling into place to get the image I wanted.

The sunlight reflection on a signal box indicated that the lighting was just what I wanted. To the east I could see the headlight of an approaching intermodal train.

But clouds were gathering to the west and by the time the CSX train arrived, the sunlight was heavily filtered and I was unable to get the image as I had wanted it. I would been able to get it had the train had arrived a couple minutes earlier. Maybe next time.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

There seemed to be a lot of locomotives on this train.

There seemed to be a lot of locomotives on this train.

I got the train, but the lighting was not as ideal as it had been a few minutes later.

I got the train, but the lighting was not as ideal as it had been a few minutes later. The filthy nose didn’t help matters, either.

Chasing the setting sun on CSX in Berea.

Chasing the setting sun on CSX in Berea.

 

I Just Felt Like Shooting a CP Unit

October 14, 2016

 

berea-october-9-x

berea-october-9-02-x

berea-october-9-03-x

I don’t know why, but I just felt like photographing this Canadian Pacific locomotive at Berea.

It’s not leading and there is nothing special about this unit. But it was the first thing I saw when I arrived to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning.

It was a day of sun and clouds and sometimes you got the sun and sometimes you didn’t. Also shown is the eastbound Q158 and the eastbound Q090. In both instances I tried to emphasize the clouds and sky, which were nice on Sunday.

The Q090 is a train that I haven’t seen for awhile. It was also the first time I’d seen it since UP and CSX began teaming up to offer express produce service from Washington State.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

But It Sure Looks Pretty

October 10, 2016
There was no getting blocked by CSX this time as the Virginian heritage locomotive passes through Berea.

There was no getting blocked by CSX this time as the Virginian heritage locomotive passes through Berea as had happened three years ago.

ns-15j-02-x

ns-15j-03-x

The engineer of Norfolk Southern train 15J wasn’t all that pleased with her lead locomotive.

She was exchanging greetings with a crew member on an eastbound train as they passed between CP Max and Berea.

The lead unit on the 15J wasn’t pulling as well as she would have liked and there had been a problem with the horn.

“But it sure looks pretty,” she said after listing the engine’s shortcomings.

Indeed it did for it was NS No. 1069, the Virginian heritage unit wearing its bright yellow and black livery that has prompted some wags to call it the bumble bee.

The 1069 and a trailing unit passed through Berea on late Sunday morning.

I had expected to see the Virginian working solo because the engineer had made reference to having a one unit wonder. Maybe the trailing unit was off line.

It was the second time that I’ve seen No. 1069 at Berea. The first sighting occurred on Oct. 5, 2013, and I had dashed over from the Great Berea Train Show to catch it despite rainy and cloudy conditions.

Yes, I saw the 1069, but it was obscured by a passing CSX intermodal train. And the 1069 was trailing.

I also got blocked this time, too. CSX train Q158 — also an intermodal train — was bearing down on Berea as the 15J approached.

But this time there was enough separation to get clear images of the 1069.

Interestingly, I’ve seen a handful of NS heritage units in Berea, but the 1069 is the first one I’ve bagged that was leading. All the others had been trailing. There was no failing this time.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

So Where Was Quality Control?

May 28, 2016

Different numbers

It’s pretty obvious that the number boards are not the same on this CSX C40-8 as it led the Q113 through Berea.

One number is much larger than the other. My guess is that the number with the larger numerals is original while the smaller numerals are more modern.

No. 7583 has been around the CSX system for awhile, having been built by General Electric in September 1989. It probably has been through Berea numerous times. Maybe this is not the first time I’ve seen it or even photographed it.

I didn’t notice the difference in the number boards until I was looking at my photographs after having downloaded them.

I think I know what happened here. The shop needed to get the 7583 back on the road and a foreman said to put on whatever numerals were available. So long as the numbers on the right and left matched, the unit was good to go.

Perhaps some day No. 7583 will have matching number boards. But given all of the things that need the attention of the mechanical department, that is probably not high on the priority list.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Different From All The Others

May 27, 2016

BE tower April 2-x

I made this photograph because I liked the contrast of the direct early morning sunlight on BE Tower with the dark clouds behind it.

It is a Saturday morning on the Akron Railroad Club’s annual Dave McKay Day last April. I had walked down to the area east of the former Big Four depot, which is now a restaurant, to photograph an eastbound CSX train passing the station.

The sun was in and out of the clouds. As I was about to get back to my car, it popped out again and I just had to make this image.

I’ve seen and photographed BE Tower dozens of times over the years, but there was something about this image that made it different than all of the others.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

What McKay Day Could Have Looked Like

April 10, 2016

Berea snow

Berea snow2

Berea snow3

Berea snow4

When I raised the prospect at the March meeting of the Akron Railroad Club of seeing snow on the April 2 Dave McKay Day in Berea, some in the audience grimaced. It was as though they thought I was jinxing the event.

In fact, there was snow on McKay Day, although it didn’t arrive until the mid-afternoon hours.

We were fortunate, though, that our outing in Berea was on April 2 and not April 9.

I spent a few hours in Berea on Saturday and not only was there snow on the ground and in the air, but the temperatures were in the high 20s.

It might have been chilly on McKay Day, but it was downright cold the Saturday following.

There has been snow and even heavy snow on McKay Day before, most notably during the first one and during a subsequent outing. But recent years have seen early April being dry and even pleasantly warm.

But not this year, though. Here are a few scenes of what might have been had the ARRC annual outing in Berea been the second Saturday in April this year.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Changing Weather, Trains, Dave Mangold Kept Attendees of 2016 ARRC McKay Day Entertained

April 4, 2016
There was plenty of blue sky as the 2016 Dave McKay Day got underway on Saturday. Shown is CSX westbound manifest freight Q381.

There was plenty of blue sky as the 2016 Dave McKay Day got underway on Saturday. Shown is CSX westbound manifest freight Q381.

Between the ever-changing weather conditions and David Mangold’s late afternoon radio show, the three Akron Railroad Club members who ventured to Berea on Saturday, April 2 for the 12th annual Dave McKay Day had plenty to entertain them.

And as if that wasn’t enough, I counted 54 train movements through the interlocking plant during my nearly 12 hours in Berea.

I arrived around 8:30 a.m. just after the eastbound 34N of Norfolk Southern had cleared. At the time, there was plenty of blue sky overhead, particularly to the north and east.

Sun and clouds would be the rule for the next six hours, just as the forecast I had read online had predicted.

But when the weather turned, it did so quickly. First came intermittent snow showers followed by partial clearing. Then the clouds rolled back in with a vengeance and overcast skies rules as rain moved in.

It was about then that Paul Woodring, Todd Dillon and I decided it was time for dinner at the Berea Union Depot Taverne.

Dinner was good. Todd and Paul had the chicken Parmesan special while I opted for the horseradish crusted salmon.

Ten trains passed by as we ate dinner, including the CSX trash trains in each direction just a few minutes apart.

The train traffic for the day was higher than I had expected given how traffic on CSX seems to be down these days.

CSX ran a number of monster-sized manifest freights and intermodal trains. The Q393 had more than 800 axles, according to the Columbia detector, and was following a 13,000-foot stack train.

All told, I spotted 22 CSX trains during the day to go with 32 NS trains.

The day’s lineup was varied and included about everything you could expect to see in Berea on any given day.

The motive power, though, was mostly home grown with fewer “foreign” units than you might hope to see.

The only train with a “foreign power” leader was the Q166, which had a pair of Canadian Pacific units pulling. But Q166 is a CP run-through train that uses CSX tracks between Chicago and Buffalo, New York, so CP power is the norm on that train.

We did see, though, units of BNSF, Union Pacific and Canadian National.

No NS heritage units made an appearance, but we did catch the GoRail unit, which was the second locomotive on the 20R.

Prior to any ARRC member arriving in Berea, the Savannah & Atlanta heritage unit had led an eastbound through at 2:21 a.m. Amtrak’s phase III heritage unit, No. 145, led the eastbound Lake Shore Limited through before dawn.

Had any of us stayed until 10 p.m., we would have seen Soo Line 6026 on a CSX westbound, albeit trailing.

We did see, though, as we ate dinner the NS 889, an RPU6D slug, which was in the motive power consist of the westbound 15K.

Another interesting sight was an eastbound light power move. The second of the two units had visible damage to the lower portion of its nose from having hit something.

Traffic was heaviest before 1:30 p.m., with 27 movements. The longest lull was 53 minutes in early afternoon.

Off the rails, a guy was in Berea with locomotive horns attached to the bed of his pick-up truck that he seemed to enjoy blowing every so often.

Then there was the guy who pulled in with a fancy SUV who set up a camera on a tripod. When the wind kicked up he took refuge in his vehicle.

I watched in horror as the lightweight tripod blew over and landed camera first on the concrete edge of the parking lot. I saw him pick it up in two pieces and shortly thereafter he left.

I’ll give the guy credit for keeping his cool when he realized what had happened. Most guys, myself included, would have cursed and done so rather loudly once we spotted the broken camera.

As for Dave’s radio show, he was the assigned hogger for the 16G, which arrived in Berea siding around 2:30 p.m.

The Cleveland Terminal dispatcher told the inbound crew that the replacement crew would go on duty at 3 p.m. By the time that crew arrived at its train, it was late afternoon.

No sooner had the engineer and conductor settled in, we heard a familiar voice over the radio. It was Dave informing the dispatcher that the lead unit of the 16G lacked cab signals.

Dave also was unable to log into the computer on board one of the units, which necessitated the first of multiple radio conversations he had with the NS help desk.

The person at the help desk suggested that Dave’s password had expired. The guy was able to enter Dave’s login and determine that, well, the password had not expired and he couldn’t explain why Dave was having trouble logging in. Dave tried it again and it must have worked.

Having determined that the cab signals in the second unit were working, Dave and the dispatcher discussed making a spin move to turn the power because the nose of the second unit was facing west. The spin move could have been done at Rockport but a train was occupying one of the needed tracks.

The dispatcher suggested taking the power to the Knob and turning it there. Shortly after Dave agreed to do that, a voice came over the radio saying, “you’ll need bulletin orders for that, David.”

The dispatcher agreed to have them printed and Dave and his conductor would pick them up at the tower in Rockport. We subsequently learned which printer in the tower would be used to print the bulletins.

The 16G had a third unit, but it apparently was dead in tow. In another conversation that Dave had with the help desk, we learned that one of Dave’s units was a type 5. It was the first time I’d heard an NS crew member ask about locomotive type.

It apparently had to do with horsepower or pulling capacity because Dave quipped that he would need every ounce of power the units could muster to get the 16G to Conway.

Wait! There’s more. Dave also reported to the help desk seeing oil on the walkway of one of the units. He didn’t see leaking oil, but suggested that Conway repair the locomotive on Sunday.

The help desk guy asked Dave to tag the unit, which Dave agreed to do.

Because they were cutting power away from the train, the conductor had to set 10 handbrakes. Unfortunately for him, it was raining as he did it.

He and Dave had a few conversations about the air, but I don’t remember the details.

We were awaiting our dinner order when Dave came past bound for the Knob. We had finished and were about to leave when he came back west an hour later.

None of us wanted to stick around to watch Dave finally left Berea siding for Conway. We’re sure, though, that he would have a long day and cashed it in for some overtime.

To view the trains list for the day, click on the following:

https://akronrrclub.wordpress.com/about/activities/2016-dave-mckay-day-in-berea/

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A clear signal for CSX No. 359 in Berea. The weather in the morning and early afternoon was a mixture of sun and clouds.

A clear signal for CSX No. 359 in Berea. The weather in the morning and early afternoon was a mixture of sun and clouds.

The trailing Canadian Pacific unit is smoking it up a bit as the Q166 charges through Berea.

The trailing Canadian Pacific unit is smoking it up as the Q166 charges through Berea.

Its a coal train. You don't see many of those these days.

Its a coal train. You don’t see many of those these days.

The NS GoRail unit made an appearance in the motive power consist of the 20R. It was a close as we got to bagging a heritage unit.

The NS GoRail unit made an appearance in the motive power consist of the 20R. It was as close as we got to bagging a heritage unit.

Yes, that is snow falling as the NS 20E rolls through Berea during a snow shower around 3:30 p.m.

Yes, that is snow falling as the NS 20E rolls through Berea during a snow shower around 3:30 p.m.

The third unit of the eastbound Q356 is a former Union Pacific locomotive how shown as NWIX 1861.

The third unit of the eastbound Q356 is a former Union Pacific locomotive now shown as being NWIX 1861. It was our sole rent-a-wreck sighting of the day.

We don't know what they hit, but it needs to be repaired ASAP.

We don’t know what it hit, but it needs to be repaired ASAP.

‘McKay Day’ at Berea is this Saturday

March 30, 2016

The Akron Railroad Club’s 12th annual Dave McKay Day will be held in Berea on Saturday, April 2.

The outing is held in memory of the ARRC’s longest-serving president. McKay served as president for 12 years before stepping down in December 2004.

ARRC logoAs always, ARRC members, guests and friends are invited to spend the day in Berea watching the action on the Norfolk Southern and CSX mainlines.

We can expect to see a diverse mixture of traffic on both railroads, including intermodal, automotive, manifest, minerals and tank car trains carrying crude oil or ethanol.

The trains of both railroads sometimes feature locomotives from other railroads, particularly BNSF, Union Pacific, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National.

CP has a pair of run-through trains between Chicago and Buffalo, New York, that use CSX tracks. At least one of those might pass through during our time in Berea.

The outing begins when the first member arrives and ends when the last person leaves.

It will be early April so who knows what kind of weather we will have. Past McKay Days have featured everything from shirt sleeve temperatures to heavy snow.

A few members have been having dinner at the end of the day at the Berea Union Depot Taverne. That tradition will continue this year.

Parking is available in the far west end of the restaurant parking lot or across Depot Street on private property owned by railfan Ed Gibbs.

The radio frequencies in use by trains in Berea are 161.070 and 160.980 on NS and 160.800 and 160.860 on CSX.