Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Greenwich Ohio’

Seeking the New Normal on CSX in Greenwich

March 5, 2016
Eastbound Q015 rattles the diamonds at Boyd in Greenwich as it rolls out onto the New Castle Subdivision in Greenwich.

Eastbound Q015 rattles the diamonds at Boyd in Greenwich as it rolls out onto the New Castle Subdivision in Greenwich.

I recently went to Greenwich because I hadn’t been there for quite some time but also to check out how busy CSX is or isn’t these days.

During my recent outings in Berea, it has seemed as though the number of trains on CSX is down.

Greenwich is as busy a CSX hotspot as you’ll find in Northeast Ohio. You’ll see all of the traffic that passes through Berea as well as all of the traffic that passes through Akron.

I arrived in Greenwich in late morning on a Sunday and was surprised to find that I was the only railfan there.

The first hour was pretty quiet with the only trains being a pair of intermodals, one in each direction, on the Greenwich Subdivision.

Although there seemed to be fairly steady radio transmissions, Greenwich didn’t have the feel of activity as it has in the past.

The Willard Subdivision west of Greenwich is known for having trains stacked up waiting to get into the yard.

Nothing I heard on the radio indicated that that was the case on this day.

The IP dispatcher didn’t seem to be facing any “crisis” situations as has often been the case in the past.

Listening to the radio in Greenwich can be deceptive. If you have a good antenna you’ll hear discussions involving trains in the yard and operating west of Willard.

Many of those trains have either already passed through Greenwich or won’t be arriving for a good hour or more.

I had brought along the most recent issue of Trains and had plenty of time to read it.

The news section had stories about the changing nature of railroad freight traffic, including assertions that the future lies with intermodal.

So perhaps it was noteworthy that of the 17 trains that I saw, eight of them were intermodal trains.

Traffic began picking up about mid afternoon and at times the Greenwich of today resembled the Greenwich of yore.

A few railfans drifted in and out of town, stopping for a while to watch trains.

Things seemed to return to “normal” when two westbounds became stacked up east of town on the New Castle Subdivision.

A Q263 sat for a while at the home signals for CP54, a.k.a. Boyd, waiting for a pair of trains to come up the single-track Mt. Victory Subdivision from Crestline.

And it wouldn’t be a day in Greenwich without at least one problem bothering the dispatcher.

A Q163 arrived on the Willard Sub with an hour left to work and a bad order car to set out. There was quite a bit of chatter about that, primarily involving how far west the train would go before getting a new crew.

Aside from the eight intermodal trains, the day’s count included a crude oil train, two auto rack trains, one coke train, three manifest freights and two Wheeling & Lake Erie trains.

It has been quite a while since I’ve seen a coal train on CSX in Northeast Ohio. Maybe that traffic has dried up. Do any more Power River Basin coal trains still run on CSX through Northeast Ohio?

All in all, it had been a good outing from a railfanning perspective with most of the traffic coming in the final two hours of my five-and-a-half-hour day.

I haven’t kept records of how many trains I’ve seen in Greenwich during past outings so I can’t draw any definitive conclusions about CSX traffic being significantly down.

Still, I came away with the feeling that things are not quite what they used to be. What I observed on Sunday seems to be the new normal for CSX in our region.

There remain many trains to watch and photograph, but not quite as many of them as there used to be.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Here comes the Q163 off the Greenwich Sub and onto the long connection in Greenwich.

Here comes the Q163 off the Greenwich Sub and onto the long connection in Greenwich.

There are still a few crude oil trains left to see, including this eastbound.

There are still a few crude oil trains left to see, including this eastbound.

The head end of the Q010 is passing the tail end of the Q113 on the connecting tracks in Greenwich.

The head end of the Q010 is passing the tail end of the Q113 on the connecting tracks in Greenwich.

That's quite a colorful motive power consist that the Q004 has. The dominant color is red.

That’s quite a colorful motive power consist that the Q004 has. The dominant color is red.

The Q375 was able to highball on through Greenwich without waiting. It is shown passing the home signals for Boyd on the New Castle Sub.

The Q375 was able to highball on through Greenwich without waiting. It is shown passing the home signals for Boyd on the New Castle Sub.

I don't know if that rail is old or new, but it sure looks rusty. The Q263 is headed onto the single track toward Crestline.

I don’t know if that rail is old or new, but it sure looks rusty. The Q263 is headed onto the single track toward Crestline.

The L017 is taking the long connection today off the Greenwich Sub.

The L017 is taking the long connection today off the Greenwich Sub.

The K182 had to wait awhile east of Greenwich before getting a signal at Boyd. The coke train is shown in the growing shadows of late afternoon transitioning from the New Castle Sub to the Willard Sub.

The K182 had to wait awhile east of Greenwich before getting a signal at Boyd. The coke train is shown in the growing shadows of late afternoon transitioning from the New Castle Sub to the Willard Sub.

The Little Guys Wins One in Greenwich

March 3, 2016

Feb28 Greenwich 01-x

Regional and short-line railroads that have trackage rights on a busy Class 1 mainline are not always a top priority on someone else’s property.

No one knows that better than the Wheeling & Lake Erie, which must use CSX tracks to get between CP47 in New London on the CSX Greenwich Subdivision and GN Tower in Greenwich on the Willard Subdivision, where the W&LE line to Carey diverges.

So when I heard a W&LE train key up the CSX IG dispatcher last Sunday to get permission to enter the Greenwich Sub at New London, I expected the Wheeling train would have a long wait.

The dispatcher, though, seemed to indicate that the wait would be short. “Watch for a signal” after a UPS train passed by. That would be the Q010, which was already through Greenwich.

Not long after that, though, what had been a relatively quiet Greenwich Sub sprang to life with a parade of eastbound traffic, including the Q008, Q004 and L382.

Also in the mix was a Q263, which pulled up and stopped at the home signal for the connecting tracks from the Greenwich Sub to the Willard Sub.

The Q263 had to wait for the Q008 and an auto rack train to come up the single-track Mt. Victory Sub from Crestline.

It had been more than two hours since I had heard the Wheeling train talking with the CSX dispatcher and it was getting to be late afternoon when I finally heard the W&LE 6354 calling signals as it made its way west on the Greenwich Sub.

The Q353 was still waiting and as I saw the headlight of the W&LE train come into view I expected to see it stop next to the CSX train.

But it kept going and went around the Q353. Was the W&LE getting dispatching priority?

Well, maybe not. The Q263 still had to wait a while longer for an auto rack train to come up from Crestline and go east on the New Castle Sub.

The auto rack train reached Greenwich 16 minutes after the Wheeling train took the short connection to the Willard Sub. So either the dispatcher or a computer decided that a 36-car Wheeling train could move on through quick enough not to delay any CSX trains.

Still, I’d like to think that seeing a W&LE train go around a CSX train was a victory for the little guy for once.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders


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