Posts Tagged ‘short line railroads of Pennsylvania’

Pa. Tourist Railroads Offering Joint Ticketing

July 17, 2017

Two Pennsylvania tourist line railroads are offering discounted combination tickets for passengers who ride both lines during the summer.

The participating railroads are the Ma & Pa Railroad Heritage Village and the Stewartstown Railroad, both based in York County and a 20-minute drive apart.

The joint tickets are being issued to commemorate the heritage of both railroads, a practice that was once common in the Northeast.

The Maryland & Pennsylvania dates to 1870 and once connected York with Baltimore. The Stewartstown Railroad, known as “the farmers railroad,” was built in 1885 between Stewartstown and New Freedom.

The railroads noted in a statement that both carriers were in their early years backed by local residents who saw them as a lifeline to a wider world.

The Stewartstown continues to operate from its namesake city over a portion of its original 7.4-mile line.

Volunteers on a monthly basis operate track cars run over the line to New Freedom.

The Ma & Pa is based at Muddy Creek Forks and offers motorcar excursions over 5.4 miles of the original Ma & Pa main line.

Docents in period costumes offer tours of the A.M. Grove General Store, the roller mills, grain elevator, and exhibits about the railroad and its region.

Quiet Zone Imposed in Pennsylvania City

July 12, 2017

A quiet zone has been imposed by the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority in the Newberry neighborhood of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The quiet zone came about after the city council in the central Pennsylvania city best known as the home of the Little League World Series sent a notice to the Federal Railroad Administration of its desire for a quiet zone.

The council also gave a notice of intent to SEDA-COG, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Lycoming Valley Railroad.

Grade crossing signals were improved last spring at the crossings where the quiet zone is now in effect.  This included the installation of four-quadrant gates, safety surveillance camera systems and signal protection systems at the affected street crossings.

SEDA-COG has a yard in Newberry that is the largest rail yard between Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, New York, and has a high concentration of customers and associated rail traffic, authority officials said.

R&N Posts 16% Carload Gain in 2016

February 3, 2017

Pennsylvania-based short line Reading & Northern posted a 16 percent increase in carload traffic for 2016, handling almost 20,000 carloads.

PennsylvaniaTourist operations accommodated more than 100,000 passengers, the second time in the railroad’s history that it has topped six figures.

In a statement, the R&N said that during 2016 it “had more employees, more track, more locomotives, more freight cars, more facilities and more customers than at any point in its history.”

R&N added 10 miles of new track and acquired the Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, with more than three miles of new track construction.

In maintenance of way efforts, R&N installed more than 15,000 ties, replaced more than 20,000 linear feet of rail and built a dozen new turnouts.

The locomotive fleet increased by 20 percent with the acquisition of six four-axle locomotives. The freight car fleet grew 16 percent to 1,179 cars, an increase of 162.

More than a dozen new customers have come on line, most with the Humboldt acquisition, and 21 new employees joined the railroad, bringing the staff to more than 200.

Reading & Northern Building New Station

January 19, 2017

The Reading & Northern will build a new passenger station near the Reading, Pennsylvania, city limits.

PennsylvaniaThe $2 million project also will include construction of a siding from the main line, a water tank and a home for Canadian Pacific 225, a 4-6-0 formerly owned by the late George M. Hart. The 225 will be displayed at the site.

The R&N acquired the property for the station in 2016 for $895,000. It is located along Pennsylvania Route 61 in Muhlenberg Township north of a connection with Norfolk Southern.

To prepare the site, a closed strip mall and restaurant on the property were razed.

The new station will feature a Victorian era design and simulate a station known as the Outer Station that was located closer to central Reading.

That station was constructed in 1874 and located within a wye of lines branching off to Allentown, Pottsville, Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

The Outer Station, which had division offices, closed in 1969 and was destroyed by fire in 1978.

The railroad also had a passenger station in downtown Reading on Franklin Street.

The R&N said that it will begin offering scheduled Saturday passengers trains between the new station and Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, on Memorial Day, using former Reading rail diesel cars.

The route of the service will be ex-Reading rails from from Reading to Hauck on the Catawissa Branch and then over the former Jersey Central Nesquehoning Valley Branch to Jim Thorpe. The trip will be 60 miles one way.

RBM&N Installing Locomotive Event Recorders, Plans to Boost Trains Speeds Above 25 MPH

January 14, 2017

Faster track speeds on the Pennsylvania-based Reading Blue Mountain & Northern will require the road to comply with a Federal Railroad Administration standard that at least one locomotive of a train be equipped with an event recorder.

PennsylvaniaThe RRM&N has about 320 miles of track at which trains can run at speeds of more than 30 mph.

The railroad recently installed the event recorders in a pair of its EMD SD50s at a cost of $12,000 per locomotive.

Railroad CEO Andy Muller said the company is still determining which of the other 40 locomotives that it owns will receive event recorders.

FRA rules require that the event recorders keep track for 48 hours of the train speed, selected direction of motion, time, distance, throttle position, and the applications and operations of the automatic and independent brakes. The event recorder does not necessarily need to be in the lead unit.

RBM&N plans to operate trains with a unit having a working event recorder at speeds of 40 to 50 mph.

“When you’re running through schedule freights from Reading to Scranton you can’t run 25 mph,” Muller said.

Muller said the RBM&N has track good for 40-50 mph operation and is adding more CTC-controlled territory, but train speeds were previously held to 25 mph.

R&N Adds Locomotives, Hopper Cars

November 9, 2016

To accommodate new business, the Pennsylvania-based Reading & Northern Railroad has purchased new locomotives.

PennsylvaniaThe R&N said in a news release that it acquired six locomotives from a recent Norfolk Southern auction, which included four EMD MP15 locomotives and two EMD GP39RNs.

The railroad has also acquired more than 150 used steel hopper cars to handle an increase in its anthracite coal business. The R&N now has a fleet of 1,179 freight cars.

Even the passenger business at the railroad is on the rise, with ridership on its tourist trains 15 percent ahead of last year’s patron patronage of 100,000.

R&N said it has installed 15,000 crossties, 10,000 feet of new rail, and built about 10,000 feet of new sidings. Almost 90 miles of track has also been re-surfaced this year.

Pa. Short-Line RR Reopens After Being Flooded

October 25, 2016

The Nittany & Bald Eagle short-line railroad in central Pennsylvania is back in operation after being knocked out of service last week due to flooding.

PennsylvaniaSome sections of track were washed out, but have since been repaired by railroad crews.

The storm flooded sections of Bellefonte, Milesburg and Howard after more than seven inches of rain fell in three hours.

Less than 3,000 feet of track was damaged by the flooding, which occurred at low points, near culverts and in Bellefonte Yard.

Crews were working on Monday to repair track so that slow orders could be removed.

No railroad rolling stock or equipment was damaged in the flooding.

The N&BE operates between Tyrone and Lock Haven and has a branch to Bellefonte, Pleasant Gap and Lemont. It has 87.3 miles of track.

R&N Acquires Coal Company Branch

June 11, 2016

Reading & Northern has acquired the 5.5-mile Locust Valley Line from the Locust Valley Coal Company.

PennsylvaniaIn a news release the Port Clinton, Pennsylvania, company said the acquisition will hel p it better pursue industrial development along the line located Interstate 81 and in operation since 2006.

“This acquisition continues our efforts to acquire and operate contiguous railroad lines in our service territory,” said Reading & Northern CEO Andy Muller Jr.

“We believe through our economies of scale that we can deliver better service at lower prices to customers throughout the region,” he added. “The Locust Valley purchase is part of that overall strategy.”

RBM&N Receives Grant From Pennsylvania

June 3, 2016

The Pennsylvania State Transportation Commission has awarded a $5 million grant to the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad that will be used in a $14 million bridge rebuilding project.

PennsylvaniaThe Nesquehoning Bridge project in Carbon County will create a connection between two of the railroad’s divisions, thus providing a direct route between Philadelphia and Binghamton, New York.

The work will involve building a new three-span bridge over the Leigh River and installing 1,200 feet of track.

Catching the Cumberland Mine Railroad

May 22, 2016
A ballast train leaves the coal unloading facility at Alicia on the Cumberland Mine Railroad.

A ballast train leaves the coal unloading facility at Alicia on the Cumberland Mine Railroad.

Out on the line near the bridge over Pennsylvania Route 88.

Out on the line near the bridge over Pennsylvania Route 88.

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Locomotive No. 1 brings up the rear of a loaded coal train that is being unloaded at Alicia, Pennsylvania.

I had heard about the Cumberland Mine Railroad and my friend Adam and I had sought to visit it once. But nothing was moving so we moved on.

We decided recently to give it another try. Adam had seen a posting on Trainorders.com from a guy in Pittsburgh who had gone out there and caught a train about five minutes after he arrived.

Our quest began near the unloading station along Alicia Road by the Monongahela River. Coal is unloaded here and put on barges.

Just as we came down Alicia Road we saw the rear locomotive of a coal train that apparently had just arrived.

Then a piece of track equipment went the other direction followed by a locomotive pulling a single ballast hopper.

We weren’t sure if they were going out on the line to do maintenance or had just finished working on the track in the unloading facility.

The Cumberland Mine Railroad is a 17-mile isolated line that has no connections with any other railroads. It shuttles coal from a mine near Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, to the barge loading facility.

It was once owned by U.S. Steel, but is now owned by Foundation Coal.

We photographed the ballast train as it approached the bridge over Pennsylvania Route 88.

Unsure as how long it would take to unload the coal train, we decided to head back toward Pittsburgh.

Also, it was cloudy and the photography conditions were not ideal.

We’ll have to get back down this way soon on a sunny day and spend some more time exploring that operation.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders