Posts Tagged ‘Waterloo Indiana’

NS Expanding LCL Service

October 10, 2021

Earlier this year Norfolk Southern launched an experimental less than carload service that involved moving freight in boxcars attached to intermodal trains.

The first trains to provide that service operated in the Chicago-Atlanta-Florida service lane.

It appears, though, that the LCL service has been extended to intermodal trains operating between Chicago and the Middle Atlantic region.

Shown is a boxcar in the consist of the 21M at Waterloo, Indiana, bound for Chicago (63rd Street) from Croxton, New Jersey, on the NS Chicago Line.

Curses, Foiled Again

October 7, 2021

I was sitting in Waterloo, Indiana, next to the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern when I heard talk on the radio about a train 880.

The 880 is a loaded Powder River coal train handed over to NS in Chicago by BNSF at Cicero Yard and it usually has BNSF motive power.

It is destined for a Detroit Edison power plant in the Monroe/Trenton, Michigan, area.

Although it was late morning, the lighting remained favorable for an eastbound. I planned to get the lead unit of the 880 passing a former freight station.

As soon as I heard the defect detector go off near milepost 370 I started getting into position because the train was less than three miles away.

I was standing in a city parking lot next to the former New York Central passenger station, which also serves as an Amtrak waiting room although the boarding platform is a block west.

The tracks here are slightly elevated from the level of the parking lot.

I heard a locomotive horn and figured that to be the 880 blowing for a crossing on the west side of town.

Just as the orange nose of the lead BNSF unit came into sight on Track 2, out of nowhere came a westbound manifest freight on Track 1, which blocked the shot I planned to get of the 880. I was able to get a glimpse of the 800 but that was it.

To be honest, what I said was stronger than the favorite saying of cartoon character Oil Can Harry of Mighty Mouse fame whenever something didn’t go his way.

It turned out the horn I heard was that of the westbound for a crossing about a block to the east. I had heard another train making scratchy calls on the radio, but it didn’t seem that close. Alas, it was closer than I thought.

What else can I say? Things like this happen when you’re trackside.

Reminiscent of the Illinois Central

September 27, 2021

Norfolk Southern manifest freight 14N had something quite out of the ordinary in its consist when it left Elkhart, Indiana, on Sunday afternoon en route to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

Tacked on the rear were two former Iowa Pacific passenger cars reportedly en route to the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern, a Pennsylvania regional railroad.

The cars are painted in a livery inspired by the orange and chocolate brown of Illinois Central passenger trains, which reflected the interests of former IP CEO Ed Ellis.

The observation-type car is named Lookout Mountain and lettered “Rio Grande Scenic,” one of a number of passengers operations once operated by IP.

The cars were sold in the wake of financial difficulties that led to IP filing for bankruptcy protection in March 2021. As part of that proceeding, the trustees of IP began selling the company’s fleet of passenger equipment.

The train is shown at the west end of the CP 367 interlocking in Waterloo, Indiana.

Accelerating in Waterloo

June 27, 2021

Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited is picking up speed as it accelerates away from its station stop in Waterloo, Indiana, one hour and 15 minutes late.

It is the first image I’ve made of the Capitol in well over a year and getting this photograph took good timing and fast acting.

Before leaving home I had checked the status of Amtrak trains through Waterloo. There wasn’t enough time to get there before the Lake Shore Limited arrived and chances were good I would miss No. 29 by 15 minutes or so.

It had been reported out of Cleveland an hour and 20 minutes but Amtrak’s website projected No. 29 would make up a good chunk of that and arrive in Waterloo 59 minutes late.

If that held, I had no chance. But I also knew Amtrak can get delayed between Waterloo and Toledo.

As I neared Waterloo I checked the Amtrak website again. No. 29 was now projected to arrive in Waterloo at 7:46 a.m. I figured to miss by that about five minutes.

The exit ramp for Waterloo onto U.S. Route 6 from Interstate 69 is just beyond the bridge over the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

As I passed the exit signs for Route 6 it was 7:47 a.m. on my car’s clock. I slowed for the bridge and exit ramp and looked toward the east. No headlight was in sight.

That was a good sign This just might work after all.

Nearly a month earlier as I had driven over that same bridge I had seen the headlight of a fast approaching Amtrak 49. I was going to fast to get to the side of the road in time to try to get a grab shot and a pickup truck also getting off at the exit was right on my tail.

So close and yet so far away.

This time I drove to a road that crosses the Chicago Line at grade shortly after I got onto Route 6. The gates were up. Another good sign.

I checked the Amtrak website and saw No. 29 was now projected to arrive in Waterloo at 7:53 a.m., three minutes from now. Did I have time to get to the station?

I began driving down a road that runs parallel to the tracks. Then there it was up ahead. I immediately pulled to the side of Lincoln Street, grabbed my camera and dashed into the weeds to make this image.

There was no time so think about what I wanted to do. I barely was able to get all of the train in the frame.

Photographing the Capitol Limited is a challenge because much of its journey occurs at night. On the western end of the route the train is always operating in the wrong light. Only on the eastern end can you get 29 or 30 in good light.

In Northeast Ohio, No. 30 is scheduled into Cleveland at 1:45 a.m. and No. 29 at 2:53 a.m.

Still, you can get an interesting image on the western end of the route if you work it right.

The glint off P42DC No. 190 was happenstance but I also knew that this time of year the early morning light would favor the north side of the train.

I’m hoping it won’t be another year before I can photograph the Capitol Limited again.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Nice Way to Start the Day

April 29, 2021

We had driven up Interstate 69 to Waterloo, Indiana, which would be our first stop during a day-long railfan outing.

Scarcely had we arrived when the detector west of town on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern went off on Track 2, likely indicating an eastbound was coming.

Through my telephoto lens I could tell the lead unit was not NS black and for a moment I thought that, maybe, it was a heritage unit.

It tuned out to be a BNSF pumpkin with a Southern Belle of Kansas City Southern trailing. That’s not a bad catch although I wished the order of the units had been reversed.

It was train 880, which had come into Chicago from the Power River Basin of Wyoming and been turned over to an NS crew at Cicero, Illinois. The train was bound for Trenton, Michigan.

In the view above, it is splitting the westbound home signals of CP 367 and passing the former New York Central passenger station, which is now owned by the city and contains a waiting room for Amtrak passengers.

Good Place to Put a Red Maple Tree

October 28, 2020

Finding colorful fall foliage along a railroad mainline can be a challenge. Despite all the trees that line the tacks these days many of them are not particularly colorful when the leaves begin to turn in October.

So it was a pleasant surprise to find in Waterloo, Indiana, during an outing earlier this month this red maple tree standing near the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

I worked this tree into the image for four trains, including one going away picture. Shown is a westbound stack train.

Waiting for Air on the NS Chicago Line

May 30, 2020

Eastbound intermodal train 20E passes the Amtrak platform in Waterloo to get my day of photographing on the NS Chicago Line started right.

It had been a long time since I’d photographed operations of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

It had been so long that as I made my way to Waterloo, Indiana, last Sunday for my first railfan outing since early March it felt as though I’d been in another state or even another country for a few years and was returning home.

The Chicago Line has always had a mystique about it because of its heavy and diverse traffic.

I wasn’t expecting to find last weekend that same level of traffic of earlier years.

It was a holiday weekend, rail freight volume has been down by double digit numbers in the past several weeks, and NS is running fewer trains generally as it implements its version of precision scheduled railroading.

Still, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I spent six hours on the Chicago Line and saw nine trains. Just as significant was what I didn’t see during those six hours.

I didn’t see a single auto rack car, I didn’t see any foreign motive power and, most surprising, I didn’t see any distributed power units.

There were no Canadian Pacific overhead trains running during the time I was trackside and no tank car trains.

There also were some very long lulls between trains that started in late morning.

The day got off to a promising start. As I reached the Amtrak station the gates at the main crossing in town went down for a westbound stack train.

About 20 minutes later came eastbound 20E followed 15 minutes later by the 24M.

About a half hour later came a westbound manifest freight and five minutes after that came the 18M, an eastbound manifest.

It was looking like the Chicago Line of old. But after that flurry of activity rail traffic died for more than an hour and a half before the lull was broken by an eastbound coal train.

The next train, a westbound manifest, showed up an hour later. Then came another lull of nearly an hour before a westbound intermodal came along. That would be my last train of the day.

Had I arrived an hour earlier I could have caught a 40-minute late westbound Lake Shore Limited led by a Phase III heritage unit.

And speaking of heritage units, various online reports had the Interstate heritage unit leading stack train 21T.

A railfan I talked with briefly said it should arrive in a couple hours. I thought he meant in Waterloo.

I followed the progress of NS 8104 on a Facebook group devoted to the Chicago Line.

I heard a scratchy radio transmission about 11:15 a.m. and thought, “that must be the 21T.”

I got out and hung around the Amtrak platform. I waited and waited and waited. I periodically checked the Facebook page and HeritageUnits.com, but nothing new had been posted since MP 248.

The minutes ticked away and I kept thinking I should be seeing a headlight any minute.

Something must have happened. Maybe the train went into emergency, struck a car at a grade crossing, or who knows what.

It was boiling hot and I feared getting dehydrated. I didn’t dare dash back to my car to get my radio and/or some water for fear of missing the photograph.

On Labor Day weekend 2017 Marty Surdyk and his brother Robert had been in Indiana for a weekend outing and chased a Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern train on the Fort Wayne Line that didn’t exist where they thought it did.

They had, as Marty put it in a trip report, been chasing air for two hours and 40 miles.

I never left Waterloo, but it turned out I was waiting for air for more than an hour.

The 21T goes to Kansas City and not Chicago as I had thought. It had turned left at Butler, Indiana, and gotten on the former Wabash to head to Fort Wayne and points beyond.

There is in Indiana, it seems, a lot of air. On that same Labor Day outing Marty and Robert had “lost” into that same thin air an NS train they had been chasing.

So it meant that I have still not seen or photographed an NS heritage unit since last August when I caught the Illinois Terminal H unit in Marion.

That disappointment aside, it had still been an enjoyable day because I had seen and photographed something which is better than nothing.

With railroad traffic in contraction mode for the foreseeable future my expectations have adjusted accordingly. This is a year to take whatever you can and make the best of it.

The 18M was long but had no DPUs today.

The 24M may be an an afternoon train in Cleveland but it’s a morning train in Waterloo, Indiana.

An eastbound coal train broke a lull of more than an hour and a half.

Some reefer cars are mixed in with the last cut of box cars on this westbound.

My last sighting of the day was a westbound intermodal.

Glint Photograph and Amtrak

November 30, 2019

I’ve photographed Amtrak in countless places over the years but never shortly after sunrise and coming out of a rising sun.

Glint photograph is a staple of railroad photographers, particularly when a train is coming out of low light at sunrise or just before sunset.

I’ve made many glint images of freight trains but never an Amtrak train.

Doing a glint with Amtrak was more challenging than I expected. I soon learned that the stainless steel sides of Amtrak cars reflect light like a mirror.

I found that getting a glint of Amtrak seemed to work best when part of the train was in a shadow such as that cast by an adjacent building.

That was particularly the case with the top image of the westbound Capitol Limited arriving in the station in Waterloo, Indiana.

No. 29 was an hour and a half late, which was why I was able to capture it in the first place.

Had it been on time it would arrived before sunrise. As it turned out, The Capitol motored into Waterloo just after 8 a.m.

About a half hour behind it was the westbound Lake Shore Limited, which was nearly an hour late.

As seen in the bottom image, there was more ambient light by then, but I learned from photographing the Capitol Limited to under expose the image to compensate for the bright reflection from the sides of the passenger cars.

That also drew out the sky and clouds.

Boarding in Waterloo

November 25, 2019

Their train was late and it had to make two stops at the station in Waterloo, Indiana.

That’s because when Amtrak operates on Track 2 on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern it doesn’t halt next to the platform.

Instead, passengers board and disembark from a much smaller platform between the two tracks.

Such is life on a busy freight line and on this morning the NS was very busy with faster trains relegated to Track 2 and slower unit trains to Track 1.

So the westbound Capitol Limited made two stops in Waterloo, one for sleeping car passengers and the other for coach passengers as shown above.

With the busy Thanksgiving travel period getting underway this week Amtrak trains and platforms are going to be crowded with holiday travelers.

Glint Time

November 17, 2019

Most of the glint photography I’ve done has been at sunset rather than sunrise.

But during a trip to the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Waterloo, Indiana, I had ample opportunities to practice glint photography with the rising sun.

That was because in the hour or so after I arrived in Waterloo there were five trains in succession, all of them headed westbound out of the early morning sunlight.

In the top image, a coal train on Track 1 reflects the light as it nears the Amtrak station.

In the bottom image, a string of UPS trailers glimmer as they pass through the crossing of North Center Street.