Edited by Walt Lankenau
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Lake State Railway Adopts New Paint Scheme
December 10th, 2013
The Lake State Railway (LSRC) of Saginaw, Mich., has introduced an attractive new corporate paint scheme for the 300-mile short line and has applied it to one of its recently acquired SD40-2 locomotives. The new scheme uses the same blue as had been applied to the most recently repainted locomotives, but introduces a gray and white lightning stripe‘ with Lake State Railway spelled out on the long hood.
Devised by Kevin Burkholder, the new scheme gives the LSRC a more modern look and will provide the railroad a unique identity in the industry. The scheme closely resembles a free-lanced model railroad scheme that Burkholder had developed.
LSRC SD40-2 6301 is the first unit to wear the new scheme and will be followed by LSRC 6302 this winter. LSRC anticipates painting additional SD40-2s next year.
“Lake State Railway is proud to update our corporate image to relay the pride and effort our dedicated employees put into hauling freight safely in and out of Michigan via our critical rail link to the nation” says John Rickoff, Lake State Railway President and CEO. “The new six axle locomotives will allow for greater capacity to handle the growth we anticipate over the coming years. LSRC has acquired over 200 railcars in 2013 to help provide safe, reliable equipment for the use of our aggregate, grain, and wood products customers, we are focused on making investments in equipment and locomotives to meet our growth requirements.”
Lake State Railway Company (LSRC) is a Michigan-based progressive short line that has been providing "excellence in transportation" since 1992. LSRC handles a diversified mix of approximately 45,000 carloads of coal, cement, building materials, chemicals, fertilizers, and agricultural products per year. LSRC's approximate 300 miles of track run from Flint through its headquarters in Saginaw up to Gaylord and Alpena. Lines also run to Midland, Bay City, and Paines.
— Railfan & Railroad via Lake State Railway. LSRC photo
FRA Issues Emergency Order to Metro-North
December 6th, 2013
Today the Federal Railroad Administration issued Emergency Order 29 to Metro-North Railroad in response to Sunday's fatal high-speed derailment near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, N.Y. (see story below).
FRA has directed Metro-North to take specific, immediate steps to ensure its train crews do not exceed speed limitations. The emergency order requires Metro-North to modify its existing signal system to ensure that speed limits are obeyed and to provide two qualified railroad employees to operate trains where major speed restrictions are in place until the signal system is updated.
EO 29 requires Metro-North to provide the FRA with a list of main track locations where there is a reduction of more than 20 m.p.h. in the maximum authorized passenger train speed by December 10, 2013. Further, Metro-North is ordered to identify modifications to its automatic train control system or other signal systems to enable adequate advance warning of and adherence to such speed restrictions. These modifications will help prevent another over-the-speed-limit event if a locomotive engineer fails to take actions to appropriately slow or stop a passenger train.
In the meantime, Metro-North is ordered to operate trains with two qualified train crew members in the controlling locomotive cab or passenger car control compartment at locations where speed limits change by 20 m.p.h. or more until signal work at these locations is complete. The railroad must also submit to the FRA for approval an action plan that ensures the safety of its operations for passengers and employees by December 31. The plan must contain target dates and milestones for implementing necessary signal system modifications.
—Railfan & Railroad via the Federal Railroad Administration
MARC Offers Penn Line Weekend and Holiday Service
December 5th, 2013
This weekend MARC will operate its first weekend service with nine round trips between Washington Union Station and Penn Station in Baltimore, Md., on Saturdays and six round trips on Sundays. Penn Line trains will also run on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents Day, and Independence Day. Service will not be provided on Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's, Labor Day, or Memorial Day. Trains will stop at West Baltimore. Halethorpe, BWI Marshall, Odenton, Bowie, and New Carrollton. The new service applies only to the Penn Line; the Camden and Brunswick Lines retain their weekday-only schedules.
The new service has been made possible by an increase in the Maryland gas tax, part of a package instituted by Governor Martin O'Malley last summer to fund highway and mass transit.
—Railfan & Railroad via MARC
Maine Central No. 470 Will be Sold to Restoration Group
December 4th, 2013
Last night the Waterville, Maine, city council voted to sell Maine Central 4-6-2 No. 470 to the non-profit New England Steam Corp., which will move the 1924 Alco to a shop located in Ellsworth on the Downeast Scenic Railroad, where it will be restored and returned to service. The locomotive has languished on outdoor display since 1954, when it pulled the last steam-powered MEC train, an excursion between Portland and Bangor.
Despite the fact that under the city's care the locomotive has steadily deteriorated, there was a strong sentiment against letting it leave the city. The council was required to vote on the proposal three times. Last night's vote, the third, was a cliffhanger, as was the previous vote, with three ayes and three nays. Mayor Karen Heck cast the tiebreaker in favor of NESCo., which now must raise $25,000 in the next two years to make the purchase before the locomotive can be moved.
NESCo President Richard Glueck says the response to the project has been very positive and donations have come in from across the United States and Canada. To support the restoration of MEC 470, you may contribute here.
—Railfan & Railroad via New England Steam Corp. Photo courtesy of NESCo.
Hudson Line is Back in Service
December 4th, 2013
Metro-North has made a quick recovery from Sunday's disastrous derailment at Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx, N.Y., returning one of the two damaged tracks to service. The railroad says 98 per cent of its regular schedule will run today, with 15-minute delays and a few trains being combined. Spuyten Duyvil station will be served by the Hudson RailLink bus, but no parking available there due to the ongoing investigation and reconstruction work.
— Railfan & Railroad via Metro North; photo by Christopher Blaise
Metro-North Train Derails With Fatalities
December 1st, 2013
UPDATED: The National Transportation Safety Board has released some preliminary information on the events that led up to Sunday's Metro-North derailment at Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx, N.Y. The agency said the train was traveling 82 m.p.h. as it entered the 30-m.p.h. curve just west of the station (the speed limit before the curve is 75). The Board also said that the brake pipe pressure dropped to zero about five seconds before the locomotive came to a stop, and the engine dropped to idle about six seconds before. It's not known whether the brake pipe pressure dropped due to an emergency application or a broken brake pipe. Media reports have said that the engineer told rescuers that he had "zoned out" before the wreck.
Metro-North says crews are working around the clock to rebuild 800 feet of track that were damaged by Sunday’s derailment. Personnel worked all night Monday to remove debris and ballast and began laying new ties. With NTSB approval, all rail cars were cleared from the tracks as of about 6 p.m. on Monday. Crews are working to completely rebuild the middle track (Track 2) by installing new ties and rail, in addition to laying down new ballast . Then a new third rail will be installed by the Power Department, followed by the Signal Department working to restore the signal system. When that work is completed, test trains will be run before service can be resumed. This work will likely run into the next few days. At this time, there is no clear estimate for restoration of train service in this area.
ORIGINAL STORY: At about 7:20 Sunday morning, a seven-car Metro-North commuter train derailed on a curve approaching the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, N.Y., while en route from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central Terminal. Four passengers died and more than 60 were injured, 11 critically. Four cars ended up far from the tracks with the cab car nearly in the Harlem River; the last car and the locomotive also tipped over. Excessive speed appears to have been a factor.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators expect to be on the scene for possibly ten days, during which time the track will remain out of service.
Hudson Line service has been suspended east of Yonkers until further notice, with shuttle bus service to Van Cortlandt Park-242 Street for No. 1 Subway service to Manhattan. Passengers are also encouraged to use the Harlem Line; tickets will be cross-honored. On Monday Amtrak's Empire Service between New York and Albany was running normally. Amtrak's West Side line from Penn Station joins Metro-North at CP 12, just west of the accident scene.
—Railfan & Railroad; photos by Marc Glucksman
Ex-Baltimore & Ohio Interlocking Tower is Demolished
November 26th, 2013
On November 22, a wrecking crew demolished the former Baltimore & Ohio VN Interlocking tower in Nova, Ohio. The 100-year old wooden tower once controlled two passing tracks and crossovers on the double-track CSX main line. Taken out of service in October 1993, the derelict structure was a popular photo backdrop.
—Railfan & Railroad; photo by Carl Kopchak
Pennsylvania Mass Transit Bill is Passed
November 25th, 2013
Today Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed a transportation bill that will provide a new revenue stream to provide funding for highway projects and mass transit, including rail, that will encompass the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia, the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, and Amtrak's Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
SEPTA will receive $340 million a year, which should allow the system to maintain current service levels. Earlier this month, the agency unveiled its "doomsday plan," which predicted that without additional subsidies, nearly all heavy rail lines would be discontinued by 2023 and that city and suburban trolley routes would be converted to bus, with the Norristown High Speed Line being "truncated."
The money will come from a variety of sources including a revamped gasoline tax, higher driver and motor vehicles fees, and increased traffic violation fines.
—Railfan & Railroad
CSX Runs 71st Santa Train
November 25th, 2013
The Saturday before Thanksgiving is a special time for the people of Eastern Kentucky, Southwest Virginia, and Northeast Tennessee. For the past 70 years, the Saturday before Thanksgiving has meant one thing for these people: the Santa Train. Things were no different this year as on November 23, 2013, the 71st annual CSX Clinchfield Santa Train began its 110-mile trek south from Shelby, Kentucky to Kingsport, Tennessee. Operating as train P907, SD40-3 4043 and F40PH-2 9998 led the ten car consist carrying executives, media, special guest Kree Harrison, and of course, Santa Claus. The train left Shelby at 6:30 a.m. and arrived in Kingsport shortly after 3:00 p.m., stopping at 14 locations along the route to hand and toss out over 15 tons of toys and candy to children, parents, and grandparents. The people from this area are rich on tradition and the CSX Clinchfield Santa Train ranks right up there.
—Railfan & Railroad; story and photo by Ryan Markham
Norfolk Southern Donates $1.5 million to Fire Up 611
November 22nd, 2013
Norfolk Southern has sold a Mark Rothko painting from its corporate art collection and will donate $1.5 million of the proceeds to Fire Up 611, the Virginia Museum of Transportation's project which will overhaul ex-Norfolk & Western Class J 4-8-4 No. 611 and return it to excursion service.
“No. 611 is an American classic, a reflection of a time and a people who put the country on their backs and carried it into to the modern age of railroading,” Moorman said. “611 is not an NS, N&W, Virginia, or Roanoke locomotive. It belongs to everyone and every generation. In that spirit, and on behalf of NS employees everywhere, I announce our strong support for bringing back a true national marvel.”
“People from 15 countries have contributed their time and resources to bring back the ‘Queen of Steam,’” said Bev Fitzpatrick, executive director of 611’s owner, the Virginia Museum of Transportation (VMT) in Roanoke, Va. “NS’ generous and timely support gives us the best opportunity to reach the $5 million needed to put this icon back on the rails and keep her moving for decades.” However, Fitzpatrick also said that 611's restoration will not commence until money is in place to pay for a new maintenance shop for the locomotive at VMT, which is estimated to cost between $2 million and $2.5 million.
611 rolled out of N&W’s Roanoke shops in 1950 and with sister Class A and Y6 locomotives constituted the “Magnificent Three” that pulled passenger and heavy freight trains during the last two decades of steam railroading in the U.S. Class J locomotives such as 611 could pull 15 cars at 110 mph, and their builders once promoted the advanced engineering by showing how several men, with nothing more than a rope, could pull one on the track. 611 was retired in 1959, restored for excursion service in 1984, and retired again in 1994. Since then, 611 has been on display at VMT.
The 611 plan contemplates making it available for service in NS’ 21st Century Steam program in 2014. In this program, several vintage steam locomotives from NS’ past give people throughout the railroad system opportunities to ride behind the marvelous, powerful locomotives of old, while learning how today’s railroads create jobs, support the economy, save fuel, protect the environment, and keep America competitive.
“With railroads as the backbone of the country’s transportation system – today as during 611’s time – we all can look forward to the brightest days of America’s future,” said NS President Jim Squires. “611 represents not just past glory but infinite possibilities for the future.”
Rothko (1903-1970) was a Latvian émigré who became one of the U.S.’ most famous post-World War II artists. He resisted having his works labeled, but art critics said he wanted people to have spiritual experiences when viewing them.
NS’ signed Rothko painting was created in 1959. The “oil on paper laid down on canvas” image measures 29-1/2 by 21-1/2 inches and features amorphous forms that float on top of each other, “…wonderfully capable of moving the viewer to extreme states of feeling…” according to Sotheby’s, the auction house.
NS bought the painting in 1996. It was part of the railroad’s collection of public area visual art and historical artifacts safeguarded throughout the history of the corporation, including train models, tools, clocks, safety and service awards, and maps. Some pieces – including the Rothko -- have been loaned to museums in the U.S. and abroad for exhibitions.