Wednesday, April 30, 2008

NS Derby Train Shot: Windshield has bullet hole

The NS Kentucky Derby Office Car Special (OCS) train was apparently shot at in Springfield, OH. Below is an email string we received about this incident. I have rearranged comments into chronological order.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 20:20:36
The OCS had some problems at Springfield. But is still headed west. As I find out more info I will post.

Sat, April 26, 2008 ???? PM
Engineers window got busted out near MP 184 west end of Springfield, Local PD were called like they are going to catch them and are long gone. Nothing surprises me in this town..............

Saturday, April 26, 2008 11:44
The crew reports a 22 rifle was the likely object of the nickle size hole in the window.

Sun, 27 Apr 2008 07:51:57
Get a load of this report that happened overnight to the OCS. It's going to be a looooong summer.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 6:29 PM
Apparently nobody hurt, but there will need to be new windshield glazing on the engineer's side.
Don't know how the engine crew 'determined' that a nickel-sized hole was the result of a .22. I can't even imagine a .22 bullet having enough gas to get through that sloped, FRA Part 223 glazing, let alone leave a hole that size.
If it didn't ricochet off or disintegrate, though, I would think there'd still be some lead in the lead unit's cab to gather up and weigh to see how big the slug had been. Maybe they'll do a more thorough search, once they drop anchor near Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Meanwhile, with only an hour or so to go with an intact engineer's windshield, here's the train nosing by a stationary freight at Buckeye Yard in Columbus:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Weekly Rail Carloading Report - Week 16, 2008

There is an interesting report available on the web that is "A Weekly Report of North American Rail Freight Traffic by Major Railroad and Commodity." It is currently showing data for week 16 of 2008. Take a look.

Here is an example of the information available on this web site. This graph shows Total Traffic for 2007-2008 vs. 2006-2007. There are more graphs and tables on the web site showing data by railroad and by commodity.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Railroad Tank Cars Implosion

Received the following links via email with the comment: "This is really neat, unless you own the tank cars".

First is a web site with some still pictures and discussion.

Second is a short YouTube video, but I don't know where, when, or why. It was obviously a staged event.

Circus Train Sightings

Following information is from a chain of emails we received about the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus train -Red Unit (RBB&B Red Unit). I have put the info in chronological order.

Monday, April 21, 2008 8:15 PM
Subject: Circus Train in Columbus!
Ringling Bros. Barnum & Baily Circus train
About 6 minutes ago it went through downtown (across Marconi Blvd.crossing) northbound with 2 units of NS in the lead. I snagged a few pix and a little video with my low-res cell camera with no memory card ugh!) If the pictures are any good I'll post them later tonight.

Monday, April 21, 2008 8:25 PM
RBBX Red Series Train enroute to State College, PA from Charleston, WV..Power is two NS SD60's when it departed Nitro this AM.. Train is extremely long with over 30 passenger cars along with 4 animal cars and over 20 additional equipment cars.

Tuesday April 22, 2008?
Subject: State College, PA: Circus Train (RBB&B Red Unit)
The 58-car 137th Edition Show RINGLING BROS. and BARNUM & BAILEY Circus "RED UIT" train is now on the 2nd half of its 2-year tour rotation. Mile-long silver train had a pair of big EMDs for power coming up the West Virginia Secondary from Nitro to Columbus. Don't know if they stayed on beyond (Mansfield, Pittsburgh/Conway etc.) Train may already have 'turned the corner' at Tyrone.

Bellobration at the Bryce on campus, Thursday-Sunday this week.

Bryce Jordan Center
State College, PA
Apr 24 - Apr 27

(Blue Unit train's show is at Philadelphia's Wachovia Spectrum through April27. Next Blue Unit train 'city jump' is to Providence on Monday, 4-28.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saving the best for last...

Can be the only way to describe going trackside on this warm sunny Saturday morning in Manville along the Lehigh Line on this Saturday morning. Three Class 1 railroads (CSX, NS and CP) were seen during my two hour time frame. In time sequence, the trains seen passing by my location were as follows:

7:17 CSX Q417- had CSX 5113 (AC44CW) and CSX 8153 (SD40-2) as the motive power on this mixed freight.

8:13 NS 212- would have NS 2766 (SD70M-2) and NS 7693 (ES40DC) as power. On board was a Vermont Railway trailer that had a scenic design honoring “Vermont Railway 35 Years of Service”. That was something I hadn’t seen previously. Had to wonder if there are there anymore trailers having this design or just this one?

8:29 NS 21M- 6,800 feet of TOFCs headed west with NS 9482, NS 9844 and NS 9658.

9:15 CP 38T- had to be the best looking train of the day for me! Four SD40-2s, CP 5934, CP 5905, CP 5966 and CP 5929, would bring its consist of gray hoppers east to Oak Island.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

M of W Procedures

Received the following set of pictures and comments via email. Amazing!

Comment 1:
Now this guy knows how to operate a backhoe.

Comment 2:
One has to wonder if that is an OSHA-approved method! Note how, by the final frame, he has scooched the thing over onto the next car. Imagine if a knuckle gave way - then he'd be the coupler!

Comment 3:
They have been using this method to 'walk along the tops' of hoppers and gondolas for M/W work for decades. They can (and do) walk the length of an entire cut of cars in this manner. I have to believe OSHA is very familiar with it. The equipment operators who do this make it look easy and routine: for them, I guess it is!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eastern Railroads "Mighty Merger" Plan of the Early 30's

The link below will take you to a Time magazine article from Monday, Aug. 01, 1932, that discusses the "Mighty Merger" plan for eastern railroads that was proposed by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) at that time. Had this merger taken place there would have been 4 railroad "systems" in the eastern U.S., excluding New England and the Southeast: Pennsylvania, New York Central, B&O, and C&O. The ICC wasn't telling the railroads to do this; rather, they suggested that they would approve such a merger. If you are interested in railroad history, I highly recommend this article.,9171,744057,00.html

Now here are some comments we received via email from Nate Clark, a B&LE fan (Bessemer & Lake Erie RR). Nate brought this article to our attention in his email. I have done some slight editing of Nate's email.

Had this plan gone through, the B&LE would have long ago become part of the Chessie camp, along with NKP+ERIE+PM+W&LE.

(from the article)
"Chesapeake & Ohio, with the Van Sweringens' Nickel Plate (Buffalo-Chicago-St. Louis), Erie (Jersey City-Chicago-Cincinnati) and PereMarquette (Buffalo-Detroit-Chicago) gets 24½% of the total trackage. Instead of Lackawanna, as proposed originally by the I. C. C., it is given LehighValley (New York-Buffalo) which puts its system into Manhattan's Pennsylvania Station. It also gets a branch of the Lackawanna to Oswego. Other C. & O. roads: Bessemer & Lake Erie, Wheeling & Lake Erie."

(from the article)
"Before operating staffs can be merged and economies effected, each of the Big Four has much to do. C. & O. must arrange to buy Lehigh Valley from Pennsylvania and the closely held Bessemer & Lake Erie from U. S. Steel Corp."

When this stillborn merger proposal was made back in the early Thirties the B&LE had only ten Texas-type locomotives (2-10-4) on the property. They would eventually have 47. Had the Bessemer's merger with this "other 'C' railroad", which had already passed a first phase of ICC approvals, gone through, the remaining Texas-types would maybe never have been delivered, as the C&O may have instead assigned their higher-drivered T-1s version of the 2-10-4 (69"drivers vs. the 64" CB&Q M-1 style on B&LE). The B&LE also would never have been trod by orange and black diesels, starting a decade-and-a-half or so after when the merger might have been, nor would headquarters have remained in Greenville, PA...although the Chessie's Cleveland Terminal Tower HQ would actually have been about a 5-miles-closer move than Monroeville was under GLT, a half-century later!

The C&O's coal and ore docks at Toledo may have been favored over P&C's Conneaut facility, though the water distance vs. rail miles to Pittsburgh may have still allowed the P&C facility to survive in a C&O universe. There was no mention in the article of the Union Railroad, so it is likely that it was not to have become part of C&O, too. Besides, the URR would not have reached any other part of the expanded C&O empire to the south, so it is not as if the B&LE/URR would have become part of a through route. Still, one can only speculate on how the entire U.S. rail map -- let alone the B&LE's-- might look in 2008, had this proposal of 75+ years ago come to fruition.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Final Score: Tumbleweeds 1, BNSF Coal Train 0

Received the following text and pictures via email. Unbeliveable!

Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 10:15:16 -0800

On Monday morning, if someone would have told me that tumbleweeds could Stop a coal train, I would have said " your full of it, no way". That was until yesterday Morning, 12 miles west of Hardin, we were pulling up Rowley hill, going 15 Mph & the wind was blowing about 50 mph & we ran into thousand's of Tumbleweeds come to a dead stop in about 5 car length' s, they blew under Our Drivers & we lost all our traction & were dead in the water. We had 3 Engines & got 2 more engines off another train & Still couldn't move. We were stuck there for 5 hrs & 35 min. & finally Had to Back down the hill & let another crew take over because we ran out of TimeTo work, crazy huh?......Stacy

Friday, April 11, 2008

Reading Railroad Heritage Museum Grand Opening

The Grand Opening of the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum will be held this Saturday April 12, 2008 from 10 am to 5 pm.

The new museum is located at 500 S. Third Street in Hamburg, Pa. just off PA Route 61 one mile south of Exit 29 of I78.

To mark the opening a community event called a BEE Line Festival will be held. The mission of the BEE Line Festival is to provide a community event that will generate awareness of the Museum’s large collection of Reading equipment, artifacts and ephemera..

The Reading Railroad Heritage Museum is part of the Reading Company Technical & Historical Society (RCT&HS). Through dedication and hard work over the last 32 years, RCT&HS has amassed the largest railroad collection in the United States dedicated to a single railroad.

In addition to food, music and family fun the museum will offer several special programs. Former Reading employees will engage in round table discussions on life on the Reading. A former operator will demonstrate the functions of the control panel from the Reading’s Lebanon Valley Junction Tower. Operating HO and G Gauge layouts and a station agent’s office circa 1934 can be viewed. Caboose and locomotive cab tours will be offered. A variety of Reading diesel horns will be sounded and a storyteller will relate railroad ghost stories.

Admission is $10 adults, $5 children, maximum $25 for a family.

Here is a link to the museum's web site.

Weekly Rail Carloading Report - Week 14, 2008

There is an interesting report available on the web that is "A Weekly Report of North American Rail Freight Traffic by Major Railroad and Commodity." It is currently showing data for week 14 of 2008. Take a look.

Here is an example of the information available on this web site. This graph shows Total Traffic for 2007-2008 vs. 2006-2007. There are more graphs and tables on the web site showing data by railroad and by commodity.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Slot Cars at the Big Little Railroad Shop

Besides all the wonderful model railroading products we sell, we also sell Ninco slot car sets. These are definitely not the slot cars of the 70's. Come in, check them out, and ask for a demonstration. Pictured below are some of the sets we have available.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Weekly Rail Carloading Report - Week 13, 2008

There is an interesting report available on the web that is "A Weekly Report of North American Rail Freight Traffic by Major Railroad and Commodity." It is currently showing data for week 13of 2008. Take a look.

Here is an example of the information available on this web site. This graph shows Total Traffic for 2007-2008 vs. 2006-2007. There are more graphs and tables on the web site showing data by railroad and by commodity.

Here is something familiar!!!

Received the following email from Kermit Geary, Jr.
The file name for the photo is Louisiana Eastern 4.

"Anyone know where they have last seen this locomotive?

Photo by Kermit Geary, SR"

Note: If you left click on the picture, you can see it enlarged.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

After NJ's rain had ceased...

(Train sightings on 3/9/08)

Sunday morning would find a couple of inches rain had thoroughly saturated NJ causing the Raritan River to overflow its banks. The dark brown grass in the foreground on the first two scenes is actually flood debris floating on the water. As for the trains that passed by my vantage point near Manville (NJ) on this very windy morning:

8:30 NS 20R-NS 9922 (C40-9W) and NS 2755 (SD70M-2).

8:30 Unknown local freight with NS 5382 (GP38-2, ex-CR 8257) and CSX 6115 (GP40-2, ex-B&O 4216) headed east with a cut of coil cars and one flat car loaded with steel beams.

8:45 NS 214-I am guessing that is what this intermodal might have been since it had a number of EMP containers. Motive power was three C40-9Ws, NS 9582, NS 9764 and NS 9111.

9:30 CSX 706-with the familiar green municipal waste containers had CSX 4817 (SD70MAC) and CSX 378 (AC44W) as motive power.

9:37 CSX MA2-had NS 5288 (GP38-2, ex-CR 8088) heading up a graffiti covered ACF center flow and five tank cars heading east.

9:45 NS 18G-had NS 9476 (C40-9W) as its leader along with two other unidentified NS units for this train of mixed freight.

What's the delay here...

(Train sightings on 3/2/08)

at NS's Lehigh Line Three Bridge's (NJ) grade crossing on this Sunday afternoon? The holdup could be attributed to a procession of 20 to 25 MOW track equipment heading east. Both bicyclists and motorists could only watch until this parade finally passed. I would speculate that this equipment was the start of a tie replacement program that has been mentioned on other websites along the Lehigh Line. An interesting observation was that most of this equipment seemed fairly clean and lacked "NS" markings that I could see. Perhaps NS might have subcontracted this project out since one of these pieces of equipment had the name "Harsco" on the side.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The day after yesterday...

(Train sightings on 2/24/08)

Found it really enjoyable to get trackside on Sunday after two days of dealing with NJ’s dreary weather. Under sunny skies and warmer temperatures, there were some interesting railroad sights to be seen on this day.

There was BR&W’s 752 (GP9, ex-CLP 752, ex-BN 1879, ex-NP 256) crossing over the Raritan River with two cars in tow heading back towards Flemington, NJ.

Heading back over to Three Bridges, NS H76, with PRR 3444 (SD40-2, ex-CR 6977) and NS 5084 (GP38-2) was just arriving around 1 PM to pick up seven cars.

As it eased on back to couple up to these cars, I noticed a newly erected sign proclaiming the historical heritage of this line. I thought it was nice that some communities recognize the role railroads played in contributing to a town’s history and development.

(Hint: in Windows, if you left click on the picture, you can see it enlarged; and the sign is easily readable.)

Saturday's sightings along the Lehigh Line...

(Train sightings on 2/16/08)

started out in Manville and ended on Three Bridges's Higginsville Road Bridge waiting for the arrival of NS P052. The sightings, by time sequence, were as follows:

7:45-NS 21M: would have as its power NS 2763 (SD70M-2) on the point followed by NS 6646 (SD60) and NS 2722 (SD70M-2).

8:45-CSX MA80: had NS 5305 (GP38-2, ex-CR 8120) as sole power for taking ten coil cars east along CR's SA Lehigh Line.

9:31-NS 20K: this intermodal's power consisted of NS 2758 (SD70M-2) and NS 9908 (C40-9W).

10:05-NS 214: would head down the Port Reading Secondary. Motive power consisted of NS 9352 (C40-8W), NS ???? and NS 8747 (C40-8).

10:23-NS 213: would head east with a trio of C40-9Ws, NS 8995, NS 9805 and NS 9151.

10:47-CSX Q300-finished working Manville yard and headed east on CR's SA Lehigh Line. Motive power was CSX 8471 (SD40-2, ex-SP 8961),CSX 5416 (ES44DC) and CSX 2798 (GP38-2, ex-CR 8238).

11:02-CSX Q410: Two AC44CWs, CSX 588 and CSX 468, would continue its trip north to Selkirk, NY.

11:33-NS 18G: would bring its manifest of mixed freight east past Roycefield Road in Hillsborough. On the point was NS 9232 (C40-9W), NS 8322 (C40-8W) and PRR 52??.

11:45-NS 64J: falling into the "heard on the scanner but not seen nor caught its scent" was NS 64J as it called out MP 40 on the Lehigh Line.

1:59-NS P052: Motive power on this high and wide load would be two SD40-2s, NS 3424 (ex-CR 6520) and NS 3436 (ex-CR 6979).

Prior to the Giants beating the Patriots...

(Train sightings on 2/3/08)

Decided Sunday would be a good time to take advantage of the morning sun’s rays. Come kickoff at 6:18, I will be transformed into a couch potato watching the Giants beat the Patriots in a squeaker. As for what trains passed by my vantage point in Manville, here was the rundown:

8:05-NS 18G (Oak Island to Pittsburgh, PA): had NS 2604 (SD70M), NS 9804 (C40-9W) and PRR 3026 (GP40-2, ex-CR 3326) as its motive power bringing sixty-four cars of mixed freight east.

8:11-NS 21M (North Bergen, NJ to Chicago, IL): After waiting for 18G to clear Port Rdg Jct, 21M’s trio of power was two SD70M-2s, NS 2747 and NS 2778, along with NS 9592 (C40-9W).

8:20-CSX Q438 (Hamlet, NC to Selkirk, NY): would have fifty-three cars of mixed freight. Motive power was CSX 8784 (SD60M, ex-CR 5567) and CSX 8069 (SD40-2).

8:35-CSX MA1: PRR 3057 (GP40-2, ex-CR 3382) and CSX 2798 (GP-38-2, ex-CR 8238) would then head east with eighteen coil cars. One of these coil cars still wore its “Norfolk & Western” lettering. A roster shot of one of the coil cars has been included for the modelers.

9:45-CSX Q300 (Philadelphia, PA to Oak Island): CSX 7332 (C40-8W) and CSX 5492 (ES44DC) would finish working Manville yard and head east with thirty-eight cars.

9:55-NS 212 (Atlanta, GA to Croxton, NJ): Power consist was NS 9441 (C40-9W), NS 8688 (C39-8E) and NS 9860 (C40-9W).

10:30-CSX MA2: fourteen ACF Center Flow cars came east behind CSX 2793 (GP38-2, ex-CR 8226) and NS 5305 (GP38-2, ex-CR 8122). A shot of one of these center flow cars has also been included for modeling purposes.

Falling into the “heard but not seen” category was NS 24V. Around 9 AM, it would be instructed to take the Royce Runner for a recrew.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Court Approves Lionel's Bankruptcy Plan and Settlement with MTH

Following are 2 postings from the O Guage Railroading (OGR) Forum made by Erol Gurcan, aka locolawyer. Erol is really a lawyer and an O guage modeler who has been closely following the court proceedings on Lionel's backruptcy and the MTH vs. Lionel lawsuits.
Also see our post below of an AP news story on the same topic.

Posted to the OGR Forum on 3/27/08 by locolawyer

Court Approves Lionel's Bankruptcy Plan and Settlement with MTH


March 27, 2008-In what should be one of their last court appearances, lawyers for MTH, Lionel and Sanda Kan (Lionel’s principal manfacturer of trains) appeared in a New York Bankruptcy Court this morning.

At the end of the hearing this morning, Judge Burton Lifland approved Lionel’s confirmation plan for reorganization. The court also approved Lionel’s settlement with MTH.

Under the confirmation plan, Lionel’s unsecured creditors will be paid 100% of their claims in cash and with post petition interest. This is usually unheard of when a corporation exits bankruptcy. Creditors are usually paid pennies on the dollar.

Lionel’s attorney Adam Harris informed Judge Lifland that they had acquired 59 million dollars in new equity from Guggenheim funding, and obtained another 10 Million in funding from Train Acquisition LLC, in order to pay off all debts in preparation for exiting from bankruptcy. Train Acquisition LLC manages the Lionel account for the estate of Martin Davis, which owns 75% of the company. (Twenty percent is owned by rock and roll singer Neil Young, with Richard Kughn owning the other 5%).

The only party that filed papers objecting to Lionel’s bankruptcy plan was its principal supplier, Sanda Kan Industrial Ltd. However, their objections were withdrawn after a written agreement was worked out by the attorneys prior to appearing in court today.

The practical effect of Lionel’s plan being confirmed today is that they should be emerging from bankruptcy as early as next week, and most likely within a couple weeks. Lionel’s attorney, Adam Harris expected Lionel to be out of bankruptcy “within two weeks” once the final small details are resolved. Lionel CEO Jerry Calabrese told me today he believed Lionel would be out of bankruptcy “sometime within one month.” Once this occurs, Lionel will be issuing a press release. They have been in bankruptcy since November 15, 2004.

Judge Lifland noted today that “Lionel has thrived while they have been in bankruptcy.”

The court also approved Lionel’s settlement with MTH concerning BOTH the trade secrets lawsuit and patent infringement claim involving synchronized smoke. Part of the bankruptcy confirmation plan includes a one time cash payment to MTH in settlement of both claims. This will take place shortly after Lionel emerges from bankruptcy. The settlement, once paid, will end eight years of litigation in the trade secrets case. Judge Lifland stated he believed the settlement was “fair and just.”

In sum, the long and difficult legal battles between the two model train rivals should soon be history.

Erol Gurcan

Posted to the OGR Forum on 3/28/08 by locolawyer


I made a mistake in my article that started this thread. I stated that Train Acquisition MANAGES the Lionel account for estate of Martin Davis. It is Wellspring that manages the Lionel account. Train Acquistion LLC, aka the estate of Martin Davis OWNS 75% of Lionel.

Thanks to Keystone for pointing out my mistake. Bascially, the 10 Million financing obtained from Train Acquisition is like an entity giving themselves a loan.

Fortunately, the mistake did not materially affect what I reported concerning the confirmation of the bankruptcy plan and judicial approval of the settlement with MTH.

Some have also asked how yesterday's proceedings affect MTH's case with Korea Brass and the injunction. The simple answer is yesterday's proceedings had no effect on the MTH Korea Brass situation because that matter is pending in a different court. I will follow up in the near future to give all an update on the MTH Korea Brass proceedings. It's been a couple of months since I reported on that case.


Lionel Set to Exit Bankruptcy

Following is an Associated press news article from 3/28/08.
Also see our post above on the same topic from the O Guage Railroad (OGR) Forum.

Lionel Set to Exit Bankruptcy
Associated Press 03.28.08, 2:45 PM ET

WASHINGTON - A bankruptcy judge has approved Lionel LLC's Chapter 11 reorganization plan, clearing the way for the iconic model-train maker to exit bankruptcy.

Judge Burton R. Lifland of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York on Thursday confirmed Lionel's plan, which calls for private-equity firm Guggenheim Corporate Funding and the estate of the late Martin Davis, former chairman of Paramount Communications Inc., to pump $59 million of new cash into the reorganized company, Lionel Chief Executive Gerald Calabrese said.

"We're very happy; this has been a long hard pull," said Calabrese. "We expect to be out of bankruptcy by next week."

New York-based Guggenheim will contribute $37.1 million to the new Lionel, and the Davis estate - which is controlled by Davis' widow - will contribute $21.9 million.

Calabrese, a former Marvel Comics Group president, was named Lionel CEO in September 2004, just months before a jury awarded rival MTH Electric Trains $38.6 million in a trade-secrets dispute with Lionel, which forced the 107-year-old company into bankruptcy. An appeals court later overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial. Lionel and MTH settled their long-running fight late last year.

Although terms of the settlement were to remain confidential under a court order, recent filings revealed Lionel agreed to pay MTH $12 million in cash to settle the lawsuit and a separate spat involving patented smoke-puffing technology. Calabrese and MTH lawyer Alec Ostrow declined to comment on the settlement.

Lionel's Chapter 11 plan calls for the company to pay all its creditors in full with interest. Lionel will also obtain up to $40 million in loans to fund its exit from Chapter 11, pay off its creditors and fund its working capital needs in the future.

Guggenheim, which will now own 48.6 percent of the new Lionel, and the Davis estate, which will have 28.6 percent stake, are also loaning Lionel an additional $10 million in second-lien debt.

Calabrese will roll forward some $6 million he's owed by Lionel into deferred compensation and a 7.8 percent stake in the reorganized company. An additional 15 percent in the new Lionel will be doled out to company management, including Calabrese, under an option plan.

Rock star Neil Young, a former minority owner, is not - at present - part of the new ownership group.

The Davis estate owned 75 percent of the old Lionel and Young owned 20 percent. Those stakes have been wiped out under Lionel's reorganization plan.

Calabrese said he intends to meet with Young Friday in Northern California to define Young's ongoing role in the company.

"This is Neil's passion," Calabrese said. "We certainly want him involved, but, I want to be clear, it's up to him."

Railroad Quiet Zones coming to Hillsborough, New Jersey

The following is a newspaper article from the Courier-News for Friday, 3/28/08.

Hillsboro slated for rail upgrades


HILLSBOROUGH - The Township committee has approved contracts to build safety medians at four rail crossings and install an electronic backup safety improvement at three of them.

The approved contracts will provide for the construction of 100-footmedians on either side of three of the rail crossings at Beekman Lane, Auten and Roycefield roads – including road stripping and warning signage - for $191,188. The railroad safety improvements will be installed at each of the crossings by Norfolk Southern, at a total of $141,000, said Township Clerk and Business Administrator Kevin Davis.

Davis said the majority of the funding for the quiet zone project comes from a $250,000 developer's contribution from Beazer Homes, the developer of the Pleasantview Estates project.

The township will use $250,000 from Beazer Homes and $100,000in budgeted funds for the project, which could take up to a year to complete. The plans recently were approved by the state Department of Transportation.

Mayor Anthony Ferrera told the public Tuesday thousands of township homeowners are affected by noise generated from the four horn blasts at each of the crossings – all within the nine-mile length of the Norfolk Southern line running through Hillsborough. The blasts often sound in the very early morning hours, the mayor said.

The township also intends to construct a wayside horn - where a horn is placed at the intersection of a crossing and would be directed at cars – at the Valley Road railroad crossing. Negotiations with Norfolk Southern on the wayside horn are ongoing, Ferrera said. Residents living near township railroad tracks had approached municipal officials with concerns last year, saying they couldn't sleep at night or talk on the telephone as a result of the noise. Others had said the sound disrupted their pets and infants.

However, Maurice Rached of Maser Consulting, the township's engineer on the project, said federal regulations require four horn blasts at each grade crossing.

"That is an unusually large number of horn blasts in a very small area," Rached said. "It does have an impact on homeowners."

During a test in September 2006 at the Valley Road crossing, the horn blasts were measured at about 92 decibels from a distance of 100 feet. When a train traveled through the Valley Road crossing, Robert Albritton, national sales manager of the company that makes the device, measured its horn blast at 106 decibels from the same distance – equal to a DC-8 aircraft at a little more than 6,000 feet before landing.

The solution is to install the added safety features at the rail crossings, so that trains traversing Hillsborough will not have to sound their horns at each crossing with the enhanced safety features.

"The construction of the medians and the safety improvements provided by the railroad will ultimately allow for the ending of the train horns at the three crossings, establishing quiet zones that will enhance the quality of life for these home owners," Ferrera said.

Pamela Sroka-Holzmann can be
reached at (908) 707-3155or