Friday, May 30, 2008

Teen hit by train, thrown 70 feet

Yet another teen hit by a train while wearing an MP3 player. If you insist on walking around railroad tracks, then you must be constantly alert and attentive to moving vehicles. Come to think of it, that applies to streets and parking lots too. Maybe MP3 players should come with a big warning label.

from WISH TV8 in Indiana

Teen hit by train, thrown 70 feet

Posted: May 20, 2008 11:01 PM EDT

LAKE STATION, Ind. (AP) - Police say a freight train hit a 16-year-old Lake Station boy, hurling him 70 feet.Lake Station Police Chief Mike Stills said the boy was in critical condition Tuesday night at University of Chicago Hospitals with head and internal injuries. He was breathing but unconscious after the accident.

He says Nathan Furlong was walking along the train tracks when he was hit about 2 p.m. Furlong is a sophomore at Edison High School.

Stills says the CSX train hit Furlong "square on." He says the teen apparently was wearing a stereo headset and may not have heard the train approaching behind him at about 37 mph.

The train engineer told police he blew his whistle some 50 times in warning.

Weekly Rail Carloading Report - Week 21, 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 21 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, May 28, 2008

Alaska RR on Memorial Day Weekend

Received the following via email. The text and pictures are by Doug Ellison, an employee of the Alaska Railroad. How was your weather this past weekend?

Subject: Alaska RR Memorial Day Weekend

Date: Sun, 25 May 2008 19:30:24 -0400

Spring just does not seem to be able to break the grip of old man winter entirely here in Alaska. This Memorial Day Weekend I exercised my perogative as General Roundhouse Foreman and followed management directive to get out and ride a train. So I chose to ride the Anchorage -Seward passenger train on Saturday and here are some of the views from the headend. Lots of snow in them thar hills !

Doug Ellison

The Loop

Along Turn Again Arm - Northbound to Anchorage

Between Spencer and Portage

Looking back at Bartlet Glacier loop

Northbound - Bartlet Glacier

View from cab - Trail Glacier

Monday, May 26, 2008

NJ Transit Online Suggestion Box

Following article is from the Star-Ledger dated 5-15-08.

In cyberspace, NJ Transit can hear when a customer screams

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Star-Ledger Staff

NJ Transit riders with suggestions about how to prevent late trains, missed buses and other indignities of the daily commute will soon have a new place to share their ideas.

The agency will run a "virtual ideas cafe" beginning June 1, offering riders a place online to post suggestions, read suggestions left by other riders and vote on the suggestions they like best.

The program, which will be run as a one-month pilot, is the latest of several steps NJ Transit has taken in recent years to be more responsive to customer input, executive director Richard Sarles said.

"Some very good customer ideas have already been implemented, and our message is we want to hear more," Sarles said.

For the past two years, NJ Transit has kept track of customer feedback through software created by; a San Francisco company whose web-based products help companies manage their relationships with customers.

The software, for which NJ Transit pays $200,000 a year, allows the agency to keep tabs on all of the customer feedback it receives, said James P. Redeker, assistant executive director for policy, technology, and customer service.

The number of customer comments the agency receives has increased by 500 percent in the two years since it began tracking them with the system, Redeker said. In addition, the time it takes to respond has improved by 60 percent, to less than three days, he said.

Sarles and Redeker cited two examples of changes made in direct response to customer feedback received through the system.

One customer who travels by bus into New York suggested NJ Transit move bus passengers onto the trains on days when there are long delays at the Lincoln Tunnel. Sarles said the agency routinely uses buses to move train passengers when there are disruptions in rail service, and the idea of doing the reverse made sense.

Therefore, it adopted a policy that allows buses bound for the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan to be rerouted to Secaucus Junction or Penn Station in Newark if there are long delays at the Lincoln Tunnel. That allows customers to switch to the trains rather than sitting on a bus in traffic for 90 minutes or more. Buses have been diverted to the train stations twice since February, he said.

It was also in response to customer complaints about how NJ Transit communicates information about delays on the trains that the agency upgraded the communications systems at seven stations on the Raritan Valley Line, Redeker said.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

NS Maersk unit repainted in black

Received the following note via email. Don't know the original source nor date.

NS EMD SD40-2 3329, which had been painted in a special Maersk paint scheme since July of 2002, has been released from the shops in Altoona in fresh NS "horsehead" black and white. The unit was slightly damaged in March when the top of the long hood struck a coal chute. The unit departed Altoona yesterday in a power move to Conway, PA.

NTSB Report on NS derailment in 2006

Received the following item via email. It is from the NTSB web site, and is dated May 13, 2008.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 13, 2008 SB-08-19


Washington, DC -- The National Transportation Safety Board determined today that the probable cause of the derailment of a Norfolk Southern Railroad Company train was the railroad's inadequate rail inspection and maintenance program that resulted in a rail fracture from an undetected internal defect. Contributing to the accident was the Federal Railroad Administration's inadequate oversight of the internal rail inspection process and its insufficient requirements for internal rail inspection.

On Friday, October 20, 2006, a Norfolk Southern freight train (68QB119), en route from the Chicago, Illinois area to Sewaren, New Jersey, derailed while crossing the Beaver River railroad bridge in New Brighton, Pennsylvania. The train consisted of a three-unit locomotive pulling three empty freight cars and 83 tank cars loaded with 660,952 gallons of denatured ethanol. Twenty-three of the tank cars derailed. Several of the cars fell into the Beaver River. Approximately 20 of the cars released ethanol, a flammable liquid that ignited and burned for 48 hours. A seven-block area of New Brighton was evacuated. There were no injuries or fatalities.

"Because Norfolk Southern did not have an adequate rail inspection and maintenance program, they put the public, crew, and environment at risk," said NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker.

The track where the derailment occurred was installed in 1977 and had experienced significant rail head wear prior to the accident. Norfolk Southern had hired a contractor to inspect the track for internal rail defects. In 2006, three ultrasonic/induction inspections for internal rail defects were conducted on the accident track. The last inspection on August 1, showed an intermittent loss of bottom signal over a 9-foot length of rail in the area where the derailment subsequently occurred.

FRA regulations require that all railroads conduct a continuous search when inspecting rail for internal defects. Additionally, according to the FRA, any rail inspection that is interrupted, as a result of rail surface conditions that inhibit the transmission or return of the signal, is not considered to be continuous and therefore is not considered a valid inspection of the affected rail segment.

However, about a year and a half before the accident and without consulting the FRA, Norfolk Southern gave new procedures to the inspection contractor for inspecting rail for internal defects. The procedures permitted inspection equipment operators to ignore any loss of bottom signal, as long as the continuous loss of signal distance did not exceed 5 feet of linear rail. The Safety Board investigation found that the initiating defect that caused the rail fracture was located in the length of rail that had the loss of bottom signal during the August 1 inspection. The equipment operator did not stop the inspection vehicle for a re-inspection or to hand inspect the rail, consistent with the procedures provided by Norfolk Southern.

"Norfolk Southern was not conducting a continuous search of their rail for internal defects, which left segments of rail uninspected and in service indefinitely," Rosenker said. "This accident illustrates the importance of having a comprehensive rail inspection and maintenance program that will account for factors such as rail head wear and loss of signal during internal testing."

As a result of this accident, the Safety Board made the following recommendations:

To the Federal Railroad Administration:

1. Review all railroads' internal rail defect detection procedures and require changes to those procedures as necessary to eliminate exceptions to the requirement for an uninterrupted, continuous search for rail defects.

2. Require railroads to develop rail inspection and maintenance programs based on damage-tolerance principles and approve those programs. Include in the requirement that railroads demonstrate how their programs will identify and remove internal defects before they reach critical size and result in catastrophic rail failures. Each program should take into account, at a minimum, accumulated tonnage, track geometry, rail surface conditions, rail head wear, rail steel specifications, track support, residual stresses in the rail, rail defect growth rates, and temperature differentials.

3. Require that railroads use methods that accurately measure rail head wear to ensure the deformation of the head does not affect the accuracy of the measurements.

4. Assist the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration in its evaluation of the risk posed to train crews by unit trains transporting hazardous material, determination of the optimum separation requirements between occupied locomotives and hazardous material cars, and any resulting revision of 49 Code of Federal Regulations 174.85.

To the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration:

5. With the assistance of the Federal Railroad Administration, evaluate the risk posed to train crews by unit trains transporting hazardous materials, determine the optimum separation requirements between occupied locomotives and hazardous material cars, and revise 49 Code of Federal Regulations 174.85 accordingly.

To Norfolk Southern:

6. Revise your ultrasonic rail inspection procedures to eliminate exceptions to the requirement for uninterrupted, continuous search for rail defects.

A synopsis of the Board's report, including the probable cause and recommendations, is available on the website,, under Board Meetings. The full report will be available on the website in several weeks.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chicken on the Rails

This is scary! Received the following via email on May 15, 2008. These are items posted on, and I am not sure of the time and place of the incident described. Suicides, accidents, and games of chicken have a significant psychological effect on train crews, and are not taken lightly by the railroad companies. Railroad tracks are dangerous places, and railroad employees are trained and retrained about the hazards. The rest of us are not always aware of what might happen when "playing" on the tracks.

On the way back into Northtown from my Dilworth road trip I had an experience today that really enlightened me in a not so subtle way about what crews can go through when encountering idiots who do not respect trains.

My engineer and myself were eastbound on main 2 coming into the north side of Elk River at about 45mph with 7k tons behind us. About a mile ahead in between main 1 and 2 we see two girls walking side by side away from us. I would guess there ages at about 13 and 10. At seeing them the engineer begins sounding out the horn. Upon hearing the horn, the younger girl moves off onto the other side of main 1 out of the way. The older girl, instead of joining her friend, looks at us and moves closer to our rail and begins jumping up and down waving her hands wildly in what appears to be her playing chicken with us.

At this point we are now about 3/4's of a mile away and the engineer lays solid on the horn and what does the girl do? She now moves over and begins straddling the rail and continuing to play chicken. We close to within half a mile and she now moves fully into the gauge and continues the jumping up and down, waving hands wildly, and now stupifyingly sticking her tongue out. I am think a life will be tragically snuffed out due to abject stupidity.

We close to within about 200 feet and she jumps out of the way over in between main 1 and 2 where her younger friend runs back over to her, now together again, and laugh as we pass by. We call the train behind us to watch out for them as they inbound. What these girls did not realize was not only how lucky the older one was to not fall in front of us, but that a westbounder was not coming on main 1 that neither the older nor younger one would have ever heard nor seen.

Where this happened is only about 3 miles from where I live and it is a smaller part of that community. I will not be working until Friday and plan to go over to this area tomorrow afternoon when school gets out and see if I can find these girls because I will never forget their faces. If I do locate them I plan on talking to BN's security and see what they recommend.

This item generated the following postings and replys on

I would suggest that you don't talk to them alone, talk to your local cop or sheriff and explain what happened and that you would like to talk to the girls. They might be willing to help. Tracking down the girls yourself might be considered stalking in your state. I wholeheartedly agree with your intentions, it's just that our laws can get you tangled in a legal and bureaucratic nightmare.

Reply from original author.

Depending on what BN security tells me in the morning will guide me on how to proceed. I think what stunned me more than anything else was that this was two younger girls. Not to be sexist or anything, but this deadly game is usually the domain of younger to middle age teenage boys, not girls.

Another comment.

Was your locomotive equipped with a camera and if so, is there any way photos of this incident could be recovered and utilized in some manner? Which brings up another question regarding locomotive cameras, how long of a "loop" is retained before being written over?


Unfortunately, no camera on this B40-8 which is ironic because there is supposedly rules coming that unless an engine has a camera, it is not lead qualified. I had thought about using my cellphone that was within reach, but my first instinct was to try and call BN security. As to time retained on cameras I have heard somewhere between 40 and 70 hours, but I defer to those with more information.

Donner Summit project to improve tunnels, tracks

Received the following article via email. It is from RAILWAY TRACK & STRUCTURES Magazine, and is dated May 14, 2008.

Donner Summit project to improve tunnels, tracks 

As fuel prices continue to soar and United States ports become increasingly congested by global trade, transportation officials say the freight railway industry will see a powerful resurgence in the near future. However, before the country’s antiquated shipping mode can consider the coming boost in train traffic, changes must be made to the outdated tracks and tunnels, including the Union Pacific rail line over Donner Summit, local newspapers report. 

The California Transportation Commission is currently working with the Union Pacific on the Donner Project, a plan to construct 9.3 miles of second main track and to increase tunnel clearances for double-stacked freight trains, said Zoe Richmond, public relations director for Union Pacific. 

Raising the height of the tunnels would allow the double-stacked cargo containers to travel over Donner Pass rather than the current route through the Feather River Canyon, a shift that would reduce travel time by 75 miles, Richmond said. 
However, the impact from more frequent freight traffic on Truckee is uncertain, Richmond said. 


In 1996, when Union Pacific bought out Southern Pacific, one expectation of the merger was that train trips would triple over the Donner route. In response, the town constructed the McIver Crossing to regulate traffic in the downtown area. However, the town has yet to see a change in train traffic. 
In addition, the town has explored constructing an under-crossing that would connect East River Street to Donner Pass Road, but the project remains on the back burner until future traffic issues arise. 

If approved, preliminary engineering and design work for the Donner Summit track improvements and clearance project could be completed in 2009, with construction starting in the spring, Richmond said. 
The project would cost an estimated $86.8 million, and would be split between Union Pacific and the California Transportation Commission, she said.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Police Cruiser crushed by train in Newton, Ohio

Received the following news article via email. It is from the web site of the Tribune Chronicle of Warren, Ohio, dated May 14, 2008.

There is also a follow-up news item from the web site of WYTV of Youngstown, Ohio, dated May 15, 2008.

Police Cruiser crushed by train in Newton Ohio

By BILL RODGERS Tribune Chronicle

NEWTON TOWNSHIP — Michael Boyd saw the cruiser parked on the train tracks near Miller Graber Road but forgot about it until he heard the train whistle.

‘‘I’m thinking to myself, ‘Train whistle, cop car, train whistle, cop car.’ And then I heard it,’’ he said, banging his palm on his porch deck to mimic the sound of the train crashing into the Newton Township police cruiser Monday night.

Boyd dressed quickly while his wife, who was painting the living room, panicked. She said she saw someone near the cruiser before the crash. Boyd ran to the cruiser, and was joined by another officer. He half-expected to find someone inside.

The cop car was unoccupied. Patrolman Tom Colosimo had jumped out of the cruiser to chase a suspect in a string of copper thefts.

On Tuesday, Newton Falls Police were reviewing dispatch tapes to learn whether the train for CSX railroad had enough warning to stop. Colosimo radioed Newton Falls dispatch to call CSX and have all traffic along the railroad stopped because he was involved in a foot chase along the tracks.

According to reports from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the a dispatcher in Newton Falls was on the phone with the CSX company 15 minutes later when the train hit the cruiser, which was partially parked on the tracks with its overhead lights on.

The cruiser now sits in Layfield Towing lot in Newton Falls, crushed in the middle, with wires dangling from the windows.

According to a news release from the township, Colosimo stopped his car on the tracks to chase three people who were walking along the rails at about 10:45 p.m.

Large amounts of copper wiring were stolen from along the train tracks recently, which prompted Colosimo to chase after the three people he saw along the tracks. He called for backup and was joined by officers from Newton Falls, Braceville Township, Trumbull County sheriff’s deputies, Lordstown Village Police and a police dog from Newton Falls, according to the township.

The train hit the cruiser at 11 p.m., according to the Highway Patrol. CSX track inspector and city Mayor Pat Layshock said the crash was a low impact considering that trains usually travel about 50 mph through there.

A train can brake for up to two miles before stopping. The train knocked the cruiser off the tracks and continued on for about 14 car lengths, Layshock said.

‘‘It was a mistake in judgment where he decided to stop the cruiser,’’ Layshock said. ‘‘But he should be commended for his effort in trying to stop the vandalism (along the tracks).’’

Boyd, who lives next to the tracks, said the train seemed to be going slower than usual.

There is space the cruiser could have pulled off to the side, he said.

‘‘There’s no way in h—- a guy should ever, ever park on the tracks,’’ Boyd said.

No arrests were made Monday, according to police.

Township police spokesman Jim Luonuansuu said officers recovered a piece of ‘‘evidence,’’ which would be sent to state investigators for prints. But Luonuansuu would not specify what the evidence was.

Township Trustee Peter Augusta said the totaled cruiser was a used Crown Victoria cruiser the small police department bought from the Highway Patrol. Augusta said another cruiser could cost about $5,000 to $7,000.

‘‘I’m just glad no one got hurt. We can buy another cruiser,’’ Augusta said.

The Tribune Chronicle requested copies of the dispatch recordings. Incident reports from the Highway Patrol and the Newton Township Police are pending.

Train Cruiser Accident Follow-Up

by Peggy Sinkovich

Police Chief Robert Carlson spent most of the day Wednesday reviewing thirteen minutes of audio tape, trying to determine if his dispatcher acted appropriately Monday night. Moments before a CSX train smashed into a Newton Township cruiser at the Miller and Graber crossing.

Officer Tom Colosimo was on patrol when he saw people near the tracks around 10:45pm. He stopped to question them and then contacted the dispatch.

It's not clear if the CSX was notified. But at 11:02pm the officer once again called dispatch. This time he said his cruiser was parked on the train tracks. The dispatcher told the officer CSX was not notified. A minute later the train hit the cruiser.

Carlson says he is concerned the train company was not notified sooner but says he is not sure if a phone call ten minutes earlier would have helped.

The Ohio State Highway patrol is investigating the crash. Newton Township officials say the officer is not facing any administrative action.

The chief says his investigation should be complete in about two days.

RJ Corman seeks to reopen 20-mile rail line in PA.

Received the following news item via email. It is May 14 news from RAILWAY TRACK & STRUCTURES Magazine.

RJ Corman seeks to reopen 20-mile rail line in PA.

Company will seek to reopen 20-mile rail line in Pennsylvania.

A Kentucky-based railroad company wants to reactivate 20 miles of rail line that could serve the landfill and industrial park another company wants to build in Rush Township, Pa., local newspapers report. Noel Rush, vice president for strategic planning and development at R.J. Corman Railroad, of Nicholasville, Ken., said the company plans to file the request with the federal Surface Transportation Board in the next few weeks. The proposed rail line would cover about 20 miles from Wallaceton in Clearfield County through Rush Township to the Gorton area in Snow Shoe Township.

Rush said Resource Recovery, the Lancaster County-based company that wants to build a municipal waste landfill and industrial park in the northern corner of Rush Township, is the prospective shipper that could use the rail line.

Resource Recovery has faced strong community opposition to its proposal, which includes building an Interstate 80 interchange to provide direct access to the site. Although the state Department of Environmental Protection’s review of the project is on hold, the company recently bought the 5,800-acre site for the landfill and industrial park. According to papers filed with Centre County, Resource Recovery bought the land for $3.4 million on April 25. Company President Ed Abel could not be reached for comment.

Rush said if the rail line project is a success, R.J. Corman expects to have one inbound and one outbound train a day, with 10 to 20 cars initially. He said the trains could be used to haul commodities such as “cubed” or compacted garbage to the landfill and sand and gravel from the industrial park. Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. has said it wants to build a sandstone quarry in the park.

About half of the proposed rail line is part of the Snow Shoe Rails to Trails’ recreational route. Larry Mayes, the group’s secretary, said if the rail line is rebuilt the group will lose two historic structures: the Peale Tunnel and the Viaduct Bridge. The tunnel was built in 1883 and recently underwent a major restoration with a state grant.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Crash at Crush

Received the following via email about a posting on about a historical marker plaque in "Crush," Texas. The site is about 70 miles south of Fort Worth, 20 miles north of Waco just off Interstate 35. Here is the text on the plaque:


A head on collision between two locomotives was staged on Sept 15, 1896 as a publicity stunt for the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad. Over 30,000 spectators gathered at the crash site, named "crush" for MKT passenger agent William G. Crush who conceived the idea. At about 4PM the trains were sent speeding towards each other. Contrary to mechanics' predictions, the steam boilers exploded on impact propelling pieces of metal into the crowed. Two persons were killed and many others injured, including Jarvis Deane of Waco who was photographing the event.

Weekly Rail Carloading Report - Week 19, 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 19 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.

Bayonne Rail Yard

Received the following via email from 5/3/08 postings to by Rich, who works in the Bayonne, NJ rail yard. I have arranged them in chronological order.

On Wednesday, we had 197 cars physically in the yard on our 17 yard tracks. We had 80 cars inbound from O.I, plus an additional 80 or so w/b's that O.I. could not handle.
(Note: O.I. is Oak Island yard)

Just out of curiosity, how many diesels does the yard employ and what types are they? I've often wanted to ask this question but have not known whom to ask. I've also been fascinated by the collection of Canadian freight cars standing in the yard; CN, CV, NO etc.

Most of the Canadien box cars in the yard are newsprint cars for the Daily News Plant near Liberty State Park. Sometimes we also get Canadien cars loaded with Bricks for a distributor on the Pier 18 lead. This has led to some funny incidents if you're not watching your car numbers. One job does both customers...

As for locomotives...We get anything and everything...Usually we have two GP-38-s's and/or GP-40-2's plus any kind of a third engine from exRDG SW-1001's to GP-15's to new GE Widecabs. (Just before I bumped back last month they had one over there for a few days.) Right now we have two exCR GP-38-s's (NS 5291-NS 5292, both still in Blue) an exCR SW-1001 (CSX 1123) and a CSX SD-50 (8522 exSBD/L& has a headlight in the low nose).


We received the following copy of an email from Nathan S. Clark about the Yellow Ribbon Express (YRE) train that is in the planning stages. The email explains the purpose of this project.

Subject: YELLOW RIBBON EXPRESS: $250,000 Cntribution and BHL Contract

Good afternoon, Julia and Scott.

Recall our discussions of the development of the YELLOW RIBBON EXPRESS steam-powered train tour of 150 cities in the 48 contiguous states to show our nation's grateful appreciation for our troops. Behind the scenes, the wheels have been turning in connection with getting the YRE's wheels turning. I thought The Gratitude Campaign and would both like to know about this recent major contribution from a private individual:

"We are most grateful to be able to announce that we have received a $250,000 contribution from a West Point graduate who after his army career went on to become a very successful Wall Street investor. He believes that it is vitally important that the nation show its appreciation to the brave men and women serving on the front lines, and he further believes that the Yellow Ribbon Express will effectively deliver that message. This generous contribution will now permit us to begin in earnest the critical next step, which is the writing of the full business plan and sponsor acquisition plan.

"We are pleased to announce, effective May 1, 2008, the hiring of the nationally acclaimed firm of Barry Howard Limited of Santa Monica, CA to construct the full business plan and sponsor acquisition plan. Barry Howard was the master-planner for the highly acclaimed American Freedom Train and we are confident that he will produce an equally exciting and compelling exhibit for the ten display cars on the Yellow Ribbon Express."

The YRE will be a VERY powerful symbol of gratitude to our nation's military personnel, extending back over two centuries. Throughout its 3 year, 150-city nationwide display tour... "The Yellow Ribbon Express will tell the 300-year story of the American democracy with an emphasis on thanking those who have answered the call to duty and served the nation at different critical times of need.

"It will set out with the purpose of, "...uniting us all in our gratitude to those who have served the nation in harm's way, in our military services. Hundreds of original artifacts from our nation's history will be on board its ten display cars, which will employ all available state-of-the-art display technologies to tell the story of our 230 year old fight to protect freedom. As was amply shown by the success of the 1976 "American Freedom Train", these priceless artifacts will ensure the train's "must-see" status throughout the nation."

If you are too young to recall,

"The American Freedom Train was a 26-car train led by one of three enormous steam engines restored just for the occasion. Over a 21-month period from April 1, 1975 to December 31, 1976 more than 7 million Americans visited the train during its tour of all 48 contiguous states. Tens of millions more stood trackside to see it go by. It was by far the greatest event on rails since the end of the steam era, and the uniquely magnificent vehicle that brought America's Bicentennial celebration to the people.

"Be sure to read the poem, "A Soldier's Wish" (by LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN, serving in Iraq) that is posted on the site's 'Timeline' page, which YRE founder Ross Rowland declares, " perfectly and powerfully speaks to the very essence of the Yellow Ribbon Express project". As I know you'll recognize, the last two stanzas, especially, 'sum it all up'...

Warmest Regards,


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Follow-up to "Man killed by train in Manville, NJ"

Yesterday we posted an article about a rairoad fatality in Manville, NJ. (see below) This is a follow-up article that was posted on the web site on 5-9-08.

May 9, 2008

Victim of Manville train accident Thursday was high school student


The person struck and killed by a freight train Thursday afternoon has been identified as 19-year-old Kevin Seit, a student at Manville High School, police said.

Seit was in his senior year at the school, according to borough Police Chief Mark Peltack, who said the circumstances surrounding Seit's death remain under investigation.

The loss of the student comes a little more than a week before the high school's prom and less than two months before graduation.

In a letter dated Friday and posted on the school district's Web site, Principal Mary E. McLoughlin said, "On Thursday afternoon, the Manville community experienced the sudden death of one of its students.''

"We are deeply saddened by this loss of life and have our Crisis Management procedures in place to help your children with their reactions to this tragedy,''
McLoughlin said in the letter.

At about 2:50 p.m. Thursday, a westbound Norfolk Southern freight train struck an individual who was trespassing on the railroad track, according to Rudy Husband, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern.

Husband was unable to provide additional information on Friday regarding why the individual might have been in the area, referring questions to local police.

In her letter, McLoughlin noted other community resources available to parents such as the Richard Hall Community Health Center in Bridgewater and the Somerset County Psychiatric Emergency Screening Services at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville. Names and phone numbers were also offered from district personnel.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Weekly Rail Carloading Report - Week 18, 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.

Man killed by train in Manville, NJ

The following news article was posted on the web site on 5-8-08.
From the comments posted on that web site, it seems the victim was a teenager taking a shortcut while listening to his MP3 player, and he probably did not hear the train. Train tracks are dangerous places, even for railroad employees. Everyone one railroad property needs to be fully alert for moving trains. Of course, he should not have been on the tracks in the first place.

May 8, 2008

Man struck and killed by train in Manville


A train struck and killed a man Thursday afternoon, Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne J. Forrest said.

At about 2:50 p.m., a westbound Norfolk Southern freight train carrying a mixed load struck an individual who was trespassing on the railroad track, according to Rudy Husband, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern.

Reports indicate that the incident was either an accident or suicide and not criminal, in which case the matter would be turned over to transit authorities, Forrest said.

The railroad location where the incident took place is in Port Reading Junction, Husband said.

Further information about the man was not immediately available.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Kid saves mom, truck driver from train

Following news item was posted to the WABC (New York) web site on 5-2-08.

EAST ROCKAWAY -- An 11-year-old boy saved his mom and a truck driver from an approaching LIRR train in East Rockaway Friday.

Authorities say that shortly after 8 p.m., Nassau County police were called to the area of the LIRR tracks and Ocean Avenue.

They say it appeared that two vehicles, sitting in traffic, were caught between a set of downed railroad gates activated by an approaching train.

Ryan Murphy, driving with his mother, got out of the car and somehow raised the gate enough for his mother to drive out. A second vehicle, a truck, was also trapped inside. The driver was able to race out just in time, but the train still clipped the truck.

"It came down on our windshield, so I just picked it up," he said. "And then my mom came through and then the other guy behind us, who was in the big truck. His truck got hit. Luckily, we didn't."

Damage to the truck and the train were minimal, thanks, authorities say, only to the actions of the youngster.

"At the time, I was freaking," mom Jackie Murphy said. "And then my little boy got out of the car and lifted it up. He was like, 'Hurry, mom, hurry!' And then I went through. At least the truck got through a little bit. But he got hit in the back. [Ryan] has always been my hero."

LIRR officials were on scene investigating the accident and trying to figure out how the vehicles became trapped inside the gates.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Lionel Exits Bankruptcy, May 2008

Following article is by The Associated Press, and was published by numerous magazines, newspapers, TV and radio stations.

Lionel steams out of bankruptcy, eyes new markets

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2008

Lionel LLC has emerged from bankruptcy protection, ending more than three years of restructuring and a bitter fight with a rival model train company.

The 108-year-old toy maker formally came out of bankruptcy Thursday, leaving the company poised to move out of the hobby shop and into the broader pop-culture marketplace.

Chief Executive Gerald Calabrese, a former Marvel Comics executive who shepherded Lionel through bankruptcy, said in an interview that he sees the new Lionel as an entertainment company and not just a toy maker.

"The way people buy and sell things has changed dramatically since 1900," said Calabrese. "We're not the distribution and sales mechanism anymore, we're the intellectual property. And that's the major change in the outlook of this company."

Breaking into the broader toy market is key to Lionel's growth said Calabrese. During the company's stint under bankruptcy protection, sales for Lionel starter sets -- kid-friendly systems that range in price from $129 to $300 -- more than doubled. The company sold some 200,000 sets last year with much of that growth coming from sales at department stores and big-box retailers.

"We had virtually no sales at outlets like Target and Macy's and FAO Schwarz when the bankruptcy started," said Calabrese.

Developing new products that appeal to kids and getting them on the shelves at big retail outlets is only part of what Calabrese, who worked on Marvel's television programming in the 1990s, calls the pop-cultural segment of the toy market. He says that in today's marketplace, movies and television are the key drivers to sales.

Lionel found itself in bankruptcy in November 2004, just months after Calabrese was named CEO, when federal jury awarded rival train maker MTH Electric Trains $38.6 million in a trade-secrets dispute with Lionel. Faced with a judgment it couldn't pay Lionel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

An appeals court later overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial. Lionel and MTH settled their long-running fight late last year paving the way for Lionel's exit from Chapter 11.

We are an authorized Lionel dealer; and we have Lionel products available year-round, not just at Christmas time.

Graffiti 'legend' arrested

Following article is from the web site,

Graffiti 'legend' arrested, police say

Teen blamed for $500,000 in damage

By TERRI SANGINITI • The News Journal • April 29, 2008

Traveling into Delaware, visitors often see the bright block letters "EASY" on overpasses, fences and rail cars.

"You can't come through Delaware on I-95 if you're a graffiti writer," New Castle County police Detective LaVincent Harris said. "You immediately take notice, this is their turf. They're legends in Delaware."

The "EASY" tag, as well as "Mr. Ease" and "FAST HANDS CREW," is the work of 19-year-old Derrick Noel, the No. 2 graffiti tagger in New Castle County, Harris said. Police calculate that Noel's tagging has amounted to more than $500,000 in damage. Police would not comment on who the top tagger is.

Authorities describe Noel as "a talented kid" had he not been using his talents for vandalism.

His canvas for the past four years -- since his prior graffiti arrest at age 16 -- has primarily been CSX railroad cars.

Noel, of the 2500 block of Newport Gap Pike, was arrested Monday on 128 criminal counts of graffiti, criminal trespassing, possession of graffiti implements and other offenses. Thirty-two of the offenses are felonies, county police Cpl. Trinidad Navarro said.

Noel is being held in the Young Correctional Institution after failing to post $128,000 secured bail.

His arrest grew out of a traffic stop earlier this month, police said.

County police Cpl. Mike Hopkins was on routine patrol about 6:30 p.m. in the rear parking area of the Eastburn Center on Kirkwood Highway when he spotted a parked car blocking the fire lane.

When he approached, two men quickly got into the car, one trying to hide a baseball bat.

"They were not playing baseball," New Castle County police Superintendent Col. Rick Gregory said.

The pair told the officer they had argued with someone and were using the bat as a potential weapon.

Hopkins told them to put the bat in the car's trunk.

"When they opened the trunk, that's when he saw the multiple spray paint cans," Navarro said.

Inside were 172 cans of spray paint, sketch books and a photo album containing 216 4-by-6-inch photos of railroad cars and a few bridges, tagged with "EASY" or some variation, court records show.

Noel, one of the car's occupants, was charged with possession of graffiti implements, triggering a larger investigation.

Over the next three weeks, county detectives reviewed the albums and shared the information with CSX and state and Elsmere police.

On April 10, county police went to Noel's home near Prices Corner. They seized a computer, a camera, sketchbooks, photographs, more than 150 aerosol spray paint cans and baggies full of specialty spray caps, paintings with the tags "EASE," "EASY" and "EASYONE," 35 mm negatives, a skateboard decorated with graffiti, shopping lists and other evidence linking Noel to the vandalism, court records show.

Of the 216 photographs seized, 32 were determined to be on CSX property dating to November 2005.

CSX Regional Police Commander Larry Weigand said destruction by graffiti costs the company between $5 million and $7 million a year.

The cost of repainting one 53-foot boxcar in CSX colors is about $3,083. Total damage done to the 32 boxcars is calculated at $101,735.04, police said in court records.

Taggers use rail cars as their canvas because "they're proud of their work and it's a way to show their work across the country," Weigand said.

"Far and away, most of what we see is a tagger, not a gang symbol," Gregory said. "But the rail companies suffer a great loss, so do businesses and so do homeowners."

Noel was arrested Oct. 28, 2004, by Delaware River and Bay Authority police on three counts each of criminal trespassing and graffiti and one count of resisting arrest for allegedly spray-painting a bridge on I-295, according to court records.

At his Jan. 3, 2005, trial, he pleaded guilty to one count of graffiti. He was placed under community supervision for five months and was ordered to pay restitution of $800, court records show.

Noel registered as a graphic design student at the Delaware College of Art and Design in the fall of 2006, but is not enrolled there now, said spokeswoman Michele Besso.

Harris said Noel and his Fast Hands Crew design their tags in a sketchbook before tagging in the middle of the night.

Taggers often take a picture of their work and put it on the Internet to get credit for it, Harris said.

Noel's arrest will send a message to other taggers in the area, Harris said. "There's a penalty to pay other than someone giving you a high-five," he said.

National Train Day, 2008


The following paragraph is from the Amtrak web site about National Train Day. Visit the web site for much more information.

The first-ever National Train Day is on its way, and there’s never been a better time to celebrate. With passenger ridership growing every year, more and more people recognize that trains are the best way to relax and enjoy the ride. To read, talk, work or snooze the time away. Which makes traveling by train the nicer way to get there. So get ready to join the festivities, which include live musical performances, exhibits, trip planning, VIP appearances and trip giveaways.

A great way to celebrate, would be to stop in our store and buy some train related items such as a complete model train set. :-)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Needed for the circus train: Patience and an umbrella...

(Train sightings on 4-28-08.)

As it passed through Manville (NJ) at 11:47. It was scheduled for an early morning departure in Philadelphia but was detained for reasons unknown. Seen through the intermittent showers and downpours, here was what passed by my vantage point prior to the Blue Unit’s passage.

CSX 707 @ 7:10 had CSX 7504 as the leader along with an unknown second unit.

NS 212 (time not recorded) had NS 9673, NS 9163 and NS 7553 as power.

NS 11J @ 7:45 would have zero loads and 37 empties that weighed in at 1,970 tons and was 3,650 feet long. NS 2662 and NS 8423 provided the power.

NS 21M @ 8:05 had the trio of NS 8314, NS 7595 and NS 2749.

NS 214 (time not recorded) had NS 9784, NS 9663 and NS 9560 as power.

NS 19G (ditto on the time) had the quartet of NS 9559, NS 9447, NS 9795 and NS8771 for power.

NS (symbol unknown) @ 9:50 was a short intermodal (COFCs) that had NS 7679 and PRR 8401 as power.

CSX (symbol unknown) @ 10:12 would have CSX 5288 and CSX 5333 bringing a long train of empty well cars east.

NS 18G @ 10:56 had NS 9275 and NS 9137 for power on this general merchandise train.

CSX P916 @ 11:47 Finally the train I was waiting for finally showed up! The leader was CSX 5312 and an unrecorded second CSX unit. P916 would have 61 cars, weigh in at 4,490 tons and measure 5,409 feet for this 443 mile trip to Providence, RI. During its trip up the Trenton Line, a signal maintainer noticed that one of the tractor’s doors (3rd photo) had come open. The CSX crew would ask for permission to stop and have someone close this door near Bound Brook.
Despite the inclement weather, it was still a good day to be trackside to see the RB&BB Blue Unit circus train along with all these others.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Re:New Bayonne West 8th Street Station construction to start

Some wiseguy posted the following comment on to the article we posted below.

"$58.4 million for one mile of track! That works out to $971.72 per inch! "

First, he either made a math error or a typo. Using his logic, the cost should be $921.72 per inch.

But his logic is flawed. The $58.4 million figure is for the whole project. The one mile of track is only a part of that amount, and the article doesn't break down all the various parts.

New Bayonne West 8th Street Station construction to start

The following was posted to on 4/30/08.

Not quite replication, but "reminiscent." --Ken

The Hudson Reporter – Light Rail Expansion To Start In May

A 30-month project to expand the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line from 22nd Street to a newly constructed rail station on Eighth Street is slated to begin in May.

The system will be expanded about one mile south, and a portion of it will be elevated above street level. The new station will be the southernmost point of the system that currently runs through Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, and North Bergen.

The new station is expected to accommodate walk-on passengers, although plans call for 10 parking spaces for short-term parking and a bus dropoff. Two local businesses will be relocated for the station, including the Burger King and a local tire shop.

The Board of Directors for the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail awarded the $58.4 million contract for the final design and the new station at Eighth Street to George Harms Construction Inc. of Howell, N.J.

This includes the design and construction of foundations, viaduct structure, track work, intersection improvements, a new station building, landscaping, lighting, and customer amenities.

About half of the right of way for the extension is on the New Jersey Transit property, adjacent to Conrail's Bayonne yard. The remaining half of the rail line will be constructed on a viaduct above the southside of Avenue E.

The work will involve the construction of a 10-foot high retaining wall along several yards near 14th Street. This will require the relocation of several utilities, including a high-pressure natural gas distribution line.

Officials said residents near Avenue E, Eighth Street and Avenue C near East 12th Street can expect some traffic rerouting, with a least one day of total closure along East 12th Street.


Joseph Ryan, spokesperson for the city, said the City of Bayonne will post periodic updates on its Web site, and will additionally alert the public with signs and other appropriate notices in the affected areas in advance.

Work is scheduled to start next Wednesday. J. Fletcher Creamer & Son of Linden has been hired to install 1,350-feet of 12-inch diameter steel pipe for $1.8 million, PSE&G spokeswoman Karen Johnson said. NJ Transit will pay for the work.

Work will take place mostly from Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

PSE&G officials said that except for one day, roads will not be completely closed, and that they would work with residents about getting access to driveways. As a result of community meetings, the station will be located at Avenue C and Eighth Street, with architecture reminiscent of the old Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) station that once stood near the site.

"This project will provide ready access to employment, education and recreational opportunities for thousands of new customers," said NJ Transit Executive Director Richard Sarles. "By extending the light rail one mile south, we will connect more Bayonne neighborhoods with other communities, as well as to trans-Hudson trains and ferries."

"This is good news for the residents of Bayonne, as it expands our commuting options and paves the way for new opportunities," said Bayonne Mayor Terrence Malloy. "The extension also will help to boost economic development in our city. We look forward to the day of taking the inaugural ride."

From the elevated 22nd Street Station, the light rail tracks will be extended south, hugging the existing Conrail right-of-way along Avenue E. A viaduct will carry light rail vehicles over local streets to an elevated platform at the new Eighth Street Station, which will feature an elevator and stairs between street and platform levels. Construction should be finished in 2010.

The first segment of the light rail opened on April 15, 2000 between Bayonne and Jersey City. It has since been expanded to include Hoboken, Weehawken, Union City and North Bergen.