Sunday, August 31, 2008

Amtrak Train Runs Out of Fuel

Following article appeared in the NY Times on 8-25-08.

Amtrak Train Runs Out of Fuel

Published: August 25, 2008

LOS ANGELES — An Amtrak train traveling from here to San Diego ran out of fuel on Sunday night, an Amtrak spokeswoman said.

“It’s not uncommon for trains to run out of fuel here,” the spokeswoman, Vernae Graham, said. “It happens from time to time.”

This summer, a locomotive traveling on the same Pacific Surfliner route ran out of fuel, Ms. Graham said, as did a train in the Pacific Northwest last year.

“They are fueled once a day,” she said. “Once the train leaves in the morning, generally there is sufficient fuel for the entire day.”

The six-car train on Sunday night slowed to a halt 15 miles north of downtown San Diego at a station that serves the city’s light rail system, which had stopped running for the night. Another Amtrak train pushed the stalled train the remaining 15 miles down the coast, Ms. Graham said.

The trip, which normally takes two and a half hours, stretched to four. Many of the 83 passengers got out at the light rail station and called friends and relatives to pick them up there. Those without other options arrived downtown just before 1:30 a.m.

Technicians in San Diego are inspecting the six cars and a locomotive that ran on diesel fuel to see if mechanical problems caused its tank to drain prematurely, Ms. Graham said.

While Amtrak trains in the Northeast corridor are electric, those in most of the rest of the country are fuel driven. All Amtrak locomotives in California run on diesel, she said.

In search of...

(Train sightings on 8- 23 & 24 -08.)

a new spot for doing some leisurely railroad photography along the lehigh Line. My "trek" would take me out to Three Bridges on Saturday and the Roycefield Road grade crossing in Hillsborough on Sunday to check out the new quiet zone grade crossings that were recently installed. Didn't see many trains, but I did enjoy the few that I saw.

On Saturday at Three Bridges: NS 21M @ 8:13- had NS 9953, NS 6685 and NS 9162 for its motive power. Being on the mainline, the trains passed through here at a good clip which meant I had to write real fast to get those engine numbers.

Next up was NS 24V at 9:35. I might say shades of CR days with PRR 8370 (ex-CR 6145) as its leader with NS 9350 following. NS 24V is also ex-CR TV62A symbol (Harrisburg, PA to Dockside, NJ), a daily intermodal train and one of my favorites for its consist of colorful containers that follows.

Sunday was spent just hoping to catch a train at one of the new quiet zone crossings in Hillsborough. That afternoon I did manage to catch a power move heading west on the Roycefield Running track past the grade crossing. In this consist was NS 5324, PRR 5338 (ex-CR 8171), NS 3011 and NS 3389. I did find it ironic that even though a sign was posted stating "No Train Horn" warning drivers about this crossing, the engineer still sounded his horn to warn oncoming drivers of a train approaching.

Stay tuned until next time when I continue my quest to find a suitable railfan location...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Norfolk Southern Service Alert - Hurricane Gustav

Received the following via email.

August 28, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

In preparation for anticipated landfall on the Louisiana Coast of Hurricane Gustav, Norfolk Southern has issued an Embargo, effective immediately, for all traffic destined to locations south of Hattiesburg, MS to and including New Orleans. Traffic moving via New Orleans to and from connecting carriers is also included in the embargo.

Further updates will be posted as conditions change.

Norfolk Southern Corporation

Weekly Rail Carloading Report - Week 34, 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 34 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.

Note: This web site has new tables and graphs every Thursday. So, if I am late or miss a week with this blog posting, you can check for new data on Thursdays.

New GE units waiting at Erie, PA

Received the follow in pictures and text via email from Kermit Geary, Jr.

Had a chance to visit the GE interchange with CSX this morning...only to find 9 new ES44I locos bound for MRS Logistica SA (Brazil) and two CSX ES44AH's (complete with the new Electronic Brake equipment!!) Here are 3 shots of the MRS units...for builders info on these, see my post on .

Here are the shots of the CSX units awaiting pick-up.
The rear shot shows the placement of the new electronic brake connections.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Derailment, Explosions, and Fire in Oklahoma

Following article was posted to the web site, channel 5 TV station in Oklahoma City, on 8-22 & 23-08 .

Derailment, Explosions Send Fire, Smoke Into Okla. Sky

Train Headed South From Tulsa; 2 On Board Unhurt

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Crews with Burlington Northern-Santa Fe will soon begin the process of cleaning up after a train derailment Friday afternoon near Luther that resulted in explosions and sent a massive plume of smoke into the central Oklahoma sky.

The BNSF train, carrying crude oil and ethanol, derailed just northeast of Luther and north of state Highway 66 at about 2:30 p.m., sending a giant fireball into the sky and forcing evacuations within a half-mile of the area. The track is owned by the state of Oklahoma but operated by the Stillwater Central Railroad, said BNSF spokesman Joe Foust.

Foust said a foam fire trailer is headed to Luther from Amarillo, Texas. The plan is to let the fire burn a bit longer, and then attack it with foam.

Hazmat crews from Edmond and Oklahoma City flocked to the scene Friday afternoon, as did firefighting teams from Wellston, Hickory Hills, Midwest City and authorities from Oklahoma County.

The train was southbound to Temple, Texas, from Tulsa, Foust said. There were two people were on board the 110-car train, and neither was hurt.

Fire officials said an area 1/2 mile around the explosion was blocked and evacuated. The only way people were allowed to return to the area is to pick up a family member or child. Authorities would not let people return to pick up animals, including horses and livestock.

The smoke could be seen across much of central Oklahoma. It even showed up for a time on Advantage Doppler HD, KOCO's weather radar.

There were multiple explosions after the derailment, and flames neared but never ignited an oil pump in the area.

Authorities said the fire began with a report of smoke onboard the train, and then witnesses reported a loud noise and fire. BNSF is sending company officials from Fort Worth, Texas, to the scene.

The fire is burning in an area that is primarily rural.

Sightings for a sunny Sunday...

(Train sightings on 8-17-08.)

could not this sunny and warm Sunday pass without getting in some time trackside. From my location, these were the trains I saw:

NS 21M @ 7:45- would have a quartet of motive power. The leader was NS 9154, followed by NS 9639, NS 8348 and NS 7512.

CSX MA?? @ 8:22- PRR 5286 (ex-CR 5286) would come out of Manville yard with eighteen coil cars in tow heading east to South Plainfield.

CSX MA?? @ 8:59- NS 3022 with depart Manville yard with three ACF cars. It would return around 9:45 with four cars.

NS 212 @ 9:15- didn't get the NS leader's number. Second unit was NS 8812 sporting what seemed to be a new paint job followed by NS 9404.

NS MG9 @ 9:25- After holding for 212 on track 1, NS 8749 and NS 9544 would bring one spacer car and fifty-one tank cars west.

CSX Q300 @ 10:15- had the same power as Saturday with CSX 8730 and CSX 7767 in command of forty-nine cars.

NS 24V @ 10:45- NS 9892 and NS 9334 would take a short 24V (24 cars) COFC train east on tracks 1.

Couldn't let this sunny morning go to waste...

(Train sightings on 8-16-08.)

by not doing something that be put off until later, like cutting grass. With bountiful sun and warm temperatures, this was a morning to definitely be trackside and that was what I did. The trains passing by my location were as follows;

NS 212 @ 7:26- Leader was NS 7546, HLCX 5980 (SD60; ex-UP, CRIX and CNW) and NS 8706.

NS 21M @ 8:01- NS 2642 and NS 9533 was in charge of 26 cars, estimated length around 6,500 feet.

NS 24V @ 9:40- a rather long train of COFCs. Motive power consisted of NS 2755 and NS 2747.

NS 213 @ 10:06-had the trio of NS 9498, NS 7537 and NS 2622 in charge of 28 cars measuring in at 6,800 feet.

CSX Q300 @ 10:20- would have CSX 8730 and CSX 7677 taking 64 cars of mixed freight east along CRSA's Lehigh Line.

Once CSX's 300 passed by, I packed up and headed home to mow that grass so it doesn't get too long!

Norfolk Southern Foundation Awards

Received the following via email.

August 21, 2008

Norfolk Southern Foundation Awards $2.2 Million in First Half of 2008

NORFOLK, VA. – Norfolk Southern Foundation – the charitable giving affiliate of Norfolk Southern Corporation – awarded grants worth nearly $2.2 million to nonprofit charitable organizations during the first half of 2008.

The grants included $721,615 in employee and retiree matching gifts in support of 334 organizations. Grants other than matching gifts went to 104 organizations throughout Norfolk Southern’s operating territory.

Excluding matching gifts, the Foundation contributed to various United Way campaigns and other health and human services nonprofits ($516,000), educational institutions ($301,800), cultural and arts groups ($525,750), and civic and community groups, including environmental organizations ($128,815). Of the $2.2 million, $756,100 (excluding matching gifts) went to charitable organizations in three primary Norfolk Southern locations – Norfolk and Roanoke, Va., and Atlanta. Among the largest recipients were United Way of Roanoke Valley, Marshall -Wythe School of Law Foundation (College of William and Mary), Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Nature Conservancy of Virginia, and Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, as well as ACCESS Scholarship Foundation, Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads, Virginia Opera, Virginia Arts Festival, and Virginia Zoological Society, all located in Norfolk.

The $2.2 million in first-half giving represents 44 percent of the Foundation’s 2008 budget of $5 million.

Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates approximately 21,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serving every major container port in the eastern United States and providing superior connections to western rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is North America’s largest rail carrier of metals and automotive products.


Norfolk Southern contacts:
(Media) Frank Brown, 757-629-2710 (
(Investors) Leanne Marilley, 757-629-2861 (

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Lehigh Line railroad geography quiz...

See how well do you know your railroading locations? This company was once a major employer that employed thousands in its prime. Its buildings long since leveled. In this aerial view, the tracks of three long gone railroads can be seen. They are the Jersey Central, Reading and Lehigh Valley. Today, NJ Transit rides over the CNJ tracks by way of the Raritan Valley Line. NS and CSX move the freight over once was the Lehigh Valley's tracks. So what are we looking at here in this aerial view? The clock is ticking.....

(click on the picture to see it larger)

M.T.H., MKT Settle Misappropriation of Trade Secrets Lawsuit

Following article was posted on the O Guage Railroading Forum (OGR Forum) on 8-13-08.


M.T.H., MKT Settle Misappropriation of Trade Secrets Lawsuit

Columbia, Maryland, August 12, 2008 --- The federal court case between M.T.H. Electric Trains and MKT (formerly Korea Brass) has been resolved via settlement between the two firms. Terms of the settlement include payment by MKT to M.T.H. in the form of Cash, HO tooling from the Broadway Limited product line and Lionel HO product line, a sub-license from Precision Craft Models for the DCC patent held by Real Rail Effects and dismissal of the MKT/Korea Brass financed QSI Patent Infringement case against M.T.H.

A federal trial in U.S. District Court (Southern District Michigan) was concluded on June 7, 2004 with a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, M.T.H. Korea Brass and its co-defendant, Yoo Chan Yang were found liable on M.T.H.’s claims of misappropriation of M.T.H.’s trade secrets. The jury also found that the defendants’ actions were willful and malicious. The jury awarded M.T.H. damages in the amount of $27,940,925.00.

Two weeks after the 2004 jury decision in Michigan, Korea Brass transferred all of its assets and purchase orders to a new Korean entity named MKT. In May of 2006, M.T.H. filed a lawsuit in the same Michigan U.S. District Court that heard the original suit to contest the fraudulent transfer of assets undertaken by Korea Brass to avoid that court’s judgment. In April 2008, a final judgment against MKT was issued finding that MKT and Korea Brass were one and the same and that MKT was liable for the original judgment against Korea Brass. An injunction was subsequently issued requiring that all payments due to MKT from its U.S. customers were to be paid to M.T.H. until the original judgment was satisfied.

The MKT settlement negotiations were complicated and delayed due to MKT’s current financial status, their previous ownership status of U.S. model railroad importer Broadway Limited, their relationship with Precision Craft Models and that firm’s relationship with DCC patent holder Real Rails Effects, and their joint venture agreement with QSI to fund a merit less patent infringement lawsuit against M.T.H. Electric Trains in an effort to pressure M.T.H. to settle the original Michigan trade secrets lawsuit. Precision Craft Models assisted Real Rail Effects patent infringement lawsuits in Florida against QSI, Atlas O LLC, and American Hobby Distributors. These suits alleged violations of Real Rail Effects’ patent for combining DCC with a Sound Decoder and M.T.H. felt it needed a license with Real Rail Effects to prevent a presumable forthcoming lawsuit between Real Rail Effects and M.T.H.

M.T.H. Electric Trains president Mike Wolf said; “It was so frustrating to negotiate the settlement due to all the moving parts.” Toward the end of negotiations, MKT insisted that the QSI suit dismissal not be included but Wolf wanted it resolved along with the Real Rail Effects patent infringement suit between QSI, Atlas O LLC, and American Hobby Distributors. According to Wolf, “I wanted to wrap up all of this litigation in one big settlement even though some elements of the resolution would have benefited my competitors, so I insisted that the QSI suit be resolved as well as the Real Rail Effects suits against the other named parties. This was one of the reasons this thing took so long, but in the end it was worth the wait.”

In the end M.T.H. secured cash payments of $950,000.00 and has taken ownership of the tooling for the following Broadway Limited HO models: Union Pacific die-cast Big Boy steam engine, Pennsylvania die-cast GG-1 electric, Alco PA diesel, Alco FA diesel, EMD F3 diesel and EMD F7 diesel. Also included were the two sets of Lionel HO tooling for their Union Pacific die-cast Challenger and their Union Pacific die-cast Veranda Turbine. MKT also agreed to provide to M.T.H., on behalf of Real Rail Effects and Precision Craft Models, a non-royalty, perpetual license for the right to produce and market model train products equipped with a DCC soundboard receiver. MKT also agreed to obtain a dismissal of the QSI lawsuit against M.T.H. for alleged patent infringements, as was MKT’s right to do so per its joint venture agreement with QSI.

M.T.H. Electric Trains, with the trade secrets case now completely behind it, will continue to forge ahead with its expansion plans in the HO, One-Gauge and O Gauge markets. The HO tooling acquired in the MKT settlement will require significant reworking in order to bring the models up to M.T.H.’s HO standards and house M.T.H.’s Proto-Sound 3.0 sound and train control modules. Once the upgrades have been completed, the models will be incorporated into M.T.H.’s ever-growing product lines that continue to reflect the company’s commitment to producing the best model railroading products available today.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Railroad Track Safety in Manville, NJ

Following article appeared in the Courier-News on 8-18-08.

Manville business owners join in plan to make railroad tracks safer


Borough business owners are joining an effort with borough police, educators and authorities from the Norfolk-Southern and CSX railroad lines to keep trespassers off the railroad tracks.

During the Monday, Aug. 4 Manville Business Professional Association meeting, Oscar Gonzalez, co-owner of Discount Mattress and Furniture and member of the board of directors of the association, said at least 24 business owners at the meeting were on board to help prevent tragedies from occurring on the railroad tracks.

"Manville safety on the railroad tracks is the biggest thing in town right now," Gonzalez said. "The problem has been ongoing for a lot of years."

Gonzalez said association members are waiting to receive informational pamphlets to be mailed from Norfolk Southern to begin spreading information to customers on the dangers of crossing over the railroad tracks.

"With a roster of 60 members, the MBPA can be a conduit of information, distribution, easily reaching and accessible to everyone in the borough of Manville," Gonzalez said. "The MBPA is committed in helping and joining the great efforts of the Manville Police Department, the Manville school system and the families of the borough. Together, becoming an effective vehicle for safety."

Rudy Husband, a spokesman for Norfolk-Southern said Tuesday, Aug. 12, "We're grateful for any support we can get. We appreciate any support to keep people off the tracks."

Recent deaths

The move comes in the wake of recent fatalities on the railroad tracks in a town crossed by two busy freight railroad lines. National statistics show this borough is one of the leading municipalities in the nation in per-capita deaths on rail lines and police have estimated that about 20 people have died in train accidents or near the tracks in the borough's 80-year history.

Manville High School senior Kevin Seit, 19, was struck by a train on May 8 while walking along the Conrail tracks near Huff Avenue. In March, a man's body was found along the south bank of the river, east of the CSX railroad bridge and near Huff Avenue. The body was wedged between a fallen tree and some brush along the bank. In October 2007, 19-year-old borough resident Cassie Brown who was struck and killed by a Norfolk Southern freight train.

More recently, in Hillsborough, 18-year-old Hillsborough High School student Jason Walton was fatally struck by a freight train on the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks near Beekman Lane on July 22.

Gonzalez said many people in town knew the victims, noting, "It's a small town and everyone knows one another."

Anthony D'Aniello, owner of Manville Pizza, said Brown was a regular at his establishment and he had seen her less than an hour before she died. He said, "You see these people (victims) everyday and it's such a dangerous situation. You get to know these people as customers."

Dr. Maria Auletta, whose practice is on South Main Street, said, "We are wondering what we can do to work on the issue. It's effected so many people."

Spreading awareness

On Tuesday, Councilman Steve Szabo pointed out holes cut in a fence running parallel to the railroad tracks behind South Main Street businesses.

He said trespassers — including small children with bicycles — cross over the tracks and travel through the holes to get to the other side. If the borough and Norfolk Southern officials discussed putting up additional fencing, Szabo thinks trespassers would continue to cut through the fencing, he said. Also, the fencing would have to be constructed on either side until it meets the borough's border with Hillsborough and would have to be open to railroad crossings, he noted.

During the Borough Council meeting on Monday, Aug. 11, Councilman Ken Otrimski, a retired Franklin Township (Somerset) police officer, said, "Parents have to police their children on crossing the road safely and nowhere in between. Because the police now are going to be out in force."

Mayor Lillian Zuza also encouraged parents to educate their children on the dangers of crossing over the tracks. She said her own children were taught at a young age never to go near a railroad track.

"My kids were never on the tracks," the mayor said.

Nick Gonzalez, 15, Oscar's son and a Hillsborough High School student, said he has seen his peers cross the railroad tracks mainly as short cuts to get to and from local businesses.
Peers think "it's a lot quicker," he said. "It saves three minutes."

Manville Police Chief Mark A. Peltack had said police frequently are patrolling the area of the railroad tracks and that rail police are expected to be on watch for trespassers on both the Norfolk-Southern and CSX rail lines.

In addition, the Borough Council plans to launch an education program in September to raise awareness about railroad safety.

Black River & Western RR in the movies

Received the following via email about the BR&W Railroad (New Jersey).

While channel surfing last night, I came across the 1962 version of "The Miracle Worker", starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke. It had apparently just started, and Anne was on her way from Boston to the Keller's home to take up her assignment as a nanny for Helen Keller.

When she arrived, somewhere in the South I think it was, as she was getting off the train, I noticed that the coach was marked "Black River & Western RR".

Curious, I just did some searching, and found this on the Railway Preservation Society web site:

"Property owners along the Chester branch opposed the operation of a tourist railroad and got the town of Chester to help block the BR&W. The CNJ ultimately abandoned and tore up the Chester branch. Then the BR&W leased a 12-mile Pennsylvania Railroad branch line from Flemington, NJ to Lambertville, NJ. Whitehead and other businessmen, including Nicholas Burenga, incorporated the BR&W in 1961. Whitehead traded ownership of #565 for shares in the new corporation. The BR&W moved #565 and its other equipment out of Chester in 1962. Initially, a CNJ switcher pulled #565 to High Bridge, NJ. The locomotive sat at the Taylor Wharton Foundry in High Bridge for over a year. Then, in late 1963, the BR&W parked #565 near Flemington Lumber in Flemington, NJ. Finally, in 1965, the BR&W moved #565 to its operating headquarters in Ringoes, NJ. During the move from High Bridge to Flemington, an individual involved with the BR&W removed and kept the number board. The BR&W made and installed a new number board. The number board in the Steamtown collection is this replacement number board.

Prior to leaving Chester, the BR&W moved some of its equipment to Gladstone, NJ for use in filming "The Miracle Worker", a movie about Helen Keller starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke (both of whom won Academy awards for their roles). The producers wanted to use #565 in the movie, but, because the CNJ would not transport the locomotive out of Chester, only some BR&W coaches appear in the movie."

At a crossing gate...

(train sightings on 8-9-08)

was where I would see my first train on this Saturday morning. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see what railroad was hauling these TOFCs nor was I able to get a symbol.

However, the trains that I did get to see are as follows:

NS 11J @ 7:40- thirty-seven empty autoracks were taken west behind NS 9647 and PRR 8363 (ex-CR 6133).

CSX symbol unknown @ 8:05- had CSX 4814 and CSX 4502 bringing a general merchandise train east off the Trenton Line.

NS 21M @ 8:10- would have NS 9132 and PRR 6764 (ex-CR 5503) bringing twenty-nine cars of TOFCs, estimated length 6,400 feet, west to CP 51. The dispatcher told him he would hold "...for two, possibly three eastbound trains..."

NS 214 @ 9:00- Shades of western railroading! 214 would have UP 5477 as its leader, followed by UP 5198 and BNSF 4972.

NS 212 @ 9:10- had NS 9610, NS 6652 and NS 6709 as its motive power for a combination autoracks and intermodal mix.

With my scanner batteries running low and grass to be cut, it was time for me to go.

Weekly Rail Carloading Report - Week 30, 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 32 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.

Note: This web site has new tables and graphs every Thursday. So, if I am late or miss a week with this blog posting, you can check for new data on Thursdays.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Somerset 4-H Trainmasters at 2008 Somerset County 4-H Fair

The Somerset 4-H Trainmasters Model Railroad Club is once again at the Somerset County 4-H Fair. The Fair runs from Wednesday, 8/13 through Friday 8/15, 2008, and it is located in North Branch Park on Milltown Road in Bridgewater. The club currently has 24 members ranging in age from 10 to 17. Their display is located in the pavilion at the rear of all the tents, between the cows and goats. Come see the great modeling work of the members and watch the trains run. If you are interested in joining, or you know someone who might be interested, please ask the folks at the display. You can also visit the club web site at:

Train Watching at Bound Brook Station

Everyone at The Big Little Railroad Shop loves trains. Even Pennsy goes railfanning!
Here is a picture of Pennsy and me at the Bound Brook train station on Saturday, 8-9-08.

Bayonne Update

The following thread was recently posted on

Sent: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 8:30 pm
Subject: [CRRNJ] Bayonne Update...

As an update, #4 Main was ripped out this week in preperation for the Light Rail extension down to W 8th St.

Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2008 9:20 PM

Is the traffic still too heavy out of the yard??
Is one of the local oil refineries shutting down soon?

Sent: Saturday, August 09, 2008 6:06 AM

The dirt traffic is still heavy but we lost Three other customers. Exxon is officially closed now, Rapid Plastics moved to Edison (down to Raritan Center???) and Oxydental closed up in Secaucus/Jersey City along the Northern Branch.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday's sporadic sightings...

(Train sightings on 8-3-08.)

Along the Lehigh Line found me seeing only a few trains. Mind you, I’m not complaining since low humidity, sunny skies and a nice breeze made this a nice day to be trackside and a welcome change from the oppressive heat and humidity NJ has had. In time sequence, those trains through Manville were as follows:

CSX 702 @ 7:30- CSX 5485 and CSX 5261 powered this short train of empty municipal waste containers heading back for refills.

NS 21M @ 7:40- would have NS 9140, NS 2646, UP 4438 and NS ???? for motive power.

CSX local, symbol unknown, @ 8:56- NS 3022 and PRR 3001 (GP40-2, ex-CR 3278, ex-RDG 3674) headed east with no cars in tow.

NS 64J @ 9:00- with NS 9366 and NS 9922 in charge, more empty waste containers were headed east for refills.

CSX MA2 @ 9:05- CSX 4426 and PRR 5286 (GP38-2, ex-CR 8085) would also head east with no cars in tow.

At Three Bridges (NJ): NS 24V intermodal @ 12:22- had NS 9790 and BNSF 4497 for motive power on a relatively short COFC train.

Delaware-Lackawanna business increasing

On 8/7/08 we received an email with the following numbers about the Delaware-Lackawana Railroad's interchange with Norfolk Southern:
  • last week they interchanged 60 freight cars
  • last Friday's train was 25 cars

I don't know what the interchange traffic has been so far this year, but I am told that this is an increase.

From the Delarare-Lackawana Railroad web site:

Operates 87 miles of trackage running out of the Lackawanna Valley from a connection with CP Rail at Scranton, Pennsylvania through the Pocono Mountains to the Delaware Water Gap and a connection with Norfolk Southern at Portland, Pennsylvania. Two major lines also run out of Scranton servicing the industrial base in the Lackawanna Valley.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Another teen killed by a train in Somerset county

Following article is from the Star-Ledger dated 7-25-08. We are very sorry for yet another teenager's death by train in our area, and we extend our condolences to the family and friends of Jason Walton. Now, we ask everyone to think carefully: is there a problem with trains or teens?

Hillsborough shocked by death of teen

He was hit by a freight train near his house

Friday, July 25, 2008


Star-Ledger Staff

He ran five miles that day. Then he went to the gym to lift weights.

Jason Walton's day started routinely enough Tuesday, but it ended tragically when he was hit and killed by a freight train near his Hillsborough home, authorities said.

The 18-year-old high school track star -- who recorded one of the best performances in the 800-meter run in the history of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association this past spring -- was hit near Beekman Lane, police said.

Walton's body was found on the tracks of Norfolk-Southern railroad, which runs behind his home on Peterson Road.

Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest said authorities are investigating to help determine whether Walton's death will be ruled an accident, homicide or suicide.

"We're investigating all the facts and circumstances," Forrest said. "We're waiting on a final autopsy and for more information from the railroad."

Specifically, he said investigators are looking to review possible video from the train taken before the teen was struck at 5:48 p.m.

The Hillsborough school district posted an announcement on its website and offered counseling to anyone from the system who might need it. Counselors were available yesterday and will be again today, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Walton, who was going into his senior year, placed second in the national indoor championship and seventh in the national outdoor championship for the 800-meter race. He initially showed little interest in athletics.

When he began as a freshman at Hillsborough High School, friends and family said, he was encouraged by his parents to pursue a sport and chose track because it was the shortest season and would allow him to pursue another interest close to his heart: Paintballing.

He quickly established himself as a force to contend with on the track. His blazing speed set records -- he ran the 11th-fastest time ever in New Jersey and tied the Somerset County record for the 800 meters -- and attracted the type of media attention he openly confessed he would rather do without.

"Everyone knew he was the best on the team," said fellow teammate Rob Marley, 18. "After a race, reporters came to Jason first. But Jason would never talk about himself. He only said to reporters: 'I like the way Alex Brown came in on the last stretch or that Kevin Brower ran really well.'"

Marley, other friends and his coach yesterday fondly recalled how Walton's "selflessness" and "resolute spirit" inspired them, too.

"He was fast, very determined and completely fearless," said Rich Refi, cross-country winter and spring track coach at Hillsborough High. "Watching him run was poetry in motion."

Coaches from universities across the nation watched him, too. A stream of letters and phone calls from athletic departments at Yale, Harvard and Princeton came into his home. They sought to recruit him to their school with enticing scholarship opportunities, said his father, Ernest.

How something so tragic happened to their son is unfathomable to his father and his mother, Linda.

"We've asked ourselves a million times," his father said of how or why his son was hit. "We don't know the answer."

He and his wife accepted condolences from a steady stream of visitors who dropped by their home yesterday.

Besides his parents, Walton is survived by a sister, Heather.

A funeral service is set for Monday at 10 a.m. at Hillsborough Funeral Home, 796 Route 206 in Hillsborough.

Visitation will be Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. in the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Jason Walton Track Scholarship c/o Hillsborough Funeral Home.

Operation Lifesaver death in Virginia

Following article is from the From the Roanoke Times dated 7-18-08.

Passengers of safety train not aware of death
Police say Loyd Martin committed suicide 12 hours before the excursion left Roanoke.

The 90 or so public officials and others aboard a rail-safety excursion out of Roanoke on Wednesday received all the latest casualty statistics on drivers who ignore grade-crossing warnings and pedestrians who trespass on the tracks -- except for one.

Twelve hours before the special train left for a trip to Lynchburg and back, it ran over and killed Loyd Martin, 63, on its way through a downtown rail yard to the staging point from which the excursion was to begin.

The incident, in which railroad authorities said Martin entered railroad property illegally and lay down on the tracks, illustrated a trespassing problem that the excursion is intended to address.

But no one in charge mentioned the death -- which has since been ruled a suicide -- when the safety train disembarked Wednesday morning, leaving the passengers who had come for lessons on high-risk behavior around trains unaware of the latest incident.

Melvin Jones, executive director of Operation Lifesaver in Virginia, said he gave his usual presentation about railroad dangers and safety steps for the public. He gave death and injury data for the first few months of 2008.

But Jones said he skipped over the Tuesday night death because he didn't have enough information to classify it as a suicide -- which is not recorded in federal statistics -- or an accidental death, which is.

"It's a tragedy any way," he said. "Even the Operation Lifesaver train itself can become a part of someone's tragedy if that individual puts themselves in harm's way. And that's sad, that's very sad."

A locomotive engineer was slowly moving the three-car Operation Lifesaver train into position Tuesday night behind the O. Winston Link Museum when he saw a man on the tracks, Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman said.

But the engineer could not stop the train until after it struck the man, Chapman said. The crew found him underneath the train about 10 p.m., according to Chapman.

Martin died from multiple blunt force injuries and the Medical Examiner's Office ruled his death a suicide. His family said he lived in Salem, while Roanoke police said he had no fixed address.

As is routine, Norfolk Southern Corp. implemented accident protocols. After police were called; they eventually tracked down Martin's family.

The team that was to take the train out for the educational ride was briefed Wednesday morning. But that's where the flow of official information apparently stopped.

Del. Charles Poindexter, a state lawmaker from Rocky Mount, said he took the trip to learn more about the rail system, which state leaders want to see enhanced. He said he heard other passengers talking about a rail-related fatality but did not hear that the incident involved the train he was on.

But, "it wouldn't have made any difference to me," he said.

Either way, the message that hit home is the same.

"Even with the safest crew and the safest train ... incidents can happen," Poindexter said.

Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing collisions, deaths and injuries where roads cross train tracks and elsewhere on railroad property. The program is backed by railroads, highway safety groups and government agencies.

During an Operation Lifesaver ride, passengers watch television monitors showing what the crew sees out the windshield of the cab while the train is moving.

As rare as it sounds, an Operation Lifesaver train being involved in a casualty incident is not without precedent.

"It has happened before," said Marmie Edwards, a spokeswoman for the national office of Operation Lifesaver in Alexandria. Her agency does not keep track of how many such Operation Lifesaver-related incidents have occurred, however.

In 2005, a North Carolina Operation Lifesaver train collided with a tractor-trailer that didn't yield to the train at a crossing near Cove City, N.C., The Associated Press reported. Three of 100 passengers and the truck driver were hurt, the report said. The excursion was canceled.

It is unclear how Martin spent his last day alive.

His brother, Bill Martin of Collinsville, said Martin was a veteran drawing federal benefits and undergoing treatment at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He had lived most of his life in the Martinsville area. He was unmarried, and had no children.

When he was found he had $300 in his pocket, a watch and headphones, Bill Martin said.

"You can't stop someone from suicide when they make up their mind," Martin said.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

DCC-sound Patent Challenge Update

Found the following item on the NMRA web site.

June 6, 2008
NMRA Patent Challenge Update: Real Rail Effects fails to respond
to NMRA DCC-sound patent challenge

The deadline for Real Rail Effects, Ltd. (RRE) to respond to an NMRA patent challenge has passed, with no response from RRE.

RRE was granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) based upon a claim that the technology for using sound with DCC was invented by RRE. The NMRA, with the technical and financial support of a number of DCC manufacturers and hobbyists around the world, filed a challenge to the RRE patent.

The NMRA filed the challenge because we believe that the claims in the RRE patent application were not supported by the facts. The NMRA was aware that prior art and other evidence existed which negated RRE’s patent.

The NMRA felt that, should it remain in force, the RRE patent posed a threat to modelers and manufacturers of DCC equipment because it would both increase the costs to modelers and unfairly restrict manufacturers who provide decoders with sound. Therefore, the NMRA coordinated an industry- and hobby-wide effort to have the patent overturned. The NMRA submitted evidence from a number of sources raising substantial questions about the validity of the patent.

On February 11, 2008, the USPTO issued a ruling granting the NMRA's patent re-examination request. The examiner stated in the ruling that there was a substantial likelihood that a reasonable examiner would consider the prior art important in determining the patentability of the application of RRE.

After the examiner at the USPTO determined that the position of the NMRA had merit and compelled a new analysis of the patent, RRE had two months to respond to the re-examination request. The deadline for a response has come and gone, and RRE made no reply. The NMRA is now very hopeful that a favorable decision will be announced and that the position of the NMRA and its supporters will be vindicated.

The NMRA considers this a clear triumph for the modeler and the model railroad industry. We are proud to have led the challenge team that has made this victory possible.

Robert J. Amsler, Jr.
General Counsel, National Model Railroad Association, Inc.
514 Dover Place
Saint Louis, Missouri 63111-2338
(314) 353-9131 (Telephone)
(314) 754-2688 (Facsimile)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Weekly Rail Carloading Report - Week 30, 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 30 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.

Note: This web site has new tables and graphs every Thursday. So, if I am late or miss a week with this blog posting, you can check for new data on Thursdays.

Two terrific trios...

(Train sightings on 7-26-08.)

of motive power were the highlights of this Saturday morning along the Lehigh Line near Manville (NJ). In time sequence, the trains observed passing my location were as follows:

NS 11J @ 7:29- NS 9877 was in charge of forty-seven autoracks, measuring in at 4,500 feet. It consisted of one load and forty-six empties.

CSX 702 @ 7:58- would have CSX 4847, CSX 489, CSX 8626, CSX 8408 and CSX 5326 bringing empty municipal waste containers east.

NS 212 @ 8:20- would head down track 1 with NS 8372, NS 9158 and NS 2591 for motive power. Once 212 cleared Port Reading Jct., NS 21M headed east behind NS 9455, NS 8698 and NS 9340 with what seemed as a longer than normal intermodal train. Some of the TOFCs seen on board were names not seen previously such as Keystone Trucking. Could this be an effect from high diesel prices on the trucking industry?

CSX Q439 @ 8:41- was the first interesting trio of power. Behind CSX 4802 was HLCX 6451 (SD40-2, ex-SCL 2053) and CSX 1130 (MP15AC).

NS 24V @ 9:10- next came another interesting trio consisting of PRR 5408 (SD50, ex-CR 6714), BNSF 5427 in an H2 paint scheme and BNSF 846 wearing a fairly clean H3 paint scheme.

All in all, not a bad morning to be trackside...

NTSB Determination Concerning 2006 Train Accident is Faulty, Says Norfolk Southern

Received the following via a forwarded email. The original email was apparently sent to NS stockholders on 7/25/08. For background info on the original NTSB report see our blog posting dated 5/22/08 and titled NTSB Report on NS derailment in 2006.

July 25, 2008

NTSB Determination Concerning 2006 Train Accident is Faulty, Says Norfolk Southern

NORFOLK, VA. -- Norfolk Southern Railway Company said it strongly disagrees with the National Transportation Safety Board's determination of probable cause contained in its Accident Report released today for the New Brighton, Pa., derailment. The NTSB said that the Oct. 20, 2006, derailment was caused by an "inadequate rail inspection and maintenance program."

According to Norfolk Southern, its rail inspection and maintenance program complies with all applicable regulations, and even the NTSB concedes that Norfolk Southern tested more frequently than required by Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulation.

Norfolk Southern will file a formal petition for reconsideration and modification that will rely, in part, on newly available inspection data supplied to the NTSB last month, but not addressed in the Accident Report. Norfolk Southern's petition will defend the adequacy of its rail inspection and maintenance program and will seek to correct the record before the NTSB and any misconceptions on the part of the NTSB about that program and its consistency with the regulations.

"We take strong exception to any contention that we failed to perform a continuous search of our rail for internal defects or that our inspection and maintenance program is inadequate. In fact, many of our procedures exceed FRA standards," said Tim Drake, NS vice president engineering.

"Norfolk Southern used the best available track inspection technology and procedures at the time and used an expert rail defect detection contractor to inspect its rails at a frequency that exceeds FRA requirements. It is highly unlikely that any changes to NS' technology and procedures could have uncovered the flaw that caused the derailment," Drake added.

The New Brighton accident resulted in an ethanol spill and fire on a nearby river. There were no injuries. The train's crew and mechanical condition were not factors, and the railroad's emergency response system was deemed effective and appropriate.

"Norfolk Southern has the lowest track-caused accident rate among all Class 1 railroads," Drake said. "Any suggestion that we short-cut track safety goes against the facts and is counter to our policy and practice."

Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation's premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates approximately 21,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serving every major container port in the eastern United States and providing superior connections to western rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is North America's largest rail carrier of metals and automotive products.


Norfolk Southern contacts:
(Media) Frank Brown, 757-629-2710 (
(Investors) Leanne Marilley, 757-629-2861 (
Norfolk Southern Corporation