Thursday, February 26, 2009
I elected to go trackside and see what was running along the Lehigh Line. The stimulus for my trip could be attributed to an abundance of sunlight, my wife not vetoing this trip and having a holiday off from work. As for what I observed, here are those sightings:
NS 18G @ 8:38- NS 9404 and NS 2702 would provide the motive power in bringing 102 cars of mixed freight east through Manville.
NS 212 @ 9:30- NS 8350, NS 6634 and NS 9026 was in charge of 212's usual consist of autoracks and COFCs.
NS 3002 (Built originally for the Reading Railroad back in 1973, GP40-2, ex-CR 3279 / Rdg 3675) was observed shuffling cars around in Manville yard. It was ironic that I photographed this ex-Reading unit traveling over a former Reading bridge adjacent to the LEHL as it shuffled those cars.
NS H76 @ 11:45- was seen passing through Flemington Jct with a short cut of mixed freight heading for Three Bridges. Power was seen from a distance, two NS 54?? Series.
NS 68Q @ 1:30- The "5 minute rule" was in effect for me with this train! A few minutes after I drove away, 68Q could be heard sounding its horn for the Landsdown Road grade crossing. Power was only heard from but not seen.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Be sure to visit our table where you will find lots of wonderful bargins. Hope to see you there.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
For a video version of this story, click on the link below. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123535033769344811.html#articleTabs%3Dvideo
For further data on the slowdown in rail freight activity, see our posting below on Saturday, 2-21-09, Weekly Rail Carloading Report. Then follow the link there to the Railfax web site for graphs and tables with more detail.
The Wall Street Journal
FEBRUARY 23, 2009
Miles of Idled Boxcars Leave Towns Singing the Freight-Train Blues
As Slumping Railroads Run Out of Parking, an Indiana Hamlet Is Divided by Wall of Cars
By ALEX ROTH
NEW CASTLE, Ind. -- Folks here figured the mile-long stretch of a hundred-plus yellow rail cars, which divides this small town like a graffiti-covered wall, would leave soon after it arrived.
That was a year ago.
"They stayed and they stayed and they stayed," says Bruce Atkinson, a local resident. "Then more moved in."
Tens of thousands of boxcars are sitting idle all over the country, parked indefinitely by railroads whose freight volumes have plummeted along with the economy. And residents of the communities stuck with these newly immobile objects, like the people of New Castle, are hopping mad about it.
Before February 2008, boxcars were a fleeting sight in this hamlet of 17,500 people 50 miles east of Indianapolis. For decades, no more than one or two trains a day traveled down the sleepy short-haul line that cuts through town.
Then rail cars -- 20-foot-tall yellow behemoths covered with the sort of spray-painted artwork once associated with New York City subway cars -- started rolling in by the dozens and grinding to a halt.
Now an elementary-school playground sits only feet from a line of rail cars covered with curse words. Someone with a paintball gun opened fire on one of the cars but missed, pelting a house instead. The looming cars have been blamed for casting shadows over homes that sit as close as 10 feet from the tracks. One woman says the lack of sunlight has turned her backyard into a mud pit.
One of the more visible manifestations of the global recession is the idling of vehicles used to move everything from scrap metal produced in the U.S. to sneakers made in China. Ocean-shipping companies have taken scores of ships out of service, anchoring them in or near ports around the world. The parking lots of trucking companies are clogged with trailers that in better times were rolling on highways.
Railroads, which have seen shipping volumes drop by double-digit percentages in recent months, face a particularly vexing problem. The nation's five largest railroads have put more than 30% of their boxcars -- 206,000 in all -- into storage, according to the Association of American Railroads. Placed end-to-end, the cars would stretch from New York to Salt Lake City.
The railroads simply don't have enough space in their yards to store all the idled cars. So they look for convenient, out-of-the-way places to park them -- usually dormant tracks and rail sidings that are rarely used.
In December, residents in southern New Jersey were confused by the sight of a two-mile-long line of rail cars resting on a largely unused rail line in Cape May County. Some of the cars were parked only a few feet from houses. Rumors began spreading that the cars were tankers filled with hazardous materials. The mayors of two local townships assured the public that the cars were empty and posed no danger.
In December, Union Pacific Corp. parked a three-mile-long string of cars in the small town of Thornton, Colo. After staring at the idled cars for a month or so, local residents revolted. The railroad eventually agreed to move the cars to a less-populated area.
Dennis Duffy, Union Pacific's executive vice president of operations, says that in a healthy economy, the railroad might have 5,000 to 8,000 cars in storage. At the moment, it has 48,000 idle cars, he says, forcing it to come up with "unconventional solutions." It has parked them on 60 sidings around the country.
Few places, if any, have been forced to endure this spectacle for as long as New Castle, a town of 10 square miles surrounded by sprawling farmland. Scenes from the basketball movie "Hoosiers" were filmed at a high-school gym a few miles down the road.
'Parking All Over Us'
For decades, New Castle was a Chrysler factory town. But in 2002, the auto maker sold its massive machine shop to a new company that immediately slashed wages. Now, New Castle is feeling the full impact of the recession. Unemployment in the county recently reached 9.3%, the highest figure since 1994. A large clothing store, one of the anchors of a nearby mall, is going out of business.
The small rail line running through town is available for rail-car storage in part because one of the railroad's customers, Visteon Corp., a major Ford Motor Co. auto-parts supplier, recently closed a nearby plant.
"This town is hurting already," says Cathy Hamilton, a former high-school principal who runs a consulting company. "Why would you add to the pain by parking all over us?"
Oradean Logan, 70 years old, who lives in a house next to the tracks, recalls waking up one morning more than a year ago to the sight of several graffiti-covered boxcars outside her window. The cars blocked her view, preventing her from seeing the house of her 83-year-old legally blind sister, who lives alone on the other side of the tracks.
"I didn't think much about it because I thought they'd move 'em," she says. "Then they just kept sitting there."
Days turned into weeks, then weeks into months. Children were spotted climbing to the top of the boxcars with their skateboards. Sherry Coffey, whose home was blasted by paintball-gun pellets, says she assumes the unknown shooter was aiming for the rail cars, not her house, which sits less than 30 feet away.
Residents complained, but were frustrated to learn that the railroad has every right to keep the cars on its tracks, according to a spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration. "The bottom line is they're rail cars sitting on a railroad," says New Castle Mayor Jim Small. "The two sort of go together."
Spencer Wendelin, an executive with the C&NC Railroad, which owns the tracks, declined to say how much rent the railroad collects for storing the cars, or who owns them. He has little sympathy for the angry residents.
"The railroad, I'll guarantee you, was there a long time before they bought their houses," he says.
Turning to YouTube
A few months ago, Mr. Atkinson, who works for the county and has lived in the area his entire life, became so enraged he began posting YouTube videos of the graffiti-strewn cars to try to draw attention to the situation. "Block after block, lovely yellow cars," he says in one of the videos, shortly before the camera pans to a rail car painted with a picture of a marijuana leaf. "Can you imagine living next to those?"
Lately some folks have begun to worry that some of the rail cars appear to be listing and might tip over. Mr. Wendelin, the railroad executive, dismisses the fears as "completely unfounded concerns, based on both history and physics."
Ms. Logan's legally blind sister, Estelle Teel, says it's not uncommon to hear young people banging on the rail cars with sticks in the middle of the night, just outside her bedroom window. "It's kind of scary when you live alone," she says.
Folks who want the cars to be on their way, however, shouldn't get their hopes up. Mr. Wendelin won't predict how long the rail cars will remain in New Castle. "If you can tell me when the economy's going to turn around, then I can give you an answer to that question."
A dandy meet captured from above on Friday a.m. by Ken Heyl from the highway bridge over the CSXT former Big Four main line at New London, OH. These two trains are highballing. Ken had just recorded the westbound, with a solid set of five BNSF units, including one in Santa Fe, wearing the classic red and silver War Bonnet paint, from the other side of the bridge roadway. It was 11 degrees F...but, hey, the sun was out! This would provide a pretty good adrenaline rush, on a cold winter's day! I'm glad there were no slow trucks crossing the bridge to keep Ken from getting across the roadway to snag this scene!
Photo two --- just as the westbounder races past an eastbounder shows up rolling toward Cleveland. The fresh snow was really kicked-up as these two freights passed.
Monday, February 23, 2009
An early start (0730) at Tatum, SC and the Pee Dee River started its run to the mill north of Bennettsville, SC. A check on the SCRF in Cheraw was a bust...looks like they didn't run in a couple of months. Over to Palmetto Brick only to find with the depressed housing market and the related drop of demand for brick, they are only running one kiln. Meaning that the railroad will not be operating until kilns 2 & 3 are reactivated....oh, well, at least the engines were sitting out where they could be shot from the road. Over to the South Carolina Central at Floyd, SC and was rewarded with many locos including a mother and slug combo from CORP. Then on to Florence, where a passing northbound rail train had an unexpected surprise....the 175th Anniversary of the B&O caboose!!! A nice end for Friday the 13th!!!
And then the clouds rolled in....
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Check the charts on the web site.
Here is an example of the information available on this web site. This graph shows Total Traffic for 2008-2009 vs. 2007-2008. 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.
February 20, 2009
Norfolk Southern 2008 Annual Report Online; Video Stories Highlight Record-Setting Year
NORFOLK, VA - Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) has posted its 2008 Annual Report online, highlighting a record-setting year in video stories featuring company employees.
The report, titled "Voices," outlines the company's 2008 success in receiving the top industry award for workplace safety for the 19th consecutive year and setting records for railway operating revenues, income from railway operations, net income, diluted earnings per share, and operating ratio.
In his letter to stockholders, CEO Wick Moorman said 2008 was a successful year for Norfolk Southern in spite of "extraordinary turbulence in our nation's and the world's economy."
Moorman said that while the company "will be challenged" by the economic turbulence in 2009, "This downturn will be over some day, and we will be ready to take full advantage of the business prospects that will be there when it ends."
Meanwhile, he said Norfolk Southern will stay focused on key business drivers, including cost controls, continued investment in the property, and pursuit of new business development initiatives. "Our strategy to create new business corridors has helped drive our growth in recent years, and we're now working hard to develop our biggest project to date, the Crescent Corridor. It's an exciting concept to work with government and our trucking partners in a public-private partnership to take a million or more trucks off the highways. We're seeing a very positive response by public officials, and I'm optimistic that we'll see considerable progress on the project in 2009," Moorman said.
Voices is available on the company's Web site at www.nscorp.com. The print edition will be mailed in March and will include a DVD featuring the video stories, a CEO message, and a video story about the Crescent Corridor rail infrastructure improvement project. Norfolk Southern's annual report is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes environmentally responsible printing standards. Some 201,000 paper copies are distributed to stockholders, the financial community, news media, and libraries. To request a copy, call 800-531-6757, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Norfolk Southern Corp., Corporate Communications Department, Three Commercial Place, Norfolk, Va. 23510-9217.
Norfolk Southern Corporation 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, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides 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 contactsMedia Frank Brown 757-629-2710 email@example.comInvestors Leanne Marilley 757-629-2861 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Last Run of NJ Club with CNJ McMyler Dumper 2/21/09
FYI - There is an article in the Asbury Park Press and online (with
video) discussing the coming last run:
Here is the text of the article as posted on the web by the Asbury Park Press.
Asbury Park Press
February 18, 2009
Train leaving city station
Model train club must move from Asbury Park site. It's looking for a new home.
By NANCY SHIELDS
COASTAL MONMOUTH BUREAU
The Garden State Central Model Railroad Club has to move out of its basement headquarters of 35 years, where members created a large and intricate display depicting 1950s coal-hauling from Scranton, Pa., to Jersey City.
The club was started in Long Branch 45 years ago. Since 1973, it has had the run of the extensive basement under the medical offices of the late Dr. Richard Gosling, an early club member, and Dr. Carl R. Lepis, who is in the process of selling the building at 607 Eighth Ave. to Meridian Health.
Club members can only thank and praise the two doctors who made it possible for them to build and maintain their displays, which capture a time when railroads were the main means of delivery of goods across the country, before the extensive interstate highway system was built, said club President Jules Heiliczer, 64, of Brick.
"Meridian made it pretty clear in discussions we had with them that they can't have nonmedical people in the basement," Heiliczer said Tuesday.
He said he hoped to attend an Asbury Park City Council meeting tonight to get out the word that the club is seeking other sites in the city.
For the public — for those who have seen the display over the years and for those who never did — the club will host a free "Last Run in Asbury Park" from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Eighth Avenue club site.
After that last train run, members will start dismantling their display and headquarters.
There is no admission fee, although donations to help the club in its transition period will be accepted, said club trustee Rob Davis, 41, of Red Bank, who has been a member since he was 18.
The model railroad layout tells the story of train cars hauling coal from mines in Scranton to several Pennsylvania towns: Wilkes-Barre, Allentown, the Bethlehem Steel Co. and then to Easton on the way to Jersey City, where Central Railroad of New Jersey had a large roundhouse in the Communipaw section.
It takes about 20 minutes for the trains to make the run in the display, which features many replicas of buildings that stood in the towns years ago.
The tracks, the hills and the vegetation will not make the move into what will likely be temporary storage, the club members said. The trains and buildings will be saved.
Heiliczer said there are about 20 to 25 active members in the club, which meets every Tuesday and Friday.
Club members have had their eye on a building at Camp Evans in Wall for 10 years. But there is no guarantee the model trains will be relocated there because the Army has not finished transferring its buildings to Wall, club members said.
"We're investigating all options," Davis said. "We can't turn anything down."
The nonprofit club has little money to pay for a new space but offers its product instead: a historically accurate and detailed train layout that schoolchildren can visit.
Davis said the layout includes a one-of-a-kind working model of a McMyler high-lift coal-dumping machine.
There were two operating back-to-back on Pier 18 in Jersey City, said Heiliczer, who built the coal-dumping model over one or two years. The dumping machine will be featured in the next issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine, Davis said.
Heiliczer said that while Garden State Central is the name the club uses, the railroads they have followed to make their display are a combination of the Lehigh Valley, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Erie, Reading and Lackawanna lines.
All of those railroads were bought in 1976 by Conrail, which sold them five years ago to Norfolk Southern and CSX, Heiliczer said.
For more information, call the club at (732) 775-0881.
Feb. 11 news blurb from RAILWAY TRACK & STRUCTURES Magazine:
Buyer named in Middletown & New Jersey Railway sale
Chartwell Inc. will sell the Middletown & New Jersey Railway to Regional Rail LLC for $450,000, according to Chartwell's quarterly report filed Feb. 11 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, local newspapers report.
Chartwell bought the shortline railroad in 2006. The tracks run from Middletown to Unionville and the New Jersey state line, and in the M&NJ's heyday its tracks were used to move milk, livestock and feed, coal, lumber and people.
When Chartwell bought the railway, there was a public outcry over the company's original plans to use the line to ship trash. That plan had died by mid-2007, and the M&NJ's sole customer now is Genpak.
Regional Rail is a subsidiary of East Penn Railroad, which owns a number of shortline rail companies in eastern Pennsylvania.
Michael Sussman of Strategic Rail Finance, which handled the sale, confirmed the deal. Chartwell had already sold off the 60 rail cars it owned to Tealinc Ltd., in a $1,374,000 cash deal that closed on Jan. 30.
web site of Middletown & New Jersey
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Nasty outcome for a CP wedge plow and the locomotives shoving it. I also heard, via other channels, that some of the crewmembers were hurt. What a mess.
You think you have problems with snow? Take a look at CP's problems in Ruso, North Dakota. Thanks Tom Dupee for the pictures.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
I found the # 3 Loco owned by Keene Carriers leasing track from NS. They handle covered hopper shipments of grain and sand unloaded next to Ferrell Gas. The owner stated that it needed to be repainted. He said it looked much better before. Hope you enjoy the photos.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Has rail traffic hit bottom? Check the charts on the web site.
Here is an example of the information available on this web site. This graph shows Total Traffic for 2008-2009 vs. 2007-2008. There are more graphs and tables on the web site showing data by railroad and by commodity.
Greetings All. Hope everyone has survived January's bout of "global warming"....more winters like this, I do not need. What started as a two week test of the Reading & Northern was grown into a Month plus due to weather delays and vehicle breakdowns. Currently the second oldest truck in Sperry's fleet is in Fleetwood, PA awaiting the THIRD transmission in two months. They just don't make Allison Trannys like they used to... What all this down time has meant is that we have been able to visit a couple of major train shows (Amherst, MA & Timonium, MD) and have a chance to visit with lots of old friends and meeting new friends. These shows are more of a social event than anything else! And a chance to obtain some interesting models like FL-9's and EP-5's from Branford (Ct) Hobbies. Hopefully, by next year, Searchlight Models will have the T-6 avail in HO....
Attached are a couple of photos from the two days of testing that we got in in the last two weeks!!!
Kermit Geary, JR
CN/USS close EJ&E transaction: 'J' is now Officially a 'Fallen Flag'
Link to the CN Rail Press Release: http://www.cn.ca/en/media-news-EJE-transaction-20090201.htm
Link to United States Steel Corporation Press Release: http://uss.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=555
(Thus, EJ&E's ex-B&LE '38s are again back under the SAME 'parental ownership' as those they left behind on the B&LE.)
Thursday, February 05, 2009
02/04/2009 04:07 PM
OUT OF STEAM
German Model Train Maker Märklin Goes Bankrupt
The credit crisis has reached Germany's legendary model train manufacturer: Märklin filed for insolvency on Wednesday, citing a breakdown in talks for a loan. But it hopes to chug along under the umbrella of German insolvency law.
Märklin has a reputation for using authentic materials for its scale-model trains.Märklin, the 150-year-old German model train manufacturer, declared bankruptcy on Wednesday after talks with banks to extend a €50 million line of credit broke down.
There may be light at the end of the tunnel: Märklin executives say they intend to go on selling model trains. "We are determined to restructure our traditional company … using the instruments of German insolvency law and establish it permanently in the market," said Märklin boss Dietmar Mundil in a statement.
In spite of strong sales in 2008 -- the company posted a turnover of €128 million ($165 million) -- Märklin was in talks by December to extend a €50 million line of credit. It obtained one extension through January 31, but even in January the firm couldn't cover salaries to its roughly 650 employees. Talks for a further credit extension ended without a deal.
Märklin releases no profit statements, but Kingsbridge Capital of Britain and the New York investment bank Goldman Sachs bought the company in 2006. That takeover failed to solve credit problems that had plagued the company since 2004. Märklin closed a major factory in Sonneberg, Thuringia, in the former East Germany, in 2007 -- part of a round of cuts that led to the loss of 400 jobs.
Märklin is based in the Swabian town of Göppingen, in Germany's southwest, but also has operations in Hungary. The firm started in 1859 as a small factory producing dollhouse kitchens. In 1891 it started to build model trains, and in 1935 introduced its famous electrified "HO" line of scale-model miniatures.
February 3, 2009
Norfolk Southern CFO Squires To Address BB&T Capital Markets Transportation Services Conference
NORFOLK, VA – James A. Squires, executive vice president finance and chief financial officer for Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC), will address the BB&T Capital Markets Transportation Services Conference at 9:30 a.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 12.
Squires’ presentation will provide highlights of Norfolk Southern’s recent financial results and current business initiatives.
Interested investors can listen via a simultaneous webcast at http://www.wsw.com/webcast/bbt13/nsc/. After the webcast, the presentation will be posted at www.nscorp.com.
Norfolk Southern Corporation 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. NS 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 email@example.com
Investors Leanne Marilley 757-629-2861 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
is how to best describe Sunday's sighting during my trackside trek. The something old was an ex-Reading unit that was built in 1973 and still laboring away on CR's MA2. As for the "new", at least when compared to NS 3002, would have been two ES44DCs powering CSX's Q190. The trains spotted were as follows:
NS 19G @ 8:10- would have NS 7533 and NS 9554 bringing 98 cars of mixed freight west.
NS 21M @ 8:27- motive power would be NS 9178, NS 9400 and NS 8322.
NS M9G (?) @ 9:20- wasn't quite positive about this symbol as the transmission wasn't clear. Motive power would be NS 8348 and NS 9175.
CR MA2 @ 9:45- had two old-timers for power! NS 3002 (Built: 1973, GP40-2, ex-CR 3279 / Rdg 3675) and NS 5621 (GP38-2) would depart Manville with 11 ACF centerflow cars and return around 10:45 with 14 ACF centerflow cars.
CSX Q190 @ 10:35- would have two ES44DCs for power, CSX 5304 and CSX 5346, for a rather short intermodal train.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
(Train sightings on 1-31-09.)
as a result of spending a few hours on this Saturday morning out along the Lehigh Line near Manville. Trains are listed in time sequence:
NS 21M @ 8:13- would have NS's "Operation Lifesaver" 9254 as the leader, followed by NS 8317 and NS 8448 with 34 loads and measuring in at an estimated 7,400 feet.
NS M9G @ 9:20- motive power would be NS 7533 and NS 9554 bringing 94 cars of mixed freight west.
NS 24V @ 10:45- I am assuming that is what this intermodal was that had NS 6673 and NS 9106 for power.
NS 213 @ 10:53- would have NS 9496, a "...dead and drained" NS 9099 and NS 9314 for power.
CSX Q300 @ 11:00- had CSX 7612 (C40-8) and CSX 7533 bringing 47 cars east. 12 cars back in 300's consist was something I haven't seen too often here in NJ, a Ontario Northland boxcar. It must have felt like it was back in Canada as it experienced NJ's frigid temperatures and wind. Q300 continues to be my favorite of the Saturday morning trains. It usually has either older, leased or foreign power and represents a nice change from the diesels found on long distance freights.