Nothing beats a new pair of shoes

Transitioning from the Conrail Shared Assets Port Reading Secondary to the Conrail Shared Assets Chemical Coast Secondary, Norfolk Southern loaded unit ethanol train 66Q negotiates the west leg of the wye at CP-PD for staging before final delivery, just a mile away.

The lead unit, NS 9577, a GE C40-9W, appears to have rebuilt trucks underneath her, as nothing else on either locomotive is as clean as her new ‘shoes’! The best guess is that she was very recently released from the Juniata locomotive shops, out in Altoona, Pa, where major work is done on NS locos; with road units acquiring grime fairly quickly, this must have been just her first or second trip after servicing. This is also a good comparison of the two Dash9 models; the leader has the now-standard wide cab, with additional room for the engineers ‘desk’, as well as an overall quieter environment for the crew, while the trailing unit has the ‘old standard’ spartan cab, seen on most units built before the very early 1990s.

Image recorded on April 14, 2011.

Nothing beats a new pair of shoes

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Shortlines always provide interesting locomotives

The dozens of shortline railroads in this country usually provide a certain level of excitement for the average railfan, as the motive power that they utilize is very frequently an older retired unit from one of the major Class 1 railroads. Sometimes the power is real interesting, as evident in this photo of an Alabama & Tennessee River RR local working the Guntersville Turn on a brutally hot July afternoon. The lead unit is an EMD GP20 roadswitcher, originally built for the St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) Railroad in January of 1962, one of only 20 delivered to that road. The trailing unit is a slightly more modern unit, an EMD GP40-2LW, built for the Canadian National Railway in April of 1976, but equally unique as it is a widecab variant of the model, built in that fashion only for the Canadian railroads. Since the A&TN is a member of the Omnitrax family of shortline railroads, the lead unit is lettered for another of the Omnitrax lines, the Fulton County Railroad, which operates just west of Atlanta, Ga. Though initially leased from Helm Leasing, the ex-CN unit GP40-2LW now has ATN reporting marks, and must have been purchased outright in the past couple of years.

There is much respect for the crew this day, as a quick glance to the temperature reading on the dash of the rental car informs me that it is 104 degrees at this particular hour, and there is, unfortunately, no air conditioning in the cab of #2002. Railroaders are a hardy bunch, withstanding whatever elements Mother Nature throws at them, and performing their duties safely & efficiently.

Image recorded July 14, 2011.

ATN Guntersville Turn Guntersville Alabama

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Locomotives with different pasts make strange bedfellows

Originally built for service south of the Mason-Dixon Line, these two locomotives are strange bedfellows, both in their current location, and their current assignment.

Norfolk Southern SD40-2 6141 was built for the Norfolk & Western Railroad as number 6141 in May of 1978, primarily for mainline duty through the mid-Atlantic region of the US. Norfolk Southern MP15-DC 2408 has retained her original number also, ordered by the Southern Railway in April of 1982 for switching service in the southeast region of this great land. How coincidental, that, in the year 2010, following the merger of these two great roads in 1982 and the subsequent acquisition of parts of the Conrail empire in 1999, these two units with so much in common, yet built for two vastly different railroad applications would become partners in this day’s operations as yard hostlers in Allentown Yard in eastern Pennsylvania.

These two veteran locomotives are yet another example of the fine products produced by the dedicated men and women of the General Motors ElectroMotive Division, 32 and 28 years ago respectively.

Image recorded April 24, 2010.

Locomotives with different pasts make interesting bedfellows

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RoadRailer enters busy River yard

Under yet another beautiful blue summer sky, Norfolk Southern RoadRailer train 262 enters “3 in the River” in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. To elaborate, just east of Norfolk Southern’s large Allentown Yard in eastern Pa., sits smaller River Yard, used mainly to make set-outs and pick-ups for the Bethlehem intermodal facility, and to store cars for the locals operating out of Allentown Yard. Usually, one will not encounter much activity here, but on this particular day, River yard is nearly filled to capacity.

Eastbound NS train 22V (out of the picture, but directly ahead on track 3) was making a pick-up, while eastbound NS 262 pictured above was right behind with its RoadRailer train, with the westbound RoadRailer (an innovative mode of transportation which features standard highway semi-trailers on special railroad ‘bogies’ for movement over the rails) staged on track 2, ready to head in the opposite direction. After waiting patiently at CP-JU for 22V, NS 9352 (a GE C40-9W) along with NS 2684 (an EMD SD70M-2) slowly head up track 3 to deliver their consist, to be picked up by local truckers for delivery to their final destination.

Image recorded July 11, 2010.

 Norfolk Southern RoadRailer train 262 enters "3 in the River" in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

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Still busy, but not what it once was

Where there were once two, now there is only one; main track, that is, with Conrail electing to single-track the former Lehigh Valley RR mainline west of CP Port Reading Junction (just beyond the signals in the distance). The exhaust heat waves on this chilly spring morning are quite evident, brought into prominence by the large lens used to record westbound Norfolk Southern train 11J, about to cross over Main Street in Manville, NJ.

With the closing of the Ford and General Motors assembly plants in the Garden State, all loaded autorack cars are inbound only, which necessitates a dedicated empty autorack train (11J) daily to return railcars to the assembly points in the south and midwest. Today, NS C40-9W 9573 leads the train out of the Raritan River watershed, heading ‘up the mountain’ as the dispatchers say, towards the only railroad tunnel in NJ at Pattenburg, some 26 miles away. (Trans-Hudson River tunnels to NYC don’t count here; they start in NJ and end in NY.)

Image recorded April 30, 2011.

Westbound Norfolk Southern train 11J, about to cross over Main Street in Manville, NJ

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