Midwestern visitors add color to the Chemical Coast

One never knows what power will bring the daily ethanol trains from the midwest to the shores of central New Jersey, and this day was one of those good days to be trackside. Adding a splash of color to the Conrail Shared Assets Chemical Coast Line are representatives from the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern, which is actually now part of the Canadian Pacific Railway as part of CP’s Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern subsidiary. IC&E and DM&E locos were never seen in this region before 2009, but since then, the handsome blue & yellow units make an appearance almost monthly in this area. Since the ethanol process involves corn, it makes sense that units from the railroads that serve the midwest will make their way eastward, assisting NS and CSX in moving the hundreds of trains to this region every year.

With NS C40-9W 9825 leading the train, we see ICE 6407, an SD40-2 originally built for the Missouri Pacific Railroad in April of 1980, and ICE 6411, an SD40-2 built for the Union Pacific Railroad in February of 1979. As with many of the DM&E and IC&E locomotives, the 6407 pays tribute to one of the cities & towns along the regional carriers route in the states of Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and South Dakota, in this case the ‘City of Clinton’, Iowa, seen under the road number on the side of the cab. These two units will not spend much time on the Jersey Shore, as it is normally ‘in one day, and out the next’ for the ethanol trains, but it was good to see a visit from some friendly out-of-town folks. Ya’ll come back, ya’ hear?!

Image recorded September 23, 2010

Conrail Chemical Coast Secondary Port Reading NJ NS train 68Q

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Snaking along the Lehigh River

On yet another beautiful summer day in eastern Pennsylvania, we find Norfolk Southern train 11J snaking along the lower part of the Lehigh River, with its consist of empty autorack cars destined for the midwest for reloading. Train 11J is traversing the Norfolk Southern Lehigh Line, the main east-west freight line on the NS system in the northeast, connecting the metropolitan NY/NJ market to the rest of america. This was originally the main line of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, which continued in a northwesterly direction along the river, up into north central Pennsylvania; after the consolidation of the bankrupt northeast railroads in 1976 (with the Lehigh Valley being one of them) and the formation of Conrail, this portion of the mainline was then made part of a more direct east-west line, utilizing the Reading and Penn Central (ex-PRR) mainlines for quick transportation of goods to Pittsburg and points west. With the breakup of Conrail, Norfolk Southern took over the Lehigh Line, and continues to utilize the route to its fullest, putting some 25-30 trains across eastern Pa. every day. Today we have an ex-Conrail unit returning to home rails, with NS 8429 (ex-CR 6248, blt 6/94) leading NS 9409, as they make good time along the river.

Image recorded August 7, 2010.

NS Lehigh Line Bethlehem Pa Norfolk Southern train 11J

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Still together after all these years

It’s hard to find two locomotives built for the Erie Lackawanna Railroad still in daily use, but it is a common occurence in central New Jersey. Although now de-rated to 3000 horsepower after being rebuilt to SD40-2 specs, these November, 1972 products of GM’s Electro Motive Division still retain their as-built carbodies, and will always be an ‘SD45-2’ to me. With newer road units hauling the freight out on the mainline, these older six-axle locomotives are perfect for the lower speed transfer runs for which they are utilized, mainly due to their tremendous tractive effort and power. There are presently 6 ex-El units lurking in central/northern NJ, operating out of the Oak Island terminal, and the daily Oak Island transfer to Port Reading Yard and Browns Yard will almost always have at least one of the SD45-2’s on the head-end, and as many as three! In the scene below, we see the daily OI-16 (frequently classified as JR-2 on Mondays) southbound on the Chemical Coast Secondary after working Pt. Reading Yard, with NS 1702 (ex-CR 6659, nee-EL 3674, blt 11/72) and CSX 8886 (ex-CR 6661,nee-EL 3676, blt 11/72) in the lead. The conductor gives a friendly wave to the flagman at MP18.5, after confirming by radio that it was safe to pass through the area, with local utility work being done trackside. In another 2 miles, the crew will enter the New Jersey Transit North Jersey Coast Line at CP WOOD for the short jump across the Raritan River; they will then access the Amboy Secondary at SA Tower and head 6 miles west to Browns Yard in Sayreville for the last set-off. These old girls are still together after all these years, and hopefully will be around for many years to come.

Image recorded on August 7, 2010.

Conrail train OI16 southbound on the Chemical Coast Secondary at Sewaren

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