An enterprising solution

In a joint venture with Pan Am Railways, Norfolk Southern has provided capital and track maintenance equipment to rehabilitate Pan Am’s western main line from Mohawk Yard east to Ayer, MA, north of Boston.  The joint venture, dubbed Pan Am Southern, allows Norfolk Southern to compete with CSX’s Boston Line for freight tonnage into post-Conrail New England. With the recent track upgrades, Pan Am’s mainline (the former western end of the Boston & Maine Railroad) now sees 8-10 freight trains per day on average, in addition to multiple “extra” oil, coal, and grain run-through unit trains from the west. The extra traffic has made Pan Am power-short, and they are filling in with leasers and run-through power.  The lead unit on this train, NS 3491 is one of ten six-axle NS locomotives currently on long-term lease to Pan Am – the three trailing units all carry MEC (Maine Central) reporting marks as well as three different paint liveries.  Units 2 and 4 will eventually receive the Pan Am blue and white paint scheme that can be seen on the third unit in this lashup.

The Pan Am globe logo on the third unit is the exact same one that was once used by Pan Am World Airways.  The Pan Am Airways logo was purchased by the railroad’s chief owner/partner Timothy Mellon as part of the airline’s bankruptcy/liquidation proceedings.  (Mr. Mellon is also an airplane enthusiast.) The railroad’s former name, Guilford Rail System was dropped in favor of the current Pan Am moniker, and the former airlines’ corporate logo now lives on, gracing the locomotives of a regional railroad.

In this classic, rural New England photo we see Pan Am eastbound daily manifest freight MOED (MOhawk yard to East Deerfield yard) passing the Church Street grade crossing in Pownal, Vermont.  The train originated in Mohawk Yard (property of CP/ Delaware & Hudson) where Pan Am interchanges with both CP and Norfolk Southern.  (Norfolk Southern uses trackage rights over the D&H from NS’ Southern Tier mainline in Binghampton, NY to get up to Mohawk yard, near Schenectady). In these times of fierce competition, it seems that these two railroads have found an enterprising solution to benefit them both, and their customers, to ensure success in the 21st century.

Image recorded on September 7, 2013 by Bob Krug.

PanAm Railways train MOED Norfolk Southern lease unit in Pownal Vermont

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A very special guest

Well, where to begin? The train is not unusual, as there are daily ethanol trains arriving in the central New Jersey area; in fact, sometimes two per day for the refineries.  What ‘is’ special about this photo is the lead unit, Canadian National C40-8M 2444, one of only 55 built for CN, and one of only 84 ever constructed.  In 1990, General Electric was commissioned to build a ‘cold weather’ version of its popular C40-8 locomotive by 3 Canadian roads, and the ‘cowl body’ Dash 8 was born. Due to the extreme winter weather in the Canadian provinces, the full body locos were designed for performance and crew issues in the cold climates north of the border.  The other owners include BC Rail (26 units), and Quebec, North Shore & Labrador (3 units).  Canadian National units are not completely foreign to NJ, but they are few and far between, and to see one on the east coast is enough to bring one trackside.

In this scene, we find Port Reading Yard-based Conrail Shared Assets Operations crew PR-8, pulling the empties from the storage facility and travelling just a mile ahead for staging, to await a CSX road crew to board. Shortly, this train will become CSX symbol K635-28, and head up the CSX River Line towards Selkirk, NY, for points west.  CN 2444 (blt 12/92) and CSX 163 (AC44CW, blt 5/96)  will easily handle the 80 or so tank cars up alongside the Hudson River, and 2444 will have hopefully enjoyed her stay as a very special guest in the Garden State.

Image recorded March 28, 2013

Canadian National CSX on Conrail Chemical Coast Secondary in Port Reading NJ

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