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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A deadhead move for profits sake

Just after dawn on a chilly January morning there is a train with no freight onboard and no billable cargo, travelling a couple of hundred miles so that its owner,  CSX Transportation, can make some money in the days to come. In the transportation industry, this is considered a ‘deadhead’ move, where a transportation vehicle (car, truck, train, airplane) travels a certain distance while empty, not making any profit, in order to reposition the vehicle in question to load freight and generate a manifest to earn money for the company.

In this scene from South Plainfield, New Jersey, we see CSX Transportation train Q128, with 3 month old General Electric ES44AC 957 in the lead, hustling eastbound on the Conrail Shared Assets portion of the NS Lehigh Line, shuttling empty intermodal cars to Port Newark, NJ, to load with over-the-road trailers and containers fresh off of one of the many overseas container ships docked in Elizabeth, NJ. Dedicated intermodal freight trains are big business for the railroads of the 21st century, and this now empty train will transform into a fully loaded, mile-long revenue generating monster in just a days time for CSX, and will certainly justify the empty ‘deadhead’ move necessary to keep the equipment where it is needed most.

Image recorded January 28, 2012

CSX train Q128 South Plainfield NJ Conrail Shared Assets Lehigh Line

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CSX locomotive consist noteworthy for its rare Blue paint

In the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) breakup of 1999, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway acquired the assets of Conrail, and began repainting the Blue CR locomotives in their respective colors as they came in for maintenance or overhaul. The repainting process has been steady but slow for both railroads, and as of this post, over 11 years later, only 37 Blue units remain on CSX rails. Finding a Blue unit in a locomotive consist is noteworthy, and finding  a Blue unit leading a train is special.

Here we see CSX 7374 (ex-CR 6229, blt 8/93) and CSX 7836 (blt 12/92) on the head end of a CSX unit ethanol train, with Conrail Shared Assets crew PR-19 in charge as they pass CP-PD on the CSAO Chemical Coast Secondary in Port Reading, NJ.

Image recorded June 21, 2010.

CSX locomotive consist noteworthy for its rare Blue paint

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CSX and Norfolk Southern in unusual locomotive lashup

No, CSX and Norfolk Southern haven’t merged (at least not at the time of this posting!), and yes, this is an unusual locomotive lashup, even in Conrail Shared Assets territory.

The two NS units (NS 2612, an SD70M, and NS 6771, an ex-CR SD60M) brought train 68Q to eastern New Jersey yesterday, and proceeded to the storage facility for unloading. The two CSX units (CSX 7865, a C40-8W, and CSX 7585, a C40-8) brought their own loaded ethanol train in yesterday, and then cut away for an overnight stay in Port Reading Yard.

To help facilitate todays movements, local CSAO crew PR-19 took the CSX power a mile south on the Chemical Coast Secondary to tie onto the now-empty NS train, and brought everything north to Carteret, NJ, where the two CSX units would then cut away and return to their train waiting on the west siding.

The NS units will receive a new road crew and head west as this afternoon’s NS 69Q, while the CSX train would now be spotted for off-loading by the PR-19 crew … all in a days work for the busy crews of the Conrail Shared Assets Operations in central NJ.

Image recorded May 20, 2010.

CSX and Norfolk Southern found in unusual locomotive lashup

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