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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A train by any other name is just as colorful

A train of many symbols and names! Those who have been around awhile know this as ‘the D&H’ train (as much of its route ran along the old Delaware & Hudson RR trackage), and newcomers know her as CP256/254 and/or NS train 38T. Originating in Toronto, Canada, this Canadian Pacific train travels south to Binghamton, NY,  as CP 256, then further southward to Allentown, Pa, as CP 254, to join the Norfolk Southern Lehigh Line main and eastward to New Jersey.

As part of the large northeastern US railroad ‘reorganization’ of the past 30-some odd years, Canadian Pacific was granted trackage rights to the metropolitan market of NY/NJ, although the specifics are quite involved. The CP trains are never large, and any intermodal traffic goes no farther east than Bethlehem, Pa; NS then moves any ‘dockside’ (Port Newark/Port Elizabeth) traffic on their own. There is some trash service out of NJ that CP handles directly, and hopefully traffic will grow for the large Canadian railroad in the years to come. In the meantime, whatever tonnage is transported by this interesting operation means revenue generated, and a chance for some color on the rails of NY/PA/NJ to keep the railfan community happy.

In this picture we find NS train 38T, with CP 9660 (AC44CW) and CP 9692 (AC44CW) entering track 3 in Norfolk Southern’s River Yard in Bethlehem, Pa., for the daily intermodal set-out.

Image recorded August 28, 2010.

Those who have been around awhile know this as 'the D&H' train

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Dawn breaks over Norfolk Southern in eastern Pennsylvania

Another day is about to begin on the Norfolk Southern Lehigh Line main in eastern Pennsylvania. The sun is just rising on a very chilly late fall day in the small city of Bethlehem, and the small patches of ice from the morning dew on the Fahy Bridge warn of the impending winter season right around the corner. Fortunately, the dense fog hovering above the Lehigh River has stayed a bit to the east in this image, nearly obscuring the bridge in the distance. The long dormant Bethlehem Steel steel mill looms in the background, a testament to the city’s life-blood that brought prosperity to this region in the early 20th century, until less expensive imported products spelled doom for the steel industry in this country.

The last 30 years have been economically difficult for this region, but the hearty people of this area have survived, and new businesses and a new casino, recently constructed right next to the mill in the distance, have delivered a positive outlook to this part of the Lehigh Valley. All’s quiet at this particular moment on this particular day, but the peaceful silence will soon be broken with the first movement of the new morning, a westbound train just 20 minutes away.

Image recorded November 6, 2010.

Dawn breaks over Norfolk Southern's Lehigh Line in eastern Pennsylvania

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Roundabout route explains odd-numbered train symbol

Just a few miles out of Norfolk Southern’s Allentown Yard, NS train 38G pulls hard through Emmaus, Pennsylvania, as she heads west on the NS Lehigh Line. On the point we see NS 9251, one of seven GE C40-9W locomotives painted in the special Operation Lifesaver 25th Anniversary scheme.

Why is this train westbound, when NS usually symbols their trains with odd numbers when heading west? Well, there is an explanation, as this train’s destination is geographically east of Allentown, Pennsylvania;  initiating in Allentown, this move heads west to Reading, Pa, then turns southward to Philadelphia, then heads eastward across the Delair bridge into New Jersey, destined for the CSAO Pavonia Yard in Camden, NJ. So, technically, this is an eastbound consist, albeit in a roundabout way. In any event, she’s a money-maker for NS, with train lengths commonly in excess of 100 cars, running seven days a week.

Image recorded October 23, 2010.

Odd-numbered locomotives painted in the special Operation Lifesaver 25th Anniversary scheme

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