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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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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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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Executives tour the NS system from Office Car Special

There is no mistaking one of the the finest ‘Executive’ trains in the world, as we witness the passing of the Norfolk Southern OCS, or Office Car Special. In the late summer and early Fall of 2010, NS President Wick Moorman and his executive staff toured the entire system on rails, getting a close view of their empire, and perhaps a better idea of how to handle todays rail-freight traffic. Proudly displaying the colors and scheme of NS predecessor road Southern Railway, the spotless F9A/F7B/F7B/F9A EMD locomotives capably handle the westbound 10 car consist as it negotiates the sweeping S-curve alongside the Lehigh River in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, milepost 87 on the NS Lehigh Line.

Image recorded September 26, 2010.

One of the the finest 'Executive' trains in the world, Norfolk Southern Office Car Special

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