Storming westward

Intermodal is big business for todays railroads, especially in the northeast, with the major seaports of Newark and Elizabeth, NJ shipping & receiving thousands of containers and trailers every month. Several trains leave the north Jersey area daily, and one of the larger ones is Norfolk Southern symbol 21M, running from Secaucus, NJ to Chicago, Illinois, generally leaving somewhere around sunrise on a normal day.

On a beautiful September morning, we see westbound NS 21M storming the curve at the western end of Allentown Yard, coming off of the bypass around the yard, and transitioning from the NS Lehigh Line to the NS Reading Line. For the next 35 miles, the crew will travel the Reading Line, and then enter the Harrisburg Line for points west. NS 2764, an EMD SD70M-2, leads a couple of GE sisters on this ‘hot’ train, and will see few delays along their route; competition with the trucking industry mandates a tight schedule for the railroads, to ensure that the mile-long trains continue to be ‘a mile long’.

Image recorded September 14, 2013.

Norfolk Southern Train 21M Lehigh Line Allentown Pa

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A Long Day

I had it all planned very nicely; internet reports of a special High & Wide movement from Allentown, Pa to Manville, NJ, on the Norfolk Southern Lehigh Line main brought me to the tracks on a chilly Fall day, and I chose a spot where a nice wide-angle shot could be had. And then…the Rail Gods stepped in. Earlier in the day, westbound NS train 19G stalled on the approach to Pattenburg Tunnel in western NJ, and was delayed getting up and running again, which brought the crew to the end of their allowable hours (“outlawing”) in Bethlehem, Pa. At this point, eastbound intermodal train 22V was approaching Bethlehem, so they parked their train and jumped on 19G to continue their trip west. The crew from the High & Wide train was pulled and put on 22V to continue east, and the dispatcher remarked about the ‘special’ running the next day. Well, that’s great, I thought, and decided to head home; as fate would have it, I decided to check the message boards one last time, and saw that Allentown had found a crew, and the High & Wide was on the move! No problem, I’ll turn around & race back to my spot, and all will be well.

To make a long story short, I just plain ran out of light; the special did indeed get underway, but travels at restricted speed, and with the sun setting earlier in the day in November, the final image of this particular afternoon was the very late-running 22v, behind GE C40-9W’s 9751 and 9890, shown at sunset in Manville, NJ. Some days you’re lucky, some days you’re good, and sometimes a perfect plan turns into a very long day.

Image recorded on November 19, 2011.

NS train 22V Lehigh Line Manville NJ

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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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Locomotives with different pasts make strange bedfellows

Originally built for service south of the Mason-Dixon Line, these two locomotives are strange bedfellows, both in their current location, and their current assignment.

Norfolk Southern SD40-2 6141 was built for the Norfolk & Western Railroad as number 6141 in May of 1978, primarily for mainline duty through the mid-Atlantic region of the US. Norfolk Southern MP15-DC 2408 has retained her original number also, ordered by the Southern Railway in April of 1982 for switching service in the southeast region of this great land. How coincidental, that, in the year 2010, following the merger of these two great roads in 1982 and the subsequent acquisition of parts of the Conrail empire in 1999, these two units with so much in common, yet built for two vastly different railroad applications would become partners in this day’s operations as yard hostlers in Allentown Yard in eastern Pennsylvania.

These two veteran locomotives are yet another example of the fine products produced by the dedicated men and women of the General Motors ElectroMotive Division, 32 and 28 years ago respectively.

Image recorded April 24, 2010.

Locomotives with different pasts make interesting bedfellows

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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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