Monday, June 22, 2015

Boxcar News

And it isn't good. I have to wonder why boxcars have a 50 year service life. Seems like periodic inspections and repair could extend service life almost indefinitely.

A Shortage of Railroad Boxcars Has Shippers Fuming


"A shrinking supply of boxcars--once the ubiquitous symbols of U.S. railroads and a rolling bellwether for the economy--is causing a freight-hauling crunch for the industries that continue to use them.

The number of boxcars in service in North America fell by 41% in the past decade to just under 125,000 last year as 101,600 cars were scrapped and only about 13,800 replacement were added."

Maybe not quite this long:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Moon, Jupiter and Venus

Not Train Related but Chickenmom wanted me to post it.

Photo taken with iPhone 6 about 9:30 EDT June 20, 2015.

Moon, Jupiter and Venus in the western sky from SE Florida  Easier to see if you can enlarge it. Moon lower left, Jupiter up a bit and to the right, then Venus on the right.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

CSX Santa Train

After Thanksgiving the CSX Office Car Special is used as the CSX Santa Train in NE Tennessee and SE Kentucky.


By Jack M. Turner
 Photos By John C. Turner

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving the sounds of gleeful children fill the small communities and hollows of rural Appalachia as the annual CSX Santa Train makes its way from Shelby, KY to Kingsport, TN.  At each stop Santa Claus makes his appearance on the rear platform of the last car from which he and a handful of volunteers toss candy and soft toys to the crowd of children encircling the back end of the train.  Meanwhile, several other volunteers detrain and walk among the crowd distributing gifts, wrapping paper, and other goodies.

    Clinchfield Railroad ran the first Santa Train in 1943 in conjunction with the predecessor to today's Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.  Initially the Santa Train consisted of a couple of extra cars added to the rear of the local passenger train that served the route between Kingsport and Elkhorn City, KY.  When the scheduled passenger train ceased operation in the mid-1950s, the Santa Train continued as its own special train.  The idea behind the Santa Train was to give to the children of the impoverished Appalachia region north of Kingsport which was connected by the railroad.  The Santa Train marched on when the Clinchfield was absorbed into the Family Lines rail system in the 1970s and later the Seaboard System in 1982.  And when the CSX mega-railroad was formed in 1986, the tradition lived on in magnificent fashion.

See the entire report with some great photos here:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

CSX Office Car Special


Screen Shot from Folkston Virtual Railfan Web Cam

Was watching the Folkston webcam and listening to the scanner Friday evening and heard the defect detector (DD) north of town announce a train that had all the characteristics of Amtrak but I knew it couldn't be. Train number P901-29 There was some interesting chat and pretty soon it came into view with locomotive 9998 lead followed by passenger cars. I asked what it was and the folks in the chatroom said it was an OCS. I looked it up and discovered it was the CSX Office Car Special. When it went through the DD south of town at A610.6 I copied the following: No defects, #1 track, length 1980 ft., 74 mph and 58 axles. Lead engine was 9998, an EMD F40PH-2 (one of four at CSX).

A couple of neat videos.  Note the last car with the huge window on the back. That is the theater car and the second video shows it from the inside.

The following information on the individual cars from here:

Georgia - Theatre / observation car - Originally built as a 58 seat coach for the Crescent by Budd in 1953.  Named the Georgia in 1993.  Car was rebuilt as a track observation car by Waycross shops.

Kentucky - Power car - Built about 1950 by Pullman-Standard as a dining car.  L&N acquired the car and rebuilt as an electrical power car about 1980.  This car also contains four office car-quality staterooms and a small lounge.

Youngstown - Crew car - Built in 1954 by Pullman for the Erie Railroad as a five double bedroom / 10 roomette sleeper.  The car was originally named the "Spirit of Youngstown.  Youngstown was conveyed to Conrail on April 1, 1976 and renumbered to CR 11.  Passed to CSX in 1999.

Mississippi - Sleeper - The Mississippi was built in 1923 by Pullman as a tourist car.  The Southern acquired the car in 1954 and converted it into a coach.  Conrail acquired the car in 1983 amd renumbered it CR 24. It was converted into an eight stateroom sleeper car in 1980 and renumbered CR 8.  Passed to CSX in 1999.

Waycross - Sleeper - Built by Pullman in 1926 as a private car and owned by W.R. Kenan, president of the FEC.  Purchased by C&O in 1943 and later included in the track teometry train for road inspections.  After creation of CSX, the car was renamed Waycross and modified into three one bedroom suites.

New York - Observation / diner - Car was built in 1925 by Pullman as a parlor observation car for service on New York Central's Empire State Express.  Renamed the Hudson River, it served the Empire State Express into the early 1930's when a large rear platform was constructed to accomodate President Franklin D. Roosevelt's wheelchair.  In 1942, the car was renamed Kalamazoo River and it served on the Twilight Limited.  In 1952 it was converted to a track inspection car No. 30 and then renumbered to 76 by Penn Central in 1976.  The car was part of the funeral train for slain presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.

Greenbriar - Lounge/Diner - Built by Pullman for the Illinois Central about 1915-1920.  CSX predecessor SCL acquired the car in 1985.  The car was completely rebuilt at Waycross shops with a dining seating capacity of 24, lounge seating capacity for 12 and a stand up bar.

Tennessee - Cafe/lounge/diner - Built by Pullman as a 52 seat coach in 1957.  Car was originally named the Southerner and used in a variety of excursion services prior to being acquired by CSX in 2008.  Interior was rebuilt at Waycross shops to simulate a former L&N car, #3001.

Ohio - Diner - Built by Budd in 1948 as a diner/theater car with a seating capacity of 52.  The car was originally intended for use on C&O's new daytime streamliner, The Chessie.  Car was purchased by CSX in 2008, refurbished and renamed Ohio.

Michigan - Meeting car - Built by Budd in 1951 for the PRR as a lightweight parlor/drawing room car named the Baron De Kalb and assigned to The Senator.  It was later used for first class service on the Boston-New York-Washington corridor.  Rebuilt by Penn Central into a galley/club car in 1968.  Acquired by Conrail in 1976 and converted to a meeting/boardroom car in 1980.  It became part of the CSX fleet in 1999 and was renamed Michigan.

West Virginia - Observation - Built as an Army hospital car in 1953 by St. Louis Car Company, this car was later acquired by Chessie System.  The car has a small lounge, two roomette style sleeping rooms and a large open room.  For all but two days each year, the car serves as a conference/reception car.  The weekend before Thanksgiving, the West Virginia is transformed into Santa's "sleigh" as tons of gifts are loaded aboard and distributed along a 110 mile route through Appalachia.