Monday, October 12, 2009

Iron Horse Roundup: Week of October 5-11

Note: Most of this information was already mentioned in the latest issue of Trains that's out on newsstands. I know about most of these developments before reading about them in the magazine, but this was also before I had a blog, as well. There's no mention of Iowa Interstate's new GEVOs, Florida East Coast testing the Progress Rail PR30C demonstrator or Great Walton's abandoning the Covington, Ga branch. Everything else mentioned was pretty much news to me or I already knew about, but the issue was already on newsstands.( Lehman)

Iowa Interstate announced the purchase of two additional General Electric ES44AC GEVOs in a press release dated September 9th, 2009. This comes after purchasing a dozen ES44ACs in 2008, such as this pair photographed hauling this Cedar Rapids-bound mixed freight past a windmill at Wilton, IA last year. This would bring their total number of GEVO's to 14.

Norfolk Southern and Florida East Coast have begun testing Progress Rail's line of higher horsepower rebuilt genset locomotives. Norfolk Southern's Progress Rail testbeds are designated PR43C's (Progress Rail; 4300 HP, C for 6 axles) and were built from the frame and shells of a pair of retired SD50s. The two of them are currently painted for the Norfolk Southern and numbered 4001 and 4002. For the time being, Norfolk Southern [NYSE: NSC] is restricting the duo's service to eastern Illinois, not far from Progress Rail's parent company Caterpillar [NYSE: CAT]. Progress Rail's demonstrator on the Florida East Coast is designated a PR30C (3000 HP this time around) and is shown above sandwiched between FEC SD70M-2 #106 and FEC GP40-2#426 on southbound train 109 crossing the lengthy bridge at Roseland, FL in August 2009. The PR30C Demonstrator is trailing because the FEC requires Automatic Train Control (ATC) equipment in the cab to operate on its mainline between Jacksonville and Miami.

CSX has discontinued through service on it's ex-Monon Louisville, KY-Bedford, IN Hoosier line this summer. This forces the Indiana Railroad- who operated on trackage rights over the Hoosier subdivision to re-route traffic to and from Louisville, KY via Indianapolis courtesy of a haulage-rights agreement with Anacostia Pacific Company's Louisville & Indiana railroad. Here, Indiana Railroad SD9043MAC #9007 is seen heading west past a pair of vintage upper-quadrant semaphore signals in Orleans, IN in May 2009.

The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway announced that it plans on abandoning the northern 241 miles of it's system between Millinocket and Madawaska, ME. In lieu of abandonment, they have proposed that the state of Maine purchase the line and take care of the maintenance while covering the costs by leasing the line back to the MM&A. The idea is not without precedent- Maine DOT presently owns the ex Maine Central Brunswick to Rockport line presently operated by Maine Eastern. There is also support for this idea among state representatives in the counties that will be affected by the MM&A's abandonment. contributor Kevin Andrusia snapped this picture of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic B39-8E #8569 with a northbound frieght approaching yard limits at Oakfield, Maine last month on the stretch of track that's up for abandonment.

North of the border, there's somewhat better news for Genesee & Wyoming's [NYSE: GWR] troubled Huron Central railroad. Shippers and the province of Ontario reached a deal that will keep the Huron Central operating for at least another year. Here, GP40-3 #3803 leads a rebuilt road slug, a GP38 from sister railroad Quebec-Gatineau and a GP40-2LW west out of Sudbury, ON with a 131-car train bound for Sault Sainte Marie, ON in August 2009.

( Stewart)

According to contributors David Stewart and Nikos Kavoori, Georgia's Great Walton Railroad's lease on the Covington, GA branch has expired. The last day of operations was September 30, 2009. Here, Mr. Stewart documents Great Walton GP9 #6580 and ex-MidSouth GP10 #8395 en route to the CSX interchange after retrieving about 30 cars being stored at Newton, GA on the last day of operations for the Covington branch. The locomotives will be transferred to Great Walton's Social Circle, GA branch or sister Hartwell Railroad. Great Walton's trains would occasionally appear prominently in the background on the In The Heat of The Night TV series, several seasons of which were filmed in Covington, GA.

Miscellany: Montana Rail Link suffered a partial collapse of its tunnel in Mullan Pass on July 20th. The railway was shut down and traffic re-routed over BNSF's [NYSE: BNI] ex-Great Northern Line across Northern Montana until mid-August.

*Elsewhere in Big Sky country- a retired F45 was converted into one-of-a-kind accomodation at the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex, MT. F45 #441 is fitted with antique oak hardwood flooring, king-size bed and a fully-equipped kitchen among other amenities.

*Indian mining company Sterlite [NYSE: SLT] has applied for permission to purchase Arizona's 61-Mile Copper Basin Railway

*For those of you 'across the pond' of headed that way, former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has turned a former London & Birmingham Railway roundhouse built in 1846 into a giant musical instrument. The musical structure in London is open to the public.

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