Blogs

  • Blog Post: Norfolk Southern's cab units: Among the most technologically advanced streamliners around

    Norfolk Southern's four executive cab units roll through Harrisburg, Pa., in August 2012. The units have seen substantial internal upgrades since their debut in 2007. Jim Wrinn photo ALTOONA, Pa. — We’ve all come to admire Norfolk Southern's set of four tuxedoed cab units' two As and two...
  • Blog Post: CNJ in 4 separate states in two months

    Ever had a particular locomotive follow you around? Or have you ever made a trip and photograph unit, then see it in your home turf weeks later? I have, and that is Norfolk Southern's Central of New Jersey heritage unit, SD70ACe No. 1071. Starting with a trip to Pennsylvania in late October, I photographed...
  • Blog Post: Foreign power invades Norfolk Southern

    A splash of fresh color has swept across Norfolk Southern in recent weeks, as foreign power has invaded Virginia and West Virginia. Everything from old and new, and BNSF to Canadian power, is roaming rails of the former Norfolk & Western and Virginian. Going trackside is nothing short of a guessing...
  • Blog Post: Southern Railway No. 630's trip across the Buchanan Branch

    I've had many people inquire about locations and chasing information regarding the 21st Century Steam excursions powered by Southern 2-8-0 No. 630 in Grundy, Va., this weekend, and figured a blog post containing information might be helpful to many of you. First off, the line this train is traveling...
  • Blog Post: 23 reasons to be excited about this weekend’s Norfolk Southern steam trips

    After departing Bulls Gap, Tenn., train 976 swings through an S curve on the east side of town with Southern 2-8-0 No. 630 leading a public passenger excursion part of Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam program on April 6, 2014. Photo by Samuel Phillips. We’re now at the start of the fourth...
  • Blog Post: Enjoying Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam Program

    Having witnessed the steam excursions originating this spring in Bristol, Va., and Grundy, Va., only one word comes to mind when describing them: awesome! Norfolk Southern and the Tennessee Valley Rail Museum went above and beyond to put on a fabulous show for railfans and individuals riding the train...
  • Blog Post: Why your next trip will induce heartburn

    I’ve said before that any train I’m on can be as late as you like. I believe my exact words were “more train-riding pleasure for the same low price.” Well, forget that. I’ve changed my mind. Even idiots like me have their limit, and mine has been breached. Any train more...
  • Blog Post: The tough new rules of oil by rail?

    Railroads came to Washington this week to make the case at the White House against what could be tough new rules being drawn up by the U.S. Department of Transportation for handling crude oil. The proposals, which have not yet been made public, may involve slowing crude oil trains to a top speed of 30...
  • Blog Post: When the road meets the railroad

    NS 6169 led the Peach State Whistle Stop Safety Train , and we see it here after arrival in Dalton, Georgia. Look between the ditch lights, and you'll see the lens hood of the camera mounted on the front. All photos by David Lester. Growing up in Southern Railway country, I became aware of the Operation...
  • Blog Post: Look out: CSX is in virgin territory

    I’ve been reporting a story for Trains Magazine about the railroad mess we call Chicago, and one of the worst sinners is CSX Transportation. What bothered me was this: The railroad during April-June was still 4.7 percent shy of its traffic volume in the last peak year of 2006. So why is its whole...
  • Blog Post: The dynamic duo

    This is about two beautiful heritage locomotives that were paired in Roanoke, Va., last month. The two have brought enjoyment to railfans across Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio for the last month. I know. I was one of them. For me, it started on July 15th as I began my day at home...
  • Blog Post: Making odds on the future of an iconic mountain grade: Rust in place Saluda

    I was going to write a sentimental post about Norfolk Southern’s sale of two lines out of Asheville, N.C., to Kansas-based shortline conglomerate Watco, which launched its brand new 91.8-mile Blue Ridge Southern on July 26. Both routes were once Southern Railway territory. One line was part of...
  • Blog Post: Outrages on the rails: The real story

    Be on notice: Any rational observer would predict that American railroads are in for a terrible winter a few months hence — that is, if it is a normal, mild winter of the sort we had before last winter. How can I say that in the middle of August? Follow the trail of evidence, please. My correspondent...
  • Blog Post: Should China expand U.S. railroads?

    Michael Ward, the esteemed chief executive of CSX Transportation, when asked about his railroad’s chronic state of congestion, says you don’t build a church for Easter Sunday. Is that his final answer? We are left to conclude that CSX would rather offer substandard service at higher and higher...
  • Blog Post: Amtrak loses patience (finally)

    About time, I say. During an interview with D.J. Stadtler, Amtrak’s VP operations, for a story to appear in the January issue of Trains, I asked why Amtrak hadn’t taken Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation to court over their mishandling of the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited...
  • Blog Post: A LOT is going on in 2015

    Okay, my vacation is over, and with it my semi-annual writer’s block. Happy new year to everyone. In the spirit of the season, here are four things to watch for in 2015. Call them predictions, if you insist. The NEC will get a huge $$$ injection. Bill Shuster chairs the U.S. House Committee...
  • Blog Post: More on capital spending

    Readers ask questions about railroad capital budgets and in so doing, reveal what could be misconceptions. The Association of American Railroads says the industry will spend $29 billion in 2015 “to build, maintain and grow the nationwide freight rail network that powers the U.S. economy.”...
  • Blog Post: What 611’s revival says about NS and passenger excursions

    The revival of Norfolk and Western Class J No. 611 to once again power passenger trains over the main lines of Virginia and neighboring states is truly an inspiring occasion. Restoring a steam locomotive is a proposition that requires great quantities of labor, time, persistence and money, and the coming...
  • Blog Post: How NS became the intermodal champ

    More than half of the units handled by Norfolk Southern in the first quarter of 2015—51 percent, to be exact—were trailers or containers. That's a first for the Class I railroads. For better or for worse, intermodal is the future of this giant eastern railroad. How it got to this from a standing...
  • Blog Post: Norfolk Southern Shines in Unit Dedicated to Emergency Responders

    Spencer, N.C. May 28, 2015. Norfolk Southern has done it again....they have added yet another special scheme to their growing number of uniquely painted locomotives. This time is in the form of SD60E #911 painted up in a special livery to honor the sacrifices and service and of America's first responders;...
  • Blog Post: Say it ain't so, Norfolk

    CP and NS trains meet in Binghamton, N.Y., in July 2014. Photo by Amanda Oakes The followers of Trains Magazine's Facebook page are speaking out on the proposed Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern "business combination." On Tuesday, CP confirmed it had sent an offer letter to NS executives outlining...
  • Blog Post: How could a merger bring MORE variety for railfans?

    [caption image="/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communityserver-blogs-components-weblogfiles/00-00-00-07-48/5127.UPS_5F00_ES44AC_5F00_web.jpg" position="left"]Could a UPS-owned train someday bring holiday cheer to consumers and railfans alike? Photo illustration by Drew Halverson [/caption]Although I’m still...
  • Blog Post: Say it ain't so, Norfolk (Part II)

    The followers of Trains Magazine's Facebook page are still speaking out on the proposed Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern merger. On Dec. 8, CP all but confirmed it would launch a hostile takeover bid for NS following two rejected offers to its board of directors. Immediately after, Trains' Facebook...
  • Blog Post: Three theories about why CP wants NS

    In the February issue of Trains magazine, which has been in subscriber hands for better than a week now and is available to newsstand buyers now, I wrote an editorial in opposition to Canadian Pacific’s proposed takeover of Norfolk Southern. My reasoning is that there is little business incentive...
  • Blog Post: Playing the heritage unit game

    The train-watching hobby community has made the sighting of the Norfolk Southern and other heritage units into a game of sorts. Railfans, it seems, are always trying to best each other with who has seen more, or who has seen a particular unit on "home" rails. (Nevermind that none of these units actually...