• A&A freight business

  • All about the Arcade & Attica Railroad
All about the Arcade & Attica Railroad

Moderator: Benjamin Maggi

  by ATK
I apologize in advance if this has already been talked about, but I'm curious of the status of the freight business on the railroad. Much of the attention towards the A&A has been focused on the excursions and the steamers, however we all know that freight pays the bills. Is there any other customers on the railroad besides the feed mill in North Java? How about potential customers? There was talk previously about the A&A looking to purchase another locomotive. Is that still the case? The pictures I see posted frequently include two trains of 3-4 cars each, one following the other up to North Java. This seems to me like a terrific waste of resources, both money and man power. While the GE centercabs are both neat and historic to the railroad, they're not going to be able to cut the mustard for any possible growth in the freight business. That, and getting engine parts for that 44 tonner must be next to impossible. Seems to me like time to upgrade to something newer and better.


  by thebigham
Freight business is good on the A&A.

The main engine on the A&A is #112, a 65-tonner. The 44-tonner, #111, is back-up.

The new engine rumor is over a year old.

The A&A also receives lumber cars for a local lumber company.

I've seen 5-car freights recently going to NJ.


  by BSOR Patarak
thebigham sumed up the roster well. There could be much debate on the use of the Center Cabs on a railroad.

Historically, on the A&A, the center cabs are the only reason that they survived as long as they have. Fuel consumption, initially was cheaper than operating steam. The 4 axles w/traction motors were easier on the track structure. Reduced labor, no need to preheat or cool down when done, fire up and go. Those two diesels ran round trip to Attica daily. In peak years, they served 2500 plus car loads per year.

As for parts, GE still makes everything on them. The only issue on engine 111 is the older Cat engines. You can still find most of the parts, but they are getting costly. As for 112, they have rebuilt truck engines (from Reisdorf trucks) and are more fuel efficient. It is not out of the question to convert 111 to the Cummins as well. This would aid in fuel efficiencies for both units.

You are absolutely correct that it is not cost effective to run two locomotives each with 3 or 4 cars using up two crews. It was a huge waste of labor. A descision was made to shorten the train lengths based on track conditions and not wanting to take changes with longer trains. The engines handled the load okay, it was just felt safer to handle less.

<<putting on flame suit>> I know that these issues can be debated. Could they use a new engine? Probably, but at what cost? The two they have they know and can maintain and have work well for many years. The track conditions? Well, they have made strides on this in way of tie counts and a few really bad spots....but this will have to be on going. As freight increases, so does wear on the track. Thankfully business is on the way up so they can work on some of their problem areas.


  by BSOR Patarak
Also, in way of freight, if you get the change to drive down Perry Road by Reisdorf's mill, you'd be impressed. Between the feed, fertilizer and molasses, there are a lot of cars piled up there. Some days it takes 3-4 hours to switch around and pull empties from up there.

I happened to follow a train a couple of weeks ago and they brought back 6 empties from Reisdorf's and picked up one lumber car from the dock at Arcade. Got to the interchange with the 7 and met the NS to pick up 4 more loads.

The next issue is going to be siding space to store excess cars. It would be nice to have the one just before Genesee Road (the old Prosil Fertilizer plant) or Java Center.

Arcade sits well for economic development. With cheap electric rates, not too far from Niagara Frontier, good properties available and excellent rail service...who knows what future enterprises might arise.

  by nessman
BSOR Patarak wrote:Arcade sits well for economic development. With cheap electric rates, not too far from Niagara Frontier, good properties available and excellent rail service...who knows what future enterprises might arise.
It all boils down to taxes and what the local and county gov't is willing to offer to sweeten the deal as far as tax abatements and other incentives are concerned. Cheap municipal electric alone isn't enough.

I think one of the issues regarding the A&A's motive power is the weight and added wear & tear of a heavier locomotive. IIRC, there are weight restrictions on the line. But as stated before - the center cabs have served the railroad well for decades.

Are they running two trains at a time with two crews - or just one man in each engine and working the ground as a team?

No doubt - the A&A is in need of a serious track rehab program along the entire line - but that requires $$$, with limited freight revenue - it's a matter of prioritizing work and hoping that transportation grant funding from Albany or Washington comes through.

  by erievalley
It appears a few mis-conceptions need to be cleared up regarding the use of two engines on the A&A. A couple of years ago the A&A was using two engines on both freight and excursion movements because the #112 was running on the front motor only, the rear motor had destroyed itself. The #111 was needed for the added horsepower. When both locomotives are used and due to lack of MU capability, a man is needed in the second unit to bail off the air after a brake application by the lead unit, thus, three men were used as a crew, 2 engineers and a brakeman.
As Pat alluded to in a previous post, both motors in the #112 have been replaced with Cummins 350 big cam turbocharged motors and are rated at 350 HP each. She has more than enough HP for 5 loads, but is real slippery on the rail due to lack of weight for the HP produced. Hope this clears up some of the confusion surrounding the use of two locomotives. #112 is the primary unit and #111 is presently out of service and used only in emergency situations. Later....Jerry.

  by Benjamin Maggi
Besides, can anyone who knows and loves the A&A even picture another diesel engine on the line? I sure couldn't, as the 44 tonners are part of the charm of the railroad.
  by BSOR Patarak
For the sake of arguments, lets say the A&A does want or need a new engine.

What type would you recommend or suggest?

I am kind of partial to the Alco Switchers. The orange and black striped paint would be reminiscent of the early Genesee & Wyoming power.

The blunt type trucks hold to bad track quite well. This is one of the reasons many industrial operations like them. I think I'd stay away from the South Buffalo units. They tended to weight down the S2s for traction, making them nearly as heavy as small road units. Something a little lighter on it's feet would be better. An S1 perhaps? My only concerns with these 539 types is that engine block parts are going to get tougher to find and are more expensive than the Cummins parts, not to mention heavier. Also, these new parts would need to be added to inventory as there are currently none on hand. When they had SB #77 from the WNYRHS, it wouldn't fit inside the shop as it was too tall. Larger diesels don't tend to use antifreeze like the truck engines, so keeping them warm wuld be another big concern. Idling it all the time is not a cost effective solution, both in fuel costs and wear and tear on an older engine.

Realistically, perhaps an 70 or 80 Ton GE would work well. Just enough gain in weight, while maintaining many common part with the smaller counterparts.

Just some ramblings. What do you think?

  by erievalley
Ok Pat, you asked for it. Some things I would consider if it was my call:
1) Weight, less than 100 ton due to light rail and fragile road bed.
2) Length from truck center to couple face, need short overhang for sidings with sharp track curvature, I.E. fertilizer siding at the mill, plus the curves leaving the interchange, west wye and both sides of the creek bridge leaving town.
3) Easy maintance and spare parts supply.
4) Fuel efficient.
5) Inital cost.
6) Power and traction for up to five loads.
Considering all these requirements and probably quite a few not listed,
we seem to be pretty much back to square one!!
All the Alco switchers, even the S-1, weigh 100 plus ton, as do all the EMDs as far as I know. Probably a 70 ton GE would be a good choice, but prices seem to be quite high for a decent unit due the demand.
Just a little food for thought. Hmmm, this is fun, spending some one elses money....Jerry.

  by nessman
Hey - while we're spending $$$... wonder what it would cost ot bring the entire line up to class-2 standards and 273,000 lb weight limit?

  by Alcoman
I think Nessman has the right idea...and in that line of thought...

1) Upgrade the track of the entire RR
2) Buy 1or 2 Alco S-6 or T-6 locomotives with 251 engines and MU.
3) Keep the 44 ton units as back-up.
4) Build a larger enginehouse.

  by nessman
Nah - get a Green Goat for freight and bring the steamers back to life for the passenger excursions.

Throw in some better crossing protection

Now all that's left is to find a suitable barrel of federal pork $$$ to fund it all!

  by BSOR Patarak
I agree with everyone, the track upgrades are a must for growing business and bigger power. Next would be the return to steam. The two deisels they've got will function well for the foreseeable future. The only thing I'd suggest is to begin repowering 111 with Cummins to replace the aging cats.

Speaking of MU capabilities...the A&A at one time looked at the Dansville and Mt. Morris's two 44 tonners. These were two center cabs that had MU capability. This sure would have saved some labor had these two been acquired.


  by ATK
In reading this thread through, it sounds like the key issue on getting a new locomotive is the condition of the track. BTW, what kind of rail is on the A&A? 70lb? More or less?

As for parts, you say that GE still makes everything that's on them -- I sure hope that you have a good parts catalog for a 44 tonner! Ever try doing business with Logan? Unless you know what the part number is, don't even bother picking up the phone to call them (their people in customer service are worthless). Like I said before, trying to find parts for those old Cat engines in the 44 tonners is next to impossible -- a key reason why railroads that have been operating these things for years are giving up on them. Take the Claremont & Concord for example. They've basically had it with trying to find parts for the old 44 tonners so they're selling them off.

As I stated before, the GE centercabs are historic to the railroad, however the "charm" of the locomotive doesn't pay the bills. If the A&A ever hopes to grow and expand its freight business, it needs to develop a plan for the replacement of those locomotives. I would not go out and buy a 539 powered Alco for the save reason, that parts are hard to come by. A 251 powered S6 or T6 would be good, but good luck on finding one. I think a SW1500 would be perfect for the A&A, unfortunately the price tag on EMD switchers is ridiculously steep. My personal favorite would be a GE U18B, but again, good luck on finding one. Of course all of this would be contingent upon whether the track could carry the weight of the locomotive. Yes, larger engines use water instead of antifreeze, but if you have a heated engine house, what's the problem? If you need to install a layover system, a custom system can be installed relatively cheaply. Two years ago I installed an oil fired boiler on a U23B to be used as a layover system. Price tag for the system was about $1500.

One final thought, the Rochester & Genessee Valley RR Museum has a beautiful US Army 80 tonner. Thing looks like a brand new locomotive -- its got 26 air, MU, the works. While I certainly can't speak for those folks, I would bet that they would be interested in preserving an A&A 44 tonner. Perhaps a trade could be worked out? Merely a suggestion (Otto -- don't shoot me!)

  by nessman
ATK wrote:In reading this thread through, it sounds like the key issue on getting a new locomotive is the condition of the track. BTW, what kind of rail is on the A&A? 70lb? More or less?
Yup - for the most part, it's 70lb rail - much of it at least 100 yrs old (and hard to find). But you have other issues - ballast, ties, drainage, the bridge over Beaver Meadow Road (220,000 lb weight restriction), etc... IIRC, aside from the portion between Arcade and Curriers Station, the A&A is mostly FRA excepted track.

Don't get me wrong - the current conditions and center-cab engines lends itself nicely to the charm of a small rural RR operation... and I am sure I speak for everyone that we all want to the A&A to continue to prosper. However, the RR runs through a good deal of sensitive wetlands, and in today's litigous socitety, a passenger train derailment could very well put an end to things. A derailment would be difficult to clean up because of access issues along the ROW, in addition to the environmental cleanup issues that may ensue.

Hopefully some day the feds will cough up a few million to fun a major rehab of the line and get the steam engines back up and running. The A&A really is a gem that I'd hate to see get lost.