• Street Running

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by slotcanyoneer
Has anyone observed street running first hand? This type of operation fascinates me. I guess the reason of my fascination with it is that it seems quite dangerous simply because the sharing of streets with trains, motorists, pedestrians, etc. I am guessing most street running happens out west simply because of pictures I have seen of the UP, Bnsf, etc. Does anyone know of any rr's (no trolleys mind you) that do street running on the east coast?

  by ACLfan
Regarding the "East Coast" area, three examples that come to mind are:

Albany, GA The Norfolk Southern (x Central of Georgia) main line from Albany to sw GA and to Dothan, AL runs down the middle of a paved city street for approximately 12 blocks.

Ocala, FL The Florida Northern (x Atlantic Coast Line) line through Ocala runs in the middle of a paved city street for about 10 blocks.

Tampa, FL CSX's line from Tampa to Port Tampa runs down the middle of a paved city street on and off again for about 8 blocks of street running.

Obviously, these trains do not operate at high rates of speed when they are street running. Speeds are between 5 and 10 miles per hour (and less), depending upon the amount of vehicular and pedestrian traffic that are encountered. A crewman usually is standing on the front porch of the lead unit ( I guess because they are required to).


  by Ken W2KB
I've seen local freights on streets in NJ, Amtrak in Oakland, CA area, Amtrak in Virginia (?), plus a few other areas. I've operated my speeder on runs 3 or 4 times that had some street running. Including an intersection with traffic lights. Had to wait for the green in my direction. :P

  by shlustig
Don't forget about the CSS&SB / NICDT operations in Michigan City, Ind. where they operate in the middle of 10th and 11th (IIRC) Aves. This includes both the electric commuter operations and the diesel freight services.

Until last year, the NS (ex-NKP) Buffalo / Bellevue mainline ran down the middle of a street through Erie, Pa.

  by O-6-O
Utica,NY. NYS&W (ex CR,PC,EL,DL&W) has about a mile of track right
down Schuyler St in the city. Best part is there's a siding to a customer
(Matts Brewing) thats serviced a few times a week. Inbound hops I
believe. I,ve chased the 142 there a few times and if you like you can
hook up behind them and become the "caboose". No brake lights so
be careful.


  by shlustig

I forgot about that Utica trackage.

IIRC, the switches in the street were "submarine"-type with the switch mechanism below pavement level.

  by LCJ
Many years ago we operated out of West Albany down the center of Tivoli Street, crossing Broadway to go behind the RTA (RCA) building (the one with the big dog on it) in Albany to serve customers. The switches along Tivoli were like the old street car switches -- operated with a special bar that was stashed near the track.

I also witnessed, in the '80s, street operation in Baltimore on Boston St. and Jackson's Wharf. Auto traffic was always an issue. The Wharf crew used a tractor with a coupler on it to move and spot cars there because the curves and turnouts were too sharp for even the smallest switch locomotives.

  by kinlock
Yes, that Utica trackage is impressive. One of my first memories was a Lackawanna passenger train behind steam going up the street between rows of houses.

New Haven still has tracks in the streets (leftover from the Manufacturers Railway), but not sure what, if any, is used. Bridgeport had a similar operation, but it is all gone.

Syracuse was the big one for street running. Before they elevated the line, all the New York Central "Great Steel Fleet" crawled through the town.

  by SteelWheels21
The street operations at Jack London Square in Oakland CA are awesome. I went there about a year and a half ago, and it was great. You can get an outside table at Pizza Uno and have some food and a beer and watch the procession of UP and Amtrak Trains rumble by. It's funny to see a little compact car driving alongside those huge road units.

There is a tape available from one of the big RR video producers with footage of all kinds of street running.

  by shortlinerailroader
The tape Steelwheels speaks of is STREET RUNNING by Pentrex. I have it and it is very good.

On my RR we have a stretch of what I like to call "ground running" where the track to a customer is buried in hard ground and the rails are barely visible. Two words: GAUGE RODS.
  by 2nd trick op
FYI, there was a substantial thread on street-running locations in the state of Pennsylvania on the Pennsylvania Railfan Forum last summer. It is, however, buried on the third page of threads as of this post.

  by kinlock
Found some more places of interest:

Amtrak used to run down the main street of Clearwater, Florida until around 1985.

Boston used to have a street-running connection between North and South Stations. It only ran at night because of automobile traffic.

In Hudson, NY the old line to Chatham (now only a branch of a few miles) runs down one street then through a park in the center of town.

Lafayette, IN had Amtrak running down the middle of a street (former Monon Line) until rails were rerouted about 1995.

Track in Pensacola, FL leading to the port.

Old Pennsylvania RR trackage in Watkins Glen, NY.

Until just a few years ago, freight ran through the tourist area of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Track removal was a municipal objective for over a century.

Weymouth, England

  by The S.P. Caboose
I agree with SteelWheels21, the street running at Jack London Square are truely awesome. It's impressive to see exactly how the street vehicles (cars, trucks, etc.) compare to the rail traffic so close to each other.

  by SteelWheels21
I actually did a little street running last night, working as a brakeman on a local switch job out of Portland that serviced the big paper mill in Oregon City, OR. The lead comes off the main, goes down a grade, through the plant and out the other side down a busy street for about two blocks. We were there at 2 am, just as a couple of bars were letting out...turns out that intoxicated people like watching trains too! We actually put a car on the ground (pavement?) as a shove move picked one of the switch points and sent the leading truck the wrong way. LUCKILY the wheels rolled right back onto the rail and re-railed themselves. Street running is definitely easier on the feet than walking the ballast, but those damn submarine switches (that haven't been oiled in years) are tough on your back.

  by The S.P. Caboose
WOW..........that sounds like a tough night.

Hopefully the next trip there will be better.