On a trip this past Weekend to visit long standing railfan friends in Amana, I was amazed at the Iowa Interstate's "health". I stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Coralville and from which all rooms are "with a view".
Gladly I report that gone seem to be the days of "one a day' with five hand me down GP-40's - four of 'em dead and one lame!
Motive power today is GE C-44's apparently acquired new from GE. On Sunday morning 330A or so, I heard a WB;. 7AM Sun saw an EB with three C-44's, quite a number of tankers, ADMX hoppers, and Double Stack containers. When we were out train chasing after Breakfast in Marengo, we were driving along US6 East of Marengo and here comes an EB leaving MILW trackage at Yocum and heading E on the RI?
That of course was chasing made easy and we ended up watching it pass at the first grade X-ing E of US 6 in Homestead. Train had at least a 50 car consist of Tankers, Hoppers, and a few Box.
I learned that Archer Daniels is giving IAIS line hauls from their Cedar Rapids facility to a BNSF interchange at Davenport. Bet the UP loves that! But Crandic, now operated by IAIS serves those food processing industries in CR - and they get a line haul out of everything there - no switching tariff.
This past Monday morning I was in my "room with a view" reading the paper and here comes an EB with three C-44's on the head of the healthy consist AND a C-44 PUSHER. I quickly called my friends in Amana to let them know to which I got "that's quite common; surprised we didnt see such yesterday"
I noted new welded rail is going down on the MILW near Walford. On "my MILW" (I was employed in various non-Agreement capacities 1970-81), all you could see on that Marion-Ottumwa line were the weeds.
Yes, the road is "dark", save a home signal here and there such as at Yocum. However, they have dragging equipment/hotbox detector at Homestead. Authorized speed is 45.
The only real "downside" is that the Maytag household appliance manufacturing facility at Middle Amana, once the strongest in-line industry South of Cedar Rapids (with its abundant Food processing facilities, Cedar Rapids could be "railroading's last stand" on Planet Earth) still has all of their traffic moving inbound and outbound by highway. To serve the now closed Maytag facility at Newton IA is why there is an Iowa Interstate RR today rather than the "abandoned Rock Island".
All told, indeed a worthy resurrection; there may even be an Iowa City-Chicago Amtrak passenger train in the future.