• Yorkrail / NS weekly coal 510, 511

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania

Moderator: bwparker1

  by teamgunzi
 
As requested by some locals, I am posting a description of the weekly ritual of coal being delivered to the Glatfelter Paper mill in Spring Grove, PA. This is not 'set in stone', and I am open to comments and corrections. This is based on my observations over the last six years.

Upon arrival in Spring Grove, the train (usually three 6-axel units and about 105 cars, total)drops the rear half of the train just East of E. Railroad Street with the tail end of the train clearing the Sprenkle Rd crossing. The first cut of 45 cars crosses Rt. 116 into the mill, and the lead engine (or the lead pair) may be cut off at this point and moved out of the way. The rear 15 cars are left just inside the mill, while 15 are dropped just clear of the switch into the shaker / dumper track. The last 15 are dragged out and left on "the flank", which is the passing siding between the mill and the Finished Goods Warehouse(FGW), also sometimes called the FPW: Finished product Warehouse. The lead engine or pair, if it/they were not already cut off, run around on the Flank, then grab the middle cut and take it to the dumper. I've seen cuts of 15 PULLED eastward through the dumper in warm weather (power to the East), but the norm is for all loads to be pulled westward after backing all the way in(power to the West) during warm weather! Due to the car heaters in use in the Winter, cuts are PULLED through (power East). This is because the engines can briefly pass over the heaters then pull loads through: if they BACKED the loads in the Winter(power West), the power would sit over the heaters while dumping the cars closest to the power!

When the first cut is empty, it is pulled (or pushed) out onto "the flank" near the FGW. The power then runs around(if needed) and pushes it maybe a 1/4 mile or so south of Colonial Valley Rd crossing. (There is a paved truck turn-arround at this crossing, where you can sit and wait). The power then returns 'light' to the mill. In the meantime, the other power has taken it's loads to the dumper. The light power now picks up the 15 cars that were left just inside the mill first thing. This section might sit here until the second cut is taken back to the flank from the dumper, or this cut may be taken out to wait on the flank. When the second cut is out of the way, the third moves to the dumper. Now the light power (from the 2nd cut) goes east to retrieve just 15 loads from Railroad St. These are usually not pulled into the mill until the previous cut is out of the way, but even if they don't wait the whole time, you'll have a good 15 minutes or so while the conductor sets the hand brakes on the cars he's leaving on the main. Light power continues taking turns fetching cuts of 15 loads until all are moved off the main and dumped. Again, this is not set in stone:they may pull in 30 cars instead of 15, wait or not wait; whatever the crews feel like doing!

This operation varies in that sometimes the single engine and the pair will alternate throughout the day, taking turns doing an entire operation: fetching their loads, dumping them, and shoving them out of the way. Other times, I've seen either the single OR the pair do the fetching and the shoving ALL DAY LONG, with the other power doing ALL of the dumping. It seems the crews (two) try to keep the operation interesting, as onlookers never know what to expect! It is usually all YRC trainmen, but the mill sometimes supplies some help.

After the third or fourth short string of empties are shoved out past Colonial Valley, the whole string is then pulled back close to Colonial Valley crossing where the power cuts off. All the remaining cuts of empties are left between Colonial Valley and the FGW, and then on the 'Flank' as space runs out. Hours later, sometimes after the train is re-crewed (sometimes, the next morning), the three engines assemble and push the remaining empties out to grab the others at Colonial Valley. They block the intersection briefly, so if you're chasing, don't park at the paved turn-around.

From the soccer fields just South of the mill off 116, you can access fisherman trails that go back to a long "WESTERN MARYLAND Fast Freight Line" bridge between the mill and the 'Flank'. You can still see the lettering, but it doesn't show up well in pictures. There are several decent photo spots along the banks of the lake.

#510 can arrive in Spring Grove anyime from late Friday evening to very early Saturday. It NORMALLY arrives in York late Friday evening then comes to SG around 6:30 Saturday morning. I have seen #511 leave either @10PM Saturday or anytime after @10 AM Sunday (and as late as 3:30PM). I've known the train to be weekly over the last few years. In 2008 it dropped to every-other week, but frequency has increased through 2009 (perhaps on account of the economy?). Since the Spring 2009, the mill is providing power to the local grid, and gets three or even four trains a month.


Chasing the 511(rare Sunday AM departure): you can get a telephoto shot of the train as it is being hooked up, from the entrance to the soccer field complex. Then, catch it exiting the mill at Rt 116 (park briefly at the mill's truck turn-around), or to the right off of E. Church Street or E. Railroad St. Off of Constitution Ave., you can park in the Trolley Trail lot and shoot across the Little League field. Then hightail it out to one of the following spots: North of the grade crossing at Rt 116, there is a golf course on the left which makes a nice background (pull into a truck parking lot and shoot). Or, go left onto N. Main St / Nashville blvd at the auto repair shop. This is a nice (unprotected)crossing with renovated old houses and buildings. Or continue on 116 to Biesecker Rd (new traffic light, so hope its green), go left to the top of the hill past KBS Rd. Pull into a gravel area and grab a nice shot looking down over a sweeping curve and farmland (NOTE- tall corn will block any shots here). Going -away/broadside shots will have the Thomasville Quarry as a nice backdrop. Or(skipping the last shot altogether), stay on Biesecker past the quarry leads to a right on Rt30 (East). Go a few blocks to the crossing. There's a business on the right where you can pull in, then run across the street for a shot (there's an old brick building -(freight station? )- across the track from where you parked, which has a worn painted billboard for Horlacher Beer)-nice! The final spot before York is either a crossing at Bowman Rd (never been there myself)or S. Salem Church Road(not much of a location unless there's a colorful leader). S. Salem is basically Rt 116 on the North side of Rt 30.

After shots from the soccer complex, and one shot somewhere in town, pick ONE of the remaining spots UNLESS you shoot the golf course(recommended- pull out before the train clears) and then try for Biesecker Rd (remember the traffic light and tall corn) or beyond. A shot at Nashville (park East of the crossing) could be paired with S.Salem. If the sun is to the west, go west of the Nashville crossing and head away from the tracks a bit. Then shoot looking back across the farm field. Then hightail it up to KBS road, turn right and make a dash to the crossing. KBS x-ing is not much of a shot, but the lighting will be good.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Today's train started working the 2nd cut at 8:35AM and pushed the 1st cut across Colonial Valley about 9:20AM (in a torrential downpour, I might add). This power is NS D9-40cw #9158, the leader into town as it's the only unit with it's cab facing the right way. The likely leader North will be a black NS unit (# unknown) with a nice looking CONRAIL unit second (possibly leading if the pair gets separated in the mill). The Conrail unit (# unknown) has "CONRAIL QUALITY" in large letters on the side. Due to the horrible weather, I didn't try to walk in from the soccer fields to shoot the pair up close, and didn't (but should have) wait for it at a crossing :-(

Ted G
Last edited by teamgunzi on Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:04 pm, edited 8 times in total.
  by teamgunzi
 
This weekend's train was nothing special, with GE D9-40cw #9830 in Thoroughbred paint, with 9585 and 9688 in standard catfish attire. 9688 should likely lead Northbound, as it is the only unit with it's cab on the North end.

9830 did the running today, with the others shifting within the mill. I noticed the train was broken down into at least four sections for unloading, with one having only 15 cars and the final section having 24 cars.

When I figure out how to downsize my pictures, I'll include some nice shots.

Ted G
  by teamgunzi
 
I've created an album at photobucket.com. Follow the link below to see NS 9830 shoving the empties, dropping off the empties at Colonial Valley Rd, running light to retrieve the final cut of loads, and crossing the 'kitbashed' former Western Maryland bridge over the former Pennsylvania Hanover branch.

Ted G

http://s457.photobucket.com/albums/qq292/railtrip/
  by teamgunzi
 
There's no train again this weekend (September 20/21 also no train- the first time I can recall in over five years living nearby). Perhaps the economy has hit the paper industry.

I've posted some more shots, this time from Saturday 9/13/08, of ex-Conrail unit NS 8327 wearing blue and handling the running duties. Use the link in the previous post. Questions? Comments?

Ted G
  by teamgunzi
 
Hi all- sorry there's no report from last weekend, as I was on a Westslope / Southfork Secondary / Sandpatch camping expedition. In a few days, check the "NS Westslope / Southfork..." thread in this forum for some details and pictures (to be posted soon). There will be no report for this coming weekend either, as I have some 'family time' to make up for ! I have, however, added a few shots to my NS 510 / 511 album. This time I feature Nashville, PA from my April 13 2008 chase.

http://s457.photobucket.com/albums/qq292/railtrip/


Ted G
  by teamgunzi
 
This week's coal train for Glatfelter Paper Mill in Spring Grove sports three black NS engines: SD70-M #2670, standard cab D9-40CW # 8794 and std. cab SD70 #2532. I've added several pictures from today to my web host, featuring the old WM bridge that crosses the reservoir on mill property. 2670 was caught on the bridge, and I photoed the remaining faded lettering "WESTERN MARYLAND FAST FREIGHT LINE".

Another folder has been created featuring shots of 12 of the 17 NS SD80-MACs from my October trip to the West Slope (Thanks Scooter!). Soon, I will add folders covering the West Slope in general as well as Sandpatch. These will be addressed in the thread for Southfork/West Slope. Questions? Comments?

Enjoy!

http://s457.photobucket.com/albums/qq292/railtrip/
  by teamgunzi
 
Report: NO train this weekend. But, I've added pictures to my folder. This time, I feature part of a chase of a rare Sunday AM departure with shots at the mill and cutting through Little Creek Golf Course (May 21 2006). The power is NS 'catfish' 9160 leading (unfortunately) with Santa Fe Warbonnet 864 followed by an NS "undecorated" unit 9834 wearing Khaki ! (I'm told the Khaki unit led the inbound train). Questions, comments? Enjoy!

Ted G

http://s457.photobucket.com/albums/qq292/railtrip/
  by teamgunzi
 
Today's train has three 'Catfish': ES40DC #7617, standard cab SD70 #2568, and unknown unit #8383. Today, 7617 and 2568 did the running, and lonely 8383 did the shifting. Today I met a nice local railfan, John, at the E. Railroad Ave. crossing. Pictures will be added to my folder on Monday, with various views of the WM bridge East of town. Use the link in previous postings. Questions? Comments?

Ted G
  by teamgunzi
 
This weekend's train has three black and white NS safety cab 'Catfish'. SD70m-2 #2686 and D9-40CW # 9814 are doing the running, and D9-40CW # 9265 is shifting the loads through the dumper. 9814 should be the leader on train 511 (outbound empties) as it is the only cab facing the right way.

The last TWO weeks saw no coal train, so no updates were posted. From here forward, since 510 /511 are no longer weekly, I will only post when there is a train.

Does anyone out there have access to sightings (or tracking) of 510 ? It originates South of Pittsburgh (Shire Oaks) and runs the West Slope to Harrisburg, then down the York Secondary. This would help us all to catch 510 inbound and give a heads-up when colorful power is on it ! For more privacy, you could just email info directly to me and I'll spread the word.

This weekends 'chase' also netted a rare opportunity (for me, anyway), as the paper mill's swithcher was out and about and I got to talk with the crew! YR #84, a 1952 SW9 built for P&LE, is leased from York Railway but operated by the mill. She still wears black and yellow "MARYLAND and PENNSYLVANIA' paint. By Monday, I will have a few more pics posted to photobucket. Questions ? Comments ? Enjoy!

http://s457.photobucket.com/albums/qq292/railtrip/
  by PVRX1
 
511 was already coming off the York Secondary onto the Port Road Branch around 940am this morning. It is currently approaching Enola. Maybe working during the night now?
  by ztabel46
 
I grew up in Spring Grove, and my old man works at Glatfelter (he is often one of the Glatfelter workers who unload the train), so I guess I have a few of my own thoughts to add here. First, I don't think that two crews run all day long, instead, I think the two crews only run until the first crew's string of has been emptied. I could be wrong, but I base it on this- several times I have watched the Yorkrail crew prepare to run the empties back east to York at night, and in doing so, it looks as though they actually restart locomotive(s) that are no longer being used, which were tied down in a siding near the coal pit by the first crew to take loads over the pit (usually mid-morning). Also, from my own observations, the train used to run two weeks in a row, then two weekends off, but I'm not sure if that's how it works now.

Like I said, I grew up just outside Spring Grove, with the old Ma & Pa line running behind my house. When I was a kid (1990's), every Sunday the train ran, I would watch religiously, and I have to say that things are quite different now, in the Genesee & Wyoming era of Yorkrail. First, back then, the power used on the train was far different- and far more interesting. The typical consist was five units: two CF-7's (usually MPA 1504 and MPA 1502) and three GP-9's (YKR 1750's). Occasionally, a GP-7 would appear (MPA, unsure of number), and sometimes even an SW-9 (MPA 84) the same locomotive leased to Glatfelter today. Second, as I alluded to, the train ran on the MPA line, not YKR. This has since changed, I'm told, because of something to do with the construction of the track inside the plant in relation to the weight of a dash-9. For a time, though, when Yorkrail started using NS runthrough power, they still used the Ma & Pa line- seeing a pair of dash-9's rolling down this line was quite a sight! Third, the entire train was never brought in initially- part of it was left somewhere in York. In the early afternoon (around 2), the crew with three locomotives, after pushing their empties west toward Menges Mills, runs light back to York to pick up the rest of the train and bring it back to Spring Grove. Anyway, enough of my nostalgia...

I too have given chase of this train heading back to York, always at night. Since they never top 20 mph and the area through which the train runs is not that remote, there are plenty of opportunities to catch the train running though a crossing and then catch it again down the road. At York they run through Lincoln Yard, through West York borough, past the York Fairgrounds, across the Codorus Creek (near the new baseball stadium, I think), and then to NS' Windsor Street yard. I can recall one Saturday night I watched the train enter the yard, stop by the office trailer briefly, then continue moving. I'm not sure if an NS crew took over at that point, but I tend to think not, as the next day I saw the train tied down in the yard, cut apart to fit (maybe it's all a function of NS' crew availability).

Ted- great pictures, and I'm glad to see that the mill's security people didn't chase you out of there (specifically I'm talking about the access road to the Finished Product Warehouse.

Z
  by teamgunzi
 
Hi all- thanks to PVRX1 and ztabel46 for your additions to this topic!

PVRX1- were you out-and-about when you saw 511, or do you live/work where you regularly see 511 (and could possibly act as a regular spotter- preferrably for the inbound 510) ? Last week I didn't hear the 511 leaving Spring Grove, so I don't know if she left Saturday PM and then sat in York until a morning crew call, or if there was a Sunday AM crew at Spring Grove then a straight run up to Harrisburg. Does anybody else out there know ? I believe a straight-through run is more likely, since a train that long would be inconvenient to hold in York. Plus, the power would be out in the woods if the whole train were to fit into the yard.

And, ztabel46, thanks for your observations and 'color'. I can only imagine what the operations were like with YRC and MPA power, plus running on the 'other' line ! I understand that even prior to that, CSX brought in coal off their 'Dutch Line'. Now we're usually stuck with black NS power. which leads me to say that due to the time and effort involved, I'll only post updates when there is notable power on the train. Plus, with my new temporary work schedule, I'll be out of town at least one Saturday each month: possibly missing the train. When I do post, I'll also include my listings of the previous NS power that came to town.

For now, this brings us up to date:
12/13/08 Std. cab 2539 dumping, 7633 back-to-back with 9265 doing the running. 9265 as leader on the 511.
12/20/08 unable to observe due to health issues, but there was a train
12/27/08 NO TRAIN due to holidays
01/03/09 NO TRAIN due to holidays
01/10/09 2682 as the runner, and two (unknown numbers) doing the dumping. Due to weather, and seeing they were all black, I didn't bother getting in close.
01/17/09 NO TRAIN
01/24/09 7632 running, and 9027 / 9567 dumping. 9567 as leader on the 511.

I was in York on Friday 23rd and saw the 510 sitting in Windsor Yd at about 1035 PM. Does anyone know when it arrived in York, or when it departed for Spring Grove? I'm trying to learn more about 510 /511 operations beyond Spring Grove.

Until next time,
Ted G

http://s457.photobucket.com/albums/qq292/railtrip/
  by ztabel46
 
Ted- The Yorkrail crew will take over the train with the goal of arriving in Spring Grove at 7:00 AM. That's when the Glatfelter crew unloading the train starts for the day. Being in Spring Grove any earlier is a waste of the Yorkrail crew's time. Not sure how long the trip from Windsor St. to Spring Grove takes, esp at no more than 20 mph. Hope this helps.

Z
  by teamgunzi
 
Heads Up for tomorrow's 511 WB to Shire Oaks from York/Harrisburg, as the leader will be a very clean C40-9W #9256 in Operation Lifesaver paint! This weekend's train 510 (still unloading, if you want to get it) was led by C40-8W #8435 as the only unit facing the right way. The 511 will be: 9256, C40-9W #9089, and 8435.

A twist for this week's coal train is that the units were taking turns dumping the cuts of cars, AND they were PULLING the cars through the dumper rather than pushing! This may occur sometimes, but I've never seen it in 5+ years of observing! For the first time, I've shot them on the North side of the mill near where SW-9 #84 rests.

As an update:
02/07/09 510 was led by #9929 (only unit facing forward), followed by #2705 and an unknown '9200' series unit. The 92__ led the 511 westbound. Sorry, the # doesn't show in any of my shots.

Later tonight I'll post shots from today at the following link, and feel free to check my albums on the paper mill operations and SD80MACs

http://s457.photobucket.com/albums/qq292/railtrip/


Ted G
  by teamgunzi
 
This weekend there is a train, making it two weeks in a row! What's up?

Update:
02/07/09 510 was led by #9929 (only unit facing forward), followed by #2705 and an unknown '9200' series unit. The 92__ led the 511 westbound. Sorry, the # doesn't show in any of my shots.

02/21/09: the 510 leader was C40-8W #8435, with Operation Lifesaver unit #9256 paired with another C40-9W #9089. 9256 was the leader on 511. At least the first two cuts of the day were PULLED through the dumper.

03/07/09: 9153 led the 510, with 2702 being paired with 9345. 2702 (likely) led the 511, but I'm not sure.

03/14/09: 9717 led the 510. 8962 was paired with 9164. 9164 will lead the 511. The big news is that this is the second week in a row! WOO HOO! Will there be a regular train next week, or is the bi-weekly cycle now off by a week? Hmmm...

Ted G
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