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Cameraman
06-18-2010, 03:50 AM
I have to head into eastern Pa soon and I am curious about the East Penn and its -7 fleet.

I know very little about this operation. Could anyone, esp. mike, give me a primer on seeing the GE's in operations?

Also are there any any other shortlines in the general area that have U or B series GEs sill in service?

Also what is the ratio of painted to unpainted units on any of these shortlines?

CM

ShortlinesUSA
06-22-2010, 03:44 PM
If you're around Philly, the best shot you have at seeing them is on the old Octoraro and Wilmington & Northern lines. Kennett Square is the base of operations, and they typically ran the Octo on Tue-Thu out of Kennett Square, and the W&N on M-W-F out of the siding at Embreeville. However, since I was last there, an ethanol transload should have opened up near Kennett Square, and that was going to take the Octo to a M-F operation last I heard.

All that said, I was up there on a Tuesday last time (wanting to shoot the Octo) and all they did is run to the junction with the W&N line at Chadds Ford and take a cut for a train bound for the CSX at Wilsmere. Definitely a lesson of "getting what you get" on a shortline because of customer needs/crew availability. Your best bet is to be to Kennett Square early, no later than 8am and look for a crew start or someone to show up at the office. Should be a couple of GEs around there to shoot.

Of note, the recently acquired ex NYSW GP18s were picked up at Wilsmere and will be on the line somewhere, probably KS if they're not yet in service. Paint wise, for the GEs on this side there are two B30-7s in the blue, one in full SP paint, and one U23B in the plain blue with PRL lettering on the cab.

Another GE powered ESPN branch runs out of Quakertown, though I am unsure of what days they are running now. Used to be M-F when it was busy, but believe one of the larger customers had shut down as of about a year ago.

If you get further over toward Reading, there is the LANO branch, which has a pair of the plain blue U23Bs. The local is based out of Denver, PA, and has historically worked M-W-F from there to NS' Reading Yard. I have heard little of whether this line has slowed in the bad economy, as have many lines around the country.

That pretty much covers the busiest of the ESPN operations, and where the GEs are. Anyone else closer to these operations or that has visited in the last year or so is certainly welcome to update this information.

ssw9662
07-01-2010, 06:03 AM
Mike summed up the East Penn ops pretty well. Unfortunately it seems they are trying to phase out their GE units with EMD power (particularly on the Wilmington & Northern where they just bought NYS&W GP18's). The Lancaster & Northern still uses a couple of U23B's, but most of the other lines in that area use EMD power (a GP10 is used on the Perkiomen Branch and an SW7 on the Kutztown Branch). I'm not sure what's on the Quakertown line now, but I think it's still a B23-7. I don't know if they still use GE on the W&N or if they've converted entirely to the GP18s.

I can only think of two other shortlines in the area that use GE power. The first is the Lehigh Railway in northeastern Pennsylvania. They have two or three U23B's painted black and white. They run a train between Sayre and Mehoopany, although I'm not sure about the time and days of the week they run. The Raritan Central also uses a couple of B23-7s to switch an industrial park near Edison, NJ. Unfortunately I know little of their operations and where you can shoot them.

In the past the Reading & Northern operated a huge fleet of U-boats (and later Dash 7s), but those are all gone now as the RBMN is now an all-EMD railroad. Believe it or not, the number of surviving Alcos is much greater than the number of GE's used on shortlines in eastern/central Pennsylvania!