Old 10-20-2009, 10:59 PM   #1
lock4244
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Default NS Buffalo Line

Was shooting the WNYP recently out of Olean, NY, and was wondering what does NS run on this line? This was my first trip to the area and I was surprised at the condition of this line, welded rail, good ballast, signalled and fast train speeds, yet in the eight hours I was chasing the WNYP's DFT to Driftwood and back, not one NS train passed by. Does NS use it mostly at night? How many NS trains would use this line in a given day?

And on the subject of NS, I shot a WB empty Sommerset hopper train on the old Erie main between Friendship and Olean, NY., as well. Any ideas as to what symbol this train might run under? Roughly half of the train consisted of Sommerset coal hoppers, but could this have been an empty Bow or Mt. Tom train?

Thanks.
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Old 10-20-2009, 11:49 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by lock4244 View Post
Was shooting the WNYP recently out of Olean, NY, and was wondering what does NS run on this line? This was my first trip to the area and I was surprised at the condition of this line, welded rail, good ballast, signalled and fast train speeds, yet in the eight hours I was chasing the WNYP's DFT to Driftwood and back, not one NS train passed by. Does NS use it mostly at night? How many NS trains would use this line in a given day?

And on the subject of NS, I shot a WB empty Sommerset hopper train on the old Erie main between Friendship and Olean, NY., as well. Any ideas as to what symbol this train might run under? Roughly half of the train consisted of Sommerset coal hoppers, but could this have been an empty Bow or Mt. Tom train?

Thanks.
NS only runs a local as far as Driftwood to interchange with WNYP and BPRR. Lycoming Valley runs to Driftwood about once/week on trackage rights. NS does run a few more trains up the BL as far as Sunbury, where they cut off and go up the CP Sunbury Sub to/through Binghamton, NY.

EDIT-WNYP leases the BL from Driftwood to Machias Jct. BPRR leases it from Machias to Buffalo, but reports say that the WNYP will be dispatching the entire leased section.

As far as your Somerset, it was either 523, 525, or 533. 524, 526, or 534 would be the EB load counterpart. NS 'usually' runs 2 loads and 2 empties across the WNYP/day, but times vary. Meadville, PA is a recrew point, which also hosts 2 WNYP locals, and the HNME turn around point, and the NS/WNYP interchange local (usually NS C23) from Ferrona Yard in Hermitage, PA.

BTW, NS hit a PA State Police cruiser on the WNYP in Union City, PA yesterday. Minor injury to the trooper, and no injuries reported on the NS crew.
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Old 10-21-2009, 01:37 AM   #3
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NS does not run any through trains over the WNYP-owned portion of the Buffalo Line, and I don't think they have done so in over five years. The grades on Keating Summit are prohibitively steep for full length manifests, and in fact NS had a nasty runaway derailment not long before they pulled through trains from Keating Summit.

Almost all of the NS action on the Buffalo Line takes place south of Driftwood. NS H4W is the local freight that works the WNYP interchange there, that train operates as a turn from Lock Haven. The other main local freights on the Buffalo Line are H2W (Enola-Lock Haven) and H3W (Lock Haven-Enola), which are more like road locals as the only work they perform is at the yard in Northumberland (where they interchange with the NSHR). Lastly, there's H44 (a local freight that switches industries on NS around Northumberland), and I think another local serves whatever customers are left on the far northern end of the Buffalo Line near Buffalo proper.

All manifests operate on the southern portion of the line between Sunbury and Harrisburg. They are as follows:
11R (Binghamton, NY/CP-Linwood, NC)
12R (Linwood, NC-Binghamton, NY/CP)
30T (Saratoga, NY/CN-Enola, PA)
31T (Enola, PA-Saratoga, NY/CN)
30J (Binghamton-Philadelphia CP Runthrough)
31J (Philadelphia-Binghamton CP Runthrough)

All of these trains diverge onto CP's Sunbury Subdivision at Sunbury. The last trains to regularly use the whole Buffalo Line were 40T and 41T (which back then were CN interchange trains from Toronto to Allentown and vice versa) and a pair of manifests from Enola to Bison (I think 12W and 13W, but don't quote me on that).

Other trains on the Buffalo Line include a multitude of coal trains originating from Driftwood (BPRR interchange), Keating (RJCP), Newberry (LVRR), and Lock Haven (through trains from southwestern PA via NBER). Most of these trains go to either Strawberry Ridge, York Haven, or Shamokin Dam, all of which are PPL plants. Additionally, there are several KHxx trains that the North Shore group railroads (UCIR, NSHR, NBER, LVRR, SVRR) operate on parts of the Buffalo Line. For the record, the WNYP and BPRR also operate on NS rails under KHxx symbols (the DFT is their KH52).
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:00 AM   #4
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NS does not run any through trains over the WNYP-owned portion of the Buffalo Line, and I don't think they have done so in over five years. The grades on Keating Summit are prohibitively steep for full length manifests, and in fact NS had a nasty runaway derailment not long before they pulled through trains from Keating Summit.

Almost all of the NS action on the Buffalo Line takes place south of Driftwood. NS H4W is the local freight that works the WNYP interchange there, that train operates as a turn from Lock Haven. The other main local freights on the Buffalo Line are H2W (Enola-Lock Haven) and H3W (Lock Haven-Enola), which are more like road locals as the only work they perform is at the yard in Northumberland (where they interchange with the NSHR). Lastly, there's H44 (a local freight that switches industries on NS around Northumberland), and I think another local serves whatever customers are left on the far northern end of the Buffalo Line near Buffalo proper.

All manifests operate on the southern portion of the line between Sunbury and Harrisburg. They are as follows:
11R (Binghamton, NY/CP-Linwood, NC)
12R (Linwood, NC-Binghamton, NY/CP)
30T (Saratoga, NY/CN-Enola, PA)
31T (Enola, PA-Saratoga, NY/CN)
30J (Binghamton-Philadelphia CP Runthrough)
31J (Philadelphia-Binghamton CP Runthrough)

All of these trains diverge onto CP's Sunbury Subdivision at Sunbury. The last trains to regularly use the whole Buffalo Line were 40T and 41T (which back then were CN interchange trains from Toronto to Allentown and vice versa) and a pair of manifests from Enola to Bison (I think 12W and 13W, but don't quote me on that).

Other trains on the Buffalo Line include a multitude of coal trains originating from Driftwood (BPRR interchange), Keating (RJCP), Newberry (LVRR), and Lock Haven (through trains from southwestern PA via NBER). Most of these trains go to either Strawberry Ridge, York Haven, or Shamokin Dam, all of which are PPL plants. Additionally, there are several KHxx trains that the North Shore group railroads (UCIR, NSHR, NBER, LVRR, SVRR) operate on parts of the Buffalo Line. For the record, the WNYP and BPRR also operate on NS rails under KHxx symbols (the DFT is their KH52).
P.S... WNYP does not "own" any portion of the Buffalo Line FYI...... "Lease Agreement" is the proper term.
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:29 AM   #5
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P.S... WNYP does not "own" any portion of the Buffalo Line FYI...... "Lease Agreement" is the proper term.
Whoops, forgot to specify that in my previous post. Thanks for pointing that out.
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:17 PM   #6
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Thanks for the very detailed information guys, most appreciated.
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Old 10-22-2009, 01:23 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by lock4244 View Post
Was shooting the WNYP recently out of Olean, NY, and was wondering what does NS run on this line? This was my first trip to the area and I was surprised at the condition of this line, welded rail, good ballast, signalled and fast train speeds, yet in the eight hours I was chasing the WNYP's DFT to Driftwood and back, not one NS train passed by. Does NS use it mostly at night? How many NS trains would use this line in a given day?

And on the subject of NS, I shot a WB empty Sommerset hopper train on the old Erie main between Friendship and Olean, NY., as well. Any ideas as to what symbol this train might run under? Roughly half of the train consisted of Sommerset coal hoppers, but could this have been an empty Bow or Mt. Tom train?

Thanks.
It was 523 (Dresden empties off the Corning Secondary), 525 (Ludlowville empties off the Ithaca Secondary), or 527 (Johnson City empties). All of these utilize Somerset RR hoppers - I don't know how the affiliation works, but the actual Somerset plant is on Lake Ontario and served by CSX. The trains to New England run as 532/533 and, to my knowledge, consist entirely of NS hoppers.

Besides the DFT, you won't see too much on that stretch. Occasionally they'll run a local out of Olean to go work the Farmer's Valley Branch (which splits off just South of Eldred); aside from that and special movements (such as the NSHR/WNY&P employee special that runs every year), you're not going to see anything else down there (except for B&P turns out of DuBois coming in for interchange at Driftwood, or NBER turns out of Lock Haven, though it's not terribly common to catch either with the B&P running mostly at night and the NBER hardly ever runs to Driftwood anymore). As Austin said, Keating Summit going Northbound is something like 2.4 to 2.6%, making it the steepest mainline grade in Pennsylvania. Going South, if I recall correctly, it's pushing 2%. Helpers used to be based out of Olean, and needless to say, it's expensive to keep an extra crew on for maybe 3-4 trains in a 24 hour period - hence the Southern Tier to Binghamton and the CP to Allentown or Sunbury was chosen as a better alternative.

Regarding dispatching, as it currently is, the Southern Tier Dispatcher controls the line from Buffalo (including the Ebenezer Secondary, which the B&P currently utilizes from CP-DRAW to CP-GJ to access the Buffalo Line) to CP-SOUTH DRIFTWOOD, where Harrisburg East takes over - the WNY&P, B&P, etc. does not dispatch any of it.

Bear in mind that WNY&P could fold up entirely in short order. Their customer base is rather scattered (lots of trackage, not a lot of customers) with much of their traffic being "bridge traffic" from NS, in addition to the coal trains; thus it likely wouldn't take much (NS decides to stop giving them a slice of the pie) for the WNY&P operation to drastically decrease in size or fold up entirely - but this is purely speculation based on a limited amount of information, so take it for what it's worth.

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Old 10-22-2009, 02:45 PM   #8
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Bear in mind that WNY&P could fold up entirely in short order. Their customer base is rather scattered (lots of trackage, not a lot of customers) with much of their traffic being "bridge traffic" from NS, in addition to the coal trains; thus it likely wouldn't take much (NS decides to stop giving them a slice of the pie) for the WNY&P operation to drastically decrease in size or fold up entirely - but this is purely speculation based on a limited amount of information, so take it for what it's worth.
Ahhh, don't say that, I just discovered these guys!

Is it possible that NS is interested and benefits in having the WNYP around? The trackage remains open and essentially under their control (WNYP leases much of it, right?), yet NS doesn't have to do the things they would rather avoid... like running locals. In a sense, it is similar to CP and the Ottawa Valley Railink operation (which CP has really screwed by pulling the through freights account the downturn... may be returning to the OVR soon).
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Old 10-22-2009, 06:24 PM   #9
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Ahhh, don't say that, I just discovered these guys!

Is it possible that NS is interested and benefits in having the WNYP around? The trackage remains open and essentially under their control (WNYP leases much of it, right?), yet NS doesn't have to do the things they would rather avoid... like running locals. In a sense, it is similar to CP and the Ottawa Valley Railink operation (which CP has really screwed by pulling the through freights account the downturn... may be returning to the OVR soon).
Yes they do, as they can now leave the dirty work to another railroad that's more ambitious with customer service and the like while still keeping trackage rights. But nevertheless, they do have their eggs all in one basket, or so to speak - without NS' cooperation, they would probably be done for. Not what I'm hoping for by any means, but it is something to keep in mind.
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:52 PM   #10
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Way off topic here, but when does the employee special run this year?
Also- lets say the WNYP Buffalo line lease arrangement goes away! The railroad did fine without it! And WNYP owns the East-west Horn-Meadville line so unless NS wanted to really mess themselves up, they would have to keep shooting the coal trains at WNYP. And NS doesn't have a real motive to shut them down! Therefore the chances of the railroad folding up altogether is minuscule. However, if WNYP ever got ticked off at NS they could take away the coal train trackage rights. Therefore one takes a hand out, the system of trust is gone, railroad gone. But like I said this will most likely not happen.
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