Old 12-18-2010, 11:55 PM   #1
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Default Delaware–Lackawanna, Reading & Northern Operations?


Looking to do a mini overnight railfan trip when I'm home next week for the Holidays. Can anybody give me any details about these two lines? Any info on when they run, where they run or best place to catch them would be great!

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Old 12-19-2010, 12:58 AM   #2
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I would advise joining the Delaware Lackwanna group on Yahoo Groups. I have found it helpful in the past when going there.
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Old 12-19-2010, 03:37 AM   #3
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The DL has basically been an as-needed operation lately. However, if you have some knowledge of the operations it isn't that hard to predict what will happen on a given day.

SC7: Scranton to Carbondale, about 5-6 days per week? I don't know a whole lot about this job, but I know that they do leave South Scranton in the early morning and then return south in the early afternoon. They work industries on the Carbondale Main between Scranton and Carbondale. I don't think they always run all the way up to Carbondale, I've heard them turn around at places south of there before.

LL1. Laurel Line job, 2 days per week (Tuesday and Thursday from what I've heard). They run on the "Laurel Line" from Scranton to an industrial park near Montage Mountain, working any industries that need to be switched. Sometimes this job doesn't run with it's own crew, instead using the crew off another job that arrived earlier.

SB3: Scranton to Taylor, around 4-5 days per week. Operates as a turn from Scranton to the CP yard in Taylor. They could carry general freight, grain, or a mixture of the two. SB3 can run at virtually any time of the day, but unfortunately it's almost impossible to get shots on the CP between Scranton and Taylor.

SPG: Scranton to Mount Pocono grain loads, 2-3 days per week. They typically leave Scranton sometime in the early afternoon, but they can leave any time. Power is generally 4-6 engines with about 40 grain loads. Sometimes they stop at Tobyhanna to switch Keystone Propane.

PT98: Scranton to Slateford, 2-3 days per week. The typical departure time is in the mid afternoon. This job carries cars to the NS interchange at Slateford, working industries along the way. It returns west as PT97, although that would be in darkness this time of the year.

The DL has two yards in Scranton where most of their operations are based out of. The first is directly adjacent to Steamtown. With the exception of SC7, most trains originate here. SC7 (and sometimes another job or two) originates out of South Scranton, located on the Carbondale Main just southwest of Steamtown.

Most power is stored near Bridge 60 tower within site of Steamtown. This makes it pretty easy to get roster shots and see what engines may be used for later trains. South Scranton is home to the DL engine shops and a large deadline full of engines being used for parts. However, it's a little harder to get photos there. With the exception of the RS3s (which are not used in the winter for maintenance reasons) pretty much anything on the DL roster could be on any train.

There is typically one train per day on the Pocono Main south of Scranton. However, this isn't always the case. Sometimes they will run both the SPG and the PT98, either as a combined train or as two separate trains. Also, they may run an extra (usually symbolled PO-74) that turns at Tobyhanna or Mount Pocono. Unfortunately, this part of the DL is harder to catch in the winter months. However, if you can get lucky enough the reward of seeing a half dozen Alcos on a loaded grain train is well worth it.

Your best bet is to get to Scranton in the early AM to see what is going on. Before long you should get a read on what trains will be running that day. Depending on what is running, you can get a bunch of different shots while waiting to see if anything will run on the Pocono Main. If SPG or PT98 is running you should know a couple of hours in advance. Ridge Row (near the University of Scranton campus) is a good place to start for anything on the Pocono Main. Then you can chase them down to Mount Pocono. There should be three or four shots you can get between Scranton and Mount Pocono. However, if they leave after 2-3PM shadows will start to be an issue this time of the year. I don't know if it's possible to chase the PT98 beyond Mount Pocono, but it doesn't really matter since you probably won't have any light by then anyway.

Also if you are interested, the CP Sunbury Sub runs through Scranton. In the morning you could get 165 and/or 257 with CP power, maybe even SD40-2s if you're lucky. Aside from that all of the other road trains typically use NS power, so I assume you wouldn't want to bother with those. The Luzerne and Susquehanna also runs in the Scranton area, but they are extremely inconsistent so I don't really know much about their ops.

The Reading and Northern is much more consistent; however, given the short winter days you will miss a lot of what they have running. In the Scranton area, there are three jobs. PILE is a daily turn from Pittston to the NS interchange at Lehighton and return. They don't leave Pittston until the late evening, so your only bet to see them in daylight would be a late running northbound heading to Pittston. PIME runs from Pittston to Proctor & Gamble at Mehoopany. They leave Pittston in the morning and come back in the early afternoon. Like PILE this is also a daily train. The scenery on this part of the line is fantastic, unfortunately the PIME typically runs against the sun both ways. Also, the line to Mehoopany is a little out of the way so if you chase this job you could risk missing something on the DL. The third and final train around Scranton is PISB. They leave Pittston around mid-day and head to the Keyser Valley Industrial Park north of Taylor. They may spend an hour or two switching the frac sand facility inside Pittston Yard before they leave. They should run daily except Saturday. Unfortunately, Pittston Yard is inaccessible to the public. However, all of the RBMN lines out of Scranton have quite a few opportunities for photography. The only other job on the northern portion of the RBMN is PECW, which runs Monday-Wednesday-Friday and switches the Crestwood Industrial Park, This area isn't really accessible (except for Penobscot Yard where they originate) so it's not really worth noting.

Most of the RBMN operations are centered around the southern part of the railroad. QAJT runs from Tamaqua to Jim Thorpe and return on Tuesday and Friday. They leave Tamaqua in the morning and should run in good light in either direction. The "Mountain Job" (QAMC/MCQA) runs from Tamaqua to Mount Carmel and return Monday through Friday. They leave Tamaqua at 5AM so they wouldn't be in daylight until around Mahanoy City. They return east to Tamaqua at 2-3PM. On Sunday they run as PNSD, originating at Port Clinton and only going as far as Shenandoah. You could be able to get a good shot of the Mountain Job and/or the QAJT passing the station in downtown Tamaqua. QADE runs from Tamaqua to Delano and return. Their only customer is a plastics plant near Delano. They take the C&H Branch from Haucks Junction (just north of Barnesville) to Delano Junction, where they will go onto the Delano Running Track to Delano. Unforunately, the line from Delano Junction to Delano is inaccessible.

There are a few different jobs on the lines radiating out of Port Clinton. On Monday and Thursday PNMV runs as a turn from Port Clinton to Minersville. On Tuesday and Friday they run as PNGS to Good Spring and return. On Wednesday, the symbol is PNWC and it switches the industries around West Cressona and Pottsville (including the Yuengling brewery in St. Clair). Sometimes the PNMV crew will also run to Yuengling. So in short, on Monday through Friday there will always be one freight job on the cluster of branchlines around Pottsville. These jobs all leave Port Clinton in the morning (around 8-9AM) and return in the afternoon. There are some interesting shots in this area, and often these jobs use switchers.

On Monday through Thursday there's the "Reading Turn" (QARG/RGQA) from Tamaqua to the NS interchange at Reading and return. They usually leave Tamaqua around 3:30PM, so you may have a hard time getting shots of them in daylight. On Saturday the Reading Turn leaves Port Clinton in daylight (they are called at 7AM), so you would have opportunities to shoot them between Port Clinton and Reading in daylight. On Saturdays they may also head onto the "original" RBMN line at Temple to switch out cars.

Coal trains on the RBMN are completely as-required. Most unit trains originate from one of four locations: Delano, Minersville, Shenandoah, or Jeddo. They typically have two or three engines and about 30 cars. There is one unit train on the RBMN that is more consistent. On most Wednesdays, they run a unit culm train from Jeddo to a power plant near Nesquehoning. This train leaves Tamaqua in the early morning with empty gons for Jeddo. They run to Jeddo by way of NS trackage rights through Hazleton. After arriving at Jeddo, they usually spend 2-3 hours loading the train. After that, they proceed south, getting a relief crew at Hazleton. From there, they continue south to the Panther Creek power plant just west of Nesquehoning. They leave their cars there and return lite to Tamaqua. The consist is generally two engines with 26 cars (give or take one).

Two things to note about the RBMN. First, the entire railroad is north-south, regardless of geographic direction. Second, symbols are generally not used over the radio. Trains are referred to by their lead engine number. To put it simply, any day except Saturday should yield a handful of trains on the RBMN. Given the nature of this area, a Delmore atlas is a must.

I apologize for the long-winded post. Hopefully this information helps you. If you need anything else, just ask.
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Last edited by ssw9662; 12-19-2010 at 03:42 AM.
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Old 12-19-2010, 03:16 PM   #4
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I GREATLY appreciate this long winded post and your taking the time to carefully explain both of these operations. It's always good to see an update on operations of a couple of great shortlines for railfanning.

John-- hope to see some of your great photos from this visit if you can make it out.
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Old 12-31-2010, 03:39 PM   #5
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As a possible visitor to the DL sometime in the near future, I appreciate this. As a side note, there was a guide to the Reading and Northern/CP/DL operations in the area that was very well done in the July(?) 2010 issue of Railfan and Railroad this past year. Might be a worthwhile buy if you're new to the area.
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