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January 1995


VRE to Expand Fredericksburg Service

Virginia Railway Express and CSXT have reached agreement permitting VRE to expand its service on the Fredericksburg line. One additional round-trip is planned to be added by April.


Maryland to Buy Double-Decker Coaches

The Maryland board of public works has approved the purchase of 50 double-deck commuter coaches for MARC service for delivery in 1997.


CSXT Increases Clearances on Old Main Line

Double-stack equipment up to 18'2" and multi-level equipment up to 19'1" are now permitted on CSXT's Old Main Line between Halethorpe and Point of Rocks, Maryland.


CSXT and UP to Share Expertise with China

CSXT and Union Pacific will share railroading expertise with the Chinese Ministry of Railways under an agreement reached recently.


Norfolk Southern to Purchase 125 Six-Axle Locomotives

Norfolk Southern plans to spend $148-million this year for the purchase of 125 six-axle locomotives. This is part of a $634-million capital improvements budget to include track programs, computer upgrades and freight car purchases.


Conrail Acquires Trackage to Serve Generating Station in Pennsylvania

Conrail has purchased 5.8 miles of CSXT's Ridge Subdivision and leased 24.7 miles of CSXT's Indiana Subdivision in order to serve the Keystone Generating Station in Shelocta, Pennsylvania. The transaction was completed on December 9. Conrail will use trackage rights over the Buffalo & Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh & Shawmut railroads to reach the newly-acquired lines. The Keystone plant burns about four million tons of coal annually.


Chesapeake Railroad Opens Line in Delaware and Maryland

The Chesapeake Railroad is now open from Clayton, Delaware, to Queen Annes, Maryland. The line has two 80-ton Whitcomb locomotives, numbers 85 and 95, and interchange is made with Conrail at Clayton.


Amtrak Announces Service Cuts

Amtrak has announced plans to reduce or eliminate about 21 percent of its service and to cut about 5500 jobs in increments beginning next month. Changes include the following: Effective February 1 the Silver Star will operate three days a week, the Silver Meteor will operate four days a week, the Empire Builder will operate four days a week west of St. Paul, the Desert Wind will operate three days a week, and the Crescent will operate three days a week south of Atlanta. Effective April 1 Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha service, Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette, San Jose-Sacramento-Roseville Capitol service, St. Louis-Kansas City Mules, Birmingham-Mobile Gulf Breeze, Detroit-Pontiac service, Detroit-Toledo service, Philadelphia-Atlantic City service, Philadelphia-Harrisburg Keystone service, Springfield-Boston service, Montrealer service north of New York, Fort Wayne-Waterloo-Garrett bus service, and St. Louis-Carbondale bus service will be eliminated. Also on April 1 three Boston-Washington trains and one New York-Washington Metroliner will be cut. Further frequency reductions are planned for June and October, to be considered by Amtrak's board in March.

Railroad Structures on and Near the Pennsylvania Railroad's Peoria Branch in Indiana and Illinois

[By Richard D. Ballash, Alan J. Kevern, and Edward P. Waugh; September 29-October 2, 1994]....

We began our tour at the ex-NKP (LE&W) frame combination depot at CAMBRIDGE CITY, INDIANA, currently in use as a private residence. Nearby, the west end fills and concrete/steel viaducts of the ex-Pennsylvania Railroad's Richmond-Indianapolis main line were dynamited and removed early in 1994. A truncated cross-section of a large concrete overpass engraved with "1910" marks the still-intact eastern limit of this removal project. The right-of-way is overgrown with high weeds. Amazingly, the frame ex-PRR freight depot survives at the west end of this mess, at street level, in precarious condition... At TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA, a "helpful" vandal had removed one plywood sheet from boarded up ex-PRR "Union" Tower, a single-story brick building from circa 1950 which controlled about 56 miles of the Pennsy main through here. The glazed gold brick interior was empty, save for some very rusty fluorescent light fixtures and a few 12-inch waterlogged ceiling tiles which had fallen to the floor. Floor recesses appeared to indicate the presence of two CTC machines in two separate rooms. The door dangled on a devastated wall circuit panel with words "Dispatcher" and "Road" clearly marked. Of course, only the old baggage building remains of the once adjacent PRR depot, as an Afro-American center. Conrail and CSX cross at still operating "Haley" Tower, a classic frame structure. Our friend Pat Seward of Bay City, Michigan, documented perhaps the only solid evidence of the pre-PRR Vandalia Railroad. We are sad to report that the concrete "Vandalia Railroad" signs he found atop both ends of the sole remaining brick freight structure in the ex-PRR yard have been knocked to the ground and broken into pieces. One shattered, and the other is split into fragments reading "Vandalia" and "Ra... " (Sigh!)... The brick Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern interurban depot at SEELYVILLE, now used as an apartment building, was located... It was difficult to locate even the diverging PRR Peoria Branch grade at its junction with the St. Louis mainline at FARRINGTON, ILLINOIS, MP 7.9 on the branch (from "Union")... PRR standard cast Milepost 30 was in place on the grassy grade at REDMON... The first substantial remnants of the branch were located at OAKLAND, where the ex-Nickel Plate Road's St. Louis main crossed the PRR. The ex-NKP line is in place, but little used. High NKP signals for the automatic crossing, both east and west, are dark and partially vandalized. Only the interchange track remains of the PRR line, but a small shed may be the old block station calling box. The board-and-batten PRR depot is today a railroad museum, complete with rectangular red and gold station signs on both ends. An interesting wood and steel PRR deck truss is in place over the Embarras River... The brick Illinois Central combination depot at ARCOLA has been restored as a visitor center. Signal and interlocking functions for the PRR crossing were located in this depot after the circa-1900 tower at the crossing was closed... A truncated steel deck truss intersects with IL-32 north of LOVINGTON... The trackless PRR grade approaches its junction with the jointly-owned IC at HERVEY CITY. A northbound automatic IC signal and IC station sign are located at the former junction... Perhaps the most unique and interesting branch artifacts, obscured by 36 years of weathering, are located on the jointly-owned Hervey City-Decatur Junction trackage. Specifically, both "ICRR" block letters, and faintly red-and-gold PRR keystone logo plates, are still intact, side by side, on both side beams of the Business US-51 overpass south of DECATUR! The railroad structure "cluster" in downtown Decatur includes the large abandoned Wabash depot. The large "N&W" sign, which covered the railroad name in recent years, has been removed. Brick "Wabic" Tower at the Wabash/IC crossing still stands, boarded up. The baggage and express building on the joint IC/PRR trackage still remains, as does the large brick IC freight depot. Classic brick Wabash "Mosser" Tower remains intact one mile west of the downtown cluster... At MAROA, the abandoned frame joint IC/PRR depot remains unchanged, but all trackage is gone here now... The PRR track is out, but the IC line formerly crossing the Pennsy is in service at KENNEY... At MIDLAND CITY, both the PRR and the IC tracks are gone... The last ex-PRR position light signal on the branch hides at the former GM&O mainline crossing at ATLANTA. A fully intact but darkened high ground mast automatic signal, with "stop" and "clear" indications, protects the southbound trackless PRR grade... A weathered rectangular PRR station sign is mounted on the commercial building at the corner of 3rd and Main streets in ARMINGTON... A beautiful gold brick with red tile roof Illinois Traction depot, boarded up, is marked as a 1978 National Historic Site at MACKINAW, while a rare bit of PRR branch trackage protrudes from the asphalt at Juliana and Madison streets in that town... At PEORIA, the old Rock Island depot has been transformed into the "River Station," a beautiful dining and entertainment complex. (Their Peppercorn Steaks are wonderful!) Lots of beautiful, large color photographs abound in the railroad motif of this very popular landmark. The high ceiling in the old ticket office compliments a fabulous bar. West of the old RI depot, the abandoned brick "CB&Q Yard Office" is signed as such. It is located a block or two from US-24, just south of Plaza Tire and the 20-foot tall girl in a bikini. (She's a BIG mama!) A very unique and significant gold brick depot is located at the east end of the city. On the trackside face of a single story late 60's or early 70's structure, aluminized block letters are fully intact, reading "Rock Island Lines - Peoria." A two-story tower, which once controlled the adjacent yard now occupied by Constitution Park and its intact turntable at center, is built into the depot's west end. All of the depot's doors and windows are boarded up. The shells of fluorescent light fixtures are recessed into the station's short, concrete platform shelter, in the middle of a very long, curved concrete platform... At MORTON, a small single-story brick and prefab PRR/IT depot resides on the trackless grade as an insurance office. Only the piers of the Peoria & Pekin Union bridge, which carried the PRR, TP&W, and NKP across the Illinois River into Peoria and Peoria Union Station remain, adjacent to the Steak 'n Shake. The brick yard building and offices of what looks like a very "touchy" P&PU Railway are in service at CREVE COEUR... Two "mystery" depots were located in PEKIN. The first, which we believe was the old C&IM depot, is a brick combination depot in storage use by a commercial firm. The other one was a board-and-batten combination depot, also used for commercial storage... We departed Peoria along the Rock Island's branch to Bureau (and Chicago). We ran out of time at the beautifully restored to classic frame combination depot at CHILLICOTHE, today a railroad museum. The depot sports a train order semaphore, a wooden caboose, and a neatly painted Rock Island logo on its streetside face. This line appears to have been a heavy duty branch, but today its track is shabby, and its rusted and busted signals are dark... We left Illinois after stopping to see Amtrak #3, the westbound Southwest Chief, make its brief station stop at Chillicothe. The Santa Fe depot here burned in the 1960's. Amtrak utilizes the large former Santa Fe brick yard office for its station. After having scoured 176 miles of trackless PRR right-of-way, it was sure good to see Amtrak Superliners and the speeding trailer trains on the Class 1 Santa Fe!