Sunday, May 18, 2014

Train Watching

I quit maintaining this page. Instead, I've introduced the label railfanDennis to flag "train watching" posts. Note that I'm not the traditional railfan in terms of taking pretty pictures of the leading engine. I take pictures for information, not publication.

20140521: Lemont Stephen Street crossing: I was not waiting for trains. But I spotted a TOFC train later in a picture that I had taken. And later, when I heard a whistle, I ran back to Stephen Street and caught a TOFC heading towards Chicago and then an Amtrak train heading away from Chicago. So this route does handle more than just commuter traffic.
20140614, 1151: Chevron parking lot at 2nd street in Lockport: e/b Amtrak. Engine 64 on the head, 5 coach cars, and 56 on the tail.
20140614, 1304, in traffic on 2nd street for crossing controlled stop light at State Street: stacks in progress going towards Chicago. I'm not sure of the direction, I learned that you can not determine the direction of a train from just a couple of pictures of the cars.

KJRC (Keokuk Junction Railway Co.)
20140613, 1538: from the dam's visitor observation deck of the railroad bridge across the Mississippi: westbound covered-hopper unit train pulled by PREX (Pioneer Rail Equipment) 2040, 2047 (probably GP20s).

20140505 2 engines towards Chicago
20140514 towards Chicago
-  Lockport: when I turned a corner, at the end of a street I could see a train that was in progress. It was going towards Chicago and was the first time I have seen trailers, rather than containers, on this route.
-  Lockport: got a glimpse of another train heading towards Chicago that was carrying trailers.
-  Romeoville: a double-high container train heading away from Chicago. This time I was close enough to count the number of units in the articulated cars. I noticed that most of them had 3 or 1 units. So SantaFe seems to have found the original 6-pack and 10-pack cars to be too long.
- Romeoville: 2 engine container train going towards Chicago.
- Lemont: 4 engine container train going towards Chicago.
- Lemont: 4 engine container + trailer train going away from Chicago, slowly.
- on the Lemont bridge: 2 engines away from Chicago, the first mixed freight I have seen on this route. So the link takes you to a lot of pictures. Of note is that the second unit has a grey-and-red BNSF paint scheme rather than the usual orange(pumpkin?)-and-yellow scheme that I have been seeing.
- along River Road east of Willow Springs. Caught the end of a westbound unit tank car train. But, unlike the CB&Q unit tank car trains, it did not have a buffer hopper car at the end.
- East end of SantaFe drive. A covered hopper train kept closing the gates on the road as it did switching maneuvers. This linked picture is of note because it is the first time I've seen an engine still in the green-and-white BN paint scheme.

20140614, 2nd Street in Lockport:
  • 1243: e/b stacks, BNSF 7906(ES44DC), 4361(Dash 9-44CW), 7544(ES44DC), 4143(Dash 9-44CW), 6640(ES44C4).
  • 1311: w/b racks, UP 6784(AC4400CW), 9495(C41-8W), 9183(C40-8)
20140614 1545, SantaFe bridge in Lemont: w/b stacks, BNSF 6079(ES44AC), 1114(C44-9W), 672(Dash 9-44CW, BNSF colors instead of SantaFe War Bonnet), 4455(not in list, it is now in the list, Dash 9-44CW).

20140520: Downers Grove Main Street crossing. I live just 3.5 blocks from this crossing and I felt guilty about seeing more SantaFe trains than Burlington Route trains so I spent an afternoon with my laptop in the Starbucks that is on the northwest corner of this crossing.
- 1325: westbound, 2 engines. All tank cars except for a hopper at the beginning and end. Are the hoppers filled with sand to be buffer cars that are supposed to help absorb impact if there is an accident?
- 1330: eastbound, track maintenance equipment
- 1356: eastbound, 2 engines going quite slowly. Mixed freight. I even saw two boxcars. But mostly tank and covered hoppers and a few gondolas.

And I recorded over 10 more trains, but Firefox crashed and I lost the information. So the following is from memory. There was only one freight train after 3pm---a container and trailer train including some single high containers on trailer-train cars. Normally, the containers are double-high in deep well cars. There were two westbound Amtrak trains about 4 minutes apart. And later the eastbound Amtrak came through on the center track while a westbound commuter was still sitting in the station. And the gates originally went down because of a eastbound commuter. (The CB&Q has 3 tracks from Auroa, I believe, to Chicago.) So all three tracks were almost occupied at the same time. One of the freights was particularly interesting. It had 4 engines, the third of which was a faded red. I think the faded yellow lettering was CP Rail. And the rolling stock was a museum of freight cards---modern looking wide-door and old Railbox and RailLink box cars and, in decreasing order of frequency, tank, lumber, covered hopper, gondola, and flat cars. About the only type of car missing was a coal car. This train was interesting enough that I'm going to have to give some thought as to how to photograph a train at a crossing. There was a unit train of covered hoppers that had a mix of BNSF, SantaFe, and BN paint jobs.

20140521: Downers Grove Main Street crossing.
- 1027: eastbound 2 engines, going slowly. The second engine was Candaian Pacific. Another unit tank train with covered hoppers at the beginning and end.
- 1047: eastbound commuter.
- 1057: eastbound 2 engines, going slowly. The second engine was CSX. Started with container cars and ended as trailers. I think some of the trailer cars had 5 units.
- 1100: westbound 2 enginess, unit tank train with buffer hoppers.
- 1105: eatbound mixed freight. I could not see the number of engines because this train went pass on the far track while the tank car train was still on the near track. It started with a big block of lumber cars (bulkhead flats), then a block of (I'm guessing) refrigerator cars, and then a bunch of miscellaneous cars except for a couple of blocks of tank cars.
- 1125: eastbound 2 engines. container cars, some of which were 5-unit cars. They were all either BNSF or TTX.
- 1130: westbound commuter.
- 1245: eastbound commuter.
- 1330: eastbound commuter.
- 1330: went home.

20140525: Downers Grove Main Street crossing. My wife reported that she got caught by an eastbound unit coal train at 1435.

20140529: Downers Grove Main Street crossing
  • 0932: 2-engine eastbound unit coal train. The second unit had a grey and off-white BNSF color scheme? Since this is the second unit I've seen that did not have orange in the color scheme, it is time to research BNSF's colors.
  • 0939: westbound commuter
  • 0948: 2-engine westbound unit tank train. It had the usual BNSF buffer covered hoppers at the beginning and end.
  • 0950: eastbound commuter
  • 0957:2-engine westbound mixed freight. Although over half of the cars with 2 bay covered hopper cars. This is the first time I have seen such short hopper cars. I assume they carry something heavier than grain or flour. Cement?
  • 1004: eastbound Amtrak. It was short and single-high cars so it would be one of the Illinois local trains.
  • 1020: 3-engine eastbound mixed freight.BNSF. The third unit was a maroon OTVR engine. A quick web search indicates that is the Otter Tail Valley Railroad. I know the second unit was another railroad, but now I can't remember for sure what it was because I was so focused on remembering OTVR. I think it was CSX. The train began with a block of regular 3-bay covered hoppers, a block of some empty gondolas, then various tank cars and some 2-bay covered hoppers, some small, white tan cars. some covered hopper cars with 5 bays, flat cars with tractors, refers?, a blue box car with open doors. The reason for the question mark concerning refers is that I am guessing that big, wide-door box cars are refers.
  • 1118: 2 engine, H3 and <can't remember>, eastbound mixed freight 4-, 3-, and 2- bay covered hoppers, tank cars, a couple of box cars, some bulk-head flat cars. The bulk-heads on the flat cars were lower than what I have seen in the past. Then a saw one with a load, which was metal structures. So the high-bulkheads are lumber whereas the lower ones are metal?
  • 1125: westbound commuter
  • 1130: 4-engine eastbound with just one covered hopper going slow. The engines were CSX grey, 2 CSX blue, CITIRAIL blue. Obviously, this is just a power return train.
  • 1134: 4-engine westbound container and trailer train. H3 and 3 H2. Quite a few of the containers were J.B.Hunt.
20140529: Walnut and Burlington with my camera
  • 1333: When I pulled out of my driveway, I noticed that a westbound container train was in progress. When I got to Burlington Ave., I caught that train again, and I was able to pace it. It was doing 40 mph. I would say that is now the standard speed for freight trains. I'm surprised that container trains don't go faster. A couple of decades ago some of the freight trains would run almost as fast as the passenger trains. Now that I'm thinking about it, I don't think passenger trains go through the western suburbs as fast as they used to.
  • 1344: 2 NS engines westbound tank-car unit train with buffer covered hopper cars at the beginning and end. The BNSF tank car trains have black tank cars. The tank cars in this train were white except for a black band in the middle. Safety Design: new
  • 1440: westbound commuter
  • 1442: 2-engine westbound Amtrak
  • 1445: eastbound commuter
  • 1454: eastbound Amtrak. It was running quietly so it caught me by surprise and I didn't catch how many engines it had.
  • 1502: westbound commuter, video.
  • 1521: 2 engines eastbound, second was SantaFe paint, container and trailer, video
    TTAX 654376 – 5-unit trailer
    FEC 72368 – 1-unit container
    TTAX 653921 – 5-unit trailer
    TTAX 355140 – 5-unit trailer
    TTAX 554364 – 5-unit trailer
    FEC 72383 – 1-unit container
    CTTX 656350 – 1-unit container
    DTTX 470301 – 1-unit container
    SMW 210251 – 5-unit trailer
    TTAX 553421 – 5-unit trailer
    ? - 3-unit trailer
    CTTX ?23194, DTTX 723194 – 3-unit container
    DTTX 787538 – 3-unit container
    DTTX 723278 – 3-unit container
    DTTX 732167 – 3-unit container
    BNSF 211550 – 3-unit container
    AOK 55147 – 3-unit container
    ? – 3-unit container
    ? – 5-unit trailer
    BNSF 253586 – 3-unit container
    DTTX 646825 – 1-unit container
    DTTX 765590 – 3-unit container
    ? - 1-unit container
    TTX – 3-unit container
    ?(green) – 5-unit trailer
    TTAX 367085 – 3-unit trailer
    TTAX 370458 – 3-unit trailer
    TTAX 355059 – 3-unit trailer

  • 1533: 2 engine westbound Amrak
  • 1535: westbound commuter
  • 1545: westbound commuter
  • 1548: eastbound commuter
20140530: Walnut and Burlington with my camera
  • 0927: CSX engines 7592 (C40-8), 8712 (SD60, Ex-Conrail), 5435 (ES40DC) westbound merchandise. I had a video of it, but I had an error when I tried to upload it. There were quite a few 2-bay covered hoppers. And 4 lumber cars, all of which were loaded. And quite a few box cars for a 21st century train. It was a short train, especially for 3 engines. You normally can't see the end before it arrives. Had it dropped most of its cars at the CSX yards and were taking these cars to the Eola yard and then was going to pick up eastbound cars for runthrough to the CSX?

  • 0937: eastbound unit tank-car train pulled by BNSF 4396 (not in list, but near Dash 9-44CW range), 6715 (ES44C4). Safety Design: old
  • 0957: eastbound commuter
  • 1004: westbound commuter
  • 1022: eastbound Amtrak. Engine 51 and 4 single-level cars.
  • 1023: westbound containers (no trailers) pulled by CREX 1304 (Citirail, ES44AC) and BNSF 673 (Dash 9-44CW, it still has the SantaFe warbonnet paint with BNSF added below the 673 number).
  • 1032: eastbound 3-bay covered hopper unit train pulled by BNSF 4738 and 4713, both Dash 9-44CW. 4738 was Heritage 2 and 4713 was BNSF warbonnet.
  • 1040: high-rail MoW pickup truck. It did not trip the gates. It waited until there was a gap in the traffic on Main Street.

  • 1056: eastbound unit tank-car train pulled by BNSF 7156 (ES44C4) and UP 5936 (AC4400CWCTE) and pushed by BNSF 4714 (Dash 9-44CW) warbonnet. Safety Design: new

  •  1207: Belmont crossing while stuck at the stop light at Prarie: westbound unit covered-hopper train.
  •  1217: while arriving at the parking lot for the Belmont station: eastbound container train pulled by BNSF and NS power. (The engines had passed by the time I got the camera going and they were too out of focus to read the numbers.)
  • 1242: eastbound power move BNSF 4646, 4???, 4627 (all Dash 9-44CW)
20140603: Highlands in Hinsdale

20140606: Downers Grove Main, Forest, and west along Warren Avenue.
  • 0803: eastbound commuter
  • 0805: westbound Amtrak, 5 single-level cars
  • 0813: westbound commuter express
  • 0819: westbound commuter
  • 1429: (heard crossing bells while in library, shot from the library's parking lot) westbound pigs/stacks. 475? (Dash 9-44CW), 4413 (not in list), 5716 (AC4400CW), 4750 (Dash 9-44CW).
  • 1431: while still in the library's parking lot, eastbound mixed freight, 1030 (C44-9W), 503? (Dash 9-44CW), various tank and covered hopper cars such as 5 ADM tank cars, a Southern Pacific box car (see picture 0043), empty bulkhead flatcars with uprights on the sides (see right side of picture 0045), 5 or 6 flat cars each with two agriculture tractors (0045 and right side of 0049). an old Soo boxcar that was patched as NS? (0049), CSX boxcar, mystery boxcar (0051), a couple of gondola cars (no loads were visible), more tank/covered/empty-looking gondola/box cars including a Southern boxcar that is not even patched as NS (0066),




  • 1433: westbound commuter
20140607: various
  • 1013: while stopped at the Washington crossing by a train, eastbound unit tank-car train pulled by SantaFe (660) and BNSF warbonnets. It had the white covered hopper car after the usual BNSF buffer car. Safety Design: old.
  • 1407: walking back home along Prarie I could not see much of the train because of the trees. It was a unit tank-car train. Safety Design: unknown

20140609: various
  • 0947: caught in traffic at Washington crossing: eastbound unit tank car pulled by NS 1102 (SD70ACe), 1122 (SD70ACe). Safety Design: old
  • End of above train after I parked near Washington crossing.
  • 1005: flour local, a GP38, two covered hoppers, and a GP28M
20140613: various
  • 1055: Macomb: mixed freight on a siding, BNSF 6550 (ES44C4), CSX 791 (ES44AH). This train was still setting here when I came back to town around 7pm. The engines were idling when I photographed them at 11am. I did not get close enough in the evening to determine if they were still running. Why would modern power set for so long?
  • 1448: Keokuk: mixed freight switching maneuvers, BNSF 3162(GP50 /GP25-2, patched BN paint), 2929(GP39-2R).
  • 1544: Keokuk: southbound unit coal, BNSF 9843 (SD70MAC), 9391 (SD70ACe).
  • 1656: Macomb: eastbound mixed freight, CN 5368 (SD40-2), CN 2024 (C40-8), BNSF 8939 (SD70MAC). I took pictures of most of the cars, over a hundred of them.
  • 2011: Shabbona: parked in siding unit tank. Safety Design: new

20140616: from the curb of my house. Trains are blowing the whistle for construction work again. So when I hear it, I go out and look down the street. By the time I get there, the engines have passed, but I can determine what type of train it is.
  • 1300: eastbound unit covered-hopper cars
  • 1340: westbound unit gondola cars. These were not high coal gondolas, they were the old fashioned low gondolas. I normally don't see these in a manifest train. This is the first time I have ever seen a unit train of them. The train was rather short.
  • 1554: eastbound unit tank cars. Safety Design: unknown
20140620: w/b pure container train. w/b pigs and stacks. e/b mixed with DPU. At first I thought it was a covered-hopper unit train. And then I saw lots of tank cars also. Two coil cars, a handful of full lumber cars, a couple of handfuls of box and/or refrigerator cars.

20140826: Main Street

Update: I switched to doing posts of some of my railfan excustions and tagging them with the rfDeBruler label.

Some Facebook learning:

CSXT #255268 X-Chessie ACF 4600cf 3-bay covered hopper in a unit phosphate train on CSX in Cartersville Ga 4:05PM 10-30-2015
3 people like this.

Dennis DeBruler For those of us who joined this group to learn more about freight cars, how can you tell that a 3-bay covered hopper is carrying phosphate instead of grain?
LikeReply3 hrs
Patrick Harris Dennis: Nothing from eyeballing it told me, for sure. My friend Travis was with me and he got the train number from his scanner. He confirmed it was a phosphate train. The phosphate unit trains are in the K802-K-886 series: CSX train symbols.
LikeReply3 hrsEdited
Dennis DeBruler I was wondering if I had to improve my train watching skills. Thanks for the reference.
LikeReply3 hrs

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