A Canton Blogger?

A declared railfan is blogging from Canton, Illinois.

Her name is Jan Smith…and she is a tornado! Actually, her Google handle is “cantontornado36” so when you read her musings about a variety of topics (including trains), get ready to be blown away.

Check out Howdy from Canton, Illinois and help Jan transform a notoriously long-suffering and boring town into a more vibrant and memorable place!

– David P. Jordan

Pioneer Industrial Park Rail Operations To Resume

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The Pioneer Industrial Railway (PRY) is returning to operation after five years.

Union Pacific delivered PREX 3069, a GP-20 resplendent in the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway’s classic “yellowbonnet” colors, to the interchange at Pioneer Jct. in mid-afternoon Thursday.

In October 2011, PRY delivered to Union Pacific a flat car and centerbeam flat car that had been stored on the city-owned line at Pioneer Industrial Park. Late that year, PRY’s locomotive, PREX 2032, was delivered to the Union Pacific. Ironically, the City of Peoria had crossings at both Radnor Road and Pioneer Parkway were repaired as the line’s operator withdrew its equipment!

Unfortunately, reactivation isn’t due to a major new customer. The City of Peoria royally screwed up some years ago when it spent millions reconfiguring rail service to Pioneer Industrial Park, eliminating rail competition and thus ending point-to-point rail transportation pricing competitive with trucking or transloading. The last rail customer at the park, Carver Lumber, continues to transload material at the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s freight house and team track facilities in Creve Coeur.

Instead, Pioneer Industrial Park trackage will be filled with railcars that need to be stored short- or long-term. Expect these to arrive in the near future. (Video below shows Union Pacific’s Peoria Wayfreight working Thursday, finally delivering PREX 3069 to PRY.)

– David P. Jordan

The Ann Arbor Railroad

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Pardon another departure from Peoria-centric content.

My latest feature article in The Short Line is now available! I made a trip to Toledo, Ohio last May to explore and photograph this fascinating carrier’s operations. Detailed maps, brief history and info about operations, locomotives and customers can be found in this article.

Mike’s Scale Rails in Peoria should have copies by now, and you can also order through TSL’s website.

Not many people know about this magazine dedicated to shortline, industrial and tourist railroads. It first apppeared in 1973, and since 2000 has been published locally by Pioneer Railroad Services Inc.

– David P. Jordan

BNSF’s New Chicago-Mexico Intermodal Service

Last June, BNSF Railway and Ferromex inaugurated a new intermodal service between Cicero (Chicago), Illinois and Silao, Guanajato, Mexico via the El Paso, Texas gateway.

It seems that the two railroads attempted to begin this service two years ago, but actually began June 14 this year. Silao is strategically located between Mexico’s two largest cities – Guadalajara and Mexico City. It is in the country’s Bajio region, a growing manufacturing center, particularly for the automotive sector.

This BNSF brochure explains that southbound traffic is shipped in bond to destination where it is cleared by Mexican customs. Northbound shipments are pre-cleared before crossing the border at El Paso.

I happened to see this new train during Galesburg Railroad Days, Saturday June 25. BNSF 6566 & BNSF 5876 pulled 19 cars (52 platforms), which is said to be typical for the train. It carries symbol Q-FXECHC6 (Intermodal Guaranteed Service, Ferromex@El Paso TX to Cicero IL). The “6” indicates the train’s priority between 1 and 10. The train’s southbound counterpart is Q-CHCFXE6.

One is not likely to see the Mexico-bound train in daylight as it is scheduled to leave Cicero at 0200 hours Wednesday thru Sunday. Best bet is the northbound counterpart, which is scheduled to arrive Cicero at 1300 hours Thursday thru Monday, putting the train in Galesburg (including a crew change) in late morning. That is when I saw it.

Main customer for the new service is J. B. Hunt, but CH Robinson and Prime Intermodal equipment can be seen as well.

Lower fuel prices and a collapse in commodity prices have caused a significant decline traffic on American railroads, so it is good to see new business being developed. BNSF and Ferromex should be commended for their efforts. Hopefully, traffic grows sufficiently to ensure a long future for this new service.

– David P. Jordan

BNSF Geometry Train Visit!

Friday, August 19, 2016, BNSF Railway ran a track geometry train from Galesburg to Peoria and back. I caught it between Edwards and Peoria in both directions. The train “turned” on the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad at Bridge Junction.

BNSF 7600 is an ES44DC. BNSF 86 and 85 are track geometry cars.

– David P. Jordan