Honor Flight

A commenter reminded me of an Honor Flight that left Peoria for Washington, DC Tuesday morning and returned in the evening. Had I remembered it, I would normally ventured out to see it come back (even though it was dark), but I forgot. Given the rainy weather, I don’t feel bad.

Anyway, details of the flight’s departure and return can be found here. As usual, veterans flew in a 162-seat Sun Country Airlines 737-800. After passengers deplaned, the Sun Country jet departed for Minneapolis/St. Paul, where the airline is based.

– David P. Jordan

Storm Derails Texas-Bound Train Near Laura, Illinois

Monday afternoon’s thunderstorms were far tamer than those in Mississippi, but still managed to cause damage in the form of a train derailment.

Straight-line winds, or even a tornado, from a severe thunderstorm coming out of Knox County most likely caused multiple cars of a short, westbound BNSF Railway intermodal train to derail as it rolled through Laura, a small town located on Rt. 78 (and BNSF’s Chillicothe Subdivision) in the northwest corner of Peoria County, Illinois.

The train, reportedly Z-WSPALT (Intermodal, Willow Springs, IL to Alliance, TX), derailed about 4:45pm. The first seventeen cars (some with multiple platforms) were involved. Three locomotives remained upright, but the third unit apparently suffered a damaged coupler.

Local media already has coverage. WEEK TV-25’s online story reports the derailing train apparently knocked down power lines leaving residents without electricity. WMBD TV-31 has this video report. This PJStar story has general notes of area wind damage, including the derailment.

– David P. Jordan

Iowa Interstate-Norfolk Southern Update (Updated 2X)

I thought I’d post an update on the recent shift of Iowa Interstate and Norfolk Southern interchange to Peoria.

The effects of early April flooding are still apparent with 10mph “slow orders” for movement over two bridges located just east of TP&W’s Farmdale Trestle. Work equipment is still on site.

Another is that volume seems to have been reduced. Some traffic is again being routed through Chicago. At the time of this post, traffic still moving via Peoria apparently no longer turned east at Bement. This could only mean they were routed via Decatur and Granite City then east via Louisville to Danville, Kentucky where they enter Norfolk Southern’s “Rat Hole” line. Previously, trains ran via Lafayette, Indiana and Cincinnati.

Train 115 has been dropped or is being routed to Chicago. In its place may be a new symbol, “D09,” which handles extra traffic on an as-needed basis. Not much is known yet but for the past month, NS trains both arriving and departing East Peoria may use this symbol.

The IAIS and NS are also still exchanging weekly coal trains via Peoria. Unit grain trains loaded at Des Moines have not run via Peoria since late summer 2013.

I filmed a Norfolk Southern ethanol train depart East Peoria early Wednesday evening. I’ve been unable to confirm its exact destination but 64D is probably going to northern Virginia or eastern North Carolina. Power for last evening’s train was NS C40-9W #8937, NS SD60 #6712 and UP ES44AC #5442, Two buffer cars bracketed the 93 ethanol tank cars loaded at Archer Daniels Midland’s Cedar Rapids, Iowa plant. The video lasts seven minutes and five seconds so I won’t be offended if you quit watching after the engines go by.

UPDATE (April 26): One ADM ethanol train was reported sitting at the Frankfort, Indiana yard today. So apparently, things are getting back to normal. In addition, the Iowa Interstate brought to Peoria today the third ADM ethanol train of the week!

UPDATE (April 28): The Iowa Interstate brought another unit ethanol train to Peoria on Sunday, April 27.

– David P. Jordan

NRG Energy Now Controls Powerton

I hadn’t seen any mention of this in the local newspaper (I’m sure you’re as shocked as I was) but on March 19, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the sale to NRG Energy of most of Edison Mission Energy’s assets. NRG completed acquisition of Edison’s assets on April 1.

This transaction involves Midwest Generation LLC power plants in Illinois, including Powerton. Powerton is served by the Illinois & Midland Railroad and receives a 135-car coal almost daily (sometimes more) from the Union Pacific.

– David P. Jordan

BNSF Committed To “Uptown Branch”?

A commenter alerted me to this just this afternoon, so I knew I needed to check it out (I was downtown anyway).

Spring means work season begins for railroads. This month, the Iowa Interstate Railroad is doing some major crosstie and surfacing on Bureau Jct.-Henry segment of its Peoria Subdivision. BNSF has been doing the same on its Peoria Subdivision off and on since July 2008. Lately, upgrades which include welded rail replacing jointed rail, and new welded rail replacing steel ribbons originally laid in the 1970s, point to a continuing multi-year program to keep the line a viable route for its relatively heavy tonnage (including two loaded 135-car coal trains on most days).

Interestingly, BNSF has just this week started rehabilitating its disconnected “Uptown Branch” (my unofficial name, though I’ve heard it called “Caterpillar Siding”) between Edmund Street and Caterpillar’s Rubber Processing Facility (RPF) switch near Leland Street. Click thumbnails for larger view.

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Tie inserter/remover parked near Chicago Street. View looks northeast.

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Similar location as above, shows mud has been cleared out. New crossties will soon be inserted.

Apparently, BNSF expects to service Caterpillar’s RPF for the foreseeable future. See post entitled Gritty Industrial Railroading, Part VI for 14:34 video showing BNSF “Peoria Local” working down here March 31, 2014.

– David P. Jordan

An Interesting Load

Okay, this isn’t Peoria-related, but it’s close.

Thanks to the Thirwell Road Bridge spanning BNSF Railway’s Galesburg Yard, you can almost always find interesting loads being classified and blocked into outbound freight train consists. I found one there Saturday afternoon on my way home from Fort Madison, Iowa. Click photos below for larger view.

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I quickly ID’d this load as being a part for the arm of a mining shovel. A P & H 4100XPC electric mining shovel to be exact. The shipping label, which I photographed from the bridge when the yard trimmer job made a brief stop, shows that the consignee is Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde SA (Mining Society Green Hill) in Peru.

(I should note that the port of entry is misspelled. This should be Maratani, not “Matatani.” It is Peru’s major international southern port.)

The flat cars themselves identify the shipper. Flat cars PHMX 4419 and PHMX 4413 are owned by P & H Mining, and are assigned to its Milwaukee manufacturing plant. A subsidiary of Joy Global, P & H was a direct competitor to Bucyrus, now part of Caterpillar Global Mining.

P & H’s Milwaukee plant is served by Canadian Pacific Railway, so I suspect these cars were routed CPRS-Chicago-BNSF with equipment exported through Houston, Texas.

– David P. Jordan

Progress on KJRY Bridge Restoration

I was in Western Illinois on Saturday evening so I made a side trip to Seville to check out progress made by the Keokuk Junction Railway (and/or its contractors) to repair and replace the Spoon River Bridge, which was lost most likely due to a derailment on September 16, 2013.

Comparing photos from October 11 and April 12, progress is definitely being made. If fact, I’d say the line could be back in operation sometime in May. This is subject to weather of course. Click for larger view.

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October 11, 2013

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April 12, 2014

– David P. Jordan

Gritty Industrial Railroading, Part VI

Continuing a series from the old blog, this sixth installment features BNSF Railway’s “Peoria Local” switching Caterpillar’s Rubber Processing Facility at 2400 SW Washington Street in Peoria on March 31, 2014.

Also known as “Cat Tire,” from its days of beaded tire production, Caterpillar’s southside Peoria plant is BNSF’s only customer in the city. All other traffic is generated by the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad (TZPR) and connecting carriers.

Service to this customer is complex thanks to a late-October 2005 derailment which severed the BNSF mainline with the rest of its Peoria city trackage. BNSF repaired the TZPR connection, but left the rest isolated. BNSF’s “Peoria Local” must use parallel TZPR track to reach this customer.

Scenes are taken at Sanger Street, Leland Street, Chicago Street and at Darst Street.  The Leland Street view (where “Cat Tire” is being switched) may be recognizable to some because it is one of the locations where Peoria native Richard Pryor shot a scene in 1985 for his movie, Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling. Starts at 30 seconds below.

After switching “Cat Tire,” the BNSF crew put the empty carbon black covered hopper on the New Long Main, coupled onto to their 38-car train brought in from Galesburg and delivered it to the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s East Peoria Yard.

NOTE: When I have time, I will restore the prior five posts in this series (text will be created from scratch).

– David P. Jordan

Norfolk Southern Work Train

Last week’s heavy rainfall caused at least one washout on Norfolk Southern’s Bloomington District. Since closing Thursday, maintenance-of-way personnel have been working to restore service.

Last evening, I just missed seeing Norfolk Southern high-hood GP38-2 #5037 and three ballast cars backing up to the staged rip rap loading area at Deer Creek. But I did take video (see above) of the loading operation.

On my way back through town I noticed crews were working near a bridge just east of TP&W’s famous Farmdale Trestle. Lots of rock dumped along the track. Apparently, the bridge suffered flood damage, or the railroad was taking advantage of the line’s shutdown to replace it.

Presumably, traffic interchanged with the Iowa Interstate Railroad is again being routed via Chicago and all other traffic has been embargoed until the line is restored to service.

– David P. Jordan