MONSTER Iowa Interstate Freight Train!

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Don’t let the three Norfolk Southern (and one Union Pacific) locomotives fool you, this is an Iowa Interstate train.*

It is SIPE-28, or SIlvis, IL to PEoria, IL, 28th day of the month. And it was a MONSTER!

Behind its four locomotives were 46 cars of mixed freight and a 95-car unit ethanol train (93 ethanol cars and a buffer at each end). I caught the 141-car train late Sunday afternoon as it rolled through Chillicothe (above, at the old Rock Island depot). Later, I shot video of the train. See below.

*The Iowa Interstate Railroad is using Norfolk Southern-provided locomotives due shortages in its own fleet. These run through on coal trains and empty ethanol trains received at Peoria and on manifests received at Chicago. They are typically “turned” at Silvis back to Chicago or Peoria. Note the third and fourth locomotives on today’s SIPE were the ones which took Saturday’s PESI north.

– David P. Jordan

Norfolk Southern Train 115 Is Back…

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…and I captured it early Saturday afternoon as Iowa Interstate Railroad train PESI.

Norfolk Southern 115 was typically a huge train in February and March this year. Originating at Sevier Yard in Knoxville, Tennessee, it would usually have at least 100 empty ethanol tank cars and a block of mixed freight adding another 25 to 40. The most recent one to arrive East Peoria had just 61.

Those would be the first 61 cars in the photo above, taken from the ramp to eastbound Route 24 from NE Adams Street. The cut of cars on the middle track will be taken north by an Iowa Interstate local train on Sunday, September 28.

The rest of the train consisted of 20 ADM feed empties, an empty CSXT covered hopper (phosphate empty?) and 20 ethanol loads (from Aventine Renewable Energy) bringing up the rear.

– David P. Jordan

Ask PeoriaStation

I’m feeling lazy after a trip to Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids to chase Grand Elk Railroad freight trains, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Red Unit Train and other fun stuff.

So until my energy comes back, it is time for another “Ask Peoria Station.” As always, feel free to ask any transportation-related question. If I don’t an answer, I’ll find one.

– David P. Jordan

PIA Terminal Expansion Update

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This morning, Peoria airport director Gene Olson appeared on WMBD Radio 1470.

Although the web article doesn’t provide much new information, it does tell us this:

Before a second terminal can open for business, the airport has to hire more customs staff for Peoria’s Port of Entry that serves customs needs for international flights.

The second building will be built with funds left over from PIA’s most recent terminal project and some federal funding earmarked for customs.

On the radio news segment, Olson noted that all of the existing terminal’s gates are filled in early morning. That is true if one realizes that not all of twelve gates are in use. This diagram shows only seven. That’s because 1 and 12 (located on the west and east ends of the concourse, respectively) lack a jetway and/or sufficient aircraft parking, and 2, 7 and 11 are ground-level gates designed for turboprop aircraft, which airlines have not used here since 2010.

And this situation is sort of ironic. The seven aircraft* that are on the ground overnight handle more than one-third of all weekday flights at the airport. The rest of the day, gates are mostly empty.

I thought PIA received funds for expansion of the western airline apron, but perhaps they’re being applied to the Byerly ramp. Apparently, it is impractical to park Allegiant Air MD80s at the west end. Regardless, passenger growth is excellent news.

*Two American Eagle, three Delta Connection and two United Express

– David P. Jordan

West Yard Relocation Complete; Sunday Afternoon Videos!

The Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s relocated West Yard is complete.

I believe it has been for about a week (or more), but between rainy weather and Saturday’s train excursions, I wasn’t able to check on it until Sunday afternoon.

But I’m glad I did it then.

Early Sunday afternoon, I took the following scenes of nicely-surfaced track and perfectly-manicured ballast from the Cedar Street Bridge. The rough look, compared to earlier views, is gone.???????????????????????????????
View looks southwest. The ADM distillery is at left and the old, weed-choked BNSF yard is at right. The BNSF track is still in use between Edmund Street and Caterpillar’s Rubber Processing Facility, seen (in distance) just to the right beyond the old rack house.

View looks north. Note old tracks at right have been removed.

Just minutes after shooting these scenes, I caught a Tazewell & Peoria Railroad (TZPR) transfer run that was heading to the North Limit Yard to interchange with the Iowa Interstate (IAIS). It would return about an hour later with cars for East Peoria. See videos below.  

– David P. Jordan

PIA Posts August Record!

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I missed this one. I guess had it hidden by the time I looked…and I look every day.

Anyway, Wednesday evening, the PJStar reported that Peoria Int’l Airport posted another monthly passenger record. A total of 55,856 passengers were handled in August 2014, which is 7 per cent more than in August 2013.

Airport Director Gene Olson notes that the rising numbers helps convince airlines to increase service and/or add destinations.

– David P. Jordan

Passenger Trains I’ve Ridden, Part IX – Henry to Chillicothe and Back on the Iowa Interstate RR!

I decided to ride at the last minute.

After all, there were three roundtrips for the public (and as it turned out, four altogether, since Henry volunteers were given a ride to Chillicothe and back). I could ride the first train when morning sunlight created undesirable shadows. Subsequent trips would roll in better lighting.

Saturday’s excursions sold out only days before the event. With eight cars, each seating about 100 people, trains carried 800. All trips for the public thus totaled 2400. If we assume two-thirds of the passengers were adults $14 tickets), and the remainder children ($7 tickets), then the trips easily raised $28,000 (and probably more) for the Henry, Lacon-Sparland and Chillicothe fire departments (not sure if the IAIS takes any to cover expenses).

The Iowa Interstate Railroad, and local vendors and fire, rescue and law enforcement did an excellent job with parking, food, restroom facilities and the ride itself.

– David P. Jordan

PJStar Gets Wind Of PIA Terminal Plans

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Peoria’s newspaper of record is reporting on changes to plans for an international terminal building at Peoria International Airport. Not to brag, but I posted this story EIGHT DAYS AGO.

Int’l Terminal Design Change Prompted By New Florida Route

I’m not bragging because I sourced my information from WEEK TV-25’s website. At least the PJStar’s article adds some new information, like this:

An initial round of bids had been sent out on the project when the airport landed the new Allegiant flight to Orlando. But with that route added, there will be another plane parked on the ground overnight, exacerbating the need for more space.

Current schedules show no Allegiant jets parked here overnight. All flights from Las Vegas, Phoenix-Mesa, Punta Gorda and St. Petersburg are operated as “turnarounds” from those cities. Interestingly, service starts November 14, yet the $9 million addition won’t be in service until probably early 2016.

Perhaps Allegiant inadvertently gave us a clue that it is indeed the carrier planning flights to the Caribbean and Mexico? This would probably require parking a jet here overnight at least twice a week so it is in position for an early morning departure (Friday PM/Saturday AM) and after returning the same day (Saturday PM/Sunday AM).

Between rising passenger numbers, new service and plans for international flights, things are getting interesting at Peoria International Airport. I just wish Peoria’s newspaper of record would cover it, or cover it without delay.

– David P. Jordan