NS 1068 (Erie) Visits Peoria!

It has been a while since one of Norfolk Southern’s “heritage units” has visited Peoria.

The dry spell was broken late Wednesday afternoon when NS 1068 led Train 55W into East Peoria. Painted in Erie Railroad two-tone green with yellow pinstriping, the SD70ACe was joined by two other locomotives (NS 9350 and UP 6512) and 86 cars.

I shot video of the train at the Harding Road crossing just east of Crandall Junction (near Morton).

Sometime after midnight, the train will be forwarded out of town on the Iowa Interstate Railroad. Final destination is Heartland Coop’s 18th Street elevator in Des Moines, Iowa, which is served by Norfolk Southern.

The Iowa Interstate acts as “haulage agent” so NS can quite single-line service at out Des Moines to southeast consignees.

– David P Jordan

BNSF “Peoria Local” – An Anniversary Encounter

Thanks to several railfan friends, I successfully intercepted BNSF’s M-GALPEI (Manifest, GALesburg IL to PEoria IL) this afternoon.

I caught it just west of Yates City. Road construction and higher track speeds kept me from catching the train until Oak Hill, where I shot the opening video. There’s a still shot just south of Harmon Highway then several more at S. Darst Street before the final video at the Ft. of Greenlawn Street in Peoria.

BNSF B40-8s 541 & 509 have 48 cars. June 23 is an important date for me. Twenty-one years ago today, I photographed this train’s Burlington Northern predecessor (then called “13814”) after it arrived Peoria with a single locomotive (GP28P 1596) and 14 cars.

Note the two Aurora-built Caterpillar 988K Wheel Loaders on the head end. These are bound for export via Savannah, Georgia and routed BNSF-Peoria-NS. Those and the tank car on the rear were the only loads.

– David P. Jordan

BNSF Officer’s Special

Exactly a week after the Iowa Interstate business train rolled through Peoria, a BNSF officer’s special passed through the area…and in both directions.

Train O-LAJCHI (Special, LaJunta CO to Chicago IL) passed through northern Peoria County on BNSF’s Chillicothe Subdivision. I missed that one, but saw it return west as O-CHITOP (Special, Chicago IL to Topeka KS).

I took the above video a little after 6:00 this evening. BNSF ES44DC No. 7409 led seven passenger cars.

– David P. Jordan

First EMD F125 “Spirit” Enroute to Customer (Metrolink in LA)!

The first of an order for 20 diesel passenger locomotives is enroute to Los Angeles’ Metrolink (SCAX) commuter agency…

…and it just passed through the Peoria area.

Ordered by Metrolink in May 2013, the F125 Spirit is assembled by Caterpillar subsidiary Progress Rail/EMD at Muncie, Indiana. Each locomotive is powered by a Caterpillar C175-20 diesel engine built at Lafayette, Indiana.

A couple of other units, SCAX 903 and SCAX 904, were brought to EMD’s LaGrange, Illinois facility for testing, so SCAX 905, seen above being hauled in a special train through Princeville, Illinois June 13, 2016, will be the first of the order to be delivered.

For movement from Muncie, Indiana to Los Angeles, California, Norfolk Southern hauled the F125 in a special train consisting of Norfolk Southern GP60s 7138 & 7113 and flat cars used as “spacer” cars. Norfolk Southern handed the train off to BNSF at Streator, and it is now making its way west.

The units at LaGrange will likely make their way to Los Angeles via BNSF, and the other 17 will probably be routed NS-Streator-BNSF. So we can expect all of them to pass through the Peoria area over the next year or so.

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Visit by IAIS Business Train!

Two business cars owned by the Iowa Interstate Railroad are heading to a Pittsburgh suburb for the US Open.

In a rare occurrence, the Iowa Interstate’s Abraham Lincoln and Hawkeye are going offline to entertain visitors to the US Open Championship in Oakmont, Pennsylvania June 14-19.

But that’s not all…GP38-2s 716 and 711 are going as well. It’s a rare treat for eastern railfans to see such equipment belonging to this midwest regional carrier. It actually happened once before, in July 2010.

I caught this train at Bureau Jct. and followed it to Peoria. At East Peoria, a Norfolk Southern crew took over and handled the train to Decatur where it tied up until Friday morning. From Decatur, the train will travel the ex-Wabash Lafayette District east.

I haven’t confirmed the train’s routing, but the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern and Wheeling & Lake Erie are expected to be involved.

– David P. Jordan

Union Pacific MPECL (Big Caterpillar D11T Export Move!)

Here’s hoping this is a sign Caterpillar’s machinery sales are beginning to recover.

Union Pacific’s regular Friday afternoon freight out of Peoria (MPECLManifest, PEoria IL to CLinton IA) included an unusual sight. Not unusual as a rail-hauled commodity, but odd because it was on the Union Pacific.

That’s because BNSF Railway gets almost all of the company’s western shipments out of Illinois, domestic or export. That is true of Caterpillar’s Montgomery (Aurora), Illinois plant, served under contract by the Burlington Junction Railway for BNSF. The East Peoria plant, served by switching and terminal carrier Tazewell & Peoria RR (TZPR), has multiple routing options, but has for many years used BNSF for exports via Houston (TX) or Tacoma (WA) and to domestic U. S. dealers. The Decatur facility, served by Canadian National, sends some of its product to BNSF via TZPR.

So it was a bit of a surprise to see 14 Caterpillar loads (seven flat cars with D11T track-type tractors; seven gondolas each containing one D11T blade) imbedded in the consist of Friday’s MPECL. These machines are going to an undisclosed export market (though likely somewhere in South America) via the Port of Freeport (Houston), Texas.

Seeing seven D11Ts is unusual. Hopefully, this is a sign that orders are beginning to increase. We know Illinois could use the business, even if a little at a time.

– David P. Jordan

Circus Train Makes Local Appearance!

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey hasn’t brought one of its two circus trains to [East] Peoria since 2011, but circus trains pass through the area at least twice a year on BNSF Railway’s Chillicothe Subdivision. I caught the Red Unit Circus Train enroute from Hershey, Pennsylvania to Lincoln, Nebraska Wednesday, June 1, 2016.

I intercepted the 60-car train on Norfolk Southern’s Kankakee District, shooting footage just west of Sunbury, Illinois about 1:00pm. Additional footage was shot from the Rt. 18 overpass just east of Streator, at Streator and finally on BNSF’s Chillicothe Sub at Edelstein about 3:00pm.

This is my first encounter with a circus train since September 2014, when I chased the Red Unit Circus Train from Grand Rapids, Michigan to near the Indiana state line at White Pidgeon on the Grand Elk Railroad.

– David P. Jordan

BNSF’s Westbound Peoria Local, er, Manifest 5/31/16

A friend’s heads up allowed me to intercept BNSF Railway’s westbound E. Peoria to Galesburg freight, M-PEIGAL (Manifest, PEoria IL Interchange to GALesburg IL) yesterday, May 31, 2016.

I’m glad I took advantage of his information. You see, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen the 14th car, BNSF 435784. In fact, I photographed it at Reynolds, Indiana May 18!

TPW051816D - Copy

The car was loaded with bentonite in Wyoming, routed BNSF-Peoria-TPW and consigned to Magnetation LLC in Reynolds, Indiana. Magnetation apparently lacks rail unloading facilities for bentonite at its nearby plant, so it has cars spotted at the Co-Alliance grain elevator where material is transferred to truck for final delivery. This is new business for TP&W, since about 2014 or so.

Anyway, the 35-car M-PEIGAL was led by BNSF 8234 & 7978. Video was shot at the intersection of Route 8 and Koerner Road just west of Pottstown.

– David P. Jordan