Positive Train Control Update

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a status update on railroads’ progress implementing positive train control (PTC) systems in the fourth quarter of 2016. The status update, based on railroad-submitted quarterly data, shows freight railroads continue to make consistent progress while passenger industry progress in installing and activating the life-saving technology only slightly increased.

The latest data, current as of Dec. 31, 2016, confirms freight railroads now have PTC active on just 16% of tracks required to be equipped with PTC systems — up from 12% last quarter. Passenger railroads made less progress — with a slight increase to 24% from 23%.

RELATED: Commuter rail continues to make progress on PTC

Due in large part to Amtrak’s significant progress on PTC, 41% of passenger railroads’ locomotives are now fully equipped with PTC technology, compared to 29% the previous quarter. Freight railroads’ percentage of locomotives fully equipped with PTC technology rose to 42%, up from 38%.

“We continue to closely monitor railroads’ progress implementing Positive Train Control,” said Patrick Warren, FRA Executive Director. “With less than two years remaining to complete the implementation process, it is imperative that railroads continue to meet implementation milestones.”

RELATED: NCTD files app to begin revenue service demo of PTC

Congress requires Class I railroads and entities providing regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation to implement PTC systems by Dec. 31, 2018. Only if some key implementation and installation milestones are met may railroads be eligible to obtain a limited extension to complete certain non-hardware, operational aspects of PTC system implementation no later than Dec. 31, 2020, subject to the Secretary of Transportation’s approval.

 

April 2017 The Spill with President Ricky Bivins

Greetings.

This will be short. As I forgot to send Bill my article! In the midst of spring we are all busy. Please forgive me.    

The April business meeting should be short, all we should be doing is recapping current business as it stands. Keep in mind the National convention is just a few months away and in Nashville Tennessee. That’s very close and we should be able to have a few members present. I received an update from National membership status I’m pleased to say server members have rejoined on the national level.

Our next photo session is coming up the first full week of May. May 6 will be an outing in my hometown of Mortons Gap Kentucky. We will be trackside at the city park with the convenience stores and restrooms within 2 to 3 miles. Our Hopkinsville members will host a meeting next month in Hopkinsville at the former L&N depot which is trackside in downtown Hopkinsville. I am sure there is a lot I have it covered, if you have a business side of this mountain be sure and bring it up under new business Monday night. We will see you there!

Ricky Bivins, President

 

April 2017 Update on High Iron Trips

Don Clayton

From Don Clayton…

Due to some conflicting schedules with the 611 excursions, we are revising our Kanawha River trip schedule. This update is shown in the attached. The BNSF trip has been removed for rescheduling.  Information on ticketing for the Piedmont & Northern trips will be available shortly.  Sorry for any confusion!

June 3-12, 2017:. KANAWHA RIVER RAILROAD BEHIND ex-NKP 765.  (Note: Kanawha River Railroad is a former NYC line, now operated by WATCO).

June 3: Deadhead to Pickerington, Ohio (near Columbus), load passengers, run to the village of Eclipse (near Athens) or as far as practical. Use Kanawha River Railroad unit to pull train back to Pickerington/Watkins Yard. Total is about 150 miles.

June 4: Deadhead to Pickerington, Ohio to load passengers, then run two short trips, Pickerington to Glouster and return, about 114 miles per trip. Use Kanawha River Railroad unit to pull train on all westbound moves.

June 5: Deadhead train to either Nitro or Dickinson Yard for storage during week.

June 9: Diesel trip, Charleston as far as we can go toward Enon, MP WV253 and return.  Total of about 140 miles.

June 10: Load passengers at the University of Charleston stadium in downtown Charleston and run to Maben. Bus passengers to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, deadhead train to Mullens/Elmore to wye. Deadhead move may be occupied. Total is about 170 miles.

June 11: Repeat of Saturday’s trip.

June 12: One way move from Charleston to Pickerington, Ohio, Then deadhead into

Watkins yard. Equipment will be 611 Steam Train consist plus Caritas and Cimarron

River. Pricing to be determined.

September 14-22, 2017: AAPRCO Convention in Burlington, VT

The Special Train will start in Albany/Renssalaer, NY on a route not yet finalized but

including major portions of the Vermont Rail System. The actual convention dates are

September 19-22. We will be participating with the Caritas and Cimarron River.

Clark Johnson Today, 9:07 AM

 

April 2017 All Things Trains and Photography by Jim Pearson

March 25, 2017 – The Princeton railroad station was built in 1875 and has been beautifully restored. Once housing the C&EI and L&N railways, it was the lifeline of commerce and transportation for the county. Passenger service was discontinued in the late 1960’s. The Princeton Train Depot is now home to the Gibson County Visitors Center and features a railway museum with a restored train caboose.

Sometimes I start out planning to do one thing when I set off on a railfan trip, but end up doing something different which usually results in nice photos I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise!

I try to do some railfan photography several days during the week, usually Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Mostly because on CSX’s Henderson Subdivision, which runs here through Madisonville, Ky, these are the busiest days.

Well, last saturday, March 25th, 2017, the weather was overcast and it was drizzling rain off and on most of the morning as I sat here working on the computer and trying to motivate myself to get out the door and on the road. Yes, I too sometimes have to motivate myself to take pictures! LOL

After posting a few queries on Facebook to a couple railfan groups, about current traffic for trains in the area I want to railfan, I finally decided that I was going to point my Toyota RAV4 north and see where it’d lead me!

Responses to the  Facebook posts were providing some info that trains were out there moving, just not a lot of them, so it seemed, but that never deters me as I always seem to find them. For me it’s not about the number of trains, but catching unusual or different angles, scenes or trains when I’m trackside. This day seemed to start out challenging, to say the least!

March 25, 2017 – CSX Autorack train Q247 arrives at the north end of Howell Yard in Evansville, Indiana.

Out of Madisonville I followed CSX’s Henderson Subdivision north to Evansville, Indiana and during the whole trip I only saw and heard (I use a scanner to listen to the train traffic) one train, a southbound, which I was too late in catching to get a photo! It wasn’t looking good! 50 miles and only one train? Maybe I should have stayed home, but the clouds in the sky were fantastic and I was determined to catch some trains with them!

My first stop was CSX’s Howell Yards in Evansville, Indiana. This is a spot where you can drive all the way around the yard and get good shots from various angles. My favorite location however is on the west side of the yard across from the engine service facility. This is where I caught a autorack train coming into the yard heading south and empty coal train northbound from the yard. Knowing the route the coal train would take I decided to head on north toward Princeton, Indiana to get ahead of the coal train to catch it along its way north. This way I’d be sure of at least getting a few shots with a train.

March 25, 2017 – Empty coal train CSX E234 heads through St. James Curve at St. James, Indiana as it makes it’s way north on the CE&D Subdivision.

The first spot I wanted to catch the coal train was a location known by railroaders as St. James Curve, which is just outside the small hamlet of St. James, Indiana, just past I-64 off of Hwy 41 north. After arriving and waiting about 5 minutes the coal train, E234, graced my presence as it swept through the curve into the frame to allow me to catch this sweeping photo with the beautiful clouds in the sky! First photo I was really happy with from the day!March 25, 2017 – CSX empty coal train E234 heads north through St. James Curve at St. James, Indiana, on CSX’s CE&D Subdivision.

Knowing how fast the train was moving I knew I only really had one other spot I could get to before the train and that was the restored depot in Princeton, Indiana, which was the furthest I planned on going on this trip today.

Again, I was rewarded with this shot as the coal train prepared to pass the station as it continued its trip north.

March 25, 2017 – CSX empty coal train E234 passes the depot at Princeton, Indiana as it heads north on CSX’s CE&D Subdivision. The station was built in 1875 and has been beautifully restored. Once housing the C&EI and L&N railways, it was the lifeline of commerce and transportation for the county. Passenger service was discontinued in the late 1960?s. The Princeton Train Depot is now home to the Gibson County Visitors Center and features a railway museum with a restored train caboose.

At this point I was satisfied that I had a couple nice photos in the camera, but still I wanted more!

I had been in contact with fellow railfan photographer Ryan Scott via Facebook Messenger and phone, since I got to Howell Yard in Evansville. He also was out railfanning and we decided to meet up at the depot in Princeton to visit and railfan together.

That’s where things started to change from my original plan! We spent time looking and shooting at the Norfolk Southern Yard at Princeton and along the other lines in and around town and at the Alliance Coal Mine loop where coal trains load. Ryan then suggested night photos! He’s not had much success on shooting photos at night and was looking for some tips and help. I hadn’t planned on staying trackside that late, but it had been quite awhile since I did any night work so I went for it.

March 25, 2017 – The red light from signals light up the front of NS 871 with an empty Norfolk Southern coal train that tied down in Lyle Siding at Princeton, Indiana, waiting on a crew to take it on east on the NS Southern West district.

Now, for the railfan friends of mine that read this, here’s some of the tips I passed onto Ryan as we were shooting at Norfolk Southern’s Lyle Siding and in downtown Princeton during our night shoot that you might find helpful as well.

First, before we got out of the car, where we had some light, we set our cameras as follows:

  • Turn off auto ISO if you use it and set your ISO to 250.
  • Set your camera on manual and the shutter speed to 20 seconds with your lens aperture to it’s widest opening.
  • Remove any filters that might be on the lenses you’re going to shoot with. Otherwise you can get some ghosting in your photos when the lights reflect back into the filter.
  • Place your camera on a tripod!
  • Then set the self timer on your camera to somewhere between 3-10 seconds. This is to insure that there’s no camera shake, resulting in a blurred image, when you trip the shutter.

Review your first photo on your LCD screen. If it’s too dark, increase your exposure by giving it more time, ie 30 -60 seconds. If your camera won’t allow beyond a 30 second exposure then increase your ISO setting to give you another stop of light. That means go from 250 to 500 ISO, or something equivalent. I try to keep my ISO as low as possible as this helps to keep the noise (grain) down in the photograph. Keep adjusting like this until you get an exposure that you like and feel you can work in. If the photo is too light then of course you go in the other direction with your exposure.

March 25, 2017 – Great time shooting some night action with fellow railfans Ryan Scott and Dave Kunkle! We caught this empty Norfolk Southern coal train that tied down in Lyle Siding at Princeton, Indiana, waiting on a crew to take it on east on the NS Southern West district. A big shout out to Dave Kunkle who was gracious enough to be our “grip” and use his hat to cover a bothersome light on one of the RR Boxes next to the crossing!

Focusing can be an issue when shooting at night as well. I usually bring a bright spotlight to shine on my subject to aid in focus, but since I didn’t start out planning to shoot night photos, I didn’t bring one. So, we had to improvise.

Change your focus point to center weighted so you have a single point to focus with. Then pick a bright spot on your subject and try to focus. If the camera can’t lock in the focus using the brightest spot, then see if there’s not something brighter about the same distance away that you can focus on. Another thing you can do if you are shooting with someone else, is to have your friend stand in a safe spot next to your subject and turn their smart phone’s flashlight on facing the camera and focus on the light from it. Of course you can manually focus as well, but for my aging eyesight I find autofocus works better for me.

Now, once you have the camera focused you need to turn off the autofocus on your lens or camera. Otherwise when you press the shutter button on the camera it’s going to try to refocus when you take the photo, probably resulting in an out of focus photo. I personally use the back focus button on my Nikon D800 and turn it off on the shutter button. This way I don’t have this issue. Most of your DSLRs have this feature. If yours doesn’t then you’ll have to turn it off on the lens between subjects.

Other than that, shoot a lot and check your focus after shooting each photo! Do this by viewing the photo on your LCD and zooming in tight to check your focus. Nothing more disappointing than shooting a bunch of photos to find they’re soft or out of focus, after you get back home.

As you can see from several of the photos here, I came away with some nice photos for not really having planned for shooting at night.

Oh, by the way, I left to start this trip at noon Saturday and by the time I got back home it was 12:30 am Sunday morning. Sometimes, things work that way though! All in all a good trip! Be safe out there when you’re trackside or traveling!

Chapter Archives now online!

Thanks to the hard work of Chapter Member Steve Miller and a lot of other folks our chapters photography archive and Pennyrail newsletters are now online and available to the general public! If you have historic images that you think fit into one of our sections please contact Steve by clicking on this LINK Here. You may visit the Archive by following the link above on the menu or click on the graphic.

March 2017 Spill with President Ricky Bivins

Ricky Bivins, Chapter President

Greetings.

The February meeting was somewhat fast and furious, a lot of information was presented to the membership. We discussed the NRHS National’s position on membership renewals, the Amelia software in use by National, “policing” National dues on the local level, our local dues and what stance we will take on Chapter members being or not being members of National. The latter being, Chapter Officers will not question Chapter dues paying members as to their affiliation with National. The Chapter will simply assume local members are dues paying National members.

Also discussed in February was the upcoming NRHS National Convention in Nashville TN. Will Kling, is heading a committee to see if our Chapter can “pitch in” and help. At this meeting I would like to get a feel for the Members desire to “help” or simply “attend”. Be thinking along those lines between now and meeting night.

One way to grow our Chapter is with member functions. In years past we have had track side events in Crofton, Sebree, Mortons Gap, Henderson and other places. These are so enjoyable. Please give thought to a day “Track side” and host same.

I would like for our Modular Layout Committee to think up some way to use the Modular Layout other than just for the Christmas show.

I hope to have a report from Steve and Jim regarding the Photo Archive project. If you have skills these two could use speak up, I am sure they will entertain ideas. As well as ideas, articles and photo’s for the newsletter.

Remember to bring something for Show-N-Tell as well as a raffle item. If a mystery photo is provided, the first correct answer drawn gets first pick from the Raffle.

I hope to see you Monday, March 20, 2017 at 7:00 PM. We will once again meet in the Hopkins County Government Center on north Main Street right across from City Hall, Madisonville KY. Bring a friend. Bill Thomas will provide a program featuring Logging Railroads and Blair Terry will provide refreshments.

Ricky Bivins, President

 

March 2017 Update on High Iron Trips

Don Clayton

From Don Clayton…

Due to some conflicting schedules with the 611 excursions, we are revising our Kanawha River trip schedule. This update is shown in the attached. The BNSF trip has been removed for rescheduling.  Information on ticketing for the Piedmont & Northern trips will be available shortly.  Sorry for any confusion!

March 25, 2017. STREATOR CIRCLE TRIP. A day trip from Chicago to Streator, IL on ex-AT&SF; then east on ex-NYC (now NS) back Chicago via Schneider, IN (connection with ex-NYC Cairo, IL line to Indiana Harbor). Lv. Union station 8AM; return around 5PM.  Fares: Dome $495; Caritas (open platform obs. car) $595; coach seat $295. Lunch included.

June 3-12, 2017:. KANAWHA RIVER RAILROAD BEHIND ex-NKP 765.  (Note: Kanawha River Railroad is a former NYC line, now operated by WATCO).

June 3: Deadhead to Pickerington, Ohio (near Columbus), load passengers, run to the village of Eclipse (near Athens) or as far as practical. Use Kanawha River Railroad unit to pull train back to Pickerington/Watkins Yard. Total is about 150 miles.

June 4: Deadhead to Pickerington, Ohio to load passengers, then run two short trips, Pickerington to Glouster and return, about 114 miles per trip. Use Kanawha River Railroad unit to pull train on all westbound moves.

June 5: Deadhead train to either Nitro or Dickinson Yard for storage during week.

June 9: Diesel trip, Charleston as far as we can go toward Enon, MP WV253 and return.  Total of about 140 miles.

June 10: Load passengers at the University of Charleston stadium in downtown Charleston and run to Maben. Bus passengers to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, deadhead train to Mullens/Elmore to wye. Deadhead move may be occupied. Total is about 170 miles.

June 11: Repeat of Saturday’s trip.

June 12: One way move from Charleston to Pickerington, Ohio, Then deadhead into

Watkins yard. Equipment will be 611 Steam Train consist plus Caritas and Cimarron

River. Pricing to be determined.

September 14-22, 2017: AAPRCO Convention in Burlington, VT

The Special Train will start in Albany/Renssalaer, NY on a route not yet finalized but

including major portions of the Vermont Rail System. The actual convention dates are

September 19-22. We will be participating with the Caritas and Cimarron River.

Clark Johnson Today, 9:07 AM

 

All Things Trains and Photography- Trackside Video

This month’s photography column will be all about the equipment and software for capturing trackside videos using your smartphone.

From a composition standpoint video photography of trains is pretty much the same as regular still photography except of course you capture motion and can put together sequences and titles to help tell the story.

Turning your phone horizontally (to landscape mode) is the best way to record all your smartphone videos. Period! It’s much easier to handle the phone this way and you won’t see those annoying black side bars when watching your video on a large screen. Also, don’t forget that your TV and Computer Monitors sit horizontally and not vertical.

Plus, everything looks much beautiful recorded in horizontal (more room for your subject) vs. an ugly compress square. This format might be okay for Instagram photos, but not for videos.

Depending on which smartphone you have will determine the quality of your video. The newer iPhones come with 4K video resolution (a far cry from the VHS days!), which is about as high a quality you can get these days. However, you need to make sure it’s set to record in the highest quality by paying a visit to the settings on your device. Be aware, the higher the quality of your video the larger your video file is and the more space it will take. Also, it will take longer to upload if you posting it online.

Below are screen grabs where you can set your video quality on the iPhone. Not sure where it is on other smartphones, but should be somewhere under your settings.

 

One sure sign of an amateur video recording (besides a video done with low lighting) is a shaky video. So, stop holding your iPhone and mount it on a stand. Working with a mounted iPhone will also prevent your shot from going out of focus.

One mount for the iPhone and other smartphones is the GripTight GorillaPod stand made by Joby. This flexible iPhone mount is an ideal accessory for all videographers on-the-go.

The stand is compact, doesn’t take up too much room and holds the phone safely and securely and can also be attached to poles and tree limbs. The GripTight mount can also be attached to most other tripods via a universal ¼” screw.

I personally use a regular tripod for my video work and attach my camera using the device below. It runs $8.99 on Amazon Prime. Click on the photo for a link. There’s many others available however if you just do a search.

 

If you don’t have a tripod, one stabilization trick is bracing yourself against something such as a light pole or tree. Another is to bring your elbows in tight against your body, which will give you more stability. Holding your breath during shots can also help minimize shakiness if you are hand-holding the phone on a solid surface.

While editing your video on the smartphone can be done, if you’re going to be serious about your video work it’s best to do it on a desktop computer. The controls are much easier to use. There are many programs out there that allow you to do this and one’s probably already installed on your Windows computer called Movie Maker. Many others are available as well on the market. My favorite is Adobe Premiere Pro. It’s a monthly subscription software that runs about $20 a month. I do a lot of video work for my church however and so I go with this heavy-duty software. Do a Goggle search and you’ll find all kinds of software, some free and some paid.

As for editing on the smartphone itself? I use an app called Cameo a lot, but I also use MoviePro, Pinnacle Studio Pro and iMovie. Easiest way to learn to use these programs is to shoot some video and play around with them. You can also search on YouTube for the app and find tutorials there as well. Other apps that get top reviews are, Videoshop, Splice, Quik and Video Crop. There are many others however.

Many of the above apps will also allow you to shoot video instead of using the built-in camera. These apps and others such as Filmic Pro allow you to have much more control over the shooting of your videos.

If you plan on doing a lot of long videos, then I recommend getting a battery pack for whatever kind of smartphone you have. Video recording will eat the battery on your phone quick.

Also, in closing, I recommend that you don’t zoom! Most smartphones use digital zoom and the quality of your video will suffer greatly if it does. If your phone has optical zoom or you have add on lenses for your phone, then they should be fine. Digital zoom only enlarges the pixels on your phone and lowers the quality of the video and photo.

Hope this hasn’t left your head spinning too much. If you have questions, please feel free to drop me an email at jim@jimpearsonphotography.com

Here’s a link to a good video on Best Video Editing Apps for iOS
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrpHWyBgYW0

 

March 2017 Program by Bill Thomas – Shays Lumbering and More

Mr. August Thieme visited the woods of West Virginia during the late 1940’s and early 50’s for the purpose of filming geared locomotives and the operations of local lumbering companies.

Starting with the Meadow River Lumber Company, Shays and a Heisler are seen in action, as well as the skidder bringing logs into the range of the loader and log cars. Later, after arriving at the Rainelle Mill, the logs are dumped into the Mill Pond where pond me guide them up into the mill.

Three foot gauge Shays No. 5 and 6 are seen on the Ely-Thomas Lumber Company, together with more loading operations.

Lumberjacking and the Shays are viewed on the Mower Lumber Company, followed by early action on the soon-to-be Cass Scenic Railroad.

Many More geared locos, including a Climax, are seen working on the W. M. Ritter Co., Elk River Coal and Lumber Co., and the Brimstone and Graham County Railroads

End of Steam Story by Gary Ostlund

       Setting the stage:    In the early 50s, when steam engines were dropping out of the picture at an alarming rate,  TRAINS Magazine send Editor David P. Morgan and his close pal Dr. Philip R. Hastings out into the hinterland to record their demise in word and B&W.   As expected they did a spectacular job,  Morgan’s prose and Hasting’s lens recording history, never to be repeated.  Between them, a hotshot hoghead and a worn but game 4-8-2, forget what year it is and pretend this dead freight is the 20th Century Limited.

 

Morgan and Hastings found action in Galion, Ohio.  New York Central Extra 3005 East was doing some car shuffling and would depart soon.   Like most railfans,  they hopped in the car and raced 13 miles to Shelby, where an equally busy line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad crossed.

The dispatcher had temporarily lost track of Extra 3005 East and was attempting to pin down his location and whether or not he had his train in one piece.  In the words of Morgan, “the conversation, as relayed to us by the operator, gave no direct hint of what was to come.  As a result neither Hasting nor I noticed a faint smudge of smoke building in the horizon to the west.  A distant whistling was adjudged to be yet another first-class schedule, and we were scanning the timecard to identify it when another, nearer blast propelled us to trackside on the double.

  “Why, it’s the extra!  Can’t be — he might just have — it is and he’s rolling!”       Rolling is mild language for what he was doing.   Extra 3005 East, now no less than 98 cars between tank and caboose, was bearing down on Shelby with all the implications of destiny of the Book of Revelation,  gaining momentum with each revolution of those four pairs of 69-inch drivers, making the legal mile-a-minute with ease and perhaps a notch or two better.  The elephant-eared aristocrat of an Alco rammed across the diamond with smoke going high, the Baker up near center, and the crew enjoying the breeze.  Out of her dusty wake came her train — rattling,  rocking,  rolling, riding to Cleveland at such a pace that as Hastings recalls it, “one felt called upon to wonder at what moment the whole shebang would take either to the air or to the adjacent countryside.”

The wooden hack bringing up the markers shot off into the distance.  Left in the sudden quiet were two rather shaken train-watchers, one startled operator, and the voice of a dispatcher who, with noticeable alarm, had (1) discovered the pace of Extra 3005 East,  and (2) was attempting to stop him so that slower but more legitimate occupants of the eastbound main — passenger trains — could overtake the dead freight they had been supposed to run around.

Wonderful!  Too often steam departs from us in the form of a fan trip that suffers an engine breakdown . . .    How much better to wind it up like the 3005, taking a quiet Ohio town apart, pinning its ears back, performing like Alco said her 4410 cylinder horsepower should perform.    Abdicate..? — not willingly.

Credits:  Photos by Dr. Phil R. Hastings & excerpts by Editor David P. Morgan as seen in  “In Search or Steam, Volume II:  1954 – 1955