Freight Car Friday – Freight Cars of Indianapolis

18 07 2014

This week Lionel and the LCCA are racing to Indianapolis for the LCCA’s 2014 Convention. While this city is best known for a different sort of “track” there is plenty of railroad history and contemporary action to entertain any rail fan.

Indianapolis Union Railway

X31 boxcar

Indianapolis was an important stop of the Pennsy’s route from Pittsburgh to St. Louis.

To get a good picture of the total Indianapolis railroad scene you just have to start with one company, the Indianapolis Union Railway. Indianapolis was the first city in the world to host a “Union Station” – that is a station which served more than one company equally. When opened in 1853, the new station offered the citizens of Indianapolis a single, central station from which they could catch a train on a number of different railroads which radiated out of town like the spokes of a wheel. For travelers making connections in Indianapolis, the unified facility meant catching another train was never much more difficult than walking to a different platform instead of arranging transportation across town to another rail head.

Monon

The Monon was among the smallest of roads to enter Indianapolis, but it wore its Hoosier State pride proudly.

The IU was organized in 1850 as the Union Track Railway Company with a total of about 3 miles of track built or ceded by three railroads. The name changed to Indianapolis Union in 1853. Over the coming years, more railroads would be added as the efficiency of Union Station spurred commerce in and around the city. By the early 2oth Century, the list of owners included the Pennsylvania, New York Central, Baltimore and Ohio, Nickel Plate, Illinois Central and the Monon.

Conrail PS-2

In 1976, Conrail took over most of the remaining rails in and around the city.

In the 1930s, ownership of the IU was consolidated down to just the Pennsylvania and New York Central, with the other companies paying rent and continuing to run into the station. In 1968 the IU became a wholly owned subsidiary of Penn Central then passed to Conrail and finally to CSX.  The passenger trains of course ran under only the Amtrak banner after 1971.

Today’s Operations

Norfolk Southern

Despite the perceptions of endless farm fields, southern Indiana and Illinois topography offers hills, grades and coal. Between mines and utilities, coal trains remain a common sight in the region.

Today’s freight operations include Norfolk Southern and CSX as well as the regional Indiana Railroad and shortlines Indiana Southern and Louisville and Indiana. The latter three roads all began as Conrail shed duplicate main and branchlines around the city in the 1980s and 1990s. CSX inherited most of the remaining Conrail property in the city in 1999, with Norfolk Southern operating on trackage rights.

CSX

CSX is the major player in town today. Covered hoppers are in constant supply, bound for numerous grain elevators in the region.

Avon Yard, on the west side of the city near the airport, serves as the major classification point for traffic heading east-west as well as connections north-south. While much of the traffic still passes right through the heart of the city thanks to the elevated right-of-way built for the station more than a century ago, connecting lines and branches can provide a different look in any direction as you travel around the area. Whether you’re after heavy action on a Class 1 railroad with an urban backdrop or a local freight on bucolic rural branch line, all can be had within a short drive and from safe, public vantage points.





Freight Car Friday – Freight Cars of Detroit

21 02 2014

This week’s Worlds Greatest Hobby show comes into familiar territory for Lionel. For many years Lionel’s main offices and assembly operations were just a few minutes north of Detroit and we still have offices in Sterling Heights today.

While cars may still trump rails for notoriety in the Motor City, Detroit’s auto industry (and others) require an extensive network of railroads. Today the city is served by Conrail (Yes, still Conrail!) and Canadian National with a long heritage of famous fallen flags.

hi-cube

Conrail remains a major operator around Detroit serving the remaining automotive assembly plants and other industries.

When Conrail was split between Norfolk Southern and CSX in 1998, there were areas where there was no easy way to divide the routes and preserve competition. Detroit is one of these three “Shared Assets Areas” where Conrail still exists as a terminal switching railroad owned by NS and CSX. Conrail interchanges traffic with both railroads as well as Canadian National’s Grand Trunk.

GT

The Grand Trunk and its autoracks and other cars are still a household name in Detroit.

Most of the current Conrail route traces its route to the New York Central and its predecessors, the most notable being the Michigan Central and Lake Shore and Michigan Southern. A former Pennsylvania Railroad branch and connecting lines from the Detroit Terminal and Union Belt Railway round out the miles. All of these lines were first consolidated under Penn Central and then became part of Conrail.

Wabash

The Wabash was one of many historic roads with rails into Detroit. The tracks are part of Norfolk Southern today.

Norfolk Southern had another historic route into Detroit before the Conrail acquisition via the old Wabash.

Most domestic traffic moves south from the city to connections with the major east-west trunk lines at Toledo, Ohio or further west at interchanges in Indiana. Heading north into the peninsula, branch lines serve a variety of other industries and deposits of natural resources.

X31

Prior to the days of big autoracks, boxcars like this were the primary means of moving Detroit’s top export.

The Grand Trunk provides an important outlet for goods moving east to Canada (from Detroit most international traffic moves east, not north.) Today’s Grand Trunk includes parts of the former Detroit, Toledo and Ironton which it absorbed in 1981.

The DT&I itself has an interesting history that very much mirrors the boom and bust periods that typify the rest of Detroit’s past. It was for a time owned by Henry Ford, who’s experiment with electrification in 1923 can still be seen in some remaining catenary supports today. The DT&I was then sold to financial holding companies of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It retained its own identity through PRR control and was even given control of the Ann Arbor railroad for a time. The Penn Central bankruptcy changed things and the DT&I went into the hands of private investors for about a decade before being sold to Canadian National.

The names have all changed, but railroads continue to cross the city like a web serving the auto industry and many others. With multiple carriers sharing limited space, operations can still get very interesting around the many yards, crossings and interchanges and the future of the rails here seems secure.

 





New Product Spotlight – American Flyer Norfolk Southern Heritage ES44ACs

7 10 2013

We introduced our American Flyer replicas of Norfolk Southern’s now famous Heritage Series of locomotives in 2012. This year we are completing the run with the remainder of the twenty locomotive fleet including a new-to-S Gauge ES44AC!

Reading

6-42531 – Reading SD70ACE

Shortly after their introduction, these locomotives were turned loose on Norfolk Southern to perform daily chores just like the rest of the roster. They can show up almost anywhere at any time on any train. Several have even made it well off of Norfolk Southern’s rails, being seen as far away as Washington and California. Despite their “regular roles” the locomotives are still required to be washed monthly and crews will often take the extra time to make sure they are in the lead on a consist whenever possible.

CofG

6-42542 Central of Georgia ES44AC

Whether you are a fan of modern era railroading or just like seeing a favorite fallen flag back again, these locomotives have something for everybody. And our American Flyer models are designed to please as well.

Both the SD70ACE and ES44AC models have similar features. Powered and non-powered models of each scheme are available with unique numbers. Powered locomotives include:

NW

6-42552 Norfolk and Western ES44AC

  • LEGACY Control System – able to run on LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional power. The models are also DCC enabled.
  • AF Speed Control with on/off switch for maintaining an even speed through curves and grades
  • LEGACY RailSounds featuring
    • CrewTalk and TowerCom announcements with varying scenarios based on the train’s motion

      Interstate

      6-42546 Interstate ES44AC

    • Eight diesel RPM levels
    • LEGACY Quilling Horn
    • Single hit or continuous mechanical bell
    • Independent volume control
  • Two maintenance-free motors
  • Front and Rear ElectroCouplers
  • Mounting holes and support plate for scale couplers (sold separately)
  • Pivoting Pilot allows for operation on tight curves with better appearance
  • Operating headlight, ditch lights, illuminated number boards and detailed cab interior

    6-42544 Conrail ES44AC

    6-42544 Conrail ES44AC

  • Traction Tires
  • Metal Frame
  • Fan-driven smoke unit
  • Die-cast metal trucks, pilots and fuel tank
  • Separately applied metal details
  • Cab window glass
  • Engineer and conductor figures

Non powered locomotives feature:

LV

6-42548 Lehigh Valley ES44AC

  • Metal Frame
  • Die-cast metal trucks, pilots, fuel tank
  • Front and Rear operating couplers
  • Separately applied metal details
NKP

6-42550 Nickel Plate ES44AC

All locomotives will negotiate S-36 curves. All come with American Flyer wheels but can be switched to scale wheels which will be available separately through Lionel Customer Service. ES44AC locomotives retail for $529.99 (powered) and $269.99 (non-powered.) SD70ACEs retail for $479.99 and $239.99.

VGN

6-42535 Virginian SD70ACE

In addition to the locomotives, separate sale cylindrical covered hoppers are also available decorated in complementary schemes for each road name. Twenty of these would certainly create a colorful consist! Cars retail for $79.99 each.

NS

6-42558 Norfolk Southern ES44AC

If you are looking for colorful modern power for your American Flyer layout, it doesn’t get any better than this. Keep your eyes open for these Heritage Units coming to the rails and hobby shops near you!

SOU

6-42556 Southern ES44AC

Wabash

6-42537 Wabash SD70ACE

PRR

6-42554 Pennsylvania ES44AC

S&A

6-42533 Savannah & Atlanta SD70ACE

6-42560 Monongahela ES44AC

6-42560 Monongahela ES44AC





New Product Spotlight – SD40-2 Diesels

1 07 2013

The best-selling locomotive of all time. Anyone who has spent any time beside the rails from the 1970s to today would have no trouble believing the SD40-2’s rightful claim to that title.

Chessie

6-38918 Chessie System

The SD40 was overshadowed in the trade press by the more powerful SD45 when EMD introduced the locomotives in 1965. But crankshaft problems and high fuel consumption in the midst of rapidly rising oil prices caused many railroads to quickly reconsider the priorities of horsepower over efficiency. Soon the “mid-size” SD40 was gaining ground and finding buyers all across North America.

When EMD introduced it’s upgraded “-2” electrical package in 1972, the SD40 became even more attractive. The 3,000 horsepower road engine was just the right size for nearly every task. Its efficient and reliable operation sealed the deal.

B&O

6-38924 B&O

In order to accommodate the new HT-C trucks without compromising the space for the fuel tank, EMD used a longer frame for the SD40-2. The result was a pair of very large “porches” that gave the SD40-2 a distinctive look. When EMD modified the radiator air intakes for the “Tunnel Motor” SD40T-2, most of the back porch was eliminated. We’ve included this variation on our Union Pacific model.

UP

6-38936 Union Pacific (SD40T-2)

In total, EMD sold 3,982 SD40-2s between 1972 and 1989. A testament to the locomotive’s reliability,  most are still in service today. Many railroads have rebuilt their SD40-2 fleets as opposed to selling or trading them. Most of those that have been sold have gone to leasing companies which loan the locomotives back to the railroads when traffic demands are high. Other locomotives like SD45s and SD50s have been rebuilt so that, at least internally, they are identical to the SD40-2.

Found on railroads coast-to-coast (and beyond), Lionel is proud to add five new roadnames to our growing family of SD40-2s. All of the models feature:

  • LEGACY Control – also capable of running on TMCC or Conventional

    Conrail

    6-38933 Conrail

  • Odyssey II Speed Control
  • LEGACY RailSounds including
    • CrewTalk and TowerCom dialog
    • 6 Railroad speeds
    • 8 Diesel RPM levels
    • LEGACY Quilling horn
    • Single hit or continuous mechanical bell
    • Sequence control provides sounds and dialog for an entire trip around your layout
    • Current speed and fuel dialog and refueling sounds
  • ElectroCouplers on front and rear
  • Dual motors with flywheels
  • Refined Transformer Control with lower starting speeds
  • Traction Tires
  • Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting including LED headlights
  • Working Marker Lights
  • Illuminated number boards
  • Lighted and detailed cab interior with figures
  • Operating Ditch Lights
  • Metal frame
  • Die-cast metal trucks, fuel tank and pilots
  • O-31 minimum curve

Two LEGACY powered and one non-powered locomotive are available for each roadname allowing you to recreate a typical 3-unit consist. These locomotives also frequently wandered from one railroad to another, so mixing some of your favorites will look perfectly prototypical.

Non-Powered locomotives feature:

NS

6-38939 Norfolk Southern

  • Die-cast metal trucks, pilot and fuel tank
  • Select separately applied details
  • Magnetic couplers

In addition to the five new roadnames pictured here, the SD40-2s are also available decorated for the Norfolk and Western, Missouri Kansas and Texas, Burlington Northern, Frisco, Chicago and Northwestern and CSX. See our 2013 Catalog for more images.

From sea to shining sea, the SD40-2 is the perfect power for anybody who enjoys the trains of the 1970s to today. See your local dealer to add this best-seller to your roster.