Recent Kalamazoo Reports

Anything pertaining to railfanning in Michigan.
Posts: 3678
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2004 10:35 pm
Location: Feel the Zeel, MI

Recent Kalamazoo Reports

Unread post by GP30M4216 »

NS 36E was going northbound at Gibson shortly before 7am this morning.
39J was switching cars at W. Bostford at that time.

Amtrak 365, the Blue Water, was only about 25 minutes behind the clock today. Certainly a huge imporvement over the 4 hours and 20 minutes behind schedule yesterday! An F40 cab remainds on this consist.

Amtrak 351, the Wolverine, was running about 20 minutes behind, and currently has a Genesis unit on each end of then train.

Amtrak 350, the Wolverine, came limping into Kalamazoo about an hour and 50 minutes late today. Greg Peet reported that the problem was a hot bearing on the "cabbage car" #90218, 2nd axle, south side. They were in the process of setting it out on the "north pass," but east of the LC Howard warehouse so BZO-2 could switch there later. Since the "cabbage" was on the east end of the train, they wouldn't be able to continue. They were asking about #353, perhaps they could get an engine from it to continue eastward.

While they were in the process of crossing over at the Harris crossover (from track #2 to track #1 so they could get into the north pass), BZO-2 was returning from the junkyard and stopped at the signal on the BO wye. Grand Trunk #521, also heading for Botsford, was right behind, with instructions not to cross Michigan Avenue. Anyways, 350 was doing a steady 3 mph all the way from WMU to the station. Originally they were only estimated to be about 20 minutes behind, but something happened between the state line and Niles, I think. No doubt this means 355 (same trainset) tonight will be well behind schedule also.

Amtrak 353, the Lake Cities, was about 45 minutes off schedule today. This is the solid Horizon 5 car lashup, and has an F40 NPCU cab on the Detroit end of the train.

NS local B1G finally came west today at 4PM. Since 3068 is somewhere else and I believe 3070 is still in Lansing, Conrail paired #3065 and #3066 lead today's 12 car local west down the MC line. Included was a mix of loaded lumber flats and boxcars, and also three Cargill black short tank cars, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th cars behind the locomotives. Always pleasent to hear a freight horn along the MC line. If they've been working since the morning (maybe they went to Augusta?), they will probably die on their hours, so they may not return till tomorrow unless they get a recrew tonight.

Amtrak 352, the Lake Cities, went by one minute ago about 5 minutes behind. They have a phase III painted Genesis leader on the Detroit end of the train, and two Phase III Horizon coaches in consist. An Acela Genesis is at the other end of this 5 car train. Finally, something running close to on time!

They annulled 355 westbound - replaced by a bus according to the Amtrak agent I spoke with. Tomorrow's Amtrak consists should be quite interesting as they try to sort all this business out!

Amtrak 364, the eastbound Blue Water, just went by about 12 minutes behind. They have 126 or 128 on the Port Huron end, with two phase III horizons behind, then two phase IV cars, with an NPCU F40 cab on the rear.

What should have been Amtrak train 355, Genesis, two coaches and an Amcafe, just passed through Kzoo westbound at 10:35pm. No cab on the rear, the Amfleet red tail lights were showing brightly. 90218 I believe is still in Botsford Yard.
Last edited by GP30M4216 on Tue Apr 19, 2005 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 3678
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2004 10:35 pm
Location: Feel the Zeel, MI

Kalamazoo Reports Continued

Unread post by GP30M4216 »

I decided to get out of the dorm and away from the books and out into today's wonderful sunshine by heading to downtown Kalamazoo for a few hours to see some trains and get some fresh air. Unfortunately, I missed the bus I wanted to take, so I arrived there later then I wanted to; close to 1 oclock. Scanner on, I walked over to BO Tower to base my travels by foot for the afternoon. Not much to see at the tower, although someone either picked up all the trash that was over there, or else it all blew away, so that was nice. With nothing new to see, I walked toward Botsford to see if B1G had come back this morning from Dowagiac and Lawton. Walking close to the yard, suddenly the scanner starts chattering away with a bunch of static and out of it the only words I understood were "west botsford." So I wander up the service road to the View Crossover and suddenly through the trees from toward the yard is see a puff of smoke and around the bend comes BZO-2.

NS GP40-2 3068 long hood forward
8 86' hi cube boxcars
4 shorter 60' hi cubes

Nice to finally catch BZO-2 moving around in the middle of the day heading for the southern industries! I got a nice photo of them sweeping around the curve at the View Crossover, and a friendly wave from the engineer.

After this, I walked over to the Mayor's Park River trail (across the Kalamazoo River from Botsford Yard). From here, I could see that B1G had in fact come into the yard earlier in the day, Conrail GP40-2s #3065 and #3066 with 12 cars, including that D&M boxcar, three tank cars, and the balance empty bulkhead flats and boxcars. A Conrail 50' boxcar was receiving a little wheelset attention on one of the RIP tracks. There were quite a few cars in the yard. One of the first yard tracks along the mainlines is well over half full of loaded coal hoppers - look for a move to bring these to the old Upjohn plant south of town perhaps Monday. I also observed that the Conrail American crane is gone, as are all the other misc. cars on the track which goes right along the river, except for the two old 50' boxcars near the end at Mills Street. No other power was in the yard (I wonder where the other three GP40-2s are?). The River Lookout at that park is nice, but in 2 weeks you won't be able to see a thing with all the leaves out by then.

At this point, I walked under the tracks at M-43 to investigate the injured soldier, NPCU F40 Cab #90218. It has been set off on the North Pass at the W. Botsford end, and is easily visable from E. Michigan Ave. The unit over all is looking a little rough, but not nearly as bad as the F40 Cab I saw a little later in the day...

From here I walked back downtown to the Amtrak station, to find out if Amtrak 353 was running on time today. I tried to call Amtrak's Julie earlier but because of the Acela Express brake problems on the NEC, they asked if anyone not riding the train wait and call later....besides, I need the exercise! There is a lot of construction going on in the lot in front of the Amtrak depot now. Is this finally the construction for the new Metro Transit Central Bus Transfer? The Kalamazoo Amtrak depot was extremely busy, many families (including at least one Amsih family) traveling to Chicago or beyond. The good weather this weekend prompted a number of people to hop on the train and go away for the weekend, I think. Ok, so Amtrak 353 was 10 minutes late. I walk back over to BO Tower to get a nice shot of the Tower with the train passing it. It was about 15 minutes late, actually, and they spent quite a while loading passengers at the depot. Genesis #29 was leading, with 4 horizon coaches, an amcafe, and NPCU #90225 on the rear. This cab is looking pretty rough indeed, but maybe all it really needs is a power wash? Good to see that many people riding the Michigan Line.

From here I walked over the the gravel lot east of the tower and chatted with a railfan named Tom. He was camping at Custer State Park and was in town to do a little railfanning, and I was more then happy to point out some of the features of the BO Tower area to him. I also mentioned that BZO-2 would be back up around the tower area around the time Amtrak 352 came through (so said the scanner), so he could see it even though I had to leave. Even though I coulnd't see them, Amtrak 352 was on time into Kalamazoo station, and shortly afterwards I could hear the horns of NS 3068 and BZO-2 going back through downtown. It was nice to be able to get out in the sun for a while (and even see a freight train in the daylight)!

Greg Reported late that afternoon:
About 5 p.m. there was lots of action over the scanner. B-90 arrived from somewhere with 30-some cars. There wasn't a clear yard track, so he had to double onto two different tracks. Meanwhile, the returning BZO-2 was waiting at Michigan Avenue to enter Botsford. At the same time B-1-G was returning from North Yard. He would have to wait until BZO-2 cleared, but was going to die on HOS at 5:30, so couldn't wait. He returned to North Yard to die there and be out of the way. Later B-90 went to "dogcatch" him. Hope that visitor was still there to see all this action.

The "cabbage" car was picked up Saturday night by #355.

User avatar
Posts: 1534
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2004 7:46 pm

Unread post by patrick »

40 hours behind?? r u sure that aint maybe supposed to be 4 hours??? wow at any rate!

Posts: 3678
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2004 10:35 pm
Location: Feel the Zeel, MI

Another Kzoo Report

Unread post by GP30M4216 »

This is my finals week here at WMU and then I'm back in the Detroit area for another 4 months before heading over this way. Today I have no exams to I decided since the weather is gorgeous that I would spend the morning railfanning Kalamazoo, with BO Tower as my primary home base point. I was up before the sun and as usual, I believe 36E northbound for Grand Rapids was just a short while ahead of me. No matter.

I staked out near the tower and scanner scanning away, waited for a peep from 39J. Around 7:20, 39J got on the radio and began asking permission from the BO Op. to pass a restricting signal on the #2 main to go west. Now this of course is not normal procedure for heading south (they need a form D to get to CP-Park), but my mind was still moving a little slow, so I headed where the sun was right to watch them coming across E. Michigan Ave. Of course, this was not what they were going to do, because they weren't heading south. So I was about dumbstruck when the crossing protection for the street right beside BO Tower on the MC line went off. 39J would not be going over the Amtrak line, and further, the #2 track couldn't be used west of the station for reasons I'll explain farther down. So hussled over to the Tower to catch 39J chugging slowly west (wrong way) on the #2 (eastbound) main.

NS C40-9W #9636
BNSF C44-9W #4456 Heritage II paint
NREX SD50 8695 Gray primer
NS C40-9W #9620

Time is 7:30AM. So they're going oh-so-slow toward the Amtrak Depot. I'm counting cars and trying to listening to the scanner, and getting calls from Mackinac Mac who's railfanning this morning in Plymouth, so between all of that, by about car 20 or so (all covered cement hoppers and 4 gondolas, and 8 86' hi cubes) they begin to slow down, and I realize they've been pulling a huge cut of empty NS 3-bay coal hoppers out of the yard. As I reported on Friday, a full train stretching the length of Botsford was due for the Pfizer plant south of town. I assume these were the same empties which had been brought back to the yard yesterday. So at car 23, they stop, blocking all crossings east of the Amtrak station, and possibly a few to the east as well. So then after a minute they begin to back....slowww.... Finally the power passes the tower (I'm trying to get photos looking into the sun, hopefully they'll be somewhat decent; time is 7:44AM). And the power backs all the way to the yard lead switch at W. Botsford, and they stop. So they wait and wait and wait (I'm guessing they were waiting to get the rest of the cars from Kalamazoo put on the rear, or something like that), and I finally figure I'll hear them getting the Form D from the tower to I wander around a while and waste some time. Finally, the Form D to go south is received at 8:36AM, and I see them light up the ditchlights and I head for my spot near the E. Michigan Ave. crossing. They swing past the tower beginning at 8:50AM, slower then usual, but they make it. I might as well say there was just about every kind of car on this train - 135 in grand total. Cement covered hoppers, steel coils, empty coal hoppers, gondolas, lumber flatcars, tank cars, 60' hi cube boxes, 50' waffleside boxes, 86' autoparts boxes..... They cleared the tower at 9:04AM, and 39J received permission from the dispatcher to continue all the way to CP-Park, the GTW had no trains scheduled through Schoolcraft. The crew commented they had under three hours and 45mph trackage and didn't know if they could make it to Elkhart. I don't know if they made it or not.

From here, things got quiet for a while. (although there was a lot of traffic backed up fir quite a while on M-43). I wandered over to the Amtrak station (they're really working hard on that lot out front, and they had a crew in doing tuckpoint and mortar repair on the depot bricks), to see if the Blue Water was on time. The agent said it was, but that was only out of E. Lansing, so of course there was a delay along the way. I caught them passing BO Tower at 10:10AM (30 minutes late), Amtrak 365:

F40 NPCU Cab #90219
4 Horizon cars
Genesis #29 in Acela on the rear

More time to kill, so I walked around a few blocks and walked over near the Harris Crossover to watch Amtrak 351, the Wolverine come by. I chose this location to see how early the mast signals for BO interlocking come on and stay on, and the answer is: not very long! They came through at 10:36, about 12 minutes late.

Genesis #26 (fresh from repair and repaint at Beech Grove, IN)
5 Horizon cars
F40 Cab #90222

At this point, I wander over to the river walkway at Mayor's Park and along Botsford Yard to see what's in the yard. Even since last Friday, the greenery along the river has increased tremendously. The NS painted GP40-2 duo of 3068 and 3069 were on the roundhouse lead shut down (its nice to see the NS units together, then you get a nice NS lashup or a nice solid blue lashup). There were quite a few cars in the yard, but no other power. This could be explained by the chatter on the scanner as B-1-G came quietly along the yard on the #2 main from Augusta, and asked the BO Op. to run on the wrong main "not past the tower", which he allowed. (Time 11AM) They had a Conrail lashup of GP40-2s #3066 and #3065, and 25 cars from Augusta - a nice sized train. They pulled far enough west to clear the W. Botsford yard lead, and then slowly backed into the yard. I walked quickly the entire length of the yard and over to the View Crossover, where I got photos of the CR units backing the train in. That's fine and nice - lots of nice sized trains full of variety today!

The last train of the day was Amtrak #350, the Wolverine, for Detroit and Pontiac. West of downtown between the W. Michigan and Oliver crossings (along Stadium Dr.) they have been cutting in new track sections and using MofW on the #2 main for the new crossing. Ordinarily, eastbound trains use the eastbound, #2 main on their route through Kalamazoo. Well, with all this MofW work going on and the MofW equipment, they were running all trains on the #1 main. So 350 came through about 20 minutes late.

F40 Cab #90215
2 Horizon Coaches
Acela Genesis on the rear

Some work was being done inside BO Tower today, so I nicely asked one of the NS maintenance guys if I could stand between the MC line and connecting track to get sunny photos of the train passing the tower, which he allowed me to do, thanking me for asking rather then just trespassing ("like many others do," he said). The photos will be excellent! I took one of the train passing the tower, as well as a few of the tower itself. I waited a few more minutes to see if I'd hear B-1-G getting ready to go west, but I didn't, so I called it a morning, and now I'm back here. All in all a great morning of train watching in the Zoo, with a few surprises included for fun!

Additionally, Greg Peet reported:
Sometimes 39-J goes straight west onto the Amtrak line so they don't have to back-up around the wye. Less chance of a derailment if the train is straight. Part of the long wait you had was because their pick-up included 3 tankcars, but they only had paperwork for one. The necessary paperwork had to be faxed from the Hughart Yardmaster in Grand Rapids.

A friend and I saw #350 go past Botsford while we were on the walking trail, so we must have just missed you. Then BZO-2 left with 10 60' high-cube boxcars and one waffle side boxcars. We chased it out to the old GM plant. Four of the boxcars were MMRR ex-Chessie cars that must have been full of refrigerators from Greenville.

We returned to Botsford after 1 o'clock and B-1-G with cars for Dowagiac started to move, but only about half a carlength. Then he sat until 1:40 and we gave up. When I came to work at 3:00 he was still there. That was too long to be waiting just for Amtrak #353, so maybe the track gang by the college had a work window.

User avatar
Sofa King Grumpy
Posts: 4590
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2004 9:26 pm
Location: Jackson

Unread post by Scooterb »

NS 27M must have went by sometime in the afternoon. Headed out and shot him at the Jackson depot at 5:10 p.m. He stop at the yard for a crew change then proceeded to East Jackson and waited for NS 38J and both Amtraks. It was after 7:00 when he finally got headed to Wayne. This is the second 27M I have seen since Sat. Both have had BNSF power.
This Is 27M 4-19-05
This is NS 38J

Post Reply