Order Completed for CSXT's CW44-9 Locomotives
All of CSXT's new CW44-9 locomotives have been delivered. Unit 9052, the last on the order, was delivered on April 2. Meanwhile, units 9000 through 9002, originally classed CW44-8 when they were delivered last year, have been reclassed CW44-9. Accordingly, CSXT now has 53 CW44-9 units on its roster.
CSX Reports First Quarter Results
CSX Corporation reported a $74-million profit in the first quarter, compared with a $9-million loss in the first quarter last year.
CSXT Renames its Alexandria Subdivision
CSXT's Alexandria Subdivision connecting the Capital Subdivision at Riverdale, Maryland, with Conrail at Anacostia Junction, D.C., is now known as the Alexandria Extension.
Amtrak F40 Locomotives Getting Modifications
Amtrak F40 locomotives are being modified with a reduced permanent suppression feature which should aid in reducing incidents involving flat wheels.
Amtrak Selected as Operator of San Diego to Oceanside Service
Amtrak has been selected to be the operator of a new commuter service between San Diego and Oceanside, California. Service startup is scheduled for October 1 of this year.
Amtrak Signs Data Processing Pact
Amtrak has signed a 10-year contract with a subsidiary of IBM to take over most of the railroad's data processing. This will eliminate about 115 jobs at Amtrak.
Norfolk Southern to Help Fund Alexandria Pedestrian Connector
Norfolk Southern has donated $100,000 to the city of Alexandria, Virginia, towards a pedestrian connector between Alexandria Union Station and the adjacent King Street Metro station.
Court Rules Against Ma & Pa Group in Ownership Suit
A York County, Pennsylvania, court has ruled against the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society in a suit over ownership of a 1400-foot section of right of way. The society has been using an eight-mile portion of the former Maryland and Pennsylvania track as part of its preservation effort for several years. At issue was a legal interpretation of what constituted "abandonment" after the railroad ceased operation of that part of the line in 1977. The society plans to appeal.
Western Maryland Rwy Historical Society Acquires FA2 Locomotive
Former Western Maryland FA2 locomotive 302 has been acquired by the Western Maryland Railway Historical Society.
CSXT Policeman Foils Prison Escape
[From CSXT Employee News Service]... Special agent Greg Powers in late February helped law enforcement officials nab an escapee from a prison in eastern Kentucky. Crew members saw the prisoner jump off a train near Wayland and radioed the yard. Mr. Powers, based in Martin, Kentucky, arrived on the scene, and with the help of employees in the area, determined the escapee's last known position and waited. The man walked down the tracks, and Mr. Powers placed him under arrest for trespassing. After questioning him, it was determined the man was one of three escapees from the prison, and turned him over to authorities. The man was serving time for manslaughter.
Maryland Midland Terminates New Line Project
The Maryland Midland Railway has decided not to go through with a plan to rebuild the abandoned railroad line from Taneytown, Maryland, to Hanover, Pennsylvania. In a letter to MMID shareholders dated March 28, president Paul Denton explained: "I could see no reasonable opportunity for success at a cost we could stand to bear. Hence, on March 24, I recommended to our board that we terminate the project, and the board approved. This is not an ego trip to play railroad builder or anything else. So on to better things." The line involved is still in service south of Taneytown to Walkersville, Maryland, which MMID serves as designated operator.
Riding the MARC Parlor Car
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
It was a long time in coming! Parlor cars - the traditional ones, that is - have been away from the scene for quite a while. I'm referring to the cars with individual seats - one on each side of the aisle - that swivel around in all directions. They were a tradition in the grand old days of the PRR on the Northeast corridor. Most all of the trains had at least one of the cars - some had several. Some trains, such as the Afternoon Congressional, even had a parlor OBSERVATION car.
Amtrak ended the tradition. Instead, it came up with a club car. But with two-and-one seating, the seats no longer swiveled, and gone was the tradition passengers took for granted through the glory years into the 1960s.
But history lives again! For the mere price of a MARC commuter coach ticket, plus a $5 service charge, passengers may now once again enjoy the comfort of a swiveling parlor car seat on certain mid-day MARC trains running on the Northeast corridor between Baltimore and Washington. The service began early last month.
So it was on April 13, joined by veteran parlor car aficionado Alan Crumbaker, I rode MARC parlor car 190 Braddock Inn from Baltimore to Washington and back.
The car, recently refurbished, has 18 parlor car seats at one end of the car, and a kitchen and 24-seat dining area at the other. Coach passengers may use the dining area if they choose, but the parlor end is the exclusive domain of those paying the extra fare. Parlor patrons get to eat their meals on fold-up tables next to the window at their seats.
Meals? Yes! Kevin Kalb of Dundalk, Maryland, operates Cafe Metropolitan under contract with MARC on all of the trains served by the parlor car. There is a breakfast menu featuring such entrés as imported ham and egg ($3.75), egg and Canadian bacon ($3.00), and waffle and gourmet toppings ($3.50). Lunch features include turkey breast and Swiss with special sauce ($3.95), roast beef with sauce ($3.50), and chicken, tuna or turkey stuffed sandwiches. Kevin also offers salad platters, including his prized taco salad ($3.25), plus sundry snack selections. The printed menu concludes with: "If you don't see what you want, 'ask Kevin' -- he will try to fix it!"
Alan and I both ordered the roast beef. Then, following a time-honored tradition begun many years ago whenever we experienced classy train service, I remarked: "THIS is CLASS!" Alan responded: "THIS is a RAILROAD!"
We were the only parlor passengers leaving Baltimore. But at BWI station a third passenger joined the ranks. This in itself was a milestone. In the week and a half that the parlor car had been running in mid-day service between Baltimore and Washington, never before had more than two passengers used the service on any one trip. Today, there were three!
The parlor car actually begins and ends its day on MARC's Brunswick Line. In the morning it runs on train 276 leaving Brunswick at 6:20 A.M. and arriving Washington at 7:40 A.M. It then makes two round trips on the Penn Line on trains 408-423-414-429. Finally it's back to the Brunswick Line with an evening assault on train 281 leaving Washington at 5:30 P.M. The morning and evening runs are what show the most promise for parlor seat sales. According to MARC customer representative Sherry Webb of Frederick, Maryland, the seats are quite popular on those trains with advance May reservations being about booked up.
That the car is used at all on the mid-day trains owes itself simply to being "available" for those runs, plus the revenue potential offered by the food service. Moreover, it's an experiment to see how the service goes over with the public. Meanwhile, two other cars are being retrofitted for even more parlor service on other runs to begin at a later date.
Car 190 is one of 50 Inn-series cars originally built by the Budd Company in 1949 for the Pennsylvania Railroad configured with 21 roommettes. In 1963, in time for the New York World's Fair the following year, the cars were converted to 76-seat coaches and used mostly on the Northeast corridor. Eventually they replaced the Pennsy's aging P70 fleet. A noticeable feature of the cars is their window arrangement - still as they appeared when used in sleeper service.
Amenities of the parlor service, in addition to the swivel seats, include computer plug ins, a private restroom, a private phone, newspapers, coffee and snacks. (Meals are extra.) Seats are reserved on the Brunswick Line.
I asked Alan for his thoughts on the parlor service. Said he: "Delightful! Amtrak should do as well! I wish I had a reason to ride it more often. They have done a marvelous job on this thing."