The Lake Erie & Westport RR

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The Lake Erie & Westport RR

Unread postby Y@ » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:27 am

The LE&W was built to connect the Ashtabula harbor with the small town of Westport, PA in 1895 prior to the construction of two large mills in town. When construction of the mills was finished in early 1898, the railroad began operation and has continued ever since.

Coal and iron ore are offloaded from boats in Ashtabula and hauled to the mills, and empties return to the harbor for loading again. While the majority of the traffic base comes from these bulk materials, there is a small amount of general freight traffic along the line. Some interchange takes place with CSX and NS in Ashtabula. Working east from the harbor, the LE&W crosses into Pennsylvania before passing over the B&LE on a trestle north of Conneautville. Further east, they cross the WNYP at grade in Meadville, PA before meeting the B&P in Titusville, then running through the rural hills of northern PA. Once the railroad meets the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, the tracks parallel Norfolk Southern on opposite sides of the river before reaching the WNYP interchange in Driftwood. The LE&W then breaks away from the river to cut through the Union Creek valley to the north before meeting the river again just west of Westport, where the large Mill Yard is. Several jobs work the mills around the clock, 365 days a year. The LE&W has trackage rights over NS from Westport to Renovo to interchange there. The line is a roller-coaster nearly the entire way, and has been signaled with CTC since 1953. During the upgrading of the line from 1951-1954, US&S R-2 tri-light signals, the same design the C&O used, were installed. End to end, the mainline is 218 miles long. About halfway between Ashtabula and Westport is the small yard and crew base of Allegheny. Crew changes occur here, along with locomotive servicing at the fuel pad and small enginehouse. The LE&W paint shop has also been located here since 1962.

The LE&W's steam era ended in 1954 when 20 SD9's were purchased. The 20 units could barely handle the traffic load, so 8 more were purchased in 1955. In 1968, 7 SD38's were added to the roster. A handful of GP7's and GP9's were also on the roster, and these were sufficient until the early 1970's when traffic boomed thanks to the USS Westport Mill expanding. With EMD's new SD40-2 model available in 1972, 12 SD40-2's were purchased to phase out the older 4-axles and some of the SD9's. Five more SD40-2's were purchased in 1974 after one had been destroyed in a derailment the previous winter. As of 1/1/1980, the roster included 16 SD40-2's, 13 SD9's, 7 SD38's, 3 GP9's and 1 GP7 for a total of 40 units. Throughout the next 10 years, the SD9's, GP9's and GP7 were phased out by the purchasing of 10 SD40T-2's, and 6 GP40-2's. As of 1/1/1990, the roster was 15 SD40-2's, 10 SD40T-2's, 5 SD38's, and 6 GP40-2's. In 1993, 4 secondhand B23-7's were bought as switcher units for the mill yard to allow the GP40-2's and SD38's to stay out on the road more with coal traffic growing. Iron ore traffic remained strong as well, and in 1996 a trio of used SD38-2's were purchased to help out as well. Since then, the roster has not changed.

Current LE&W Roster
EMD SD40-2 800-808, 810-814 (811 assigned to Ashtabula Harbor)
EMD SD38 830-834 (833 and 834 assigned to Ashtabula Harbor)
EMD SD38-2 835-837
EMD SD40T-2 870-879
EMD GP40-2 893-898 (895 assigned to Ashtabula Harbor, 897 assigned to Westport Mill Yard)
GE B23-7 901-904 (All assigned to Westport Mill Yard)

Nearly every day, two coal trains and two iron ore trains leave Ashtabula for the mills in Westport. The coal trains are typically 90 cars, and the iron ore trains usually run between 65-80 cars. Sometimes, the empty trains will be combined for the return trip to the harbor. All trains usually run with three units, but lashups of four and five are not totally uncommon. Mixed freight is typically tacked on to the head end of the unit trains, and the road trains will usually do set outs and pick ups if needed to avoid extra jobs running.

On April 15th, 2008, UIC (United Investment Corporation) assumed control of the LE&W, officially ending the 113-year span of private ownership. While no major changes have been made, the long-term future of the LE&W is uncertain. Coal traffic is on the decline, and may be completely gone in the next five years.

I'll post a paint scheme (when I come up with one) and a track layout eventually. And FWIW: Yes, I know the LE&W were the reporting marks of the Lake Erie & Western, which was owned by the NYC and then NKP. I'm just pretending that didn't really happen. Or whatever, something like that! :)
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Re: The Lake Erie & Westport RR

Unread postby Y@ » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:54 pm

As far as train dispatching goes, the LE&W Dispatchers are based in Allegheny. For 1st and 2nd shift, there are two dispatchers; Allegheny East (AE) and Allegheny West (AW). On 3rd shift, one dispatcher controls the entire railroad. Typically, 3rd shift is fairly dead. The AE dispatcher controls everything east of Allegheny Yard, including the Youngsville and Williston branch lines. The AW dispatcher controls everything west of Allegheny Yard, including the Jackson, Owlville, and Marena branch lines. Allegheny Yard Limits are controlled by the AY Desk.

Allegheny is also the central crew base on the LE&W system. While the majority of train crews are based here, there are a few based in Ashtabula and Wesport. There is no "long pool" (abolished in 1995) on the LE&W, so all trains change crews here.

Maximum track speed on the LE&W is 35 mph. Most sidings are good for 15 or 20 mph. I'll draw up a timetable and hopefully get it scanned at some point.
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Re: The Lake Erie & Westport RR

Unread postby Y@ » Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:14 pm

Here's the company scheme on SD40T-2 872.

Click here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wyatt_heil ... otostream/
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