The Ann Arbor Railroad (1977)

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The Ann Arbor Railroad (1977)

Unread postby cfriedri » Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:18 pm

The Ann Arbor Railroad (1977) is an effective reorganization of the Ann Arbor Railroad (1895-1976). On March 1, 1976, it was expressed the Ann Arbor Railroad would be included in the assets of Consolidated Rail Corporation to be formed on April 1, 1976. Under operation by Conrail, the Ann Arbor Railroad was not effectively managed and shortly into Conrail's reign, the railroad was deep in financial trouble. On October 1, 1977, a private holding group put forth funds to purchase the Ann Arbor Railroad from Toledo, Ohio, to Frankfort, Michigan.

It was quickly realized by the holding company that the cross-lake car-ferry operations were a major problem in the Ann Arbor Railroad's lack of revenue. In such, it was decided that all car-ferry operations would cease by or on January 1, 1980. The last car-ferry trip occurred on September 17, 1979, with the M.V. Viking travelling from Manistique to Frankfort. Shortly after unloading, the M.V. Viking was tied up at shore. No longer viable for traffic, the portion of the Ann Arbor Railroad from Yuma, Michigan, to Frankfort, Michigan, was put Out-of-Service.

The remaining portion of the Ann Arbor Railroad from Toledo, Ohio, to Yuma, Michigan, still originating traffic, was upgraded to a higher FRA track class standard, with track condition good enough for 30 miles per hour. In July of 1983, the Ann Arbor Railroad acquired the C&O's Petoskey Subdivision from Cadillac, Michigan, to Petoskey, Michigan, and the line from Walton Junction, Michigan to Traverse City, Michigan. With the acquisition, the Ann Arbor Railroad upgraded the new routes with the same FRA track class standard as its existing routes.

In August 1984, the Ann Arbor Railroad made the executive decision to redesign and rebuild the locomotive shops in Owosso. The new design featured a larger facility with capabilities to completely rebuild and re-manufacture locomotives as well as rolling stock. Although the current Ann Arbor locomotives were not in major need of repair, it was hoped that the new facility would attract the business of other railroads or locomotive manufacturers. As was hoped, EMD contracted the Owosso facility to aid in the manufacture of new locomotives.

By November of 1985, the EMD GP35 locomotives running on the Ann Arbor Railroad began to lack the modern design needed to efficiently move freight over the Ann Arbor Railroad's system. Coincidentally, the Burlington Northern Railroad was receiving it's order for 48 EMD GP50 locomotives. In an agreement with the Burlington Northern Railroad, the Ann Arbor Railroad made the decision to lease eight EMD GP50s from BN for 25 years, becoming effective January 1, 1986. The agreement had BN GP50s #3150-3157 on the system by February 1, 1986.

For operation along with the BN GP50s, the Ann Arbor Railroad placed an order for two EMD GP59s in July of 1986. The locomotives were manufactured in Owosso shops and delivered in December of 1986 as AA GP59s #500-501. The EMD GP35s had been sidelined in Ferry Yard since March of 1986. Beginning in May of 1988, the Ann Arbor Railroad began to sell AA GP35s #390-394 along with any other remaining locomotives to other operators. AA GP35s #385-389 were retained, but remained Out-of-Service in Ferry Yard for the time being.

In February of 1989, the Ann Arbor Railroad sent AA GP35 #385 to Owosso shops for a complete rebuild. The rebuild was to upgrade the electrical system and internal componentry. AA GP35 #385 emerged in May of 1989 looking exactly as it was delivered, but internally improved for modern service. Initially, AA GP35 #385 was to be the only EMD GP35 to go through the shops, but in 1990, the newly formed Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway made purchase of AA GP35s #386-389 and contracted Owosso shops to rebuild them as well.

The early 1990s were a period of growth for the Ann Arbor Railroad. More agricultural traffic began originating from north of Ann Arbor in the central Michigan area. With the increase in traffic, the track base began to become strained. It was decided that the Ann Arbor Railroad would put forth funds for a complete restructuring of the railroad from Toledo, Ohio, to Cadillac, Michigan. Beginning in September 1990, the Ann Arbor Railroad began installing concrete ties, heavy welded rail, and they redesigned curves in order for higher speed limits to be put into effect.

In February of 1990, the Burlington Northern Railroad had redesigned its image and the time came for the EMD GP50s on lease to the Ann Arbor Railroad to make their way back onto Burlington Northern territory for performance improvements designed by the BN. During this time, a variety of different BN locomotives filling in for the EMD GP50s made their way across the Ann Arbor Railroad's system. The Burlington Northern Railroad sent BN GP39-2s #2703-2704, BN GP39Es #2750-2751, BN GP40M #3080, and BN GP38-2s #2274-2276.

By December of 1990, all of the EMD GP50s had returned to the Ann Arbor Railroad's system not with tiger stripes, but new white faces and strobe lights, and all the temporary equipment had been returned to the BN. Realizing the current roster would not be sufficient for growing operations, the Ann Arbor Railroad placed an order with EMD for four EMD GP60s. Just as their EMD GP59 cousins, AA GP60s #515-518 were manufactured in Owosso shops. AA GP60s #515-518 were running along the Ann Arbor Railroad's system by May of 1991.

In April of 1992, the Ann Arbor Railroad allocated funds to return the Out-of-Service Yuma, Michigan to Frankfort, Michigan route to temporary service. New sand deposits and a boom in the lumber industry had brought forth new business for the historical section of the Ann Arbor Railroad. By August of 1992, repairs to Thompsonville, Michigan had been completed and the first train in over 10 years made its way past Yuma, Michigan. By March of 1993, service had been restored to just south of Frankfort, Michigan.

It was decided in July of 1993 that a temporary passenger service would be offered from Cadillac to Frankfort for that year's Frankfort Fall Festival. The Ann Arbor Railroad leased passenger equipment from Amtrak for the brief time that the Frankfort Fall Festival was in occurrence. The service was so successful that it was decided to operate the train to the Frankfort Fall Festival annually. For such, the Ann Arbor Railroad acquired five passenger cars to be stored in Cadillac, Michigan until needed for the festival.

For the few years from 1993 to early 2000, the Ann Arbor Railroad operated service along the full length of its original self along with two deviations. In 2000, Daimler-Chrysler opened multiple new automobile manufacturing facilities in the Toledo area along Manhattan Boulevard. In response to this, the Ann Arbor Railroad redesigned Ottawa Yard to accommodate the increase in traffic, in the process opening multiple new industrial spurs. These final additions to the Ann Arbor Railroad's system established it as it is today.

Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, traffic was on the rise for the Ann Arbor Railroad. Automotive traffic along with sand, lumber, and agricultural products from the north established the Ann Arbor Railroad as a prominent transportation service in Michigan. On January 1, 2009, the Ann Arbor Railroad exercised their right in the lease with Burlington Northern to purchase BN GP50s #3150-3157 with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. Effective May 1, 2009, all EMD GP50s leased by BN were sold to become AA GP50s 3150-3157.

During their lease and eventual ownership by the Ann Arbor Railroad, the EMD GP50s were cared for extremely well. While each EMD GP50 made a visit to Owosso shops throughout 2010 for minor upgrades, the EMD GP50s are in pristine condition to the present. AA GP59s #500-501 were cared for as well. However, with Norfolk Southern Railroad's upgrade programs, both EMD GP59s were sent to Juniata Locomotive Shops of Altoona, Pennsylvania in April of 2012 for rebuilding into Rebuilt-EMD GP59Es. They will emerge in August of 2013 as AA GP59Es #500-501.

Today, the Ann Arbor Railroad operates the length of its original self from Toledo, Ohio to Frankfort, Michigan along with branch lines to Petoskey, Michigan; Traverse City, Michigan; and Saline, Michigan. With its revenue and traffic base of automobile parts, lumber, agricultural products, and sand, the railroad is classified as a class II regional railroad by the Federal Railroad Administration. The Ann Arbor Railroad serves its customers with pride and is always looking to expand business with new opportunities.

*Not Part of the Organized Paper Railroads
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Re: The Ann Arbor Railroad (1977)

Unread postby AARR » Tue Jul 02, 2013 5:58 am

Enjoyed reading! A few things:
- Consider adding some info about your car roster
- Consider adding some details about specific customers
- IMHO GP50's with their high HP and tendency to slip when with heavy loads are better suited for light-fast freight (ex. intermodal). Perhaps 38's, 39's, or 40's are better suited for AA.
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Re: The Ann Arbor Railroad (1977)

Unread postby Ypsi » Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:51 am

Or more GP35's ;)
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Re: The Ann Arbor Railroad (1977)

Unread postby AARR » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:16 am

YpsiAmtrakBoy wrote:Or more GP35's ;)

Gas guzzlers, that's why railroads who still have them usually restrict their speed to 35mph or less cause above that they lose fuel economy.
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Re: The Ann Arbor Railroad (1977)

Unread postby cfriedri » Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:11 pm

AARR wrote:Enjoyed reading! A few things:
- Consider adding some info about your car roster
- Consider adding some details about specific customers
- IMHO GP50's with their high HP and tendency to slip when with heavy loads are better suited for light-fast freight (ex. intermodal). Perhaps 38's, 39's, or 40's are better suited for AA.


Thanks for the feedback!

Here is a little known story behind the usage of the EMD GP50s:

In August of 1985, the Ann Arbor Railroad's EMD GP35s were becoming obsolete in comparison to the technology implemented on newer locomotives. As a result, the Ann Arbor Railroad began testing multiple different locomotives to find a suitable replacement for the EMD GP35s. First to arrive for testing were two FEC GP40-2s #430-431 followed by BN GP50s #3110-3111 and BN GP39-2s #2730-2731. In all tests, the locomotives performed well. The EMD GP40-2s from Florida East Coast Railway performed especially well in comparison to the EMD GP50s and EMD GP39-2s.

After two months of testing, all locomotives were returned to their owners. It was noticed that with the EMD GP50s, heavier sand trains, usually in length of 40 cars, they began to slip. However, with the higher horsepower, it was much easier to get the trains up to track speed. The appreciation for the EMD GP50s was increased more when the quote for a lease of eight returned from Burlington Northern. Although the EMD GP40-2s performed well, Florida East Coast Railway was not lenient in their price for leasing. The EMD GP39-2s were already set aside due to their lack of ability to get trains to track speed quickly.

After testing these three types of locomotives, it was decided that the EMD GP50s would be most suitable to the needs of the Ann Arbor Railroad. The Ann Arbor Railroad cited that "The EMD GP50s we have tested from Burlington Northern are most suited to our needs due to their ability to quickly and efficiently get trains up to track speed, their overall costs of operation, and the fact that the group we are leasing is fresh from Electro-Motive Division's production line." By that time, the Ann Arbor Railroad had finalized their agreement with BN for a 25 year lease, with options to purchase the group after 2001.

*Rolling stock history should be available shortly
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