GDLK Operations

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1TrackMind
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Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by 1TrackMind »

David Lang wrote:Seem like the most logical location for track consolidation is just south of Model Avenue where the line from Grand Rapids (old GR&I) could be tied into the existing track just to the East. This would eliminate the old GR&I from there, South across the Amtrak line all the way to Gib.

In my opinion, they could (or maybe should) also install a new set of crossovers (as part of this project) somewhere West of where the Amtrak Line crosses the Kalamazoo River and East of Harrison Street (really the only place where it could go), along with a wye from Amtrak's North Track to the "new" North-South Grand Elk line so trains can move to and from Gearhart and Grand Rapids without having to back up (which seems really inefficient actually). The Parking lot just to the Northeast of BO Tower would be affected, but I really don't see why that would be a big deal - make a new parking lot somewhere else.

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If a new yard is built, there wouldn't be a need. Gearhart wouldn't be the main yard anymore.

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Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by David Lang »

Very true 1TrackMind.

I think there is merit between either idea, however if this new yard in Three Rivers has indeed been talked about for years now, and if the idea of consolidation in Kalamazoo is closer to reality, then lets get rid of the Elk having to back up (if the Kalamazoo Project included that). Its a lot of "IFs", I know.

The other thing to consider I suppose is cost. Which project would cost more - a new yard, or track consolidation, crossovers, and a wye? The Grand Elk could actually realize a cost SAVINGS with the Kalamazoo Project by keeping pulled up rail for future use or selling it.

Everyone keep us posted on the developments.

David Lang

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justalurker66
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Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by justalurker66 »

I am surprised they don't put an engine at the south end of the train for the back up movements - but that would come with its own problems.

Would the Upjohn Industrial track be suitable for a reverse move out of Gearhart to head north to Grand Rapids?
Shifting the main line back to the LS&SM diamond at BO tower would allow a train to push south on either alignment before going north.

As far as deciding which project to do I like all of the above. Build an appropriate yard in Three Rivers for flat switching. Build a connection between the CK&S Industrial and GR&I on the north side of town and move the main line over. Getting a NE or NW connection restored would be a challenge, so I'd put that further down the list after figuring out if the yard at Three Rivers reduced the need for a direct connection between Gearhart and Grand Rapids.

As far as the crossovers, how about flipping them? Have the right hand crossover between Walbridge St and Harrison St and the left hand crossover between Edwards St and Pritcher St. The current arrangement works nice for a GDLK train to have access to either track EB, but with all traffic going in to Gearhart Yard the GDLK doesn't need a left hand crossover there. A right hand crossover would make it possible to do a NE quadrant connection. (As well as a NW connection if Amtrak ever needed one.)

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Re: GDLK Operations

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Prior to being damaged the transfer caboose was intended to be a shoving platform. The crews avoided using it because it was additional moves to switch it onto and off of the train. The looming issue I see with the reverse moves is a pedestrian accident. While we can all say the train had the right of way, the crossing protection was working, must have been suicide etc., the jury will see a big corporation that for expedience didn't put proper warning devices on the end of the train. That's how the plaintiff attorney will portray it, proper warning devices. Look up the $90M judgement against Werner in Texas. A vehicle lost control spun through the median and struck a Werner truck on the opposite side. There Werner driver never lost control of his truck. A couple people were killed and a child severely injured. The plaintiff claimed Werner was at fault for not sending the truck on a safer route, driving to fast (50MPH) not having a CB radio so the driver could hear other drivers report road conditions and an exterior thermometer so he would know there were freezing conditions. It would take a manager to implement a working plan and make sure it was followed. Put a Home Depot generator on the 7030 so you can run headlights and a horn, perfect shoving platform.

A reconfiguration at BO to turn directly north on the LS&MS and cut over to the GR&I was discussed here a couple years ago. I've not seen anything in the new. Is this really in motion or just rumor? The golden opportunity was before MDOT came through town rebuilding the track. Cost to move the cross overs...expensive. We had a customer connecting to the CP and they had to pay $200K+ to get an electric switch installed. It's a project the railroad would (should) go to local government for financial participation. Conrail got MDOT to pay most of the cost of installing the connection at PJ by eliminating grade crossing.

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justalurker66
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Re: GDLK Operations

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Amtrak and MDOT have no compelling reason to modify their track. Theoretically the swapped crossovers would allow them to run around a GDLK that was using the track between BO and the yard, but that is not a major benefit. Removing the GR&I diamonds would not require changing the crossovers. Only the addition of a NE connection for GDLK would require a RH crossover east of the diamonds. I don't see anyone paying for it other than GDLK. Perhaps the city - or the state if there is grant money available to reduce traffic congestion in downtown. It would be a big ask. That is why I put it lower on the list - hopefully the other improvements listed make it less necessary.

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Saturnalia
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Re: GDLK Operations

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justalurker66 wrote:Amtrak and MDOT have no compelling reason to modify their track. Theoretically the swapped crossovers would allow them to run around a GDLK that was using the track between BO and the yard, but that is not a major benefit.
This is why the crossovers are the way they are, and IMHO it's a very good reason. They do not want to make Kalamazoo de facto single track when the GDLK is yarding their train and Amtrak trains need to meet. While it doesn't happen very often right now, future service increases would likely lead to it happening more often.

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Re: GDLK Operations

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Sorry "Z" does this mean I'm banned forever now. Every time it was discussed with the Elk by me about Three Rivers yard the face of the General Manager was always different in the office. It has always seemed to be the most beneficial way to solve some of the problems up north in Kazoo. I've also thought about Vistula as a possibility with extra sets of turnouts being a mini yard as long as that siding is now. When the CSX grain train left the Andersons it only used half the siding to run around its train. The other half was vacant real estate for the light engines. That train was 80 some cars.

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Re: GDLK Operations

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Super Chief wrote:Sorry "Z" does this mean I'm banned forever now. Every time it was discussed with the Elk by me about Three Rivers yard the face of the General Manager was always different in the office. It has always seemed to be the most beneficial way to solve some of the problems up north in Kazoo.
It's all good. Idea seems to have been floated around for a while now. Probably not a bad idea, but will it make sense from a capital expenditure view? Who knows.
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Re: GDLK Operations

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First stone train of the year is by CP Park northbound with NS #4180 and #4080 at 8:15pm.

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justalurker66
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Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by justalurker66 »

Saturnalia wrote:This is why the crossovers are the way they are, and IMHO it's a very good reason. They do not want to make Kalamazoo de facto single track when the GDLK is yarding their train and Amtrak trains need to meet. While it doesn't happen very often right now, future service increases would likely lead to it happening more often.
The crossovers are the way they are to allow a train coming off of the LS&MS to go to either track (north track if not going to Botsford, south track if it needed access to West Botsford and the yard). A design put in place many decades ago with different ownership of the railroads involved. That level of access is no longer needed - but there is no compelling reason to change the crossovers. The are replaced as needed when the track is maintained. For Amtrak it doesn't matter if the LH crossover is before the RH crossover or vice versa. Putting the LH east of the GDLK connection would allow an Amtrak train to cross over from the south platform track to the north track around a GDLK.

If, per your claim, Amtrak doesn't want a single track while a train is yarding the current layout does not allow the use of both tracks. An eastbound train on the south track cannot go east. A westbound train on the north track must stay on the north track as long as a GDLK is blocking the interlocking. Swapping the crossovers would give Amtrak a little more flexibility.
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justalurker66
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Re: GDLK Operations

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GTW wrote:First stone train of the year is by CP Park northbound with NS #4180 and #4080 at 8:15pm.
On the VR camera at Elkhart an hour earlier. Making good time.

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Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by chapmaja »

PatAzo wrote:Prior to being damaged the transfer caboose was intended to be a shoving platform. The crews avoided using it because it was additional moves to switch it onto and off of the train. The looming issue I see with the reverse moves is a pedestrian accident. While we can all say the train had the right of way, the crossing protection was working, must have been suicide etc., the jury will see a big corporation that for expedience didn't put proper warning devices on the end of the train. That's how the plaintiff attorney will portray it, proper warning devices. Look up the $90M judgement against Werner in Texas. A vehicle lost control spun through the median and struck a Werner truck on the opposite side. There Werner driver never lost control of his truck. A couple people were killed and a child severely injured. The plaintiff claimed Werner was at fault for not sending the truck on a safer route, driving to fast (50MPH) not having a CB radio so the driver could hear other drivers report road conditions and an exterior thermometer so he would know there were freezing conditions. It would take a manager to implement a working plan and make sure it was followed. Put a Home Depot generator on the 7030 so you can run headlights and a horn, perfect shoving platform.

A reconfiguration at BO to turn directly north on the LS&MS and cut over to the GR&I was discussed here a couple years ago. I've not seen anything in the new. Is this really in motion or just rumor? The golden opportunity was before MDOT came through town rebuilding the track. Cost to move the cross overs...expensive. We had a customer connecting to the CP and they had to pay $200K+ to get an electric switch installed. It's a project the railroad would (should) go to local government for financial participation. Conrail got MDOT to pay most of the cost of installing the connection at PJ by eliminating grade crossing.
While I understand what you are saying about the jury award in the Werner case, I would suggest we wait to see the real impact of such a suit. The case had oral arguments in front of the court of appeals in October, but as of yet a ruling has not been handed down in this case. I can't see a court of appeals upholding the judgment of the jury in this case.

For those who don't know, or don't want to look up the case. A family was driving during poor road conditions and lost control of their vehicle. Their vehicle crossed the median of the expressway and crashed into a Werner truck driving under the speed limit. As a result of the accident one family member was killed and another was paralyzed. The family sued the driver and Werner for the injuries. The family argued that given the road conditions, the Werner truck (and driver) should not have been on the road doing his job as a truck driver. The driver of the truck was not out of control, never lost control, and was able to bring the truck to a safe stop after the accident occurred. The jury's decision on responsibility for the accident was as follows: Werner 70%, Ali (Werner driver) 14% and driver of victims truck 16%. This is asinine that a driver losing control of a vehicle and spinning into the flow of traffic on the opposite side of the expressway has less responsibility for an accident than the driver of the truck. If the court of appeals upholds, and then the Supreme Court of Texas subsequently upholds this verdict and award, the truck driver shortage of today will be a small issue compared to the future. The cost to carriers will continue to skyrocket for insurance.

What really needs to happen is this countries court system needs to put person responsibility back into focus. In the Werner verdict the plaintiffs successfully argued to the jury that the decision by the driver to drive on icy roads, and the companies decision to have him drive the route in question were more responsible for the accident than the driver who spun across the median and was struck. I have driven for 27 years (and 27 winters) on Michigan roads. I have had a share of accidents, some of which were my fault, others which were someone else's fault. One thing I can say is I was NEVER driving so fast on icy road conditions as to spin all the way across a median into the opposite direction of traffic on an expressway.

While I do understand that the driver should not have been on the road (per CDL instructions for known icy conditions), and the company was pushing the drivers too far to fast, (Werner is a terrible company to drive for from all indications I have including several people I know who drove for them), the fact remains if the driver of the victims vehicle did not lose control the deaths and injuries would not have happened.

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Re: GDLK Operations

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Saturnalia wrote:This is why the crossovers are the way they are, and IMHO it's a very good reason. They do not want to make Kalamazoo de facto single track when the GDLK is yarding their train and Amtrak trains need to meet. While it doesn't happen very often right now, future service increases would likely lead to it happening more often.
This is never an issue anyway because GDLK WAITS on Amtrak. In the evening GDLK waits for the 354-355 meet. In the afternoon GDLK waits for 352. In the morning GDLK waits for 351/350/365. There are instances where GDLK will be able to get out while Amtrak is running, but that depends on if Amtrak is on main 1 or main 2. And if they are on main 2, GDLK waits.
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Re: GDLK Operations

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Ypsi wrote:
Saturnalia wrote:This is why the crossovers are the way they are, and IMHO it's a very good reason. They do not want to make Kalamazoo de facto single track when the GDLK is yarding their train and Amtrak trains need to meet. While it doesn't happen very often right now, future service increases would likely lead to it happening more often.
This is never an issue anyway because GDLK WAITS on Amtrak. In the evening GDLK waits for the 354-355 meet. In the afternoon GDLK waits for 352. In the morning GDLK waits for 351/350/365. There are instances where GDLK will be able to get out while Amtrak is running, but that depends on if Amtrak is on main 1 or main 2. And if they are on main 2, GDLK waits.
Whoops, I had them backwards in my mind...been awhile since I’ve been down there.

GDLK wouldn’t have to wait if they flipped them. And the dispatchers might take more risk and allow GDLK to move ahead of Amtrak if they had a way out.

Sure freight should wait for passenger but there’s no reason to not set up parallel move capability so that they do not have to wait. Plenty of places where this has been done, especially in the past.

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Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by justalurker66 »

As long as Amtrak can make GDLK wait they don't need to worry about making any changes. Amtrak is good at making other railroads wait - they have a habit of destroying the South Shore schedule in Michigan City by clearing their train through town too far in advance of its passage. That diamond should no be cleared for Amtrak until a train is close enough to be affected by a red signal there. Yet sometimes the dispatcher gets eager and sets signals long in advance.

The only concern in Kzoo would be a broken GDLK -- a train Amtrak allowed on their rails that didn't get out of the way as planned due to derailment, crossing incident or other problem. That would kill track 2 beyond the planned interruption. But it sounds like Amtrak isn't slotting GDLK between trains - they are making them wait until there is plenty of time for a GDLK to make it through.

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Re: GDLK Operations

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Flipping crossovers would be a major waste, and if Watco ever got the entire AML, or KAL to WAYNE it would make sense to have the cross over as such for access/ meets.
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Re: GDLK Operations

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Is there any rough time frame for when 502 makes it to Three Rivers to work the customer on the old Air Line?
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Re: GDLK Operations

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Ypsi wrote:Flipping crossovers would be a major waste, and if Watco ever got the entire AML, or KAL to WAYNE it would make sense to have the cross over as such for access/ meets.
I believe that it is more likely that Amtrak would run to Grand Rapids via Kalamazoo (abandoning the coastal route) than GDLK take ownership of any of the old Michigan Line. Dare I say that it would be more likely that Watco would take over operation of Amtrak nationwide than take ownership of the old Michigan Line. It simply is not going to happen.

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Re: GDLK Operations

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justalurker66 wrote:
Ypsi wrote:Flipping crossovers would be a major waste, and if Watco ever got the entire AML, or KAL to WAYNE it would make sense to have the cross over as such for access/ meets.
I believe that it is more likely that Amtrak would run to Grand Rapids via Kalamazoo (abandoning the coastal route) than GDLK take ownership of any of the old Michigan Line. Dare I say that it would be more likely that Watco would take over operation of Amtrak nationwide than take ownership of the old Michigan Line. It simply is not going to happen.
Ownership, no. The freight operations franchise? Absolutely WATCO could take that. I’d even say it is somewhat likely.

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Re: GDLK Operations

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justalurker66 wrote:
Ypsi wrote:Flipping crossovers would be a major waste, and if Watco ever got the entire AML, or KAL to WAYNE it would make sense to have the cross over as such for access/ meets.
I believe that it is more likely that Amtrak would run to Grand Rapids via Kalamazoo (abandoning the coastal route) than GDLK take ownership of any of the old Michigan Line. Dare I say that it would be more likely that Watco would take over operation of Amtrak nationwide than take ownership of the old Michigan Line. It simply is not going to happen.
The state owns the line. NS operates it under an operators agreement. I believe it is likely that one day NS wants out. They already got out of the GR-ELK route, they got out of the JAIL route. Companies like WATCO and G&W are snatching up these lines as class 1’s get rid of them. The story actually goes that as part of WATCO getting Elkhart to GR, they would eventually go KAL to Jackson, and eventually Wayne possibly. At one point there were talks of them becoming the Michigan line operator, but NS held onto. In my opinion it’s a great deal for NS on both deals. They don’t maintain either line and theoretically could get back the ELK-GR line if they wanted since it’s a lease. They never will, but they could. As for the AML, no mainline MOW and just run the trains.

As a side note, I can’t recall 100%, but I believe when the state purchased the line theoretically the operator could have gone up for a bid, but as I recall NS just made an agreement the state as they were the current operator. Not sure how many years the agreement is, but it should come up to be renewed at some point.
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