GDLK Operations

Anything pertaining to railfanning in Michigan.
User avatar
MQT1223
O Scale Railfanner
Posts: 2943
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:46 pm
Location: Grandville, Michigan
Contact:

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by MQT1223 »

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.
Such as how the Michigan Central was nearly reincarnated in a new form a few years ago when Watco nearly got the freight ops on the Michigan Line between Kzoo and Jackson (If I remember correctly)?
1223 OUT! President and Founder of the Buck Creek Central, the Rolling River Route! (2012-2017) President and Founder of the Lamberton Valley Railroad, The Tin Plate Road! Proudly railfanning with Asperger's since 1996. :)

User avatar
justalurker66
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 1513
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:51 am

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by justalurker66 »

Ok ... even with the long shot chance that GDLK would take over all freight operations on the Michigan Line - how often would they run past Gearhart Yard? They can run past the yard on Track 2 regardless of the crossover layout at BO - and Track 2 is the only track with access to Gearhart Yard. It would be a rare day where GDLK would need to run past the yard on Track 1 while another train occupied Track 2. When was the last time a GDLK train used the LH crossover east of the connection to the LS&SM? How many trains in the past 10 years have used that LH crossover to access the GDLK?

Back to reality - I hope the Three Rivers yard becomes a reality and I like the idea of moving the GDLK main over to the LS&SM diamond.
Things that have an actual chance to become real.

chapmaja
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 798
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2008 3:02 pm

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by chapmaja »

Ypsi wrote:
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.
Don't forget that NS did try to get WATCO as the operator (sort of) years before the sale of the line to the State of Michigan. The STB denied the agreement to have a shortline operator taking control of the line. If I recall correctly, the reason was because of Amtrak. Amtrak and the State of Michigan were concerns that WATCO would not be able to provide the same level of maintenance which NS provided on the line and as a result Amtrak service would suffer.

Now that the State of Michigan owns the line, they are in charge of maintaining the line (which is done under contract with Amtrak IIRC). This means it would be more likely that NS, if they wanted to, could get approval to pass off freight service to a shortline operator like WATCO. With that said, I also seem to recall that part of the sales agreement between NS and the State of Michigan included a provision that NS remained the freight operator on the line. I don't recall the financial details, but I would suspect the operations on the Michigan Line for NS are a financially stable operation considering they don't have the same expense they once did for the line when they had to maintain it to Amtrak standards. The decrease in costs for maintaining the line like more than cover the costs they pay for using the line as the freight operator. For that reason I don't think you will see NS give up freight operations on the line unless something drastic happens (like major customer closures).

User avatar
justalurker66
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 1513
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:51 am

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by justalurker66 »

"Pursuant to a Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) with NSR, MDOT will acquire the Line to facilitate improvements for Amtrak’s existing intercity passenger rail service between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, Mich., while allowing NSR to provide common carrier freight rail service to current and future customers on the Line. MDOT will acquire NSR’s right, title and interest in the right-of-way, trackage and other physical assets (such as signboard and fiber optics) associated with the Line, subject to NSR’s retained “exclusive, irrevocable, perpetual, assignable, divisible, licensable, and transferable freight operations easement.” MDOT will use the funds from two FRA grants to acquire and upgrade the Line to enable Amtrak to operate 110-mph high-speed passenger trains in its Wolverine service across the Chicago-Detroit-Pontiac corridor. NSR currently operates approximately four through-trains, two to seven days per week, and six local trains, five to seven days per week, over the Line. In addition, MDOT states that Amtrak’s Wolverine service currently operates three daily round trips on the Chicago-Detroit-Pontiac corridor, and its Blue Water service (serving the Chicago-Port Huron corridor) operates one daily round-trip using the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek portion of the Line."

In essence, the state bought the railroad - not the common carrier obligations. NS retained the common carrier obligations (otherwise the state would have needed to become a railroad to fulfill those obligations). The obligation is listed as transferable.

User avatar
12Bridge
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 300
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:57 pm
Location: Lake Wazapamani

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by 12Bridge »

Stone train sitting at the unloader with 2 NS GE's.

NSSD70ACe
The Conrail Guru
Posts: 1022
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:34 pm
Location: Somewhere over the Rainbow

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by NSSD70ACe »

NS 1836 (SD70ACC) and NS 8129 (ES44AC) with a stone train at the unloader.
Amtrak's here to stay. Deal with it.

dave989
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 549
Joined: Sun May 08, 2016 8:19 pm
Location: Grandville, Mi

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by dave989 »

Repairs proceeding near the Steelcase complex at 36th and Eastern. The rail has been restored south of 36th were the stored I-beams are awaiting pickup. Signal maintainers are working on the crossing flashers and Eastern will be closed at the RR crossing next week for repairs (replacement).

User avatar
~Z~
Sofa King Admin
Posts: 10936
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2004 2:14 pm
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Contact:

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by ~Z~ »

dave989 wrote:Repairs proceeding near the Steelcase complex at 36th and Eastern. The rail has been restored south of 36th were the stored I-beams are awaiting pickup. Signal maintainers are working on the crossing flashers and Eastern will be closed at the RR crossing next week for repairs (replacement).
Awaitng pickup as in moving the stored I-beams off of the line and placing them elsewhere? If you get any information about when GDLK might be moving those beams to some other area, please post; I'd like to head over there to watch that day.
Webmaster
Railroad photos on Railroadfan.com

GP30M4216
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 3676
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2004 10:35 pm
Location: Feel the Zeel, MI
Contact:

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by GP30M4216 »

Crossovers at BO:
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.
This is only partially true - The currently existing crossovers are new construction as of the MDOT trackwork project in Kalamazoo several years ago. The former crossovers had the reverse arrangement and both were situated between the East Main underpass and the Harrison Street crossing. These were the 'Harris' and 'View' crossovers. Used by NS freight pre-GDLK but almost never used by Amtrak - both sets were handthrow only. Not even electric locks. Freight crews or the BO Operator would throw them. The track rehab project was the opportunity to enable more flexibility for both freight and passenger to benefit, but as was mentioned, the crossovers were reversed and the 2-1 EB crossover was not placed west of the wye. If Amtrak dispatchers won't clear a GDLK freight to enter of exit the yard or BO wye, then the crossovers serve no purpose, because they are essentially using the entire 7-mile doubletrack for Amtrak-Amtrak meets only, exactly as they did when the mains were signaled directionally. If the crossovers had been reversed from their current arrangement, you could meet two Amtraks at the depot or anywhere west to CP-147, and keep the east end of #2 main clear for GDLK movements into our out of the yard. Of course, if Amtrak is holding all freights for any Amtrak passage whether a potential conflict on the same or any adjoining track might happen, then this all doesn't matter. The Michigan Line trains run late, anyways.

You can see the the former Harris crossover in service here at NS 39J approaches the wye at BO:
Image

Kzoo consolidation and wye:

This arrangement also would have allowed for a NE quad wye track to head north to Grand Rapids, either on the former LS&MS or on the former GR&I. Actually, years ago, there was plenty of clear property around that area, it would not have been difficult to have NE quadrant wye tracks to either the GR&I, the LS&MS, or the old CK&S alignment further to the east. Now, with newer property development, there is less un-built land available. [Enough] Money can accomplish anything. Clearly, a wye toward Grand Rapids would eliminate several problems, assuming Botsford/Gearhart Yard will see a long term use of some sort.

With the Pfizer powerplant long since not a customer, there are no customers between Gibson and Mosel Road on the GR&I, track consolidation over to the LS&MS alignment would eliminate about 10 crossings through downtown and the north side, plus the maintenance on a second set of diamonds over the Michigan Line. As someone mentioned, with Graphics Packaging building their new plant on the former Checker site, the entire track arrangement in North Yard will likely be changing. Routing a main track through that new trackwork would be a smart move up to Mosel Road, then cut over on the former GTW (just move the bike trail to the side, folks), and reconnect with the former GR&I just north of there. The consolidation alone won't solve the back-out-of-the-yard situation through downtown, but it would make people think there will be less chance of getting stopped by a train, even though the same number of moves will still go north and south.
Would the Upjohn Industrial track be suitable for a reverse move out of Gearhart to head north to Grand Rapids?
This would be a tradeoff. Upjohn Industrial crosses just as many if not more crossings but fewer busy roads. It does cut through a neighborhood moreso than the Kalamazoo Branch does. I believe the track is CWR, though.

Secondary Yard to deal with GDLK switching:

Three Rivers location has benefits but who knows about land acquisition, etc. What about the former site of South Yard in Kalamazoo? This was located on the LS&MS on the south side of Kalamazoo just north of Cork Street and south of Alcott. The yard was about 1/2 mile long, with headroom up to Alcott to the north. The site isn't huge but I bet it's still all under RR ownership. You could probably get 4-5 tracks in that space in addition to the main, but I'm guessing. If the goal is just to sort GR bound traffic out, it would be easy to do so. How much mixed freight traffic goes up to Grand Rapids these days?

These are just my thoughts. It's been too long since I've spent much time around the Kalamazoo area. If anyone is interested, my album of Kalamazoo area pics from 2004-2008 can be found here: http://railroadfan.com/gallery/thumbnails-189.html. Plenty of Conrail blue, NS black and GTW colors to be seen, along with BO Tower, Amtrak, cabooses, and more!

User avatar
MQT1223
O Scale Railfanner
Posts: 2943
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:46 pm
Location: Grandville, Michigan
Contact:

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by MQT1223 »

~Z~ wrote:
dave989 wrote:Repairs proceeding near the Steelcase complex at 36th and Eastern. The rail has been restored south of 36th were the stored I-beams are awaiting pickup. Signal maintainers are working on the crossing flashers and Eastern will be closed at the RR crossing next week for repairs (replacement).
Awaitng pickup as in moving the stored I-beams off of the line and placing them elsewhere? If you get any information about when GDLK might be moving those beams to some other area, please post; I'd like to head over there to watch that day.
The leads on the north and south ends of the electrical "islands" leading up to the crossing have already been done. The majority of the work that needs to be done is within the physical plant of the crossing itself. The sole reason why the rail south of Eastern has been OOS for the last few years is due to the physical state of both the Eastern and 36th St. crossings. They couldn't pass their FRA inspections, so without an active customer down there it was just easier to put them as OOS then fix them until the funding could be secured. The crossings themselves will also be getting new track sections while this work is being completed and new surfaces, which is especially needed as the Eastern Ave crossing is arguably the worst crossing in Kent County by a long shot.

There is a strong desire for a customer to appear on the north side of the line in the old Steelcase building, as well as leasing the lot on the South side towards the run-around for some kind of transload. Either way once the crossings are rebuilt, the track will no longer be OOS and the rails will be left in place.

32nd Ave and Buchanan Ave will most likely receive the same treatment within the next few years. The private crossing between the Steelcase crossing and 36th Ave will also be removed.
1223 OUT! President and Founder of the Buck Creek Central, the Rolling River Route! (2012-2017) President and Founder of the Lamberton Valley Railroad, The Tin Plate Road! Proudly railfanning with Asperger's since 1996. :)

User avatar
justalurker66
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 1513
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:51 am

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by justalurker66 »

Empty stone train just passed the Elkhart cameras.

User avatar
justalurker66
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 1513
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:51 am

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by justalurker66 »

NS powered grain train headed EB/NB at 2:20 am.

Mark F
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 223
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2007 4:47 pm
Location: Lowell MI

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by Mark F »

Broken rail at the 68th St crossing in Cutlerville. Weighmaster has one of the eastbound lanes shut down. Will likely delay any expected trains this afternoon.

Edit: Looks like it was a quick fix.

dave989
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 549
Joined: Sun May 08, 2016 8:19 pm
Location: Grandville, Mi

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by dave989 »

Thought they would start replacing the Eastern Ave. crossing today but not yet. No sign of panel track or anything else for that matter.

User avatar
MQT1223
O Scale Railfanner
Posts: 2943
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:46 pm
Location: Grandville, Michigan
Contact:

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by MQT1223 »

dave989 wrote:Thought they would start replacing the Eastern Ave. crossing today but not yet. No sign of panel track or anything else for that matter.
Track Panels are in the yard awaiting Delivery when needed for both 36th and Eastern
1223 OUT! President and Founder of the Buck Creek Central, the Rolling River Route! (2012-2017) President and Founder of the Lamberton Valley Railroad, The Tin Plate Road! Proudly railfanning with Asperger's since 1996. :)

Super Chief
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 1132
Joined: Sat May 26, 2012 9:53 am
Location: Three Rivers, Mi.--Indian Rocks Beach,Fl.

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by Super Chief »

Were those the ones on the cart in Bangor? Just kidding.

Super Chief
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 1132
Joined: Sat May 26, 2012 9:53 am
Location: Three Rivers, Mi.--Indian Rocks Beach,Fl.

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by Super Chief »

CN had about 170 cars on the Pavilion branch siding at Kilgore. Seems like a lot for what customers are in Kalamazoo? This was an observation by someone else. Any ideas why this would be?

User avatar
Ypsi
The Bestest Railroadfan... fan
Posts: 5308
Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:13 pm

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by Ypsi »

Storage cars. Storage cars everywhere! As far as the eye can see!

That would be my best guess due to covid-19
"Ann Arbor 2373 Calling... Milkshake. Over"

All Aboard Amtrak: Northbound, Southbound, and My Hometown

fmilhaupt
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 286
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 1:23 pm
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by fmilhaupt »

Talk of all of this grade crossing work SE of 28th and Division can't help but remind me of the several millions of dollars of work that went into reworking the grade crossings and traffic lights at 44th and Kalamazoo oh so many years ago.

I don't recall whether they actually finished all of the work there before the last train ran down to the KBEC.
-Fritz Milhaupt

User avatar
justalurker66
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 1513
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:51 am

Re: GDLK Operations

Unread post by justalurker66 »

Stone Train
Arrived Elkhart (CP 421) at 10:37pm from south - Departed Elkhart (CP 421) at 1:11am headed north. Two NS units in lead.

Post Reply