USA August 2019 – Illinois Railway Museum Diesel Days, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad & Midwest Railway Preservation Society
Having not been to the US since the Metrolink BNSF Gala in California, I was really looking forward to this trip and had had the leave booked for it since the turn of the year. There’d been a lot of hype about the Illinois Railway Museum’s upcoming gala and the fact that there should be 5 different Alco’s working at it was quite a draw for me; especially as we’d attempted to get their RS3 out a few years previous and had been given the proverbial “F” off tablet.
As a side-order to the IRM Gala, a return to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad fitted in nicely and having not been there for 10 years I was looking forward to a bit of Alco thrash there, despite knowing that the only Alco I needed (C424 #4241) was out of service. And as a side-order to that I took the opportunity to contact the Midwest Railway Preservation Society in Cleveland, the result of which was them agreeing to give us a ride on their Alco RS3 #123 after we’d finished at the CVSR.
Of course, no trip to Chicago would be complete without a spin on Metra, and as they were ordering new engines, and taking on all of Amtrak California’s F59’s the time for some of the veteran F40’s looked a little limited; and as I’d neve really paid much attention to Metra during my trips to Chicago, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel; and was!
Booked through British Airways
EI151 0850 Heathrow – Dublin
EI123 1130 Dublin – Chicago
BA296 2055 Chicago – Heathrow
Deerfield – Red Roof Inn – is a short $6 Uber from Lake Cook Road Metra station and came highly recommended as a cheap-ish place to stay in Metra-land. The room was clean, quiet had great air-con (which was needed), a decent fridge and a huge bed.
Crystal Lake – Super 8 Crystal Lake – is a short $6 Uber from Crystal Lake Metra station. The rooms were clean, had great air-con and it was in a quiet location. Breakfast was basic but did the trick every morning and the staff at the front desk were helpful in pointing out the best places to frequent in the local area. There’s an Aldi directly opposite too.
Amtrak tickets booked direct online with Amtrak
Metra tickets all bought through their very good Ventra App
Illinois Railway Museum – entry paid on the day, each day, at the site
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad – tickets can be bought online but we paid on the day at the ticket office on Rockside station
Sunday 5th August 2019 (UK to the US)
Having stopped at the Ibis Heathrow overnight, I was all for being at the airport in good time, especially as there had originally planned to b a strike of ground crews on this particular day; which had only been called off the previous day! The ensuing chaos that it caused had cost me quite a bit of time on the phone to Aer Lingus customer service trying to get my Heathrow – Dublin leg changed to any other airport in the UK, which I could get to and make my connecting flight to Chicago off! This all seemed a little hard for the customer services, both on live chat and on the phone, who simply told me that there were no other connections they could book me on that involved Chicago. In true “normal” style though, my explanation of what I wanted, what they perceived and what they were actually looking at was nothing like what I actually needed from them and anyone would think I was asking for the world, when al I wanted was a flight from anywhere in the UK to Dublin, that would get me there before 10am! To say they were shit is an understatement, and the very fact I could actually book a flight from Leeds/Bradford, Gatwick or London City to Dublin on their own website made a mockery of the conversation I was having; with a customer services based in the US, who of course understood UK geography. The long and short being that I retained my original flights, hoped for the best and 6 hours later the strike was called off; thank fuck!
Whether it was because there was originally going to be a strike and people had changed their plans, or some other reason, Heathrow Airport didn’t seem as busy as usual. So much so that when I’d got through security, I had plenty of time to spare before the flight prior to mine would depart for Dublin, let alone my own. If you don’t ask, you definitely don’t get, so I asked and as EI151 0740 Heathrow – Dublin began to board I was bumped from my later flight t this at no extra charge and even had a row to myself for the trouble! Being hand-luggage only is what clinched the deal and it took seconds to issue me a new boarding card, for a different flight. And boy was I glad I was on the earlier flight!
Arrival into Dublin seemed like it was moments after taking off from Heathrow, and that was where the fun began. Since the US Customs & Border Protection alleged that I overstayed a few years ago, I now have to travel to the US on a 10-year visa and am not eligible to do so on an ESTA. Not once have I got through US immigration without being questioned, detained or both; and this time was no exception. I was through to the backroom for secondary interrogation in no time and the whole rigmarole from landing at Dublin to being allowed through to departures took 1h20m. Now consider that my original from connection time from Heathrow was only 1h30m! It doesn’t bear thinking about. Going through US immigration is quite possibly the thing I detest most in life and all because someone made a mistake when I left the US once, which I now have to suffer for the rest of my life. Still, I made my flight, was already pre-checked into the US, despite the stress-levels being raised way to high for my liking, and wouldn’t have to queue at immigration in Chicago and suffer the same fate I already had in Dublin; which would completely destroy my afternoon plans.
The Aer Lingus flight was good, it was full though, but landing 50’ early into Chicago had to be a record for me. That said, and despite the fact everyone off our flight was directed straight out of the airport and down to baggage reclaim, it then took me an hour to get from Terminal 5 to O’Hare Transfer station thanks to the airport transit system being closed for refurbishment. There were plenty of buses running between the terminals but those to/from O’Hare Transfer were few and far between and I had to change from one to another at one of the parking lots along the way. I had plenty of time though and my afternoon of Metra nedding wasn’t affected at all.
I was staying at the Red Roof Inn at Deerfield and used the excellent Metra Ventra App to buy all my tickets for Metra during the whole trip. I used the North Central Service (Antioch – Chicago Union) to get into Chicago Union and then the Milwaukee District North Line (Chicago Union – Fox Lake) to ned trains in on the way out towards Deerfield. With single tickets bought at the ticket counter you can step back along the route but you must tell the conductor before he grips your ticket, with tickets on the app they’re valid for specific time period after they’re activated and it’s a free for all when stepping off, as long as you reach your destination during the ticket’s validity.
It was a late finish at Deerfield but not that late that I didn’t have time to use the nearest Jewel Osco to get some bits for the following day, and a decent noodle place nearby the hotel to grab some food on the way back. The Red Roof Inn itself is a short $6 Uber from Lake Cook Road Metra station and came highly recommended as a cheap-ish place to stay in Metra-land. The room was clean, quiet had great air-con (which was needed), a decent fridge and a huge bed. What more could I need? Especially as I went to bed with an Uber already requested for stupid o’clock in the morning, to take me to Braeside station on the Union Pacific North Line (Kenosha – Chicago OTC).
Gen for Monday 5th August 2019
84, 89, 92, 93, 103, 105, 107, 115, 120, 124, 217, 401, 402, 403, 405, 412, 421, 423, 427
Photos for Monday 5th August 2019
Tuesday 6th August 2019 (A day in Metra-land before heading to Cleveland on the Lake Shore Ltd)
Uber called up my booking on the app 20 minutes before the requested time and searched for available cars until one became available; and at 5am I was at Braeside Metra station, raring to go. After a mad morning on the UP-North Line, I trotted from Ogilvie Transportation Center to Chicago Union and managed to deposit my big bag at the Amtrak check-in desk, which also acts as a left luggage facility for Amtrak & Metra passengers. Its $10 per 24-hour period and despite me leaving mine there for 47 hours, I was only charged the initial $10 and not the additional $10 when I collected it.
With a weight off my shoulders, literally, I could get about a lot more freely and used the baggage-free opportunity to do a bit of Metra bashing at all three of the Chicago stations, Union, Ogilvie Transportation Center and LaSalle Street. Of the three, OTC is by far my most preferred, it has better facilities than Union, is generally a brighter station and has loads more opportunities for food than Union, and the platforms are all open access and not underground. While LaSalle Street is the worst of the bunch with hardly any facilities at all. Getting between the stations is easy enough, with Union to OTC only taking 10 minutes if you use the main roads outside the main Union station entrance. If you use the odd-numbered platforms, walk along them and exit onto Maddison Street, OTC is just across the road on the left, entrance via the shopping centre. From Union to LaSalle Street is a bit of a walk, but when I say that, it only takes 15 minutes once you get the hang of where you’re going.
Viewing is easy at LaSalle Street from the platform ends, likewise at OTC and if you screenshot the departure boards it becomes easy to figure out what’s going to work what at each location, especially in the afternoon rush at OTC. Union is a bit of a harder beast though with two sides to the station, odd and even numbered dead-end platforms being at opposite sides of the concourse: with the locos always being on the outer ends of the sets. With the locos being almost sectorized to their relevant lines, its not too hard to attempt to find what you’re looking for, if you know which line its currently working off.
With OTC being solid F40’s I opted to spend most of my time bashing out of there, especially as it was easy to figure out what loads of engines are doing during the afternoon peak too. I had to make sure I was back into Union with time to spare for food and to catch Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited to Cleveland, where I’d be meeting Jools & Redbridge the following morning.
Amtrak kindly provided GE P42DC’s 95/132 for the Lake Shore and I managed to keep a pair of seats to myself all the way from Chicago to Cleveland; and dossed quite well while I was at it.
Gen for Tuesday 6th August 2019
88, 90, 102, 104, 106, 118, 121, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 135, 138, 139, 141, 146, 147, 149, 151, 152, 153, 155, 157, 158, 159, 160, 164, 166, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 175, 176, 177, 178, 204, 209, 407, 410, 420
Photos for Tuesday 6th August 2019
Wednesday 7th August 2019 (Cleveland – Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway & Midwest Railway Museum)
I was a little confused when the conductor woke me an hour before our booked arrival time into Cleveland and told me we were just waiting to get into the station. When I came to, I realised we’d changed time zone and it was an hour ahead of what my body clock was on; so, all was well. I had over an hour before meeting Jools at the other side of the city so walked from Cleveland Amtrak station to essentially the W-25th Metro station, which took about an hour in the end, and after a very good breakfast at the West Side Market Café a $16 Uber took us directly from outside their front door to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway’s Rockside station, which is in Independence, Illinois.
Tickets for the day cost a mere $16 for a day rover in coach class, which can be used on all services operated that day. Wednesdays & Thursdays have two return trips from Rockside, while Friday to Sunday inclusive have three return trips from Rockside, along with some themed trains operating on specified evenings throughout the season. These include beer/wine/gin trains and dining excursions and when operated they use a separate set of stock to the main train, which was marshalled up at Peninsula shops with MLW FPA4’s 6777 & B&O800.
CVSR MLW RS18 #365 brought the stock in for the first train of the day, which was load 13 and had CVSR MLW RS18 #1822 & MLW FPA4 #6771 in multi on the opposite end, which then worked the first trip along the 39.60km section of used line to Akron Northside. We were told that the reason for the pair of Alco’s was due to the heavy rain the previous day and the uncertain weather during the day warranting a pair just in case things got a little slippery in the uphill direction.
At Peninsula Shops, behind the dining set with MLW FPA4’s 6777 & B&O800 is the shell of FPA4 6764 which was stripped in preparation of a complete overhaul by an external company, which unfortunately went bust during the contract; so the likelihood of it ever being put back together is very, very slim! Inside the shops though, Alco C424 #4241 is having a bit of work done; some photos of which had appeared on the Alco Locomotive Operators Facebook page in the months before this trip. Thankfully, from an alcoholic’s perspective, the GM’s that the CVSR were leasing have both gone elsewhere and the railway is now back to solid Alco power.
The stock is well maintained and the air-con worked well in the coaches we sat in. the staff were friendly enough and allowed us to sit in the bike-car, which is reserved for people bringing their bike along for the ride in the park. Unfortunately, unlike on our previous visit, there was no bellowing allowed out of the actually bike-car’s open doors; so, we had no thrash off the Alco’s all day; sadly. Although, we were allowed to walk down the tracks at both Rockside & Akron to get photos of the locos, which were well off the platforms at either end of the line due to the length of the train.
As Jools & Redbridge had a rescheduled baseball game to attend in Cleveland, I did the second trip of the day on my own. While the bike coach does have snacks and cold drinks for sale, there’s nothing available on-board that’s substantial, so bring it with you if you want lunch. All in all, it was a decent day, but the lack of noise from the engines (not that they weren’t making any of course) was a big let-down. But for $16 there were no complaints and I had an Uber waiting at Rockside as we pulled in, or should I say coasted in after C420 #365 had shut down after requiring assistance in rear for most of the last journey back from Akron! I met up with Jools & Redbridge for part two of the day at the Midwest Railway Museum site on the outskirts of Cleveland, where I’d arranged with their Director for RS3 #123 to be given a run out during our visit.
When I arrived, Jools & Redbridge were already chatting with one of the Midwest Railway Museum (MRM) guys at the gates, who, once introductions were done, showed us around the site and introduced us to the guy I’d arranged our visit with, along with our driver for the evening. The site itself is centred around an old roundhouse, which has suffered a bit of damage in the past and only half of it is currently usable, with the other half semi-collapsed and derelict at the moment. There is only the one working loco on site, Alco RS3 #123 which is a 1951 built example of the class, which has spent all of its working life in Michigan at the Oliver Mining Co. limestone quarry, and having been acquired by an MRM member it was chosen as the best of the bunch available, and restored to running order at the MRM, albeit after standing on site for a number of years. The loco is used on the MRM’s regular operating days and it generally hauls a couple of old coaches up and down the sidings that the Museum is allowed to operate on.
There are plenty of steam locos on site, all in various states of long-term restoration and as the site is adjacent to a yard where questionable product is conveyed, we had to ensure that when photographing on site, that we didn’t include said yard in the shot. Our driver for the evening was a cracking guy, who certainly knew his way around an Alco. While the siding the railway can operate down is relatively short, and they can only use it once shunting operations have finished in the adjacent yard, we spent plenty of time on the footplate and were moving for most of the time we spent on it too. The RS3 was first used to shunt a few bits around on the turntable and even to position a wagon for cutting up the following day, before we all took a turn driving it up and down the site; which was the first time I’d ever driven an Alco! It was a thoroughly enjoyable late afternoon and the guys there do a cracking job of keeping the place running. Hopefully, our donation to their cause will go towards keeping the RS3 running.
By the time we left it was gone 1900 but the guys had no qualms about staying behind to entertain three English Alcoholics, and having thanked them profusely for entertaining us we got an Uber to take us back o where the day had started and passed the evening away at a couple of the local breweries and stuffed our face with pizza; before heading to Cleveland Amtrak station to wait it out for the Capitol Limited to take us into Chicago. Barely able to keep our eyes open after the long day, I managed to stretch out on the waiting area floor for a few hours while Jools went upmarket and at least used a bench as his doss-house; and he was snoring away before I even managed to nod off!
We knew Amtrak GE P42DC’s 197/38 were heading our way with 1605 Washington DC Union – Chicago Union, and the train was quite busy when it arrived. Jools went up front to his sleeper berth, while Redbridge & I had to sit in coach beside other people already on board. I was soon dossed though and managed quite a bit of sleep, despite having to share the seats with someone else.
Gen for Wednesday 7th August 2019
1050 Akron Northside – Rockside
1500 Akron Northside – Rockside (assisted in rear from Big bend due loss of power)
RS18 #1822 & MLW FPA4 #6771
0900 Rockside – Akron Northside
1300 Rockside – Akron Northside
1500 Akron Northside – Rockside (assisting in rear from Big Bend due to #365 being poorly)
Photos for Wednesday 7th September 2019 – Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
Photos for Wednesday 7th August 2019 – Midwest Railway Museum
Thursday 8th August 2019 (A Day in Chicago nedding about on Metra)
Despite arriving an hour late on the Capitol Limited, it didn’t really affect the morning moves as after the morning inbound rush there isn’t a great deal to do until around 1030 anyway. So, I went to collect my bag from the Amtrak Luggage desk, expecting to have to pay for the additional day’s storage. But, despite the guy at the desk confirming that I had some extra to pay, he handed me my bag and told me to have a good day, and not to worry about the additional $10 I owed Amtrak; which was awfully nice of him!
During the course of the morning I did moves out of Chicago Union on the BNSF Aurora line, some out of the opposite side of the station on the Big Timber & Fox Lake trains and also hiked over to LaSalle Street and did a couple of ned-leaps to 35th Street, before ending up at Ogilvie Transportation Center for the afternoon peak. With most stuff already being lined up in the platforms at OTC it was pretty easy to pick off what I wanted during the peak and with 625 1545 Chicago OTC – Harvard & 41 1611 Chicago OTC – Elburn being viewed as pairs of F40’s for the second time, I assumed that both were booked pairs; especially as they were on sets that filled the whole length of the longest platforms in the station.
There is no shortage of trains heading out towards Crystal Lake/Harvard & McHenry of an evening but with the stopping pattern allowing for overtaking on the fast line, it’s impossible to cover everything heading outbound of an evening. I used the Ventra app to my advantage though but even then I had to do OTC – Crystal Lake in two stages as the ticket validity ran out before I’d managed to step-off all the way to Crystal Lake; with there being so many trains.
I called it a day around 2000 and rather than walk from Crystal Lake station to the hotel I got an Uber to take me the couple of miles to the Super 8 Crystal Lake, which would be the base for the next 4 days. With an Aldi over the way and restaurants nearby, the Super 8 was well situated and a decent price. The rooms were clean, had great air-con and it was in a quiet location. Breakfast was basic but did the trick every morning and the staff at the front desk were helpful in pointing out the best places to frequent in the local area.
I was the first to arrive, by the morning there would be quite a few English cranks gathering for breakfast; before the main event of the trip would commence!
Gen for Thursday 8th August 2019
101, 109, 110, 122, 136, 137, 139, 144, 145, 146, 148, 150, 154, 155, 156, 161, 163, 167, 174, 178, 183, 184, 200, 202, 418, 424
Photos for Thursday 8th August 2019 – Metra
Friday 9th August 2019 to Sunday 11th August 2019 (Illinois Railway Museum Diesel Days Weekend)
Having changed the way they operate during their “Diesel Days” during 2018 the Illinois Railway Museum (IRM) had decided to do the same again for their 2019 Diesel Days, and rather than doing run-pasts all day with light engines, they would again operate all the locos being used during the weekend on rakes of passenger stock instead. All of which was accessible to the public to ride on; for the nominal fee of $15 per day, which was essentially just the amount payable to access the site, with the train rides being free!
As is the case with the English crank fraternity there was much advance frothing about what would happen during the weekend, whether we’d be able to get on every train we wanted to because of crowd numbers, whether trains would be held, whether everything advertised would operate; and there were various simplifiers created after we received the rostered loco allocations and timetables in advance.
Before arriving, it became evident that it was impossible to get everything in on one of the days, simply due to the number of locos working trains. This did require a bit of advance planning and whatever the move, we’d all have to flag one loco to allow us to get everything else in; and there was a choice of five different locos that could be flagged so moves could be different if people chose to flag different things. Despite this choice, thanks to the ATSF #92 not wanting to play ball on the day, the timetable was re-hashed slightly for the Saturday, which meant everything could be got in quite easily and nobody had to miss anything as a result. Of the locos originally advertised to work over the weekend the ATSF #92 was one of three that didn’t make the final cut, with Alco C424 Morristown & Erie #18 & Baldwin DT 66-2000 Minneapolis Northfield & Southern #21 being the others; unfortunately for me! A very recent acquisition did step in to replace the Alco though, TTI GE U28B #260, which had only arrived on site a couple of weeks before the Diesel Days weekend.
With locos from the following builders:
Alco, General Electric, Fairbanks Morse & Electro Motive Division on offer, it was a shame the Baldwin didn’t make the cut. The build dates of the locos working ranged from 1940 to 1985 with the oldest of the bunch being the sole surviving EMD E5A CB&Q 9911A built in 1940 for the Nebraska Zephyr, which it still operates with at the IRM today. Despite the range of builders and ages of the locos working during the weekend, and the fact that 25 different locos were used, other than those that didn’t make the cut, not one loco put a foot wrong during the whole weekend; which is a testament to the guys that maintain the locos on the huge site! The full list of locos working during the weekend is as follows:
Alco S1 Nekosa Paper #14
Alco RS3 Minnesota Transfer #200
Alco RSD5 Chicago & North Western #1689
Alco RSD15 Green Bay & Western #2407
GE U30C Burlington Northern #5383
GE U28B Trans Kentucky Transportation Inc. #260
GE B40-8 Union Pacific #1848
Electro Motive Division
EMD F9A Burlington Northern BN-1
EMD F9B Burlington Northern BN-2 (used but not operable)
EMD E9A Burlington Northern BN-3
EMD SD24 Chicago Burlington & Quincy #504
EMD SW7 Chicago Burlington & Quincy #9255
EMD E5A Chicago Burlington & Quincy #9911-A
EMD F7A Chicago & North Western #411
EMD SD40-2 Chicago & North Western #6847
EMD GP7R Chicago Rock Island & Pacific #4506
EMD SW1 Commonwealth Edison #15
EMD GP7 Illinois Terminal #1605
EMD F7A Metra #308
EMD F7A Milwaukee Road #118C
EMD SD7 Southern Pacific #1518
EMD SD45 Wisconsin Central #7525
EMD E9B Wisconsin Southern #102
FM H10-44 Milwaukee Road #760
The IRM site is huge, when compared to any of our UK Heritage Railway depot sites. The trackage alone in the site will be more than some Heritage Railways have in the UK, full-stop! The line the IRM operate their train service on runs adjacent to UP trackage and is 4.65 miles from Jefferson Street at one end to Kishwaukee Grove at the other, with the East Union station (on the IRM site) being 0.71 miles from the Jefferson Street end of the line. All trains start at the East Union station and generally run to Kishwaukee Grove, reverse and then are propelled back through East Union (on the main avoiding line) to either Olsen Road or Jefferson Street (depending on operating requirements and late running at the time), and then drawn back into the platform.
With there only being three sets of stock in use on the Friday every train throughout the day was coverable, on the Saturday and Sunday with departures from East Union every 15-20 minutes it was impossible with four sets operating (Coach, Bi-Level, Caboose & Nebraska Zephyr); with a round-trip of the line averaging approx. 30-35 minutes depending on the reversing point before heading back into East Union. Due to the fact that the line is predominantly single track, every arrival back into East Union makes the next departure by default; as the next train then has to await the train following the one that’s just arrived, to come off the single line before it can depart. There is a crossing loop 3 miles out just before Seeman Road, where all trains on the Saturday and Sunday stopped at on the return from Kishwaukee Grove only; and ran non-stop through on the way out. This stop was predominantly for photographers to get off and do their thing, but it was equally handy for cranks to plot their bash as well; and had we known about this stop before arriving at the railway, there would have been no need to flap about missing anything during the weekend; even if the timetable hadn’t been re-hashed on the Saturday for the ATSF #92’s failure to start the night before.
The staff running the show were very friendly throughout the weekend and when the Alco’s were working on Sunday one friendly conductor opened up the front coach of the coach set to allow cranks to frequent it, for the thrash. Unfortunately, though, most of our time was spent on the Caboose set which was what most of the oddities were rostered to, and to be fair it suited us and the front caboose of the 5 was generally full of English cranks on every departure.
Accessing the IRM site can only really be done by car and with Crystal Lake being a 20-minute drive away, it’s about as close as you can get by public transport, before having to hire a car to get there yourself (as we did), or use Uber to bridge the gap between public transport and the site (as others did). On site, apart from the train rides, there’s plenty to do, with barn after barn of exhibits and displays. There’s also a very decent restaurant on site, with reasonably priced fast-food and drinks; with the cold drinks from the dispensers being free refill all day once a large vat is purchased for $5, which is very good value if returning for a refill after every trip!
So, down to the locos themselves, and while I’m an Alco man at heart, I’d go as far as saying that most things made a bit of a racket, even the ancient GM tat. The newer GM’s, theSD40 and the likes, were nothing to write home about though but the heritage E & F units were quite entertaining. The engine of the weekend though had to be the Alco RSD15 “Alligator” Green Bay & Western #2407, which clagged the place out every time it was opened up. Alco RSD5 Chicago & North Western #1689, which I’d seen at its previous home on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic, sounded quite well when it was given some welly, and Alco RS3 Minnesota Transfer #200 could well have worked its first every passenger train when it did it’s one train of the weekend, on the Sunday. One of the maintenance guys told us that in his 29 years at the IRM it was definitely the first time he’d known it work a passenger train; which just shows how limited some of this stuff is to passenger work in the US, even when in preservation the locos still seem to get used for what they were initially designed for on the big railway.
It was a cracking weekend, that was thoroughly enjoyed by the 16 English cranks that made the effort to attend. I was lucky enough t be among a small group that stayed behind on the Sunday and had the pleasure of an evening in the cab of the Alligator while exhibits from the weekend were being shunted back into safe storage inside various barns around the site. It topped off a great three-day weekend, which had hopefully been a big success for the IRM. With the weather being great, there’d certainly been a lot of folks about the site all weekend. Here were plenty more locos that the IRM have to offer, not least the three that didn’t quite make the cut on this occasion, and there are always others under restoration; not to mention Alco FA2 Long Island #604, which is a long-term project! Here’s to hoping there’ll be an opportunity for a return visit.
Gen for IRM Diesel Days Friday 9th to Sunday 11th August 2019
Friday 9th August 2019 (operating on passenger)
10:30 AM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 9911A
11:15 AM – Coach Train – MILW 118C, METX 308
12:00 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 9911A
12:45 PM – Coach Train – BN1, (BN2), METX 308, MILW 118C, CNW 411
1:30 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 9911A
2:15 PM – Coach Train – BN1, (BN2), BN3
3:00 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 9911A
3:45 PM – Bilevel – CNW 411
4:30 PM – Coach Train – CBQ 9911A, SLRG 102, BN3
5:15 PM – Bilevel – METX 308, CNW 411
Photos for Friday 9th August 2019 – IRM
Saturday 10th August 2019 (operating on passenger)
10:30 AM – Caboose Train – CBQ 9255
10:45 AM – Coach Train – CBQ 9911A, SLRG 102, BN3
11:00 AM – Bilevel – METX 308, CNW 411
11:20 AM – Nebraska Zephyr – CRIP 4506
11:35 AM – Caboose Train – WC 7525
11:55 AM – Coach Train – CBQ 504
12:10 PM – Bilevel – METX 308, CNW 411
12:30 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 9911A, SLRG 102, BN3
12:45 PM – Caboose Train – CNW 6847
1:05 PM – Coach Train – WC 7525
1:20 PM – Bilevel – CNW 411
1:40 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 504
1:55 PM – Caboose Train – IT 1605
2:15 PM – Coach Train – CRIP 4506
2:30 PM – Bilevel – BN3
2:50 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 9911A
3:05 PM – Caboose Train – CRIP 4506, IT 1605
3:25 PM – Coach Train – CNW 6847, WC 7525, CBQ 504
3:40 PM – Bilevel – BN3
4:00 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 9911A
4:15 PM – Caboose Train – SP 1518
4:35 PM – Coach Train – CRIP 4506, IT 1605, CNW 411, METX 308
4:50 PM – Bilevel – BN3
5:10 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 9911A
5:25 PM – Caboose Train – CE 15
Photos for Saturday 10th August 2019 – IRM
Sunday 11th August 2019 (operating on passenger)
10:30 AM – Caboose Train – NP 14
10:45 AM – Coach Train – UP 1848
11:00 AM – Bilevel – CNW 1689, BN3
11:20 AM – Nebraska Zephyr – BN 5383
11:35 AM – Caboose Train – IRMX 260
11:55 AM – Coach Train – GBW 2407
12:10 PM – Bilevel – BN3
12:30 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – BN 5383
12:45 PM – Caboose Train – UP 1848
1:05 PM – Coach Train – GBW 2407, CNW 1689
1:20 PM – Bilevel – BN3
1:40 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 9911A
1:55 PM – Caboose Train – UP 1848
2:15 PM – Coach Train – GBW 2407, CNW 1689
2:30 PM – Bilevel – BN3
2:50 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 9911A
3:05 PM – Caboose Train – BN 5383
3:25 PM – Coach Train – IRMX 260
3:40 PM – Bilevel – CNW 411
4:00 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 9911A
4:15 PM – Caboose Train – MT 200
4:35 PM – Coach Train – BN 5383, IRMX 260
4:50 PM – Bilevel – CNW 411
5:10 PM – Nebraska Zephyr – CBQ 9911A
5:25 PM – Caboose Train – MILW 760
Photos for Sunday 11th August 2019 – IRM
Monday 12th August 2019 (Nedding on Metra before heading home)
It was quite strange not going to the IRM, after the three good days we’d all had there and despite everyone going their separate ways the day after the event, I think I managed to bump into virtually every English crank that had been at the event during the day, in the Chicago Union station area! The WhatsApp group we’d set up between us all certainly helped people during the day, and without it, there’s no doubt people wouldn’t have had what they did that day.
After an unexpected red-pen fest on the way into Chicago from Crystal Lake, my best chance of using my red pen was on the Metra BNSF line towards Aurora, and I wasn’t disappointed when my two return trips to Harlem Avenue produced a winner on every train; and even allowed for a spot of BNSF freight photting during the short festers. After which, a trudge to LaSalle Street for one last time produced some petty coloured “hovercrafts”, MP36’s, and pioneer F40PH #100. While back at OTC for the last time in the trip, the line-up, having nedded the line into the ground, didn’t produce much at all; with just the one winner. Which allowed me to then spend the rest of the afternoon standing at the top of the steps down to Chicago Union, chewing the cud with Sooty and nearly being bowled over by Snowy as he stumbled down the steps for a winner; which he’d gleaned from WhatsApp.
I met up with Vic for the last train of the bash, who’d been out photting BNSF freight with Jools all day, who’d then dropped him at the airport before flying home. The strange pairing of Metra F40 #104 & MP36 #411 took us to O’Hare Transfer on 113 1701 Chicago Union – Antioch, where the free transfer shuttle bus was waiting and took us to Terminal 5 for our British Airways flight home. A spot of BA hospitality in the lounge, courtesy of Vic being a Sliver member and being allowed to take a straggler in, didn’t go amiss and neither did my free upgrade to the same class Vic had paid for on the flight home; much to the annoyance of the lady sat at the side of me in Club World who’d paid for the upgrade herself before boarding! I’d never had an Airbus A380 before either and have to say, it was a pleasure on the journey home. It had been a thoroughly good trip, which brought back my interest in the US somewhat; to the point I was already considering a trip the following year.
Gen for Monday 12th August 2019
100, 104, 113, 117, 125, 126, 132, 140, 142, 152, 162, 213, 406, 411, 424, 425
Photos for Monday 12th August 2019 – Metra