Coal Trains Thunder Over The Sunbury Line Again!

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It’s no secret that coal is what put Northeastern Pennsylvania on the map but what might not be known to today’s Sunbury Line railfans is that coal trains did in fact thunder along the Sunbury Line in the 20th century too.

It was summer of 1999, not long after Conrail was chopped in half like a pinata and Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific began toasting the occasion with a partnership involving the Sunbury Line. Almost immediately following the breakup coal trains began to storm up and out of the valleys of NEPA.

I saw the first one…. It had 4 units up front including an ex-Conrail Dash-8 leader (still in bright blue paint) and a CP SD40-2 last out. On the rear there were 3 EMD Geeps of CP and Delaware & Hudson heritage.

I followed that train all the way up to Scranton (Wilkes-Barre was my home then) and although I wasn’t taking pictures at the time, I can still remember the sound those engines made as they nursed the heavily laded train through the curves and up the grades.

That was the start of a lot of great railroading in the region that went on until about 2012 when CP got a new CEO and service on the Sunbury began to plummet.

In those days of yore, these trains were powered with 3 NS 6-axle GEs up front with 2 CP SD40-2s pushing on the rear. As time went on AC powered GEs replaced the aging SDs. Nowadays the power’s all NS and all up front…. Today it was 2 Dash-9s and 2 different variants of EMD‘s SD70M with 89 loaded cars of various NS and Conrail types in tow.

Today, NS Train 532 (a loaded coal train) rolled through the region ending an era of depression and starting one of endearment. Apparently, the coal trains are being re-routed from the Southern Tier and placed back on the Sunbury Line…. Rightfully, where they belong!

Coal Trains Thunder Over The Sunbury Line Again!

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Railroad Crossing

Guide To Understanding Norfolk Southern Train Symbols:
Train Number Series Extra Series Symbol Train Description
000-099 R Special Trains
100-199 M Merchandise Trains
200-299 I Intermodal Trains
300-399 W Merchandise Trains
400-499 X Bulk Commodities
500-599 Y Bulk Commodities
600-699 Z Bulk Commodities
700-799 Q Coal Trains
800-899 S Coal Trains
900-999 O Miscellaneous or Work Trains

Understanding the train symbols of the Norfolk Southern Sunbury Line….

Norfolk Southern Train K81 is a local job out of Taylor Yard that services the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area as far south as Hanover, Pa.. K81 is a daylight runner between approximately 07:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. with quitting time for the crew usually before 6 p.m..

Norfolk Southern Train K82 is a Taylor, Pa. to Binghamton, NY nocturnal Turn running from 9:00 p.m. to 09:00 a.m..

Norfolk Southern Train 1OA is a Binghamton, NY to Northumberland, Pa. manifest which formerly ran between Conway Yard and Norry.

Norfolk Southern Train 11A is a Northumberland, Pa. to Binghamton, NY manifest which formerly ran between Norry and Conway Yard.

Norfolk Southern Train 11R is an East Deerfield, Ma. to Enola, Pa. manifest which formerly ran as Canadian Pacific Train 458.

Norfolk Southern Train 14R is a Harrisburg (Enola), Pa. to East Deerfield, Ma. manifest which formerly ran as Canadian Pacific Train 459.

Norfolk Southern 37T is an Allentown, Pa. to Buffalo, NY manifest which formerly ran as Canadian Pacific Train 932.

Norfolk Southern 36T is a Buffalo, NY to Allentown, Pa. manifest which formerly ran as Canadian Pacific Train 933.

Keep up with all of the train action taking place on the former CP Rail Sunbury Subdivision (now the Norfolk Southern Crescent Corridor) at BROADCASTIFY.COM.

Naturally when Norfolk Southern takes over these mileage markers will probably change.. When they do I’ll make sure to make the necessary updates…. For now here are the….

Pennsylvania Mile Markers from Binghamton, NY to Sunbury, Pa.

627-Hallstead (Dragging Equipment Detector)
629-631 New Milford (Siding)
643-Kingsley (Dragging Equipment Detector)
648-650 Hop Bottom (10,000 ft. siding)
653-Nicholson & the Tunkhannock Viaduct
659-661 (10,000 ft. siding)
662-Glenburn (Dragging Equipment Detector)
664-Clark’s Summit
671-Steamtown Wye (Bridge Sixty)
672-Taylor Yard (North end)
673-Taylor Yard (South end)
677- (Dragging Equipment Detector)
679-Dupont Jct.
696-Nanticoke (Dragging Equipment Detector)
697-Hanover (Siding)
701-Retreat State Hospital
714-Beach Haven
716-Nescopeck (7,800 ft. siding)
722- (Dragging Equipment Detector – Hot Bearing Detector)
747- (Dragging Equipment Detector – Hot Bearing Detector)
750-Banks (6,400 ft. siding)
752-CP Kase (this is where the Sunbury Crescent joins the Norfolk Southern Buffalo line to Harrisburg and Enola.)

American Class 1 Railroads


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The Norfolk Southern Sunbury Line

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Author:Railfan AC

AC is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, a long haul trucker, a transportation enthusiast and a lifelong lover of trains. AC's mission is to travel America documenting American railroading in the 21st century while educating those who want to know about the importance the railroads play in our daily lives including, but not limited to, the movement of goods, services and more.

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