What was once the Pennsylvania Railroad's busy route between Pittsburgh and Chicago, the Fort Wayne Line west of Alliance is now only a secondary route on Norfolk Southern's vast system with much of the western portion now part of the G&W's Chicago Fort Wayne & Eastern Railroad and reduced to single track. For the longest time, this line didn't really have a much of a foreseeable future. With coal traffic from the Monongahela Valley in Pennsylvania being the only commodity keeping the route alive, it seemed that as the coal market slowed down, Norfolk Southern would deem the line expendable, and mothball it, just like other famous coal lines such as the Virginian P-D District.
However, with the relatively new process of fracking, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National have signed contracts to haul oil from western Canada by rail to the east coast for refining. With this influx of traffic flooding into Chicago for interchange, NS chose to begin routing these trains on the Fort Wayne Line to avoid congestion and the need for cab signal equipped leaders on the core route, the Chicago Line/Cleveland Line. These oil trains have not only greatly increased the traffic volume on the Fort Wayne Line, they've resulted in countless employment opportunities and given new life to one of the most extremely underutilized pieces of railroad on Norfolk Southern's system. With traffic expected to further increase this year, these trains should be able to keep rust off the rails of this fabled old Pennsy mainline for a long time to come.
Loaded oil train 66X splits the Pennsy intermediates at QF194 as they roll east on the Fort Wayne Line through the quiet rural community of North Robinson, Ohio on a warm summer evening.
An ongoing/growing album of photos that IMHO reveal the awesome, but seldom seen beauty of railroads because most of us don't go out after sundown or before sunrise. From dusk to dawn, lights are on! (And I continue to find new "Lights In The Night"!)