Wednesday, January 4, 2012

REWIND: ERN Harrisburg Line Photo Tour - November 1998

Photography by Kevin Burkholder unless otherwise noted:

While the motive power may have changed since this 1994 view, the trains have remained constant and heavy.  CP-Capital, nearly the western-most point of the Harrisburg Line, is where traffic either rolls off of the Lurgan Branch or out of Harrisburg from the Pittsburgh Line.  This BAL-44M with SD40 6306 and GP40-2 3278 is climbing through the Harrisburg Amtrak station eastbound from CP-Harris.  This location is not easily accessible but is located just off Cameron Street in Harrisburg.

At CP-Capitol, Harrisburg Cold Storage has a plant that is serviced by rail.  From the rear of that plant, located just south of 13th Street on Berryhill Street, this view is possible.  This was train ALBA-7 in November of 1994.  The SP SD40-2M was being routed westbound for delivery after rebuilding at Mountain Top, PA.  Conrail C40-8 6026 and the SP SD40-2M 8611 were the sole power for the ALBA-7.

When the clearance project was undertaken in 1996, this location, just west of 61st Street in the former Rutherford Yard, was a tight spot.  This is number one track, normally reserved for westbound traffic, but located within CTC Territory between Harrisburg and CP-Tara.  This view is possible by utilizing 61st Street to a dirt road off on the north side of the bridge.   Today a loaded westbound UXC-177 (Reading & Northern export coal) heads under 61st Street and through the widened cut.  Next year, number two track will be moved to parallel number one through here, making this single track view obsolete.
The Triple Crown Roadrailer facilitiy resides directly behind the Wal-Mart store along Grayson Road in Rutherford.  This location is ideal for catching the afternoon departure of RR-281.  C36-7 6642 leads a Conrail C40-8W and 125 Triple Crown trailers out of the yard at Milepost 106.1 on number two track.

Few quality locations exist between Harrisburg and Rutherford, PA.  Besides being the location of the Triple Crown Roadrailer yard and soon-to-be intermodal yard, Rutherford hosts a Wal-Mart (lots of Kodachrome there!).  This view of PICA-8 in April of 1998, is possible from paralleling the tracks on Grayson Road.  Grayson Road is accessible from US Route 322 and a turn onto 61st Street (CR Friendly Texaco on southeast corner and the Wal-Mart complex on the northeast corner).  Several views are possible along here.

Overview Road, located off of Pleasant View and accessed from either Rutherford or Hummelstown, offers a semi-elevated view of traffic in both directions.  In August, RR-262 departed the Triple Crown facility in the early morning hours.  The high summer morning sun makes this view possible.   Due to the dense tree population, Spring, Fall and Winter shots are tough here.   This RR-262 is being highballed eastbound behind GP40-2's 3297 and 3387 as they approach CP-Tara.

You can also shoot CP-Tara interlocking and the end of CTC (for now!), by looking east from Overview Road.  An afternoon ALPI train sweeps through the slight curves within the interlocking at CP-Tara.  This was the location of the fatal September 1997 rear-end collision and subsequent derailment, which tied up the line for a little over twenty-four hours.

The next significant establishment east of Rutherford is the Borough of Hummelstown.  Two grade crossings offer OK views of traffic.  East of town, there is an elderly iron bridge that was spared and raised when the clearance project rolled through the Valley in 1996.  This location, looking west, gives an excellent morning view of eastbound traffic.  BUAL-4 with Conrail Ballast Express C32-8 6610 and SD40-2 6520 accelerate around the sweeping curve on the approach to Brownstone.

The location known as Brownstone on the railroad, is right behind a brand new Holiday Inn Express between Hershey and Hummelstown on Walton Avenue.  Brownstone, and this view looking east are accessible by turning back a dirt lane next to a Taco Bell fast food establishment.  Canadian Pacific 557with CPR SD40-2 5698, CP SD40-2 5430 and D&H GP38-2 7303,  is seen passing the West Hershey Chocolate factory.

West of downtown Hershey in the village of Swatara, an early brick station stands tribute to the passing traffic and the heritage of the village itself.  ALPI-5 on September 15, 1997, rounds the 'S' curves that make this shot unique on the Harrisburg Line.  ALPI-5 is in charge of C36-7 6641 and LMS C40-8W 706.  The location is accessible from US Route 422 and a turn north on Hockersville Road.  Follow Hockersville Road back to the tracks and you are here!

In downtown Hershey, the US Route 743 overpass offers unobstructed views in both directions.  The bridge is also equipped with sidewalks on both sides of the road, making it a pretty safe place to photograph. Looking west, a morning TV-200 with a Conrail SD60M leading a Chicago & Northwestern C44-9W heads eastbound.

The eastbound view is a classic, with variations dating back to early Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Co. photos.  The Hershey Chocolate USA plant sets most of the backdrop with huge cocoa bean elevators to the north of the tracks.  On this particular day, Hershey was the 'Sweetest Place On Earth', as Morrison-Knudsen was delivering an order of SD40-2M's to the Southern Pacific.   SP (SD45 carbodies) 8600, 8601, and 8655 had Conrail GP38-2 8231 along for the ride as the charged through Hershey.

You've seen plenty of Derry Road shots in the feature, but here is the view looking southwest from the same location!  The Hershey Chocolate factory's cocoa bean elevators and conveyor frame up PICA-7 in June of 1998.  The PICA train often operates with SD80MAC's, this date being no exception, as 4104 and 4118 hammer the curve within the chocolate plant confines.
Just east of Derry Road, near the intersection with Laudermilch Road, the railroad location of Landis exists.  This is the other end of the curve that shifts traffic southwest through Hershey.  The annual Operation Lifesaver trains that were operated with Conrail's pristine Office Car Special equipment were easily lensed here.  E8A's 4021 and 4020 team up to take the train to Allentown, PA.

The next location of any interest is Palmyra.  Here, three separate crossings offer several views of the line.  Two grade crossings are split by an overhead bridge in town.  US Route 422 to North Railroad Street will bring you to this view, where a stone station has been restored and now altered by a construction company which uses it for office space.  On a snowy January 15, 1996, SNO-202 is busy moving over four feet of snow in some locations. The SNO-train is a push plow 69619 and GP38-2 8094.

Looking west from Railroad Street, Block Operator Jim Largent is hooping up a Form D to eastbound train NSSE-3 on September 13, 1997.  Railroad Street was one of the normal haunts for the Block Operators.

The next street east of Railroad Street that offers any type of view is the Grant Street overpass.  It is possible to shoot from the west side of the bridge unobstructed, the east side has chain link fence making views more difficult.  In April of 1998, Reading & Northern empty hoppers are returning to Reading on Conrail train XBM-9, behind C40-8W's 6199 and 6125.  The units accelerate after picking up a form D at Railroad Street, visible behind the units.
With the amount of traffic on the Harrisburg Line, meets are often possible to capture.  One location that is ideal for lensing such meets is the Spring Creek Road overpass between Palmyra and Annville.   Looking east towards the location that will become an automated crossover, an XGW-12W empty taconite hopper train with SD80MAC's 4107 and 4120 are stopped at a red signal as ALHB-5 behind C32-8 6617 and GP40-2 3400 prepare to make a pick up and set out for Carmeuse.

In Cleona, the view from a private road crossing, referred to as Books Crossing, allows a wide open vista with the approach signal bridge to Wall Interlocking, just two miles ahead.  ALHB-0 is seen westbound at Books Crossing behind SD80MAC's 4125, 4123, and C40-8W 6253.

The Reading Company signal mast that had stood guard at the Wall interlocking for many years, fell in 1996 to this new overhead signal bridge.  Ironically, this was the same period of time that all overhead structures were being removed or raised.  This bridge was constructed to allow maximum clearance for stack traffic.  The RR-262 train with C40-8W 6115 and GP40-2 3294 has no problem cruising under the bridge on the way into Lebanon, PA.  This view is possible from the 16th Street grade crossing in Lebanon.

Within the Lebanon City limits, trains are restricted to 25 mph, due to numerous grade crossings in succession.  At MP 86 in 1996, CP train 558 was a visitor with SD40-2 5670, SD40-2 5448, and SD40-2 5784.  In 1999, these trains will move over this route daily.  This location is between 4th and 5th Street in Lebanon.

Lebanon Chemical plant acts as a nice photo prop for traffic that heads west through the community of Avon.  CSX power often can be found leading ALHB trains and this day is no different.  GP40-2's 6120 and 6079 lead the 'Valley Local' westbound to Millards, where a pick-up and set-out are the norm.

During major flooding in 1996, CSX traffic began detouring over the Harrisburg and Pittsburgh Lines through Pennsylvania.   Extreme time savings were realized by CSX over the Conrail routing and priority intermodal traffic between Philadelphia and Chicago continued to use the routing into early Spring.  In January, DET-136 (R-136 at the time on CSXT) was eastbound behind Conrail GP40-2 3310, CSXT C44-9W 9044 and C44-9W 9051.  The Conrail unit was required for cab signals on the Pittsburgh Line.  This location is East Street, just east of Avon, off of King Street (was East Cumberland Street in Avon).

In Myerstown, several more views are possible from various locations.  Off of King Street, this view of an Office Car Train is possible from an abandoned bridge abutment that formerly belonged to the Race Street overpass.

East of Myerstown on Weavertown Road, an overpass allows views of traffic being routed through a rock cut east of the bridge.   In a bit of irony, Conrail SD40-2 6458 leads five Norfolk Southern units westbound on ALNS-3.  This view will be repeated in the future with NS units likely making up the entire consist.

As the shot in Richland may be a classic, the power is definitely the wave of the future.  This power, Norfolk Southern C40-8 8696 and C40-9W 9002 were actually powering a Canadian Pacific train 555-05 on May 5, 1997.  At the time, the residents of Richland though this was odd power...little did they know what the future held!

Moving east from Richland, Fort Zellers Road offers a nice view across a field of a small fill that carries the rails over a cow path tunnel.  Chicago and River Line traffic often detoured over the Harrisburg Line during the warmer months to allow maintenance on single track sections of those lines.   This would eliminate delays being incurred to high priority traffic.  TVLA was a frequent visitor and is seen with Conrail C40-8W 6197, SD50 6730 and SD50 6740, crossing the small fill.

By continuing east on Fort Zellers Road, the village of Sheridan will be the next stop.  After dropping down into a small creek ravine, the old Sheridan Hotel is visible on the left.  The building now serves as apartments but the rails that the building served still host trains daily.   The Sheridan Shack, located to the left of HBBE-5 is the 'temporary residence' of block operators that are kept here during the maintenance season.  There are currently hand thrown crossovers located here.  Just to the east of here, new automated crossovers are being installed as this is written.

Continuing the trek eastward to Reading will take you through the community of Robesonia.  On the east end of town, a single grade crossing allows a nice open view of traffic in both directions.  After an intense night of heavy snowfall, TV-212 has been delayed and is operating well into daylight over this portion, a rare occasion indeed!  Conrail C40-8W 6088 and NS SD50 6553 team up to move the intermodal traffic east.

In Wernersville, a lot of tight views are possible, including this interesting shot through the remnants of the Reading Railroad station that is still standing.  Mail-8M with Conrail C30-7A 6571, GP40-2 3318 and B36-7 5033 race the early morning stacks towards Morrisville, PA.

At Sinking Spring, the former Conrail Akron Secondary is now occupied by East Penn Railways, which utilizes power from the owner previous to the Emons acquisition earlier this year.  In February of 1998, Conrail TVLT rolls by the LANO GP10 in downtown Sinking Spring.   Kodachrome by Rob Palmer

Just west of Reading, the Reading Line branches off to the north at Wyomissing Junction. At the same location in October of 1997, Ballast Express C32-8's 6615 and 6619 (now wrecked) are moving westbound ballast on BAL-8B1 as they leave the Reading area.  The bark from the big GE's is deafening as the struggle to drag the train up the connection from Valley Junction, strains the six-axle units.  

Eastbound OCS-103 with E8A 4020 continues on the Harrisburg Line after passing Wyomissing Junction in Wyomissing, PA.   In this view from the overpass at the Vanity Fair Outlets, the single track that branches off to Valley Junction and CP-Belt is seen behind the train.  Kodachrome by Rob Palmer

Thanks for taking this REWIND to the ERN November 1998 issue and the Conrail Harrisburg Line - my how things have changed - EVERYWHERE!

REWIND: ERN Harrisburg Line Feature - November 1998

Article / Photography by Kevin Burkholder
An on again, off again TV-0 races through Myerstown, PA behind GP40-2 3392 and SD40-2 6515 on September 25, 1996. 
Conrail's line between Harrisburg and Reading, Pennsylvania plays a vital role in moving all types of traffic from western connections to eastern seaports in Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey. The line cuts a path through the historic Lebanon Valley and plays host to over 50 daily trains with an excellent variety of motive power. Everything from SW1500's to the newest SD80MAC's shake the rails of this former Reading Railroad Lebanon Valley Line.

On May 22, 1996, an XWH-09E hopper train rolls westbound behind
brand new SD80MAC's 4118 and 4126.

The Lebanon Valley trackage is the 'funnel' of Pennsylvania, with traffic moving to and from Philadelphia and New York on the East end, and Baltimore, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh on the West end. The Lebanon Valley or Harrisburg Line as it is known on Conrail dates back to the mid-1850's.

The Union Canal was the main route of travel for both freight and passengers through the Lebanon Valley. The canal was subject to frequent flooding and other obstacles that would hinder movement for days at a time. Thus it was decided in 1853 to begin surveying and building a rail line that would link Reading and Harrisburg. These two cities were just starting to grow, and transportation aside from the canal was needed to move products and people en masse.

By 1857, a 54-mile rail line extending from Harrisburg to Reading was opened as the Lebanon Valley Railroad. The first train operated from end to end on the new trackage was a passenger train on June 30, 1857. The trip took one hour and fifteen minutes to travel from Reading to Harrisburg. Only a year later, in 1858, the Lebanon Valley Railroad fell under the control of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad. P&R was looking for a route to Harrisburg, and what better way to get there than to purchase the LVR! The P&R also saw an advantage in leasing the Schuykill Navigation Co. canal, to transport coal from the First and Second Anthracite fields of Pennsylvania to trackside locations for transloading. The coal was then shipped to the wharves on the Delaware River.

One of the last trains to be moved to the Harrisburg Line

was Mail 9.  This train is like clockwork on the line, normally
operating westbound in the morning hours.  On September 13, 
1997, Mail 9 with C36-7 6636, C40-8W 6097 and SD50 6728 
storms westbound towards Palmyra Forge Road.
With the new rail traffic boom in the Lebanon Valley, people began settling close to the tracks, forming new communities such as Richland, Prescott, and Avon. Already established communities took advantage of the new rail service and began building sidings and spurs into newly opened industrial complexes. There were many coal ramps located throughout the valley for spot shipments for heating and other uses. Lebanon was the site of a huge steel foundry that utilized the railroad for both shipping and receiving goods. The P&R would later fall under the control of the Reading Railroad, who would operate the Lebanon Valley right on through to the Conrail merger on April 1, 1976. Initially known as the Lebanon Valley Line under the P&R and the Reading, the designation was later changed to the Harrisburg Line by Conrail.
This route became one of the key routes on the Conrail system, playing host to every type of train that Conrail has to offer. Near the end of Conrail, when the "Big X" was seen as the primary game plan, the Harrisburg Line made up part of the Southeast leg of the "X".

When CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern waged a bidding war over the acquisition of Conrail, Norfolk Southern walked away with the Harrisburg Line. This route will see its fifth owner in February, when Norfolk Southern is scheduled to take the reigns of this newly acquired ‘thoroughbred’.


With a bit of foliage offsetting the Harrisburg
City skyline, PIAL-1 rolls around the curve at
CP-Capital behind C40-8W's 6102 and 6029.
The Lurgan Branch connects just to the left
and out of view.
In recent times, Conrail has packed a lot more traffic on the Harrisburg Line than many people thought capable. Ten years ago, 30 trains in a twenty-four hour period made the line seem saturated, today, more than 50 daily trains ply the rails of the 141-year-old Harrisburg Line!

Traffic increases were an almost overnight occurrence in the mid-1980's, when Conrail began routing traffic away from the former electrified Pennsylvania Railroad Atglen & Susquehanna Branch, between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Traffic levels have continued to rise, with many new routes established and often re-established. At the West end of the Harrisburg Line, at CP-Harris in Harrisburg, the Pittsburgh Line funnels traffic from Baltimore (via Enola Yard), Buffalo, and Pittsburgh eastward.

Just a half-mile to the east, traffic enters from the Lurgan Branch at CP-Capital. The Lurgan "Branch" is a bit of a misnomer, as this busy route fields about a dozen trains to and from CSX and Norfolk Southern at Hagerstown, MD. Occasional coal loads from CSX and Norfolk Southern move over the Lurgan to the Harrisburg Line destined for Eastern power plants. Empty CSX and Norfolk Southern hopper trains can be routed over the Harrisburg Line onto the Lurgan as well. To the east, at Reading, traffic enters the Harrisburg Line from such origins as Oak Island, Allentown, Bethlehem, South Kearny, Philadelphia, and the various power plants. This traffic is either routed through the City of Reading or around the Belt Line. Traffic to and from the Reading & Northern Railroad is interchanged at CP-Belt, just north of Reading.

The Harrisburg Line is currently under control of the Philadelphia Division of Conrail, operated as part of the Harrisburg District. Dispatching of the Harrisburg Line through the Lebanon Valley is split between the Harrisburg Terminal Dispatcher and the Harrisburg East Dispatcher. Harrisburg East controls from Reading to and including CP-TARA, with operations on Road Channel 3, 160.860. Traffic entering from the Reading Line can be heard on Road Channel 2, 161.070, controlled by the Lehigh Line Dispatcher. Traffic off of the Harrisburg Line east of Reading, will utilize Road Channel 1, 160.800, until they arrive at CP-Wyomissing Jct. Harrisburg Terminal controls from west of CP-TARA to CP-HARRIS, and uses Road Channel 4, 160.980. All four channels should be monitored, as some chatter can give clues to approaching traffic.

Multiple on-line talking detectors can also be of great help in locating traffic, and determining train size. High car detectors at CP-Titus, MP 56.0 (east of Reading) and at CP-Wyomissing Jct. at MP 60.9 will announce the presence (or lack of) oversize cars, along with an axle count. Moving west, a combined hot box and dragging equipment detector is located on both tracks at Sinking Spring, MP 64.6. At MP 80.0, Myerstown, Track One has the combined hot box and dragging equipment detector, while Track Two has only a hot box detector. A recent addition to the line was a joint HBD-DED detector at MP 91.0 in Annville. The next set of hot box and dragging equipment detectors are on both tracks at Hummelstown, MP 103.6. Up until recently, a high car detector guarded CP-Harris. That detector has been replaced with a hot box and dragging equipment detector. Traffic in both directions will activate this detector.

In this view at Millards, the block signal
will fall in favor of an overhead mast to
govern the CTC interlocking to be
installed here.  ALHB-5 with Ballast
Express C32-8 6617 and GP40-2 3400
head through Millards on a late fall afternoon.
Automatic block signals currently govern traffic between CP-TARA and Wyomissing Jct., with most crossover switches still hand thrown. Harrisburg East Dispatcher controls the Wyomissing Jct., Wall and the CP-TARA crossovers. Crossovers at Derry, Palmyra, Millards, Cleona and Sheridan have to be manually thrown. These locations will often be utilized as Temporary Block Stations during the maintenance season, with operators "hooping up orders" and doing the switch work. It is not unlikely to see an operator at either Derry or Sheridan on an almost daily basis through summer. Trains will generally identify themselves by symbol and engine number to the operator, and will occasionally be held to run opposing trackage around maintenance.

The Reading Railroad numbered its tracks from north to south, so the westbound main, the north track, is Track One, and the south track, the eastbound main is Track Two. The "Era of the Operator" is in its final chapter, as Norfolk Southern has begun the CTC project that would encompass the entire line.

New CTC interlockings are currently under construction at Millards (Annville), Prescott and Wolmelsdorf. These new crossovers are scheduled to be in service by year’s end.

With no Cab Signal Territory currently in place on the Harrisburg Line, foreign power can often be found leading trains. Traffic that originates in Buffalo, Harrisburg or Hagerstown can utilize foreign leaders if destined to the east, while westbound traffic terminating in Hagerstown, Harrisburg, or Enola, are also prime candidates for foreign leaders. Traffic going west beyond Harrisburg requires cab signal equipped leaders.

Empty hoppers are working westbound past the Carmeuse Stone
Quarry between Annville and Palmyra. Today's consist includes
CSXT C40-8W 7881 and SD50 8604
The most frequent foreign power is from CSX and Norfolk Southern. Foreign power frequently makes up the entire consist for ALHB (Allentown-Harrisburg) and coal trains arriving from the CSX or hopper trains heading back to the CSX on the Lurgan Branch. When Morrison-Knudsen, formerly located at Mountain Top, PA, was delivering units to western roads, they are often worked west from Allentown in service on ALHB. The last order of SP SD40M-2 rebuilds were often seen in solid three and four unit consists heading up the ALHB trains. The closure of M-K at Mountain Top resulted in the removal of new M-K units being shipped over the line.

In a kind of ironic situation, Norfolk Southern leaders are rare, due to Conrail work rules and Pennsylvania laws requiring chemical toilets in the lead locomotive.

On a snowy February 3, 1994, ALPI-3 is seen cruising through
a small rock cut east of Ramona Road in Myerstown, PA.
ALPI frequently routes Union Pacific and other western power
back to Conway, where it will be dispersed on Conway originating
trains. On this day, ALPI-3 is lead by Conrail rebuilt SD40-2E
6965 and is assisted by a pair of Union Pacific SD40-2's.
When NS power does operate in the lead position, it is most often on traffic to or from the NS at Hagerstown, MD. The newest NS power is now equipped with necessary equipment to lead through Pennsylvania.

Union Pacific power is prevalent in the trail position, but may occasionally get the call to lead a Harrisburg or Buffalo train out of Allentown and vice versa. Since the UP takeover of Southern Pacific, SP power has been making cameo appearances on about a monthly basis. BNSF power has become more frequent on traffic originating in Buffalo and Allentown, on train's BUAL (Buffalo-Allentown) and now OIEL (Oak Island-Elkhart).


Derry Road in Hershey, PA is one of the most popular locations on the Harrisburg Line.  There is ample off-street parking to allow fans to set up shop and view the all-day parade that Conrail, and now Norfolk Southern will put on!   Derry is also the only place on the railroad that one can lens westbound traffic in the morning with good lighting.   Here, the tracks swing almost directly south before curving back westward through the Hershey Chocolate Factory.

On November 25, 1997, at 08:45 ET a westbound ML-401 would not 'shootable' anywhere on the Harrisburg Line but Derry Road.  Today's ML-401 was enroute to Columbus, OH from New Jersey as it passed through Hershey with Conrail SD50 6703, BN SD40-2 7089 and BN C30-7 5031.
Foreign visitors are not least for the immediate future.  With the implementation of cab signals next year by Norfolk Southern, the line's foreign power will become obsolete.  In the fall of of 1997, Conrail's Mail 3 fell victim to a power shortage in New Jersey.  The pinch hitting power: CSX C30-7 7065 and CSX GP40-2 6248!   The power is rare on trains that are scheduled to pass over the Pittsburgh Line.   A Conrail leader would be added at Harrisburg for the continuation west over cab signal territory.
In a scene that will most likely be repeated, beginning this winter, Canadian Pacific Philadelphia to Toronto, Ontario train 557-04 rounds the curve at Derry.  557 is headed by CP SD40-2 5698, CP SD40-2 5430 (ex-GATX), and Delaware & Hudson GP38-2 7303.   These trains were detouring in February of 1996.  In February of 1998, the trains are scheduled to begin trackage rights operations over the Harrisburg Line.



Most days will see a steady mix of traffic traversing the valley. Sunday and Monday are generally the lightest days overall, but will likely see a greater number of unit trains dispatched. Tuesday and Wednesday see gradual increase in volume, while Thursday, Friday and Saturday get the heaviest volume. During summer months, depending on maintenance, some trains are released from their terminals later, to allow maintenance operations a daylight window.

In the Conrail scheme of symbols, an "X" is used on the end of the symbol to designate that this section is a second section. A "Y" would indicate a third section of a certain symbol, while the "Z" would be the fourth section. On various occasions, many symbols will be seen with X's or Y's, more towards the end of the week. Certain trains will also see the suffix "A" or "B" to designate first or second scheduled train of a certain symbol. Currently, OIPI (Oak Island, NJ to Pittsburgh, PA) operates as PIOI-A for the first train and PIOI-B for the second train. ALHB has been another symbol operated in this fashion.


Conrail BUAL (Buffalo-Allentown) train is a daily visitor to the
Harrisburg Line. Conrail SD50 6757 and SD60I 5584 take the
train through Palmyra on a bright morning.
Conrail's symbols on the Harrisburg Line represent nearly every type of service offered. General freight or "Core Service" trains are represented by about two dozen trains. This traffic sees an even mix of east and westbound. PIMO (Pittsburgh-Morrisville) generally handles long cuts of gondolas loaded with steel coils, while the counterpart MOPI will return long cuts of empty gons. NSAL (Hagerstown-Allentown), NSSE (Hagerstown-Allentown), and counterparts ALNS, and SENS will usually be identifiable by the large number of Norfolk Southern equipment in the consist. Until recently, Norfolk Southern power was a daily occurrence on these trains, however Conrail and Norfolk Southern have decreased the number of units interchanged at Hagerstown.

LMPI (Linden/Metuchen-Pittsburgh) often consists of many 86' auto parts box cars, but will frequently get blocks of miscellaneous traffic added to either end. PIBE (Pittsburgh-Bethlehem) has handled hot metal cars from Harrisburg to Bethlehem Steel in Bethlehem, PA. PIBE is often more distinguishable by the large number of western railroad cars that fill out the train and the french fry cars that fill out the head end.

PIAL (Pittsburgh-Allentown), ALPI (Allentown-Pittsburgh), ALPI-F (Allentown-Pittsburgh Auto Frames), PICA (Pittsburgh-Camden), and CAPI (Camden-Pittsburgh) often are hefty trains of western road cars. PIAL most days will get the call to set off and pick up cars at Lebanon's 'Horntown' Yard. ALPI-F is the first section of ALPI; originating nocturnally and generally picking up 20-30 cars at Reading loaded with Auto Frames. ALHB is basically the road local, switching everywhere it possibly can. ALHB will likely be an afternoon out of Allentown, and will tie up everything behind it, while working at Cleona, Millards (Carmeuse Limestone Quarry west of Annville), and at Hershey. The dispatcher will normally call the ALHB to advise the crew where they will be picking up and setting out cars.

ML-401 makes a morning run on the Harrisburg Line, as seen 

at Derry Road behind LMS C40-8W 726 and CSXT GP40-2 6230. 

The only regular trains sponsored in whole by the Automotive Service Group are the ML-401 and the ML-440. ML-401 originates in New Jersey and travels the Harrisburg Line westbound in the morning. Recently the ML-401 has been experiencing terminal delays in New Jersey, pushing the train into the late morning and early afternoon hours. The ML-440, originating in Detroit, MI is scheduled to pass through the Valley nocturnally, with infrequent daylight runs. A late departure will often put this train into good eastbound morning light. Extra sections of this train or a detouring ML-480 will almost always be a morning eastbound.


Conrail TV-2MX is rounding the curve at Brownstone, PA, as
it heads towards Hershey behind SD40-2 6496, SD50 6709 and SD60 6862.
Like the Core Service trains, approximately two dozen intermodal trains snake through the Valley daily. TV-1 and TV-11 are two of the Chicago-bound stack trains. These trains both carry JB Hunt traffic, TV-1 more than TV-11. TV-11 is filled out with K-line containers, and is generally shorter than TV-1. TV-3 hosts mostly EMP, Schneider and JB Hunt TOFC and COFC traffic.

Conrail TV-62A at Rutherford behind GP40-2's 3331 and 3384. 
TV-2M originates in Chicago and handles TOFC and COFC Schneider and JB Hunt traffic, as well as stack containers. TV-2M has recently been entire blocks of K-line stacks, JB Hunt TOFC traffic, NACS stacks, and BNSF stacks. TV-2HK has been established to handle double stack traffic between Harrisburg and South Kearny, NJ. TV-20 and 21 were established to handle double stacks between Harrisburg and Philadelphia. These stacks can range from Evergreen to the EMP or NACS containers and other overseas varieties.

TV-265 operates as needed and often operates in the afternoon 

hours.  At Hershey, TV-265-12 on September 12 of 1997 is 
under the control of C40-8W's 6191 and 6067.
A set of TOFC trains between Allentown and Harrisburg has been on-again, off-again for the last several years. Currently, TV-61H and TV-62A operate with short blocks and usually rate multiple GP38 and GP38-2's for power. TVLT is a Friday departure from Chicago, and is billed as Less Than Load. TVLT, which appears on Sunday afternoons, and is easily identified by its unusual TOFC traffic from smaller trucking companies. Redon, Xtra, and Yellow Freight trailers are abundant on the TVLT.

TV-212 makes a late appearance at 08:38 ET at 8th Avenue in
Lebanon.  C36-7 6636 and NS C40-9W 9122 lead the train.
TV-200 has been pulled from the Chicago Line and operates Monday through Wednesday on the Harrisburg Line. TV-200 is a long double-stack train that is mostly overseas containers from various names, filled out with APL traffic. TV-206 was established in the beginning of October to handle traffic that will be routed to the intermodal yard at Croxton, NJ. 206 has been operating near-daily with extra sections also noted. TV-265 is an as needed double-stack train that, when operated makes a westbound afternoon run over the Harrisburg Line. A major portion of TV-265 is traffic from Maersk Line, Mitsui, and OOCL.

The remainder of the TV-series trains are operated jointly with Norfolk Southern. TV-211 and TV-212 offer two-day service between Kearny, NJ and Atlanta, GA. These trains are heavy with UPS trailers and are filled out with JB Hunt and Schneider, along with several 5-well cars of EMP single level containers. Maersk containers have been filling out the rear of TV-211/212. TV-213 and TV-214 offer three-day service between Miami, FL and Worcester, MA (via Kearny, NJ). Both trains will often handle stacks, but infrequently are solid stack trains. EMP and JB Hunt containers outnumber any other type on this train. Conrail operates these trains even if there is only one 5-well car. TV-211, 212, 213, and 214 rate power from both Conrail and Norfolk Southern.

Most of the Mail Train fleet operates via the Harrisburg Line. Mail-3 and 9 operate westbound, often heavy with UPS trailers and the former Conrail Mercury trailers/containers. The United States Postal Service logo is pasted on many of the former Conrail containers, making these trains easy to spot. Mail 4, 8, 8M, and 44 will also see large numbers of UPS trailers, as well as those of various private carriers.

RR-282 and 262 have been alternating as the through train
east of Rutherford, PA.  At the time of this photo the train
was symbolized RR-262 and is seen rolling under the US
Route 934 bridge at Annville, PA behind Conrail SD50 6710.
The final type of intermodal traffic plying the Lebanon Valley is the RoadRailer© . Triple Crown was introduced to the Harrisburg Line in 1994 in a joint venture between Conrail and Norfolk Southern. Conrail had inherited the huge Reading Railroad classification yard at Rutherford, PA, five miles east of Harrisburg, which was deemed redundant with Enola not far off to the west. The yard trackage was removed in various projects during the 1980's. This was the site proposed and constructed as the Harrisburg Triple Crown Terminal in late 1993. Originally two RoadRailer© trains, RR-265 and 266 were scheduled to operate between Hagerstown, MD and E-Rail in New Jersey. This plan was later reconstructed with an additional pair of trains, RR-261 and 262, operating between Rutherford and Chicago, IL. On September 22, 1997, another pair of trains, RR-281 and RR-282 began operating between Willow Run, MI and Rutherford.

The rural country-side is exemplified as RR-262 makes
its way eastbound towards New Jersey.  Conrail B40-8
5076 and B36-7 5030 team up to move the 80 trailers
on January 28, 1996.  This view is just east of Richland
near Sonnenville Road.
Traffic would be combined at the Triple Crown yard and only one pair would operate between Rutherford and E-Rail. RR-281 and RR-282 have been chosen to carry the combined traffic except on Sunday. RR-282 now operates in place of the RR-262 on Sunday. These trains operate between Chicago, Willow Run, MI and New Jersey, with Conrail power. RR-265 and RR-266 are operated between Hagerstown and Rutherford for connections to the 281 and 282. RR-281 and RR-282 operate on a four-day a week schedule between Detroit and Elizabethport, NJ. The RR-261/262 and RR-265/266 trains are scheduled nocturnally. On Sunday's, the previous RR-262 normally operated in daylight, often in the morning hours. Now that RR-282 carries the Sunday traffic, a late afternoon or evening departure from Rutherford is scheduled. Recently, RR-282 has made excellent time and has operated in the late morning hours. RR-281 leaves Rutherford westbound in the morning hours, while the counterpart RR-282 arrives in the late afternoon or early evening.

Photographing the TV-series trains can be difficult, TV-1, 3, 11, 12, 20, 21, 61H, 62A, 212, 213, and 214 all normally operate nocturnally. TV-2M, 200, 12 frequently operate late in the evening, heading eastbound out of the sun.  Mail-9 often operates in daylight, however going westbound in the morning. Mail-3 has been getting later, most days arriving in the early afternoon. If Mail-3 is on time, a morning westbound run should occur. Mail-4, 8M, 44, and Mail-8 are also scheduled nocturnally, but if Mail-4, 8 or 8M are delayed switching in Harrisburg, these trains may be pushed into a morning eastbound run.


Easily identifiable by the entire consist of gon's, 
this unit steel train, PIR-03 with SD50 6744
and SD60M 5510 lead the slabs past 
Hersheypark's Kissing Tower.
The Harrisburg Line unit trains can be broken into four categories: 1) Steel, 2) Coal, 3) Stone or Ballast, and 4) Miscellaneous.

Recent additions to the steel train fleet are the PMT-01/03/05/07 and 09 and the MTP-02/04/06/08 and 10, operating between Philadelphia and Middletown, OH. PEJ/EJP trains between Philadelphia and the Elgin Joliet & Eastern in Chicago have also begun.  Their 70 to 100 gondolas loaded with steel slabs identify the steel trains. The gondolas are mixed between Conrail, UMP (Upper Marion & Plymouth) and leased gons lettered for David J. Joseph Company carrying DJJX and FCEN reporting marks.

These trains were scheduled to see operations with the SD80MAC's and distributed power. Plans were for a single SD80MAC to lead and a second slave-unit cut in the middle of the train. Conrail has not begun this operation regularly but has performed several tests. With the movement of the SD80MAC’s to the Boston Line, and the units heading for NS ownership destined for the coal fields of Virginia,  the distributed power will likely not occur any time soon.

Unit coal traverses the Harrisburg Line mainly in an eastbound direction, destined for power plants. The exception being the UXC-symbol trains, which operate westbound with loads for the Port of Baltimore. These trains utilize Reading Blue Mountain & Northern hoppers, stenciled with QIT, Quebec Iron & Titanium. The eastbound empties are operated to CP-Belt as XBM. CSX contributes to the occasional coal traffic.

Loaded coal generally moves eastbound on the Harrisburg Line.  GP40-2 

3376, rare for coal train power leads two six-axle units by Millards.
UDK trains often originate on the CSX and utilize CSX hoppers destined for Deep Water, NJ. UDE trains are operated to Delaware Power & Light in Edgemoor, NJ and also originate on the CSX in Hagerstown. Power on these trains can be CSX, but more often than not, is Conrail. The empties return to CSX as XCX trains. Loaded trains have been originating on the Norfolk Southern at Hagerstown, destined for Bethlehem Steel in Bethlehem. CP Rail System had previously handled this traffic between the Norfolk Southern at Alexandria, VA and Bethlehem. Norfolk Southern empties are occasionally routed via Pennsylvania from the New York power plants. These trains are symbol XNS when the hoppers are Norfolk Southern.

An empty hopper train, XSH-31E with Conrail SD50 6730
and C40-8W 6251 are slowing to 25 mph as they prepare
to enter the Lebanon City limits at 8th Ave.
UCH loads are delivered to Chambers in Carney's Point, NJ. UEP loads are routed to Philadelphia Electric at Eddystone, PA. Metropolitan Edison receives trains at two different plants; UMR trains are destined to the Met Ed plant at Titus Station (east of Reading), while the UPS trains go via Allentown to Portland Station, PA. All of these trains are generally operated with Conrail hoppers. Pennsylvania Power & Light employs a fleet of its own hoppers, to operate UFM coal trains to a power plant at Martins Creek, PA. The empties carry a variety of symbols since the new empty hopper designations are utilized. The PP&L trains operate empty with the UFM-(odd number) symbol. This traffic is based on available power and the number of trains already operating. The best days for coal and hopper traffic is Sunday and Monday.

Carmeuse Quarry, known to train crews and Harrisburg East
Dispatcher as 'Wimpey', operates a pair of ex-Lehigh Valley
U23B's.   The pair, formerly Conrail 2785 and 2786, operate
as train 'Wimpey 1' along side of the Harrisburg Line daily.
The units move cuts of stone hoppers in and out of the
loaders and into position for Conrail pick up.  Also visible
in the photo is PIBE-4 with SD80MAC's 4101 and 4128
and UAP-48 with a pair of SD40-2's.
The entire Lebanon Valley is rich in limestone, with numerous active and abandoned quarries visible everywhere. A large quarry site between Annville and Palmyra, owned by Carmeuse, and known on the railroad as either Wimpey or Millards, produces at least one daily unit stone train. The stone trains are often a mix of Conrail and Wimpey Trinity-built rapid discharge stone hoppers. The quarry performs switching with a pair of ex-Lehigh Valley U23B's. Road trains occasionally pick up Stone and Lime loads in blocks of 25 and 50 cars if necessary. ALHB, ENAL, PIBE, ALBU, and BUAL often call here for set-outs and pick-ups. Conrail has assigned SD40-2's 6503, 6504, 6505, 6506, 6507, 6508, and 6509 exclusively to the unit stone trains, symbols UAP and WPAN-50 series. The empties can return with any power and are carry the XAN symbol, and occasional extra UAP's will see other motive power handling the train. If you do catch a loaded stone train or empty stone hoppers being powered by any of the 6500-series units assigned, be assured that it is the UAP, XAN or WPAN.

The OPNS/NSOP trains are identified two different ways.  The first,
recognizable from a distance, is the fact that the train resembles
a container train.  The second, the odor...enough said!  Conrail
B36-7 5019's crew must be hoping for clear signals the whole way
to Hagerstown!
Conrail has begun operating a dedicated unit garbage train between Oak Point Yard (in the Bronx, NY) and Norfolk Southern at Hagerstown. This traffic formerly rounded out the tail end of SENS or ALNS. OPNS and NSOP originally were scheduled to operate twice weekly, however there have been several extra sections each week, rating an "X" suffix on the end of the symbol.

These trains haul 60-100 cars of containerized garbage, and both trains operate on Sundays, OPNS operates Friday on the Harrisburg Line and NSOP arrives late night Wednesday or early Thursday.

These trains may carry the symbol of NS 371 and 372 after the acquisition, as this symbol is carried south of Hagersotwn by the same trains. 

In June of 1996, taconite operations were running heavy.  On June
14, a ZWW-986 train, bound for Weirton, OH was behind SD60I
5564, SD50 6737 and C40-8W 6244 as it climbs a slight grade
west of Wolmelsdorf.
Up until 1997, taconite ore trains were shipped westbound through the Valley. The ore trains were unpredictable, as their schedule was dictated by ship transloading in Philadelphia. The trains were easily identified up until mid-1996, when Conrail began retiring the 26' ore jennies.

Last year, taconite traffic out of Philadelphia dried up, forcing most of the traffic to all-rail moves out of Minnesota. These trains no longer travel between Philly and Western steel mills.

Near the end of their operations on the Harrisburg Line, the trains began utilizing distributed power sets of SD80MAC's and the DPU-equipped 6050-series C40-8W's.  These trains would operate with sixty-six cars behind the lead power and another sixty-six cars behind the mid-train distributed power set.

Unknown to the crews at the time, distributed power on the Harrisburg Line would be a short-lived venture.  Many do not eye the Harrisburg Line as a gradient line.  That is far from the truth, as much of the line follows the contour of the land.  With 20,000 tons of taconite pellets in tow, these trains were susceptible to broken knuckles and stalled power.  With the addition of the distributed power set mid-train, the stalled power occurrences were decreased, however nothing the railroad did could eliminate the frequent coupler knuckle breaks.  On April 29, 1997, ZWW-844 with DPU C40-8W's 6054 and 6058 on the head end are controlling the mid-train DPU C40-8W's 6052, 6051 and 6061.

The only types of unit train not represented to date are grain trains.


Conrail operates two system trains through the valley that gather "high and wide" loaded traffic from various terminals. KAOI-D originates on Sunday at Kankakee, IL, operating in mostly daylight hours between terminals. This is probably one of the slowest trains on the schedule, taking six days from Kankakee to Oak Island, NJ. This train is very inconsistent on its arrival on the Harrisburg Line, as terminal delays may tie the train up for several hours more than anticipated. The schedule calls for the train to depart Harrisburg on Wednesday mornings at 09:00 ET. Another problem with this type of train is that it is often backed into sidings to allow traffic to pass on the westbound track, further delaying progress. A liberal schedule places the train passing Wyomissing Jct. at 13:00 ET on the same day of departure from Harrisburg. Traffic on the KAOI-D is often military equipment and oversized steel shipments. The counterpart to the KAOI-D is the OIIH-D, originating in Oak Island on Sunday. This train passes through the valley on Sunday afternoons, hauling the same type of traffic as KAOI-D. There are often blocks of large steel plates on bulkhead flats from Brandywine Valley at Coatesville, PA. This train operates to Indiana Harbor Belt at Gibson, Indiana.


Harrisburg Line locals have to fight for trackage in the bustle of the mainline traffic. These trains are often on-duty in daylight hours, but wind up working well into the night to complete switching chores.

YPLE-13 and WPLE-33

The WPLE-33 generally goes on duty Monday through Friday with
various industries and on line shippers to service.   The '33' is seen
just after crossing over at West Lebanon with GP38-2 8108 as the
west unit.
Lebanon originates two locals at least 5 days a week, often 6 days. The YPLE-13 is usually on duty in the morning hours at Lebanon's 16th Street Yard. Rating a pair of SW1500Æs on most days, the "PLE-13" does the yard switching before asking the dispatcher for trackage eastward. YPLE-13 will operate to Avon on Track One and onto the Avon Industrial Track (AIT). The AIT extends into the Lebanon City Limits and services San Giorgio foods nearly a mile to the north of the main line. YPLE-13 will also perform "as necessary" switching at Avon at the Lebanon Chemical Plant. Rarely does this job operate outside the Lebanon area, however if customer demand dictates, the job can be utilized where needed. The WPLE-33, or the "33", is on duty in the late morning or early afternoon hours Monday through Friday. 

YPLE-13 normally rates either a single or pair of SW1500's.
An occasional GP-unit will also be thrown in.  YPLE-13
with 9521 is on duty and switching Lebanon Yard before
heading east to Avon and the Lebanon Chemical plant.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the "33" performs some organizing at Lebanon, then heads west to Millards. Switching at Millards can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the work that needs to be performed. Switching at Millards is performed in conjunction with the Carmeuse (formerly Tarmac; nee Wimpey Minerals) switch job. After switching Carmeuse, the "33" will head to the Palmyra hand cross over and cross over to Track Two. Switching is then performed at Pacma in Palmyra, before heading back to Cleona and eventually Lebanon. On Tuesday and Thursday, the "33" switches eastbound customers, first North American Refractories in Newmanstown. This move eventually takes the "33" to Wyomissing Jct. to crossover to Track One and work customers on the westbound return. Work will include Looses Lumber in Myerstown, the EPA clean-up site (formerly Rohm & Haas) in Myerstown, and then Lebanon Chemical at Avon. This local operates with GP38's and GP38-2's and an occasional GP15-1, in pull-pull fashion.


YPHE-02 at the West Hershey Chocolate Plant with SW1500 

9528 and caboose 23511 (ex-New Haven 518).
This is the most predictable switcher on the line. The "Hershey Shifter" is the exclusive Hershey Chocolate switch job. This switcher, usually an SW1500, performs work in and around the main plant, just west of Derry Road, as well as at the new factory at West Hershey. Chocolate is now produced at West Hershey and shipped to the main plant via tank car. The Hershey Shifter often is on the radio requesting permission on either main track for various switching chores. Their request is often an indicator of what traffic is in the neighborhood. If they are given Track One "up and back" there are generally no westbound in the vicinity. If they are told to clear up at West Hershey, there is a westbound on the horizon. Similarly, if they request Track Two, and the dispatcher denies the request, there is eastbound traffic nearby.

The "02" will also work Reese’s Plant to the west of Hershey, requiring a westbound move on the eastbound track. This job can operate as many as 3 shifts a day if Hershey Chocolate requires. Seven day a week service has also been the norm recently, with chocolate and cocoa bean cars needing constant switching.


The "13" crew operates on an as needed basis to Feeser's Food at Rutherford. This local will often take loaded French fry cars to Harrisburg Cold Storage, located on the short single track at CP-Capital. After performing this switching, the crew returns to Harrisburg Yard.

LANO Switcher

Lancaster & Northern or LANO for short, operates east to Reading on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from Sinking Spring to interchange with Conrail at Reading Yard. LANO operates Conrail's former Akron Secondary trackage between Sinking Spring and Denver, PA. The local operates into Reading in the morning hours, returning after receiving the cars at Reading. LANO is currently utilizing a GP16 and has a former Transkentucky Transportation U28B on the property. This move is generally announced by the LANO contacting the Harrisburg East Dispatcher for trackage from Sinking Spring to Reading. This pattern and motive power is subject to change, as Lancaster & Northern was recently purchased by Emons Industries, and is now under the name of Penn Eastern.


There is normally a morning 'fleet' of eastbound traffic.  Often
consisting of Pittsburgh originated traffic, these trains are
normally oriented pretty well for photography.  Remnants
of a by-gone era are still visible in the Village of Swatara
in Derry Township.  PIBE-2 behind SD60I 5624 and C32-8
6618 has hot metal cars from Bethlehem Steel just behind
the power.
As with most modern day railroading, these all Harrisburg Line trains run extra, and can appear at most any time. Morning eastbound freights often include BUAL (Buffalo-Allentown), NSSE, NSAL, PICA, ENAL, PIAL, PIOI (Pittsburgh-Oak Island), PIMO and ENAL (Enola-Allentown) as well as others, including unit steel and unit coal. Afternoons are more predictable, with ALPI leading ALHB, SENS, and ALNS westbound. Typically, even numbers of morning westbound and afternoon eastbound trains are seen. Mail 9 and TV-211 usually are the first westbound trains in daylight, followed by LMPI, ML-401 and any unit steel or taconite trains. Mail 3 usually hits the Harrisburg Line before noon and makes a quick trip to Harrisburg. Slower westbound traffic will often be held east of Reading and follow Mail 3. Traffic is never predictable on this stretch of railroad, even while some originates just 90 miles to the east!

While not a view that is going to be sought after, this look
at Wernersville shows the former Reading Railroad
Company wooden depot that has been restored and
now serves as home to A&M Pizza.  The approaching
train is a ZWW-990 with Conrail C40-8W 6093 in the lead.
Due to train speeds of up to 50 MPH and highway traffic congestion, the Harrisburg Line is not opportune for "chasing" trains. The best way to view train activity is to locate one of the better areas on the line, shoot a couple trains, then move to another location. Many towns and small cities exist on-line with various angles present in many of the locations. While there isn't any one area that stands out more than others on the Harrisburg Line, there are many locations featuring older structures and other vestiges of the Reading Railroad. Several historic stations still exist today. Brick stations at Swatara Station and Lebanon, stone stations at Palmyra and Wernersville, and a wooden station at Wernersville all remain mostly intact, dating back to the railroad's passenger era. Annville has also begun the restoration of that towns Reading Company station and moved it back to a trackside location. Good photography can be had from many highway overpasses and other vistas along the line.

Several photo stores and national retail stores dot US Route 422, with slide film available at many, including Wal-Mart at Rutherford and Lebanon. Fast food, sit-down restaurants, gas stations of all brands and motel/hotel’s also are in abundance, some are even trackside. Two hotels in Hershey offer trackside views, the brand-new Holiday Inn Express and the Comfort Inn. The wooden station in Wernersville has been converted to A&M Pizza and offers a good view of train activity while you eat! Those who like to camp have limited options for trackside camping, however Hershey’s High Meadow's Campground is trackside at Brownstone on Hersheypark Drive. US Route 422 parallels the Harrisburg Line from Hershey to Reading, although at times distantly. Between Harrisburg and Hershey, US Route 322 closely parallels or provides access to the line. As with any railroad feature as this, trespassing is not condoned or supported and safety should be of utmost importance!


A look at the future!  On rare occasions, with the crew's agreement,
trains have been lead by Norfolk Southern units. In July of 1996, an
afternoon ALNS-0 (Allentown-Hagerstown, MD) was operated
westbound with Norfolk Southern GP59 (Operation Lifesaver) 4637
and SD40-2 3188.  The units are seen under the then brand new
overhead signal mast at Cleona, PA.
In the fight for Conrail, Norfolk Southern wound up being the prospective heir to the Harrisburg Line. The line will play a major role in transportation for Norfolk Southern. Traffic levels have been steadily increasing, with new trains constantly being added or revised. More intermodal, RoadRailer© , and new automotive traffic is expected to hit the line as capacity permits. The route continues to be utilized as a detour route for a variety of other routes, including Chicago Line closures and CSX Philadelphia to Pittsburgh detours. In addition, CP Rail Systems' St. Lawrence & Hudson will begin utilizing the Harrisburg Line via trackage rights this winter for traffic to and from Philadelphia.   CP will route their 555 (Philadelphia-Montreal), 556 (Montreal-Philadelphia), 557 (Philadelphia-Toronto), and 558 (Toronto-Philadelphia).  This traffic will be moved from the Allentown routing to a Sunbury Main, Buffalo Line and Harrisburg Line routing. 

In 1999, Canadian Pacific traffic will return to the Harrisburg Line
in the form of traffic headed for Philadelphia.  This view at Wall
in Lebanon, PA will be repeated by the CP traffic only, as the
YPLE-13 with Conrail GP38-2 8042 will be operated by Norfolk
Southern and the Reading Co.-era signal mast has been
replaced by a signal bridge, governing movement at the Wall
interlocking.   CP 556 was slowing as they entered the Lebanon
City limits with four SD40-2's, CPRS 5427, GSCX 6367, GSCX 6363,
and CP 5421.
Both Amtrak and the Capital Area Transit Authority have discussed adding passenger trains to the Harrisburg Line. The lack of capacity and the amount of priority traffic plying the Lebanon Valley have recently hushed the talk of passenger service. Work to increase the capacity, by lengthening storage sidings and the proposed bi-directional signalling should ease some of the congestion.

Rutherford Yard, once the main Harrisburg classification for the Reading Company, will see its rebirth under Norfolk Southern.  The yard will be entirely reconstructed for use as an intermodal classification yard.  The yard will also force the relocation of track Number 2 to parallel track Number 1 on the north side of the yard. 

Norfolk Southern will inherit a route that hosts a heavy traffic base, and that is rich in Pennsylvania History.  Many changes are possible on this route that will become Norfolk Southern's main east-west route in the Northeast, and ERN will keep you informed as they are proposed and occur.

Please see the Harrisburg Photo Line Blog that accompanies this rewind to the old Eastern Railroad News Online Magazine.