Trains Timeline: a 75 year journey


The 2000s
1The Surface Transportation Board places a 15-month moratorium on all railroad mergers after the application of BNSF and Canadian National to merge, announced December 20, 1999. CN photo, Howard Ande, BNSF photo, Tom Kline
2John Snow, CSX Corporation Chairman and CEO, resumes leadership of the railroad after president Ronald J. Conway and two other executives are ousted as a result of CSX’s difficulty in digesting its 42 percent of Conrail. John W. Snow
3Snappy-looking five-car Pacific Surfliner leaves San Luis Obispo depot. Michael Mickens
4Amtrak’s Acela Express begins a new era in U.S. rail travel. David C. Warner photo, digital enhancement by Colby Waller
5O. Winston Link, the master photographer who captured the end of the steam era and a way of life on the Norfolk & Western died from a heart attack while driving to his doctor from his home in South Salem, N.Y. He was 86 years old.
6Rock Train at St. Croix Interlocking, April 17, 2001. Steve Glischinski
7Baltimore & Ohio west of Cumberland, Md., June 1952. Robert Milner Photo
8Trainmaster Kevin Meehan of Connecticut’s Naugatuck Railroad flags GP9 No. 1732. Scott A. Hartley
9Brakeshoe smoke swirls from a Southern Railway train descending Saluda Grade in the 1950s. Linn H. Westcott
10Editor Mark W. Hemphill announces changes in the cover, and other changes in a redesigned Trains magazine. Mel Patrick photo
11UP adding flag decals to locomotives, January 2002. Union Pacific: John Bromley
12All blue is cheaper for CSX, but it’s a way to show “we’re a new company.” John C. Benson
13“Bullet train,” with business cars at the rear, nears Kansas City, bound for the Northeast via CSX. Pat Flynn
14A special Pacific Harbor Line train carried members of the media on a tour of the Corridor on April 8. David Lustig
15 Storm exacts heavy toll on B&O museum. Pointed Magazine: Sol Tucker
16Like a jet on rails, the first RTL-3 Turboliner roars through Philipse Manor, N.Y., with Amtrak Empire Service train 257 in April 2003. Bob Johnston
17Searchlights and fireworks light up the mountainside during the July 4th Horseshoe Curve birthday party. Sol Tucker
18With a cab control car leading and an F59 diesel pushing, a Cascades Talgo train skirts Puget Sound. Jeff Schultz
19A 42-car Norfolk Southern train running in dark territory in Graniteville, S.C. encounters a switch lined for a siding, where a local train is parked. The resulting collision kills nine people and injures 200, and forces evacuation of 5,000 in a one-mile zone. The Charlotte Observer: Todd Sumlin
20UP 1982, with two 1960s “Screaming Eagles” on its flanks, uses two shades of old Missouri Pacific blue, while UP 1983 is adorned with two generations’ worth of Western Pacific colors, and a big feather. David Lustig
21UP’s third Hertiage locomotive honors the Missouri-Kansas-Texas, which was acquired by the railroad in 1988. Trains: Robert S. McGonigal
22Houses and vehicles litter the CSX NO&M Subdivision main line near Pass Christian, Miss., on Sept. 2, 2005, as a result of Hurrican Katrina passing through the area Aug. 29. AP: Phil Coale
23Trains hires Jim Wrinn as editor.



Tom Danneman rejoins Trains staff as art director.


Trains special issue, looking back on many aspects of railroading during the 20th century. 

January 31

A ceremony in Boston marks the completion of electrification from New Haven, Conn., to Boston, offering Amtrak passengers a completely electrified ride between Washington, D.C., and Boston, reducing travel time between the two cities by one hour.

March 17

1The Surface Transportation Board places a 15-month moratorium on all railroad mergers after the application of BNSF and Canadian National to merge, announced Dec. 20, 1999.

April 11

2John Snow, CSX Corp. chairman and CEO, resumes leadership of the railroad after president Ronald J. Conway and two other executives are ousted as a result of CSX’s difficulty in digesting its 42 percent of Conrail. 

June 1

3Amtrak formally debuts its Pacific Surfliner train with a San Diego-to-Santa Barbara trip. 


Kalmbach Publishing Co. announces that Kevin P. Keefe, editor of Trains since 1992, has been promoted to Associate Publisher of Trains and its sister publication, Classic Trains.


Norfolk Southern and CSX have both decided to dispose of their ex-Conrail E8As, ending an era of stylish Class I business train power in the East.

December 11

4Acela Express service begins between Washington, New York, and Boston. 



Mark W. Hemphill is named editor of Trains.  

January 30

5O. Winston Link, the master photographer who captured the end of the steam era and a way of life on the Norfolk & Western died from a heart attack while driving to his doctor from his home in South Salem, N.Y. He was 86 years old.

February 28

A 6.8-magnitude earthquake at Olympia, Wash., resulted in shifted track at milepost 31.6, north of Centennial, Wash., on BNSF’s Seattle Subdivision.  It was the most powerful quake to hit the area in more than 50 years, and resulted in the railroad stopping all trains within a 400-mile radius.


ExpressTrak, Amtrak’s partner for perishable service, orders 109 of 350 refrigerator cars the firms plan to employ on regularly scheduled passenger trains.


6Midwestern railroads hit by major flooding caused by late snow melt, heavy rains, and a long winter, forcing train re-routing and cancellation. 

June 11

Surface Transportation Board lifts 15-month moratorium on railroad mergers, and issues new merger rules.


7The 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Locomotive Co. is celebrated with a special Alco-focused issue. 

September 11

8Four airliners hijacked by terrorists; two flown into the World Trade Center buildings in New York, one into the Pentagon, and one in a Pennsylvania field. Terrorism worries and general security concerns blanket the railroads and other modes of transportation.

Oct. 9

Canadian National buys Wisconsin Central

October 24

Russ Porter, 82, noted railroad and marine artist and an illustrator for Model Railroader 1951-56, died at home in West Allis, Wis.

December 9

9Saluda Mountain line, the steepest mainline grade in the U.S. at 5.1 percent, is closed by Norfolk Southern due to a shift in coal train routings. 



10Editor Mark W. Hemphill announces a redesigned Trains magazine. 


11Union Pacific road locomotives receive large, waving American flag decals on the side, along with the slogan “Building America,” in response to the 9/11 attacks. 

February 8

12CSX adopts new all-blue paint scheme, with yellow for lettering and locomotive ends.  


13Norfolk Southern, BNSF, and CSX operate “bullet trains” for United Parcel Service to demonstrate their capabilities for expedited transcontinental intermodal service.

April 12

14The Alameda Corridor is dedicated and officially opens, providing a fast route between Los Angeles area yards and the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

April 17

BNSF Chairman Robert D. Krebs retires, and Matt Rose assumes the reigns at the railroad.

May 15

David Gunn named Amtrak’s new president.

July 26

Distinguished railroad artist, and former Kalmbach art department employee, Ted Rose dies of cancer at his home in Santa Fe, N.M.  He was 61.

August 12

All Acela trainsets are removed from service after mechanics conducting a routine inspection at Amtrak’s Southampton Street Maintenance Facility in Boston discover a cracked bracket on the lead truck of an Acela Express power car.


CSX President Michael Ward has been promoted to president of parent CSX Corp., making him the heir apparent to CSX Chairman and CEO John W. Snow.



Trains hires Angela Pusztai-Pasternak as editorial assistant.

January 1

Paul M. Tellier, president and CEO of Canadian National, resigns to become president and CEO of Canadian manufacturer Bombardier. He is succeeded by E. Hunter Harrison, CN’s chief operating officer.

January 10

United Transportation Union wins the right for its members to operate remote-controlled locomotives in and around yards in the U.S.


Motive Power Industries enters the diesel locomotive market with the introduction of the MP36, having secured orders from Chicago Metra and Caltrain.

February 17

15A 26-inch snowfall in Baltimore causes half of the roof of the B&O Railroad Museum to collapse, significantly damaging some of the museum’s historic rolling stock. 


Kathi Kube joins Trains as associate editor after serving 3.5 years as assistant editor of industry trade journal Progressive Railroading. 


Smithsonian redesigns its transportation exhibit for the first time in 40 years, leaving Southern Railway Ps-4 No. 1401 as the centerpiece of the exhibit.


16Amtrak’s Turboliner trainsets debut on the Empire Service trains to New York City.  

June 22

Bay Area Rapid Transit opens extension to San Francisco International Airport.

July 1

In a surprise move, United Parcel Service turns over all of its coast-to-coast business between the New York City and Boston areas and Los Angeles to Union Pacific, taking it away from BNSF. Pricing for the “bullet train” service was a sticking point between UPS and BNSF.

July 15

L. Stanley Crane, a lifelong railroader whose crowning achievement was the turnaround of Conrail, dies at the age of 87 in a Boynton Beach, Florida, hospice.  Crane was a longtime officer of Southern Railway, rising to chief executive officer.

September 6

John S. Ingles, 95, a Trains charter subscriber and friend of founder Al Kalmbach, died in Santa Rosa, Calif. John is the father of Senior Editor J. David Ingles.


January 10

O. Winston Link museum opens in Roanoke, Va., in the building that was once the N&W passenger station.

February 16

Jervis Langdon, Jr., retired railroad executive and a grandnephew of author Mark Twain, died at his home in Elmira, N.Y.


The Alaska Railroad installs Global Positioning Satellite transceivers on each of its 56 active locomotives and four Budd RDCs, becoming the largest U.S. railroad to adopt the new technology on this scale.


Norfolk Southern begins testing the Locomotive Engineer Assist Display and Event Recorder on 15 GE Dash-9s. LEADER is speed- and fuel-optimization software that suggests to engineers when to apply the throttle and brakes, depending on train characteristics and terrain.


CN buys Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range and Bessemer & Lake Erie.


Amtrak’s Empire Builder marks 75th anniversary with special events along the train’s route.

July 15

CN buys BC Rail.

July 4

17Horseshoe Curve turns 150 years old, and Norfolk Southern celebrates with a spectacular display of fireworks and flashbulbs. 


18Amtrak’s Cascades, which provide service with Talgo trains in the Pacific Northwest, celebrate 10th anniversary. 

July 28

John H. Armstrong, 83, one of railroading’s most influential writers and thinkers, dies.


Mark Hemphill resigns as editor of Trains; Kevin Keefe serves as acting editor; Angela Pusztai-Pasternak is promoted to new title of editorial associate.


Amtrak announces that it will no longer carry United States Postal Service mail and shipments, and will let all USPS contracts expire by the end of the month.

October 31

Amtrak and VIA ban smoking on their trains.


Kathi Kube is promoted to Trains managing editor.  


January 6

19A 42-car Norfolk Southern train running in dark territory in Graniteville, S.C., encounters a switch lined for a siding, where a local train is parked.  The resulting collision kills nine people and injures 200, and forces evacuation of 5,000 in a 1-mile zone. 

January 12

General Motors sells Electro-Motive Division to two investment groups.

February 12

Vernon L. Smith, 93, railroader and author who penned a landmark four-part series in Trains entitled “The Diesel from D to L,” dies at LaGrange (Ill.) Memorial Hospital of complications after surgery.

July 30

20Union Pacific unveils its first two heritage locomotives in Omaha, Neb., — UP No. 1982, honoring the Missouri Pacific, and UP No. 1983, honoring Western Pacific. 

August 17

21Union Pacific releases its third heritage locomotive, UP No. 1988, honoring Katy. 

August 29

22The ex- Louisville & Nashville Gulf Coast line and its many bridges east from New Orleans is practically wiped out by Hurricane Katrina.

October 27

23Trains hires Jim Wrinn as editor. 


Amtrak board fires David Gunn.


Kevin P. Keefe named vice president–editorial for Kalmbach Publishing, and Matt Van Hattem is promoted to senior editor of Trains. 



CSX, using R.J. Corman as its prime contractor, re-opens ex-Louisville & Nashville Gulf Coast line east from New Orleans to through freight trains.


Kansas City Southern and Norfolk Southern announce they closed an unusual deal on KCS’s “Meridian Speedway,” named for its key connection point with NS in eastern Mississippi.

July 1

China opens its $4.2 billion, 710-mile railroad to Tibet. Reaching an elevation of 16,738 feet, it is the highest railroad in the world.

July 14

RailRunner commuter trains begin running in Albuquerque, N.M.

August 29

Amtrak names Alexander Kummant as its new President.

September 16

Two modern Chinese locomotives, QJ-class 2-10-2s make tripleheader with Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 at a steam event.

September 18

Music City Star commuter train begins running in Nashville, Tenn.


In Illinois, lawmakers pony up $24 million to add more trains on existing corridors from Chicago to Carbondale, Quincy, and St. Louis.

October 30

The state of Pennsylvania launches faster trains on the rebuilt Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

November 8

Union Pacific settles lawsuit against M.T.H. Electric Trains regarding the use of its UP shield, as well as emblems of predecessor merged railroads, on model railroad products.



Trains is redesigned to include the historic “red rectangle” logo on the cover, with the “THE magazine of railroading” slogan underneath.


Roy Blanchard and Dan Ranger join Trains as columnists.


Union Pacific releases its fourth heritage unit, UP No. 1989, to honor the Denver & Rio Grande Western.


Amtrak’s ExpressTrak service ends as a result of legal squabbles.

January 2

Gil Reid, popular railroad artist and Trains staffer for 22 years, dies at age 88.


Andy Cummings joins Trains staff as associate editor.


Nancy L. Bartol, Trains librarian, retires after 45 years of service in various roles at Kalmbach Publishing.

June 30

Union Pacific invites the public to view all six of its heritage units at a location near the Great Salt Lake Basin.


After 36 years on the Trains staff, including a stint as editor, J. David Ingles retires from Trains, but will continue to work part-time at Classic Trains.


Trains promotes Angela Pusztai-Pasternak to assistant editor.


CSX decides to decentralize its dispatching operation from Jacksonville, Fla., to six terminals throughout its 21,000-mile system.


January 19

Union Pacific’s Harriman Dispatching Center in Omaha, Neb., loses contact with signals in a remote part of Oregon. The next day, the railroad’s signaling forces discovers why: A mountain, sodden with rainfall and melted snow, had collapsed on the rail line. It would not reopen until April 5.

May 1

CSX announces its National Gateway initiative to compete with truckers and NS’s Heartland Corridor between the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest.

May 15

Norfolk Southern announces a partnership with Canadian Pacific and Pan Am Railways to compete head-to-head with CSX in New England with the Patriot Corridor. The NS project aims to add terminals, capacity, and clearances to route intermodal traffic and finished autos into a region it was largely locked out of in the Conrail split.


Storms wrack the Midwest, washing away its railroad infrastructure. Every Class I railroad system has to shut down at least one mainline route, including Union Pacific’s Central Corridor across Iowa.

July 3

New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Cog Railway introduces a diesel-hydraulic locomotive, notable because the railroad had been steam-only since 1869.


Arizona’s Grand Canyon Railway announces it will drop the fires in its historic steam locomotives, opting to pull trips with diesels instead.

September 12

Metrolink commuter train collides with a Union Pacific freight, killing 25; mandate for PTC implementation by 2015; new rules governing cell phone use comes down as well.

October 30

Canadian Pacific takes over Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern, marking the end of more than 22 years as an independent railroad in Minnesota and South Dakota.

December 30

Surface Transportation Board approves sale of Ohio Central to shortline conglomerate Genesee & Wyoming in a $219 million transaction. The conglomerate acquired Maryland Midland, Columbus & Greenville, and Georgia Southwestern earlier in the year.

October 3

Congress passes the first Amtrak reauthorization in more than a decade. In it, Congress approves more than $2.7 billion annually for the passenger line over five years.

November 4

California voters elected to issue $9 billion in bonds for what would be the first true high speed rail system in the country.


Slumping economy devastates freight traffic. Following years of rising freight volumes, U.S. and Canadian railroads see traffic plummet in the face of a sour economy. By November, overall rail freight traffic has dropped 10 percent from the year before.



Coal traffic sours in recession.

January 31

Canadian National buys most of Elgin, Joliet & Eastern.


$8 billion allocated for fast trains. President Obama personally lobbies for inclusion of high-speed passenger trains in the economic stimulus package that he signs into law.


Union Pacific evicts short line Modoc Northern Railroad.

June 22

Washington Metro crash kills nine and injures 80 outside the Fort Totten station track circuits that detect the presence of a train.


Kansas City Southern reopens an 87.5-mile moribund Southern Pacific route in South Texas for Mexico-bound trains. The so-called “Macaroni Line” enables KCS trains to bypass 161 miles of Union Pacific trackage rights on its way to the Mexican border at Laredo, Texas.

September 21

Recession claims short line Okanagan Valley Railway.

October 1

Union Pacific replaces Kate Shelley High Bridge near Boone, Iowa. The new bridge rose over the course of three years and came at a cost of $50 million. Trains can now whiz across the structure at 70 mph.

November 2

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett buys a 100-percent stake in BNSF Railway.

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