Trains Timeline: a 75 year journey


1A high speed Acela locomotive stops at Stamford, Conn. Plans for nationwide high speed rail took shape this year. Peter Cusden
2Southern 2-8-2 No. 4501, a Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum locomotive, is to be one of the stars of Norfolk Southern’s steam program. Jim Wrinn
3Electro-Motive moves a newly completed BHP locomotive bound for Australia outside its London, Ont., plant on June 1, 2010. Greg McDonnell
4Workers celebrate breakthrough in the Gotthard Base Tunnel on Oct. 15. AlpTransit Gotthard
5DART’s Green Line at Carrollton, Texas, on opening day. Mike Harbour
6Powder River Basin steam coal heads west across Montana Rail Link rails. BNSF had a big year for West Coast coal exports. Tom Danneman
7A Canadian Pacific local with 25 cars of crude oil passes an under-construction drilling installation near Parshall, N.D., in July. Andy Cummings
8Richard Steinheimer and his wife, photographer Shirley Burman, in 2004. David Lustig
9A BNSF intermodal train eases through a newly cut right-of-way in New Mexico's Abo Canyon this summer. BNSF Ken Fitzgerald
10One last BNSF train approaches downtown Minot, N.D., in late June before a two-week shutdown due to high water. Steven M. Welch
11An Iowa Interstate QJ steam locomotive pulls into Rock Island, Ill., during Train Festival 2011. Trains: Jim Wrinn
12Southern Railway No. 630 pulls excursions at Knoxville, Tenn., in November 2011. Trains: Jim Wrinn
13Electro-Motive unveils the first new diesel built at its Muncie, Ind., plant Oct. 28. Greg McDonnell
14Wisconsin & Southern Railroad assembles a train beside the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chein, Wis. Watco announced it would add the regional to its family of railroads late this year. Andy Cummings
15Norfolk Southern heritage units gather around the turntable at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C. Jim Wrinn
16A train at BNSF’s Willow Springs, Ill., intermodal terminal. Matt Van Hattem
17Flood waters enter the Long Island Rail Road's West Side Yard. MTA Long Island Rail Road
18GE Transportation's Erie, Pa., locomotive assembly hall will slow as the company moves domestic production to Texas. Jim Wrinn
19The July 6 derailment of a crude oil train at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, leveled much of the city's downtown core. Transportation Safety Board of Canada
20No. 4014 at Pomona, Calif. Trains: Jim Wrinn
21Amtrak's newest Viewliner cars are rolling out with a retro paint scheme. Even the first generation of production Viewliners did not carry the "Pointless Arrow" logo. Bob Johnston
22In late 2013, the Association of American Railroads and Railway Supply Institute produced conflicting visions on the future of tank car design and safety in North America. Jeff Robertson
23An overhead view of the derailment site on Dec 1. The Spuyten Duyvil station is at the top right. Amtrak's West Side Line is at the bottom. National Transportation Safety Board
24A rendering of the proposed 125 mph diesel passenger locomotive from Siemens. Siemens
25Norfolk Southern freight and Amtrak passenger trains meet near Toledo, Ohio, on July 4, 2014. Congestion on the railroad's primary Chicago main line has led to an Amtrak complaint filed with the Surface Transportation Board over its trains' timekeeping on the route. Michael D. Harding
26Tank cars of all types, like these hauling ethanol at Bloomington, Ill., have come under scrutiny since the July 2013 derailment and fire in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, that killed 47. Steve Smedley
27A CSX train passes a new signal installation at in Elk Mills, Md., in April 2014. Rick Lipscomb
28Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 flies through the California desert on its way to Cheyenne, Wyo., and restoration for operation, in April 2014. Trains: Brian Schmidt
29GECX No. 2021 leads a Tier IV test set on UP on California's Donner Pass in May 2014. Jim Jackson
30CSX and CP locomotive congregate at a Chicago area terminal. Don Kalkman
31Railroads, unions, and regulators are in the great debate over one-person crews, and positive train control may tip the balance in their favor. Someday, a road freight like this may operate with just one person in the cab. Darrell D. Wendt


January 28

1Federal Railroad Administration announces which states will receive high-speed rail funds. The biggest winners: California ($2.3 billion), Florida ($1.25 million), Illinois and Missouri ($1.1 billion).


Amid recession, Union Pacific reports a 43-percent jump in earnings on a 13 percent volume gain in its first quarter. By the fourth quarter, the nation’s largest railroad will set its lowest-ever operation ratio, 68.2, on volume growth of 14 percent.


2Norfolk Southern announces it’s restarting its steam program after 16-year drought.

June 1

3Caterpillar subsidiary Progress Rail Services buys Electro-Motive for $820 million.


Amtrak places a $298.1 million order for 130 new single-level passenger cars.

September 9

Norfolk Southern opens new double-stack Heartland Corridor between the ports of Virginia and the Midwest.

October 15

4Swiss engineers finish boring world’s longest tunnel at 35 miles. Gotthard Base Tunnel to open to rail traffic in 2017.

October 28

Amtrak places order for 70 new Siemens electric locomotives.

November 2

Passenger rail and transit advocate Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., loses his bid for reelection after 17 terms.

November 23

Trains’ first-ever children’s publication, Trains4Kids, hits newsstands.

December 6

5Dallas Area Rapid Transit opens 28-mile Green Line from southeastern Dallas to its northwestern suburbs. It is the longest segment of electrically powered light rail to open in a single day since 1990.


6BNSF Railway ships about 6 million tons of Wyoming and Montana steam coal to Westshore Terminals in Vancouver, B.C, for export to Asia.


February 16

Florida Gov. Rick Scott cancels high speed rail plan to link Orlando and Tampa.


Officials conduct avalanche-prevention operations on British Columbia’s Rogers Pass.

March 28

7Canadian Pacific announces plans to overhaul its decrepit branch to New Town, N.D., to handle modern six-axle diesels and unit crude-oil trains. Other railroads in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin also begin to gain from the oil traffic boom.

April 15

Amtrak’s annual operating grant was cut from $561 million to $466 million, leading the railroad to offer management buyouts.

May 4

8Trains’ most prolific and engaging photographer, Richard Steinheimer, dies.


After suffering from twice the normal snowfalls melting in the Upper Missouri River Basin, a year’s worth of rain fell on the region in two weeks, causing routes to close. The last of them would not reopen until late December.

June 3

9BNSF cuts second path through New Mexico’s Abo Canyon, opening up one of the last bottlenecks on the Chicago-Los Angeles Transcon.

June 21

10Tornado in Nebraska topples BNSF train carrying Boeing 737 fuselages.


11Train Festival 2011 in Rock Island, Ill., suffers low turnout due to extreme heat. Exhibitor Iowa Interstate files lawsuit for non-payment.

July 10

Trains’ most prolific writer, Bill Middleton dies.

August 29

Remnant of Hurricane Irene devastates Vermont’s railroads


12Norfolk Southern hosts Labor Day weekend steam excursion events, with more in November.

October 28

13Electro-Motive opens new Muncie, Ind., plant.


January 1

14Watco buys 700-mile Wisconsin & Southern.

February 1

Watco buys Birmingham Southern.

February 3

Electro-Motive closes its London, Ontario, plant.

February 7

Trains ramped up to 110 mph on the Amtrak-owned Porter, Ind., to Kalamazoo, Mich., Michigan Line, marking the first high speed rail outside of the Northeast.

March 1

Norfolk Southern celebrates its 30th anniversary by announcing 20 heritage paint schemes on its modern locomotive fleet.

March 22

Florida East Coast shocks industry with its plans to reintroduce privately operated rail passenger service in South Florida called “All Aboard Florida.”


Trains hires Brian Schmidt as assistant editor.

June 29

Canadian Pacific shareholders revolt against the management of CEO Fred Green and elect E. Hunter Harrison, former president and CEO of rival Canadian National until his 2009 retirement, as its new leader.


Trains promotes Angela Pusztai-Pasternak to associate editor.

July 2

Union Pacific celebrates 150th anniversary.

July 3-4

15All 20 Norfolk Southern heritage locomotives gather at the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

July 23

Shortline holding company Genesee & Wyoming announces its intent to purchase rival RailAmerica for $1.37 billion, making it the undisputed leader in shortline railroading.


Wisconsin’s two orphan Talgo trains were completed, but face uncertain future.


16Intermodal traffic continues to grow. North American railroads moved more than 934,000 containers and trailers.

November 23

Amtrak begins operating at 110 mph over 15 miles of track on Union Pacific’s Chicago-St. Louis corridor.


17Following Hurricane Sandy, Metropolitan Transportation Authority swiftly restores service on its four rail transit systems. NJ Transit was unable to do the same.


Union Pacific confirms it’s brokering a deal between the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society’s Southern California chapter and an unidentified third party interested in seeing a 4-8-8-4 run again.



Trains hires Steve Sweeney as associate editor.

April 9

18General Electric announces it will move domestic locomotive production to Texas by end of 2014, lays off 950 people from its century-old Erie, Pa., facility

June 28

Virginia Museum of Transportation announces $3.5 million campaign to restore Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 to operation.

July 6

19An unmanned Montreal, Maine & Atlantic crude oil unit train derails, killing 47 in an oil-fueled inferno in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

July 23

20Union Pacific confirms intent to restore Big Boy No. 4014


Trains promotes Angela Pusztai-Pasternak to production editor.

October 23

21Amtrak shows media in New York new order of “Viewliner II” single-level, long-distance passenger cars

November 14 and December 5

22Association of American Railroads and Railway Supply Institute declare conflicting visions for the future of tank car design and safety in North America, after four major crude-oil-train derailments and fires.

December 1

23After four derailments, the Federal Railroad Administration launches a comprehensive assessment of Metro-North Commuter Railroad to ensure compliance with federal regulations, procedures and practices.

December 3

24Siemens announces entry into North American diesel locomotive market with the introduction of a 125-mph diesel locomotive using a Cummins QSK95 prime mover.


Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 No. 4014 makes its way across Los Angeles County Fairplex grounds



25North American railroads announce plans to increase capital spending on new ties, yards, rails, signals, tracks, locomotives, and bridges to support the immense traffic growth.

January 26

Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 No. 4014 departs Los Angeles County Fairplex and arrives at Union Pacific’s West Colton Yard


26Class I railroads struggle with over-abundance of loads to haul, blaming extreme winter and an increase in crude-oil trains

February 14

The new Central Maine & Quebec Railway, led by industry veteran John Giles, takes over besieged Montreal, Maine & Atlantic’s property


27Industry reveals it might not make federal mandate for positive train control by the end of 2015 due to the need to place some PTC antennas within Native American reservations.

April 28-May 8

28Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 No. 4014 makes its way to Cheyenne, Wyo., for restoration. Trains magazine live streams the action.


Trains hires David Lassen as associate editor

July 23

Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 moves from B&O Railroad Museum to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad for restoration. Trains magazine live streams the action.

August 8

29The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces new regulations for diesel exhaust to go in effect Jan. 1, 2015


30Canadian Pacific has talks with CSX to merge the two railroads and potentially solve the Chicago congestion problem. CSX was unwilling.

November 8

Trains magazine presents preservation award to Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 2926 for a modern 26L brake stand


31Debate intensifies among railroads, unions, and regulators debate over one-person crews.


NRHS elects new president The once-mighty National Railway Historical Society struggles to find relevance; membership numbers dwindle amid controversial management decisions.



The seven Class I railroads announce big capital spending plans, including double tracking, new and expanded sidings, closing CTC gaps, completing and adding yards, adding new intermodal facilities, and more.

February 14

An eastbound Canadian National crude-oil train derails 29 cars near Gogama, Ontario, causing a fire that took days to control.

February 16

An eastbound CSX crude-oil train derails 28 cars, causing a fire and explosions in southern West Virginia.

February 24

Shortline holding company Genesee & Wyoming announced its acquiring U.K.-based rail freight operator Freightliner.

March 5

A BNSF Railway train derails near Galena, Ill., where the Galena and Mississippi rivers meet, with 8 tank cars catching fire, causing the line to close for three days.

March 7

An eastbound Canadian National crude-oil train derails and catches fire in northern Quebec, destroying a bridge and sending cars into a river.

May 1

U.S. and Canada announce new regulations for moving crude oil, including specifications for new tank car DOT-117.

May 12

Amtrak Northeast Regional train No. 188, traveling at 106 mph in a 50-mph curve, derails in Philadelphia, killing eight and injuring more than 200.

May 25

Amtrak announces it will install inward-facing cameras on its entire fleet of ACS-64 electric locomotives by the end of the year.

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