Train Basics ABCs Of Railroading Amtrak’s Maple Leaf overtakes a freight train

Amtrak’s Maple Leaf overtakes a freight train

By Bob Johnston | September 20, 2022

This passenger train catches a CSX hotshot

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Amtrak’s Maple Leaf catches a CSX intermodal train


Intermodal train with two blue and yellow locomotives at grade crossing
Amtrak overtakes a freight train: Although Amtrak’s Maple Leaf was due, the horn for an approaching train clearly didn’t belong to a P42. Barreling around the curve at the crossing near Lyons, N.Y., on the north track, was a hot westbound CSX intermodal train.  Bob Johnston

With vehicle-train collisions near the top of the issues list following the Southwest Chief derailment at a Missouri roadway earlier in the summer, Trains News Wire scouted an appropriate photo location in western New York during a recent trip to capture an Amtrak train at a rural crossing.

Canandaigua Road, west of Lyons, N.Y., and east of Rochester on the former New York Central double-track speedway, proved to be a good spot as the Toronto-bound Maple Leaf headed west on Aug. 25, 2022. Train No. 63 was late leaving Schenectady, N.Y., but why did its tardiness continue to increase following station stops at Utica and Syracuse? This photo sequence provides the answer.

Passenger train approaches on track next to passing freight
Less than a minute later, another blaring horn is audible: the Maple Leaf, finally overtaking the CSX hotshot on the south track.  Bob Johnston
Amtrak train reaches grade crossing
The Amtrak locomotive’s horn never stops as it shoots over the crossing. Why aren’t we shooting video?  Bob Johnston
Going away shot of passenger train and freight
The camera’s time stamp says the westbound Maple Leaf’s five coaches and Amfleet I café take exactly 3 seconds to clear Canandaigua Road; the CSX freight begins to slow.  Bob Johnston
Passenger train begins to recede in the distance as freight continues to pass
Peaceful coexistence between freight and passenger trains on a busy corridor is usually left to a host railroad dispatcher, the arbiter of how each will be prioritized. But passenger trains make periodic stops. That interferes with a railroad’s intermodal fleet and it’s other moneymaking freight moves. On the other hand, as long as there isn’t any opposing traffic, a symbiotic relationship can be established between the two. Amtrak Maple Leaf passengers were delayed on Aug. 25, but the outcome could have been worse without a CSX dispatcher orchestrating the overtake.  Bob Johnston

2 thoughts on “Amtrak’s Maple Leaf overtakes a freight train

  1. I have probably been to that crossing. But about 6 weeks ago I saw the westbound Lake Shore woven around THREE freights in about 25 minutes west of Fonda NY. NY 5 parallels the NYC Main between Fonda and Palatine Bridge and it is prime chasing ground. Tracks often right beside the highway. But before Hunter Harrison with freight speeds of 65mph actual chasing was tricky–as in pursuing one train until another showed up in the other direction then turning around to follow it. With Hunter Harrison now freights are doing only 50mph so it’s a little easier–but there are FEWER and LONGER trains. What do the customers think? Will there be even FEWER trains? BTW, at a crossover a few miles west of Fonda two freights ran into each other while one was crossing over, 2013, I think. This with NY 5 about 50 feet away; anyone on the road got quite a sight! That was about 10 years ago.

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