J. Alex Lang

Sunrise to Sunset on the CSXT Toledo Sub

South Deshler Siding signals at Sunset

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandated (among other things) the implementation of Positive Train Control technology, which took the American rail industry until the end of 2020 to fully implement.  This technology, which automatically stops the train if the engineer fails to, for a number of circumstances, often led to the installation of advanced computer systems in locomotives, new communications infrastructure along rail routes, and led to the wholesale replacement of many legacy signaling systems all across the US.

As I’ve always enjoyed railway signalling, I accepted an invite to spend a couple days exploring CSX Transportation’s Toledo Subdivision, a former Baltimore & Ohio line running from Toledo down to Lima and Dayton, and still sporting its 1930s-era “color position light” signal system.  This line is primarily single-track with passing sidings which makes for more interesting railfanning thanks to the additional coordination needed between train dispatcher and the trains, all audible over the radio.

Mike & I started out the morning of November 5 south of Lima, Ohio at South Wapokoneta siding where we witnessed two southbounds out of Lima.  A frosty ground was met with a colorful sky as we enjoyed the later-AM “pre-daylight savings time” sunrise.

South End Wapokoneta – lined awaiting Q507 South
B&O CPL Dwarf at S. Wapokoneta (GRS VA)
CSXT Q507 south at South End Wapokoneta
CSXT 5440 (ES40DC) south with J783-05 local at S. Wapokoneta

We decided to chase the J783 south to Swanders where a meet was planned with northbound Q560.

J783-05 at Swanders
J783 gets a rollby from the Q560’s conductor at Swanders, OH on the Toledo Sub

We relocated north to the next crossing to watch Q560’s departure.

CSXT 758 (ES44AH) leads Q560-05 north at N End Swanders

We decided to poke around Lima for a bit (more photos over on my Flickr) and find some breakfast.  We got word that the Indiana & Ohio Lima North Local had started out of Lima so we went up to the signal bridge at Cairo, Ohio and didn’t have to wait long.

IORY 3491 SD40-2 with IORY LNL running as CSXT Z869-05 at N End Cairo

With the train making decent speed, we didn’t have time to explore the “Ottawa Loop” – a vestigial piece of DT&I track that splits off the B&O at South Ottawa and rejoins at Kleman.  We barely made it to Kleman in time to see the Z869 re-enter the main line.

IORY 3491 SD40-2 with IORY LNL running as CSXT Z869-05 at Kleman, exiting the Ottawa Loop

We continued north, shooting an NS local at Leipsic and then on to South Deshler where a D743 local was finishing up switching chores there.

CSXT 6143 GP40-2 on D743 local departing S. Deshler Siding, with Middletown slabs K596 tied down (at right)

Driving up towards Deshler proper we encountered this big guy:

Owl at Deshler

After that, we spent the rest of the afternoon in Deshler, where I killed time shooting some drone photos of trains on the east-west Chicago mainline.  We first lensed a Q208 southbound intermodal, and after some gas station sandwiches a Q209 made its way north.

CSXT Q209-05 south at Deshler, CSXT 706 ES44AC
CSXT Q208-04 at Deshler, CSXT 3416 ET44AC leading

We didn’t have to wait much longer for Q511 to make its way south from Toledo, clattering the diamonds at this still-very-much-a-B&O-spot.

511 on 511 – CSXT Q511-05 with CSXT 511 AC4400CW at Deshler

We chased the 511-on-511 south to South Ottawa:

511 on 511 – CSXT Q511-05 with CSXT 511 AC4400CW at Ottawa
S. Ottawa, CSXT Toledo Sub

Finally, we wrapped up the evening back at South Deshler Siding to take in the sunset.  All in all, a great day out.

South Deshler Siding signals at Sunset


South Deshler Siding signals at Sunset
South Deshler Siding, looking South, at sunset