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Eastern Railroad Discussion > The New Westland Branch


Date: 11/03/12 06:27
The New Westland Branch
Author: jmbreitigan

Hi, I have something pretty new to share on TO. With these last few days of rainy weather I was able to finally complete a little project I began; to keep track of the building and operation of the Westland Branch. I had some important family matters that came up that have delayed my completion of this project.

First a little background information for those that are not aware of this. First, my information is what I have gleaned from talking to people that I have run into during the construction of this branch. It is in no way official.
Markwest Liberty has a huge Marcellus Gas processing facility located along western avenue between Houston, PA. and Westland, PA. They wanted to put in a branch from Southview, PA. to their planned loading facility in Westland, PA. near the old Westland mine to haul their product out by rail. The branch would follow the old Montour RR ROW from the tie-in with the W&LE main in Southview, PA. to the loading facility in Westland, PA. In a little over a year things really took off with the construction of this branch. If you go to the Montour Trail website ( http://www.montourtrail.org/ ) and click on the 9/25/2012 newsletter, there is some info on the rails / trail part of this branch. I have heard that Markwest leases the ROW from the Montour Trail, Balfour Beatty (builder of the branch) will be tasked with the upkeep of the branch and Markwest has their own people that work the yard. Presently they move tank cars around with a Trackmobile. I assume all W&LE will do is bring cars in and out of the yard. The cool thing about this is the Montour trail being alongside the rails. I have walked the length of this trail numerous times during and after the construction of the fence that separates the trail from the rail. The area was never posted and I was never asked to leave during my walks. What I did was walk the trail with my camera to take pictures of anything interesting. In fact that is how I got all my pictures of trains coming and leaving the yard. Just by seeing them during my walks. There was no specific time or date. Either I saw something or I did not. The only HU I got was for a W&LE ballast train. After that is was just luck on my part. All of the pictures I took of the construction of track was done either after working hours or on a Sunday when there was no work being done.

To see more pictures go to:
( http://www.pbase.com/jmbreitigan/mark_west_rail_siding&page=1 ) my first picture will be the thumbnail at the top left corner. Under the “other sizes selection” under the picture you can click on the original option to get a larger picture to get the best view. Even though there is a fence between the trail and track, it is only 4 feet high. It may fowl shots from a distance but you can still get some nice shots along the trail. I used an app on my iPhone to track the distance I walk. From the parking lot along Hornhead road (Westland, PA.) to the end of the trail is about 3.5 miles one way. You have to walk about a half mile from the parking area along Hornhead road before you approach the entrance to the yard where the trail is close to the track. Right now this new branch does not show up on Google earth, etc. To get an idea of the routing you may have to dig up a map of the old Montour RR branch from Southview to the old Westland mine.



The Westland Branch was part of the Montour Railroad. To learn more about the Montour, Wheeling & Lake Erie and the Norfolk & Western in this era, follow these links to three fine pictorial books dedicated to each railroad.
 
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/MontourRailroad
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/ConnellsvilleDistrict
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/WheelingEastEnd
 
Sorry about the length of the post but I tried to give you an idea of what is going on while keeping it as brief as I could.
John


1. Backl-lit by early morning sun on 7/25/2012, WE125 ballast train peaks around the curve after crossing route 50, west for Bridgeville, PA. A HU from a close friend alerted me to this train. First time on this new track, so it was slow and easy as it starts the 1.5% climb to the summit near Johnson road.

2. WE125 is stopped short of Johnson road after topping the summit. He would then reverse and start dumping ballast.

3. W&LE# 104 leads a short consist of 6 empty tank cars to the Westland yard where Markwest Liberty's loading facility is located. Picture taken from Hornhead road near Westland, PA.

More pictures...........



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/03/12 06:27 by jmbreitigan.








Date: 11/03/12 06:39
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: jmbreitigan

4. Close up of W&LE# 104. I think the engineers shirt is a perfect match to the lettering on the side of 104.

5. W&LE#104 is now at the end of a consist of 19 loaded tank cars from the Westland yard. W&LE# 303 is on point as they climb the grade to the tie-in with the W&LE main (George) in early evening light.

6. W&LE#3068 leads a consist of 31 loaded cars from the Westland yard down the grade after reaching the summit near Johnson road. I did remove a big telephone cable stretched across the top of the cut.


More pictures.............



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/03/12 10:32 by jmbreitigan.








Date: 11/03/12 06:55
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: jmbreitigan

7. The next day about the same time (noon), I catch W&LE# 3068 again on point with 22 loaded cars a little further down the grade from the summit

8. W&LE# 6348 leads a consist of 40 loaded cars, which has just started the climb out of the Westland yard. The entrance to the yard is below that big rock ( Hornhead rock from what I hear) to the middle right of the picture.

9. This is a telephoto shot from hornhead rock of the loading end of the Westland yard. You can see six cars on each side of the loading facility. To the left is concrete supports for a future loading facility. I saw a Markwest yard worked near the entrance and asked how long it takes to load a car and he told me around 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on what they are loading.
Anyone know the purpose of that single car at the far end of the single track?


One more..................








Date: 11/03/12 06:59
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: Pork

How many gas cars can they load in a day? We have a customer on our line that gets gas from them. I have seen up to 10 cars billed to them in a day.



Date: 11/03/12 07:00
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: jmbreitigan

10. This is a shot from hornhead rock of the entrance to the yard. To the right you can see part of the track as it winds its way down to the yard.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures. I just can't post them all, so check out my Pbase link above to see them all.
John




Date: 11/03/12 07:08
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: jmbreitigan

Pork Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How many gas cars can they load in a day? We have
> a customer on our line that gets gas from them. I
> have seen up to 10 cars billed to them in a day.

Sorry I can't tell you. I have heard that Markwest wanted to be able to handle 200 cars a day. They have one loading facility that can handle 12 cars at a time. There are plans for another loading facility I have been told. Some days I have seen only 6 cars at the loading dock and other days 12. I guess it varies according to demand.
John



Date: 11/03/12 08:06
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: 3rdswitch

If I recall working the BNSF ExxonMobil job in CA it takes five or six hours to load or unload LPG, two hundred cars a day without additional racks seems a bit optimistic to say the least, although about half of the traffic to and from ExxonMobil never got spotted in the facility but simply resold to customers and shipped out of storage. Nice catches on the new line which is rare in and of itself.
JB



Date: 11/03/12 08:31
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: agrafton

Fantastic photos John, Did you have to do a lot of hiking/distance? the barn shot is a HDR canadate and are
these on pBase?
alan



Date: 11/03/12 10:25
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: jmbreitigan

agrafton Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Fantastic photos John, Did you have to do a lot of
> hiking/distance? the barn shot is a HDR canadate
> and are
> these on pBase?
> alan


Alan, thank you. I live about 3.5 miles from the parking lot for the trail. From the parking lot to the end of the trail is about 3.5 miles one way. A pleasure to walk because of the nice scenic views of farm land. The barn shot was rendered in HDR software. It was bad overhead light and this process made it so much better. I only had to use this on a few other pictures. They are on PBase, just click on the link in my opening narrative.
John



Date: 11/03/12 10:30
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: jmbreitigan

3rdswitch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If I recall working the BNSF ExxonMobil job in CA
> it takes five or six hours to load or unload LPG,
> two hundred cars a day without additional racks
> seems a bit optimistic to say the least, although
> about half of the traffic to and from ExxonMobil
> never got spotted in the facility but simply
> resold to customers and shipped out of storage.
> Nice catches on the new line which is rare in and
> of itself.
> JB

Thank you JB. You have more experience in this than me. I only see provisions for one more loading facility, so that would be 24 cars max, 6 per side. Just great news to have something of this magnitude in my area. I am sure it will be a big boost to the W&LE operation.
John



Date: 11/03/12 12:00
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: zzzzz

Are they installing welded rail on the main from Rook Yard to where the welded rail presently ends out in Ohio?



Date: 11/03/12 13:38
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: PittsburghMike

Very nice stuff John. Great coverage.



Date: 11/03/12 14:23
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: jmbreitigan

PittsburghMike Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Very nice stuff John. Great coverage.


Thank you Mike. Waiting for some sun : )
John



Date: 11/03/12 14:23
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: jmbreitigan

zzzzz Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Are they installing welded rail on the main from
> Rook Yard to where the welded rail presently ends
> out in Ohio?


I don't know.
john



Date: 11/03/12 17:27
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: ns1000

NIIIICE set of pics!!!!! Thanks for sharing.



Date: 11/03/12 21:42
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: alco539

Thanks for posting these pics, as a railfan and also as someone who directly involved in the Marcellus Shale things like this are VERY interesting to me. In many ways the discovery of gas in Pennslyvannia and Ohio is history in the making and the way it is changing the areas around it (or above it so-to-speak) is simply amazing.
Also, I was wondering exactly what they were loading at this facility? But from what I gather and what I know they are loading LPG. And possably benzene and butane? Western PA. is a "wet gas" region meaning the natural gas has other stuff in it such as butane, benzene, and other fuels. Northeastern PA. is a "dry gas" region meaning it's pure natural gas.



Date: 11/04/12 10:10
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: jmbreitigan

alco539 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks for posting these pics, as a railfan and
> also as someone who directly involved in the
> Marcellus Shale things like this are VERY
> interesting to me. In many ways the discovery of
> gas in Pennslyvannia and Ohio is history in the
> making and the way it is changing the areas around
> it (or above it so-to-speak) is simply amazing.
> Also, I was wondering exactly what they were
> loading at this facility? But from what I gather
> and what I know they are loading LPG. And possably
> benzene and butane? Western PA. is a "wet gas"
> region meaning the natural gas has other stuff in
> it such as butane, benzene, and other fuels.
> Northeastern PA. is a "dry gas" region meaning
> it's pure natural gas.

Thank you, my pleasure. You are correct in your assumptions on what they are loading. At least that is what I have been told by a yard worker.
John



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/04/12 17:27 by jmbreitigan.



Date: 11/04/12 10:10
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: jmbreitigan

ns1000 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> NIIIICE set of pics!!!!! Thanks for sharing.


Glad you enjoyed the pictures.
John



Date: 11/05/12 11:05
Re: The New Westland Branch
Author: retnkxe9

John,

I'm really enjoying seeing all these photos from the area I grew up in (Washington, Pa.) back in the 40s, 50s & 60'S. Moved away back in 1961, when I was 14 yrs olds. It's too long of a story to even think about posting here (and I really don't want to bore all of you), but I now live in San Diego, but I still have some family and friends in the area, and i't"s great to finally see something big happening in the area. I remember walking the Washington & Waynesburg rails as a little kid. Like it was yesterday. Thanks so much for a your time, effort, and money, providing all of us with these wonderful photos.

John Tilton



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/05/12 11:08 by retnkxe9.



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