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Allegheny Valley Railroad Saturday Morning Sand Extra

With downtown Pittsburgh and the UPMC Tower in the background, Train AVR-02 has just descended the ramp from the P&W Allegheny River Bridge in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh on Saturday morning, April 24, 2021. The crew opened the switch at 36th Street, which is on the Allegheny River Bridge seen behind the trees, in this view off the 40th Street Bridge. The AVR built this track in the early 2000s, to connect the former B&O/CSX line to the former PRR/Conrail Valley Line, which is just out of view in front of the building to the left. At the rear of the train is the switch to the for-mer B&O spur which once paralleled the Allegheny River into the Strip District of Pittsburgh. While the track remains in place, most of the line to the Strip District is now out of service.

Allegheny Valley Railroad Saturday Morning Sand Extra

July 2021by David E. Baer/photos by the author

Allegheny Valley Railroad is a busy short line railroad owned by Carload Express and based out of Glenwood Yard, just east of downtown Pittsburgh, Pa. Allegheny Valley Railroad operates the the former CSX (Baltimore & Ohio) line to Washington, Pa.; the former CSX (B&O) P&W Subdivision between Glenwood and Bakerstown; a former Monongahela Connecting spur along the Monongahela River between Glenwood and Birmingham Bridge, and the original AVR line, the former PRR/Conrail Valley Industrial Track along the east shore of the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh northward to New Kensington.

For the last dozen years or more, the AVR Valley Line has been the most difficult to observe in operation as it is served by nocturnal train AVR-02, which works third shift out of Glenwood. The AVR-02 schedule of third shift Sunday through Thursday put the train under the cover of darkness. The only change to the third shift pattern was on Super Bowl Sunday, when the train operated on first shift, to enable the crew to watch the Super Bowl in the evening.


ABOVE: The Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh has been redeveloped over the years, with new restaurants, office complexes, retail stores and apartment buildings now occupying most of the land between Butler Street and the Allegheny Valley Railroad tracks through town. At 55th Street, mechanical contractor McKamish Company has a large warehouse complex along the Allegheny Valley right-of-way, providing a nice backdrop for Train AVR-02 as it passes on May 1, 2021, AVR GP40-2 4005 is working with slug 405 and GP40-2 4001 hauling 13 loads of sand north for Logan’s Ferry.

In 2020, a new frac sand unloading facility was placed into service along the Valley Line located in the small town of Logan’s Ferry. The sanding unloading facility is sited at the very bottom of the steep PA Route 909 hill just south (compass west) of New Kensington. The frac sand unloading facility has a 28-car capacity siding which once served Alcoa Aluminum Logan’s Ferry aluminum powder plant. The plant closed in the late 1970s and was later torn down. After the land was cleared, the area around the plant was repurposed for use as a sand unloading facility, as the rail siding for the plant was still in place.

With increased sand traffic to Logan’s Ferry during the summer of 2020, the AVR began operating extra trains on the Valley Line, most often running on Saturday mornings out of Glenwood. These extra AVR-02s continue into 2021.

Following the Line
The AVR Valley Line follows the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh to New Kensington on the east side of the Allegheny River. The Valley Line passes through Lawrenceville, Verona, Oakmont, and Barking before arriving in Logan’s Ferry and New Kensington. The Valley Industrial Track extends just over 19 miles from the Strip District in Pittsburgh to the end of track in Arnold…

July 2021Read the rest of this article in the July 2021 issue of Railpace Newsmagazine. Subscribe Today!

This article was posted on: June 15, 2021