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Railfanning the Buffalo & Pittsburgh: Salamanca to Johnsonburg

After completing switching, Buffalo & Pittsburgh Train SIRI is on the move southbound through Bradford, Pa. Running along Tunungwant Creek, the train is about to cross over Main Street behind a quartet of EMD in November 2019.

Railfanning the Buffalo & Pittsburgh: Salamanca to Johnsonburg

May 2020By Joseph Cermak/photos by the author

Winding its way through the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad offers a bastion of classic railroading running amongst rich scenery and vintage Baltimore & Ohio signals. On this original Genesee & Wyoming shortline, older EMDs mingle with the Class 1 rail-road’s latest castoffs. Whether photographed in the dead of winter or the height of fall color, this line is a sight to behold, and the scenery will never dis-appoint. Reliable daytime service also makes this line remarkably accessible as a railfanning option.

Some History
The line of the Buffalo & Pittsburgh consists of a substantial section of the original mainline of the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway. The BR&P was an amalgamation of several lines built throughout the 1800s and consisted of a system spreading north from the coal fields around Pittsburgh to Great Lakes ports at Rochester and Buffalo. The BR&P was purchased in 1932 by the Baltimore & Ohio as part of a failed attempt to build a westward mainline from New York City. The B&O used the line heavily. Ownership of the line passed through Chessie System to CSX, which sold it to then-shortline Genesee & Wyoming. This was one of the first rail lines acquired by the expanding G&W, and would mark the beginning of their railroad empire.

Buffalo & Pittsburgh

Trains SIRI and RISI  meet at CP Harris at the south end of the yard in Johnsonburg. RISI is ready to go once the trains swap crews. Once RISI is out of the yard, SIRI will make a set out and pickup before proceeding south to Punxsutawney.

The Buffalo & Pittsburgh has an all-EMD roster which includes SD40-2s, Canadian cab SD40-3s, and a former Chicago & Northwestern SD40-2 complete with nose bell. More recent additions include a pair of former Florida East Coast SD70M-2s that were transferred from the Providence & Worcester, and locomotives transferred from the Goderich-Exeter Railway (GEXR), including an SD45T-2 in Southern Pacific paint. A trio of ex-Kansas City Southern SD50s from LTEX have also joined the roster and have been painted into corporate orange. While the B&P has traditionally been the home of many former SP SD45 carbody locomotives, many of these have recently been transferred to other G&W properties, and are being replaced with former CSX (nee-Conrail) SD60Ms and SD60Is. These new locomotives have quickly been painted into G&W corporate orange after arriving and running with LTEX patches.

This feature will primarily cover the operation of Buffalo & Pittsburgh’s Salamanca, N.Y., to Riker Yard (Punxsutawney, Pa.) road freight SIRI, with mention of its northbound counterpart, RISI. These road freights typically have three or four six-axle locomotives assigned.

Train SIRI operates five days a week (Monday-Friday). The SIBF Salamanca-Buffalo Turn arrives from Buffalo overnight, with the SIRI crew going on duty in Salamanca at 8:00 a.m. SIRI will work Bradford on its way south, and meet counterpart RISI in Johnsonburg, Pa., where the crews swap trains to return to their home crew bases. There are also occasional extra northbound coke trains, some of which operate with Wheeling & Lake Erie run-through power….

May 2020Read the rest of this article in the May 2020 issue of Railpace Newsmagazine!

This article was posted on: April 23, 2020