GREATER ROCHESTER SHORTLINE RAILROADS
FALLS ROAD RAILROAD
ADDRESS & PHONE: Niagara Street, Lockport, NY
OWNERSHIP: Genesee Valley Transportation, 8364 Lewiston Road, Batavia, NY 14020-1245 - 585-343-5398
REPORTING MARK: FRR
RADIO FREQUENCY: 160.920 (tower located in Albion for phone patch and communication with the Batavia office)
- Food products
- Passenger excursions
ANNUAL TRAFFIC: 1,200 carloads
- Falls Road Main Track - 41.69 miles of track - MP 16.94 - 58.29, 105-112 lb jointed rail - 130 lb welded rail in Lockport (MP 56 to Suspension Bridge)
- 15 miles of trackage rights on the Lockport Secondary to LV Niagara Yard (MP 22.70 - 25.20, Niagara Sub to MP 70.4 - 58.29, Lockport Sub)
- Procor, Niagara Falls (via trackage rights over the Lockport Branch to Niagara Yard to switch and store newly built tanker cars)
- CSX - car storage in Brockport and Medina
- Jamestown Container Corp., Lockport (switched daily)
- International Multifoods, Lockport (switched daily) (plant closed - February 2005)
- Agway, Gasport (out of business - siding removed)
- Panek Farms, Knowlesville (mini 10-car unit trains)
- Ontario Foods, Knowlesville (newest customer with new 9 car siding)
- Growmark Fertilizer, Knowlesville
- Associated Brands, Medina
- FMC Agricultural Products, Middleport
- W.H. Rhinehart Feed Mill, Middleport
- Barden Homes, Middleport
- Mattel, Medina (plant closed - new warehouse customers looking at facility and rail service)
- Dragon Grain, Albion (unused team tracks)
- Ontario Plant Food, Albion (unused team tracks)
- Holley Industrial Park, Albion (Customers TBD)
- Diaz Chemical, Holley (out of business - May 2003)
- Holley Cold Storage, Holley
- Kleen-Brite, Brockport (2nd largest customer - out of business 2001)
- Birds Eye Foods, Brockport (Reefers and Cryo-Trans cars)
- Allied Frozen Storage, Brockport (former Owens-Illinois property - opened Fall 2002)
SCHEDULE OF OPERATIONS:
- Monday and Thursday - other times as needed. Train usually reaches Brockport by around 2:00 pm. Lockport customers switched daily. Runs to Niagara Yard take place as needed.
- West Lockport Yard, and various places along the ROW in Gasport, Medina, Albion, Brockport
INTERCHANGE POINT & RAILROAD: Lockport Yard with CSX
LOCOMOTIVE ROSTER: Click an engine # for a picture. Enginehouse located in Lockport. Click here for the complete GVT roster.
HERITAGE / NOTES
D-L 334 ALCO C420 8/67 2000 3490-11 LOCKPORT ex Monon 505, LN/IHR - LVRR like red paint. FRRR 1802 ALCO RS-11 2/59 1800 83027 LOCKPORT ex W&W 863; exx NKP 863, exxx N&W 2863 FRRR 1804 ALCO RS-11 8/56 1800 81938 LOCKPORT ex CV 3604, exx DWP 3604
This subsidiary of Genesee Valley Transportation began operations in October 1996 after it was acquired from Conrail. It runs on the former NYC Falls Road Branch from Lockport, where it connects with CSX, to Brockport where it passes through the middle of the SUNY Brockport campus and terminates just past Owens Road. The FRRR also maintains trackage rights along CSX's Lockport Branch for runs out to the Niagara Falls Yard where new tank cars for Procor are stored between production and final delivery. The FRRR is also marketing the yard to prospective customers in the Niagara Falls area. The FRRR is called out of Lockport at 7:30 am Monday and Thursday. The workload depends on how far out they go. There are turning points throughout the line, so its hard to say where they will end up. The 12 mile section of track between Brockport and Rochester was abandoned and taken up by Conrail around 1994. The FRRR, running a total of 41.69 route miles, runs from milepost 58.29 in Lockport to the end of the line at milepost 16.60 (east end of Conrail CP HOLI) in Brockport. Operations can be heard on 160.920 MHz- and is dispatched out of Scranton, PA (where the GVT-owned Delaware-Lackawanna line runs).
The FRRR underswent a $1.6 million rehabilitation to the line - a three year project that was finished in the fall of 2000. The work included replacing 16,000 ties and shortening and retieing of the runaround in Brockport, retieing of the runaround in Medina, and the addition of a new runaround in Knowlesville at the lines largest customer - Agway. 28 grade crossings were replaced, and a rehabilitation of the Lockport Yard was completed. The length of the line also saw surface work, allowing for maximum speeds of 40 MPH for freight, and 50 MPH for passenger excursions!!
Currently, the Falls Road has a maximum speed of 25 MPH (will be increased to 40 freight/50 passenger once trackwork is finished). Locomotive power consists of a Alco RS-11 #1802 sporting GVT's sharp looking corporate paint scheme. DLWR #1804, Alco RS-11, was recently delivered to Lockport and will remain there to supplement #1802.
Update - 11/26/01: The Falls Road RR has initiated mini-10 car unit trains of corn destined for Panek Farms at Knowlesville, NY. Panek Farms is the new owner of the former large Agway Plant on the Falls Road and this represents the first cars received or shipped by them. Agway still has a presence at Knowlesville, renting space from Panek, so that they may continue to operate their fertilizer business from this site.
- GVT Map of the Falls Road (click on the thumbnail for the full-size image)
Conrail ZTS Maps and Timetable of the Falls Road Secondary
These maps were created in 1987 - for the most part, they are still fairly accurate for this line.
- Falls Road Time Table
- Zone 6 Cover Page
- Page 1 - Lockport - Served by CSX
- Page 2 - Somerset - Served by CSX via the Somerset RR
- Page 3 - Lockport - (most of this was been abandoned by Conrail)
- Page 4 - Lockport - FRRR begins here just west of the yard.
- Page 5 - Lockport
- Page 6 - Middleport
- Page 7 - Middleport and Medina
- Page 8 - Medina
- Page 9 - Medina and Eagle Harbor
- Page 10 - Albion and Holley
- Page 11 - Holley
- Page 12 - Brockport - Eastern Terminus of the FRRR as it looked in 1987
- Page 12a - Brockport as it looks now in 2002 - note... track into the former Owens-Illinois plant have been restored - facility now Allied Frozen Storage with service set to start up in Fall 2002.
EXCURSIONS... updated 11/28/03
The Western NY Railroad Historical Society, in conjunction with the Medina Railroad Museum and the Falls Road Railroad have resumed excursion service. Check the museum's website for schedules, fares and information.
FALLS ROAD RAILROAD POLICE
Did you know that the FRRR also has a railroad police department? It's the only shortline in New York to have a police officer on their payroll. I spoke with Chief Special Agent Paul Beakman. He told me back in 1998 that right now he is the only officer working for the Falls Road Railroad as a part-time employee. His responsibilities also include the rest of GVT's shortlines: the Depew, Lancaster and Western shortlines in Batavia and Lancaster, the Mohawk, Andirondack and Northern in Carthage and Rome, and the Lowville and Beaver River in Lowville. Agent Beakman, who is also a full time police officer for the city of Lockport, spends most of his time in Lockport keeping an eye on freight activities at the yard and 42 mile right of way to Brockport. He will also venture out to the other GVT lines in New York when needed by local law enforcement in those areas. An article on the FRRR's railroad police was featured in the Winter 2000 edition of Railcop magazine (if anyone can get their hands on this issue - please e-mail me!!). From their website:
One Railroad, One Cop
One railroad, One cop, its a take-off on the old Texas Ranger motto, One Riot, One Ranger, but Paul Beakman has earned the right to appropriate it. Beakman is the Chief Special Agent of the Falls Road Railroad Police. He is also its only officer. Read how one cop battles crime along his 42 miles of railroad while altering local law enforcement's seemingly lack of urgency to offenses committed along the rails.
Rumors are always abound that after the CSX takeover of Conrail, the line from Brockport to Rochester that Conrail tore up in 1994 would reopen. It's just that - a rumor, but the possibility will always exist as just the ties, rails, and crossings were removed (ballast and bridges remain intact - most of the ROW is in good shape). A local rail transit group is lobbying to use this right-of-way for light rail transit. Will this line ever be reopened? According to GVT President David Monte Verde, "Well, never say never!"
HISTORY: The Falls Road Railroad can trace its origins to the Lockport & Niagara Falls Railroad, some 20 miles in length, chartered on April 24, 1834. It was completed in 1838. The Rochester & Lockport Railroad was chartered on May 15, 1837, but little was done except for some grading and bridge construction. A reorganized company, the Rochester, Lockport & Niagara Falls Railroad was granted a state charter in 1850 and the nearly 76 mile long railroad between Niagara Falls and Rochester by way of Lockport was opened to traffic in 1852.
One by one, railroads were incorporated, built and opened westward from Albany to Buffalo. By 1841 it was possible to travel by train between Albany & Buffalo in 25 hours (lightning speed compared to the packet boats on the Erie Canal). By 1851, the trip took a little over 12 hours. In 1853 the line became part of the New York Central. The area served by the RL&NF, better known as the Falls Branch, was mainly rural and agricultural in nature along with various industries located in the towns along the right-of-way. During the railroad's heyday, as many as six passenger trains a day plied the route in both directions with commuter service pairing Lockport with Niagara Falls and Rochester with Albion. Passenger service ended around 1957.
The line was conveyed from the Penn Central to Conrail in 1976. Line from Brockport to Rochester abandoned and salvaged in 1994. Conrail, no longer interested in operating this line, was ready to file for abandonment until GVT stepped up to purchase the property from Brockport to Lockport. The transaction was consummated in October 1996 and the Falls Road Railroad subsidiary of GVT was formed.
Interesting Historical Tidbit:
NYC Lines Magazine February 1929.
'Falls Road Double Tracked'
Completion of double tracking of the Falls Road from Rochester to Suspension Bridge a distance of 75.7 miles, gives the New York Central an additional facility which will be of material help in relieving traffic congestion through Buffalo territory.
Most of the Falls Road was double tracked and equipped with automatic block signals some years ago. The line is laid with 105-pound steel, with rock ballast and all other details up to New York Central standard which means that there is no better railroad track to be found anywhere. It is also safeguarded with the same system of automatic electric train stop as is used on the main line.
Opening of this double track line will permit Michigan Central trains to be handled by way of Suspension Bridge and the Falls Road instead of by way of Buffalo, thus eliminating delays.
Steady growth of traffic stressed the demand for another route for fast freight without delays at the frontier due to the necessity of going through Buffalo.
Excerpt from the Federal Register announcing the creation of the Falls Road Railroad:
Falls Road Railroad Co., Inc. (FRRR), a noncarrier, has filed a verified notice of exemption under 49 CFR 1150.31 to acquire and operate the line of railroad now owned and operated by Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) known as the Falls Road Secondary Track, extending from milepost 58.29
, at Lockport, to milepost 16.60 , at Brockport, in Niagara, Orleans, and Monroe Counties, NY, a total of 41.69 route miles. In addition, FRRR will acquire operating easements only between mileposts 16.60 and 16.92 (owned by, or to be conveyed by Conrail to, Monroe County) and between mileposts 45.01 and 45.53 (owned by, or to be conveyed by Conrail to, the adjoining landowner). Operations were expected to commence on or after October 24, 1996.
CREDITS: John Stewart's railroad.net; American Shortline Railway Guide 5th edition by Edward A. Lewis; David Monte Verde, President, and Michael Thomas, V.P. Engineering, Genesee Valley Transportation, and the Western New York Railway Historical Society.
Hits since 2/28/00
UPDATED: February 20, 2005
Copyright 2002 by Les Wilson - all rights reserved