Long Island Rail Road - Bogies

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LIRR #9002 Farmingdale view NE 1988 Photo: John Volpi

In the late 1980s, Long Island was in a crisis of overloaded roads and something had to be done. That is when the Long Island Rail Road, in association with the New York Cross Harbor Railroad, started an experimental Intermodal TOFC (Trailer On Flat Car) service between Greenville / Jersey City, NJ and Farmingdale, NY.

What made this service interesting, is the fact that instead of utilizing regular style intermodal type flatcars which are commercially available; the Long Island Rail Road had opted to use, and have custom-built "Bogie" well cars instead.

The entire purpose of these cars was to be able to introduce intermodal-type services to Long Island businesses. The reason that it took so long to do this was the fact that Long Island is plagued with some very low clearances and overpasses along the rail routes which will not accept the traditional double stack containers or trailer-on-flat-car services.

This is somewhat ironic, being that the Long Island Rail Road helped to pioneer "intermodal service" back in the 1800s, by placing horse drawn wagons on the decks of flat cars destined for the city!

Never the less, these "Bogies" eliminated the height problem. The Long Island Rail Road entered into an agreement with the New York Cross Harbor Railroad, who operated carfloat service between Jersey City, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York. Trailers would be come into New Jersey, be loaded on the Bogies and then taken by carfloat to Bush Terminal, Brooklyn. From here, the cars would be interchanged with the Long Island Rail Road at 65th Street. This is the only route the cars would ever take.

Starting in 1988, the Berwick Car Company of Berwick, Pennsylvania designed and built the first set of the Bogies. Berwick is a known freight car builder with a line of well known boxcars and would later develop the ULTRA (universal load, twin railcar, articulated) container waste cars in 1991.

When complete, the first 12 units were leased to the Long Island Rail Road for testing. The original cars were delivered in April 1988 and the tests went well. A Department of Transportation grant was issued to pay for the new cars, with a second order of cars being delivered in August 1991. Only a few cars of the second order ever actually saw service.

The cars were unlike anything ever built at the time, featuring some very sleek lines on a very low profile, but a heavily built chassis. What made these cars interesting, was the fact that the trailer body became an important part of the cars. The trailer would straddle the cars with one end in the "Fifth wheel" hitch and the wheels sitting in wells of the next car. The process would then be repeated with each successive trailer. Farmingdale-bogie-loads_1988_JohnVolpi.jpg (54924 bytes) 

Farmingdale bogies loaded 1988 Photo: John Volpi

 

 

 

The end cars (Number 8000 series, A cars) featured a standard height tight lock (Type H) coupler and a set of cast steel counterweights. The other end featured the fifth wheel hitch.


lirr8001_bogieAendcar_AlbertCastelli.jpg (67097 bytes)LIRR #8001 A end car Photo: Al Castelli

Next in line would be the intermediate car (Number 1000 Series, C cars). On one end would be a set of wells for the trailers tires to sit in, and on the other end, a fifth wheel hitch. Both ends of the car had low height couplers.

lirr1001_bogieCtype_AlbertCastelli.jpg (85369 bytes)LIRR #1001 C type Photo: Al Castelli

 

The next and final car (Number 9000 series, B cars) would have only a set of wells for the wheels, then on the end would be steel counterweights and a standard height Type H coupler.


lirr9003_070405_JohnMcCluskey.jpg (90314 bytes)LIRR #9003 LI City 07/04/2005 
Photo: John McCluskey

 

 

 

Originally, the cars had black lettering, but this would be changed to white lettering later on. An air hose would be slung under the trailer and connected to the next car to operate the trains air brakes.

A more refined red air hose reel was also added, along with guides for the truck tires on the wells. An interesting note is that these cars did not have a center sill like almost every other freight car has. The cars feature heavy duty 12" x 9" rectangular box cross supports. The sides of the car were thick metal which acted as a side sill.

A typical consist would appear as such: A-C-C-C-C-B. Loading and unloading would be handled by a pair of custom built cranes, one located on the Wye Team Track in Pinelawn, Long Island, New York; and the other in the Greenville Yard, in New Jersey.

lirrbogiecrane-Farmingdale_viewSE.jpg (74132 bytes) LIRR bogie crane Farmingdale view S Albert Castelli photo

 

 

 

 

 


 


These bogies were in limited service when they were built, but it was soon discovered they were prone to derailments due to their overall light weight even when loaded, and due to the fact there were only two axles per car as opposed to four, which made the Bogie not-as-forgiving, in regard to "less than perfect trackage".

The trailer loader / unloaders were also problem prone. Subsequently, the Federal Railway Administration limited the Bogies to 20 miles per hour and no more than 15 cars per train.

Initial usage has seen these Bogie sets used to transport United States Postal Service trailers to the USPS Processing & Distribution Center located in Farmingdale.

The USPS, after a loaded trailer was destroyed due to arson and declared a total loss in the Bush Terminal yard, was no longer a customer. .Last service was 12-91 for Clare Rose Beer. Of the cars built, some of them were NEVER used of the 2nd order, as service ended so soon. There were 2 un-loaders built, one in Greenville, NJ. The other in Pinelawn/Farmingdale, NY which were scrapped. Perhaps, Berwick built them also. The cars came to Greenville on flatcars from Berwick and were unloaded there.

The bogies were tested again in the early 1990's, to transport trailers for Clare Rose beer distributors. No discernible modifications were evident; and once again in limited service only. As far as this author has been able to learn, this test resulted in the bogies not having any appreciable advantage over truck traffic, and the Bogies once again experienced technical problems, along with rising costs to transport the bogies.

Ultimately, the bogies were only used from October 1988 to December 1992.

lirrMontaukCutoff-viewfromCityStorageBldg11-07KevinKatta.jpg (151552 bytes)Montauk Cutoff  Bogies in storage view SW 11-07 Photo: Kevin Katta

The string of bogie cars on the former Eastbound Montauk Secondary at LI City. They were marooned behind a bumping block on the east end.


 


The Bogies still survive to this day, but are in storage. One long cut is located on a siding in Hicksville, NY; with another cut on the "Montauk Cutoff" located in Long Island City. Research: Paul Strubeck

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LIRR bogies -  crane 
Farmingdale view N
Albert Castelli photo
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LIRR #1006 bogie loaded
Albert Castelli photo

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Farmingdale loading a USPS trailer view SE 1988 Photo: John Volpi

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Farmingdale bogie crane view E 1988 Photo: John Volpi
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LIRR #50 Farmingdale wye bogie crane view N 6/1994 Photo: John Fusto
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Farmingdale bogie crane LIRR hack view SE 8-1995 Photo: John Fusto
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Farmingdale bogie crane view S 9/06/2007 Coastal Yard Photo: Al Castelli
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Clare Rose Beer bogie loading at Greenville, NJ 12/10/1991
Photo: Carl G. Perelman
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Farmingdale wye north leg 
with bogie crane view E

The 45 cars were built by Berwick Car in 2 orders:  The first came in 4-88 (12 cars, originally leased): 8001/8002, 1001-1008, 9001/9002.  The second order came in 8-91 (33 cars): 8003-8007, 9003-9007, 1009-1031 

Stored cars located at Hicksville, NY: 
8001, 8007, 1004-1010, 1012, 1026, 9002, and 9007

Stored cars located at Montauk Cut-off, LI City, NY: 
1001-1003, 1011, 1013-1025, 1027-1031, 8002-8006, 9001, 9003-9006

LIRR Bogies Scraping - 6/09/2017
Photos/Info: Gregory Grice unless noted
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LIRR Bogies storage on the Montauk Cutoff 
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LIRR Bogies scraping begins at the Montauk Cutoff 
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LIRR Bogie removal from track for scrapping

One of Long Island Rail Road's experimental "Intermodal Bogies" gets dragged down the Montauk Cuttoff to Sunnyside Yard to be cut up for scrap (above right). First introduced in 1988, the bogies were LIRR's way of bringing Piggy Back (TOFC) service to Long Island. Berwick Freight Car Company manufactured the cars to meet the many freight restrictions on LIRR such as height & third rail clearances. Unfortunately the bogie service was cancelled in 1991 following several issues and as a result the cars were placed in storage on the Montauk Cutoff & Hicksville. Fast forward to 2017, Frontier Metals was award the scrapping contract and on June 8th, the scrapping progress was started.

LIRR-Bogies_Scraping_track-removal2_Montauk-Cutoff_6-09-2017_GregoryGrice.jpg (76972 bytes)
LIRR Bogies unloaded from track for welding cut-up
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LIRR Bogies scraping -Welder cut-up
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LIRR Bogies scraping - Cut-up prior to removal
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Bogies waiting for scrap LI City 6/11/17 
Photo: Joseph Aanastasio
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Remaining bogies on the Montauk Cutoff awaiting scrap - 
View SW 6/11/17 Photo: Joseph Aanastasio
Piggyback Service Coming Home To Island -
 Hoped For Change In Fortune for LIRR Freight

Business: [NASSAU AND SUFFOLK Edition]
By Bill Bleyer. Newsday, Combined editions [Long Island, N.Y] 29 Feb 1988 

IN 1884, THE LONG ISLAND Rail Road invented a concept that is now embraced by freight railroads across the country. Farm wagons filled with produce were loaded onto trains on the Island and carried by rail to Long Island City. This technique of placing road vehicles on a train is now called piggyback service.

"They invented the piggyback concept," said rail historian Ron Ziel. "They would fit about three wagons on each flatcar, take them to Long Island City and float them by ferryboat to Manhattan and sell the produce."

The pioneering piggyback service died off shortly after the turn of the century. "They were hauling 300,000 freight cars a year then," Ziel said. At that point, with the railroad operating its own express and delivery service, it became cheaper for the farmers to crate their products, ship them by rail car and leave their wagons home.

But the idea of combining different modes of transportation in one product's trip - now called intermodal shipping - is coming back to the LIRR this year. And the railroad says it will play an important part in an anticipated turnaround of the LIRR's troubled freight operation.

The rail freight business on the Island has been evaporating for decades under the competitive pressure of the trucking industry as the LIRR directed its resources to its commuters.

But the freight operation has survived through a restructuring that has slashed staff and costs and increased business and revenue. What makes that survival more impressive is that it came despite the fact that the state's subsidies for rail freight ended last spring.

Nevertheless, the outlook for LIRR rail freight is better than it has been in decades, said Dan Cleary, the LIRR general manager for freight. New capital improvements funded by the state and new technology are drawing additional customers in the traditional LIRR rail freight market: lumber and paper, food products, plastics and rock salt.

Railroad president Bruce McIver insists, however, that for the LIRR freight system to sustain itself for the long haul, the various small rail freight operators in the metropolitan area must be consolidated. He says another requirement for survival is LIRR union concessions on work rules that he said put trains at a disadvantage with trucks. McIver believes that it would not be worth keeping the freight division going on a subsistence level.

The number of carloads of freight carried by the LIRR has fallen by more than half in the past decade, but has leveled off in the past three years. Last year, the railroad carried 17,131 carloads - slightly more than it expected - despite an 11day strike in January.

"We consider that good performance, with the work stoppage and the closing of a boxboard operation in Syosset that accounted for a drop of 830 cars and a half-million dollars in revenue," Cleary said.

This year, the line is projecting 17,516 carloads. To help reach that goal, the railroad will institute limited piggyback service to Nassau County. And it will use a newly developed variation with a piece of equipment called a "bogie" to carry cargo containers under low bridges in Mineola and out to Suffolk. One impetus for devising these new types of service was the state phaseout of its freight operating subsidies. The state, which feels rail freight should be self-sufficient, gave the LIRR $375,000 in the last year of the aid.

"We got more efficient when we didn't have the subsidies," Cleary said. Employees were cut from 96 at the end of 1986 to 89 by increased use of computers and revising schedules.

Using $5.3 million in state capital improvement funds, the LIRR built new facilities, including a "pit track" in Long Island City. This loading area completed in November has a depressed track between two high ramps so cars can be unloaded without lowering goods to the ground.

The improvements have attracted new customers. Coors beer that used to come to Long Island from a New Jersey warehouse by truck now comes by rail to Long Island City. Pillsbury began shipping flour from Buffalo by rail last year instead of trucking it to Brooklyn.

More improvements are in progress. Since 1984, the railroad has been lowering the track on its Bay Ridge freight branch so that taller freight cars can get under the bridges. This work will be completed by June and allow the LIRR to get back into piggyback service. Cleary said, "We hope by July to be able to bring direct trailer-on-flatcar and container-on-flatcar service to Long Island." Because there is a bridge clearance problem at Mineola - to be resolved when grade-crossings are eliminated - the railroad is looking at a temporary terminal west of Mineola for unloading the truck trailers.

The LIRR is also planning to begin testing the bogie system in April. A bogie is basically a set of railroad car wheels onto which a trailer or shipping container can be loaded. The bogies are lower to the ground than a flatcar, so a train made up of containers on bogies could clear the Mineola bridges and be taken to Farmingdale for unloading, Cleary said.

The railroad will lease the bogies for a four month trial. Cleary said he has a commitment from one trucking company to try the system with 10 containers a day roundtrip five days a week. If the system proves profitable, the railroad would set up a terminal in Holtsville.

"I think it will be an important area of new business for us," McIver said. George Pezold, executive director of the Freight Users Association of Long Island, a shippers' trade group, said, "I think people who are shipping goods certainly will embrace it."

Those who ship by rail agree with the railroads that long-term viability will only come when the four operators who carry rail freight in the New York metropolitan area are consolidated. Besides the LIRR, there is New York Cross Harbor, which barges cars across New York Harbor; Conrail, once a federally subsidized railroad that went public with a stock offering; and the South Brooklyn Railroad, owned by the New York City Transit Authority.

"It's got to happen," Pezold said. "The question is where does it start." Robert Gwin, head of the state transportation department rail freight unit, said, "We're looking for a private solution." While some private firms have expressed interest in taking over the separate rail freight component, no deals have been consummated. Some rail and shipping experts believe the only way that regionalization would ever occur is if the financially precarious Cross Harbor fails and the LIRR takes over that operation and the South Brooklyn. McIver and the shippers say the other important initiative is to change union contracts that are outdated and expensive. "If we take a train out of the Fresh Pond yard {in Queens}, we have to pay the engineer an extra day's pay to have him leave the yard to pick up a car in Brooklyn. That's bizarre."

Joseph Cassidy Jr., general chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, said, "Mr. McIver is talking about a multitude of concessions from the employees. At this very minute there are a total of eight engineers in the freight department, and they are working anywhere from 10 to 12 hours a day." He said the union would bend on work rules if the railroad grants other concessions. On the Track LIRR freight carried, in thousands of carloads

1976 53,417
1977 47,265
1978 42,674
1979 42,143
1980 39,615
1981 31,360
1982 21,442
1983 18,141
1984 20,002
1985 17,346
1986 17,459
1987 17,131 (reflects 11-day strike in January)
1988 17,516 cars (projected)

New LIRR Freight Setup on a Roll

[NASSAU AND SUFFOLK Edition]
By Bill Bleyer. Newsday, Combined editions [Long Island, N.Y] 24 Apr 1990.

A Long Island Rail Road crane operator yesterday deftly plucked truck trailers from the side of a Farmingdale road and carefully placed them on blue frames set on top of railroad wheels on an adjacent siding. It took only about three minutes for each trailer to slide into place with a metallic thump in preparation for the trip to New York City.

Gilbert Carmichael, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, and Rep. Robert Mrazek (D-Centerport), who had been invited to see how the unusual freight system works, were impressed. That should help the railroad's chances of getting federal funds to expand the operation.

The odd-looking blue frames that Carmichael and Mrazek examined are called "bogies." They allow truck trailers and shipping containers to be carried over LIRR tracks despite low clearance of bridges.

The LIRR began experimenting with bogies in the fall of 1988 as a way of increasing its freight business and reducing truck traffic that clogs local highways. Now the railroad is poised to vastly expand its service.

The LIRR has gotten a $924,000 state grant that will be used to buy the 10 bogies the LIRR is currently leasing from the manufacturer, Berwick Freight Car Co., and to purchase an additional 30.

Now the railroad is seeking $1.3 million in federal funds to upgrade its temporary terminal in Farmingdale and another depot in New Jersey operated by the New York Cross Harbor Railroad, which carries LIRR freight on barges across New York Harbor.

"It looks very promising," Carmichael said. His agency has deemed bogies to be safe for operation on the rails with a current limit of 15 trailers per train. The limit was imposed because bogies are not like traditional piggyback operations in which trailers or containers ride on the back of flat cars. With bogies, the trailer or container serves as the frame to hold the wheels together to form the train.

"I want to get the freight business back on the railroad where it belongs," Carmichael said. "I think about 85 percent of the freight revenues are now out there on the highways. We've got tremendous [rail! capacity that is not even being used."

Mrazek said if the federal railroad agency did not provide funds for expanding the bogie system, he would find funds in Congress. "This seems an awfully simple way to accomplish everything we're trying to do," he said. "This is something that could reduce traffic congestion."

George Pezold, general counsel of the Freight Users Association of Long Island, a shippers' trade group, said, "We have heard good reports. The limitations on the system at this point are the space and facilities on the eastern end in Farmingdale for unloading the bogies and stacking up the trailers and containers." He suggested that the railroad should have freight terminals at Republic Airport, the Hicksville area and Ronkonkoma.