April 24, 2005 and the eastbound NS 167 manifest is seen near the east switch at Coapman (siding) in East St. Louis, Illinois. During my 4+ years living in Belleville, IL, I rarely photographed trains at Coapman, preferring to wait until the eastbounds got to Belleville a little while after receiving the track warrant. However, during my return trip to railfan the line in April 2005 I ventured to Coapman on a quiet Sunday morning and caught a couple of eastbounds.
Site Map


I hope the information in this page benefits you while railfanning the Norfolk Southern Southern-West District. Most of the hyperlinks embedded in the main text link to my photographs taken along the route. Many of the photographs are uploaded at RailPictures.net; you can click here to view all my photos at RailPictures.net. Many more photos have been uploaded to my Photo Bucket site...please feel free to check 'em out.

A new feature to this website is the addition of hyperlinks to satellite images located at the Windows Live Local website. Please click on
the U-2 icons: (I chose this over a satellite) interspersed throughout this page for a satellite image/notes of the location(s) discussed in the text.


If you're reading this page, you're probably a railfan. As a fellow railfan, I endeavour to conduct my hobby in as safe a manner as possible while trying to see and photograph trains whenever/wherever they are. We all know the drill about not trespassing on railroad property, not interferring with the business of running railroads, respecting private property, etc etc. I encourage you to do the same so we and future railfans can continue to enjoy our hobby. I am not affiliated with a railroad or official entity in any way. I am simply a railfan who enjoys trains and this page exists solely to share with other railfans what I have learned about the Norfolk Southern "Southern West" District.

This page is dedicated to the Norfolk Southern employees, past and present, who work so hard to maintain and operate all aspects of the Southern West District. During my tenure in Illinois, I became acquainted with many train crews who proved most friendly. To all of you, thanks for your efforts!!

Table of Contents

Locations are listed in geographic sequence progressing east.
Click a link to go to a description of that location. Use the 'back' button on your browser to return to the Table of Contents.


Scanner Tips


Block Signals

Motive Power

Luther Yard

A. O. Smith Yard

V&C Junction

TRRA Connection

A&S Junction

Coapman Yard


New Baden


Monterey Mine





Shattuc siding

Centralia West


ICG Crossing

Centralia East

Walnut Hill


Mt. Vernon

UP Crossing




Wayne City




Golden Gate





SB Junction

Mt. Carmel


Princeton West

CSXT Crossing

West Douglas

East Douglas

Train Operations

Photo Index


My guide covers the line from west to east, beginning in East St. Louis, Illinois and ending in Centralia, Illinois. For continuity, I've listed all the stations, mileposts, and detectors between East St. Louis and the east end of the subdivision at Princeton, IN. I've also included some discussion of the Luther and A.O. Smith Yards since most of the trains on the line either originate/terminate (A.O. Smith) or crew change (Luther) there. As described below, most of my time railfanning the district was spent west of Centralia. I did make a few trips east of Centralia, so I've included some information and photos for those.

I spent nearly 4 1/2 years living in Belleville, Illinois, from Feb 2000 to June 2004. When I first arrived there as a budding railfan and train photographer, I immediately became interested with the operations of the Norfolk Southern. Since the line passed within 1 mile of my home, it was fairly easy for me to get out and view the action. With ample photo ops, Track Warrant Control, a reasonable amount of predictable traffic, and NS' wide variety of motive power the line became a favorite of mine. What follows is my version of a guide to railfanning the line. Of course, respect for railroad operations is paramount and at no times should a railfan trespass on railroad property, or interfere with railroad operations. Plenty of public property locations exist from which to safely view and photograph the action.

During my time in Belleville, NS dispatching operations relocated from Somerset, Kentucky to Decatur, Illinois. The amount of traffic remained fairly constant, with an average of 7 or 8 trains daily in each direction, many in daylight hours. Some trains were predominatly night-time trains, but on occasion I was able to catch them during daylight hours, either because they were either extremely early or late departing St. Louis. The only train which seemingly operated consistently "on schedule" during darkness was the westbound priority autoparts train #114. The one opportunity I had to catch him during summer late afternoon daylight, I just missed the photo opportunity by arriving a couple minutes late after hearing him calling signals in my vicinity. Trying to chase a train west through Belleville is almost a lost cause as no one street follows the line. Since my departure from the area in June 2004, I learned some new train symbols have begun to appear and in the spring of 2005 I made a return trip to the area for a few days of railfanning on my favorite stretch of this railroad. (See notes near bottom)

Radio Chatter

A good scanner and antenna setup will help you while railfanning the line.

AAR 56 / 160.950 -- Luther Operator / Decatur Dispatcher / Road Channel: Detectors, calling signals, road communications, etc.
AAR 26 / 160.500 -- Terminal RR Luther to Coapman
AAR 48 / 160.830 -- Decatur Dispatcher
AAR 09 / 160.245 -- "Channel 2" Track Warrants issued on this channel.
AAR 67 / 161.115 -- EOT Telemetry signal
AAR 66 / 161.100 -- BNSF Beardstown Dispatcher (Centalia)
AAR 72 / 161.190 -- CN(IC) B Yard Operator (Centralia)

Track Warrant Control is used on the former Southern line all the way to the next crew change at Princeton, Indiana. Trains will tone the NS dispatcher in Decatur, Illinois on the road channel (160.950) once they are on NS trackage in Coapman Yard. Coapman is basically a shell of its' former self, existing today as little more than a main track and long passing siding. The dispatcher will answer with instructions to switch to Channel 2 (160.245) for the track warrant. If you're close enough to the train, you might hear both sides of the conversation if you program 160.830. If you're familiar with NS' track warrants, you should have no problem understanding the lingo. Usually warrants are issued from Coapman to either the next passing siding, located at New Baden, IL (MP 33.6) or Shattuc (siding) at MP 57. Occasionally, Centralia, or Mt. Vernon are destinations and one time I heard a warrant from Coapman to Princeton West (one end of the district to the other!) Tri-color signals control the blocks and by default show a green (clear) aspect, changing to yellow or red as adjacent blocks are occupied. Train crews must "call" the signals (with corresponding mile post) as they approach them, providing the scanner-equipped railfan with positive feedback of a trains' progress as well as other potentially interesting bits of information.

Along the journey through Coapman, the NS crosses the triple tracks of the Alton & Southern. Occasionally, NS trains will have to wait for the clear signal before crossing the A&S, often at considerable delay. A couple miles past the A&S, the line goes to single track at the MP 8.3 and continues east toward Belleville, Illinois. A modest grade rules the line to about MP 19, and plenty of interesting (and safe) photo ops exist through Belleville and all the way to Princeton, IN. A Delorme atlas is indespensible and, as usual, shows the line in typical detail. At the Mile Post 24, Illinois Route 161 starts to roughly parallel the line all the way to Centralia, at times only about 50-100 feet from the tracks, providing some potentially exciting close-up chasing action.

Typical Track Warrant verbiage (assuming you can't hear the train crew side of the conversation)
-(Tone) -Dispatcher: "NS Dispatcher Decatur, over."(silent pause while train crew identifies their train and location)
-Dispatcher: "Channel 2, One-eleven. (train I.D.)"
-Dispatcher: "Let's make this track warrant 587, dated 29 Feb 2004, to the NS, that's the Norfolk Southern, 9876 east E-A-S-T at Coapman. Check box 2 T-W-O proceed from Coapman to New Baden on the main M-A-I-N track. Check box 5 F-I-V-E that's not in effect until after the arrival of the Norfolk Southern 2586 west W-E-S-T at -Coapman. Check box 6 S-I-X hold main track at last named point. This track warrant has 3 T-H-R-E-E boxes checked, 2, 5, and 6. Dispatcher XYZ, over."
-(Silence while crew reads back verbatim the track warrant)
-Dispatcher: "Track warrant 587 OK at 5-5-7 in the PM over."

Motive Power

Typically, modern 6-axle units dominate the motive power on the line but just about any NS unit can show up leading a train. With over 1100 Dash 9-40CWs on the roster, these units are, naturally, very common. SD70s and SD70Ms are popular as well and you'll likely see standard cab C39-8s, D8-40Cs, and D9-40Cs. And by now (Feb 2006), the ES40DCs and SD70M-2s have started working their way into St. Louis. Hi-nose SD40-2s are still well represented on the roster and might show up now and then. Just about any NS unit can be seen as part of the consist, including the increasingly-rare Conrail painted units. Because of track restrictions on the industry spurs, the D76 local usually operates with a 4-axle GP-series, though D8-32Bs are not unheard of. 6-axle units on the local are extremely rare, though I did see an SD40-2 operating the D76 for a couple of days before it was replaced with a 4-axle unit.

Foreign power is common as well. BNSF and UP run-through power was popular during my time in Illinois, as well as power from the other Class 1s and regionals. Just like anywhere else, leasing company units occasionally show up in power consists.

Photography on the line

Within the descriptions of the locations, I mention some interesting photo locations, typically for morning eastbound trains. If westbound photos are good from this location, I've so noted. Many small streets in Belleville cross the tracks, so lots of horn action provide ample warning of an approaching train. Be aware the CN (IC) line through Belleville can also be heard, so an audible horn may in fact be on the CN and not the NS.

Block Signals
In my way of thinking, the milepost designations of the block signals are logically identified to the nearest tenth of a mile. Even tenths are eastbound and odd tenths are westbound. Again, by my way of thinking the designation should refer to the tenth of a mile the train is entering. For example, the MP 19.2 signal is visible to an eastbound train and the signal is located at the beginning of the second tenth of a mile in mile 19. Likewise the signal located across the tracks facing the opposite direction is identified as the 19.1 as a westbound train is entering the first tenth of a mile in mile 19. Of the signals I've identified/photographed between East St. Louis and Centralia, most follow this logic. Some exceptions are:

8.2 / 8.3 (should be either the 8.4 or 8.1)
10.0 / 10.1 (should be either the 10.2 or 9.9)
14.6 / 14.7 (should be either the 14.8 or 14.5)
23.8 / 23.9 (should be either the 24.0 or 23.7)
38.0 / 38.1 (should be either the 38.2 or 37.9)
42.2 / 42.3 (should be either the 42.4 or 42.1)

Many of the signal pairs only have one milepost sign on them, but the train crews usually call them "correctly" (based on the logic described above.) I identified/photographed just a few of the signals between Centralia and Princeton, so I can't say how the majority stand up to my logic.

Luther Yard

Luther Yard is Norfolk Southern's major yard in the St Louis area. It is located north of St. Louis, Missouri a few miles north of the famous St. Louis Gateway Arch. The yard and engine facility are easily reached from I-70 by taking either the Adelaide Ave or Grand Ave exits to the east. Less than a mile east of I-70, both these streets "t-bone" Hall St...drive north on Hall and the yard can be found to the west less than a mile north of Adelaide Ave. Operations can be safely observed from public property. Carrie Ave can be considered the southern boundary and is a suitable place to observe from. A varied selection of NS motive power is usually clustered around the engine facility though good photo ops of these units are typically only available from within company property. Occasionally, power will move south toward Carrie Ave and beyond, making for good photo ops. The yard is aligned basically on a north-south orientation with best photo ops in the morning. Of note, the NS main continues west to Kansas City. A few miles west of Luther, in the vicinity of St. Louis Lambert Airport, is the small yard at Berkeley, Missouri. Trains 114 and 115 used to operate to/from Berkeley, serving the Ford Motor auto plant here. To my knowledge, no NS trains on this line call Luther "home" though this is a major crew change. (Some trains on the former Wabash to Decatur, IL may originate/terminate at Luther. These trains cross the Merchants Bridge and turn north, passing through Granite City and travel north past Lenox Tower before heading out of town.)

Eastbound trains depart Luther in a southerly direction, proceeding a couple miles to Grand Avenue (May St. Interlocking) where they wait for the signal to proceed across the Mississippi River via the Merchants Bridge on TRRA trackage. Once across the river, they proceed east, then south, along the east side of the TRRA Madison Yard in Venice, Illinois. Once past Madison, the line continues south, passing Willows Tower before winding towards East St. Louis and passing beneath I-64. TRRA trackage is used all the way to the remnants of the former Southern Railway Coapman Yard, where trains turn 90-degrees to the east (left) to enter NS territory. The former Coapman Yard is located in the heart of East St. Louis, Illinois and caution should be exercised when rail- fanning in this area. A male companion and a vehicle in good working order are a good idea when travelling this area.

A.O. Smith Yard

A couple of trains on this line originate/terminate at A.O. Smith, in Granite City, Illinois. A slightly different route is used to reach A.O. Smith. I'll illustrate this with a westbound routing. Instead of turning to the north on the TRRA at the west end of Coapman, train 168 crosses the TRRA and makes a right hand turn onto the former V&C (Venice & Carondelet), located a short distance to the west of the TRRA interlocker. The V&C roughly parallels the TRRA up to the south end of the TRRA Madison Yard, then veers to the left and after crossing Route 3, it takes a fairly direct routing north to reach A. O. Smith. Eastbound trains 283 and 69G originate at A. O. Smith. *Note: Train 167 now originates at Madison Yard, instead of A.O. Smith. Not that long ago, the power for the westbound 375 manifest (Columbus, OH to A&S) used to run light to A.O. Smith after dropping the train off along the Coapman passing track near the A&S crossing. This power was then usually assigned to the eastbound 167 later that day. I'm not sure if this practice still exists in 2006.

V & C Junction -- MP 4.4

The junction with the V & C Junction is deep within East St. Louis and is where trains to/from A.O. Smith connect to the NS mainline. It is just a short distance west of the TRRA Connection.

Terminal RR Connection -- MP 4.8

The junction with the TRRA is also deep within East St. Louis and is where trains to/from Luther Yard connect to the NS mainline. This is also the western limits of Coapman Yard. The Coapman passing siding begins just east of the junction. Incidentally, the southbound TRRA continues a short distance to Valley Junction.

-- MP 6.3

Also deep within East St. Louis is A&S Junction, where the parallel NS tracks cross the triple tracks of the Alton & Southern. Accessible from surface streets, this location provides an interesting photo op of an eastbound passing beneath the cantilever signal bridge protecting the crossing. Caution in this area is highly advised. Also in this vicinity is the interchange track between the NS and A&S. Westbound train #375 terminates here after its' journey from Columbus, Ohio. Eastbound train #167 typically picks up a block of cars here daily before getting a track warrant, having taken over this duty from train eastbound #376 which now apparently originates at Louisville, KY.

--MP 7.1/7.2 Block Signal Location.

-- MP 8.3

(Coapman Yard Limits) The east switch at Coapman is near the Route 163 grade crossing, and nice morning eastbound photos can be made here. Be aware of your surroundings. Just a short distance south of here, the CN (IC) crosses Route 163 at the location known as "Church."

-Route 157 Grade Crossing. After departing Coapman to the east, the line continues on fairly level ground for a mile or so before starting to climb out of the Mississippi River Bottoms. Route 157 crosses the line at grade and is a decent location for photos in either direction. Be aware of your surroundings.

-MP 9.5 (South side of Our Lady of the Snows Shrine) This location is off Route 13 and provides a close up of view of the action as trains begin to negotiate the grade while rounding a sweeping bend. Grade crossings to the west (Route 157 being one) provide indication of an approaching train. Once a track warrant is issued at Coapman, expect about a 10 minute wait for the train. Additionally, the CN (IC) main is located immediately south of this location, though mostly obstructed by trees.

--MP 10.0/10.1 Block Signal Location.

-MP 10.3 Route 15 overpass. Acceptable spot for a morning eastbound...a possibility for a westbound. Overpass covers the NS and CN(IC) mains. Narrow shoulder - use extreme caution when taking a photo.

-MP 13 75th Street overpass. Good morning spot for an eastbound. Small parking lot south of the bridge provides a place to park...walk to the overpass. Due to numerous trees, late afternoons in the summer provide a short window when the sun is positioned for a westbound. Good luck!!

-MP 13.19 Negwer Materials. First industry spur and a decent photo location with a place to park. Spur is on south side of mainline.

-MP 13.2 Defect detector

--MP 14.6/14.7 Block Signal Location.

-MP 14.9 Weyerhauser. Second industry spur...pretty well hidden. Spur is on south side of mainline.

-- MP 16
Nice sweeping curve with a short passing track and stub track south of the main-also suitable for afternoon photos. 17th street crosses the tracks at this spot. Maint. of Way usually camps out here when major trackwork is taking place along this portion of the line. Sometimes an old gondola is set out here. Local train D76 clears the main here at times for mainline traffic as well as using the passing track to run around the train to work Newger Materials and Weyerhauser. Due to numerous trees along the right of way, Weyerhauser is not readily accessible for photo ops but a railfan on foot might be able to get a photo of D76 working the spur.

--MP 16.7/16.8 Block Signal Location, visible to the west from the grade crossing near the skate park.

-MP 17.5 North End Park / Route 159 grade crossing. This major grade crossing is also near the site of the former passenger station from a bygone era, as well as a former interchange with the L&N. The former CSX (L&N) right of way (overpass) is just east of the park and is now used by light-rail Metrolink trains. Decent morning spot for eastbounds...try to get an afternoon "over/under" of a westbound NS train with a Metrolink on the overpass.

-MP 18.5 Lebanon Avenue grade crossing.

Bach's Auto Body shop is in the southwest corner of the grade crossing and provides a place to park while waiting for trains. Great spot for morning eastbounds as they round the bend down in the trees and approach the grade crossing. Also works in the afternoon for a westbound. During my time, Bach's was tolerant of me parking in their small lot but space may be limited. Ask for permission on workdays...weekends usually present no problem at all. If the lot is full, try parking in the field across the street.

-Red Board Hobbies...Old Collinsville Road in the Subway restaurant mini-mall...back of the building faces the tracks. Summer 2005 the shop relocated here. Pay 'em a visit!!

-MP 18.8 Illinois Power spur. Rarely switched...just east of the Old Collinsville Rd grade crossing (next one east after Lebanon Avenue.) Spur is on south side of mainline.

--MP 19.1/19.2 Block Signal location.

--MP 21.5/21.6 Block Signal location. Quiet spot to watch trains. Metrolink grade crossing just south of here.

-MP 23 Illinois Route 158 overpass. This overpass is just west of the Metrolink overpass/extension to the Scott/Shiloh station. Due to proximity to the air base, caution should be exercised. Loitering on the bridge for a photo might excite the base Security Forces...enough said. An over/under Metrolink/NS photo is a possibility...check out this faux over/under composite of 2 separate photos. My buddy, the late, great Air Nikon created the image for me several years ago from two of my separate images. I never did catch an over/under shot here.

--MP 23.8/23.9 Block Signal location.

-MP 24.9 Defect detector

--MP 26.5/26.6 Block Signal location. Hidden in forest between Routes 158 and Route 4.

--MP 28.7/28.8 Block Signal location. Accessible via a farm road off Route 161.

As stated earlier, from this point east, Illinois Route 161 follows the route, and the rails are usually within sight from the road, to the north. By now, trains have usually reached road speed and provide a challenging chase east. Just west of New Baden, Route 161 makes a 90-degree bend north then east again, crossing the NS at grade and placing the tracks back on the south side of 161. The town of New Baden is just a few miles east of the air base and is the location of a 10K foot passing siding. On several occasions, I've witnessed 5-way meets here; typically the meet is between just one in each direction. Both ends of the siding are located at grade crossings and are easily and safely viewable from public property. NS crews on this line are usually quite friendly and many are willing to engage in a chat if they are on the ground waiting for a meet...you might glean information on additional following traffic if you happen to be there for a meet and ask the crew.

--MP 31.1/31.2 Block Signal location. Accessible via road off Route 161.

-MP 32 Short stub spur and grain elevators.

-MP 33.6 West end of New Baden siding & "home" block signal. Siding is 10299' long. When an eastbound passes the signal at MP 19.2 in Belleville, the signal at 33.6 drops to red. This is an indication that a train is on the way. The intermediate signals (21.6, 23.9, 26.6, 28.8 and 31.2) change to yellow then red as the train occupies the successive blocks. I think the signal at MP 44.3 is also a home signal, dropping to red when a train leaves the east end of New Baden, but I'm not positive of this as I rarely observed this signal.

--MP 34.5 New Baden station sign located about mid point of the siding, accessible off Route 161.

-MP 36. East end of New Baden siding. Accessible by road off Route 161.

Plenty of decent photo ops exist along the line east of New Baden. At most towns a short siding exists, usually at a grain elevator. Just east of Albers, the line crosses Route 161 at grade again and is again located on the north side of the tracks. For about 4 miles between Germantown and Bartelso, the line diverges away from the highway but converges back towards it near Bartelso.

--MP 37.8 - town / station sign. Also a short siding.

-MP 38.0/38.1 Block Signal.

--MP 38.6 Monterey Mine station sign. Location of former Monterey Mine spur. No switch in this location anymore. Check out Google Earth or local.live.com for a satellite view of the mine/tracks. Local.live.com image is older and shows the silos still in place.

-MP 40.2 Defect detector

--MP 42.2/42.3 Block Signal. Germantown. No station sign that I know of.

--MP 44.4/44.3 Block Signal.

--MP 46.2 Bartelso - town / station sign..

-MP 48.8 Defect detector

-MP 51.0/51.1 Block Signal

--MP 52.9 Posey - town / station sign. (overpass...good for afternoon eastbounds)

-MP 55.5/55.6 Defect detector / Block Signal Location

--MP 57.6 - town / station sign.

-MP 58.4 Shattuc: Second passing siding east of Coapman. 10466' long. I don't think there is a station sign here. The siding at Shattuc (not to be confused with the town of the same name about 5 miles north, at the junction of the BNSF and CSX) is located just east of Hoffman in the middle of farmer's fields. The siding has a nice shallow S-curve within it, providing a decent photo of an afternoon westbound. Several dirt access roads off Route 161 will get you near the tracks, since the tracks are a few hundred yards distant from Route 161 at Shattuc. The east end of Shattuc is identified as "Centralia West" by the railroad and has a station sign at the location.

--MP 60.5 Centralia West station sign / Yard Limits. East end of Shattuc siding. Accessible by road off Route 161.

This location is still about 3 miles west of Centralia proper, where the NS line temporarily converges into BNSF trackage for the short run through downtown Centralia. Shattuc Road "t-bones" 161 and is used to access "Centralia West." Head north on Shattuc Road (less than a mile) and after crossing the tracks, immediately turn left on the public road. The east switch is about a quarter mile west. The single trackage east of here is pretty much inaccessible to the public until you reach Joliff Bridge Road, just past the Walmart and Jack in the Box in Centralia, on the north side of 161. A short distance west of Joliff Bridge Road, the line becomes double-track again and this location is referred to as "New Pass" by the railroad.

--MP 64.2 Centralia station sign and crew shack.

From Joliff Bridge Road, you can turn right and parallel the "New Pass" up to the cantilever signal bridge at MP 64, immediately west of the BNSF yard and NS 'shack.' At some point during their run through Centralia, NS crews report their "shack time" to the dispatcher over the radio. But before an NS train can run through Centralia, they must get permission from both the BNSF and CN. Per the rulebook, when an eastbound has arrived at Shattuc, the NS crew will tone up the BNSF asking for permission to run on their trackage. Once granted, they'll call up the CN B-Yard operator for permission to occupy their interlocker and cross the double-track main. Depending on operations of either (or both) railroads, permission may come immediately or after a sometimes lengthy delay. If one of the 4 daily Amtrak trains is anywhere close to Centralia, NS will be put on the back burner until Amtrak is out of town. I used to spend a considerable amount of time in Centrlia and I've heard some pretty interesting banter on the scanner...usually between NS crews and their dispatcher explaining the delays encountered courtesy of the CN.

Centralia is an excellent place to watch trains. It may not be the busiest "hot spot" but there are plenty of interesting locations. The tracks run north/south through the downtown area and plenty of parking is available to safely watch the action. Since both sides of the tracks are easily accessible, photos can be made throughout the day. A good morning starting point is the new Amtrak station, for a semi-improved parking lot surrounding of the station proper provides a great view of the Canadian National (former Illinois Central) double track CN. As viewed from the station, across the tracks to the west is the parallel single track BNSF. NS trains use the BNSF track for about a couple of miles until shortly after crossing over the CN. At the NS MP 66.1 the NS diverges away from the BNSF and heads in a south-easterly direction, winding towards Mt. Vernon, Illinois and points east. I encourage you to explore the line east of Centralia. While not as readily accessible as the line west of Centralia, plenty of great photo spots exist to the east. Mt. Vernon and the National Railway Equipment shops and UP main provide a good stopping point while making your way along the Southern-West district all the way to Princeton, Indiana.

Local train D76 operates weekdays between Centralia and St Louis. Typically, it departs Centralia westbound around daybreak. Return is usually in the late morning. Once back at Centralia, the local changes to D77 and works points east, sometimes as far as Wayne City, IL, and usually arrives back in Centralia in late afternoon. Power is tied down adjacent to the NS 'shack' adjacent to the BNSF yard. Usually a 4-axle GP-series unit works the local to restrictions on 6-axle units on the industry spurs, however, on one occasion I did photograph an SD40-2 operating the D76 for a few days until replaced by a GE B32-8. Power on the D76 usually rotates every few weeks.

The BNSF yard is a crew change for the decent amount of coal trains that run though Centralia. BNSF also operate a local to/from Paducah, Kentucky. Additionally, BNSF serve the Duncan Hines factory visible to the south from the Amtrak station.

A fair amount of CN traffic can be expected...much of it at night. Traffic is not as heavy as it was during my time in Illinois since the CN began directional running using the "Edgewood Cutoff" route east of Centralia. Occasionally, trains will use the CN / BNSF connector track located just south of the Amtrak station.

-MP 64.8 BN Junction. Just south of the Route 161 overpass is where the NS converges into the BNSF track for the run through Centralia.

--MP 66.0 (ICG) CN Crossing

--MP 66.1 Centralia East station sign / Yard Limits. Beginning of NS trackage. Accessible. From this location and travelling east for a mile or so, the NS is literally running through people's backyards. A single lane road right up to the ballast parallels the track, and a slow speed chase right next to a train can be quite fun! Several grade crossings (Route 51 and some surface streets) provide plenty of horn action. Give it a try, but be careful!!

-MP 6n.n Illinois Power Spur.

-MP 71.3 Defect detector

-MP 81.0 Defect detector

-MP 86.1 Mt. Vernon Passing siding. 10687' long.

-MP 87.8 UP Crossing

-MP 93.2 Defect detector

-MP 103.6 Defect detector

-MP 111.7 Moon Passing Siding. 12467' long.

-MP 116.0 Defect detector

-MP 126.1 Golden Gate Passing Siding. 10958' long.

-MP 131.0 Defect detector

-MP 140.7 Simpson Passing Siding. 10468' long.

-MP 143.8 Defect detector

-MP 157.8 Defect detector

-MP 159.8 Princeton West

-MP 162.4 CSXT Crossing

NS Yard Office - Google Earth coordinates: 38 Deg, 20' 30.33" N x 87 Deg, 33' 46.06" W

-MP 163.3 West Douglas Station Sign

-MP 167.2 East Douglas

-MP 168.0 Princeton East

Train Operations

Below is a rundown of last known operations. Road power is usually 2 motors, the exceptions being the 24N and 26Z with usually just 1 motor. 111 is typically seen with more power, as this train often moves surplus power eastbound. I've seen as many as 9 units on 111; suffice it to say that 2 motors on the 111 is the exception rather than the rule. There was a time when Friday's 112 used to pick up the D76 power at Centralia and bring it to Luther Yard for servicing, with the D76 power returning to Centralia on Sunday's 111. I'm not sure if this is still common operating practice.

**Note: I made a return visit to Centralia in April 2005 and noted some changes from when I departed in Jun 2004. Trains 114 and 115 no longer operate. In fact, train 115 is now a westbound autorack train originating at Huntingburg with completed Toyotas. 239 now brings the ex-114 westbound autoparts and 283 now takes the ex-115 autoparts empties eastbound.

167 is no longer an evening train departing from Granite City, IL. It now originates in the morning at the Terminal RR Madison Yard, and uses the previous days 375 power lashup, which runs lite from Coapman to Madison Yard after setting out the freight consist for the A&S. Train 283 still departs from A.O. Smith and now picks up the eastbound freight setout by the A&S.

D76 Local Weekdays St Louis-Centralia (originates in Centralia)
111 Manifest Daily KC-Louisville (continues to Roanoke, VA with different symbol)
167 Manifest Daily TRRA Madison Yard-
223 Intermodal Daily KC-Atlanta
283 Autoracks Daily Granite City-
285 Autoracks Daily KC-
24N Intermodal 1x Weekly KC-
26Z Intermodal 1x Weekly KC-
69G Chemical Weekend Granite City-

D76 Local Weekdays Centralia-St Louis
112 Manifest Daily
115 Autoracks Daily Huntingburg, IN-
168 Manifest Daily
224 Intermodal Daily Atlanta-KC
239 Autoracks Daily -KC
375 Manifest Daily Columbus, OH-Alton&Southern
57E Grain Saturdays

In addition to the "scheduled" trains listed above, the following have operated on an as-required basis fairly consistently:
51T Grain Eastbound
54R Grain Eastbound

Additionally, I heard symbols different from those above: 52Z Grain Eastbound
58Z Grain Westbound
88T Coke Westbound

During Apr 2005, I noted the following "new" train symbols:
25E Autoracks Eastbound
26A Baretables Eastbound (Also noted as empty autoracks on a different day)
44A Grain Eastbound

Finally, extra sections operate on a fairly regular basis. These are identified by an alpha character replacing the first digit: (M=1, I=2, W=3; M67 = extra 167, I85 = extra 285, W75 = extra 375, etc.) Work trains, operate with 900-series symbols per company policy.

Here is a train-by-train breakdown of expected operating schedules

167 - Usually the first daylight departure.
223 - Usually the second departure.
69G - Can operate anytime, usually on Saturday or Sunday.
111 - Typically departs Coapman in the early to mid afternoon.
285 - Usually the first evening departure, most of the time well after dark.
283 - Usually follows the 285.
24N/26Z - Can operate any time.

D76 - Usually on duty 0600-0700. Runs to Belleville and sometimes E. St. Louis. Occasionally the power ends up at Luther Yard before returning east.

224/168/375 - No specific times but they are usually morning arrivals, often meeting an eastbound at New Baden. Occasionally they'll operate in the afternoon, providing a nice opportunity to photograph them in decent lighting.

239/112 - No specific times but they are usually later afternoon arrivals, often meeting the 111 at New Baden.

115 - Nighttime arrival

I hope you've enjoyed my insight on this line and photos along the route. Maybe I've provided you with some inspiration to pay a visit to this line. Unless something drastically affects operations, you should see some decent action. Good luck!!

Photo Index

While my description of the line progresses from west to east, and the photos below progress from west to east, most of the photos listed below were taken facing west. Therefore, the views you will see are not what the head end crew of a theoretical eastbound train would see, but what might be viewed looking west from the rear platform of a theoretical eastbound train.
NS Southern West District trackage

Joining the TRRA

Approaching the TRRA

West end of the
former Coapman Yard

Central Coapman

A&S Setout Track

View to north while
crossing A&S Junction

NS connector at
A&S Junction

A&S Junction

MP 7.1 Signal
Jarvis Place

TRRA trackage between May St. Interlocking and NS Coapman Yard

Approaching May St. Interlocking.
Westward view looking toward May St. Interlocking.
Westward view of Merchants Bridge as seen from IL side of MS River.
Westward view of Merchants Bridge approach on IL side.
East side of TRRA Madison Yard.
Eastbound NS 111 rolls through the TRRA Madison Yard.
Westward view of the Madison yard throat.
Willows Tower at the junction of the CSX(B&O), CSX (CR/PRR), & NS (V&C).
Crossing the CSX (B&O) at Willows Tower.
On the TRRA approaching the EE Jay spur.

NS Southern West District trackage

Westward view of TRRA Connection while turning north onto TRRA.
Westward view of TRRA Connection.
Westward view west end of Coapman Yard limits.
Westward view of the former Coapman Yard area.
A&S Junction triple track diamonds.
Westward view approaching A&S Junction.
A&S Junction connector track.
Westward view of MP 7.1 signal.
Westward view of east end of Coapman Yard limits.
Westward view of MP 8.3 Coapman Yard limits sign.
Westward view of MP 10.1 signal.
Westward view showing NS and CN(IC) tracks near MP 10.1 signal.
Westward view at MP 11.
Westward view at MP 12.3.
Negwer Materials spur.
Weyerhauser spur.

NS Power Photo Index

Here I'll post some photos of fairly interesting NS locos:

Foreign Power Photo Index

As many NS Dash-9s as there are on the line, there is a fair amount of foreign power that polish the rails, some as leaders and some tucked into the loco consist:

Class 1 / Regionals:
Leasing Companies:


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