Christmas Eve trains on the Rochester Subdivision

CSXT 911 leads priority intermodal train I004-23 at Memphis, New York.

On Christmas Eve morning, we woke up to snow on the ground. After the youngsters played in the snow for a few hours, my oldest and I ventured out to find some trains on CSX's Rochester Subdivision before the snow melted. We wound up at Memphis, New York, where I could safely park at a trailhead along the Erie Canal Trail, and the little one could watch safely from the car. Throughout two short visits to Memphis, we saw five trains.

Memphis, New York

Located about ten miles west of Syracuse, New York, Memphis is a hamlet in the Village of Van Buren, New York. Memphis is one of ten locations along the Rochester Subdivision with defect detectors. Both Track 1 and Track 2 have detectors at QC302.6, just to the west of Bennetts Corners Road. Both tracks have hotbox detectors (HBD) and dragging equipment detectors (DED). 

The Rochester Subdivision was part of the old New York Central Water Level Route. When the NYC and Pennsylvania Railroad merged, the line became part of the Penn Central. Eventually, the line became part of Conrail and then CSX. In 1999, Conrail got divided up between CSX and Norfolk Southern

The defect detector on Track 2 of the Rochester Subdivision, at Memphis, NY
Looking west, at the HBD-DED on Track 2 of the Rochester Subdivision, at Memphis, NY.

CSXT 523 leading Q367-23

The first visit to Memphis lasted about thirty minutes, and we saw four trains. The first train to show up was westbound manifest train Q367-23, led by CSXT 523, CSXT 823, and CSXT 3457. It came through town blowing up a cloud of snow on Track 1. Q367 runs from CSX's Selkirk Yard, in Selkirk, New York, to The Belt Railway of Chicago's Clearing Yard, at Bedford Park, Illinois. Q367-23 was terminated at Willard, Ohio, and became X367-25, due to the Christmas holiday and a shortage of crews. X367-25 continued to Clearing Yard.

Q367-23, led by CSXT 523, CSXT 823, and CSXT 3457, at MP QC302
Q367-23, led by CSXT 523 (YN2 paint scheme), is rolling past MP QC302.

CSXT 3216 leading Q363-24

Eleven minutes later, manifest train Q363-24 showed up. It was rolling westbound on Track 1. CSXT 3216 was the sole locomotive on the point of Q363, though the train did have a mid-train distributed power unit (commonly referred to as DP or DPU). Track 1 of the subdivision is generally used for westbound trains, while Track 2 is for eastbound trains. However, the entire subdivision is bi-directionally signaled, so trains can move east or west on either track.

CSXT 3216 leads Q363-24 on Track 1 of the Rochester Sub. at MP QC302
CSXT 3216 leads Q363-24 on Track 1 of the Rochester Sub. at MP QC302.

CSXT 911 leading I004-23

Next up was priority intermodal train I004-23, with CSXT 911 leading. I004-23 (formerly Q004) showed up four minutes after Q363-24 passed by. CSXT 911 is one of three commemorative locomotives representing CSX's Pride in Service program. CSXT 911 is the "Spirit of our first responders" locomotive. Priority intermodal train I004 runs daily from Bedford Park (near Chicago), Illinois, to South Kearny, New Jersey.

CSXT 911 "Spirit of our first responders" leads I004-23 at Memphis, NY
CSXT 911 "Spirit of our first responders" leads I004-23 at Memphis, NY.

CSXT 898 leading I009

The last train we saw during the first visit to Memphis was I009-23, another priority intermodal train. I009 arrived nine minutes later, hustling west on Track 1. I009-23 was led by CSXT 898 and CSXT 3416. The train runs daily from Port Newark, New Jersey, to Bedford Park, Illinois, and makes a stop to work at DeWitt Yard in the Syracuse area.

CSXT 848 and CSXT 3416 lead I009-23 west at Memphis, NY
CSXT 848 and CSXT 3416 lead I009-23 west at Memphis, NY.

Empire Service Train P064

After a break to grab a late lunch, we headed back to Memphis to catch another train. Normally train P064 runs as Amtrak's Maple Leaf. These days, due to the COVID pandemic, the Maple Leaf has been temporarily reclassified as an Empire Service train due to the train not crossing the Canada-US border. P064 originates, for now, at Niagara Falls, New York. 

AMTK 715 leads train P064 east at Memphis, NY.

Photographs taken on December 24, 2021, at Memphis, New York.
Post updated on January 19, 2022.


  1. Neat to see so many trains in such a short time, great shots. The CSX 1st Responders colors are even kind of Christmasy for the day. A great way to spend Christmas Eve I think. Hope you had a happy one!

    1. It was a very good outing with the snow and trains. The Rochester Subdivision has an average of about 40 trains a day. However, on this day, it only saw thirty-one trains, so seeing so many trains in such a short timeframe was nice.


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