Finger Lakes Railway

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Finger Lakes Railway
FGLK 1702 EMD GP9.jpg
FGLK #1702, an EMD GP9.
HeadquartersGeneva, New York
Reporting markFGLK
LocaleNew York
Dates of operation1995–present
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Length167 mi (269 km)

The Finger Lakes Railway (reporting mark FGLK) is a Class III railroad in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

The Finger Lakes Railway began operation on July 23, 1995, and operates in Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Ontario, Schuyler and Yates counties.

Between 2001 and 2013, the railroad operated a heritage railroad known as the Finger Lakes Scenic Railway which offered passenger train excursions.[1][2]

The FGLK operates 18 diesel locomotives on 167 miles (269 km) of ex-Conrail trackage, formerly owned by the New York Central Railroad, the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

Route description[edit]

Main line[edit]

FGLK main route runs from Syracuse to Canandaigua, New York over a distance of 76 miles. Once part of the New York Central Railroad and known as the Auburn Road, it dates all the way back to the Auburn and Syracuse Railroad.

At Syracuse, New York the FGLK interchanges with CSX Transportation and the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway (NYSW). Travelling west, the line passes through Solvay, Camillus, Skaneateles Junction (also known as Hartlot or Skaneateles Falls), Sennett, Auburn, Aurelius (Station name Relius), Cayuga, Seneca Falls, and Waterloo. At Geneva, New York, there is a connection with Norfolk Southern Railway's Corning Secondary.

Continuing west, the line passes through Phelps Junction and Clifton Springs. In Shortsville, the railroad comes to the terminus of the Ontario Central Railroad. Finally, the line arrives at Canandaigua, New York.

Branch line to Kendaia/Romulus

The FGLK operates a portion of the ex-Lehigh Valley Railroad mainline from Geneva to Kendaia running south on the east side of Seneca Lake. This was the Lehigh Valley's mainline from Waverly, New York to Buffalo, New York. This line saw much action during World War II and the Cold War with many military movements in and out of the Seneca Army Depot until it closed in the summer 1998. The now-closed base has a very large yard which at current time is used for rail car storage by the Finger Lakes Railway. The local industrial development agency works to attract new industries to locate at the abandoned depot because of the rail infrastructure.

Branch line from Penn Yan to Watkins Glen

The Penn Yan, New York branch was once part of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Only a small section of this line extends from Watkins Glen to Bellona. To get to this line, the Finger Lakes Railway uses trackage rights over Norfolk Southern's Corning Secondary from Geneva to Himrod Junction, New York, which is in the middle of the branch, from Penn Yan in the north to Watkins Glen, New York in the south.

Ontario Central

FGLK acquired the Ontario Central Railroad in October 2007.[3] Previously the line had been owned by the Livonia, Avon and Lakeville Railroad. It consists of 13.3 miles (21.4 km) of ex-Lehigh Valley trackage that was part of the Sayre-Buffalo mainline that also makes up the Kendaia branch. The two railroads connect near Shortsville, New York.

Freight service[edit]

The Finger Lakes Railway is predominantly a freight company, and works to serve the customers and haul goods in a quick and professional process. FGLK handles about 18,000 cars of freight each year.[4] They handle a large variety of goods serving the local agricultural and manufacturing industries. The main cargo includes plastic, canned food, clay, grain, lumber and paper products, scrap steel, chemical substances, finished steel, salt, sand, soda ash, paper, potash, fertilizer, beer, phosphorus fertilizer, telephone poles, and aluminum ingots.

Finger Lakes Railway is a vital connection for the industries in the area, with its interchanges with the Class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern with connections to Canadian Pacific via Norfolk Southern. The goods that FGLK removes or delivers to the manufacturers are often shipped across the country, with FGLK-owned rail cars spotted in Indiana, Michigan,[5] Kentucky,[6] New Jersey, Maine, Ontario, British Columbia Canada,[7] and California.[8]

Heritage railroad passenger excursion trains[edit]

The FGLK once operated a passenger excursion service The Finger Lakes Scenic Railway as a heritage railroad. Operations began in October 2001 with four coaches having been purchased second-hand from Via Rail in late 1998. The cars arrived in the winter of 1999 after the seats were replaced.[9] Operation of the excursions ended in mid 2013.[1][2]

When the excursions were being run, they included both general scenic and also seasonally themed trips.[2][10]

The following information is about the rolling stock used when the excursion trips were being offered. The information was taken from FGLK's then satellite Finger Lakes Scenic Railway website. This website is no longer online, however the URL is in the hands of advertisers.[1] The link to it has been left in the references section should it ever return and again be accessible on the web as it was originally purposed.

Two cars were upgraded by Via Rail and were set up with electric heating while the other 2 use steam heating. The two updated cars have been repainted into the old New York Central two tone Gray colors and have been named the Canandaigua, and Cayuga. The other two cars, named the Geneva and Seneca, have been repainted in the same scheme, and have been in storage awaiting upgrades to electric heating. In 2008 FGLK restored the Seneca car back into service, doing a much needed partial interior renewal. The sound system was extended into this car as well, making the passengers feel much more included. Currently, the Geneva car sits on a siding along Routes 5&20. Although it is not used for passengers, it does serve as advertising for the railroad to passing cars and pedestrians strolling along the lake. Although FGLK would like to put this car into service, it does need a lot of work, including replacing many of the windows in the car. The three grey coaches are referred to by the staff collectively as "The Greys". In 2009, ceiling fans were installed in all of the coaches in order to better circulate the air.

A full baggage car joined the fleet in late 2005 with possible plans to be rebuilt into an open-air observation car. In 2007, FGLK purchased two antique passenger coaches (Ex Norfolk & Western coaches built Circa 1916). These coaches do not currently have names, but are numbered #1642 (Table Car) and #1643 (Coach). Finger Lakes Railway honored the heritage of the Lehigh Valley Railroad with these cars by painting them into a maroon color with yellow accents and gold lettering. The staff calls these cars "The Reds".

The passenger cars are usually operated in two sets, with The Reds operating on the rockier track in Watkins Glen, and The Greys running across the state on the northern tracks. The Reds have 6 axles per car, causing them to ride better by spreading out the load over more track at once.[9]

Locomotive roster[edit]

  • 2 EMD GP9s: 1701(O.O.S), 1703 was brought back to life by the great guys in the shop over in Geneva in July 2020 currently only used for yard work.
  • 2 GE U23B: 2201 (Ex Providence & Worcester Railroad #2211) 2820 Ex Conway Scenic In 2009.
  • 11 GE B23-7s: 1943 (Ex Conway Scenic, Exx CR), 1989 (Ex Conrail), 2300 (Ex NYS&W Exx P&W, recently brought back to life 2301 (Ex CR 1979), 2303 (Ex CR 2004), 2305 (Ex Norfolk Southern). 2306 & 2307 (Ex Providence & Worcester Railroad). FGLK added unit 2308, from the Camas Prairie Railroad. The original build was a highhood model for the Southern Railway as #4008. In mid June 2010 FGLK B23-7's 2309 & 2310 joined the fleet. Both are Ex Ohio Central, Exx BNSF, Exxx ATSF. 2309 and 2310 were painted into the FGLK lightning stripe scheme in 2010 and 2012.
  • 4 rebuilt EMD GP38-2s: FGLK 2001,2003, 2004, 2005 painted in the FGLK lightning stripe scheme. 2001 and 2003 were purchased from GATX in May 2017. 2004 was also purchased from GATX and arrived in late 2018.
  • 1 rebuilt GMD GP40: FGLK 2002 painted in FGLK lightning stripe scheme. Purchased from GATX in May 2017.

B23-7 #1989 is painted in Conrail blue with its original CR number; no repaint or renumber has been set as of this time. U23B #2201 is painted in a Lehigh Valley Railroad-inspired scheme of Cornell red with black pin stripes. All the other units are painted in the FGLK lightning stripe scheme, based on an old New York Central scheme. As of July 2020 the 2306 was painted all black. The 2307(O.O.S) still has the livery of their previous owner, the P&W. 2308 ex Camas Prairie Railroad #17 and was painted yellow and dark blue (unit was repainted in 2015). Ex Conway Scenic B23-7's 1943 and 2820 arrived on the property 1/6/2011. 1943 was put into service in February 2012 while 2820 will be used as a parts supply.


  1. ^ a b c My Finger Lakes NY Blog, Train Spotting
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ STB Decision 10/05/2007 - FD_35062_0
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-08-11. Retrieved 2009-06-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b Finger Lakes Scenic Railway Site is Defunct.
  10. ^ Waymarking FLSRR

External links[edit]