CSXT's Baltimore Terminal Dispatchers' Office to Close
It was a state of the art facility when the then-B&O Baltimore dispatchers moved into their new home in 1983. They had previously held fort at Camden Station. The old station (and one time railroad corporate headquarters) was about to be vacated, and the positions were moved to the Canco Building at Halethorpe, just outside of Baltimore.
They were joined in the beginning by a Western Maryland position that moved there from Hagerstown, and later by other B&O positions moving in from Cumberland and Pittsburgh.
All of the modern amenities were in place, including the latest computer technology, and the contrast between the old and the new was about as striking as between night and day.
But technology and the quest for consolidation were soon to catch up with the new, and an even newer, more modern dispatching center was born just four years after the Canco facility opened, and most of its positions got shipped off to Jacksonville, Florida.
All except for one... the dispatching slot that had control of the Baltimore Terminal. It remained.
For the past four and one-half years, that lone position has kept vigil in an office designed for five times that number. There were recurring reports that the position would soon be moved to Jacksonville - or that it might not be moved at all.
Now it appears that the move is certain - and the latest report has the position taking off for Jacksonville on September 13. When that happens, it will be the end of an era.
History might not recognize the significance of this event. You see, train dispatching is a mostly hidden entity. It lacks the glamor of the more visible parts of railroading. The last run of a noted train makes news... the closing of a dispatchers' office does not.
But the event should not go unnoticed. After all, the B&O (the first railroad in the land) had been dispatching trains from offices in Baltimore since its year one. Now, with the demise of the Canco office, no major railroad will have any dispatching functions within the State of Maryland. Norfolk Southern, Conrail and Amtrak all do their thing from other states. So, too, will CSXT. Only shortlines, and the Baltimore MTA, will have any dispatching functions locally.
But if the event gets little notice, there is at least one coincidental twist to history. In 1927, the B&O staged its highly touted and well-remembered Fair of the Iron Horse. It was there that history came face to face with the present and future. Thousands upon thousands of folks witnessed a pageant presented as a part of that fair from a grandstand.
The site of the fair's staging area, just east of that grandstand, is now occupied by... the Canco Building.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS - BALTIMORE TERMINAL DISPATCHERS:
- 11/29/83 -- Western Maryland dispatchers from Hagerstown located at new facility at Halethorpe.
- 12/14/83 -- Train dispatchers' office at Camden Station closed, functions relocated to new facility.
- 3/15/84 -- BA Tower at Bay View closed, first tower to be closed as part of terminal CTC project. New train order office at Riverside opened.
- 3/21/84 -- Block signals on the WM from Mt. Winans to Cedarhurst removed from service.
- 6/27/84 -- North Avenue Tower closed.
- 7/25/84 -- HB Tower at Camden Yards closed.
- 10/12/84 -- Emory Grove Tower closed one day following replacing manual block rules with verbal block rules Baltimore to Emory Grove.
- 12/12/84 -- CX Tower closed.
- 7/16/85 -- BX Tower at Curtis Bay closed.
- 10/1/85 -- HX Tower at Halethorpe closed, last operating interlocking tower in Baltimore Terminal.
- 12/85 -- B&O dispatchers from Cumberland relocated to facility at Halethorpe.
- 9/86 -- There was a report that within three years all CSX system trains may be dispatched from a single location in Jacksonville, Florida.
- 3/87 -- There was a report that the Baltimore dispatchers would move to Jacksonville in July 1988, fifth in a sequence beginning with the first move in March 1988. (In fact, they moved in April 1989, but not the Terminal).
- 10/25/87 -- New division timetable No. 2 became effective combining the timetables of the Baltimore and former Pittsburgh divisions into a single book. The division now had four dispatching centers, six bulletin districts, and 71 subdivisions.
- 2/88 -- Baltimore dispatchers made bids on positions affected by the move to Jacksonville. Tentative dates for cutover were now September 8 to September 27.
- 3/1/88 -- Dispatchers informed of results of bidding with 32 employees affected. Five dispatchers were awarded positions in Jacksonville, 10 were placed on a waiting list, six would relinquish dispatcher turns, seven would accept separation, and four would remain to staff Baltimore Terminal.
- 3/16/88 -- B&O dispatchers from Pittsburgh relocated to Halethorpe. Three Pittsburgh dispatchers came as part of this move, a fourth position being taken by one of the Baltimore dispatchers. This was only temporary as the Pittsburgh positions would also go to Jacksonville.
- 5/88 -- The first Baltimore dispatcher to go to Jacksonville left for training.
- 4/4/89 -- Cutover to Jacksonville of Alexandria, Capital, Cumberland, Metropolitan, Old Main Line, Shenandoah and West subdivisions.
CSXT, UTU Implement 2-Member Crew Agreement on Former C&O
CSXT and the United Transportation Union have implemented a two-member-crew agreement to eliminate brakeman positions on the former C&O portion of the system. This comes on the heels of a similar agreement on the former B&O implemented several weeks earlier. Virtually all of CSXT now operates with a two-member-crew agreement.
CSXT Donates Equipment to B&O Museum
The following equipment from the CSXT track department at Laurel, Maryland, has been donated and moved to the B&O Museum in Baltimore: B&O-376321, an M15PD wagontop boxcar; B&O-471244, an M69B double-door auto parts boxcar; B&O-679, a B21M baggage car; and CSXT-X1346, a camp car which was formerly a C&O express car and blackout troop diner. The camp car will be moved to Sykesville, Maryland, on loan for the display of Lionel train equipment.
MARC to Purchase 19 Rebuilt Locomotives
The Maryland Rail Commuter Service has funding for the purchase of 19 rebuilt GP40-2 units from Morrison Knudsen, with delivery early next year at the rate of two a month. The likelihood is that these units will replace MARC's fleet of E and F units.
CSXT Converts BQ23-7's into B Units
CSXT class BQ23-7 units are being converted into B units with their windows plated over.
CSXT Abandons Portion of Bridgeport Subdivision
CSXT has abandoned the westernmost five miles of the Bridgeport Subdivision between Short Line Junction and Wilsonburg, West Virginia. This was once part of the B&O Cumberland to Cincinnati mainline through Clarksburg and Parkersburg.
Norfolk Southern Offering Retirement Program
Norfolk Southern has announced the offering of a voluntary retirement program for 13 percent of non-contract employees of its railroad.
Paul Kisling Retires
Veteran B&O conductor Paul Kisling has retired. His last trip was August 25-26 after 41 years and eight months of service.