MARC to Construct Elevator at Rockville, Maryland, Station
MARC will construct at $175,000 elevator at its Rockville, Maryland, station to permit easier access for passengers to reach the track level, and for passengers transferring between MARC trains at the Metro red line. Amtrak's Capitol Limited also stops at this station.
Amtrak to Move Crescent Crew Base to Charlottesville
Amtrak plans to move its crew base for the Crescent from Lynchburg to Charlottesville later this month.
NS Budgets $144 Million for Locomotive Projects
Norfolk Southern has budgeted $144 million for locomotive projects this year, including the purchase of new six-axle, high-adhesion units. Also in the budget is $21 million to eliminate pole lines system-wide and replace them with electronic track circuits and data radios.
NS Replacing N&W Signals with Safetrans Tri-Color Light Installations
Norfolk Southern continues to replace N&W style intermediate signals with Safetrans tri-color light signals on its Bristol line between Walton and Bristol, and Shenandoah Valley line between Hagerstown and Roanoke.
CSX Reports Quarterly Earnings
CSX Corporation achieved fourth quarter earnings of $253 million, or $1.17 per share. Excluding a non-recurring gain of $51 million in the corresponding quarter the previous year, the 1996 quarterly earnings were an all-time record. Meanwhile, for the year, CSX Transportation lowered its operating ratio (the ratio of operating expense to operating revenue) from 77.9 to 77 percent.
Union Pacific Approves Capital Spending Plan
Union Pacific has approved a 1997 capital spending plan of $2.2 billion for the railroad, including more than $500 million to implement the merger with Southern Pacific, and $615 million for the purchase of 260 new locomotives and the upgrading of existing units.
CSX-Conrail Merger Remains "Right Merger," Companies Say
[January 17, 1997 ... from a CSXT letter to employees] . . . Conrail today announced its shareholders have refused to opt-out of certain provisions of Pennsylvania Business Law, but that its Board of Directors remains fully and firmly committed to the CSX-Conrail merger, as does CSX Corporation. The results of the vote will not affect the ultimate outcome, only delay the ability of Conrail's shareholders to receive the full consideration that will be provided them by the CSX-Conrail transaction. In a joint statement released today by CSX and Conrail, John Snow stated, "The CSX-Conrail merger remains the right merger, of the right companies, at the right price and in time, it will be approved. There is not now, nor will there be, a viable alternative to the CSX-Conrail merger." Conrail is expected to announce a date for another shareholder vote on the "opt-out" provision next week. Approval at that time will allow CSX to go forward with the second phase of its tender offer to purchase another 20.1 percent of Conrail's outstanding shares and, then, for both companies to seek shareholder approval of the merger. In the meantime, we are going forward with our joint effort with Conrail to prepare a compelling application that we continue to expect to file with the Surface Transportation Board in March. We also will be launching a campaign to earn broad-based support of the merger from our customers. The success of that effort will be significantly influenced by the success of our own efforts to provide safe, high quality service to our customers in the weeks and months ahead. Doing so should be our first priority and I know I can count on your best efforts in that regard. /s/ A.R. "Pete Carpenter, CSXT President, CEO
Viaduct Junction Tower Closes
CSXT's 95-year old Viaduct Junction Tower in Cumberland, Maryland, has closed. It officially closed at 3PM on January 22, at which time switch and signal control was assumed by the train dispatcher in Jacksonville, but operators remained on duty through several additional eight-hour shifts before all positions were abolished. The tower's closing followed a cutover period lasting about 12 weeks. Viaduct Junction Tower, with the call letters "ND," was named for the famous double-track arch viaduct just behind the building. Its location in the heart of Cumberland at the junction of the former B&O's Chicago and St. Louis lines respectively with the main line east to Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia, made the tower one of the most visible and noteworthy of all such facilities on the B&O system. Its closing marks the end of tower presence in Cumberland. In 1928 there were no fewer than seven interlocking towers serving the sprawling Cumberland complex. They included Patterson Creek, Evitts Creek, Virginia Lane, Baltimore Street, McKenzie, Mt. Savage Junction, and Viaduct Junction. By 1958 the number had been reduced to six, with McKenzie having been eliminated and Mexico replacing Evitts Creek. Two towers remained as of one year ago, with Mexico closing in July. Interestingly, Mexico was a relatively modern tower when it closed - state of the art from the late 1950's - whereas Viaduct Junction retained its vintage armstrong lever assembly with pipelines until its cutover.
Built in 1902, Viaduct Junction was installed by B&O forces with a Saxby and Farmer 52-lever interlocking machine, 49 levers in use, at a cost of $1,136.19, total cost for the project of $9,584.05. The tower was once jointly owned by the B&O and the Cumberland & Pennsylvania, with C&P tracks originally crossing the B&O behind the tower. As of June 30, 1918, ownership in the facility was 71.31% B&O, and 28.69% C&P. Repairs to the interlocking would be paid for by both carriers, divided among the two using the stated percentages, but if repairs affected one road and not the other, such repairs would be fully borne by the affected road. Over the years the C&P's physical plant was trimmed removing any unnecessary trackage or signals, and this affected the ownership percentages. In 1951, the 52-lever interlocking machine was replaced with a panel-type interlocking for control of signals and a 20-lever mechanical machine for control of switches. The 1996-1997 cutover involved a number of switch changes in the interlocking itself, the elimination of one of the two tracks across the viaduct, and the use of C&O-style color-light signals replacing B&O color-position light signals within the area.
The closing of Viaduct Junction reduces to 11 the number of electro-mechanical interlockings with armstrong lever assemblies in service in the United States. This number will be reduced further as forces are now at work to remote the tower at Hardman, West Virginia, east of Grafton, on the route of the former B&O line to St. Louis. The tower at Hyndman, Pennsylvania, also with an armstrong-lever plant, had been planned for closing this spring, but the latest report is that these plans are now on hold.
[Special thanks to Mike Welsh, Shane Smith, Kent Hannah, and Jon Roma for assistance in preparing this article.]