BNSF Opens Intermodal Terminal in Stockton
Burlington Northern Santa Fe opened a new $80-million intermodal terminal in Stockton, California, on May 11. Occupying 425 acres, the facility is designed to improve the efficiency of moving merchandise into and out of Northern California, giving customers improved access to the interstate highway system and other railroads. It contains two loading and unloading tracks, averaging 7000 feet in length, with the capacity to hold approximately 150 intermodal railcars. Three storage tracks will accommodate an additional 230 intermodal railcars and will have more than 800 container and trailer parking spaces.
BNSF Offers Coal Transportation Option Contracts
Burlington Northern Santa Fe announced on May 8 the creation of the industry's first coal transportation option contracts. The contracts, which will be auctioned on the Internet, will give purchasers the right to move a trainload of coal via BNSF from one of three groups of Powder River Basin mines to one of 11 rail-water terminals at a specified price and at time intervals from three to 11 months from the date of the auction. "This innovative product provides utilities, mines and others with the opportunity to lock in transportation capacity and price up to 18 months in advance," said Tom Kraemer, BNSF's group vice president-coal. "Participants in the market have been able to purchase advance commitments for coal and electricity for some time; rail transportation options are the link that completes the supply chain."
Amtrak to Add Service Along Florida East Coast Route
Amtrak announced on May 3 that it will double its passenger rail service in Florida, add a new coastline route from Jacksonville to West Palm Beach and Miami, and serve eight new communities under an agreement with FEC Railway. According to the agreement, Amtrak will add two daily round-trip services on FEC's track between Jacksonville and West Palm Beach with new stops in eight communities: St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Titusville, Cocoa/Port Canaveral, Melbourne, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce and Stuart, and continuing on to Miami. "Our new partnership with the FEC will provide benefits to our guests and - importantly - to the communities and tourist destinations of Florida," said Amtrak president and CEO George D. Warrington. "This is a fantastic opportunity to serve crowded highways. Our expanded service in Florida will be one more reason for guests to experience the comfort, ease and enjoyment of going by rail." Before the new agreement can be implemented, the parties need to secure funding for station construction and infrastructure improvements including signal work, and track and siding installation. The companies are working with the Florida Department of Transportation and the communities along the route to identify funding sources needed to accommodate passenger operations. Once a commitment for funding is secure, the first phase of capital improvements can begin. Phase I would take approximately 10 months to complete, after which the first train would begin operation. Should the first phase begin this July, service would begin approximately one year from now. Additional improvements and a second coastline service between Jacksonville and West Palm Beach would be phased in over a three-year period.
Dick Stair Dies
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
Richard P. Stair of Champaign, Illinois, retired Illinois Central Railroad interlocking tower operator and railroad historian, died on May 16. He was 81.
His 43-year railroading career was legendary in itself, but his enthusiasm for the history of the profession continued in the years following his retirement and he is considered by many as one of the foremost mentors toward documenting the legacy of block and interlocking towers within the United States. While numerous museums and historical groups dutifully touch upon the subject - and there are organizations devoted to the collection of train orders and other paperwork - it was Dick's expressed intention to develop a society devoted exclusively to the history of interlocking towers. This did not happen, but he did, with the help of his friend, Jon Roma, also of Champaign, initiate "The Home Signal," a newsletter-style publication devoted to the subject.
The first issue of "The Home Signal" was produced in the Fall of 1993. In it, Dick cataloged all of the towers that were in operation within the state of Minnesota as of November 1914, listing each by location, type, number of levers, railroads involved, and permit date. He also listed towers of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, sorted by division, listing the milepost, name and type. Other features of the issue included a description of the first interlocking in America (1875, in New Jersey), and a 1993 list of tower closings.
It was my pleasure to meet Dick in person in 1994. He and Jon Roma were on a pilgrimage to West Virginia, and they paid a visit to Miller Tower where I was working. Knowing in advance that they were coming, I specifically invited my friend Mike Welsh, a noted tower historian, to join us. The four of us had a most memorable meeting that evening as Dick and Jon carefully examined the tower's apparatus, and I felt a sense of honor to be in the presence of such a distinguished group of individuals, with Dick as our elder statesman to bring everything within the spirit of the occasion.
"The Home Signal" continued sporadically with subsequent printed issues, although the publication has been dormant for a couple of years. Its import, however, is maintained on-line by Jon Roma with an active tower list.
"Dick was mentor to several generations of railroaders and railroad enthusiasts," said Jon Roma. "I am sad that Dick is no longer with us to share my common interest in central Illinois railroading, rail history, signaling, and interlocking towers. I relish the many times I spent with Dick traveling around our home turf, or on extended trips to timetable meets where we'd always find some active towers to visit en route. Dick was a walking textbook of railroad history. In my mind's eye, I can see Dick standing at the interlocking machine in Champaign Tower doing his part to ensure that IC No. 6, the proud 'Panama Limited,' would encounter no delays at Champaign."
Born April 22, 1920, in Wooster, Ohio, he became interested in railroads at an early age. As related by him to Jon Roma, one of Dick's earliest memories was of trips into town on the B&O local. One of his first long-distance trips was an overnighter to the 1933-34 "Century of Progress" World's Fair in Chicago with his father. As a teenager, he acquired an interest in timetable collecting upon finding a discarded employee timetable lying in a trackside coal pile. He recalled that the timetable was so soiled that his mother banned its entry into the house, and he spent many hours drooling over its content within the sanctuary of the family's barn.
In 1938, Dick was admitted to the School of Railway Engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana. It was during this period that he was attracted to an informal gathering point at the tower at Champaign, ultimately becoming a member of the group of train-watchers who had adopted the tower as their "clubhouse." It was here, in 1940, upon being hired by the railroad as an operator, that he established his seniority - and it was from here that he retired 43 years later.
During the second World War, he served in an Army Railway Operating Battalion as a train dispatcher. He also served in a similar capacity in Korea. He was a member of the Monticello Railway Museum, the Illinois Central Historical Society, the Douglas County Museum, and the National Association of Timetable Collectors.
Dick is survived by his wife of 44 years, Margaret Stover Stair; a son, Tom Stair of Decatur, Illinois; a daughter, Linda Somers of Sadorus, Illinois; a sister, Dorothy Saviers of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; three grandchildren; and three step-grandchildren.
Runaway Train in Ohio
[From CSXT's Midweek Report to Employees, May 18, 2001] . . .
CSX HEROES BASK IN INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION:
From Melbourne, Australia, to Tokyo, and across North America, the saga of the runaway train and the heroic actions of three employees drew international attention and acclaim. With the U.S. networks and CNN covering the story earlier this week, and details forwarded around the world by the Associated Press, engineer Jess Knowlton, conductor Terry Forson, and trainmaster Jon Hosfeld were in the media spotlight. Featured on NBC's Today Show and the other network morning broadcasts as well, Knowlton, Forson and Hosfeld ably represented CSX. The incident, as most everyone knows by now, began about 12:30 p.m. on May 15 when an unmanned locomotive carrying 47 cars began moving out of Stanley Yard in Toledo, Ohio, heading south toward Columbus.
A plan was quickly developed to dispatch a locomotive to catch up with the runaway train, couple to the rear and then apply its brakes. Succeeding in their first attempt at coupling, Knowlton and Forson began applying their brakes in an attempt to bring the runaway to a stop. This procedure slowed the train, but was not able to bring it to a complete stop. It was at that time that Hosfeld positioned himself along the track ahead of the train. As it went by, Hosfeld was able to board the locomotive and shut down the power. The train traveled nearly 70 miles until it was brought to a stop near Kenton, Ohio.
"I can't praise these employees more highly," said CSXT president Michael Ward. "Our company and the millions of TV viewers watching this situation as it unfolded have the greatest respect for their courage and actions taken under pressure." Calls came in from as far away as London and Melbourne praising the efforts of the three heroic men.
CSX, along the the FRA, conducted an extensive investigation and determined that human error was the cause of the runaway train. The engineer on the train told investigators that prior to dismounting the engine to line a switch, he had engaged two of the three brakes. Inadvertently, he then grabbed the throttle lever instead of the third braking lever. By the time he realized the error, he was already off the locomotive, and it was moving too quickly for him to climb aboard.
Al Crown, executive vice president-transportation, said that despite the fact that CSXT has never experienced a similar incident over literally millions of locomotive moves, the company plans to inform all operating employees of the circumstances surrounding the incident, as well as alerting others in the rail industry to heighten awareness.
CSXI and Canadian National Link U.S., Canada
[From CSXT's Midweek Report to Employees, May 25, 2001]... CSX Intermodal and the Canadian National on June 1 will begin a range of new interline intermodal services connecting major Canadian and United States markets. These new services include highly-competitive, five-day service for coast-to-coast intermodal traffic moving between Vancouver, B.C., and New York (Kearny, N.J.), Toronto-Florida (four days) and Toronto-New York (two days). "Combining the reach of our railroads and the quality of our service creates a tremendous opportunity for shippers," said CSXI president Clarence Gooden. "We're offering shippers truck-competitive service with truck-competitive reliability at rail intermodal rates." For the first time, shippers in Western Canada will gain effective intermodal access to major centers in the U.S. Northeast - the largest manufacturing and consumer base in the United States, including New York, Boston and Philadelphia. These shippers will also benefit from intermodal penetration of other eastern and southern U.S. markets. All of these services should be attractive to shippers of high-value consumer goods in Canada and the U.S., as well as overseas shippers moving products into North America via the ports of Vancouver and Halifax. Shippers will benefit from one-stop intermodal shopping under the marketing agreement, which gives CN and CSXI the ability to "through" price originating traffic destined to points on the other's network. They will also enjoy efficient "steel wheel" rail-to-rail interchange of intermodal traffic at the Chicago and Buffalo gateways.
New Reference Guide Helps CSXT Engineering Crews
[From CSXT's Midweek Report to Employees, May 25, 2001]... Though the new blue book is only 50-some pages long and sized to fit in a shirt pocket, it can substantially boost CSX's bottom line. The Shared Joint Facility Arrangements booklet guides field engineering crews across the railroad as they perform maintenance and inspections on facilities shared with other railroads - track, crossing diamonds, signals, bridges. CSXT's Joint Facilities Budgets & Administration department manages the contractual agreements that determine the costs for routine maintenance of these facilities. "This booklet tells engineering crews what to charge each step of the way," said Marietta Serwe, director-budgets & administration. "The roadmasters have been very receptive. They've even started calling us to identify additional billing opportunities, now that they see what billing arrangements we have in place."
The engineering department orchestrated a speedy distribution of the booklet to more than 1000 crew members across CSXT. Once in hand, the booklet helps crews in Rome, New York, for example, bill for maintenance to a culvert pipe, an arch, a bridge section, and a farm crossing - all within a few feet of each other and all shared expenses under one agreement. In the past, lists of charges were incomplete or nonexistent. Today, appropriate charges are carefully recorded in the new pocket guide, sorted by division, subdivision, milepost, city, type and code. "This book will ensure that CSXT will recover the several million dollars in maintenance and operations expenses that it is due for these services," said Tom Schmidt, vice president-engineering. "For the investment of postage and printing, we've got a very efficient tool for our roadmasters, signal forces, and bridge crews."
CSXI Introduces 'Zip Code' Pricing
[From CSXT's Midweek Report to Employees, May 18, 2001]... CSX Intermodal has begun an aggressive door-to-door service program that provides simplified pricing on service between the Ohio Valley and Florida. "It's a snap to Zip!" says a brochure announcing the service to customers, explaining that it's easy to get on board and benefit from nearly 100 percent on-time performance between the two regions. "With the kind of service we provide," said CSXI president Clarence Gooden, "we can really begin to compete for freight now moving over the road. Two-day service, day-in-and-day-out to Florida, is a product we can sell."
"Our new service offering is a door-to-door service with simplified cents per mile pricing," said Pete Rutski, CSXI vice president-planning. "To develop the door-to-door price, we multiply the highway miles between the origin and destination zip codes by the cents-per-mile rate of $1.15 per mile southbound and 60 cents per mile northbound. Not only is the door-to-door service truck-competitive, but the cents per mile pricing makes it easy to get a truck-competitive price between any origin and destination in the Ohio Valley/Florida markets." Gooden said that CSXI is exploring other routes where similar service can be offered.
Mapping the Real CSXT
[From CSXT's Midweek Report to Employees, May 10, 2001]... CSX Transportation recently completed a map of its holdings. CSXT is the first railroad to start mapping at land level and work its way up - and down. It's a record of CSX holdings at ground level, as well as above and below. "This system is a compilation of all the company's land records," said Abby Clark, assistant vice president-geographic information systems. The finished product, Geographic Information System (GIS), is a computerized record of CSX's possessions and boundaries reconstituted from valuation maps, deeds, documents, and ownership papers. "Many of our old documents were found in vaults, inaccessible to the people who needed them," Clark said. "Some of the old deeds were crumbling into dust. You have to remember that the valuation maps were done in 1917, when the old Interstate Commerce Commission mandated records of all tracks and switches." Actually, the new GIS is much more than a map; it is essentially a relational database, with objects defined and cross-referenced. Simply put, it is a tool to be used by all departments to speed research, answer questions, and prevent wasteful duplication of activities. GIS identifies ditches and tracks, fiber optic lines and property boundaries, and much more.
CSX Employee Wins Hazmat Award
[From CSXT's Midweek Report to Employees, May 25, 2001]... Skip Elliott, assistant general manager-hazardous materials systems, won the Association of American Railroads' annual Holden Award. This award is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to hazardous material transportation safety throughout his or her career. Elliott recently spearheaded a rail industry effort to develop a risk index for non-accidental releases. This risk-based evaluation method has since been incorporated into the AAR's Non-Accidental Release Prevention program.