STB Issues New Rules on Railroad Mergers
The Surface Transportation Board has issued new rules regarding railroad mergers. Such transactions will now require applicants to show how the merger will enhance rail competition and to be accountable for producing the merger benefits they promise. At the same time, the board lifted its moratorium on railroad mergers that it had imposed in March 2000 in the wake of the application - since withdrawn - for a merger between Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Canadian National.
Union Pacific to Build New Headquarters in Omaha
Union Pacific has announced plans to build a $260-million headquarters building in downtown Omaha, just south of its existing headquarters. To be called Union Pacific Center, the 19-story building is expected to be completed in 2004.
BNSF and Minnesota Power Announce Shipping Agreement
Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Minnesota Power have entered into a memorandum of understanding for transportation of coal to Minnesota Power's Boswell generating station near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. As a result, Minnesota Power will not presently construct an alternative railroad line to serve the generating station. Under terms of the agreement, BNSF will ship all of Minnesota Power's coal needs through 2011, over four million tons annually. Minnesota Power, which serves 144,000 customers, uses low-sulfur coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming.
Amtrak Uses Penn Station in New York as Loan Collateral
Amtrak will put up two concourses of New York's Pennsylvania Station as collateral for a $300-million loan to meet operating expenses through September. "This transaction is not unlike steps taken by other private-sector companies to secure operating cash," said George Warrington, president of Amtrak. The transaction was approved by Norman Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
BNSF and CSX Expand "Ice Cold Express" Service
[Joint BNSF/CSX Press Release]... FORT WORTH, Texas, June 20, 2001: The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) and CSX Intermodal (CSXI) today announced they have partnered to expand BNSF's Ice Cold Express service to the New York and New Jersey markets.
This twice-weekly service between San Bernardino, California, and Little Ferry, New Jersey, began June 14, 2001. The service provides shippers with a fourth evening delivery, a full day faster than current rail transit times.
"Our partnership with CSXI provides BNSF's customers with competitive, seamless service between the West and East coasts for temperature-controlled products," said Steve Branscum, BNSF group vice president, Consumer Products Marketing. "With a service schedule to meet the need for midnight deliveries, the Ice Cold Express is a highly competitive alternative to over-the-road transportation."
"Combining the excellent service of BNSF with CSXI's quality service provides customers the reliability of truck service with the economic advantage of rail," said Clarence Gooden, CSXI president and CEO. "With this temperature-controlled service, we're demonstrating that almost anything can now move by rail."
BNSF introduced the Ice Cold Express in 1999 as a weekly service for temperature-controlled products moving between Southern California and Chicago. Last October, the Ice Cold Express network expanded to include service to and from Montreal and Toronto, and the demand for this temperature-controlled product continues to grow. The Ice Cold Express uses 53-foot Wabash National ReeferRailer trailers and bogies in unit train service. This slackless technology ensures a smooth ride and features state-of-the-art temperature control and satellite tracking for real-time status reports.
Runaway Cars in Cumberland
[By Oscar Manheim]... CITY JUNCTION (CUMBERLAND), MD: A local used car dealership added an old C&O air dump car to its lot June 21 after the dump car, plus four other miscellaneous freight cars belonging to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, were turned loose by vandals. The cars were stored on the old "City Junction" spur that at one time connected the B&O main line with the Western Maryland main line. The cars rolled downhill (toward the B&O) on the spur, crossed the Wills Creek bridge, crashed through the auto dealer's chain link fence, and were ultimately stopped by the crunching up of several automobiles in their path (eight autos were damaged, including a Mercedes). The dealership owns the property which includes the old right of way, the tracks having been removed beyond the bridge years ago. Mountain railroading is still a tough business...
CSX Sells Port Covington Site
[CSXT Employee Midweek Report, June 22, 2001]... CSX's Real Property Group completed a sale that will generate cash for investments such as locomotives, rail cars and track improvements. CSX sold its interest in a site called Port Covington, in South Baltimore, in March for more than $12.5-million. CSX, working with the Maryland Department of the Environment, helped to ensure that the land was suitable for public use after its industrial past. "This is one of the first Brownfields sites - former urban industrial land reclaimed for use - to be approved by the State of Maryland for redevelopment," said Randy Evans, CSXT vice president-real estate and industrial development. The Port Covington site is highly desirable, with waterfront views and a close proximity to Interstate 95. The Baltimore Sun newspaper built its current printing plant on the location in the early 1990s, in anticipation of the area's revitalization. "This project," said Kevin Hurley, assistant vice president-real property, "is an important example of how a public/private partnership can reclaim industrial land to attract private investment in the city and create additional jobs and tax base."
CSX Intermodal Expands Capacity
[CSXT Employee Midweek Report, June 22, 2001]... CSX Intermodal has announced a 30 percent expansion of its on-dock capacity at the Georgia Port Authority Garden City Terminal in Savannah. The increase in on-dock capacity is due to Norfolk Southern's relocation to an adjacent site leaving the remaining on-dock land open. CSXI president Clarence Gooden said, "With this expansion, we'll have more room to expand our intermodal business, providing customers with the convenience and efficiency of an on-dock container facility." The Georgia Port Authority is also constructing an eighth container berth with four new high-speed cranes at the Garden City Terminal to be utilized by CSXI.
CSXI currently handles about 70 percent of the rail container freight at Garden City Terminal - more than 70,000 loads annually. With the expansions, CSXI expects a 25 percent increase in its intermodal business this year.
Runaway Train Heroes Honored
[CSXT Employee Midweek Report, June 22, 2001]... Six CSXT employees, who played key roles in stopping the runaway train May 15, were honored this week by president Michael Ward. The men and their wives received a three-night stay at CSX's Greenbrier Resort as a special thank you. In addition, Ward; Al Crown, executive vice president-transportation; and Jim Fallon, senior vice president-transportation, traveled to the Greenbrier to attend an awards dinner. "It is a pleasure to be in the company of such heroic men," Ward told the group. "You are true professionals who did an outstanding job in a time of crisis." Whether behind the scenes or in front of the entire world, each man contributed to help bring the train to a stop without injury or loss of life. Engineer Jess Knowlton and conductor Terry Forson were on the engine that coupled to the rear of the unmanned train. Once coupled and applying the brakes, it slowed the train enough to allow trainmaster Jon Hosfeld to board and bring it to a stop.
Had Hosfeld not been able to board the train, the next plan of action was to have conductor Joe Reser and engineer Jack Moderwell, who were positioned in front of the runaway train, couple their engine to the front of the train and apply the brakes. All the while, John Connelly, director-train operations, organized the various scenarios that would be used to stop the train.
AAR Conference Highlights Safety
[CSXT Employee Midweek Report, June 15, 2001]... CSXT played host as more than 150 representatives from North America's Class I railroads, shortlines and rail government offices converged recently in St. Augustine, Florida, for the annual Association of American Railroads Safety Conference. Topics ranging from changes in federal regulations to crossing closings were presented. The latest innovations, including Norfolk Southern's locomotive digital camera system, were demonstrated. "The safety expertise held by attendees at this meeting, and the commitment they invest every day in safety, are very inspiring," said Jeff Blomgren, assistant general manager-employee safety, and chairman of the conference. "We're hearing a lot of new ideas and experiences to energize our safety programs."
CSXT president Michael Ward, in the keynote speech, said railroading is an industry with an unforgiving nature. "But we have many locations on our system that have gone 10 or 15 years without injuries. The fact is, safety is local; it's basically about employees watching out for themselves and their buddies." Obeying CSXT's five Life-Critical rules - red signal violations, blue flag violations, occupying main track without authority, failure to use required fall protection, and negligent maintenance of signal equipment - will vastly reduce the incidence of injury or death, Ward said. "We must believe in our hearts that we can reach zero injuries, not just mouth the words. I personally believe we can reach that goal."
CSX Provides Record-Setting UPS Service
[CSXT Employee Midweek Report, June 8, 2001]... For the first time ever, CSX provided flawless service for UPS for an entire month, moving more than 16,000 loads in May without a single late delivery. Previously, the record for a single month was August 1997 when only one load was delivered late. In addition, CSX has now gone 43 days without a late delivery for UPS. "This is a great achievement for both CSX Intermodal and CSX Transportation," said Bill Clement, CSXI director-UPS. "Our service has been exceptional and the coordination between CSXI and CSXT to monitor and assure service excellence makes our customer proud to be doing business with CSX."
CSX Helps Cause in Restoration of Battleship
[CSXT Employee Midweek Report, June 8, 2001]... Recently CSXT had the opportunity to assist in the movement of a vintage 40mm anti-aircraft gun from New Orleans to the famous World War II battleship North Carolina. The North Carolina is kept in permanent dock in Wilmington, N.C., as an exhibit to the public. During WW-II, the ship was equipped with 15 quadruple-barrel gun mounts. After the War, two of the gun mounts were removed. The organization that cares for the North Carolina learned of a ship being disassembled in Brownsville, Texas, that had a gun mount similar to one of their missing mounts. The challenge they then faced was how to move the 14,000-pound gun mount more than 1500 miles from Texas to the North Carolina. CSXT Executive Vice President-Transportation Al Crown responded to the call for help. Crown offered to donate the use of a CSXT gondola car and transportation services from New Orleans to Wilmington. Once CSXT had signed to help, Union Pacific offered to transport the gun mount from Brownsville to New Orleans. "CSXT was pleased to donate transportation services for the move of such rare, historical equipment," said Crown. The battleship North Carolina is the most decorated ship from WW-II.
Director of the Battleship Memorial, retired Captain David R. Scheu, said, "The 'can do' attitude of each of the railroads was most gratifying. The contribution of services from all of these organizations is most meaningful to the battleship since our annual operations are not funded by any local, state or federal appropriation or grants."
[By Mike O'Brien] . . .
Denny Fisher, a long time railfan, had a dream for years of owning his very own Western Maryland caboose. When he heard that CSXT was retiring most of its fleet of cabooses, he decided to try and acquire one. He made some contacts at Cumberland, Maryland, near his home, and he got the name of a man at CSXT's headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida, to whom he wrote numerous letters. But it was always the same reply: "Sorry, no cabooses are available at this time." Denny never gave up.
Denny's next door neighbor was the clerk of the Circuit Court for Allegany County, Maryland, who must have had some pull with the folks in Cumberland. The neighbor got involved, and he was referred to someone else with CSXT in Jacksonville. One call is all it took. That was in February 1990.
There were literally hundreds of old cabooses then in storage in Knobmount Yard in Ridgely, West Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Cumberland. Denny and his neighbor were invited to tour the yard - much as though they were shopping for a used car - to select the one he wanted. There were cabooses of B&O, C&O, Seaboard and Western Maryland vintage. After several hours of wandering around the yard, Denny set his sights upon WM-901814. The cost: a mere $2,500, and it was his, to be delivered anywhere on the system.
Thereupon Denny made a visit to his bank to take out a loan. This transaction was a spectacle in itself; the loan officer made an issue of telling everyone else with the bank that Denny was taking out a "caboose loan." With check in hand, Denny quickly sent it to CSXT with instructions to have WM-901814 delivered to Console #9 on the Georges Creek Subdivision.
Four months passed in the interim, and Denny made use of the time to prep his yard at his house for placement of the caboose. Much work was involved. A heavy equipment operator as a profession, Denny made use of his skills with a front-end loader to level the spot. He acquired the ties, tie plates and spikes from the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, along with two 39-foot sections of rail. The rail was cut in half and hauled on a rollback supplied by Fishers Body Shop (no relation to Denny). His father, Larry, and his brother, Richie, laid the ties and rail. Twenty tons of ballast were supplied by a local quarry.
CSXT finally moved the caboose in June of that year from Ridgely to Cumberland, where it was humped, and rehumped, and then bad-ordered (ouch!), sitting behind the shop for two weeks. Calls were placed to facilitate the process, and finally on July 11 the cab was moved on CSXT local B880 to Consol #9.
Denny contracted with Carl Belt Inc. to move the caboose three miles to his home. He also had a front-end loader from Potomac Coal to load the trucks, which were transported by low-boy to his home, and then off-loaded with another front-end loader onto the newly-constructed track. It was then back to Consol for the caboose itself. Denny rode on top of the caboose to lift overhead wires. Four and one-half hours later, WM-901814 was back on its trucks, sitting at its new home in Denny's yard.
Restoration began immediately. The interior was completely removed. All new wood would be installed, new electric, and new lights. Two new windows would also be installed. The exterior required 16 hours of sand blasting to remove rust and the Chessie System paint.
Denny decided to paint the caboose in the WM red, white and black scheme. He knew that the cab had never worn these colors, but he always liked this particular scheme. "Live with it!" Denny would say to those purists who would object to this selection. Anyway, it COULD have had this scheme if fate had not dictated otherwise, and it WAS being restored to an authentic scheme. And most importantly, he had saved the thing from being scrapped. Denny's father did the painting using stencils supplied by Jeff Barkdole and Dwight Jones. The prefix digits 90 were omitted, reverting to the cab's earlier number, 1814.
Over the years, hundreds of visitors have been to Denny's caboose. Several retired WM employees have paid it a visit, including one who had actually served on it at one time while it was in service. Denny has turned the caboose into a small museum, full of memorabilia he has purchased or had donated to him. Denny is always looking for additional memorabilia. Several original WM signals donated by CSXT surround the caboose, plus a railroad crossing signal and two original WM switch stands.
Lucky Moves to Grafton
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
Lucky, the wayward feline who captured the hearts of the operators at Miller Tower, and later proved that cats do indeed have nine lives, has found yet another home. This time it's Grafton, somewhat removed from his original home, but nonetheless in his native state of West Virginia.
Lucky's saga began in the latter part of 1998 when his wanderings found him visiting Miller Tower and its accompanying comforts where he soon discovered that his friendly hosts took turns at the desk and were available to attend to his beck and call, 24 hours a day.
His routine never took on a systematic schedule. At times he would remain in the office for an entire shift or longer, or he would remain away for up to a couple of days at a time. But usually he would make a least a cameo appearance every several hours, if only to get something to eat. The lid from a paper carton became his bed, complete with towels to assure his resting comfort. Still, he found that he could get away with ignoring instructions not to sleep in chairs, and he even found a hiding place in a box kept for the storage of used computer paper. He occasionally misbehaved by jumping onto the desk and walking upon the fax machine, or the computer keyboard, or simply getting in the way. Aside from this, Lucky was never much trouble. And he was friendly to everyone.
"Lucky" was not his name at the time; we merely called him "Kitty." But as events transpired, he earned his new name, and if ever a cat deserved the name of "Lucky," it is he.
He had been with us for nearly a year when one evening he came back limping from what I thought had been an attack by dogs. To be sure, he was badly hurt. To the rescue came Debby Haddix, one of the operators, who lovingly took Kitty to the vet the following morning. It was there that it was learned that Kitty had not been attacked by dogs... he had been shot. The doc removed fragments of a .22 caliber rifle bullet from deep within his shoulder. Kitty was lucky, the bullet had just missed his spinal cord. He remained at the vet for 10 days, and then Debby took him home with her to Frederick, Maryland, "to recuperate." Guess what? She decided to keep him - and she gave him his new name.
Several weeks later, Debby took a position in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Lucky, now accustomed to apartment living, went along too. There he stayed, happily looking after things, until earlier this year when Debby got transferred to Jacksonville, Florida. She decided that Lucky's interests would be better served at her parents' home in Grafton, West Virginia, in company with their other cat, "KC" (for Kitty Cat), who was looking for a friend.
Of Lucky and his new-found home in Grafton, Debby writes the following:
"For the first week, Mom only took him out on a leash, and she said the first time a train went by, he went crazy. For a while she was afraid that he would go after the trains, maybe thinking that they would lead him to Miller Tower and you. But now he is content to sit on the steps and watch them. He finds plenty to keep him busy. He and KC hunt and play outside. Everyone likes him. I think it's that dog-like quality he has of asking for attention. He still climbs up on people asking to be petted. Lucky loves everyone. I don't think he was ever truly happy living with me. As you know, he does not like being alone, and I was usually gone for 10 hours a day. He gained a lot of weight living at my house, but now that he can go outside and run, he has lost the extra pounds and is in great shape."
She adds that Lucky is still a big boy, about twice the size of KC.
Miller Tower, where his saga began, closed in September 2000. Of the many memories of the place, Lucky is one which lives on. He has eight lives to go.