CSX Reports Weak Coal Demand
CSX has reported that weak coal demand from utility customers will adversely affect third-quarter earnings. Coal carloads for the quarter are expected to be down approximately five percent from one year ago.
CSX Announces Development of Auxiliary Power Units
CSX, in partnership with General Electric and ECOTRANS Technologies, has announced the development of auxiliary power units on GE locomotives to provide fuel savings and emissions reductions. "By significantly reducing locomotive engine idle time, the APU system can potentially reduce idle fuel consumption by as much as 80 percent and idle emissions by up to 98 percent," the company said in a press release.
CSX to Expand Intermodal Services from Portsmouth, Virginia
CSX has announced plans to expand its intermodal rail services from Portsmouth, Virginia. In the meantime, according to a news report, the number of intermodal containers through the port has already increased by 13 percent in the first eight months of the year compared to the same period in 2001.
UP to Sell Trackage in Utah for Public Transit
Union Pacific has agreed to sell 175 miles of track between Brigham City and Payson, Utah, through Salt Lake City, to the Utah Transit Authority for public transit purposes. The $185-million agreement involves a combination of the sale of the rail line and land for the construction of new rail lines. The UTA will also have operating rights over about 20 miles of UP trackage between Brigham City and Ogden.
BNSF Opens Automotive Facility in Illinois
Burlington Northern Santa Fe has opened a new automotive facility near Joliet, Illinois. It is part of BNSF's newest multimodal center, located south of Chicago. The 400-acre center will coordinate several modes of transportation and is designed to better facilitate the movement of automotive and intermodal freight. Automotive operations have begun, and intermodal operations are expected to begin this month.
BNSF Expands Guaranteed Intermodal Service
Burlington Northern Santa Fe has expanded its guaranteed intermodal service to include two additional lanes between Northern California and Dallas/ Fort Worth, Texas. With these additional lanes, BNSF now offers guaranteed intermodal service in 18 lanes connecting major U.S. markets.
Depot in Lima, Ohio, to Become Museum and Service Center
The former Pennsylvania Railroad depot in Lima, Ohio, has been purchased by Downtown Lima Inc., and the city of Lima plans to renovate the building to include a small train museum and service center. The depot served as an Amtrak stop until 1990, and it suffered fire damage after being closed.
William Price Dies - Railroad Photographer
William P. Price, noted railroad photographer, has died. He grew up in the Cumberland, Maryland, area, where he began taking train photographs in the 1930's. A veteran of the second World War, he had worked for the Cumberland Times-News and was a key member of the Western Maryland Chapter NRHS. He was 79.
Conductors Key Players in Event Reporting Plans
[CSXT Midweek Report, September 12, 2002]... One of CSXT's strategic initiatives, Event Reporting, is geared toward improving the processes, procedures and technology used for reporting car movements. Spearheading that effort, CSXT's Event Reporting Team has been at work for the past several months. One major improvement to the process is the implementation of a new, portable, work order event reporting device to improve accuracy, timeliness and completeness of information shared with CSXT customers about their shipments. "Conductors are heavily involved in our selection process and in our plans for introducing the new devices," said Rod Barber, superintendent- Customer Service Operations. "We'll have input from more than 300 conductors, from Chicago to Charleston and from Birmingham to Buffalo, by the end of our selection period." The team's work includes a Six Sigma project for determining the best methods to record car arrivals, departures, pickups, setoffs, placement, and pull events. "Event Reporting will be very important as we move forward with Shipment Management," says Josh Putterman, initiative leader for the Event Reporting Team. "Shipment Management marks a cultural change in how CSX views its service to customers," Putterman said. "It means viewing and measuring service from a customer's perspective, and increasing the number of shipments measured from dock to dock, rather than by train. To make service more reliable, it will require much better data quality and closer cooperation among departments. It will utilize new technologies, such as the new work order reporting device."
Produce Rides the Rails
[CSXT Midweek Report, September 19, 2002]... The first rail shipment of honeydew melons in years traveled via CSXT in early September. The movement arrived on a Sunday - unusual for rail service, which typically switches on weekdays, perishables or not. Ray Schloss, CSXT account manager- Merchandise for the New York City Region, was there to witness the new service. CSXT Premium Perishables Express Lane service brought the melons from Turlock, California, to Hunts Point, New York. Both cars and melons arrived in good shape with zero damage or shifting of cases in the cars. "We are excited that we now have the kind of service that provides us the opportunity to ship this business," said Schloss. "Melons are a delicate commodity to ship. We proved we can ship them safely, efficiently and in a cost-effective manner." CSXT's perishable shipments have been one of the fastest growing segments in Merchandise. Rail business to the Hunts Point market is up 60 percent from levels just three years ago, primarily due to Express Lane. This innovation helps CSXT, in conjunction with western railroads, to offer guaranteed service on moving perishables across country to consumers in the Northeast and Southeast. It's service that has good potential for even more growth, Schloss says. "As recently as 1986, Southern Pacific Railroad would haul as many as 100 cars a day of melons in season from California to eastern markets," Schloss said. "We may never see those levels again, since trucks traditionally dominate in perishables, but we can grab a lot of it."
Lima Refinery Yard Expansion
[CSXT Midweek Report, August 29, 2002]... Ribbon-cutting day fell early this summer for a new rail yard in Lima, Ohio. The new facility supports five customers in the neighboring refinery complex. "Before we had to go to the NS for access to this complex," said Jim McCullough, director- Product Performance. "We needed to come up with an idea to accomplish their growth and at the same time build our market share with these customers." Meetings between CSXT and Premcor, the largest customer in the complex, culminated in the development of the new 200-plus car capacity rail yard. "Just about every department at CSXT was involved," McCullough said, "from Industrial Development to Signals, Transportation, and many more." The yard was built on property Premcor acquired. In June, yard construction was completed and CSXT's yard crews began operating in the new facility, allowing for increased traffic to the five customers' plants for shipments of chemicals, petroleum products, and fertilizers. So far, the results are favorable: CSXT has handled 6123 carloads at the newly expanded yard year-to-date, or 261 more than last year. Revenue is up $1.35-million over last year.
Biking the Western Maryland Rail Trail
Second Section is Now Open...
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
It's always a treat to visit a brand new railroad trail. And a visit to the one that just opened west of Hancock, Maryland, is just such a treat. I was joined by fellow biker Gilbert Elmond on September 7 for a nine-mile (I counted ten) assault on the newly-opened extension of the Western Maryland Rail Trail that utilizes the former roadbed of the Western Maryland Railway between Hancock and Pollypon. It is paved with a super-smooth asphalt surface ideal for biking or roller blading.
The portion of the trail we were biking is the second of three sections. The first section 11 miles, between Big Pool Junction and Hancock was opened in 1998. (I've been on that portion several times.) A third section extending another two and one-half miles from Pollypon to Pearre is slated to open next year.
It was a superb late summer day as we began our adventure from Hancock. It was early in the afternoon, and there were a number of folks on the trail, many walking or roller blading. But once we had proceeded beyond about a mile from Hancock, the number of folks dwindled to the point that we almost had the trail to ourselves.
It was here, too, that memories abounded...
My very first visit to this portion of what is now a trail was in 1963 on a train. In fact, it was my first-ever fantrip! The train was called the Blue Mountain Express, a fall-foliage offering by the Baltimore Chapter of the NRHS from Baltimore to Cumberland. It was great excitement for me to be riding in a passenger train, compete with dining cars (supplied by the B&O), on a freight-only railroad. I learned, too, that there really was such a thing as a railfan (until then I had considered myself to be an anomaly Ha!). And before the train even got back to Baltimore, I submitted by application for NRHS membership. (I have been a member ever since.)
A year or two later I actually got a cab ride over the line (but that's a different story)!
Then, in the fall of 1988, I was there to see the track getting ripped up. In fact, the rail was actually being lifted by a train the last train to run on the line which pulled a string of rail cars followed by a winch and a "sled" that yanked the rail from the ties as the train inched its way forward. It was very depressing.
The once proud Western Maryland Railway had its through route to Cumberland abandoned by the Chessie System in 1975. The folks at Chessie simply concluded that the parallel B&O line could handle all of the traffic, which it has. The WM line west from Hagerstown was retained as a through route as far as Big Pool Junction where traffic accessed the B&O line via a bridge to Cherry Run, West Virginia, and remains in service today. The WM's former main line west from Big Pool Junction was retained as a stub-end branch line for about 20 miles to Tonoloway, but only the 10-mile portion as far as Hancock saw any revenue business. It is understood that the portion from Hancock to Tonoloway was retained with the expectation that traffic might soon develop to move sand from a large deposit in the area, but this never happened. For a while, the portion between Hancock and Tonoloway was used for the storage of cars; then, in 1984 and 1985, it was used to instruct management personnel in train-handling procedures making use of locomotives and a train of loaded ballast cars. (I was there to see that operation, too.)
This, then, represents the "memories" I had of the railroad that is now the bike trail we were riding that day. It was great to know, too, that the resource originally created as a graded railroad is now once again being made available for such a useful purpose.
The section of the trail we were riding was opened to the public on June 10 of this year. By comparison, it is far more peaceful than the first (Big Pool Junction to Hancock) section, which directly parallels Interstate 70 over most of its length. That section is extremely noisy because of the trucks and other traffic. West of Hancock, the area is much more serene.
Moving west, the terrain is typically characterized by the Potomac River on the left (with the C&O Canal and towpath sandwiched between the river and the rail trail), and cliffs, hills or farmlands on the right. The rail trail climbs somewhat higher than the adjacent towpath, affording a good view of the river (trees permitting).
The asphalt surface is so smooth that there is a tendency to bike at a fast pace, but our need to stop often to take photos and revel in the surroundings kept us to a leisurely pace.
Then, abruptly, the trail stopped! No "terminus" as one might expect just a gate and a sign saying that the trail had ended. Just beyond this point is a bridge the only major bridge we had seen on the section we were on that trains had formerly used to span a channel to a pool on the north side of the right of way. South of the bridge are the remains of a canal lock. According to information provided by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources, the pool was a small body of water where canal boats would sequester for the winter freeze. It was called Pollypon.
Gilbert and I took some time to explore. We walked down to the towpath (not an easy task at that location), and walked east to the remains of Feeder Dam No. 6. The dam was breached a number of years ago, but at one time it supplied the C&O Canal with water. We had been to this location once before on a towpath biking adventure. We even considered biking back to Hancock on the towpath this time rather than the rail trail, but we opted (for this occasion, at least) to stay on the rail trail.
When the state announced in 1994 that it had purchased the right of way from CSX for use as a trail, I wondered if its proximity to the towpath (averaging only a few hundred yards) would tend to present too much duplication for recreational purposes. In short, would the towpath and rail trail simply compete with each other with a resultant siphoning of users from each? The answer may lie in the surface base they have asphalt for the rail trail, and stone, clay and dirt for the towpath. By its historic import, the towpath must remain accurate to its dirt-base heritage. Much of it currently exists today as a pair of ruts with a grass mound in the middle, rather bumpy in places. (It is fun to bike upon, though.) The rail trail is easier for biking and the only route available for roller blading, the towpath is easier for horses (which are not even permitted on the rail trail), and hikers can enjoy both about equally. Then there is the accessibility issue for the physically challenged. (The towpath is not particularly wheelchair-friendly; the rail trail is ideal). Moreover, the rail line was a ready corridor; had it not been acquired when it was, regardless of its location, it might not have been available later. Hopefully, future projects will provide for easier access between the two trails than what is available now at many secluded spots.
To get on the Western Maryland Rail Trail, you may park in the lot specified for the trail at Big Pool Junction (take exit 12 from I-70), and parking for both sections is available at Hancock.