Paul Reistrup Retires
Paul Reistrup has retired from CSXT. A former president of Amtrak, he joined CSXT in 1997 as vice president of passenger integration. In the 1960's he was director of passenger services for the C&O and B&O. "With his vast railroad experience and his leadership of Amtrak in its early developmental stages, Paul brought an added dimension to this role for which we are grateful," said Al Crown, CSXT's executive vice president-transportation. "As a result, we have the processes necessary to fulfill our service commitments to the passengers and commuters traveling on our railroad." CSXT has more intercity passenger and commuter operations than any other U.S. freight railroad. John M. Gibson has been named as vice president-passenger and operations planning.
Union Pacific to Sell Line to Transportation Authority
Union Pacific has agreed to sell approximately 15 miles of former Western Pacific track between San Jose and Fremont, California, to the Santa Clara Transportation Authority for $80-million. The agreement also gives the VTA a one-year option to purchase an additional three miles of track immediately to the south of the 15-mile stretch.
Norfolk Southern Announces Capital Improvements Plan
Norfolk Southern plans to spend $798-million for capital improvements in 2003. This includes $499-million for roadway projects and $246-million for equipment. The company plans to purchase 100 six-axle locomotives.
Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern Expand Blue Streak Service
Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern are expanding their "Blue Streak" intermodal service to link Northern California with the northeastern United States by way of Chicago. The new service connects intermodal terminals in Lathrop and Oakland, California, to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The service will provide sixth morning availability eastbound, five days per week, and fifth morning availability westbound, seven days per week. Customers can select from Blue Streak's three service levels. The highest level, called the SuperFlyer, offers guaranteed equipment availability and on-time delivery.
Canadian National Names Hunter Harrison President and CEO
E. Hunter Harrison, 58, has been named president and chief executive officer of Canadian National. He had served as CN's executive vice president and chief operating officer since 1998. He replaces Paul M. Tellier, who is joining Bombardier Inc. as its president and chief executive officer.
Rail Line in Minnesota Reopens
A 94-mile rail line in Minnesota has reopened following a $7.5-million rehabilitation project. The Minnesota Prairie Line Railroad is now operating the line from Wood Lake to Norwood after five different owners had tried unsuccessfully to keep the line going after the Chicago & Northwestern filed for abandonment in 1982. The rehabilitation was funded by the Minnesota Valley Railroad Authority, which hopes to secure additional funding from state and federal sources to increase the line's speed from its current 10 MPH to 25 MPH.
Federal Judge Rules on South Dakota Eminent Domain Law
A federal judge has issued an order that prevents South Dakota from enforcing certain provisions of a law that requires railroads to get state permission before exercising eminent domain powers. The suit was filed by the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad, which wants to extend its line to Wyoming coal fields. The judge ruled that the state may not require railroads using eminent domain to prove that they have enough funding to complete projects and to provide free right-of-way for other utilities, but the state is still allowed to rule on public use and necessity concerns.
CSX to Sell CSX Lines
[CSXT Midweek Report, December 19, 2002]... CSX Corporation announced Tuesday [December 17] that it had reached agreement to convey CSX Lines LLC to a venture formed with The Carlyle Group for approximately $300-million in cash and securities. The transaction, expected to close in the first quarter 2003, is subject to customary conditions and regulatory approvals. CSX will receive $240-million in cash and $60-million of securities issued by the venture, with the potential to gain additional value if certain financial targets are met. "This is a terrific transaction for all parties," said CSX president Michael Ward. "Completion of this transaction is consistent with our long-stated strategy of becoming a more rail-based organization, strengthens our balance sheet and provides shareholders with significant value." Current CSX Lines president and CEO Chuck Raymond and his management team will remain in place for the Charlotte, N.C.- based ocean carrier, which will be renamed Horizon Lines LLC. Raymond also will chair the board of directors of the company. CSX Lines operates in the Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam markets.
Staffing Reductions Affect CSXT, CSXI, Technology
[CSXT Midweek Report, December 5, 2002]... In response to national economic conditions affecting CSX's markets and continuing consolidation of key departments, CSX Intermodal, CSX Technology and several departments at CSX Transportation reduced their non-contract workforce by a total of 65 employees on Wednesday [December 4]. Another 135 positions will be eliminated through attrition and by not filling existing vacancies through 2003. Similar moves have been made across the rail industry and throughout American businesses. "We tried to delay these actions as long as possible, but the slow economy has made them necessary," said CSX president Michael Ward. "We are being as fair about these tough decisions as possible, providing outplacement services and severance packages to help the affected employees get through this difficult time. We are treating our people in transition with respect and dignity, consistent with our core values." The reductions do not affect service quality and have limited impact on employees who work directly with customers. No further personnel reductions are anticipated at this time; however, CSX will continue to respond to economic conditions, as most of corporate America is doing.
Shared Assets Area Wins Expanded Auto Business
[CSXT Midweek Report, December 12, 2002]... It's a tough job coordinating rail service in the congested New Jersey Shared Assets area, where CSX, Norfolk Southern and Conrail all are accountable to customers. But by sharing a high level of commitment along with their shared rail lines, the three rail businesses are making the area work for auto customers. "Track and terminal space constraints in North Jersey make it absolutely necessary that both CSX and NS carefully coordinate inbound and outbound trains," said Lynn Thorn, director- Auto Terminal and Equipment Control. "Small glitches in train arrivals or departures often result in lost productivity for the day, impacting the following days as well." Close attention to helping trucking and manufacturing companies use the facilities has meant a boost in unloading space, so that dispatching of new automobiles from the various facilities is greatly improved. That's an almost impossible achievement, considering that the railroads haven't had to invest a dime for facility expansion. For example, in prior years, unloadings at the Doremus Avenue auto facility were 98 railcars per day. Today, that number is 121 railcars, an increase of 23 percent. At Ridgefield Heights, loadings have increased by nearly five percent just over the past several months. "Without this close communication and cooperation, this wouldn't be possible," Thorn said. Talking openly about issues and solving them as a team has made all the difference for the three carriers in improving the effectiveness and capacity of the auto terminals. "We continue to have challenges," Thorn said. "But with the present commitment and combined effort, we're confident that they are little more than bumps in the road."
John Snow's Letter to CSX Employees
[December 9, 2002] . . .
Early this morning President Bush announced that he has asked me to serve as his Secretary of the Treasury. I am deeply honored by the President's trust in me and have accepted his offer, which means I will be stepping down as chairman and CEO of CSX in the near future.
As many of you know, we had been planning on a succession change for some time and this will accelerate that change by a few months. In Michael Ward the company will have an extremely strong and able leader who I am confident will guide the company well in the years ahead.
I had looked forward to spending the next year or so as your non-executive chairman, working with Michael, the senior leadership team and the Board, but with the President's call that is no longer possible.
I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished at CSX and I leave with a great debt of gratitude to all of you who have been so important to the company's success. CSX is a great company with great people who care deeply about what we do. It is an essential part of the infrastructure of America, a critical link in what makes the country go. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for having had the opportunity to work with all of you for so many years.
- JOHN SNOW
John Snow Addresses Employees
[CSXT Midweek Report, December 19, 2002]... CSX chairman and CEO John Snow addressed employees briefly Wednesday [December 18] in the Jacksonville headquarters lobby. "It's a great honor the President has sent my way," he said of his nomination to head the Department of the Treasury. Confirmation hearings on the nomination will begin after Congress reconvenes January 7. Last week, Snow indicated that he would retire from his position at CSX upon the Senate's confirmation of his nomination. "CSX is positioned for a great future," Snow said, adding that his nomination is a reflection on the high quality of the company and its employees. "I couldn't leave you in any better hands than with Michael Ward," he said of the current CSX president, bringing a round of warm applause from the audience. Finally, John Snow urged employees to continue CSX's current upward trends. "Take those safety numbers and service results to even higher levels. Make this company the best it can be."
Preservation Group Saves Tower at Grafton, Ohio
By Paul Justy, Member, Grafton Tower Preservation Committee . . .
[Reprinted with permission from the December 2002 issue of "Train Order"]
Interlocking towers once played an important role in day to day railroad operations. They were generally located at key junction points or crossings with other railroads. Operators in telephone contact with regional dispatchers would govern train movements through the "plant," keeping trains moving in a safe and efficient manner. Advancements in technology have spelled the end for most towers. Sadly, the majority of these antiquated structures have been razed. The tower at Grafton, Ohio, which protected a crossing of CSXT (x-B&O) and Conrail (x-NYC/Big Four), has been saved and is being restored.
Closed in the mid 1980's, Grafton Tower was left abandoned but intact. During this time, Grafton Village leased the tower as a landmark and symbol from CSX Transportation for one dollar per year. However, emergency repairs to the roof could not be performed without hefty liability insurance due to the close proximity of the active mainline tracks. Clearly, something needed to be done and soon, while there was still a structure worth saving.
Kicking around the idea of moving the tower started to take shape about 1991. A group of volunteers and local business people formed the Grafton Tower Preservation Committee with the intent of raising funds and making arrangements to either save the tower on its existing site or to find it a suitable new home.
Various fundraisers were conducted. Tower birdhouse replicas were made by inmates of both state correctional institutions in Grafton and were sold by the committee. Etched glass Christmas ornaments featuring the tower along with wooden silhouettes were designed by Joe Filipiak, a spearhead of the preservation group, a lifelong Grafton resident, and a Midview High School art teacher.
Joe was also the conduit between Grafton Village and CSXT. He has probably talked to more folks in the Jacksonville headquarters than the company CEO. Old-fashioned door to door knocking on local businesses also yielded its share of funds.
The break came when CSXT reestablished the ex-Big Four double track through Grafton. In 1998, the decision had to be made to either tear down or move the historic structure. With the blessing of Grafton Village officials, private and public donations, dedicated volunteers and a willing house-moving contractor, the nearly 100-year-old landmark was lowered to ground level using cribbing and jacks, then dragged some 200 feet northeast. Fund-raising efforts produced enough money to finally put a new roof on the structure, with some funds left over. Now the tower needed a home.
Acquiring property proved to be quite an endeavor. It involved a great deal of detective work and seemingly endless phone calls to "the guy who knows the guy who is in charge of that department, but he is on vacation." The Village of Grafton, along with the Grafton Railroad Tower Preservation Committee, proposed purchasing a parcel of railroad property. Unforeseen architectural drawing delays and required soil testing took most of the mid 1990's. (It was feared toxic substances, namely lead, were in concentration on the property.)
By the time the EPA gave a clean bill of health, and suitable drawings were prepared, Conrail was in the midst of being split up. The timing could not have been worse. During the Conrail shakeup all land and real estate dealings were put on hold indefinitely.
It has taken nearly 10 years of phone calls, meetings and paperwork, but the property where the tower currently sits, along Cleveland Street, will be its permanent home. All this did come at a price... CSXT, in all its generosity, would not sell the property the tower rests upon outright. Instead, a multi-year renewable lease was the best that could be agreed upon.
Since the relocation, along with the roof, the building has had the window openings replaced as well as some cedar siding shingles, and a fresh coat of primer. New windows and glazing have been built and will be fitted soon.
Summer 2002 saw the tower raised upon its "stilts." These are actually rails stood on end. They were not all of equal length, so an ingenious system of leveling pads was fabricated. A certified (by the U.S. Navy, no less) welder was hired to make the structure as secure as the day it was first erected by attaching the rail stilts to the mounting pads and anchoring the steel staircase in place.
There is still much work to be done. It is planned to get at least a couple of the armstrong levers to actually operate a turnout. A new model board needs to be constructed, and countless other projects are still in the works. However, the main goal - preserving a piece of living history - seems well established.
The Grafton Railroad Tower Preservation Committee is a non-profit group and is always in need of volunteers willing to donate labor, time, artifacts and money. It is hoped the tower in Grafton will soon be open to visitors and railfans of all ages.
"Train Order" ($12 per year via first-class mail) is a monthly newsletter devoted to rail news from Ohio and surrounding states. Subscriptions may be ordered by sending a check payable to Train Order, P.O. Box 16217, Cleveland, Ohio 44116-0217.
Memories of "DS" Tower
By Bill Lakel . . .
[Reprinted with permission from the January 2003 issue of "News & Notes," publication of the Retired Administrators of the B&O Railroad]
Recently, while sitting around the table of our cabin in Canada, swapping railroad tales, my son, Bill Jr., Engineer on the trailer train Cumberland to Philadelphia, asked me a question probably only two people could answer - myself and A. W. Johnston ("Peanuts," in the old B & O days).
I was first introduced to "DS" Tower, Boyds, Maryland, around 1950. Ross Schenck, Division Operator, sent me a work message, "Commence 2nd trick 'DS' tower until further notice." DS Tower sat on the fill between Buck Lodge and Boyds, Maryland, on the Metropolitan Sub Division, between "QN" Tower, Washington, D.C.; and "KG" Tower, Point of Rocks, Maryland. It was a lever-operated interlocking, consisting of double crossovers and passing sidings in both directions. There was no road to the tower. Weather permitting, we could drive through a farmer's field. Any rain or snow, and it was a mile walk from the road.
There are many words to describe "DS":
PROUD, absolutely, for she controlled everything in both directions between "QN," in D.C. and "KG" Tower, Point of Rocks, where the Old Main Line joined. Many an evening a P-7 locomotive would blow the 6 shorts ordering the "Protect Engine" out at Brunswick. "DS" had done her job for that day.
STURDY, you bet, for she was constructed completely of poured concrete and faced with red brick. I remember on one derailment a loaded "reefer" hit the front porch and actually wrapped around the west corner of the building. Total damage was several bricks off the facing. The roof was built as a reservoir for the steam boiler in the basement, which never produced enough water to work properly. The old caboose stove kept her warm and comfortable.
LONELY, definitely so, isolated completely. At night when coming to work, the "goose neck" porcelain light over the door produced an eerie glow of light, the only light you could see in that direction.
MEMORIES, there are many, as in every telegraph office, but some at "DS" are forever etched in my mind...
- "Suzie," the Resident Cat belonging to first trick operator, Ewell Shewbridge, had produced a total of 74 kittens under the desk. Ewell kept a record on the wall. She would bring live mice to her brood to train them. There was always someone waiting for her kittens. No. 4 ended her career at the Eastbound Home Signal when she waited a second too long to get off the rail.
- "Monty Sanbower," the signal maintainer stocking rabbits in the spring to assure fantastic hunting in the fall season.
- "A. W. Johnston," ATM from Brunswick, coming down to meet the "Met" way train to switch out shopped N-41 hopper cars scattered throughout the mess stored in the eastbound siding, by number of course. I kept an accurate "check" which always helped. "Bill" had legs like a giraffe and could span three ties with his stride. I probably looked like a Ballet Dancer trying to keep up. This situation prevailed throughout our long careers.
- "The Strawberry Pickers in June," the hollow behind the tower was solid strawberry plants and provided the locals with buckets of fruit.
- "The Resident Raccoon," who would eat his sandwich and scratch on the screen door for more.
Getting back to Bill, Jr.'s. question. After countless buckets of water over the spillway, Bill Johnston was Superintendent of the Baltimore Division and I was Division Operator-Rules Examiner. "DS" tower had long been closed, the pipelines removed and switches modified. "DS" was a lonely shadow still sitting on the Right of Way. AWJ had me setting up temporary offices at "BN," East Brunswick; and "KG" tower, Point of Rocks, for single track operation. It seems we were blowing down the mountain at Point of Rocks Tunnel to move the Eastbound Track outside the tunnel. The Westbound Track was to be moved to the center of the tunnel to accommodate high cube boxcars and auto racks.
AWJ suggested I contact the Superintendent of the project to see if "DS" Tower could be "Removed." He was right, as usual, for when we took the "Powder Man" to "DS" he said, "No Problem." He would set three charges under the foundation caissons and one under the front of the building. The front charge to be set off several seconds after the rear charges were detonated.
When he did the job, "DS" went over backwards, ever so slowly into the hollow. The relays and signal equipment in the basement, the old files, stove and furnace remained with the building.
To answer Bill Jr.'s question: "Son, she is still there." Now completely covered with honeysuckle, brush and trees. Totally invisible to the passing trains, forever hiding the once proud tower and her many memories.
Writer's Note: This is a story I recently wrote while visiting my daughter Lisa, a Dispatcher in Jacksonville, Florida. I worked from the Baltimore Division in '44 to East St, Louis in many capacities from Trackman at $.67 per hour, to Assistant Superintendent Operations in Grand Rapids, retiring in 1988... Nearly 45 years.
Remembering my First "Outside" Job
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
The year was 1970. I had been with the B&O for about two months, perhaps three, when I got my first opportunity to partake of the railroad outside of an office. I got a call one evening from the chief dispatcher telling me that I was needed beginning early the next morning at Hollofield Road in Howard County, Maryland, to assist contractors who were installing a sewer line next to the right of way along the Old Main Line. He gave me directions, telling me to get to the site at the designated time in order to unlock the cable to the service road for the contractors to enter. I would also meet up with a B&O engineering representative who would provide me with a portable telephone by which I could make contact with the train dispatcher. I was surely excited about my first chance to experience railroading in such an open element, plus I had a touch of anxiety over doing something I had never done before.
"Outside" jobs were assigned to tower operators on an as-needed basis, either to provide communication on train movements to contractors or to staff temporary train order stations to divert trains through work areas. The Hollofield assignment involved a contractor whose presence on the property required knowing when trains were expected because of the close work involved.
As had been planned, I was the first to arrive upon the still dark scene that morning. But I was surprised to find that the cable was not locked; it was simply laying aside. So I waited until somebody else showed up.
In short order a caravan of contractors' trucks arrived. I stopped one of them, and I was simply told to follow them to the work site. Indeed, Hollofield Road was not really the work site at all, just the closest entry point. The service road ran directly next to the track, in reality the space that had once been a second track until the Old Main Line had been single-tracked several years earlier. We continued for a couple of miles, eventually passing through a curved tunnel.
"And what would happen if a train came through the tunnel right now?" I pondered to myself. Oh, well, those fellows seemed to know what they were doing, even if I didn't. Anyway, there would have been enough clearance in the tunnel, if just barely!
The tunnel - Union Dam (named for a dam that once existed just north of the US-40 bridge across the Patapsco River) - ran through a bluff on the west side of the river and beneath US-40. The staging area for the construction site was just south (B&O direction east) of the tunnel.
The B&O engineering representative arrived - remaining for the rest of the day - and he showed me how to use the portable phone. It was a rather cumbersome affair with a pair of metal poles with clips on the end which extended upward to the line wires. With contact made to two of the lines, I was in communication with the train dispatcher.
Also present at the site was a representative from the county - sort of an overseer - a chap I had remembered from high school. "Which way will the [sewage] flow?" I asked. In hindsight this might have been a dumb question, at least to the logic that such stuff prefers to flow downhill.
A trench was being dug about 50 yards at a time below the bed of the former track, now a service road, with concrete pipe sections lowered, connected, and then covered. The project had been ongoing for a number of months. At one time, I suppose, the work site had actually been back at Hollofield Road. It was a county project, not a railroad project; they were using the right of way since it was a ready-made, convenient route for the sewage line.
The contractor folks were by then rather experienced with working in the proximity of trains, and they only really needed to know about the location of trains when flatbed loads of pipe came through the tunnel to make a delivery, and on one other occasion when blasting was required. As I recall, only two or three trains went by during those working hours.
I was beginning to get the feel of the project, and I enjoyed being outdoors on this warm, summer day. But I never got to return. Typically, such outside operator jobs were assigned to temporary employees - such as college students working in the summer months - and the railroad needed me for other assignments. But I did get to work my share of other "outside" jobs at different locations as time went on. More on these later.