Glenwood Tower Closes
[By Wade H. Massie] . . .
Yet another manned interlocking tower has ceased operation. CSX's WJ Tower (Glenwood Jct.) closed on Oct. 1, 2003. The present tower was built in 1908 and was a typical two-story frame Baltimore and Ohio tower located in Pittsburgh, PA, next to the Monongahela River. Standing guard at milepost 323, along the P&W Subdivision at the east end of Glenwood yard, the tower controlled movements on the P&W and also the W&P sub where the latter entered the yard. The P&W sub begins in Rankin, four miles east of WJ, and continues on to West Pittsburg (correctly spelled without the 'h'), about 56 miles to the northwest. The W&P begins at Glenwood Jct. and runs southwesterly, ending 33 miles later in Washington, PA. The current W&P is the remnant of a through line that ran to Wheeling, WV, 62 miles away.
Sandwiched between the P&W sub and the leads to the yard, WJ was a key junction on the B&O for many of its 95 years of service.
Throughout the B&O era, Glenwood Jct. remained a busy point on the railroad, despite the fact that many B&O trains used trackage rights on the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie, whose main line ran on the opposite side of the river. The P&LE trackage rights, which began in 1934, were primarily used by passenger trains on the mainline and priority through freights that did not have yard work in the Pittsburgh area. The trains that did pass through WJ's plant were numerous and varied, however. Freight trains from all directions converged upon Glenwood. Commuter trains to B&O's downtown Pittsburgh station plied the line between Pittsburgh and Versailles. These trains passed through the heart of the American steel industry, giving passengers a view of several large steel mills along the Monongahela River. The commuter trains ceased operations in the late 1980's due to a large decline in ridership. Many of the once bustling steel mills had also shut down by this time.
In addition to the commuter trains, there was also passenger service on the W&P line which ran to Wheeling, WV. Passenger service on the W&P ended in the 1950's.
Many freight trains served Glenwood Yard, which was the largest B&O facility in Pittsburgh and also featured a locomotive shop. Freights from Buffalo, NY; Willard, OH; Wheeling, WV; and Connellsville, PA, would all work in Glenwood. Just west of the yard, Jones and Laughlin Steel operated a huge mill which provided a seemingly unending supply of traffic for the B&O. Glenwood served as a collection point for freight from other B&O yards in the area, and industrial traffic was strong throughout the region. With countless carloads from the mills, the trains were plentiful as they passed WJ.
The 1980's brought great change to the area and little of it was for the better. The recession had forced the closing of many steel mills throughout Pittsburgh. With the mills gone, much of the local traffic base had eroded. The J&L mill became an LTV Steel property and much of it was shut down. LTV retained the coke plant and unit trains of coke were sent west from Glenwood until the coke plant finally shut down in 1998. The W&P was severed as a through line to Wheeling in the mid 80's, and service was cut back to a tri-weekly local to Washington. This was a far cry from the W&P's important status as a secondary mainline.
In its final years, WJ normally saw only a fraction of the trains that once ran past the tower. After the LTV coke plant shut down in 1998, local traffic declined accordingly, as the coke plant usually produced one loaded train every day. Through freights were also greatly reduced, but there were exceptions to this, however, as the P&W would see heavy traffic if there was a derailment or track work on the P&LE which CSX acquired in 1992. Recent major track work on the P&LE in 2002 and 2003 provided a short-lived increase in traffic past WJ. When the tower closed, the only trains normally passing the tower included a few local freights; Amtrak trains 29 and 30, the Capitol Limited; and the occasional through freight.
CSX now plans to lease to the Allegheny Valley Railroad the lower P&W sub from Glenwood MP 322.8 to Glenshaw MP 7.5. The AVR will also lease the W&P from Glenwood to the end of track, near Washington. The upper portion of the P&W is slated to be leased to the Buffalo and Pittsburgh. CSX filed a petition to discontinue service on the middle portion of the line between Glenshaw and Bakerstown (see STB notice, below), but late word has it that the Buffalo & Pittsburgh has now offered to lease that portion of the line from CSX as well. Because CSX is only leasing the P&W and not selling it outright, it is possible that through freights may pass WJ once again, but most likely only in the event of a derailment on the P&LE sub.
Shortly after the closing of WJ, some of the classic B&O signals in the area were eliminated. This coincides with a project on the P&LE sub to rewire signals to provide Seaboard-style aspects. Signal fans take note: P&LE signals are still in use in the McKeesport area and B&O signals can still be photographed along the P&W, beginning at Marion Jct. and Laughlin Jct., about two miles west of WJ. Active interlocking towers remain at Connellsville, PA, to the east and Newton Falls, OH, to the west.
The tower remains standing, but the "Glenwood" signs on the east and west sides of the tower have been removed. WJ now joins the ranks of its abandoned neighbors across the river, the former P&LE Becks Run tower and the old PRR Beck tower. This area now has the distinction of being home to three abandoned towers within a two-mile radius. One has to wonder how many other locations can boast such an interesting characteristic. It would be wise to get your photos of WJ sooner, rather than later. Recent history has shown that CSX doesn't usually waste much time before razing old towers.
Like much of the antiquated infrastructure around it, time has finally caught up to WJ. B&O F7s will never again haul ore and limestone to the J&L mill, and Budd cars won't be shuttling commuters to downtown Pittsburgh any time soon. But there is hope for the future with the upcoming transition to the AVR. Perhaps their customer-oriented service will increase business on the W&P and lower P&W subdivisions.
STB DOCKET No.AB-55 (Sub-No.644X) [excerpted]
CSX Transportation Inc. (CSXT) has filed a verified notice of exemption under 49 CFR 1152 Subpart F-Exempt Abandonments and Discontinuances of Service to discontinue service over an approximately 11.2-mile line of railroad, extending between milepost BG 7.2 at Glenshaw and milepost BG 18.4 at Bakerstown, in Allegheny County, PA.
CSXT has certified that: (1) no local traffic has moved over the line for at least 2 years; (2) any overhead traffic on the line can be rerouted over other lines; (3) no formal complaint filed by a user of rail service on the line (or by a state or local government entity acting on behalf of such user) regarding cessation of service over the line either is pending with the Surface Transportation Board or with any U.S. District Court or has been decided in favor of complainant within the 2-year period; and (4) the requirements at 49 CFR 1105.7, 49 CFR 1105.8, 49 CFR 1105.11, 49 CFR 1105.12, and 49 CFR 1152.50(d)(1) have been met.
Provided no formal expression of intent to file an offer of financial assistance (OFA) has been received, this exemption will be effective on November 18, 2003, unless stayed pending reconsideration. . .
Myersville Trolley Festival
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
The third weekend in October is the time set aside each year by the citizens of Myersville, Maryland, to honor the presence in the community of an old trolley car. The car does not run (though with some work, likely it could), and it rests on its own set of tracks where folks from near and far gather to pay it proper homage.
The last time I attended the Myersville Trolley Festival, back in 1994, it was its first annual event. Time passed as the second through ninth festivals took place, but last month I made it a point to attend once again. This, then, was the tenth annual event.
The centerpiece is trolley car 150. It was built in South Carolina in 1918 and used as a troop carrier during the first World War. It was purchased in 1923 by Potomac Edison for use in its trolley line network, including the line between Hagerstown and Frederick which went through Myersville. The Myersville portion of the line - which was completed in 1904 - ceased operation in 1938. After the car was retired, it spent half a century reposing on a spot on Braddock Mountain. Then, in 1993, it was moved to Myersville and lovingly restored by Donald Easterday, on whose property the car now rests next to the former Hagerstown & Frederick right-of-way. Also moved to the site was a pagoda-style waiting shelter - built in 1896 - which had served H&F passengers at nearby Middletown, Maryland, prior to being used on a farm as a cattle shelter and feeding station. It, too, was moved to Myersville in 1993 where it was restored and placed next to the old H&F right-of-way.
According to Alex Postpischil, president of the recently-founded Hagerstown & Frederick Railway Historical Society, there are at least three other pieces of original H&F equipment remaining in various locations. The hope is that one or more of these pieces might some day be brought to Myersville to be displayed along with trolley car 150.
THE HAGERSTOWN & FREDERICK RAILWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY: Founded in 1999 by three model railroaders, the society was created because of a need to preserve a vital part of Western Maryland heritage and culture. Their mission statement reads: "The Hagerstown & Frederick Railway Historical Society is dedicated to promoting and preserving the heritage of the trolley line that served Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland. We offer historical and technical data, as well as educational information to members and the public." Memberships are $20 for individuals, $30 for families, and $50 & up for corporate/benefactors. For further information write the society at P.O. Box 1314, Frederick, Maryland 21702-0314, or go to www.hfrhs.org
CSX Reports Third-Quarter Loss
CSX Corporation reported a consolidated loss of 48 cents per share for the third quarter. The loss resulted from a change in accounting estimate and the expected settlement of disputes in connection with the company's 1999 sale of international container shipping assets. Excluding after-tax charges, earnings per share for the quarter were 51 cents, versus 60 cents a share for the corresponding quarter a year ago.
Letter to CSX Employees From Chairman Michael Ward...
- October 23, 2003
- Dear Colleague:
CSX released third-quarter earnings late yesterday. Our numbers do not reflect the great company we strive to be. While I am disappointed and impatient for change, achieving quality results is within our reach. We are continuing to put in place the foundation necessary to meet our own expectations, and those of our customers and shareholders. While these efforts will take time to show sustained, positive results, we must be unwavering in our resolve, and reflect a sense of urgency in our actions.
Strengthened by the success of our continued revenue growth, we need to improve operations to drive a lower cost structure, increase productivity and better meet customer commitments. Every employee must be held accountable for pulling equally and aggressively on two levers - revenue growth and lower costs.
Before I discuss those efforts further, let me discuss a couple of important and unusual items in the press release. You will note that because of a change in CSX's estimates for occupational and personal injury liabilities and the expected settlement of disputes arising from the 1999 sale of our international container shipping assets, we posted a loss for the quarter. These charges do not materially affect our company's cash flow and, excluding the charges, we had surface transportation operating income of $213-million and net earnings of $109-million. Put simply, excluding these two items, we made money in the quarter. You can read our press release at www.csx.com to learn more of the details on these issues. Unfortunately, it was below the $227-million we made in last year's third quarter even though we grew our surface transportation revenues by $37-million. We are clearly lagging in our cost performance.
Obviously, we did not do as well as we should have. Tomorrow, I will be in New York, along with Mike Giftos and Oscar Munoz, to discuss these results and, more importantly, our action plan for improvement.
We'll highlight the fact that revenue for CSX Transportation and CSX Intermodal was up two percent for the quarter, reflecting growth and terrific efforts in all of our merchandise segments and essentially flat revenue in the coal, automotive and intermodal markets. Unfortunately, these gains were outpaced by $51-million in additional expenses in the quarter - thus a drop in operating income. This is a trend that cannot continue. Our drop in operating income resulted from running an inefficient network and some additional costs from the power blackout in the Northeast and Midwest, the impact of the computer virus on CSX and the effects of Hurricane Isabel. This was despite the heroic efforts from many employees who worked around the clock to right our railroad following these events - a dedication and commitment that I appreciate very much. However, we must be a company that can deal with adversity more effectively.
To turn our performance around we've started a three-phase approach to (1) improve operations, (2) sustain those improvements and (3) take our service to new levels. We'll do phase one by applying the same 'back to basics' philosophy we used during our last service recovery. We'll focus on a few key measures and apply the discipline required to run a reliable railroad. Then we will turn our attention to sustaining these improvements. We must begin recognizing and managing trends, not data points, standardizing processes and becoming more attuned to spotting leading indicators. Then, by mid to late 2004, we will further strengthen our service product through the full implementation of shipment management and technologies that allow us to turn our assets faster.
Already, we are seeing the first indications of improved results. A few of our key measures are trending in the right direction - velocity, recrews, on duty to time of departure and cars-on-line. The Atlanta Division, a challenged location for much of 2003, has improved in all the service categories we measure. I applaud the people of the Atlanta Division and all of those who supported them in their adherence to the plan and their localized changes to improve fluidity. The pace of Atlanta's improvement demonstrates what we can and must do across the company - in every department, every day.
Yet even with the improvements we have seen in recent days, we have a lot of work to do. As of this morning, less than two-thirds of our trains originated and arrived on time. Safety remains a priority as we work to restore the progress we made last year in this critical area. We must have a culture that will not tolerate even a single injury or accident.
By attending to the fundamentals - safety, service, fluidity, costs and accountability - we will drive customer satisfaction and improved financial performance. Regardless of our jobs or responsibilities, these issues are at the heart of CSX's purpose. And they are the reason we will continue to implement new initiatives and changes necessary to produce better results.
I know you are as impatient as I am to deliver better results. Let's not confuse the time it will take to turn around this railroad with a willingness to wait for results. With an eye to long-term and sustainable improvement, and a commitment to our vision and values, we must accelerate the pace of change as we work to become the safest, most progressive North American railroad, relentless in the pursuit of customer and employee excellence.
- Thank you,
- Michael Ward
Canadian National to Acquire Great Lakes Transportation
Canadian National has agreed to acquire Great Lakes Transportation LLC, parent of Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range; Bessemer & Lake Erie; and Pittsburgh & Conneaut Dock, for $380-million. According to a news report, a key element in the acquisition is Missabe Road's track in the Duluth-Superior area used by CN on trackage rights, allowing it greater access to Winnipeg and Chicago. Also included is a fleet of eight vessels carrying bulk commodities on the Great Lakes. Acquisition is expected by the middle of next year.
New Haven West Tower Closes
Metro-North's New Haven West Tower, the last interlocking tower in operation on the railroad, closed on October 11. Its territory covered the eastern seven miles of the New Haven Line, and its duties were transferred to the new District G traffic controller based in New York's Grand Central Terminal.
Georgia Authorizes Funds Toward Commuter Line
The state of Georgia has authorized $4-million in bonds to match $21-million in federal funds toward the planned Macon-Griffin-Atlanta commuter line. The trains, to operate on Norfolk Southern, are expected to carry 1.5 million passengers annually.
Eastman Kodak to Discontinue Slide Projector Sales
The Eastman Kodak Company has announced plans to discontinue sales of slide projectors by June of next year. The company cited a decline in usage, replaced by alternative projection technologies. The company will continue to provide service and support for slide projectors through June 2011.
Dale Watson Dies - PTI Driver
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
Dale W. Watson, a member of the team of fellow crew van drivers with Professional Transportation Inc. at the CSXT yard in Brunswick, Maryland, died at his home in Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia, on September 28. He was 41. I had known Dale - who had the nickname of "Tut" - since he began with PTI a couple of months after I started part-time with the company in 2001. We served together during overlapping shifts for about four hours each Saturday evening - he in van number 1 and I in van number 2. He had a full-time position with two 12-hour shifts and two 8-hour shifts in a 40-hour week. He was well regarded by those with whom he served, and he was always a pleasure to work with. Dale had been in declining health for a couple of months, but he continued working until several days before his death. In fact, he was getting ready to go to work that very day at the time he died. He is survived by two daughters, a son, two brothers and two sisters. A number of his fellow drivers attended his funeral on October 3.
Union Stations Across the U.S.
[By Beryl Frank] . . .
Beryl Frank, of Pikesville, Maryland, has written extensively on historical topics. Her latest interest in union stations is shared here with the first in a series of old post cards she has collected.
Why are both of these railroad depots called Union Station? One is in our nation's capital and the other is in Montpelier, Ohio. Both were pictured on post cards when the postage needed to send them was only a penny.
Union Station in Washington, D.C., was completed by the U.S. Government, the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1907. That provides the first question here. More than one railroad financed and used "The New Union Station at Washington."
The cost of the land, building and terminal improvements was 18 million dollars. The building of white granite is 760 feet in length and 343 feet in width. When built, it was considered the finest railroad station in the world.
When the traveler moved west, the station at Montpelier, Ohio, was also called "Union Station." One of the pictured gentlemen standing beside the engine was holding a rifle. The gentleman in white had a gun belt around his waist.
This two-story building was far less elegant than Union Station in Washington, but there were waiting passengers ready to get on the train. Which railroad came and went through Montpelier, Ohio?
Research showed that the Wabash Railroad Company was the only railroad using the Montpelier station. This union station was so named because it was a meeting point of multiple main lines of the Wabash Railroad. At one time, there was also a hotel in town called the Union Hotel. But both the hotel and the station have since been torn down.
These two buildings show the elegance of one and the simplicity of the other. And both were called Union Station in the early years of the 1900's.