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November 2004

 

CSX Sells Line Between Cincinnati and Columbus

Indiana & Ohio Central Railroad, a subsidiary of RailAmerica, has completed its $8.6-million purchase from CSX of 107 miles of line from Cincinnati to Columbus, Ohio, and the long-term lease of related real estate. The line will be operated as part of the IOCR, which anticipates moving approximately 19,000 carloads annually over the line, according to a RailAmerica press release. The IOCR connects with CSX's Midland Subdivision at Washington Courthouse, Ohio, and RailAmerica's Indiana & Ohio Railway at Springfield, Ohio.

 

CSX Leases Fulco Branch in Georgia to OmniTRAX

OmniTRAX has announced that it has concluded a lease of CSX's Fulco Branch in Georgia, and its subsidiary Fulton County Railway began operations over the line on October 23. OmniTRAX is the largest privately held rail services company in North America, according to a company news release.

 

Amtrak Modifies Ticket-Change Fee Policy

Amtrak has eliminated its ticket change fees for customers who buy another Amtrak ticket of equal or greater value. Previously, ticket change fees were $30 for adults and $15 for children. Under the new policy, the only time a fee will apply is if the traveler asks for money back.

 

Amtrak Posts Record Ridership

For the second year in a row, Amtrak has posted its highest ridership ever. According to the National Association of Railroad Passengers, Amtrak carried 25,053,564 passengers nationwide in the fiscal year that ended September 30, a 4.3 percent increase over the previous year's record ridership of 24,028,119.

 

BNSF Reports Third-Quarter Earnings

Burlington Northern Santa Fe has reported third-quarter earnings of one cent per share, which includes a net of tax charge of $288-million, or 76 cents per share, to reflect changes in the way BNSF estimates asbestos and environmental liabilities. Earnings for the corresponding quarter last year were 55 cents per share. Third-quarter 2004 freight revenues increased $373-million, or 16 percent, to an all-time quarterly record of $2.74-billion compared with 2003 third-quarter revenues of $2.37-billion. Of the 16 percent increase, about three percent was driven by fuel surcharges and about three percent came from price increases, according to BNSF.

 

Union Pacific Donates Willamette River Bridge to Salem, Oregon

Union Pacific has announced it is donating the former railroad branch line bridge over the Willamette River to the City of Salem, Oregon. The railroad also has agreed to establish a fund for maintenance of the bridge over the next four years. In addition, Union Pacific will donate land for a park and trail to access the bridge for recreational purposes. Union Pacific's predecessor in Salem, Southern Pacific, stopped using the bridge in the early 1970's.

 

Railroads Set Total Freight Volume Record

[Assn. of American Railroads, 10-21-04]... U.S. railroads moved more freight during the week ended October 16 than during any previous week on record, according to this release issued by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Total volume of 33.1 billion ton-miles broke the previous record of 32.7 billion ton-miles set just one week earlier. It also represented a 2.2 percent increase over total volume during the comparable week last year. Intermodal volume of 231,255 trailers or containers also set a weekly record, besting the old mark of 231,025 trailers or containers set during the week ended September 25. This week's volume was up 9.5 percent from the comparable week a year ago, with container volume was up 10.1 percent from last year and trailer volume gaining 7.7 percent. Carload freight, which doesn't include the intermodal data, totaled 354,224 units, up 2.0 percent from last year and was the highest weekly total in more than three years. Carload volume was up 2.2 percent in the East and 1.8 percent in the West.

 

Amtrak Over-the-Road Train Performance

How the host carriers compare - October 2004

[By Allen Brougham] . . .

The survey was conducted using randomly selected examples from each of the host carriers between October 1 and October 26. It is offered as a guide to how the host carriers compare with the others.

This is the eighth consecutive month that this survey has been conducted. In each and every month since the survey began, a pattern has emerged that Burlington Northern Santa Fe is consistently the best operating Amtrak performer of all of the major host freight carriers. In fact, BNSF even topped Amtrak's own performance as a host carrier in one of the months surveyed. Three different carriers have taken positions as the worst performer: CSX once, CPR twice, and UP five times.

The figures (minutes of delay per 1,000 train miles) for the seven major host carriers in October were as follows:

 

 

[Book Review]

[Reviewed by Allen Brougham] . . .

"Buffalo Central Terminal"
 
By Ken Kraemer
ISBN: 0-9743060-1-0
2004, RR Trax Studios
Softbound, 72 pages
$24.95

Now comes a book that railroad structure enthusiasts can truly drool over. I know that I have.

"Buffalo Central Terminal stands like a misplaced monument rising out of a mostly residential neighborhood," reads one of the passages in the book. Indeed, "it is an integral part of the local scene."

I got my first and so far only look at Buffalo Central Terminal in the mid-1960's. A friend and I had taken Pennsy's overnight Northern Express from Baltimore in order to return in daylight - while there was still time to do it - on the Baltimore Day Express. We were only in Buffalo for a very short while, but what a treat it was!

I was mesmerized by the imposing statue of a bison as we entered the station's interior. Still, the best was yet to come. There, beyond the statue, somehow cordoned off from the then-public area, was the immense grandeur of its Great Hall. What a magnificent place, I thought, yet I was saddened that the room looked so forlorn by its emptiness and lack of need. Its "day" had truly passed long before. If only I could have been here 15 years earlier!

Ken Kramer's book is replete with over 120 photographs - a few of them in color - to document the terminal over a period of 50 years. Shots are included from just about every angle of the station with its massive office tower, and the interior gets special treatment in a 14-page chapter devoted to scenes that I should describe as awe-inspiring. And yes, the statue of the bison is included too. There is even a chapter on Tower 49, one of two within the terminal complex, which had an interlocking machine that was so huge that the operators used an electrically-powered chair to whisk themselves from one end of the plant to the other. The towers (the other one was Tower 48) were designed to control switches and signals for as many as 1,400 train movements in a single day.

Buffalo Central Terminal was completed for the New York Central in 1929. Other railroads used it too; it was a busy place. Its end as a train station came in 1979 when Amtrak opted to vacate the place in favor of smaller facilities. Today Amtrak uses a couple of locations to serve its passengers in the Buffalo area ­ downtown, and at Depew - but both could easily fit within Central Terminal's Great Hall with plenty of room to spare.

Buffalo Central Terminal may never again serve as a train station, but it is being restored, and visits are available at selected times or by appointment.

If you like train stations, this book is for you. It may be ordered from RR Trax Studios, P.O. Box 995, Cumberland, Maryland 21501. The cost is $24.95 plus $3.00 shipping to the U.S. New York State residents add $2.05 per book for sales tax.