CSX Transportation Reorganizes
[Condensed from CSXT reports to employees] . . .
SECOND TO NONE VISION: President Ron Conway and the Leadership Team have announced a major commercial and operational reorganization to position the railroad as a much more customer-responsive company. By doing so, CSXT will be well on its way to becoming North America's premier railroad, Second to None. The reorganization includes the creation of Service Groups in merchandise, coal and automotive, in addition to the existing CSX Intermodal unit. Each of those principal product lines will become a Service Group, with full profit-and-loss targets and incorporating customer service, service design, and car management. Concurrently, CSXT also will reorganize its operating department into five regions to make the network more responsive to the needs of the service groups and customers. "This is an important shift in how we do business," Conway said. "This new structure will support our goal of improving the reliability of service to our customers in a cost-effective manner. It also builds on the customer focus that underlies our labor-management culture-change initiative. It is the foundation for growth and will help us to become the premier North American railroad, second to none."
The Service Groups will enable CSXT to focus more closely on customers' distinct needs and to meet revenue growth goals. Each Service Group will have profit-and-loss targets and incorporate functions critical to customer growth and success such as customer service, service design, car management and billing. A senior operations official has been assigned to each of the Service Groups as a link between the commercial and operating teams. "By combining all of the people responsible for developing new business and planning the service, the Service Groups will accelerate response time to new opportunities, more effectively plan new and deliverable rail service products, and better meet shippers' changing needs."
The leaders of the Service Groups will continue to direct the new organizations in their expanded role: Aden C. Adams for the Merchandise Service Group, Dale R. Hawk for the Automotive Service Group, and Michael J. Ward for the Coal Service Group. Lester M. Passa will continue as president of CSX Intermodal. Vice presidents-operations have been assigned to each of the Service Groups. They are: David G. Orr, Merchandise Service Group; Douglas R. Greer, Coal Service Group; and Gerry T. Gates, Automotive Service Group. James W. Fallon has been named senior vice president-operations for CSX Intermodal.
"Within the Service Groups, the day-to-day contacts for our customers will not change. What will change are the internal organizations that support our customers, blending our commercial and operations functions to create one powerful team capable of aggressive growth," Conway said.
In a related announcement, John P. Sammon has joined CSXT as vice president-marketing services to lead the commercial support activities for the Service Groups. On October 1, Sammon will succeed Adams as senior vice president-Merchandise Service Group. Adams will continue with the company through the end of the year, working closely with Sammon to provide an effective transition. Sammon most recently was senior vice president of Conrail's Core Service Group.
OPERATIONS REORGANIZATION: The operations team will be reorganized into five regions reporting to regional vice presidents. The regional vice presidents will report to Gary M. Spiegel, senior vice president-operations. "Aligned with our new Service Groups, the operations organization will accelerate the process of making decisions and place that responsibility where it belongs - close to our customers," Conway said. Each of the operating regions will have a central staff that manages functions in safety, operating rules, local customer development, operations improvement and budget, mechanical and engineering. Many employees will see little change in their day-to-day functions, although they may report to a different person than they do today.
Here's a rundown of the five operating regions, where they will be located, and geographic territory...
Northeast Region.. Bob Downing, vice president. Headquartered in Albany, New York; includes the former Albany and Baltimore Service lanes. Central Region.. Al Crown, vice president. Headquartered in Huntington, West Virginia; includes the former C&O and Cumberland Coal business units and the Appalachian Service Lane. Southern Region.. Mike Pendergrass, vice president. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida; includes the former Florence, Jacksonville and Atlanta service lanes. Midwest Region.. Johnny Williams, vice president. Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky; includes the former Louisville and Nashville service lanes. Western Region.. Mike Peterson, vice president. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois; includes the former Chicago, Detroit, Great Lakes and Indianapolis service lanes.
Union Pacific Completes Triple-Track Project in Nebraska
Union Pacific has completed its four-year, $327-million triple-track project in Nebraska. The 108-mile route between North Platte and Gibbon is designed to handle an average volume of 140 trains a day at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.
Amtrak Introduces Stop at Williams Junction, Arizona
Amtrak's Southwest Chief now stops at Williams Junction, Arizona, the transfer point for the trains of the Grand Canyon Railway. Passengers from the West may now make same-day connections en route to the Grand Canyon, and same-day connections returning, with free shuttle service between stations. Passengers from the East may make connections en route to the Grand Canyon the following morning with similar connections returning. Overnight accommodations are available in Williams, with free shuttle service, at the Fray Marcos Hotel, a Grand Canyon Railway property.
Amtrak Adds New Cascades Train
Amtrak will add another Cascades train on September 2. New trains 761 and 762 will operate daily between Bellingham and Seattle. A new Talgo trainset, named Mount Olympus, will join three other trainsets already in service, named Mount Baker, Mount Rainier and Mount Hood, to convey Cascades service.
Norfolk Southern Signs North Carolina Trackage-Rights Agreement
Norfolk Southern has signed a 15-year trackage-rights agreement with the North Carolina Railroad Company. Under the agreement, which has options for two additional 15-year extensions, NS will have the exclusive right to carry freight on the 317-mile NCRR line, but the state will have the opportunity to develop a plan for intercity and commuter rail service. NS and its predecessors have been operating the line for the past 125 years, but the lease agreement expired the end of 1994. The new agreement provides for the payment of $24-million in back rent by NS, of which $15.3-million has already been paid.
Amtrak Engines Refurbished for CSXT Business Car Service
[From CSXT Employee Midweek Report] . . .
In one of many efforts to increase the efficiency of its locomotive fleet, CSXT has leased two former Amtrak F40PH passenger engines to pull its railroad business cars. "By dedicating passenger locomotives to the business cars, we're able to keep high-power freight engines where they give us the best return - pulling freight," says Tom Smith of the Mechanical Department. The F40PHs are capable of traveling 90 MPH on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and up to 80 MPH on parts of the CSXT network. Their top capability is 103 MPH. Business cars are a unique railroad asset and a highly effective marketing and public relations tool. CSXT uses its business cars to entertain customers and for high-profile public relations events that promote public safety and create goodwill for the railroad.
Understanding CSXT's Conrail Locomotive Renumbering
[From CSXT Employee Midweek Report] . . .
More than 800 Conrail locomotives assigned to CSXT are being renumbered to make them consistent with CSXT's overall numbering scheme, explains Larry Shughart of the locomotive management group. GE locomotives are assigned odd numbers as the leading digit, and EMDs are assigned even numbers as first digits. Another general rule is that locomotive numbers increase in size with the horsepower of the unit. For example, Conrail GP38-2s, 2000 hp, are being assigned numbers between 2717 and 2814, while Conrail CW40-8s, 4000 hp, are numbered from 7300 to 7396. There are two exceptions to the rules. The new GE and EMD alternating current locomotives have numbers from 1 to 999, and maintenance of way engines are numbered 9500 and above. "In most cases, knowing the basic guidelines can give you a pretty good idea of locomotive type, even if you're new to CSXT," Shughart said.
The Perryville NRHS Railroad Museum
It all began with an informal gathering of railfans at this choice train watching spot next to the classic 1905 depot along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor in Perryville, Maryland. Treated not only to the fast-moving Amtrak trains but also freights entering and leaving the then-Conrail (now Norfolk Southern) Port Road line, the group congregated usually on Friday and Saturday evenings to pass the time. The group became known as the Perryville Train Watchers' Society.
One evening a Maryland State trooper happened by, saw the large gathering and stopped to see if anything was wrong, was told that they were watching trains, and later he came back to watch trains with them.
In 1992, when Maryland Rail Commuter Service prepared to extend trains to Perryville, the depot underwent restoration with one of the rooms next to the waiting room set aside for use as a town meeting room.
In 1996, a number of the members of the Perryville Train Watchers' Society formed a chapter which was chartered by the National Railway Historical Society.
The town of Perryville decided it did not really need to use the town meeting room for any of its functions, and offered it to the NRHS chapter for use as a museum.
This, then, is the story of the Perryville NRHS Railroad Museum. It is open Sundays from 1PM until 5PM. It occupies the small north room with its layout and collection of artifacts, but the main waiting room is opened as well. There are outside benches, too, and railfans can feel at home in a relaxed setting, and there is never a long wait for the next train to come speeding through. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are welcomed.
The #9 Trolley Line Trail
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
OELLA, MARYLAND, AUGUST 10, 1999: It was one of those rare days in early August when both the temperature and humidity were at acceptable levels for biking. With these ingredients in place, I undertook to explore a trail constructed upon an old trolley right of way in the southwestern Baltimore County community of Oella, just across the Patapsco River from Ellicott City. The trail gets its name from the final route number to use the private right of way into Ellicott City prior to ending service in 1955. At that time, a trio of double-ended, semi-convertible cars had been in use to shuttle passengers between Catonsville Junction and Ellicott City, a distance of about three miles. Today, a mile-and-one-half portion, most of the distance represented by the private right of way, has been reclaimed with a smooth, paved surface, suitable for biking.
I began my adventure at the western end, just across the river and within sight of the historic B&O station at Ellicott City. And as if on cue, I was treated to the timely passing of an eastbound CSXT coal train just before I left.
The tree-shrouded right of way twists and turns its way steadily upgrade out of the Patapsco Valley, first through a massive rock cut (through which a boardwalk is in place due, I suppose, to ongoing seepage), and then follows a stream bed (somewhat dry at the time) much of the rest of the way until reaching the western end of Edmondson Avenue along which the tracks once continued eastward to Catonsville Junction. One could imagine the sounds of squealing flanges that surely resulted when the streetcars negotiated the many curves along the private right of way's route.
The western terminus of the trail is along Oella Avenue near its intersection with Frederick Road. Oella Avenue, which also twists and turns it way out of the valley, meets up with the old right of way again, at grade, just over a mile east of the trail's western terminus, and it was here that I made a half-hour stop on my return trip for a lesson in history. Here, along Westchester Avenue, within sight of the trail, is the historic Mount Gilboa A.M.E. Church, built by free African Americans in 1830, and site of the obelisk in memory of Benjamin Banneker, the area of Oella's most distinguished citizen. Known as the country's first African American Son of Science, Mr. Banneker, a farmer, began the study of astronomy at the age of 58, predicted future solar and lunar eclipses, and compiled information tables for an annual almanac for the years 1792 through 1797. Also, in 1791, he was a technical assistant in calculating the boundary survey for the District of Columbia. He lived from 1731 until 1806, and is buried in an unmarked grave near this location.
My leisurely biking adventure took the better part of two hours, but there was still more to come...
The #8 Streetcar Path
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
CATONSVILLE, MARYLAND, AUGUST 10, 1999: I left from Oella and drove up to Edmondson Avenue, stopping at Catonsville Junction. It was here that the Number 8 streetcar line had had its southern (or western) terminus of a very lengthy route to Towson, one of only two streetcar lines to survive until the cessation of all such service in 1963. I was no stranger to the Number 8 line, and it had been my privilege to attend a Baltimore Chapter NRHS streetcar charter on the last night of operation. From Catonsville Junction (on a loop around a classic stone waiting station that still stands) the line traversed about a half mile of private right of way to Frederick Road, the longest stretch of private right of way still remaining for streetcars in the Baltimore area in 1963. I had long thought that this stretch ought to be put to use as a trail, in spite of its short distance, and to my pleasant surprise I now learn that such is now the case.
Enter the Old Catonsville Neighborhood Association. Enter, too, the Catonsville Garden Club, two members of the Girl Scouts, three members of the Boy Scouts, the Mass Transit Administration, over 300 volunteers, and a host of local businesses and citizens providing logistical and financial support. The trail is now open with all but a short distance in the middle laid with a crusher run (CR-6) surface. The middle portion still has its original ballast (not recommended for bikes), but completion of this portion to match the rest of the trail is pending additional funding.
So I walked the path its distance to Frederick Road and back.
An Abandoned Portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
It is known as America's First Superhighway. Constructed beginning in the 1930's as the dream road of roads. it is still renowned as a marvel in engineering. Running the breadth of the state, the Pennsylvania Turnpike snakes its way through some rugged, splendorous terrain.
To get the road through some of the mountains, seven tunnels were used. But as time went on, these tunnels, each the width of just two lanes of traffic, presented bottlenecks to the ever increasing popularity of the otherwise four-lane highway. By the 1960's a decision had to be made: increase tunnel capacity, or find a new route through the mountains involved.
Four of the tunnels had their capacity increased by the addition of duplicate tunnels beside them. But three of the tunnels were bypassed altogether with the construction of a brand new alignment. Such as it was in 1968 when a 12-mile segment of the highway east of Breezewood - including two tunnels - was abandoned. (A third tunnel, on a separate two-mile segment, was also abandoned.)
Usually, when a road gets replaced by a newer one, the old road will continue to be used for local purposes. But not so for this 12-mile segment east of Breezewood. And today, that segment of the original Pennsylvania Turnpike remains unused and virtually forgotten.
One can get a glimpse of the old road when exiting the turnpike at Breezewood. The exit road with its toll plaza uses this original alignment until it cuts off to the left toward US-30 and the town of Breezewood. It is here that the abandoned segment extends eastward to the horizon, deserted.
One might wonder if something could be done to avail this section of highway for public use. One proposal would be to open it (officially) as a biking and hiking trail. With its passage through such beauty - including the Buchanan State Forest - such an idea is a natural. With its 1960's style of concrete construction, it already has a base suitable for bicycling - albeit a little rough in places due to potholes and raised expansion joints. And then there are the two tunnels - Sideling Hill and Ray's Hill respectively - which would have to be relighted.
The road could even be classified as a Rails-to-Trails effort. Indeed, the turnpike mostly follows the alignment of the aborted South Pennsylvania Railroad, a William Vanderbilt project begun in 1883 and abandoned three years later. The tunnels were originally intended for the railroad, not the turnpike.
That the highway is not (at least yet) an official biking and hiking trail has not kept some hearty soles from using it for just that purpose, at least surreptitiously, to explore the marvel of "having the road all to themselves," and to observe nature in its finest setting. In fact, two bikers who recently explored a seven and one-half mile segment of the road reported seeing about a dozen deer in one half-hour period of their nearly three-hour leisurely adventure.
The abandoned highway is still owned by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. In the early 1970's, both tunnels were used by the Mobil Corporation for emissions testing of unleaded gasoline. Certain segments of the road have been variously used for the testing of paint, rumble strips, and snowplow-resistant line reflectors. The ends of the abandoned portion are used for the storage of Jersey barriers. Interestingly, the grass along the shoulders has been kept trimmed.
Those intent upon exploring the old highway should do so only with the understanding that it is technically private property. According to various contacts, including some websites devoted to the subject, peaceable access to the highway by bikers and hikers (but not motor vehicles) is generally tolerated by the authorities. Nevertheless, police can, and do, patrol the road occasionally to guard against vandalism and other infractions. Moreover, the old Cone Valley Service Plaza, a short distance east of the Sideling Hill Tunnel (all that remains of the plaza is its parking lot) is used as a police firing range.
As for the tunnels, they are not sealed, but they are long and dark, and entry into them is not recommended.