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October 1999


CSX Announces Early Retirement Program

CSX has announced a voluntary early retirement and separation program for non-contract employees to be launched this month for CSX Transportation, CSX Technology, and CSX Intermodal. The early retirement program allows employees to add three years to their years of service and three years to their age for the purposes of calculating their CSX pension benefits, and the separation program allows employees to receive an early-retirement payment. The company expects 800 employees to apply.


CSXT Gets High Marks on Coal Service

CSXT has received the highest score in the country for customer service on coal shipments, and the highest score in the East for on-time delivery of coal. According to the company, Coal Transportation Report's On-time Delivery Index gave CSXT a score of 3.9 in customer service versus scores of 3.5 or lower for the other major U.S. carriers. Its score of 3.1 for on-time service was in the middle range of Class I U.S. carriers, but highest for the East.


CSXT's Baltimore Service Lane Being Split into Two Divisions

CSXT's Baltimore Service Lane will be split into two divisions - Baltimore and Cumberland respectively - as part of the operation reorganization combining service lanes into regions. In turn, the Baltimore Service Lane will be combined with the Albany Service Lane - itself with one division - to form the Northeast Region headquartered in Albany.


CSXT Reports on Post-Split Progress

"We're not in as good a shape as we'd like to be, but we're not in bad shape - the railroad is running much better than in June or July." This was the response by Clarence Gooden, CSXT's vice president-system transportation, to a reporter's question on the state of CSXT three months after the Conrail Split Date. "On the merchandise side, we continue to have problems in the Baltimore area and Michigan area, primarily crew problems. Crew shortages put us behind on switching those areas," he said. "Aside from UPS, intermodal customers are satisfied. We're meeting equipment and service demands."


U.S. Rail Traffic Declines in August

There was an overall decline in U.S. rail traffic of 1.7 percent in August 1999 compared with August 1998, according to the Association of American Railroads. For the year to date through August, total U.S. carload rail traffic was down one percent compared with last year.


Funding Awarded for Non-Electric High-Speed Passenger Locomotive

The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded $7-million in funding for development of a 5000-horsepower locomotive designed for high-speed passenger service without electrification. A prototype locomotive is due to be completed next year.


Street-Running to End in Union Bridge, Maryland

The State of Maryland has approved funding for business access improvements in Union Bridge, Maryland, which includes the elimination of street-running on the former Western Maryland (now Maryland Midland) spur to the Lehigh Portland Cement plant.


Mexico Grants License to its First Woman Engineer

For the first time in Mexican history, a woman has been granted a license to operate a railroad locomotive. Krimhilda Edith Rodriguez received her license early last month upon completion of a training course at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Technical Training Center in Kansas.


"It Certainly Looked Real!"

[By Wade H. Massie] . . .

Fire trucks, ambulances, Life-Flight and Medi-Vac helicopters, rescue personnel, a severely damaged school bus with 20 children on board, and a loaded CSX coal train responsible for damaging the bus. The ingredients of a tragedy were all there, but fortunately, this was only a drill. With the cooperation of local emergency service crews, CSX Transportation, and Operation Lifesaver, a very convincing mock disaster was portrayed in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, August 28, 1999.

Elizabeth is located on CSX's Mon Subdivision, about 22 miles (by rail) southeast of Pittsburgh. The subdivision's name is derived from the river which it follows, the Monongahela. The Mon Sub runs from McKeesport, Pennsylvania, to a connection with the former Monongahela Railway in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, a distance of 38.6 miles. For the first part of this year, the Mon Sub was a sleepy secondary line which saw the passage of a couple trains per day. All that changed after June 1, 1999, when the Conrail split occurred. Traffic on the Mon jumped to 10 or more trains per day in June. Elizabeth was directly affected by this change in traffic patterns, as the line through Elizabeth features a section of street running trackage which is several blocks long. The track passes through a mostly residential neighborhood with houses in close proximity to the track. Close is actually an understatement; one Elizabeth resident told me that the near rail was a mere 11 feet from her house.

So, with it's street running trackage, Elizabeth formed the perfect backdrop for a staged train/bus wreck. The first part of the disaster drill was the collision of the train and the bus. A loaded CSX coal train moving at a very slow rate of speed hit the middle portion of the bus which was stopped perpendicular to the track. After the actual collision, 20 children boarded the damaged bus. They wore realistic looking wounds of Karo syrup, petroleum jelly, paper towels, and latex, designed by students from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. The wounds ranged from simple scratches and bruises to critical injuries and unconsciousness.

Rescue workers assisted children with minor injuries first, helping them off the bus, and then began to extricate those with the more severe injuries. Bus seats were removed, windows broken out, and window frames cut in order to help extricate the wounded children. Backboards were employed to assist in removing some of the children suffering from the worst injuries. Rescuers lowered several victims from the inside of the bus through a window to emergency personnel on the ground. Victims were then transported to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center McKeesport or Jefferson Hospital in ambulances or helicopters.

The rescue efforts were fascinating to watch; the cooperation between everyone involved was phenomenal. Elizabeth's mayor, Gerald LaFrankie, stated, "This is the only time we ever want to see something like this. Hopefully an event such as this will never occur in Elizabeth, but it's certainly reassuring to know that emergency crews will be thoroughly prepared in the event of a disaster."


The York County Heritage Rail Trail

The Northern Segment is now open . . .

[By Allen Brougham] . . .

It is now possible to hike or ride a bicycle (or a horse) for more than 40 miles upon the former roadbed of the Northern Central Railway. Beginning at Ashland, Maryland, and continuing northward through Monkton (my boyhood home), Parkton (northern terminus of the Parkton Local), across the historic Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania, through New Freedom (where there's a great place to eat crab cakes), Railroad (where its post office will stamp letters with the impression of a train, if requested), Hanover Junction (where Mr. Lincoln stopped while en route to speak at Gettysburg), through Howard Tunnel (said to be the oldest active railroad tunnel in the world) to York, the trail snakes its way through pristine valleys, woodlands, wetlands, meadows (you name it), laid with a smooth crush-and-run surface suitable for the above-mentioned uses.

Between New Freedom and York the trail coexists with an active railroad - the route of the Liberty Limited Dinner Train, also freight switchers of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad within the vicinity of York.

In August of this year, the final two increments of the York County Heritage Rail Trail were opened between Hanover Junction and York. Visits to portions of the trail south of Hanover Junction (including the part in Maryland, known as the Northern Central Railroad Trail) have been extensively reported upon in earlier issues of the Bull Sheet. This, then, is the report on the segment that was just opened:

The date was Monday, September 13, a clear and beautiful day for biking. (Alas, it was the "calm before the storm," as just three days later came Hurricane Floyd.) I was joined on the adventure by Gilbert Elmond, himself in need of the very same mileage as I to complete the entire 40-plus-mile trail.

We began at Hanover Junction. Its three-story depot - one of two depots being restored along the York County trail (the other is back at New Freedom) - is getting a complete structural upgrade beginning with the restoration of the basement's timber supports, an exterior restoration, and new flooring, plastering, and the addition of heat, electricity and water.

Less than a mile north of Hanover Junction is the town of Seven Valleys, known by the railroad as Smyser. On rail trips I had taken on PRR trains between Baltimore and Harrisburg in the 1960s, I recall a passing siding at this location upon which trains often stopped in order to make meets with other trains. It was here that passengers (with permission from the conductor) could disembark to buy goodies in a grocery store located next to the tracks. There is still a grocery store there. In fact, the store's proprietor (Elmer) has thoughtfully provided outside tables for the use of trail users choosing to buy refreshments at his store. Within the same complex is a sign saying "Welcome to Smyser Station" with a small mural depicting the old station (with the date 1838) and a train passing through.

A couple of miles further is Glatfelters Station, now a tiny community but no doubt once a rather noteworthy center owing to its location along the railroad. Eleven trains stopped here on weekdays in 1922, according to a Pennsy timetable of that year.

A short distance north of here begins a long, sweeping curve, almost in the shape of a complete horseshoe. Someone once told me it had a name - Dippers Curve, I believe - and the curve was surely as spectacular in its railroad days as any of similar design, but now it's somewhat shrouded by trees thus obscuring the impact of this effect.

Beyond this point the line shifts in the other direction and through Howard Tunnel. Unseen cows could be heard mooing off in the distance as Gilbert and I approached the tunnel, stopping to admire its construction. It was built in 1838, and rebuilt in 1866. My last visit here was in March 1998 for a photo runby using the Liberty Limited Dinner Train as a prop. Photo runbys on the Liberty Limited are rare - its clientele are more oriented toward the dinner and entertainment than the science of railroading - but this occasion was a railfanning-inspired exception.

Within the city of York, the newly-constructed trail links up with an older trail at Kings Mill Road crossing, and that trail continues further for about four additional blocks along a riverfront lineal park.

Gilbert and I continued our adventure by negotiating the streets toward York's former PRR depot, a portion of which is now used as a bus station served by Greyhound and Capital Trailways. It had been a bus station during the latter years of the depot's railroad days, too - but then the buses moved to another location - and now, once again, they're back. It has been used as a restaurant in recent years, too, but the restaurant is no longer.

As we began our return journey, still within York proper, the thrill of the moment lent itself to a Ma&Pa switcher which was working a siding across the trail - its noble consist including a CF7 and an ex-Family Lines GP16. This respite took the better part of 20 minutes, and then we were back on our way.

A number of others were using the trail this fine day - a commendable number of whom were senior citizens - both biking and hiking. There's no doubt about this trail being popular.

Railroad trails, with their gentle grades, present the ideal opportunity for bikers. Moreover, it's a lot safer than biking along roads shared by highway traffic.

We made a stop at Elmer's Grocery Store in Seven Valleys for refreshments. Then, just before completing our journey, as seen in a field off to the left, we stopped to watch a farmer who was using a team of horses to work a hay-rake.

By my odometer, we had covered 23 miles on our leisurely four-hour round-trip adventure. We then drove up to New Freedom for a customary crab cake supper at LaMotte's Restaurant, across from the station.

Coincidentally, the station in New Freedom, being rebuilt from scratch (using some of the material from the original structure) is now about 80 percent complete.


Remembering Fred Wengenroth

[By Allen Brougham] . . .

In last November's issue of the Bull Sheet, I reported upon "A Celebration of Buses" which was held several weeks earlier at the bus station in Frederick, Maryland. On display were a number of vintage coaches from the 1940s and 1950s, including a one-of-a-kind Mack Visionliner built as a demonstrator for Greyhound in 1957. The organizer of the event was Fred Wengenroth, owner of the depot franchise for Greyhound in Frederick. The event was the first of what was to be many. The next celebration was slated for September 25 of this year, and a week prior to that I stopped by Fred's depot to see how things were shaping up for it.

To my sorrow, I learned that Fred had died of a heart attack in June. He was only 45... Accordingly, the event this year did not occur.

I had first met Fred many years ago when he was a manager with the Maryland Rail Commuter Service. When HX Remembrance Day was held in 1990, it was Fred who permitted use of the Budd car, then known as MARC-1, complete with tables, for use as an assembly area. "Anything for the cause," said he.

A reader of the Bull Sheet, I'd regularly deliver multiple copies of the publication to his office, which he would distribute to others. Rarely would he be in the office (he stayed busy working long hours in the field), but whenever he'd be in, he always took quality time to chat. He enjoyed talking about locomotives, depots, and a wide range of transportation-related topics. He was even intrigued when I discussed high-voltage power lines, an interest of mine.

Later, he left MARC, and he acquired the bus depot franchise at Frederick. I lost contact with him, but it was like old times when we met once again during his 1998 Celebration of Buses. I stopped back the following week when there was more time to talk. Owners who had participated in the event were his friends, he said, "people who want to share their buses, not just to show them off." He considered the event a success, although he had hoped more people would attend. With this, he shared thoughts on the 1999 event, with surprises that would be in store. He very much enjoyed sharing his interests. Once again, it was "anything for the cause."