Posts Tagged ‘CSX intermodal trains’

A Front is Moving In

March 1, 2014

Kentsky

I had some time to kill in Kent last Saturday so I sat on the Main Street bridge and waited for CSX to come to life.

Shown is the last of five trains that I saw that afternoon. It appears to be the Q016 and it is passing through late in the afternoon.

It’s pretty much a standard CSX container train, but what caught my eye about this image was that the leading edge of a front was moving in as I made the image.

It had been mostly sunny for most of the day and the temperatures had been in the high 40s, maybe even into the low 50. Now, though, things were starting to change.

Much of the snow around here is gone, although traces still remain.

Later that evening, light rain fell as the front made its way through the region.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

2 Trains, 1 Meet, 1 Minute and 2 Firsts

January 28, 2014
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The first of the two CSX container trains passes beneath the Fairchild Avenue bridge in Kent at 1:16 p.m.

It was one of those railfan photograph moments in which everything seemed to be moving rapidly.  We were driving toward Kent because he had heard a CSX train call a signal on the radio. But we couldn’t pick out which signal it was.

We were a few miles north of town so we didn’t even know if we would have enough time to catch this train. We had already struck out twice earlier in the day on catching CSX trains.

In the meantime, another CSX train called a signal, but this one was much fainter. There must be two trains out there.

As we came into Kent on Ohio Route 43 (North Mantua Street), I looked toward the  CSX tracks. No train. That was good news, I thought. Or was it? Was the train by already.

We heard a train calling the signal “Kent,” which is located just south of Summit Street. We pulled into the Sheetz parking lot and hoofed it across Mantua to the bridge carrying the Portage County Hike and Bike travel over the CSX track. A moderate level of snow was falling.

This bridge was opened last year and I had yet to photograph from it. Earlier we had discussed how it might be a nice view from there.

The snow on the ground on the east side of Mantua Street was deep and I was racing as hard as I could while hoping I didn’t slip and fall. I could see a headlight of the approaching Q016 reflecting off the rails on Track No. 2. Did I have enough time?

I barely had gotten into position when the eastbound train was upon us. This would be a first: my first photo taken from this bridge.

Q016 rumbled past. Roger then said he had heard the crew of this train talking on the radio to another train crew . That was even better news. A westbound was coming.

Seconds later westbound Q015 came around the curve and another first occurred. It would be the first time that I’d spotted and photographed double-stacked containers passing each other on the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

Container trains are old hat on this line, but it has only been a few months since double- stacked container trains began operating here. The clearance enlargement project on the former Baltimore & Ohio mainline has advanced far enough to allow some double-stack operations.

We got our photographs and headed back toward the Sheetz lot, this time at a much slower pace. The elapsed time between my first and last photographs was one minute.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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The head end of the eastbound has passed beneath the trail bridge and leans into the curve.

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Then westbound Q015 pops out from behind the curve. Note the double-stacked containers passing on each train.

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Q016 had just a few double-stacked containers.

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Passing the snow-covered milepost 117. The Cuyahoga River is out of view to the left.

Intermodal Terminal to Built on CSX near Erie

November 15, 2013
An eastbound CSX intermodal train cruises through North East, Pa., in August 2011. A new intermodal terminal will be built on this route a couple of miles west of here. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

An eastbound CSX intermodal train cruises through North East, Pa., in August 2011. A new intermodal terminal will be built on this route a couple of miles west of here. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

Investors are working with CSX to develop a new $60 million intermodal facility east of Erie, Pa.

The Erie Rail Terminal is being developed by GEIDC and private investor-operators.

The terminal will be located in Harborcreek Township and feature 4,000 feet of frontage on the CSX Water Level Route between Cleveland and Buffalo, N.Y. Highway access will be via U.S. Route 20 and Pennsylvania Route 955.

The site is now mostly vacant land. The developers have described the new facility as a concept that embraces the global marketplace by combining highway, rail and marine transportation.

The new Erie terminal is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs and, once operational, 40 on-site jobs, 40 drayage jobs and 100 indirect jobs.

“The Erie Rail Terminal is our interchange on that highway, bringing the Erie Region’s businesses new efficiencies and trade opportunities,” said John Elliott, president and CEO of GEIDC. “CSX’s involvement in the intermodal terminal will help open our region to global markets and have an immediate positive impact on the Erie County Region. When completed, this critical element of infrastructure will also benefit businesses throughout our region in helping expedite the shipment and delivery of goods and materials.”

The design phase of the project is underway and construction is expected to begin in 2014. The projected opening of the terminal is early 2016.

 

CSX Still Eying North Baltimore Hub Expansion

November 8, 2013
A wide-span crane shuffles containers at the CSX North Baltimore intermodal hub in June 2011. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

A wide-span crane shuffles containers at the CSX North Baltimore intermodal hub in June 2011. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

CSX is still considering expanding its intermodal hub in North Baltimore, Ohio, despite having been turned down earlier this year for a federal grant that would have helped underwrite the expansion.

The news emerged during a visit this week to the facility by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

Rusty Orben, CSX’s director of public affairs, had said last May that without a grant picking up half the cost of the North Baltimore expansion, it wouldn’t be built.  But Carla Groleau, a CSX spokeswoman, said this week that the railroad is “still considering our options” for expanding the North Baltimore facility.

The North Baltimore facility currently handles about 2,000 containers per day and originates, terminates, or swaps blocks on about 30 scheduled trains.

The CSX application for TIGER funding that would have covered half of the expansion project’s $42 million cost did not make the U.S. Department of Transportation’s list of new grants announced in September. CSX began operating full-cube double-stacked trains between North Baltimore and Chambersburg, Pa., this past summer.

The North Baltimore facility, formally known as the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal, is part of the railroad’s National Gateway.

The next major project in developing the National Gateway will be enlarging the Virginia Avenue Tunnel in Washington to allow doublestacks to travel between CSX’s former Baltimore & Ohio and Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac main lines. That project is in planning and environmental review.

The importance of intermodal traffic to CSX was underscored by the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Fredrik Eliasson in a presentation at the Baird Industrials Conference in Chicago this week.

Eliasson called intermodal, “a key driver of growth” that now represents 40 percent of CSX’s overall volume and is expected to increase further, reflecting “the attractive economic value of converting freight from highway to rail.”

Eliasson said there is sustained growth in CSX’s merchandise and intermodal businesses, which now comprises more than 80 percent of the company’s volume. CSX expects that business to continue growing at a rate above the general economy, he said.

“CSX employs a dual intermodal strategy that includes both high-density corridors and a hub-and-spoke philosophy that also creates service density to open new small and medium-sized markets—a strategy the company believes is a differentiator in the intermodal marketplace,” Eliasson said.

CSX recently completed the first phase of doublestack clearances in its National Gateway initiative, which is an effort to create an efficient rail route between Mid-Atlantic ports and Midwestern markets.

When the National Gateway is complete in 2015, roughly 95 percent of the railroad’s intermodal traffic will be moving in doublestack lanes.

CSX is building new terminals to expand its reach in markets such as central Florida, Pittsburgh, and Montreal.

It continues to invest in existing terminals to further increase efficiency throughout its network, such as an expansion of its Northwest Ohio hub, which opened in 2011 and has helped alleviate congestion in Chicago while opening up connectivity to markets in the Midwest.

During his visit to North Baltimore this past week, Vice President Biden noted the imminent enlargement of the Panama Canal will double the potential capacity of container ships using that waterway.

Biden described the National Gateway as “the inland version of widening the Panama Canal.”

Although CSX used no public funds to develop its $175 million, 500-acre Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal, which opened in 2011, $98 million of CSX’s $193 million cost for bridge and tunnel clearance work in eastern Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia to link it with a new terminal at Chambersburg, Pa., came from a federal Transportation Improvements Generating Economic Recovery Act grant.

“Without TIGER, there would be no National Gateway,” Biden said, because without the higher bridges and taller tunnels, CSX would not be able to realize the full benefit of double-stack trains to the North Baltimore terminal.

Biden spoke after briefly touring the North Baltimore terminal, including a visit to its training simulator for crane operators and conversations with Oscar Munoz, CSX’s chief operating officer, and Widby Whitt, president of CSX Intermodal Terminals.

The Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal opened in 2011 and CSX says that it employs 300 full-time workers. It is located on 500 acres in Wood County, Ohio, a mile west of North Baltimore.

The Colors of Fall

November 2, 2013
Some residual color remains in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on Oct. 27 as a southbound Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train comes to a stop.

Some residual color remains in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on Oct. 27 as a southbound Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train comes to a stop.

It’s been a nice October for fall foliage but it hasn’t been a good month for me to photograph most of it. Weekends have brought a lot of rain and clouds. Combine that with work obligations during the week when there were sunny skies and the result is that I haven’t gotten trackside with my camera to get trains and fall foliage nearly as  much as I would have liked.

But I did manage to get out a couple of times and catch some of the colors of fall. Shown here are some images captured in October 2013.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

Some leaves have started to turn at Olmsted Falls as a westbound Norfolk Southern train passes.

Some leaves have started to turn at Olmsted Falls as a westbound Norfolk Southern container train passes.

Another westbound at Olmsted Falls.

Another westbound at Olmsted Falls.

What is October without a pumpkin or two? Two BNSF "pumpkins" lead a container train on CSX through Kent on Columbus Day.

What is October without a pumpkin or two? Two BNSF “pumpkins” lead a container train on CSX through Kent on Columbus Day.

Stacks at Sterling

October 20, 2013
CSX Q016 is eastbound at Sterling at on Oct. 16, 2013.

CSX Q016 is eastbound at Sterling at on Oct. 16, 2013.

Here is a photo of eastbound Q016 at Sterling on Wednesday at 4:46 p.m. CSX has been running Q015 and Q016 through Sterling as part of its National Gateway route. The trains run on the CSX New Castle Subdivision (former Baltimore & Ohio from Greenwich to New Castle, Pa.

Former Akron Railroad Club member Tony Dannemiller reports that these are currently the only stack trains that CSX has on the New Castle Sub.

These trains start or end at Chambersburg, Pa., and travel the former Western Maryland between Cherry Run and Hagerstown.

Trains Q115 and Q116, which are “extra sections” of those Q015/Q016 trains, could also carry double-stacked containers, but Tony said he hasn’t seen any extra sections in those numbers running nor has he heard if they have been “stacked.”

The National Gateway is only complete to Chambersburg. The bulletins out for the railroad indicate that a 20 feet, 2 inches of clearance is acceptable on the Lurgan Sub between Chambersburg and Cherry Run, on the Cumberland Sub west of milepost BA 113.0 (CP Cherry Run) only to Cumberland, Md.; and on the from Cumberland Greenwich, Ohio, via the Cumberland Terminal, Keystone, Pittsburgh, and New Castle subdivisions.

Article and Photograph by Richard Jacobs

Get Ready for Double Stacks in Akron on CSX

September 7, 2013

Have you seen a double-stack intermodal train passing through Akron yet? If not you will because CSX announced that it has completed the first phase of its National Gateway project.

The railroad said the work was completed on time and on budget.

CSX will offer double-stack container service between an intermodal terminal in Chambersburg, Pa., and its facility in North Baltimore, Ohio.

Most of the work occurred on the Baltimore & Ohio main line, including major projects on the famed Sand Patch grade in Pennsylvania and Magnolia Cutoff in West Virginia and Maryland.

In Ohio, tracks were lowered and new bridges built in or near Ravenna, Kent, Akron and Lodi, to name a few, the New Castle Subdivision.

The National Gateway is a $850 million public-private partnership to create an intermodal corridor between the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. Funding has come through a combination of federal and state funds, and railroad investment.

Some public funding came from the federal TIGER grant program, secured by the state of Ohio, and administered by the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration. The second phase of the project will involve increasing clearances so that stack trains can operate to the Ports of Baltimore and Virginia.

CSX said its Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal in North Baltimore employs nearly 300 full-time employees handles hundreds of thousands of containers per year in-transit to and from the lower Great Lakes region.

The Belle of Marion

June 25, 2013

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The Akron Railroad Club had its annual longest day outing this past Sunday. This year’s Ohio hotspot that we visited was Marion.

The catch of the day was the inbound Q106, a run-through train from Kansas City that originates on the Kansas City Southern. This train hauls containers to the Schneider National intermodal terminal on the east side of Marion.

Some of the containers, though, are shuttled from Marion to the CSX intermodal facility at North Baltimore, Ohio.

The Q106 usually arrives in Marion in the wee hours of the morning, but it was running late on this day for some reason, arriving in Marion at 10:04 a.m.  This was much to the delight of myself, Marty Surdyk and Todd Vander Sluis. We were the first club members to arrive, getting to the Marion Union Station at 8:29 a.m.

We’ll have a further report on the longest day later this week.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

CSX to Expand Ohio Intermodal Facility

May 23, 2013

CSX recently announced that it will expand its intermodal facility in North Baltimore, Ohio. The $42 million project will extend the terminal tracks by 2.300 feet and add two more cranes that lift containers on and off rail cars.

The railroad is seeking county support to apply for federal grants to pay half of the project cost. CSX spent $175 million on the 500-acre facility, which employs about 300 people and handles 2 million containers annually.

The Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal is located on the former Baltimore & Ohio mainline between Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Must be High Priority Traffic

April 15, 2013

Every so often something comes down the tracks that just doesn’t look right. And so it was on a  Sunday a few weeks ago on CSX when this container train came along.

Usually, CSX stack trains seem like they are a mile long. So why is this train so short. We can rule out that it lost the rest of its train because there is an EOT showing. Perhaps business was really bad this day. But other stack trains that went by were their usual long self.

Perhaps this is high priority cargo that needed to be somewhere PDQ. Whatever the case, it made for an interesting sight.

Photographs by Craig Sanders


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