Tank Trains Routed Off Ft. Wayne Line

Norfolk Southern earlier this month began routing crude oil and ethanol trains off the Fort Wayne Line in favor of other routes that will take them through Cleveland.

An online report indicated that NS rerouted the trains to avoid making trackage rights payments to the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern, which operates the Fort Wayne Line in northern Indiana and western Ohio.

NS also said it wanted to solve crew balancing problems with the divergence of loaded and empty routings.

The tank car trains began using the Fort Wayne line around 2014 when congestion on the Chicago Line brought traffic to a near standstill at times.

The trains used the CF&E to and from Chicago via Fort Wayne, Indiana.

These trains sometimes operated with motive power from the originating railroad, hence the need to have an NS lead unit equipped with cab signals for travel east of Cleveland.

The current operating plan is to route the tank car trains via Bellevue where they will receive locomotives equipped with cab signals.

Between Chicago and Bellevue, these trains can be routed either via Fort Wayne on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline or to Toledo on the Chicago and thence to Bellevue on the Toledo District via Oak Harbor and Fremont.

After receiving a cab signal equipped locomotive in Bellevue, the tanker trains will operate on the former NKP to Vermillion and take the connection to the Chicago Line.

It is thought that trains leaving Chicago with solid NS motive power consist can take the Chicago Line between Chicago and Cleveland.

The empty tank cars will operate on the reverse routes via Bellevue.

In the past, eastbound tank car trains using the Chicago Line have sometimes added cab signal equipped NS units at Berea siding or near Rockport Yard in Cleveland.

This practice is expected to continue if Bellevue lacks a cab signal equipped unit for a particular train.

The Fort Wayne Line was at one time the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline between Chicago and Pittsburgh. It runs in Ohio through Bucyrus, Crestline, Mansfield, Wooster, Orrville, Massillon and Canton.

East of Alliance, the Fort Wayne Line is a busy railroad handling NS traffic off the Chicago Line at Cleveland that is bound for Pittsburgh and points east.

West of Alliance the Fort Wayne Line has far less traffic, including manifest freights that operate Conway Yard-Bellevue and Conway Yard-Chattanooga, Tennsessee. There is also a local between Canton and Mansfield.

Trains affected include the 66R, 66X and 66Z, which traditionally have originated on, respectively, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and BNSF.

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