Archive for the ‘Railroad News’ Category

CSX Columbus Trains Detouring Through Marion

April 15, 2015

Bridge issues have CSX detouring some traffic via Marion to get to Columbus.

The detour was imposed after CSX inspectors found that one of the piers on the former Chesapeake & Ohio bridge south of Scioto Tower in Columbus had severely settled.

Track No. 2 was taken out of service and traffic on Track 1 is restricted to 10 m.p.h.

The line has no crossovers Scioto and River (located just south of the Scioto River bridge) to cross over traffic from Scottslawn Secondary (former Toledo & Ohio Central)

or the Midland Subdivision that would use Track 2 to get into Parsons Yard.

Eastbound trains on the Indianapolis Line that used to go south at Ridgeway on the T&OC are now being rerouted to Marion then around the connection to the ex-C&O.

The power than runs around the train and it then goes south to Columbus.

Some trains have been taken through Marion to Galion or Crestline where the power runs around the train before it proceeds southward on the Columbus Line.

CSX Shuffles Duties of 3 vice presidents

April 12, 2015

CSX has shuffled the assignments among three of its vice presidents. David Baggs will assume the titles of vice president and treasurer in addition to his current title of vice president-capital markets and investor relations.

Baggs’ will assume his additional duties upon the retirement of David Boor, vice president-tax and treasurer.

Baggs will continue to report to Fredrik Eliasson, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

CSX also announced that it has appointed William “Rusty” Russell as vice president-tax and Bryan Rhode as Russell’s successor as vice president-internal audit.

Russell will report to Eliasson, and Rhode will report to Ellen Fitzsimmons, executive vice president-law and public affairs. All of the appointments become effective on July 1. Baggs joined CSX in 1985 and has served in leadership positions in economic analysis, business planning and corporate strategy.

He was among those who designed the company’s financial strategy that incorporates balanced capital investments in critical transportation infrastructure with competitive shareholder returns.

Boor has served CSX for the past 28 years, the last 10 in his current post. Rhode, who will lead the internal audit team, joined CSX in 2014 after serving as secretary of public safety for the Commonwealth of Virginia and as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.

He currently serves as CSX’s regional vice president-state government and community affairs, with responsibility for the Mid-Atlantic region. Russell joined CSX in 1996 and has served in senior leadership positions within the finance and internal audit organizations. Previously, Russell was assistant vice president-tax compliance.

Amtrak Establishing Grand Rapids Crew Base

April 12, 2015

The May 4 schedule change that will have the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marqutte operating on a new schedule is being done to give passengers more time in Chicago.

Amtrak also plans to open a crew base in Grand Rapids, Mich., which it expects will help to resolve the problem of the train departing late for Chicago due to the crew that brought in the train the night before needing more rest because of a late arrival.

At the present time, the Pere Marquette is assigned operating employees who are based in Chicago.

The new schedule of No. 371 will have it departing Grand Rapids more than an hour and a half earlier at 6 a.m. The departure time of No. 370 from Chicago has been moved back to 6:30 p.m. from 4:55 p.m.

Michigan residents will be able to spend more than nine hours in Chicago on business or pleasure. Current schedules allot about six hours of layover time.

Amtrak said the new schedule will also improve the reliability of eastbound connections from late long-distance trains.

The new schedule will place the Pere Marquette in close proximity to the schedule of Amtrak’s Chicago-Washington, D.C., Capitol Limited in both directions.

Officials with Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation, which helps to fund the Pere Marquette, hope that this will enable NS dispatcher to have an easier time creating routes for both trains on a freight-heavy line in and out of Chicago.

Al Johnson, MDOT’s Office of Rail passenger and operations manager, told Trains magazine that the state is studying additional frequencies for the Pere Marquette, Blue Water (Chicago-Port Huron, Mich.) and Wolverine Service (Chicago-Detroit) routes, but new trains cannot be implemented until NS completes the $71 million Indiana Gateway project between Chicago and Porter, Ind.

Amtrak issued its Spring-Fall 2015 system timetable on April 6 and most schedules have received only minor changes. The new timetable replaced the Summer-Fall 2014 schedule issued on June 9, 2014.

STB Grants CSX Trackage Rights on the L&I

April 11, 2015

CSX will be able to make joint use of an Indiana short line railroad between Indianapolis and Louisville, Ky., the federal Surface Transportation Board has decided.

The “transaction is not likely to cause substantial lessening of competition” [and will] “benefit the shipping public and enhance competition by facilitating more efficient, cost-saving operations,” the board wrote.

CSX plans to use the Louisville & Indiana as an alternative route for its traffic moving between Louisville and the Northeast. The railroad expects to save $11.8 million annually by using the former Pennsylvania Railroad route.

The pact with L&I gives CSX perpetual, non-exclusive overhead rights between milepost 4 in Indianapolis and milepost 110.5 in Louisville.

CSX trains also will be able to access the L&I at Seymour, Ind., and interchange traffic with the Paducah & Louisville in Louisville. CSX already had trackage rights on the L&I between Louisville and Seymour.

The agreement calls for CSX to pay for capital improvements on the L&I that will be designed to increase track speeds. This will include the installation of welded rail and new ties, and installation of a modern dispatching system.

Once the track work is finished, trains will be able to operate with 286,000-pound cars and the line will have a greater train movement capacity.

The capital improvements will cost an estimated $70 to $90 million and take up to seven years to complete.

Canadian to Resume Serving Toronto on Saturday

April 10, 2015

The Canadian, the fabled transcontinental passenger train of VIA Rail Canada, will resume operating east of Winnipeg on Saturday, April 11.

The Canadian will depart from Toronto on that day for the first time since a Canadian National crude oil train derailment in March blocked the route. Since then, the Canadian has been operating only between Vancouver and Winnipeg.

The first train to operate from Vancouver to Toronto will depart on Friday, April 10.

Through May 1, VIA Nos. 1 and 2 will operate twice weekly. The frequency of operation will expand to tri-weekly for the summer. VIA said in a statement that the Canadian will remain subject to delay.

The railroad also said that its new Prestige class service, which had been suspended while the train did not operate to and from Toronto, will now be available for every trip.

“The number of available bedrooms will differ, however, because some [equipment]sets may have a Prestige Park but not a Prestige Chateau; others will have a Chateau but not a Park.

VIA expected to have seven bedrooms (Park and Chateau) per departure effective May.

CN Getting 25 Units it Can’t Use in U.S. Service

April 10, 2015

If you see a Canadian National locomotive numbered in the 2951 to 2975 series in the United States, be sure to photograph it.

That’s because if one of those locomotives operates in revenue service the U.S. it will be doing so in violation of federal law.

The 25 locomotives in the 2951 to 2975 series were built by GE as “export” ES44AC units. They do not meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tier 4 emissions standards that took effect on Jan. 1 for new locomotives built after that date.

If CN uses one of these non-compliant locomotives, it would face fines from the U.S. government.

CN plans to assign the locomotives to Prince George, B.C., which would minimize the risk of placing them in trains headed across the border.

Earlier, CN received 26 ES44ACs from GE that are U.S. EPA emissions-compliant and plans to receive an additional 39 ES44ACs later in 2015 after Tier 4 locomotive production begins.

NS Seeks FRA Waiver for Rail Testing

April 9, 2015

Norfolk Southern is seeking Federal Railroad Administration approval for a pilot program of nonstop continuous rail testing on its mainline between Cleveland and Chicago.

NS needs from the FRA a waiver of compliance from certain provisions of railroad safety regulations.

The project would be carried out for three years starting on May 1 and will be conducted between milepost 181.2 and 523.3 of the Chicago Line.

“The nonstop continuous rail test vehicle will be a self-propelled ultrasonic/induction rail flaw detection vehicle operating at test speeds up to 30 mph,” NS said in its FRA filing. “Upon completion of each daily run, data will be analyzed offline by technical experts experienced with the process on other Class I railroads.”

NS said it will test the rails about every 30-45 days with its engineering department providing the FRA Rail Integrity Office with rail test reports for review as required.

“The analysis will categorize and prioritize suspect locations for post-test field verification and hand tests,” NS said. “Field verification will be conducted by qualified and certified rail test professionals with recordable field validation equipment based on GPS location and known track features identified within the flaw detection electronic record.”

NS plans to expand the test program to additional routes in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

INDOT, FRA Reach Pact on Passenger Safety Rules

April 7, 2015

The efforts of the Indiana Department of Transportation to improve the Hoosier State have cleared another hurdle.

The agency and the Federal Railroad Administration reached an agreement on “clear lines of accountability for passenger rail safety and accessibility.”

Meeting in Indianapolis with FRA staff, INDOT Commissioner Karl Browning said that the two sides discussed the roles and responsibilities of each party connected with the Chicago-Indianapolis train.

Indiana wants to contract with Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings to operate the service and both will be expected to meet FRA requirements.

INDOT will designate a staff member responsible for overseeing contract compliance. “INDOT and the FRA share the guiding principles of access to safe mobility,” Browning said in a statement. “Based on these guiding principles, we are both committed to a path toward continuing the Hoosier State service.”

Talks are continuing to reach agreements between INDOT and Amtrak and Iowa Pacific. Amtrak, FRA, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration are continuing to inspect the Iowa Pacific equipment that is expected to be assigned to the Hoosier State.

The Hoosier State operates four times weekly, running on days that the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal does not operate.

Currently, the Hoosier State is being underwritten by INDOT and many of the communities that it serves.

Amtrak is expected to serve as the primary operator, working with host railroads, providing train and engine crews, and managing reservation and ticketing. Aside from rolling stock and locomotives, Iowa Pacific would provide equipment maintenance, on-board services and marketing.

Viewliner Baggage Cars on Lake Shore Limited

April 6, 2015

Amtrak has begun assigning some of its new Viewliner II baggage cars to the Lake Shore Limited. On Saturday, No. 48 passed through Cleveland en route to New York and Boston with two of the new cars.

No. 48 also had a Viewliner I dining car No. 8400 so that meant that the train operated without any heritage fleet equipment. Indeed, the train had five Viewliner fleet cars.

The Viewliner II cars are being built by CAF USA in Elmira, N.Y. The order includes sleepers and diners as well as baggage cars as Amtrak seeks to phase out the last of its heritage fleet equipment.

Intermodal Helps Boost U.S. Rail Freight Traffic

April 5, 2015

Although freight carload traffic was down 3.4 percent in March from a year ago, gains in intermodal helped U.S. railroads post a small gain in total traffic.

The Association of American Railroads said that March 2015 traffic was 1.1 million carloads, which was 39,793 fewer carloads than in March 2014.

However, U.S. railroads originated more than 1 million containers and trailers in March 2015, an increase of 5.7 percent (58,161) over March 2014.

For March 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2.2 million, up 0.8 percent or 18,368 carloads and intermodal units over March 2014.

The weekly average of 550,291 carloads and intermodal units was the most for March since 2007.

In March 2015, eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw gains compared with March 2014.

This included grain (10.9 percent at 8,896 carloads); metallic ores (19.1 percent at 3,377  carloads); and crushed stone, sand and gravel (1.8 percent at 1,481 carloads)

Commodities that saw declines in March 2015 included coal (6.9 percent at 31,205 carloads); primary metal products (16.2 percent at 6,756 carloads); and petroleum and petroleum products, (7 percent at 4,170 carloads.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the year’s first quarter (January-March) was 3.3 million, an increase of 0.3 percent over the first quarter of 2014.


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