Archive for the ‘Railroad News’ Category

NS Assisted 120 Companies in 2022

January 30, 2023

In its annual economic development report, Norfolk Southern said it worked with 120 companies in 2022 to help develop 159 industrial development projects valued at a combined $3.2 billion.

One of those was Commercial Metals Company, which spent $450 million to build a rebar steel mill in West Virginia.

Also in West Virginia, CONSOL Energy spent $100 million on the Itmann Preparation Plant in Itmann, West Virginia, to produce premium, low-vol metallurgical coking coal to serve the domestic and international steel markets.

In a news release, NS said it helps businesses identify rail-served sites that reliable, sustainable and efficient transportation.

This year NS said it is working with 33 companies that have announced plans for a new production facility or a significant plant expansion along the NS rail network or with one of its short-line partners.

OmniTRAX Donates to Local Non-Profits

January 30, 2023

Short line operator OmniTRAX said it is donating $430,000 to support local nonprofits spanning its system as part of its 2022 Good Neighbor community outreach program.

Recipients of the grants will include food banks, fire departments, women’s advocacy services, youth and family services, and the United Way.

In a news release, OmniTRAX said that each year its network of railroads collaborate with local officials in the communities they serve to identify local non-profits with the greatest need, the company said.

These include the Ohio properties of Cleveland Port Railway; Cleveland & Cuyahoga Railway; Northern Ohio & Western Railway; and Newburgh & South Shore Railroad.

OmniTRAX is affiliated with The Broe Group.

G&W Agrees to Consent Decree on Loco Emissions

January 27, 2023

Short line holding company Genesee & Wyoming has agreed pay up to $42 million to settle an environmental complaint brought by the federal government.

G&W was accused by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of violating the Clean Air Act by operating rebuilt locomotives that failed to meet emissions standards.

The complaint also charged G&W with failure to perform emissions-related maintenance or keep maintenance records.

EPA officials said in a news release that the settlement with G&W is expected to reduce tons of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter pollution and improve air quality.

The dispute began in 2018 after G&W owned railroads failed to upgrade 11 of 885 locomotives to the appropriate emission standards. G&W characterized that in a statement as having been an inadvertent oversight.

The statement said the consist decree G&W agreed to will provide environmental benefits “that significantly exceed any adverse impact associated with the violations alleged by the government.”

In rebuilding the locomotives in question, G&W agreed to use the latest technology to reduce emissions; to ensure it does not purchase or sell locomotives that have been rebuilt without conforming to emissions standards; to remove from service and destroy 88 older locomotives not required to meet EPA emission standards; to replace scrapped locomotives only with units subject to and meeting EPA emissions standards; and to pay a $1.35 million civil penalty.

CVSR Featured in Tom Hanks Movie

January 26, 2023

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Brecksville station is featured in the recently-released movie A Man Called Otto.

The Tom Hanks film from Sony Pictures Entertainment was released earlier this month and has done well with Midwest older moviegoers.

As reported by The Plain Dealer, the movie tells the story of a Baby Boomer grump played by Hanks, who no longer sees purpose in his life following the loss of his wife.

Most of the movie was filmed in Pittsburgh, but the CVSR is featured in a scene in which Hanks’ son, Truman, playing a younger Otto, boards a train at the Brecksville station.

“Having a Tom Hanks movie filmed in our cars at our railroad and in the [Cuyahoga Valley] national park has been huge for us,” CVSR President Joe Mazur told The Plain Dealer.

The cast also includes former Shaker Heights state legislator and Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, who plays a stroke victim named Reuben.

Mazur said five Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad cars were used during the one-day shoot, with Truman’s scene involving him leaving the station and riding Car 15 car southbound toward Akron.

“Truman was very friendly,” Mazur said. “He took pictures with the volunteers and staff. They were overjoyed by how warm everyone was because it doesn’t always have to be that way.”

The scene was filmed last May 3.  “The folks who really are train buffs loved the fact that a [CVSR] car was in “Otto,’” Mazur said. “There will be people who will want to get on the car just to check it out.”

CSX Operating Income Up 8% in 2022

January 26, 2023

CSX said this week that for 2022, its operating income was $6 billion an increase of 8 percent compared with 2021,

This included $144 million in gains from what management described as “property sales recognized from the 2021 agreement with the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Full-year 2021 operating income included $349 million in gains from this same transaction, CSX said in a news release.

Net earnings for 2022 were $4.17 billion, or $1.95 per share, compared to $3.78 billion, or $1.68 per share, in 2021. Revenue reached $14.9 billion for 2022, increasing 19 percent compared with 2021.

The operating ratio was 59.5 percent while diluted earnings per share were $1.95, an increase of 16 percent from $1.68 for the full year 2021.

During the fourth quarter of 2022, CSX posted operating income of $1.46 billion compared to $1.37 billion in the same period of 2021.

Net earnings were $1.02 billion, or $0.49 per share, compared to $934 million, or $0.42 per share in the same period of 2021.

Other fourth quarter highlights included revenue of $3.73 billion, a 9 percent year-over-year, increase that officials said was driven by “higher fuel surcharge, pricing gains, and an increase in storage and other revenues.”

Severe winter weather in late December modestly reduced volumes and revenue for the quarter.

The diluted earnings per share of $0.49 increased 17 percent from $0.42 for the fourth quarter of 2021.

During an investors call on Wednesday, CSX executives said the strong fourth earnings occurred despite signs of an economic downtown.

CSX management expected to gain traffic volume this year thanks to ongoing service improvements.

CEO Joseph Hinrichs said service metrics continued to show improvement through the fourth quarter after starting a clear upward trend in the early fall.

“As we anticipated, our hiring successes have allowed us to deliver better customer service that will allow us to capture more business with more volume over time,” Hinrichs said.

He noted that this has meant on-time performance has reached pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels. For the quarter, intermodal trip plan compliance was 94 percent, while merchandise traffic reached 77 percent, a 20-point improvement compared to the third quarter of 2022.

During the earnings call, CSX management said it was unable to meet shipper demand in 2022 due to service problems related to crew shortages.

CSX executives said merchandise and coal volume continues to grow, which they expect will enable the Jacksonville-based Class 1 railroad to achieve faster business growth than the economy this year.

Hinrichs said CSX is still not meeting the demand that it has to move carload freight.

However, intermodal traffic is expected to decline due to a decline in import activity as retailers work down high inventories they amassed earlier.

CSX management declined to release earnings projections for 2023, citing economic uncertainty. Management also declined to set an operating-ratio goal.

Chief Operating Officer Jamie Boychuk said operations should continue to improve as additional conductors complete training.

CSX is still hiring conductors due to attrition and a low retention rate for new conductors.

“We’re looking at continuing to build our numbers up so we can get to a point where we can cover vacation time and make sure that our employees get time off,” Boychuk said. Consequently, CSX management said it won’t furlough train crews if traffic volume slows.

CSX plans to $2.13 billion on capital projects this year, up from $1.79 billion in 2022.

NS Reports 14% Operating Revenue Growth in 2022

January 26, 2023

Norfolk Southern on Wednesday reported that its railway operating revenue reached a record $12.7 billion in 2022, an increase of 14 percent, or $1.6 billion, compared with 2021.

The Atlanta-based company said these results were driven by an 18 percent increase in revenue per unit.

Railway operating expenses were $7.9 billion, an increase of 19 percent compared with the same period last year, driven by higher fuel prices, inflation, network congestion, and higher compensation and benefits.

Income from railway operations was $4.8 billion, up 8 percent, or $362 million year over year, an annual record. Diluted earnings per share were $13.88, up 15 percent, or $1.77, compared with 2021.

During the fourth quarter of 2022, railway operating revenue was $3.2 billion, a 13 percent increase, and railway operating income was $1.2 billion, a 5 percent increase compared with fourth-quarter 2021 financial results.

NS set fourth-quarter and annual records for railway operating revenue and income from railway operations.

Diluted earnings per share were $3.42, up 10 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2021. Operating expenses in the quarter increased 19 percent to $2.1 billion compared with the same 2021 period due to higher fuel prices, increased claims costs and higher compensation and benefits, NS officials said.

However, during a conference call with investors NS executives said they expect a slowing economy and declining freight demand to produce flat revenue and earnings in 2023.

CEO Alan Shaw said service is the best it’s been in two years with NS having 7,500 active conductors and engineers, which is 100 below its goal for May. “We made great strides to close the year and are encouraged by our progress,” Shaw said.

Chief Marketing Officer Ed Elkins said during the conference call that he was optimistic NS would “claw back some volume.”

Still, he said there remains concern in the executive suite about slowing demand in intermodal and merchandise traffic.

NS executives said key operations metrics, including average train speed and terminal dwell time, continue to show improvement.

The Atlanta-based Class 1 carrier expects to continue hiring new operating workers and pledged to avoid furloughs of workers in order to make service more resilient.

NS plans to spend $2.1 billion on capital projects this year, including the modernization of 115 locomotives as part of its ongoing DC-to-AC traction conversion program.

CN Operating Income Up 22% in 2022

January 25, 2023

Canadian National said on Tuesday that its operating income in 2022 rose 22 percent to $6.8 billion.

CN officials said revenue increased 18 percent, to $17 billion while adjusted earnings per share rose by 25 percent.

The operating ratio was 60 percent, a 1.2-point improvement over 2021, or 59.9 percent on an adjusted basis.

Traffic volume for 2022 was up 1 percent when measured by revenue ton-miles but was down 0.5 percent when measured by carloads.

During the fourth quarter, operating income rose 22 percent, to 1.9 billion with revenue increasing 21 percent, to $4.5 billion.

Earnings per share was up 24 percent, or 23 percent on an adjusted basis. The operating ratio improved 0.4 points to 57.9 percent.

Quarterly volume was up 6 percent on a revenue ton-mile basis, or 2.4 percent on a carload basis.

In looking ahead CN CEO Tracy Robinson said the railroad faces an uncertain outlook for 2023 due to a potential economic downturn.

Speaking during a financial call with investors, Robinson expects freight volume to outperform North American industrial production this year but see a decline of 0.5 percent due to a slowing economy.

CN executives expect bulk traffic such as grain and coal to remain strong through the first half of this year and thus provide a cushion against declines in other traffic.

INRD Vice President Retires

January 25, 2023

Indiana Rail Road announced recently the retirement of Vice President Engineering Peter Ray.

Ray joined INRD in 2006 as general manager of engineering. In 2009 he was promoted to vice president. His retirement became effective on Dec. 31.

During his time at INRD, Ray oversaw the completion of a $20 million track construction and capacity project to serve Bear Run Mine in Carlisle, Indiana, and the rebuilding of 43 bridges, INRD officials said in a press release.

He previously worked in track maintenance positions at the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Santa Fe; the Chicago & North Western, and CSX.

Amtrak to Award Scholarships

January 25, 2023

Amtrak will award 11 scholarships to full-time undergraduate and graduate students who are passionate about a career in the railroad industry.

The application deadline is Jan. 31. Among the scholarships available are:

— High school students who are Hispanic/Latinx, African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander;

— Women in STEM, for students pursuing an undergraduate or master’s degree majoring in science, technology, engineering, or math;

— Engineering, for student with an interest in rail engineering;

— IT, for students in information technology, computer science, or a similar field;

— Non-technical, for students in business, finance, marketing, supply chain, or a similar field;

— A. Philip Randolph, for children, spouses, civil-union partners or domestic partners of Amtrak employees, retirees, or furloughed employees.

Candidates are encouraged to submit more than one application. Scholarships will help with tuition, fees, books, and equipment. More information and an application is available at on the Amtrak website at the careers page.

CSX Train Derails in Greenwich on Monday

January 24, 2023

Photo by Greenwich Police Department

No injuries were reported after a CSX train derailed on Monday in Greenwich. News reports indicated that 20 cars derailed about noon.

The derailment occurred along North Kniffin Street and took out some power lines in the area, disrupting service to about 100 customers.

The cars involved in the derailment were empty container well cars and flat cars. An online report indicated the train was the I008, which originates near St. Louis and runs to North Bergan, New Jersey.

The train was moving from the Mt. Victory Subdivision to the Greenwich Sub. The derailment blocked the New Castle Subdivision tracks.

An online report indicated that most of the derailed cars had been moved out of the way and the crossing of the New Castle Sub was reopened late Monday afternoon with a 10 mph speed restriction.

All other CSX tracks through Greenwich were reported to be reopened by Tuesday morning. Kniffin Street was reported to still be closed.