Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore’

Metso Building Unloading System for CSX

June 30, 2020

Metso Corporation said this week it is building a new rotary dump system for CSX that will be used to unload coat at the railroad’s Curtis Bay Export Terminal in Baltimore.

The system, which is expected to begin operations in October 2021, will use two dumping assemblies, a hopper system, and car-spotting equipment.

It will be capable of accommodating rotary-dump and bottom-dumping cars.

In a news release, Metso described itself as supplier of dumper technology and has delivered more than 400 dumper systems worldwide. It is based in Helsinki, Finland.

At the Akron B&O Engine Facility

December 29, 2019

 

 

 

 

It may be a Chessie System locomotive but GP9 No. 6500 still sports its Baltimore & Ohio identity as it sits at the engine service facility in Akron in July 1973.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

CSX Juice Train Detours Through NEO

July 12, 2019

Another detour has found its way to Northeast Ohio.

Flooding in Baltimore that closed the tunnel near Howard Street prompted CSX to reroute its Tropicana juice trains.

The trains normally operate between Florida and Kearny, New Jersey. Tropicana has a juice factory in New Jersey.

The trains instead operated through Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, using the former New York Central Water Level Route east of Cleveland to Selkirk, New York, and then the River Line to New Jersey.

Five juice trains were rerouted Monday through Wednesday.

The flooding was accompanied by a water line break that also disrupted operations of a Maryland Regional Commuter rail line as well.

CSX reported a minor derailment occurred inside the tunnel during the flooding.

CSX Closes Locust Point Yard in Baltimore

May 4, 2018

CSX has closed its Locust Point Yard in Baltimore. Trains magazine said a bulletin issued to crew members said all tracks within the yard limits of the yard are out of service and trains arriving at Bayview Yard in Baltimore are to use that yard to service locomotives or running around cars to work them from the opposite end.

The bulletin took effect at 11:59 p.m. on April 30. Locust Point is adjacent to Interstate 95 and had also served as a Maryland Rail Commuter locomotive and train servicing facility.

CSX is reportedly reviewing 150 local yards with an eye toward closing them because they are lightly or under used.

All CSX locomotives and trains that had used Locust Point have been moved to Curtis Bay Yard in Baltimore or the former Mount Clare A Yard in the city.

The MARC facility at Riverside shops remains in operation to serve Camden Line trains.

Some believe that CSX will sell the Locus Point property to commercial and/or residential developers who might find it attractive due to its waterside location.

The neighborhood adjacent to the yard has seen gentrification during the past two decades with the building of office buildings and a luxury condominium high-rise housed within former Baltimore & Ohio grain elevator silos.

Is CSX Trying to Eat its Seed Corn?

November 6, 2017

Under normal circumstances, I don’t cover news beyond the states that surround Ohio, but there is a story out of Baltimore that is worth following because it may say much about what is going on with CSX these days.

Last week CSX said it would not contribute $145 million to a public-private partnership to enlarge the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore to accommodate double-stacked container trains.

When the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad built the tunnel 122 years ago, no one could have envisioned stack trains, let alone intermodal trains carrying containers and truck trailers.

Howard Street is just one example of the aging infrastructure in the Northeast transportation corridor between New York and Washington that needs to upgraded, rebuilt or replaced. It won’t be inexpensive.

You might think that CSX would be keen on modernizing the Howard Street Tunnel because it is an impediment to developing the I-95 corridor between New Jersey and Florida. And for a time it was.

Enlarging the Howard Street Tunnel would have benefited the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore, which has seen an increase in container traffic since the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Figures provided by the Maryland Port Administration show that the port handled a record 10.3 million tons of general freight and nearly 908,000 TEUs (20-foot-equivalent units) of containers in fiscal year 2017, which ended on June 30.

Then along came E. Hunter Harrison of precision scheduled railroading fame.

In announcing the decision to cancel its share of funding for enlarging Howard Street Tunnel, CSX put out a statement that referenced precision scheduled railroading – it has become a buzz phrase used as boilerplate in virtually every CSX statement and news release these days – and made a vague statement that the tunnel project “no longer justifies the level of investment required from CSX and our public partners at this time.”

But as Railway Age magazine pointed out, the statement did not fully explain why CSX decided to bail out on funding the Howard Street project.

When the magazine asked CSX to elaborate, its PR department replied with the same statement it had issued earlier. CSX is not going to explain itself any further.

Railway Age suggested two possible reasons for why CSX backed away from the Howard Street tunnel project.

One is that a fresh set of eyes in CSX management decided that the return on investment wasn’t worth $145 million because the volume of double-stack container traffic likely to use the tunnel would not be as high as the previous CSX management projected.

The other theory is that CSX management is dancing to the tune being played by hedge fund Mantle Ridge, which played a major role in getting Harrison installed as CEO last spring.

This theory is that CSX is diverting cash from infrastructure projects to a $1.5 billion stock buy-back program that will benefit Mantle Ridge, which acquired a sizable block of CSX stock in order to have enough clout to force the company to hire Harrison.

Media outlets have also been reporting that CSX has decided against building a new $270 million intermodal terminal near Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

Designed to develop intermodal business in the middle Atlantic region, the Carolina Connector was to be modeled after the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal in North Baltimore, Ohio, which opened in 2010.

CSX has begun scaling back operations in North Baltimore and there are reports that it plans to end intermodal operations there on Nov. 11. Last year, North Baltimore handled nearly 30 percent of CSX’s intermodal traffic.

It is not clear yet what strategy CSX has in mind for its intermodal business other than it is abandoning the hub and spoke system of building traffic density at terminals such as North Baltimore and the proposed North Carolina facility.

Railway Age quoted railroad economist Jim Blaze as saying that without enlarging the Howard Street Tunnel, most of the talk about developing the I-95 corridor and diverting traffic from trucks is just talk.

“Stack trains are about 35 percent more efficient than single-level intermodal trains,” Blaze told Railway Age. “Without Baltimore as a double-stack route, other intermodal I-95 projects on CSX’s two-decade-long wish list are likely also now at risk. My questions: Where’s the traffic growth to come from for intermodal east of the Appalachian Mountains? What’s the back-up plan to grow the top line of the CSX income statement? This is a strategic economic issue.”

Blaze predicted that the “winners” of the CSX decision will be truckers as well as Norfolk Southern, which has been working for two decades to develop a double-stack route between the New York City/Northern New Jersey region and Florida.

The NS route is longer and more circuitous than the CSX route, but has clearance to handle stack trains all the way.

If the Mantle Ridge influence theory is true, it suggests that CSX is playing a game that has been played out many times before in corporate America.

In the 19th century, it was common for financiers to “milk” railroads for all the money they could before walking away and leaving the railroad a shadow of its former self.

That might not happen to CSX, but I also wonder if this is replay of another era not that long ago that was described in Rush Loving’s book, The Men Who Loved Trains.

That book described another CSX administration that was focused on expense control of its income statement and balance sheet assets to the detriment of infrastructure development.

It decided that short-term financial gain could be had by squeezing a little more life out of ancient signals and other infrastructure.

In this case, CSX has decided it can get by a little longer with a narrow tunnel in a key intermodal lane.

Rather than spending money to make money, CSX has decided to hoard and eat its seed corn.