Posts Tagged ‘CSX coal trains’

Coal Train in Boughtonville

January 3, 2021

There had been a winter storm a couple of days earlier that left some snow along the CSX Willard Terminal Subdivision between Greenwich and Willard.

I met up with Roger Durfee and Peter Bowler and we made a foray out to CSX territory.

It was the last winter in which I would be making photographs with slide film and it was a cold but sunny day.

Traffic on CSX was heavy on this day, which was the norm then. Sure, there are still a lot of trains to be found on this line today but not as many as there was back in January 2011.

We’ve heard of an eastbound coal train coming so we’ve set up in Boughtonville, a hamlet located not far from Willard.

On the point is a former Burlington Northern SD70MAC still wearing its Grinstein green and cream with Alizarin red striping. The BN logo has been erased from the nose and a BNSF reporting mark affixed below the cab windows. A standard BNSF “pumpkin” is trailing.

The train is at the crossovers but is making a straight move on No. 1 track.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Kentucky Coal Miners End Blockade of CSX Train

January 22, 2020

After receiving delayed paychecks a group of coal miners ended a blockade of a coal train on CSX tracks near Pikeville, Kentucky.

The miners, who are employed by Quest Energy, had claimed that they had not been paid for three weeks of work.

They had stood on the tracks of the CSX Coal Run Subdivision to prevent a 120-car train from leaving a loading facility.

The standoff ended after the miners were paid by Quest.

American Resources Corporation, which owns Quest, said it has apologized to the miners and said the protesters would not lose their jobs.

The blockade had prompted a confrontation between about 40 other Quest employees and managers and the protesting miners that resulted in Kentucky State Police being called to the scene. CSX Railroad Police were also called in as well.

The 40 employees and managers had sought to persuade the protesters to leave so the train could be released.

The train in question had 120 cars of metallurgical coal used in steel production. It was bound for Newport News, Virginia.

Kentucky Miners Block Another CSX Coal Train

January 15, 2020

Kentucky coal miners who say they have yet to be paid for all of their work blocked a coal train on CSX tracks on Monday.

The miners, who are employed by Quest Energy, prevented a loaded coal train from leaving a mine near Pikeville on the Coal Run Subdivision.

News reports indicate the miners said they have not been paid in three weeks, with their last paychecks having been deposited into their bank accounts in late December for work completed in a pay period ending Dec. 22.

They contend that Quest has not paid them since then.

The 120-car train was carrying metallurgical coal and had been loaded on Sunday night.

The miners allowed a CSX crew to retrieve two locomotives from the train provided that the loaded coal hoppers were left behind.

It is not clear what is the destination of the coal train ,which had 20 cars filled with coal mined by a company not owned by Quest.

Quest parent company American Resources Corporation took issue in a statement with the miners’ claim they had not been paid for their work.

The statement contended that some employees are behind between one and eight days on being paid and that Quest is working to pay them.

The statement attributed the situation to Quest’s efforts to make some mines more productive combined with “a short-term blip in the coal markets.”

Quest said it expects to resolve a “few short-term issues” in the near future.

The blockade was the second to occur in Kentucky within the past year by miners who said they had not been paid for their work.

Last July minors at a Harlan County mine prevented a coal train loaded by Blackjewel to leave on the CSX Poor Fork Subdivision.

At the time Blackjewel was in bankruptcy proceedings and the protesting miners had been laid off without being paid.

That standoff lasted into the fall and ended when the miners began to receive paychecks following intervention in the bankruptcy case by state and federal officials.

Miners End Blockade of CSX Coal Train in Kentucky

October 1, 2019

Although Kentucky coal miners have ended their strike, the fate of a CSX coal train they had blockaded remains uncertain.

The miners blocked the train from moving to protest losing their jobs and not being paid for work they had performed before being laid off by Blackjewel Mining.

News media reports said the miners ended the blockade of the train last week after nearly two months of picketing.

The train is at Clover Fork No. 3 mine near Cumberland in Harlan County. The miners said they had mined the coal loaded on that train but had not been paid for their work in the wake of Blackjewel filing for bankruptcy protection in July.

The miners have reported that their last paychecks bounced after the bankruptcy filing.

The 80-car train on the Poor Fork Subdivision is still at the mine. The protesting miners allowed CSX to remove the two locomotives that had been attached to the train..

A CSX spokesman told Trains magazine that it will wait before moving the train.

“At this point, CSX is awaiting the conclusion of the legal proceedings in this matter before making any determination about moving the coal,” said CSX Media Relations Director Cindy Schild.

The blockade of the train began on July 29. News reports indicate that it ended after the remaining protesting miners found jobs at other companies or began training for other trades.

The number of protesting miners at the blockade site has progressively grown smaller in recent weeks.

A federal judge in West Virginia had ruled in mid September that the Blackjewel and the U.S. Department of Labor were to enter into confidential negotiations to conclude by Oct. 1.

The Labor Department had asserted in a court filing that the coal loaded on the train was “hot goods” because it had been produced by miners who had not been paid for their work.

The filing had the effect of stopping the shipment of coal produced at Blackjewel mines for which miners had not been paid.

The protesting miners had earlier rejected an offer by the new owner of the Clover Fork mine, KopperGlo Mining, that would have paid them an average of $800 per person toward their unpaid wages. Some of the miners said they were owed more than $4,000.

Running on Empty

July 10, 2018

The Jackson Browne song reflected in the title of this post has nothing to do with railroads but it does have a line about “looking out at the road rushing under my wheels.”

He meant a car and not a train. Indeed Browne said the idea for the song came to him while driving to a studio every day in 1976 to record his album The Pretender.

Browne’s 1978 hit came to my mind as I watched this empty coal hopper train roll beneath me as I stood on the Portage Hike and Bike Trail near Kent.

The eastbound train is probably headed for a mine in southwest Pennsylvania.

Arguably the theme could apply to coal trains generally. Coal trains are still around and not going away anytime soon, but coal as a fuel continues to lose ground to natural gas.

In fact the coal industry might be able to relate to another line in the song, “I don’t know when that road turned, into the road I’m on.”

Train That Crashed Was a CSX Train

March 7, 2018

Additional information shows that a train that struck a truck carrying hydrochloric acid belonged to CSX, although it was being operated by Norfolk Southern employees on the NS Mon Line.

The accident occurred on Tuesday at Route 88 and Maple Grove Road in Centerville, Pennsylvania, at 10:38 a.m.

Two crew members aboard the train were taken to a hospital for evaluation. The truck driver also was injured and flown by helicopter to a Pittsburgh hospital.

Authorities said an estimated 4,000 gallons of acid was spilled. The train was carrying empty coal hoppers.

Police said the accident occurred when the truck was making a left turn to go into a facility owned by Forum Energy Technologies. The truck was drug about 100 yards after it was struck by the train.

Fumes from the spilled acid prompted authorities to evacuate the residents of 15 nearby homes. Workers at the Forum Energy site were also evacuated.

An NS spokesperson said the train had three locomotives and 102 cars. It was traveling from Newell to a coal mine near Claysville, Pennsylvania.

CSX Using Distributed Power on Coal Trains

January 30, 2018

CSX is now routinely using distributed motive power on unit coal trains in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.

The carrier has tested mid-train technology on the former Chesapeake & Ohio route in the past two years, running a few trains of more than 200 cars.

The norm has been unit trains of 110 or 150 cars, but with distributed power the trains can be up to 220 cars in length and need one crew. The longer trains sometimes exceed 30,000 tons.

The trains originate at mines in the Appalachian Mountains and operate to export facilities near Newport News, Virginia.

As part of its shift to the precision scheduled railroading model, CSX is running fewer and longer trains in an effort to cut labor and equipment costs. The railroad is operating with fewer locomotives than it has in the past.

Trains magazine reported that it not clear if the use of distributed power will continue, but cited unnamed sources said to be familiar with the operation as saying that crews are being trained in the use of distributed power.

At Last I Can Check Galion Off My List

August 19, 2017

Photographing an eastbound CSX train passing the former Big Four passenger station in Galion has been on my “to do” list for a long time.

How long? I was still shooting slide film when I first became interested in getting the image.

I’ve been digital since July 2011 so that is at least six years. And I know photographing in Galion has been on my mind for at least a few years before that.

I’ve driven through Galion numerous times while en route to Marion. But I never stopped to get the Galion photograph.

Marion has far more traffic than Galion. Yes, everything that passes through Marion on the Mt. Victory Subdivision also goes through Galion.

And Galion gets some traffic off the Columbus Line, which joins the Mt. Victory Sub in Galion a short distance south of the Big Four station.

But Columbus Line traffic has dwindled to a trickle. There is a stack train that originates in Columbus (Q022) and some other traffic here and there.

Getting the Galion image I wanted comes with a small window. It must be done in the morning and it works best for an eastbound.

It also takes determination and not giving into the temptation to say “the hell with it I’m going to Marion” after an hour of waiting and hearing nothing on the radio.

I arrived in Galion around 8:30 a.m., which I feared might be too late to catch the Q022. It must have been because I never saw it.

I waited for nearly an hour before catching a train, the westbound Q363. It was a monster freight that kept traffic waiting at the grade crossings for a long time.

It would be nearly an hour before another train came along. It was the eastbound U700, a coal train.

I debated about whether to photograph on the east side of the tracks or next to the umbrella shed that runs the length of the platform on the west side of the tracks.

I liked that view better, but it would mean one side of the train would be in shadows. I opted for the east side to get all of the train in sunlight.

After the passage of the U700 I headed for Marion. That was a wise decision. There would not be another eastbound go through Galion until around 3 p.m., by which time the sun had shifted to the west side of the tracks.

I’d still like to go back to Galion and get that umbrella shed shot and take my chances with the shadows.

One thing I know is that it will take some patience and maybe arriving earlier than I did on this trip.

It’s a Coal Train!

June 9, 2017

CSX was in the midst of a flurry of traffic. Between 7 and 8 p.m. it put five trains through Berea, including something I haven’t seen in a long time.

I was looking through my telephoto lens at this approaching eastbound, the last of the five trains that also included two westbound stack trains, a westbound auto rack train and an eastbound manifest train when I noticed that this was a coal train.

The decline of coal traffic at CSX and Norfolk Southern has been well documented by various sources and in recent years coal trains seem to have become scarce in Northeast Ohio.

I’ve seen a few coal trains on NS, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a coal train on CSX. And this wasn’t a Powder River Basin coal train, but something that likely came up from West Virginia.

Maybe coal trains are not extinct on CSX through Cleveland and I just haven’t been trackside when they came through.

I have no idea as to the destination of this coal, but there must be a power plant somewhere east of here that still burns the black diamonds.

CSX Moving More W.Va. Coal Trains

July 28, 2016

Trains magazine is reporting that coal traffic has been on the upswing in West Virginia on CSX during the past two weeks.

CSX logo 1It reported that Contura Energy’s McClure Complex has increased the number of loaded unit trains of metallurgical coal trains it moved in the third week of July from two to six.

Five additional new trains this week were also slated to be moved. The magazine said there has been a decrease in the number of stored coal hopper cars being stored on the idled former Clinchfield Railroad.

The uptick in business follows Contura’s reorganization in bankruptcy court as a new company that is comprised of the top lien holders of Alpha Natural Resources, which had mining operations in West Virginia.

Contura acquired the complexes of Alpha’s Nicholas, McClure, and Toms Creek complexes in West Virginia and Virginia.

It also owns mining complexes in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and in Pennsylvania.