Posts Tagged ‘CSX Columbus Subdivision’

NTSB Releases Preliminary CSX Ohio Crash Report

October 12, 2019

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation of the August collision of two CSX trains in Ohio is focusing on train crew distractions, crew resource management, and current railroad operating rules for positive train control.

The NTSB this week released a preliminary report on the collision near Carey, Ohio, on the Columbus Subdivision in which local train H702 rammed into the W314, a 110-car frac sand train.

The report said the crash occurred in PTC territory although the locomotive of the local was operating at the time of the early morning incident with its PTC apparatus in restricted mode while the PTC system on the frac sand train had been disabled due to a malfunction.

“The [local] crew’s first job assignment was to set out 30 empty cars in Carey,” the report said.

“CSX instructions specify that for trains operating with active PTC, crews performing pickups, set offs, or other switching activities including shoving movements must: (1) Stop the train/locomotive; (2) Use restricted mode for the PTC system. In restricted mode, the PTC system allows train movement at restricted speed and no longer automatically stops the train before it can violate a red (stop) signal.”

After setting out 30 of his train’s 176 cars the conductor planned to return to the head end aboard a railroad shuttle van.

“The engineer of train H70211 departed with the PTC system still in restricted mode and continued westbound for about 2 miles to CP Springs,” the report said.

“Preliminary event recorder data indicated the train speed never exceeded 20 mph (upper limit threshold of CSX restricted speed rule). The train continued past the red signal at CP Springs and collided with the sixth railcar of the eastbound train W31411.”

The report said the W314’s PTC system had failed while that train was under the control of another crew and had been disabled.

“The crew involved in the accident notified the CSX dispatcher of the disabled PTC system prior to departing Garrett [Indiana] and were given permission to proceed to Columbus, where the system could be repaired,” the NTSB preliminary report says.

The crew of W314 told NTSB investigators that signal indications showed that their train would diverge from the single main track onto main track 2 at CP Springs.

“They stated that they saw the westbound train approaching CP Springs on main track 1 and noted the locomotive headlight was on bright,” the NTSB report said.

“The eastbound train engineer said that he flashed his headlight to indicate to the westbound train engineer to dim the locomotive headlight but received no response.”

After the collision, the lead locomotive of the H702 derailed along with four trash cars. Twenty-one of W314’s frac sand cars, in positions six through 26, derailed.

The engineers of both trains were treated for minor injuries and all crew members of both trains were given drug and alcohol tests.

Ohio Crash Probe Focuses on PTC Operation

August 27, 2019

Officials of the Federal Railroad Administration and CSX are seeking to determine why a positive train control system in place on the Columbus Subdivision failed to prevent a collision between two freight trains on Aug. 12.

Investigators are looking at whether the PTC system was properly activated and functioning prior to the early morning crash near Carey, Ohio.

They also are considering the role that human error might have played in causing the collision.

The probe has already determined that although PTC was active on the line, it has been disengaged on train H702, a Columbus to Willard local that struck the side of a southbound frac sand train, the W314, at the end of a passing siding.

Trains magazine cited unnamed sources as saying that the crew that ran past a stop signal had switched off PTC on their locomotive in order to conduct switching operations.

After the crash, the locomotive of the H702 derailed along with 25 freight cars.

An earlier report indicated that the engineer of the W314 had flashed his locomotive’s headlight, sounded its horn and sought to warn the local on the radio.

The crash occurred at 5:21 a.m. and did not result in any serious injuries to any crew member.

The federal law that mandates PTC systems on certain rail lines allows it to be turned off on some trains in limited circumstances, including while switching, during yard-to-yard moves, and when a train’s locomotive fails to connect with the PTC system while already en route.

CSX Trains Collide Near Carey on Columbus Sub

August 12, 2019

Two CSX crew members were taken to a hospital for evaluation after two CSX trains collided early Monday on the Columbus Subdivision north of Carey, Ohio.

The crash occurred at 5:15 a.m. where the double track ends at a point known as Springs.

About 25 cars and one locomotive derailed with the locomotive spilling diesel fuel.

Most of the derailed cars contained fracking sand, but a car carrying trash bound for a landfill also spilled.

A report from the Wyandot County Sheriff’s office indicated that a northbound (railroad westbound) train ran past a stopping point and struck cars in a southbound (railroad eastbound) train.

A CSX statement said the carrier is investigating the derailment and declined to provide much detail, including whether both trains were moving at the time of the crash.

The sheriff’s report indicated that the locomotive engineer of the eastbound train said he tried to alert the westbound train that it was fouling the single track by flashing his engine’s lights, blowing his horn, and calling on the train radio.

The report said the locomotive engineer of the westbound train only remembered his engine rolling on its side after impact.

The rail line was expected to be blocked for about 24 hours while crews cleaned up the site.

Marion Madness

March 27, 2018

I didn’t catch a symbol on this eastbound NS manifest freight, but it came through with an all BNSF motive power consist right before I was ready to leave.

Not all intermodal trains have the same priority. NS 234 cooled its heels for a couple hours waiting for the work window to expire whereas the tie gang had cleared up to allow the 218 to pass earlier in the day.

The Q008 looked liked it always has with no cuts of auto racks appended to it. But I saw two auto rack trains earlier that had cuts of double-stacked containers in the consist.

The first weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament featured more than its share of March Madness.

Headlining the opening round of the tournament was the upset of overall No. 1 seed Virginia by the unheralded University of Maryland-Baltimore County, the first time in the tournament’s history that a No. 1 seeded team fell to a No. 16 seeded team.

The UMBC Retrievers fell in the round of 32, but not the Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers, a No. 11 seed that knocked out No. 6 seeded University of Miami and then No. 3 seed Tennessee during the opening weekend.

I experienced my own version of March Madness during an outing to Marion that same weekend.

I arrived around 11 a.m. on Sunday to find Norfolk Southern’s Sandusky District strangely quiet.

Eastbound intermodal train 218 rumbled through just after 11:30 a.m. but NS didn’t run anything else for more than two hours.

CSX was being CSX. I never saw any trains on the Columbus Subdivision nor did I hear of any on the radio that were remotely nearby.

The only traffic on the Columbus Sub was a track car that went south.

As for the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision, the Q008 went east a half-hour after I arrived and the Q277 came west an hour after that. Then CSX joined NS in featuring only empty tracks in Marion for more than two hours.

Before I departed around 5 p.m., CSX would send through two more eastbounds on the Mt. Victory Sub, the Q254 auto rack train with its more than 500 axles and the monster-length Q364 manifest freight.

If you’re counting, I saw four CSX trains in six hours.

NS traffic was lulled to sleep by a tie gang working south of Marion. NS traffic picked up once its work window expired at 3 p.m. but was not as heavy as I had expected.

It wasn’t a bad day, but not quite what I’ve become accustomed to in Marion during my past outings there.

Maintaining the Tracks in Marion

February 15, 2018

I was in Marion last summer when a train calling symbol W053 on the radio approached from the north on the Columbus Subdivision.

It turned out to be a work train that was spraying weeds along the right of way.

The machine was turned off as the train passed Marion Union Station.

More Reflections of CSX

September 1, 2017

CSX train Q254 passes AC Tower in Marion. With the pole line gone, it is easier to get reflection images such as this one.

You go your way and I’ll go mine. An eastbound manifest freight on the CSX Columbus Sub is about to bang the diamonds of the Mt. Victory Sub in Marion.

During a trip to Marion on a Sunday earlier this year I was surprised to find that traffic on the CSX Columbus Subdivision was heavier than on the Mt. Victory Sub. Usually it is the other way around.

Chalk it up to the dispatcher on the Columbus Sub bunching up the traffic as well the precision scheduled railroading plan of the CSX CEO E. Hunter Harrison.

One strategy of the plan is to take commodities that once ran in dedicated trains and add them to manifest freights.

This has been particularly the case with auto racks and aggregates. Earlier in the day, the Q363 came through with what in the past would have been the consists of two trains.

Aside from the usual array of manifest freight, the Q363 had on the rear a very long string of auto racks.

Whenever I see an auto rack train these days on CSX I wonder why it is still running and how much longer it might be running as a single-commodity unit train.

Morning in Marion

March 15, 2017

Sometimes it all works out. I had arrived in Marion at 7:35 a.m. and the sun was high enough to be able to illuminate a southbound (railroad eastbound) train on either the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern or the Columbus Subdivision of CSX.

How nice it would be right now to have a heritage unit leading an eastbound on NS. That was too much to wish for, but maybe I could get a train on the Columbus Sub.

That might have been too much to wish for, too, because traffic can be sporadic on the Columbus Sub.

Thirty-three minutes after I arrived NS sent a westbound stack train through town. That was nice but it was going in the wrong direction for the light.

Nineteen minutes later came an NS eastbound, but I knew from monitoring the scanner that there was train coming my way on the Columbus Sub.

The Q711 arrived a minutes after the eastbound NS manifest freight began to bang the diamonds of the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision.

It might have been leading a trash train, but C40-8W No. 7790 looked good in the morning light.

Article and Photorgraph by Craig Sanders

Details Emerging of CSX Division Realignment

January 20, 2016

The CSX Columbus and Northern subdivisions are expected to be handed over to the Great Lakes Division as part of a divisional realignment that will close the Huntington Division.

CSX announced on Monday that it plans to close the Huntington Division and assigned its routes to neighboring divisions.

The Huntington Division has jurisdiction over routes extending from eastern Tennessee to north central Ohio and as far east as coastal Virginia. The division operates former Chesapeake & Ohio, Baltimore & Ohio, Louisville & Nashville, and Clinchfield territories.

The Baltimore Division is expected to oversee the Short Line and Ohio River subdivisions while the Florence Division will likely get the former C&O mainline between Huntington and Newport News, Virginia. This would also include all of the West Virginia coal branches.

The Louisville Division is expected to manage operations west of Russell, Kentucky, including the Russell terminal, Cincinnati, Northern, and CC subdivision, as well as the eastern Kentucky coal branches. The Atlanta Division is to take over the KD Subdivision in Tennessee.

Affected by the realignment are 121 management and union employees in the Huntington Division, including dispatchers, yardmasters and other support and administrative staff.

These workers are expected to remain on the job in Huntington during a transitional period that will last between three to five months.

They will be given the opportunity to apply for other positions elsewhere in the CSX network.

In the meantime, a West Virginia congressman has asked CSX to reconsider the closing of the Huntington Division offices.

U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins, R-West Virginia, said in a statement that the closing is “a huge blow to our community, our way of life, and to the livelihoods of so many of our friends and neighbors.”

“I have spoken directly to CSX and urged them to reconsider their decision,” Jenkins said, blaming the action on downturn in coal traffic that he said stemmed in part from the policies of President Obama.

“I am urging CSX to reexamine its relationship with the Huntington community and the value and experiences these loyal employees offer — it’s not too late to press pause and avoid severing this relationship,” Jenkins said in a statement.

Ready, Set, Stop

July 11, 2015

Fostoria Drag 11

Three CSX trains are stopped on the Columbus Subdivision in Fostoria waiting for clearance to proceed. Track work being performed on the CSX east-west Willard Subdivision made waiting trains a common sight on CSX and Norfolk Southern.

The train on the left was awaiting clearance to take the southeast connection to go east on the Willard Sub. The train in the middle wanted to go north (railroad west) across the Willard Sub and onto the Pemberville Subdivision to Toledo. The train on the right wanted to take the southwest connection and go west on the Willard Sub.

If you look carefully on the far right edge, you’ll see a fourth CSX train, a yard job between assignments.

Photograph by Craig Sanders