Posts Tagged ‘CSX intermodal trains’

CSX Expects to Begin Using Englarged Virginia Avenue Tunnel in Washington by Late This Year

July 23, 2016

Trains magazine is reporting that the Virginia Avenue Tunnel being enlarged by CSX will be ready to handle double-stacked container trains later this year.

CSX logo 1Completion of one phase of that project will mark a major milestone in the development of the railroad’s National Gateway program.

Work on enlarging the tunnel began in May 2015. The tunnel enlargement drew some opposition in Washington and CSX said it has made more than 51,000 contacts with people living over the tunnel to explain the project.

That included public meetings, social media interactions and email newletters. CSX also established an office near the tunnel’s west portal.

The project involves creating a new tunnel and then replacing the existing tunnel, which was constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1872.

Trains reported that CSX is using a cut-and-cover approach to building the tunnels, which involves digging a new trench adjacent to the existing bore and then placing a concrete cover over it.

Disruptions to the neighborhood are being minimized by drilling pilings to support the walls of both new tunnels.

CSX has set up a website to provide information and updates on the project at

Completion of the tunnel will mean that double-stacked container trains can travel between the Northwest Ohio Intermodal facility in North Baltimore to the Southeast.

Presumably, that traffic will move over the New Castle Subdivision via Akron.

CSX is also constructing a new intermodal terminal near Pittsburgh that also is expected to send traffic over the New Castle Sub.

So Where Was Quality Control?

May 28, 2016

Different numbers

It’s pretty obvious that the number boards are not the same on this CSX C40-8 as it led the Q113 through Berea.

One number is much larger than the other. My guess is that the number with the larger numerals is original while the smaller numerals are more modern.

No. 7583 has been around the CSX system for awhile, having been built by General Electric in September 1989. It probably has been through Berea numerous times. Maybe this is not the first time I’ve seen it or even photographed it.

I didn’t notice the difference in the number boards until I was looking at my photographs after having downloaded them.

I think I know what happened here. The shop needed to get the 7583 back on the road and a foreman said to put on whatever numerals were available. So long as the numbers on the right and left matched, the unit was good to go.

Perhaps some day No. 7583 will have matching number boards. But given all of the things that need the attention of the mechanical department, that is probably not high on the priority list.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Searching for CSX in Downtown Kent

May 19, 2016
An early March view of the eastbound Q016 passing beneath the former Erie Railroad station in downtown Kent while skirting the remains of a canal lock.

An early March view of the eastbound Q016 passing beneath the former Erie Railroad station in downtown Kent while skirting the remains of a canal lock.

A head-on view of the Q016 about a week later on a cloudy day.

A head-on view of the Q016 about a week later on a cloudy day.

I spent a little bit of time in Kent last winter parked on the Main Street bridge and looking for CSX traffic on the New Castle Subdivision.

I didn’t find a whole lot, but twice I caught the eastbound Q016 rumbling through in late afternoon. I’m told that the traffic patterns are such that the New Castle Sub is pretty quiet in Kent and Akron between early and late afternoon.

My limited experience in hanging out there during the afternoons would comport with that.

Is traffic down on the New Castle Sub? I can’t say for certain, but it might be. But I like going to Kent so I’ll keep working it, trying the mornings once the weather gets warmer for good.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

Just Out of the Box

November 23, 2015


New CSX Tier 4

During late summer CSX began testing its first Tier 4 compliant locomotive. Through mid September, the railroad had just a handful of the units on its property.

But since then GE Transportation has been rolling them off the factory floor at a rapid clip.

Shown is brand spanking new ET44AH No. 3321 on the point of westbound intermodal train Q009 at Unionville.

It is so new that even the pilot is still gleaming.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

CSX Has Fun in Intermodal Branding Campaign

September 11, 2015

CSX decided to have a little fun with a marketing campaign on behalf of its intermodal business that features short videos with a cast of cartoon characters.

Dubbed Meet The Intermodals, the animated video web series began in the summer and continues to be featured on The Intermodals website, which was created to promote the railroad’s intermodal business.

The series features a cast of characters, including Mike the talking train, Carl the truck, Rosie the ship, Bob the crane, and Randy and Sandy, the stacked containers.

Their stories explain an aspect of the intermodal and logistics business with tongue-cheek humor and a jingle. Each of the 16 episodes lasts 30 seconds.

CSX said that the videos were part of a brand awareness campaign.

CSX built the campaign around intermodal service because it is “an important and growing” part of CSX’s business, said John Claybrooks, CSX director of brand and digital media.

“The other thing about intermodal is that it’s very relatable because most consumer products used in everyday life are delivered via intermodal transportation,” he said. “We thought we would be able to drive home how essential and relevant CSX is to consumers and the overall economy.”

For six weeks, CSX paid for promoted posts and sponsored content on and on CNN’s mobile app. Before and after the paid campaign, CSX promoted the series on its website and Twitter sites.

The Boston-based marketing firm Mullen Lowe helped CSX create the stop-motion animation series, which Claybrooks said has appeal to a range of age groups, from millennials to their boomer-age parents.

“When we think about the generations that we’re trying to attract to our industry, we have to be where they are and communicate in ways that reach them,” Claybrooks said. “Social media is a platform that they respond to, so that’s what why we chose it.”

In addition to the videos, the Intermodals website features “Modal Mania,” an interactive video game that challenges players to place blue intermodal shipping containers on the correct train, truck or ship.

“One of the major trends in social media is gamification, so we were trying to find a way to leverage that in a business context,” Claybrooks said. “You certainly drive your engagement with your content a lot more by having gamification be part of your concept and execution. And the game certainly has contributed to the success of campaign.”

CSX said The Intermodals attracted “multi-millions” of responses in views, clicks and likes on Facebook.

No new tales of The Intermodals are planned but the existing episodes will continue to exist online.

A Front is Moving In

March 1, 2014


I had some time to kill in Kent last Saturday so I sat on the Main Street bridge and waited for CSX to come to life.

Shown is the last of five trains that I saw that afternoon. It appears to be the Q016 and it is passing through late in the afternoon.

It’s pretty much a standard CSX container train, but what caught my eye about this image was that the leading edge of a front was moving in as I made the image.

It had been mostly sunny for most of the day and the temperatures had been in the high 40s, maybe even into the low 50. Now, though, things were starting to change.

Much of the snow around here is gone, although traces still remain.

Later that evening, light rain fell as the front made its way through the region.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

2 Trains, 1 Meet, 1 Minute and 2 Firsts

January 28, 2014

The first of the two CSX container trains passes beneath the Fairchild Avenue bridge in Kent at 1:16 p.m.

It was one of those railfan photograph moments in which everything seemed to be moving rapidly.  We were driving toward Kent because he had heard a CSX train call a signal on the radio. But we couldn’t pick out which signal it was.

We were a few miles north of town so we didn’t even know if we would have enough time to catch this train. We had already struck out twice earlier in the day on catching CSX trains.

In the meantime, another CSX train called a signal, but this one was much fainter. There must be two trains out there.

As we came into Kent on Ohio Route 43 (North Mantua Street), I looked toward the  CSX tracks. No train. That was good news, I thought. Or was it? Was the train by already.

We heard a train calling the signal “Kent,” which is located just south of Summit Street. We pulled into the Sheetz parking lot and hoofed it across Mantua to the bridge carrying the Portage County Hike and Bike travel over the CSX track. A moderate level of snow was falling.

This bridge was opened last year and I had yet to photograph from it. Earlier we had discussed how it might be a nice view from there.

The snow on the ground on the east side of Mantua Street was deep and I was racing as hard as I could while hoping I didn’t slip and fall. I could see a headlight of the approaching Q016 reflecting off the rails on Track No. 2. Did I have enough time?

I barely had gotten into position when the eastbound train was upon us. This would be a first: my first photo taken from this bridge.

Q016 rumbled past. Roger then said he had heard the crew of this train talking on the radio to another train crew . That was even better news. A westbound was coming.

Seconds later westbound Q015 came around the curve and another first occurred. It would be the first time that I’d spotted and photographed double-stacked containers passing each other on the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

Container trains are old hat on this line, but it has only been a few months since double- stacked container trains began operating here. The clearance enlargement project on the former Baltimore & Ohio mainline has advanced far enough to allow some double-stack operations.

We got our photographs and headed back toward the Sheetz lot, this time at a much slower pace. The elapsed time between my first and last photographs was one minute.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders


The head end of the eastbound has passed beneath the trail bridge and leans into the curve.


Then westbound Q015 pops out from behind the curve. Note the double-stacked containers passing on each train.


Q016 had just a few double-stacked containers.


Passing the snow-covered milepost 117. The Cuyahoga River is out of view to the left.

Intermodal Terminal to Built on CSX near Erie

November 15, 2013
An eastbound CSX intermodal train cruises through North East, Pa., in August 2011. A new intermodal terminal will be built on this route a couple of miles west of here. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

An eastbound CSX intermodal train cruises through North East, Pa., in August 2011. A new intermodal terminal will be built on this route a couple of miles west of here. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

Investors are working with CSX to develop a new $60 million intermodal facility east of Erie, Pa.

The Erie Rail Terminal is being developed by GEIDC and private investor-operators.

The terminal will be located in Harborcreek Township and feature 4,000 feet of frontage on the CSX Water Level Route between Cleveland and Buffalo, N.Y. Highway access will be via U.S. Route 20 and Pennsylvania Route 955.

The site is now mostly vacant land. The developers have described the new facility as a concept that embraces the global marketplace by combining highway, rail and marine transportation.

The new Erie terminal is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs and, once operational, 40 on-site jobs, 40 drayage jobs and 100 indirect jobs.

“The Erie Rail Terminal is our interchange on that highway, bringing the Erie Region’s businesses new efficiencies and trade opportunities,” said John Elliott, president and CEO of GEIDC. “CSX’s involvement in the intermodal terminal will help open our region to global markets and have an immediate positive impact on the Erie County Region. When completed, this critical element of infrastructure will also benefit businesses throughout our region in helping expedite the shipment and delivery of goods and materials.”

The design phase of the project is underway and construction is expected to begin in 2014. The projected opening of the terminal is early 2016.


CSX Still Eying North Baltimore Hub Expansion

November 8, 2013
A wide-span crane shuffles containers at the CSX North Baltimore intermodal hub in June 2011. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

A wide-span crane shuffles containers at the CSX North Baltimore intermodal hub in June 2011. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

CSX is still considering expanding its intermodal hub in North Baltimore, Ohio, despite having been turned down earlier this year for a federal grant that would have helped underwrite the expansion.

The news emerged during a visit this week to the facility by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

Rusty Orben, CSX’s director of public affairs, had said last May that without a grant picking up half the cost of the North Baltimore expansion, it wouldn’t be built.  But Carla Groleau, a CSX spokeswoman, said this week that the railroad is “still considering our options” for expanding the North Baltimore facility.

The North Baltimore facility currently handles about 2,000 containers per day and originates, terminates, or swaps blocks on about 30 scheduled trains.

The CSX application for TIGER funding that would have covered half of the expansion project’s $42 million cost did not make the U.S. Department of Transportation’s list of new grants announced in September. CSX began operating full-cube double-stacked trains between North Baltimore and Chambersburg, Pa., this past summer.

The North Baltimore facility, formally known as the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal, is part of the railroad’s National Gateway.

The next major project in developing the National Gateway will be enlarging the Virginia Avenue Tunnel in Washington to allow doublestacks to travel between CSX’s former Baltimore & Ohio and Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac main lines. That project is in planning and environmental review.

The importance of intermodal traffic to CSX was underscored by the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Fredrik Eliasson in a presentation at the Baird Industrials Conference in Chicago this week.

Eliasson called intermodal, “a key driver of growth” that now represents 40 percent of CSX’s overall volume and is expected to increase further, reflecting “the attractive economic value of converting freight from highway to rail.”

Eliasson said there is sustained growth in CSX’s merchandise and intermodal businesses, which now comprises more than 80 percent of the company’s volume. CSX expects that business to continue growing at a rate above the general economy, he said.

“CSX employs a dual intermodal strategy that includes both high-density corridors and a hub-and-spoke philosophy that also creates service density to open new small and medium-sized markets—a strategy the company believes is a differentiator in the intermodal marketplace,” Eliasson said.

CSX recently completed the first phase of doublestack clearances in its National Gateway initiative, which is an effort to create an efficient rail route between Mid-Atlantic ports and Midwestern markets.

When the National Gateway is complete in 2015, roughly 95 percent of the railroad’s intermodal traffic will be moving in doublestack lanes.

CSX is building new terminals to expand its reach in markets such as central Florida, Pittsburgh, and Montreal.

It continues to invest in existing terminals to further increase efficiency throughout its network, such as an expansion of its Northwest Ohio hub, which opened in 2011 and has helped alleviate congestion in Chicago while opening up connectivity to markets in the Midwest.

During his visit to North Baltimore this past week, Vice President Biden noted the imminent enlargement of the Panama Canal will double the potential capacity of container ships using that waterway.

Biden described the National Gateway as “the inland version of widening the Panama Canal.”

Although CSX used no public funds to develop its $175 million, 500-acre Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal, which opened in 2011, $98 million of CSX’s $193 million cost for bridge and tunnel clearance work in eastern Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia to link it with a new terminal at Chambersburg, Pa., came from a federal Transportation Improvements Generating Economic Recovery Act grant.

“Without TIGER, there would be no National Gateway,” Biden said, because without the higher bridges and taller tunnels, CSX would not be able to realize the full benefit of double-stack trains to the North Baltimore terminal.

Biden spoke after briefly touring the North Baltimore terminal, including a visit to its training simulator for crane operators and conversations with Oscar Munoz, CSX’s chief operating officer, and Widby Whitt, president of CSX Intermodal Terminals.

The Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal opened in 2011 and CSX says that it employs 300 full-time workers. It is located on 500 acres in Wood County, Ohio, a mile west of North Baltimore.

The Colors of Fall

November 2, 2013
Some residual color remains in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on Oct. 27 as a southbound Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train comes to a stop.

Some residual color remains in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on Oct. 27 as a southbound Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train comes to a stop.

It’s been a nice October for fall foliage but it hasn’t been a good month for me to photograph most of it. Weekends have brought a lot of rain and clouds. Combine that with work obligations during the week when there were sunny skies and the result is that I haven’t gotten trackside with my camera to get trains and fall foliage nearly as  much as I would have liked.

But I did manage to get out a couple of times and catch some of the colors of fall. Shown here are some images captured in October 2013.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

Some leaves have started to turn at Olmsted Falls as a westbound Norfolk Southern train passes.

Some leaves have started to turn at Olmsted Falls as a westbound Norfolk Southern container train passes.

Another westbound at Olmsted Falls.

Another westbound at Olmsted Falls.

What is October without a pumpkin or two? Two BNSF "pumpkins" lead a container train on CSX through Kent on Columbus Day.

What is October without a pumpkin or two? Two BNSF “pumpkins” lead a container train on CSX through Kent on Columbus Day.


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