Posts Tagged ‘CSX trains’

CSX Touts Improved Transit Times

June 16, 2017

A CSX executive said this week that by closing hump yards, reducing car handlings, and adjusting its operating plan, the railroad has been able to reduce the transit time of merchandise carloads by nearly a day.

Speaking at the Citi 2017 Industrials Conference, CSX Chief Marketing Officer Fredrik Eliasson said the decrease in average transit time is a 15-percent improvement. It had been 5.9 days.

Eliasson said CSX also cut coal train cycle times by reducing loaded transit time to 2.3 days, down from three days in March.

The executive attributed the improvements to the implementation of the scheduled precision railroading operating plan of CEO E. Hunter Harrison, who presumed his position on March 6.

On-time originations have improved 12 percent, while on-time arrivals have improved 36 percent, Eliasson said, noting that premium intermodal trains have arrived on time 97 percent of the time in the second quarter.

“For our customers this is a big deal,” Eliasson said. CSX management believes that reduced transit times and more consistent service will enable the railroad to capture business from trucks.

Eliasson said there have been some problem spots in the wake of the conversion of seven 12 hump yards to flat switching.

And the pace of the changes has meant that despite a commitment to communicate with customers about service changes and seek their views that it has not always been possible to touch base with shippers before operational changes are implemented.

Eliasson said that earlier this year about 25 percent of intermodal trains operated daily. Now, half of them do, which he said reflects Harrison’s belief in operating a balanced network.

In some instances trains have been combined due to volume and scheduling reasons.

CSX also is continue to reduce the number of trains it operates but is still moving roughly the same amount of tonnage.

It has stored 700 locomotives stored — up from 551 in May — and retired more than 24,000 freight cars through storage, scrapping or returning them to lessors.

Eliasson  said CSX doesn’t expect to order new locomotives anytime soon. “Overall, we are good on locomotives,” he said.

CSX second-quarter volumes have increased 1 percent in the second quarter, which is slightly lower than expected. The company expects volume to improve later this year as trucking capacity tightens.

CSX Plans Major Changes for Indianapolis

June 15, 2017

CSX is planning major changes to its operations in Indianapolis, including closing Avon Yard and its dispatching center, and spending millions to rebuild smaller facilities.

The news was reported on Trainorders.com by a poster who reprinted a memorandum from a railroad labor union officer who attended a meeting held in Indianapolis to be briefed on the changes.

The only date given for the changes was Oct. 31, when dispatching operations now based in Indianapolis will be moved to Jacksonville, Florida.

The CSX Indy dispatch office is a former Conrail facility that now oversees former Conrail territories that CSX acquired in 1999. It also dispatches all former B&O lines in Northeast Ohio operated by CSX.

Avon is a former New York Central hump classification yard that opened in June 1960.

Earlier this month CSX said it would close the locomotive shop there, but now it plans to farm out its other activities to the Hawthorne, Transfer and State Street yards. A new intermodal facility is to be constructed at a site to be named.

All of those facilities will be receive track upgrades and new buildings. The operating plan is to base scheduled jobs out of all yards on all three shifts.

Hawthorne will handle road trains while State and Transfer yards will handle the local and industry work.

As part of the restructuring, the local jobs will be assigned three-person  crews, which CSX management believes will be able to more efficiently handle switching.

Hawthorne, a former Pennsylvania Railroad yard, is a stub-end facility because the ex-PRR mainline on the east side of Indianapolis has been abandoned.

Avon crew pools will change at one of the three yards, although the operating plan is still being worked out.

This will include re-advertising all of the pool jobs to take into account adjustments in mileage and other operating changes.

One report is that some switching now done at Avon will be taken over by the Alton & Southern in the St. Louis region.

In years past, Avon built blocks for Penn Central and Conrail that were interchanged with western railroads in St. Louis and the St. Elmo, Illinois, gateway.

Locomotive fueling now done in Avon will be done throughout the Indianapolis terminal by fuel trucks. Car department repairs will be performed at Hawthorne.

The union memorandum said CSX wants to move quickly on the terminal changes, ideally within the next 45 days.

One impetus for closing Avon might be that the area around it has developed into a busy commercial-residential area and CSX might see an opportunity to sell land to developers.

CSX Reinstates Train Q390

June 15, 2017

An online report this week indicated that CSX has reinstated manifest freight train Q390. The train, which resumed operating on Monday, originates in Willard and terminates in Selkirk Yard near Albany, New York.

There are now three eastbound manifest freights that work at Willard and continue to Selkirk. They also include Q382 and Q384.

Train Q390 once originated on the Union Pacific at North Platte, Nebraska, and was known for sometimes having UP motive power.

Competitors and Partners

June 13, 2017

I recently read a quotation from a railroad trade group official to the effect that trucks are among the strongest competitors for railroads and at the same time one of their best partners.

Trucks have taken away large quantities of business from railroads over the years and yet given large amounts of business in return.

Shown is CSX eastbound train Q226 on the Mt. Victory Subdivision in Greenwich.

I heard it coming and was looking for a location to photograph it before it went into the connection to the New Castle Sub to head toward Akron and Youngstown.

Framing the lead locomotive with a fleet of trailers sitting near the tracks was a last-minute decision.

Not Uncommon But Still Pleasing to See

May 23, 2017

BNSF locomotives are not a rare sighting in Northeast Ohio, but not necessarily an everyday one, either. Like many people, I like their bright orange color.

So when this westbound CSX manifest freight came through Berea recently with a “pumpkin” on the nose, my camera was out.

As a bonus, the trailing unit was Union Pacific. I would have photographed it, too, had it been leading instead of the BNSF unit.

Note the passing Norfolk Southern intermodal train off to the left.

CSX Making Operations Changes to CL&W Sub

May 22, 2017

CSX has made some long anticipated changes to operations on its CL&W Subdivision, the former Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling line of the Baltimore & Ohio from Sterling to Lorain and Cleveland via Lester.

First, the line from Sterling to Lester is said to be unused. A recent trip to shoot some Wheeling & Lake Erie action took us across the tracks at Seville and there were signs of use.

Could this just be to as far as the lumber yard north of Seville?

In the Cleveland area, CSX is running a yard job, with symbol Y124 from Collinwood to West Third Street Yard. This is often seen in the afternoon at Parma.

It turns west to south at Parma and then picks up a shoving platform (caboose) and backs down to the Cleveland Sub to West Third Street.

I have not seen it come back from West Third Street, but I would assume that they shove up the hill back to Parma, drop their caboose and head back to Collinwood.

The Y124 also brings to Parma cars to/from Lester and the Lorain side of the CL&W.

The local that works out of Lester brings the cars to Parma a couple of days per week. I would imagine that the other days they service the Lorain side and any other customers along the line.

Article by Marty Surdyk

The Red Grain Elevator of Wellington

May 19, 2017

A certain member of the Akron Railroad Club is known for his passion for photographing trains and grain elevators.

I know that in particular he likes the red grain facility in Wellington alongside the Greenwich Subdivision of CSX.

It makes for a dramatic  image in late afternoon sunlight. From what I can see, the facility is no longer served by rail.

I didn’t go there on a recent outing just to capture the red grain elevator. As much as anything I went there because Wellington wasn’t being covered  by clouds.

CSX cooperated beautifully by sending a pair of westbounds through town, a stack train and an ethanol train.

The ethanol train shown at top was the second of the pair and I tend to like that image the best of the two.

Harrison Gives Preview of What’s in Store at CSX

April 21, 2017

CSX CEO E. Hunter Harrison gave a preview on Thursday about what is in store at the railroad in the coming months and years.

Speaking during a conference call with Wall Street investors, Harrison called the CSX network a bowl of spaghetti when compared to the linear-oriented systems he oversaw at Canadian Pacific, Canadian National and Illinois Central.

E. Hunter Harrison

Although he thinks that CSX does well in moving intermodal trains, Harrison believes merchandise freight needs to move faster.

The average speed of CSX merchandise freight is now 18 mph between terminals, but Harrison believes it could be boosted to 27 to 28 mph.

One way to boost transit times is by skipping terminals. Ultimately, Harrison wants to see CSX provide merchandise service that is on a par with trucks.

CSX Chief Operating Officer Cindy Sanborn said CSX has made two significant operating changes since Harrison arrived.

Some traffic that had been moving in unit trains has been merged into merchandise trains and four of the railroad’s 12 hump yards have been converted to flat switching.

Sanborn said the changes will allow CSX to provide seven-day-a-week service, bring balance to the system, increase train length, cut terminal dwell time and reduce the time that freight spends in transit.

CSX is expected to continue closing humps although Sanborn said she doesn’t know by how many because management is studying each yard individually.

Harrison described hump yards as a relic of an era when a much higher percentage of rail freight traffic was merchandise service.

In a related matter, Harrison said CSX will consolidate yards in areas where multiple yards now exist and sell the land used by yards that are closed.

There was speculation earlier that CSX would sell some secondary lines, but Harrison said he doesn’t expect any major line sales in 2017 because management is focusing on improving operations of the current network.

Other steps CSX plans to make, Harrison said, include having fewer train sets devoted to unit coal train service, but having faster cyling of cars between mines and customers.

CSX is not looking to drop some of its less-profitable merchandise traffic as Canadian Pacific did while Harrison was that railroad’s CEO.

“No, we’re not looking at demarketing,” he said. “We’re looking at marketing.”

As predicted, Harrison will trim the CSX work force. The railroad now has a hiring freeze in place and expects to lose 9 percent of its work force through attrition.

He added, though, that management does not have a target for work force cuts.

Another labor-related change may see CSX pull out of national negotiations with labor unions and instead bargain directly with the unions.

Harrison would like to see train and engine crews paid by the hour in return for the company offering job guarantees. Ultimately, Harrison said he wants to lower T&E costs by 30 to 35 percent.

One area in which Harrison does not expect change is the number of crew members on each train. “I’m not a one-man crew advocate,” he said. “ . . . to take a 20,000 ton train on line of road, with one person, I don’t think it’s good business,”

Sounding like a union officer, Harrison said there are safety issues with one-person crews and he sees the value of having extra set of eyes and ears in the cab.

If one crew member had to deal with such things as a broken air hose or a knuckle failure, that could result in delays.

Harrison said one-person crews might make sense in some situation, citing switching at mines.

Changing Face of Voris Street in Akron

November 11, 2016

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For decades, photographers who hung out at Voris Street in Akron, made photographs featuring the former Akron Brewing Company building in some of their images.

Trains of the Erie, Pennsylvania and Baltimore & Ohio railroads passed here for decades.

Construction of the Akron Brewing facility began in 1903, but the building’s function as a brewery was short-lived with Prohibition putting it out of business.

The building took on a variety of functions over the years, including housing such companies as Beatrice Foods, Sumner Butter and Tasty Pure Food Company.

Planners working on a new interchange determined that the building was in the path of a planned new interchange with Interstates 76/77 and South Main and South Broadway streets.

Demolition of the building began in April and work on building the new interchange is well underway.

The Voris Street crossing of the CSX New Castle Subdivision is officially closed although the gates and flashing lights are still in operation.

The top photograph was made in July 2011 from the ramp leading from the interstate to South Broadway and shows a westbound CSX tanker train.

The bottom photograph was made from the same ramp on Nov. 6 and shows that the site where the Akron Brewing Building once stood is now being reworked to become a highway ramp.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The Disappearing Cuyahoga River in Kent

November 2, 2016

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I mentioned in  a post earlier this year that the trees growing along the bank of the Cuyahoga River in downtown Kent are obscuring the river.

When I went to Kent on a recent Saturday morning I was presented with graphic evidence of how much that is the case.

In the top photograph, the river is somewhat visible in an image made with a telephoto lens.

But it won’t be long before those trees growing between the CSX tracks and the river are tall enough to block the view of the river entirely.

The bottom photograph was made with a wide-angle focal length. The river is only partially visible toward the lower left-hand corner of the frame. Yet the dense foliage makes the water almost an afterthought that you need to search to find it.

There remains open views of the river and the decorative dam if you stand along the fence above the tracks south of the Main Street bridge. But the view of the river from the bridge is going, going almost gone.

The train, by the way, is a westbound manifest freight. I think it was the Q353. The detector at Munroe Falls said it had more than 500 axles.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders