Posts Tagged ‘Ethanol trains’

Debris From Mudslide Caused CSX Derailment

September 27, 2022

Federal investigators said a 2020 CSX derailment in Kentucky was likely caused by debris on  the track after a mudslide.

The derailment occurred on Feb. 13, 2020, near Draffin, Kentucky, on a route that is wedged between the Russel Fork River and a hillside.

The mudslide occurred following several weeks of rain, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report released last week.

Investigators said the area had received more than 300 percent of its normal rainfall in the two weeks before the derailment occurred.

Three locomotives, a buffer car and four tank cars derailed. Two of the tank cars released 38,400 gallons of denatured ethanol.

The report said the spilled ethanol combined with diesel fuel from the locomotives and ignited, resulting in a locomotive being destroyed by fire.

The train crew was able to escape through the river and sustained minor injuries.

Although the locomotive engineer applied the train’s emergency brakes, there was not enough time to avoid a collision with the debris on the track.

A weather alert system that CSX relied upon “did not account for the impact of the unusual increases and accumulation of precipitation” over several weeks, and elevated temperatures in the month before the derailment, the NTSB report said.

The NTSB said the severity of the derailment might have been reduced had the two tank cars that spilled ethanol been placed further toward the rear of the train.

The cars were of the USDOT-111 type. The NTSB has in earlier reports made a similar recommendation about the placement of that class of tank cars.

GTW Heritage Unit Visits Northeast Ohio

July 26, 2021

I met Jeff Troutman in Perry on Sunday evening to catch CSX ethanol train K614. There were three other railfans there as well. What was special about his train is that it was led by Canadian National 8952, the Grand Trunk Western heritage unit. It passed through just after 7 p.m.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas

Red Nose in Edgerton

November 5, 2020

Norfolk Southern eastbound ethanol train 64R passes the grain elevator in Edgerton, Ohio, on the Chicago Line this past Tuesday.

Since ethanol is derived at least in part from grain, it seems suitable to capture an ethanol train passing a grain elevator.

The Canadian Pacific leader on this train would not stay in that position past Toledo where an NS unit with cab signals was put on the point.

Thus when the 64R passed through Northeast Ohio en route to Reybold, Delaware, it had an NS leader.

The trailing unit in the image above is a CSX locomotive.

Tank Trains Routed Off Ft. Wayne Line

April 13, 2020

Norfolk Southern earlier this month began routing crude oil and ethanol trains off the Fort Wayne Line in favor of other routes that will take them through Cleveland.

An online report indicated that NS rerouted the trains to avoid making trackage rights payments to the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern, which operates the Fort Wayne Line in northern Indiana and western Ohio.

NS also said it wanted to solve crew balancing problems with the divergence of loaded and empty routings.

The tank car trains began using the Fort Wayne line around 2014 when congestion on the Chicago Line brought traffic to a near standstill at times.

The trains used the CF&E to and from Chicago via Fort Wayne, Indiana.

These trains sometimes operated with motive power from the originating railroad, hence the need to have an NS lead unit equipped with cab signals for travel east of Cleveland.

The current operating plan is to route the tank car trains via Bellevue where they will receive locomotives equipped with cab signals.

Between Chicago and Bellevue, these trains can be routed either via Fort Wayne on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline or to Toledo on the Chicago and thence to Bellevue on the Toledo District via Oak Harbor and Fremont.

After receiving a cab signal equipped locomotive in Bellevue, the tanker trains will operate on the former NKP to Vermillion and take the connection to the Chicago Line.

It is thought that trains leaving Chicago with solid NS motive power consist can take the Chicago Line between Chicago and Cleveland.

The empty tank cars will operate on the reverse routes via Bellevue.

In the past, eastbound tank car trains using the Chicago Line have sometimes added cab signal equipped NS units at Berea siding or near Rockport Yard in Cleveland.

This practice is expected to continue if Bellevue lacks a cab signal equipped unit for a particular train.

The Fort Wayne Line was at one time the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline between Chicago and Pittsburgh. It runs in Ohio through Bucyrus, Crestline, Mansfield, Wooster, Orrville, Massillon and Canton.

East of Alliance, the Fort Wayne Line is a busy railroad handling NS traffic off the Chicago Line at Cleveland that is bound for Pittsburgh and points east.

West of Alliance the Fort Wayne Line has far less traffic, including manifest freights that operate Conway Yard-Bellevue and Conway Yard-Chattanooga, Tennsessee. There is also a local between Canton and Mansfield.

Trains affected include the 66R, 66X and 66Z, which traditionally have originated on, respectively, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and BNSF.

NTSB Says Landslide Caused CSX Derailment

March 28, 2020

A landslide has been determined to have caused a February derailment on the CSX Kingsport Subdivision in Kentucky that spilled denatured ethanol.

In a preliminary report, the National Transportation Safety Board said it will examine hillside slide detection and weather alerts, and the performance of DOT-111A, DOT-117 and DOT-117R tank cars in this and other accidents.

The agency said its probe will review the positioning of different tank car types in train consists.

The early morning derailment on Feb. 13 left the train’s engineer and conductor with minor injuries.

The train had three locomotives, two buffer cars and 96 loaded tank cars when it derailed in Draffin, Kentucky, along the Russell Fork River.

Two of the four derailed tank cars spilled 38,400 gallons of ethanol. An ensuring fire engulfed the locomotives and second and third tank cars.

All three locomotives and one buffer car also derailed.

The NTSB report noted that the area had received heavy rain and a landslide covered the tracks with debris.

The train crew reported the debris was as high as the nose of the lead locomotive.

The engineer said sight distances were around five car lengths due to rain, fog, curves and darkness.

The train had been traveling about 25 mph, which the NTSB said was within the operational speed of the tracks, which were not equipped with a positive train control system.

The train crew escaped their burning locomotive by jumping into the river. Six to 10 homes in the area were evacuated.

Bright Red in Waterloo

November 7, 2019

I’m not sure if this is a Canadian Pacific run-through train or a Norfolk Southern train that had CP motive power.

Most of the consist was tanks cars with ethanol placards along with a few cars of manifest freight.

It is westbound on the Chicago Line of NS in Waterloo, Indiana, and was the last train that I photographed on this day before heading home.

I had traveled to Waterloo to satisfy an NS Chicago Line craving that also included two sides of Amtrak and CP. It was a nice feast.

There are a couple of features in this image that I like starting with the bright red and clean CP AC44CW No. 8039. Ya gotta take those when you can get ’em.

I also liked how the light and shadows provided contrast in this scene. The day had started out clear but by mid morning had turned to overcast in weather reminiscent of what I experienced many times over the years living in close proximity to Lake Erie.

By mid afternoon the clouds had broken up somewhat, but as you can see here there was still light and shadows.

In this image, though, the street in town to the left is cloaked in shadows as its part of the train’s consist. But the most colorful aspect of the scene, that bright red CP locomotive, is shining in the spotlight.

One Moving, One Waiting

May 16, 2018

An eastbound CSX ethanol train moves right on through Berea while in the distance a Norfolk Southern trains waits for a favorable signal.

The image was made last January and although it was late in the month the ground was bereft of snow.

The North Side is Nice, Too

September 29, 2017

The book on photographing CSX in Conneaut during the morning hours is to be on the south side of the tracks.

The classic image features the town’s water tank with an eastbound train coming around a curve.

I’ve done that before and was looking to do it again earlier this month on a Sunday morning that featured sunny skies.

I parked by the historical society, which is housed in the former New York Central freight depot on the north side of the tracks and turned my scanner on.

I figured to get enough warning to get out, walk to the other side of the tracks and to get into position in advance of a train.

However, I forgot to bring my railroad employee timetable pages for that area and couldn’t remember the mileposts on the CSX Erie West Subdivision.

That was how I got caught flat footed as I was sitting in my car and the gates started to go down. I had heard the eastbound Q116 calling signals but it was not as far west as I thought it was.

So I got out and did the best I could on the north side of the tracks. Shown in the top photograph, that photo op turned out better than I expected.

There was ample nose light and the sides of the containers were not as much in shadows as I feared they would be.  One reason for being on the south side of the tracks is to get sunlight bathing the entire train.

When an eastbound ethanol train came along about half-hour later, I deliberately stood on the north side of the tracks.

Shown in the middle, this image of a train that identified itself on the radio with symbol number 452, had some side shadows, but in the past year I’ve grown to like those because it gives an image some contrast, which in turn creates visual tension.

As much as I liked what I was getting on the north side, I still wanted to get the classic view, so when the Q388 was nearing town, I moved to the south side. The result can be seen in the bottom image, which has a BNSF unit trailing the lead CSX locomotive.

The Conneaut water tank is better positioned in this image than it is in the middle photograph. Also, standing on the south side puts the photographer on the inside of the curve.

There are multiple advantages of being on the south side of the rails when in Conneaut at the Mill Street crossing. But you can get some pleasing results on the other of the tracks, too.

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.

Agencies Take Action on Crude Oil Train Safety

April 21, 2015

An array of actions are being advanced by the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration that the agencies say will address issues raised in the wake of a spate of recent derailments involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail.

The proposals are the latest in a series of more than two dozen that DOT has initiated over the past 19 months.

The announcement includes one emergency order, two safety advisories, and notices to industry that are intended to further enhance the safe shipment of Class 3 flammable liquids.

The FRA also has asked the Association of American Railroads to help develop a formal process by which specific information becomes available to emergency responders and investigators within 90 minutes of initial contact with an investigator.

That information includes the train consist, including locomotives, cars and end-of-train device; waybill data; Safety Data Sheets for hazardous materials onboard; results of any product testing undertaken prior to transport to classify the materials; names and locations of companies and facilities handling the materials prior to a derailment; and the names of the railroads handling the materials and a timeline of custody for each.

The AAR said some of this information is not tracked by the railroads and it is not a requirement for customers to provide it.

DOT said that Emergency Order No. 30, Notice No. 1, establishes a maximum authorized speed of 40 mph for trains transporting large amounts of Class 3 flammable liquid through certain highly populated areas, known as High Thread Urban Areas.

The order is effective on trains containing 20 or more loaded tank cars in a continuous block (35 or more loaded tank cars) f Class 3 flammable liquid; and at least one DOT-111 tank car, including those built in accordance with Association of American Railroads CPC-1232 standards, if that car is loaded with a Class 3 flammable liquid.

“The boom in crude oil production, and transportation of that crude, poses a serious threat to public safety,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “The measures we are announcing today are a result of lessons learned from recent accidents and are steps we are able to take today to improve safety. Our efforts in partnership with agencies throughout this Administration show that this is more than a transportation issue, and we are not done yet.”

The AAR, generally, is supportive of the government’s safety efforts.

“The freight railroad industry shares the belief that there is no greater priority than safety. It is always our goal to make a safe network even safer, and as FRA data shows, 2014 was the safest year for train accidents in railroad history,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger in a statement.

Since 2013, there have been 23 crude oil-related train accidents in the U.S., the majority of which have not resulted in a release of oil.