Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

There Will Be a Brief Delay

February 24, 2018

The new crew was on board and ready to head west out of the Berea siding in Olmsted Falls.

They called the Toledo West Dispatcher and got the OK to take ’em west.

There would, though, be a slight delay at CP 197. The dispatcher had given higher priority to a westbound stack train that is shown catching up to the rear of the departing manifest on the Berea siding.

The delay would be brief and the manifest would follow the stack train on Track No. 1.

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The Wheels on the Car go Round and Round

February 16, 2018

Shown is a set of wheels on an empty well car in the consist of an eastbound Norfolk Southern stack train in Gallitzin, Pennsylvania. The car and train are going through the tunnel that can be seen from the railfan park in town.

2 NS Crew Members Hurt in Derailment

February 16, 2018

Two Norfolk Southern crew members were injured Thursday afternoon after an eastbound auto rack train derailed in a remote location near Attica, New York, on the Southern Tier line.

The injured workers were the conductor and engineer, both of whom were taken to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York.

The train had two locomotives and 43 loaded auto rack cars. Both locomotives derailed along with nine cars.

NS spokesman Jonathan Glass said the injuries were not life-threatening.

Online reports indicated that the train was symbol freight 28N and Glass said it was en route to Mechanicville, New York.

After the derailment, fire broke out on the lead locomotives and authorities decided to let the fire burn itself out, in part because the derailment site is difficult for fire fighters to reach.

However, several fire departments and hazmat units were at the scene.

The derailment was reported at 4:03 p.m. on a stretch of track with a top speed of 35 miles per hour. The cause of the derailment has not yet been disclosed.

NS said that although the train was not carrying hazardous materials it was sending its environmental specialists to clean up spilled diesel fuel, a process expected to take several days.

Authorities said both locomotives and some rail cars of the train went over an embankment and landed in a ravine.

The track in that vicinity is about 50 to 75 feet above a nearby farm field.

NS is reportedly detouring trains that normally use the Southern Tier route west of Binghamton, New York, via Sunbury and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and then westward.

Class 1 Capital Budgets Are Mixed Bag

February 15, 2018

North America’s Class 1 Railroads have varying plans for capital spending in 2018.

At one extreme, Canadian National plans spend a record $C3.2 billion for capital spending, which includes laying new track and buying new locomotives.

That is an increase of C$500 million over what CN spent last year.

On the other extreme are CSX and Kansas City Southern, both of which have cut their capital spending budget.

Compared with its peers, CSX is taking a meat axe to its capital budget, slashing it by $400 million to $1.6 billion for the year.

KCS is reducing its capital budget by $30 million and will spend between $530 million and $550 million.

Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern are planning to increase their capital spending while BNSF and Canadian Pacific have announced flat capital budget.

NS will spend an additional $100 million on a $1.8 billion capital budget while UP is increasing capital spending by $200 million to $3.3 billion.

The BNSF 2018 capital budget is $3.3 billion while CP will spend between C$1.45 billion and C$1.5 billion.

CN plans to spend C$1.6 billion on track and other infrastructure, including replacing 2.1 million ties and more than 600 miles of rail.

It also plans to plunk down C$400 million on equipment acquisitions, including 60 high-horsepower locomotives as part of a three-year, 200-unit order from GE.

At NS, track maintenance projects are budgeted at $930 million this year while it will spend $345 million for locomotives and $50 million for cars.

“Locomotive capital will be focused on the rebuild and conversion of locomotives from DC to AC power,” said NS Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Cynthia Earhart.

With CSX mothballing numerous locomotives and freight cars, it sees no need to acquire new equipment.

KCS said its capital budget is down largely because it won’t be buying any locomotives.

Uncle Pete Down the Street

February 14, 2018

I was visiting the museum in the former New York Central depot last summer in Conneaut when Norfolk Southern intermodal train 206 came through town. I heard it but was not in a position to get close to it. So I did the next best thing, which was photograph it down Sandusky Street. On this day, the 206 had Union Pacific 4877 on the point.

Belle of a Day (Part 1)

February 7, 2018

Norfolk Southern coal train 888 gains speed as it leaves the siding at PA east of Conneaut, Ohio.

I had high hopes for getting some winter weather action photographs last Sunday. The forecast called for an 80 percent chance of snow with one to three inches of accumulation.

I had visions of catching trains dashing through the snow.

It might have happened if the temperatures had managed to dip below freezing. But they hovered around 33 for most of the day and we got rain mixed with snow and no accumulation.

I was out in Lake County with fellow Akron Railroad Club members Marty Surdyk and Ed Ribinskas in a reprise of our railfanning on Super Bowl Sunday outing.

There is nothing out of the ordinary about railfanning on the day of the NFL championship game, but we’d done it before and had some good luck getting dramatic winter weather images.

However, the snow and rain mix wasn’t heavy enough to create much effect and the overcast skies made for flat light. Nonetheless, it turned out to be one Belle of a day.

We began where our past Super Bowl day outings had begun sitting next to the CSX Erie West Subdivision in Perry.

For about an hour nothing was moving and there wasn’t any chatter on the radio.

We passed the time reminiscing about past railfan outings to faraway places and listening to  Marty describe how he came to put together his program for the February ARRC meeting titled The Power of Four.

Tired of sitting and looking at air, we decided to check the signals on Norfolk Southern. The eastbound home signal  showed an approach indication, suggesting that the dispatcher intended to hold an eastbound at CP Davis and put a westbound into the siding.

Off we went toward the Painesville trestle over the Grand River, where a new bridge is under construction. Marty wanted to get an image of a train with the old and new bridges.

We didn’t make it. The eastbound, which turned out to be coal train 888, called the intermediate signal at Madison Avenue east of Painesville as we cruised westbound on Ohio Route 84.

We turned around to chase it, not sure where we could get it. We could see it at times and were pleased to see that the lead unit was a Kansas City Southern “Belle.”

That is not something you see very day in Northeast Ohio and getting this train gave our day a focus it had been lacking.

We got on Interstate 90 at Madison and motored over to North Kingsville for our first photo op with Miss Belle.

Then it was into Conneaut where we would wait for the 888 to change crews and work in the yard. This isn’t an ordinary coal train. The coal comes from West Virginia and the train picks up its symbol at Portsmouth, Ohio.

After going west on the Sandusky District, it gets onto the former Nickel Plate Road in Bellevue and takes that to Buffalo, New York.

It drops cars in Conneaut that are interchanged to CSX for delivery to Erie Coke in Erie, Pennsylvania. The remainder of the train is interchanged to the Buffalo & Pittsburgh in Buffalo.

It took awhile for the 888 to complete its work in Conneaut. In the meantime, we saw a Bessemer & Lake Erie train roll into town and that would become the focus of the latter part of our day.

The 888 called the NS Pittsburgh West Dispatcher to let him know it was ready to leave Conneaut.

The dispatcher told the crew to depart on signal indication. The 888 would be going into the siding at Woodworth to meet a westbound or get out of the way of an eastbound that had higher priority.

After photographing the 888 rumbling over ice-covered Conneaut Creek, we learned that intermodal train 206 would pass the 888 in the siding that extends from Woodworth to PA.

We quickly hatched a plan to photograph the meet at Rudd Road, which is a couple miles or so inside Pennsylvania.

Much of the property surrounding that area is state game land, but some is private property. Someone was firing weapons on that property. The sound of nearby gunshots was a little unsettling.

The 206 soon came into view, but it had just a run of the mill NS wide-cab unit.

Shortly after the 206 cleared the switch at PA, the dispatcher lined it for the 888 to come out of the siding.

On our way back to Conneaut we listened to the crew of the 888 tell the dispatcher about how the KCS unit was experiencing excessive wheel slip, in part due to the wet rails.

They agreed to put another unit online. The crew followed that up with a conversation with an NS power desk representative about the wheel slip issue.

In the meantime, we slipped back into Conneaut and waited at the Old Main Street crossing for the Canadian National train to slip out of town and the start of another chase.

Our first photo op of the KCS Southern Belle leading NS train 888 came at North Kingsville.

NS 888 crosses the icy Conneaut Creek on its way out of town.

NS intermodal train 206 (left) overtakes train 888 at PA.

The 206 splits the signals at PA.

Now it is the turn of the 888 to split the signals at PA.

No Injuries in NS Fort Wayne Line Derailment

February 5, 2018

No injuries were reported after 14 cars of a Norfolk Southern manifest freight derailed early Saturday morning in Ashland County.

The derailment closed Ohio Route 39 for several hours and some of the derailed cars leaked zinc oxide and propane.

The derailment occurred about 3 a.m. on the west side of Loudonville on the NS Fort Wayne Line. The train, identified in an online report as 12V had 135 cars.

The Ashland County Emergency Management Agency said the leaking materials posed no danger to residents. The highway reopened shortly Saturday after 6:30 p.m.

Ashland County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Carl Richert said a propane tank car was leaking at the scene of the derailment, which remains under investigation.

The Fort Wayne Line runs from the northwest corner of Loudonville toward Perrysville, east of Ohio 39 and west of the Black Fork.

Two NS crew members were aboard the train but were not hurt.

The Old and the New in Painesville

January 26, 2018

The new bridge that Norfolk Southern is building over the Grand River in Painesville is starting to take shape.

Workers have poured the concrete for the piers that will support the yet to be installed deck of the single-track bridge.

Being built just south of the existing trestle erected decades ago by the Nickel Plate Road, the new bridge is expected to open this summer.

Shown above is NS eastbound manifest freight 316 crossing the old trestle.

NS Wants to Move Dispatchers to Atlanta

January 26, 2018

Norfolk Southern wants to move all of its train dispatcher to Atlanta, says a union representing the dispatchers.

The American Train Dispatchers Association sent a letter to its members this week saying that NS is planning to begin consolidating dispatching operations in the Goode Center in Atlanta as early as this May.

The letter was posted on the website of Trains magazine, which said NS declined to comment and the union did not respond to its request for comment. The union is based in Cleveland and affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

Most NS dispatching operations in Northern Ohio are overseen by dispatchers located in Pittsburgh; Dearborn, Michigan; and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The letter said NS told the union that the move would be made in stages, starting in May and being finished by October.

The union and railroad will be meeting to negotiate an agreement to implement the move once the carrier gives formal notice of it.

Speaking of the implementation timetable, the letter said, “Obviously, the Organization believes that this is an overly aggressive timetable, and given the difficulties encountered by our brothers and sisters on CSXT over the past year, I would implore everyone to not make any plans based on this preliminary announcement.”

NS Net Income Rose in 4th Quarter 2017

January 25, 2018

Norfolk Southern on Wednesday reported fourth quarter 2017 adjusted net income of $486 million, or $1.69 per diluted earnings per share compared with $416 million, or $1.42 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2016.

For calendar year 2017, NS said it earned $1.9 billion in adjusted net income versus $1.7 billion in 2016. Adjusted diluted earnings per share were $6.61, an 18 percent increase over last year’s record diluted EPS of $5.62

Including the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, NS had net income of $3.97 billion in the fourth quarter with diluted EPS of $13.79.

For all of 2017, net income including the impact of tax reform was $5.4 billion and diluted EPS were $18.61.

Other key fourth quarter metrics showed operating revenue rising 7 percent to $2.7 billion compared with 2016, NS said overall volumes increased 5 percent reflecting growth in intermodal, coal and merchandise traffic.

Operating expenses during the quarter fell 4 percent to $1.7 billion compared with the fourth quarter of 2016.

The effect of the tax change legislation cut operating expenses by $151 million, which more than offset increases that resulted from volume growth and higher fuel prices and incentive compensation.

Adjusted income from railroad operations rose 13 percent on a year-over-year basis to $863 million.

The fourth quarter operating ratio was 67.7 percent, a 170 basis point improvement over the operating ratio in the same period in 2016.

For the year, NS saw railroad operating revenue rise 7 percent to $10.6 billion compared with 2016.

NS attributed the increase to 5 percent growth in the major commodity categories of coal and intermodal traffic.

Railroad operating expenses increased 2 percent to $7 billion compared with those in 2016 with the increase attributed to higher diesel fuel prices, increased incentive compensation, higher inflationary costs and volume growth. Those higher costs were offset in part by efficiency savings and the benefit of tax reform.

For 2017, the operating ratio of 67.4 percent was a 150 basis point improvement over 2016’s operating ratio.

“Norfolk Southern is open for growth, and we are optimistic as we head into 2018 that the current economic environment will provide an opportunity for continuing growth,” said NS CEO James Squires.

During 2017, NS will spend more than $1.7 billion to maintain its infrastructure and support economic growth. In 2018, NS plans capital expenditures of $1.8 billion.