Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

Massively Overshadowed

February 21, 2017

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One in a series of posts of photographs that I made last summer.

The driver of this Norfolk Southern track car had authority on the Sandusky District as far as the mini plant in Bellevue.

That wasn’t the driver’s final destination. As I recall, the track car needed to get into the yard, but the dispatcher had traffic to run so the truck sat and sat and sat.

One of those trains was an outbound move with a pair of Union Pacific units in the motive power consist.

Those UP engines also overshadowed an NS high-nose GP38-2 that was trailing them.

I wondered what it would be like to be sitting behind the wheel of a track car and seeing this massive train coming at you.

It must have made for an interesting site provided, of course, that it was on another track and stayed on that track.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Numbers, Numbers. How Much is Hunter Worth?

February 20, 2017

When E. Hunter Harrison retired early from Canadian Pacific, news accounts noted that he left millions of dollars on the table in exchange for a limited waiver of a non-compete clause so he could pursue the CSX CEO job.

As it turned out, Harrison did no such thing.

On TransportationThe hedge fund Mantle Ridge agreed to pay Harrison the money he gave up at CP.

Mantle Ridge in turn wants CSX to reimburse it for the cash it guaranteed Harrison for walking away early from CP.

CSX claims that Harrison is seeking a four-year contract worth $300 million. That $75 million a year would make him not just the highest paid North American Class 1 railroad executive but also place him among the highest-paid CEOs in America.

By comparison, the man Harrison wants to replace, Michael Ward, earned $2.9 million in 2015. Another retired Class 1 CEO, Charles “Wick” Moorman, who agreed to take Amtrak’s top job for $1 a year, although he is also eligible for performance-based bonuses of up to $500,000 a year.

But Mantle Ridge counters that Harrison’s compensation package would actually be worth $200 million of which $120 million are stock options.

Such is life in the rare air of the corporate suite where eye-popping salaries are justified by saying a CEO brings a “unique skill set” to the job.

Executive compensation experts interviewed by Trains magazine said Harrison’s pay demands are at the high end of the scale, but not unreasonable by CEO pay standards.

Once the news broke that Harrison was seeking the top CSX job, the value of CSX stock jumped $10.4 billion, an increase of 30 percent.

Ben Branch, a finance professor at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, told Trains that CSX stockholders might think Harrison has a “dramatic plan” for improving the company.

“It’s rare,” Branch said. “You don’t have many situations where a CEO almost single-handedly is expected to deliver dramatic improvement.”

Jason Shiel, a managing director of finance firm Cowen and Company, told Railway Age the pay demanded by Harrison is a negotiating point and he is likely to receive less, although not necessarily much less.

Harrison is known for his scheduled precision railroading operating philosophy, which some railroad industry analysts say is similar to what CSX practices now.

Ultimately, some think Harrison’s long game is to engineer a merger that creates North America’s first transcontinental railroad. It is an idea he been peddling for years and failed to pull off last year when he proposed a merger between CP and Norfolk Southern.

For us mere mortals whose primary connection with CSX is watching its trains pass by, all of this talk about eight- and nine-figure executive compensation is nothing more than a parlor game.

The numbers baffle ordinary people who have no chance in their lifetime of ever earning a salary exceeding five figures a year. Most of us can’t fathom how you become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

For most CSX employees, having Harrison rather than Ward at the top will make little difference.

They will continue doing what they have been doing even if there may be some changes in how they do it.

Yet it is likely that some may find themselves victims of Harrison’s expected cost cutting.

In the eyes of Harrison and other high-ranking and well-paid railroad executives, labor costs are just another number to be reduced in order to please Wall Street.

How those reductions affect individual CSX employees financially and emotionally won’t be a subject of discussion at the special CSX board meeting. It never is.

All they talk about are numbers and for most of us that is all Harrison’s pay demands are.

A Place Time Forgot on the Toledo District

February 16, 2017

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One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer.

I wound up at this rural grade crossing on the Toledo District of Norfolk Southern by happenstance.

We were checking out potential sites to photograph a train even through there were no trains that we knew of to photograph on this line.

The crossing is near Williston, Ohio. I immediately liked this location because it had that quality of a place that time forgot.

The block signals in the distance guard the east end of Williston siding and are the search light type signals once common on the Nickel Plate Road.

Off to the side of the tracks is a pole line. Yes, the wires don’t seem as connected as they once were, but along many mainlines the pole line has been removed altogether.

Searchlight signals and pole lines remind me of another time. I have memories of riding in the backseat of my Dad’s car going and the road running parallel with railroad tracks.

I remember seeing searchlight signals and pole lines. You can still find those in some places, but they are not as common as they used to be.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

NS Opens New Chicago Locomotive Shop

February 15, 2017

Norfolk Southern has opened a new locomotive shop in Chicago adjacent to its 47th Street intermodal facility.

NS logo 2The $9.5 million facility has 16,300 square feet and comes with a 125-ton drop table to inspect, repair, or replace traction motors; a mobile, 7.5–ton overhead gantry crane, and a 77-foot-long inspection pit.

It can handle four locomotives indoors at once and will employ 25 craft workers around the clock.

“The new facility is strategically located on Norfolk Southern’s primary rail line serving Chicago, and it will allow NS to rapidly make repairs to locomotives moving freight to our major terminals,” said NS vice president mechanical Don Graab in a statement. “The investment is part of NS’s commitment to provide timely and reliable service and will enable us to move goods even more efficiently across the Chicago gateway and benefit intermodal customers shipping freight to East Coast markets.”

With the opening of the shop NS will no longer have to move locomotives requiring extensive maintenance to other shops on its system.

NS also operates a minor repairs shop in Chicago at Calumet Yard. NS has six yards in the Chicago region that handle more than 100 trains a day.

Burns Harbor Handled 2.6M Tons in 2016

February 11, 2017

Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor said this week that it handled 2.6 million tons of cargo last year, making 2016 the port’s third highest tonnage year in the past decade.

Ports of IndianaIn a news release the port said that major cargoes handled included steel, limestone, carbon products, grain and iron ore. Grain shipments soared 57 percent, while coal shipments climbed 11 percent.

The port also reported an increase in heavy-lift cargoes, saying that large-dimensional cargoes rose 25 percent last year.

These included multiple large cranes and containers of crane components from Europe, storage tanks and wind tower components and blades.

During the past year, Ratner Steel Supply Company said it would add 100,000 square feet to load and unload steel shipments at the port. That $8 million investment is expected to be finished in March.

The port said that during 2016 it invested nearly $2.5 million in infrastructure, including dredging and adding stabilization stones to two berths to increase the number of docks capable of handling full Seaway draft vessels.

Other capital improvements included replacing 2,000 feet of rail and rebuilding three switches. The port is served by Norfolk Southern.

Yes, GATX Also Has Box Cars for Lease

February 10, 2017

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When I think of GATX I think of tank cars. The Chicago-based equipment finance company has its initials on thousands of tank cars.

In fact, the company says that it has a fleet of more than 125,000 railcars and 600 locomotives. Of its railcars, more than 59,000 are tank cars.

But GATX has a few boxcars, too. I ran across this one on a Norfolk Southern train in Bellevue last summer.

The GTAX website doesn’t say how many boxcars that it has for lease, only that they come in 50-, 60- and 86-foot lengths.

This particular car is carrying reporting marks for the Laurinburg & Southern, a short-line railroad with 28 miles of track in North Carolina.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

NS Bridges of Oak Harbor

February 7, 2017

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One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

The Toledo District of Norfolk Southern in Oak Harbor has two bridges that make for good photo props.

One bridge carries the tracks over the NS Chicago Line on the west side of town while the other carries the Toledo District over the Portage River.

In the top and middle photograph above, a westbound NS tanker train cruises westbound on the Chicago Line and ducks beneath the Toledo District.

I don’t know the age of that plate girder bridge but it might have been installed by the original Wheeling & Lake Erie. The modern day NS Toledo District was back in the day the W&LE’s mainline to Toledo.

A lot of trains of the New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail and now NS have passed beneath that bridge.

The modern W&LE has trackage rights on the NS Toledo District so you can still see Wheeling trains on the bridge.

The bottom photograph shows an NS train crossing the bridge over the Portage River in a view that was made from the Oak Harbor cemetery.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Chasing a 1984 Passenger Excursion

February 3, 2017
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Eastbound crossing the Chessie System (now R.J. Corman) track east of Brewster yard.

Here is something a little bit different. This is from an excursion 32 years ago. I don’t know if this is a Norfolk Southern excursion or perhaps Orrville Railroad Heritage Society excursion. It may have been ORHS’ first excursion. It began in Orrville or Brewster, but I photographed it from Brewster to Zanesville. These photos were taken on what is now mostly the Ohio Central as the train ran southbound on Oct. 6, 1984.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

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Southbound under the Route 93 bridge in Dundee.

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The power has cut off in Zanesville.

Consol Eyes Getting out of Coal Mine Business

February 2, 2017

A Pennsylvania company that operates coal mines in the southwest corner of the state is considering getting out of the coal business in order to focus on its natural gas  initiatives.

consol-energyConsol Energy said it may sell its coal mines as early as this year or spin them off into a entity separate from Consol.

Consol Chief Financial Officer David Khani told investors that the company lost more than $320 million loss during the fourth quarter, much of it due to declining coal business.

Among the Consol holdings in Pennsylvania are the Bailey, Enlow Fork and Harvey mines.

Consol is the largest shipper using the former Monongahela Railway, which hosts trains of CSX, Norfolk Southern and the Buffalo & Pittsburgh.

With an annual production capacity of more than 11 million tons of coal, the Bailey mine is said to be the highest capacity train loadout facility in the East with the capability of handling multiple unit trains simultaneously.

Consol is based in Cecil township near Pittsburgh.

Middletown Station Timeline Announced

February 1, 2017

Construction of a new $24.4 million Amtrak station in Middletown, Pennsylvania, is projected to begin in late 2018 according to a timeline released by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Amtrak 4PennDOT said that Keystone Connections, a consortium of six partners, has been formed to develop parking and businesses at the station site as well as to construct a pedestrian bridge over Route 230 to the Penn State Harrisburg campus and to extend Emaus Street to the station.

PennDOT said it expects to receive a detailed proposal from Keystone later this year.

The station is a joint project involving PennDot, Amtrak and Norfolk Southern.

The timeline said that site preparation is already underway and expected to be completed by May at a cost of $2.6 million.

NS will then begin track work later this year. That work is expected to cost $4.3 million. Amtrak will start its own track work in late 2018 when station construction gets underway. The Amtrak track work will cost $4.3 million.

Middletown is served Amtrak’s Keystone Service and the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.