Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

Railroads Warned About Clandestine Tracking

September 25, 2015

The Association of American Railroads has sent out an alert to its members to be on the lookout for clandestine freight car tracking devices along their tracks.

The alert was sent after Norfolk Southern police found such a device in New Jersey.

An AAR alert included this image of an unauthorized line side freight car tracking device.

An AAR alert included this image of an unauthorized line side freight car tracking device.

The alert, which was obtained by Trains magazine and reported on its website on Thursday, noted that the devices are not authorized by the railroad industry.

Trains said the alert noted that NS police determined that the tracking device was installed by a company known as ClipperData.

The tracking device, known as an automatic equipment identification or AEI reader, tracks the movement of freight cars by monitoring the car’s built-in radio beacons.

According to the Trains report, ClipperData was formed about two years ago and sells comprehensive data regarding the energy industry, including the movement of crude oil and other commodities.

NS police found a copy of a lease agreement between a homeowner living near a Conrail Shared Assets route and ClipperData, which gave the homeowner $500 to use an electrical outlet to power the AEI reader.

ClipperData CEO Sterling Lapinski told Trains that his company’s work is legal and his firm is seeking to sell data to and about the railroad industry.

He said potential customers include government agencies, trade groups and energy companies.

“We do have devices installed but the network isn’t operational yet,” Lapinski told Trains. “We’re not currently selling data, we’re just trying to see if it’s feasible.”

Railroads use AEI readers to track freight cars in trains moving at track speed and typically update their own records before sharing the information with shippers.

Trains cited unnamed sources as saying that many Class I railroad executives are upset with the idea of clandestine tracking of freight cars and are ready to adopt a “scorched earth” approach to dealing with companies that install or are thinking of installing the readers.

The AAR alert noted that a second tracking device was found recently along BNSF tracks in Wyoming. The railroad industry is concerned that those who install the readers may be trespassing on railroad property to do so.

The railroad industry also fears that information gleaned from the tracking devices could be used to “disrupt rail operations through intentional, and potentially destructive, acts.”

In a statement to Trains, AAR spokesperson Ed Greenburg said the railroad trade group is watching the situation closely.

“The AAR was aware of this situation and pleased that local law enforcement and railroad police took steps to address the situation as quickly as possible,” Greenburg said.

NS Announces Additional Management Changes

September 24, 2015

Norfolk Southern President and CEO James A. Squires will become chairman of the board effective Oct. 1.

Squires will replace Charles W. “Wick” Moorman, who announced earlier this week that he would step down as chairman on that date and retire from NS at the end of the year.

James Squires

James Squires

NS also announced a number of other management changes that will take effect over the next few months.

Mark D. Manion, executive vice president and chief operating officer, will retire effective Feb. 1, 2016.

He will be replaced by Vice President Engineering Michael J. Wheeler, who before assuming COO duties will serve as senior vice president operations, effective Oct. 1.

Assistant Vice President Maintenance of Way Philip Merilli will replace Wheeler as vice president engineering.

Cindy C. Earhart will become executive vice president administration and chief information officer on Oct. 1.

She will be oversee the information technology department following the Oct. 1 retirement of Deborah H. Butler.

Squires, 54, joined NS in 1992 and has served in numerous law, finance and administration positions. He was named president in 2013 and CEO in March 2015.

“Jim goes forward with the people, resources, and creativity to take Norfolk Southern to the next level in service to our shareholders, customers and communities,” said Moorman in a statement. “That mandate is clear, and I have the highest confidence that Jim and the entire Norfolk Southern team will succeed admirably.”

Manion joined NS in 1975 as a management trainee and has since held a number of operations positions, including trainmaster, superintendent, general manager, vice president mechanical, and senior vice president transportation operations. He was named executive vice president operations in 2004.

Wheeler joined NS in 1985 as a research engineer and has served as vice president engineering since 2012.

Earhart joined NS in 1985 as supervisor subsidiary accounting. She has since held key accounting and information technology positions before being named vice president human resources in 2007 and executive vice president administration in 2013.

Merilli joined an NS predecessor line in 1981 as an assistant roadmaster. He has served in a variety of engineering positions, including track supervisor, division engineer and chief engineer line maintenance. He has served as assistant vice president maintenance of way and structures since 2013.

Moorman to Step Down as NS Chair on Oct. 1

September 23, 2015

Norfolk Southern announced on Tuesday that Charles W. “Wick” Moorman will step down as executive chairman of the board of directors on Oct. 1 and retire as an NS employee on Dec. 31.

Moorman will serve as senior adviser to NS President and CEO James A. Squares until the end of this year.

“I speak for the 30,000-strong Norfolk Southern team in expressing our gratitude for Wick’s leadership, friendship, and vision over some of the most remarkable years in Norfolk Southern’s history,” Squires said in a statement. “Thanks in great part to him, Norfolk Southern and the railroad industry are far more modern in our thinking, more technologically advanced in our operations, and more thoughtful in managing our footprint for our business partners and those we serve.”

“Simply put, Wick’s imprint is unique and indelible,” said Steven F. Leer, the NS lead independent director. “It is my great honor, on behalf of Norfolk Southern’s entire board, to offer congratulations and best wishes to Wick and his family.”

NS To Shut Down West Virginia Coal Line

September 22, 2015

Declining coal traffic has prompted Norfolk Southern to plan to take out of service 50 miles of the Princeton-Deepwater District in West Virginia as soon as next month.

NS said that it will reroute existing traffic away from the former Virginian Railway line.

Trains will now travel to and from Elmore over the Guyandotte Branch. Freight customers at Princeton will be served via the connection at Kellysville. The line between Princeton and Elmore is being taken out of service.

At one time this section was electrified. It contains numerous viaducts, tunnels and a mountainous 2 percent grade.

Among the locations favored by photographers were Garwood Trestle, Clarks Gap, Matoaka, Princeton and Kellysville.

NS said that trains moving to and from Elmore Yard will be routed via Gilbert. Loaded trains will travel west from Elmore Yard via the Guyandotte River Branch to Gilbert and then on  the former Gilbert Branch of Norfolk & Western to Wharncliffe, the junction to the Pocahontas District.

At Wharncliffe, trains bound for eastern destinations in southeastern Virginia and North Carolina will follow the mainline east to Bluefield and into Roanoke. The routing will be the same for empty trains returning west.

This will add up to 160 rail miles for some trains, particularly for trains bound for Ohio, Indiana or other Midwest points.

Couple of Out and About Shots

September 21, 2015



Akron Railroad Club member Jeff Troutman sent along a couple of images that he made while out and about recently.

The top image was made on the Grand River Railway near the Morton Salt facility. The short-line railroad continues to use a leased CSX locomotive.

The image shows construction of a loader at the plant that will use computer technology to load covered hopper cars with salt.

An online report indicated that the first of two switchers that he has ordered continues to languish on CSX in Willard.

The switcher has flat spots that it endured while in transit. Reportedly, the locomotive will be sent to a repair shop in Indiana.

The second photo shows trains of Norfolk Southern and CSX stopped in the yard at Carson due to a track work project ahead.

Fitting the Whole Train in the Frame

September 18, 2015
Slowly making its way on the Berea siding, Norfolk Southern train 16G rolls through Olmsted Falls.

Slowly making its way on the Berea siding, Norfolk Southern train 16G rolls through Olmsted Falls.

The going away shot would not be the last time that I saw the 16G in its entirety.

The going away shot would not be the last time that I saw the 16G in its entirety.

I had heard the NS 16G talking with the Toledo East Dispatcher and then the motive power help desk of Norfolk Southern.

Both of its locomotives had operating issues, although the train crew said it would be able to make it to Cleveland.

The dispatcher lined the train into the Berea siding in Olmsted Falls and said that the mechanical department would meet them in Berea.

Also coming out would be a van to bring a new crew and get the inbound crew.

I stood by the former passenger station in Olmsted Falls and waited. The sun was in and out of the clouds, but I liked the lighting as the train approached.

I also liked how I could fit all of it in one frame. You can’t do that often with trains on the Chicago Line.

A few hours later, the new crew called the Cleveland Terminal dispatcher on the radio. Whatever had ailed the locomotives had been fixed.

By that time I had relocated to the parking lot of the Berea Union Depot Taverne.

The 16G was lined onto Track No. 2 and off it went. I got to see it twice and from what I could it was still the same train I had seen earlier, albeit with two working locomotives.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Transfer of ex-D&H Line to NS to Begin Today

September 18, 2015

The transfer of a former Delaware & Hudson line south of Schenectady, New York, to Norfolk Southern will begin today.

Canadian Pacific, which currently owns the line, will halt all traffic at 5 p.m. on Friday as the transition begins. NS will begin dispatching trains again at 12:01 Saturday morning.

NS paid CP $217 million to acquire the 283-mile line between Schenectady and Sunbury, Pennsylvania. CP will continue to own and operate the line north of Schenectady.

The union representing dispatchers working on the former D&H earlier this week asked the Surface Transportation Board to delay the line transfer until labor protections were ensured for its members. On Thursday, the STB had yet to respond to that petition.

NS said in a customer bulletin that customers could expect a 24-hour delay on intermodal traffic moving to and from Albany, New York. Traffic between the Port of New York and New Jersey and the Montreal area is expected to be delayed 18 to 24 hours.

NS has said the D&H route will provide shippers in Pennsylvania, New York and New England with improved services, including direct run-through merchandise service with Pan Am Southern, increased frequency for local service, expanded NS bulk-transfer and warehouse locations, and increased track and infrastructure.
The line will be dispatched from the NS dispatching center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

NS, CSX Optimistic About Traffic Growth

September 10, 2015

Railroad executives sounded an optimistic note when discussing the future this week during the 8th Annual Global Transportation Conference.

They acknowledged that coal traffic this year was down 9.3 percent through the end of August but cited service improvements, rising prices, and lower costs as offsetting the falloff in coal business.

Overall, rail traffic is down 1 percent during 2015 although intermodal has shown growth.

Fredrik Eliasson, the executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer of CSX, said his railroad still expects mid single-digit earnings growth in 2015.

CSX expects domestic coal revenue to fall by more than $400 million.

“In the third quarter, we see strong pricing that reflects the value of our service, and we continue to drive greater asset utilization and reduce costs as we match our resources with demand while improving our service product,”

Eliasson said. “At the same time, overall volume to date is down about 2 percent, with both our domestic coal and merchandise markets tracking slightly below the company’s original third quarter expectations.”

A Norfolk Southern executive said his railroad would be surprised if overall traffic fell in 2016, but NS is feeling the pinch of declining coal traffic.

“We feel like we’re at a floor of 20 million tons [per quarter] for utility coal,” said Alan Shaw, the NS executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Shaw said that flat coal traffic when coupled with the strong growth potential for NS’s intermodal and auto networks means a lot of upside in 2016.

NS continues to face challenges in its domestic intermodal network with increased trucking capacity limiting growth opportunities.

Service issues have hindered the railroad’s ability to capture traffic that’s currently moving via highways.

NS has addressed those issues by hiring 600 train and engine employees this year and has plans to hire another 400 by the end of the third quarter.

Shaw said that NS has redeployed crews from coal fields to areas of the railroad where traffic is growing and it is short of crews.

NS believes it is well-positioned to take advantage of changes in the U.S. economy, including energy and manufacturing shifts and a rebound in housing.

Shaw said NS is targeting revenue growth through pricing and volume gains. He said that improving service by increasing capacity and reducing bottlenecks is a key part of that strategy.

4 Class 1 Railroads Revenue Adequate in 2014

September 10, 2015

Four Class I Railroad were deemed to have been “revenue adequate” in 2014 the Surface Transportation Board has determined.

The revenue adequate companies were BNSF, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and Grand Trunk (which included the U.S. affiliates of Canadian National).

That means that those railroads achieved a rate of return on net investment equal to or greater than the STB’s calculation of the freight-rail industry’s average cost of capital.

The STB said that the rail industry’s 2014 cost of capital was 10.65 percent.

The STB said the revenue adequate rate of return for the four revenue-adequate Class Is in 2014 were UP, 17.35 percent; BNSF, 12.88 percent; NS, 11.69 percent; and Grand Trunk, 11.3 percent.

The three non-revenue-adequate Class Is and their rates of return were CSX, 10.18 percent; Kansas City Southern, 8.18 percent and Soo Line (including Canadian Pacific’s U.S. affiliates), minus-0.42 percent.

The Soo Line’s negative rate of return was calculated using values submitted by the Class I and in part was impacted by a one-time loss associated with the 2014 sale of the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp.’s lines west of Tracy, Minnesota.

If Only . . .

September 8, 2015

Grand 06-x

If only Norfolk & Western had not discontinued the last passenger train on the former Nickel Plate Road on Sept. 10, 1965.

If only the nation’s railroads had continued to operate passenger trains and Amtrak had never been formed.

If only passenger trains made money or didn’t lose enough that the railroads wanted to do away with them.

If only Norfolk Southern operated its own intercity passenger trains.

If all these things were true, then this might be a daily sight at the Riverside Drive crossing in Painesville.

But the last Nickel Plate trains were ended, Amtrak was formed, passenger trains still lose money and NS has no intention of being in the intercity rail passenger business.

But NS does have a fleet of passenger cars that get out and about for special occasions, such as a trip that is part of the 21st Century Steam Program.

The view is of the train pulled by Nickel Plate Road 765 passing through Painesville on a ferry move from Cleveland to Youngstown.

It might be the only time that I see a passenger train here.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders


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