Posts Tagged ‘NS West Virginia Secondary’

KRR Now Operating in Ohio

August 23, 2016

The entire former West Virginia Secondary of Norfolk Southern is now back in operation.

Kanawha River RailroadThe Kanawha River Railroad is now operating loaded coal trains between West Virginia and Columbus, where they are handed off to Norfolk Southern for forwarding to Sandusky.

The first of those trains operated on Monday and was the first time that most of the West Virginia Secondary had seen a train since NS mothballed it last February.

Trains magazine reported that the first unit coal train had two NS locomotives and two SD60s leased by NS to the KRR, which is a property of Watco Companies.

KRR plans to restore shipping chemicals by rail within the next few weeks.

Watco Hits Snag in Reopening W.Va. Secondary

August 11, 2016

Resuming operations on the West Virginia Secondary in Ohio by the Kanawha River Railroad is being delayed as it awaits a ruling from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

The issue is the failure of the STB to publish a complete description of the authority of the KRR to operate over 9.2 miles of CSX-owned track.

WatcoThe CSX portion of the West Virginia Secondary extends from Hobson Yard in Langsville, Ohio, to Conco, which is located on the Ohio side of the Ohio River bridge.

An attorney representing Watco Companies, which owns the KRR, said the trackage rights on CSX were excluded from the copy of the filing submitted to the STB by Watco and Norfolk Southern, which owned the West Virginia Secondary, and published in the Federal Register.

The attorney said the trackage rights were implied in the filing and the STB has not explicitly ruled them out.

However, CSX won’t allow the KRR to exercise the trackage rights until the STB states that they are included in the transfer of operating authority from NS to Watco. The STB is expected to provide that clarification soon.

Watco took over most of the 298-mile West Virginia Secondary from NS and has been operating the route in West Virginia since July 31.

Until taking the line out of service earlier this year, NS had been providing local service on the route. The filing with the STB indicated that NS saw coal traffic on the West Virginia Secondary decline by 57 percent between 2011 and 2014.

Kanawha River Railroad Begins Operations

August 4, 2016

The Kanawha River Railroad is out and running.

The Watco Companies subsidiary began operating 308 miles, which includes the former West Virginia Secondary of Norfolk Southern, on July 31.

WatcoKRR plans to run trains over former NS track between Columbus and Mullens, West Virginia. Much of that traffic will be chemicals and coal.

Operations are based at Dickinson Yard near Charleston, West Virginia.

Trains magazine reported that on the first day of operation three crews reported to work at Dickinson, two of which worked in the yard while a third took a loaded coal train to Elmore Yard on the former Virginian mainline.

Light power moved north to Point Pleasant, Ohio, to pick up interchange cars from CSX and a local switched customers along the Kanawha River north of Charleston.

The magazine noted that traffic on the former NS territory was unusually busy for a Sunday and that might become a regular occurrence.

KRR officials have said their objective is to “bring life back to the railroad industry” in the West Virginia-Ohio region by building up freight business and increasing carloads.

The West Virginia Secondary within Ohio is expected to reopen in the coming weeks after NS idled it last Friday and shifted traffic to other routes.

For now, KRR will be operating six days a week with most trains originating and terminating in Dickinson Yard.

The last NS train from Dickinson Yard left on July 30. It had 50 cars and a caboose that had been used for work train service.

NS continues to run trains south and east of Elmore Yard and handles local mine runs on the Winding Gulf Branch near Mullens and all trains operating toward Gilbert Yard.

Watco has assigned to the KRR four and six-axle EMD GP and SD-type locomotives while leasing seven EMD SD60s from NS for coal train service.

Kanawha River RR Expects to Begin Operating West Virginia Secondary in Early August

July 22, 2016

The Kanawha River Railroad expects to being operating the West Virginia Secondary of Norfolk Southern in early August pending approval of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

WatcoIn the meantime, the subsidiary of Watco Companies, is being supported by various West Virginia public officials and business leaders.

Just Gaull, vice president of economic development at the Charleston Area Alliance, told Trains magazine that the the short line will help West Virginia economic development efforts by attracting new business to industrial sites and retaining existing industry.

About 100 miles of the West Virginia Secondary in Ohio has been idle since early this year.

Watco expects to hire 30 people to work on the Kanawha River Railroad, including filling 25 positions in train service, mechanical and track.

Watco Seeks STB OK to Lease NS Routes

July 8, 2016

Watco’s Kanawha River Railroad has submitted to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, a Notice of Exemption as part of its plans to lease Norfolk Southern’s West Virginia Secondary and a portion of its Princeton-Deepwater District.

WatcoWatco wants STB approval to lease and operate nearly 300 miles of NS trackage of which 100 miles has been dormant since early this year. Most of the West Virginia Secondary within Ohio is currently out of service.

The filing said NS sought bidders willing to lease the West Virginia Secondary because carloads on the line have dropped more than 50 percent since 2011.

The Kanawha River Railroad is currently seeking to hire for 29 positions, including 25 in train service, mechanical and track maintenance.

If approved by the STB, the Kanawha River said it would begin operations in late July.

The railroad is expected to operate six days a week using six EMD six-axle SD-type locomotives and three four-axle EMD GP-type locomotives.

Watco to Acquire W.Va. Secondary From NS

May 21, 2016

Watco will acquire more than 300 miles of the West Virginia Secondary from Norfolk Southern and expects to begin operating it by late July.

The short line operator said it will hire 29 employees, including 25 positions in train service, mechanical, and track.

The track in question extends from milepost RR 7.0 in Refugee, Ohio, to milepost RR 116.5 at Hobson Yard near Middleport, Ohio, and from milepost WV 125.6 at Conco, Ohio, to milepost WV 253.4 in Cornelia, West Virginia.

The transaction does not include a 9-mile segment owned by CSX in southeast Ohio.

WatcoAs part of the acquisition, Watco will acquire a portion of the Princeton-Deepwater District on the former Virginian Railway between milepost V435 in Alloy, West Virginia, and milepost V382 in Maban, West Virginia.

The newly acquired properties will operate as the Kanawha River Railroad. Watco will have the use of supporting facilities owned by NS.

Watco plans to focus initially on re-opening the West Virginia Secondary to Columbus.

Until NS idled the route in February, it had handled chemical traffic and served some local industries.

Watco will assign nine of its own locomotives to the West Virginia Secondary.

The operating plan calls for a scheduled Monday, Wednesday, and Friday manifest freight to operate between Columbus and Dickinson Yard, south of Charleston, West Virginia. That train will operate northward the following day.

Two local jobs will operate out of Dickinson Yard on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to serve nearby industries.
Under an agreement with NS, Watco will forward coal from mines near Charleston over the former Virginian to NS, which will then take the trains to customers in Virginia and the Carolinas.

These trains will have Watco crews and NS run-through equipment.

Watco is eyeing returning coal traffic to the north end of the West Virginia Secondary via Columbus, but expects that 70 percent of the outbound coal that it handles will move via the former Virginia route.

NS Cuts Rails on West Virginia Secondary

March 25, 2016

Norfolk Southern cut the rails this week on its West Virginia Secondary, formally taking the track out of service for about 50 miles, most of it in Ohio.

NS halted traffic last month on the route, which extends from Columbus to Belle, West Virginia, near Charleston.

NS logo 2The line is out of service between Glouster, Ohio, and milepost 116.5 where CSX ownership of the track begins.

The Ohio Central continues to use a portion of the West Virginia Secondary in Ohio to serve a coal mile at milepost 65.5

The mothballed property includes 50 miles of mainline track, and the yard tracks, a siding and a couple of industrial spurs in Middleport, Ohio.

In West Virginia, NS continues to provide local service on the West Virginia Secondary six days a week between Alloy and Nitro.

NS operates north of Nitro as needed to serve the interchange with CSX at milepost 128.6 in Point Pleasant. The yard in Nitro is located at milepost 170.

Thus far, NS has operated only a couple of trains per month north of Nitro to serve two customers and the CSX interchange. An NS ballast train was also spotted recently near Point Pleasant.

Last NS Train Through Athens a Time of Sadness and Telling Tales About Railroad Escapades Past

February 11, 2016

The last Norfolk Southern train to ply the West Virginia Secondary on Feb. 4 was front page news in the edition of The Athens News that was distributed this past Monday.

It was one of those “end of an era” stories that don’t happen often.

In this case, a ritual that had scarcely been noticed because it played out for more than a century had ended.

NS logo 2That train may have been the last one to pass through Athens and Athens County.

The rail line remains in place and perhaps business will change and trains will once again travel the former New York Central route between Columbus and Charleston, West Virginia.

Another scenario is that the line will be sold to a short line or regional railroad.

Then again, perhaps the next train to use the line will be a work train lifting rail.

So, for the time being, freight trains aren’t passing through the Southern Ohio towns of Athens, Glouster, Chauncey, Albany and Point Pleasant. Along the way the West Virginia Secondary runs parallel with the Hocking River as well as Sunday, Margaret and Leading creeks.

The newspaper noted that although the rail line skirted the western edge of Athens, on a quiet day you could hear the NS locomotive horns from downtown. At one time those were Conrail locomotives being heard.

The last train, which had originated near Charleston, passed through Athens County around 5 p.m. and at least one railfan went out to photograph it.

Once the crew tied up in Watkins Yard in Columbus, it was taken back to Charleston by motor vehicle.

“While environmentally progressive residents of Athens County probably won’t grieve the elimination of chemical- and coal-filled railroad cars speeding past small local communities, the end of an iconic era dating back well into the 19th century prompted many expressions of sadness on Facebook when The Athens News posted the news over the weekend,” the newspaper reported.

Local railroad historian Ryan Dupler told the News that he and others  feel a sense of loss.

“Students at Morrison-Gordon Elementary will no longer see and hear the rumbling of trains passing by the playground (near Margaret Creek), which is where my interest was piqued,” he said. “For places such as Glouster, Chauncey and many others along Route 13 the railroad has been a part of everyday life since the towns themselves have existed. For the first time in over 100 years, children will no longer grow up with memories of trains rolling through town.”

The newspaper story lamented the potential lack of economic development opportunities for the region, noting that large-scale manufacturing required rail service.

Another railroad enthusiast expressed similar sentiments.

“I’ve watched trains pass through Athens since before I could talk, so it’s sad to see the rails growing rusty,” said Peter Hayes, a student at Athens High School. “I hope someone can step in and take over operations.”

It was Hayes who make the photograph that appeared in the newspaper.

The Ohio Central uses the West Virginia Secondary north of Glouster, raising speculation that its parent company, Genesee & Wyoming, might be interested in the line south of there.

The OC uses a portion of the 253-mile West Virginia Secondary to haul coal from from Buckingham Coal Company near Glouster to a power plant near Coshocton (Conesville-AEP).

Reporter Terry Smith noted that he lives a few hundred yards above Margaret Creek. “I got used to hearing freight trains roll by on the Norfolk Southern line that parallels the creek,” he wrote in the paper back in January after NS announced that it would mothball the line. “At different times of day and night over the years, the train would announce itself with a faint shaking of the earth, a deep, far-off rumbling, then the tell-tale whistle as the train approached the Hebbardsville Road crossing.

“The train would chug past loudly and quickly, then gradually recede into the distance. During night runs, it would cede the outdoors concert stage back to the cicadas, spring peepers, barking dogs, and speeding cars shifting gears on the Fisher Road straightaway.’

Smith said he had a soft spot for trains and remembered watching them pass through Athens on the Baltimore & Ohio route between Parkersburg, West Virginia, and Cincinnati during his days at Ohio University in the early 1970s.

That line once hosted the B&O’s National Limited and for a while Amtrak’s Cincinnati-Washington Shenandoah.

The line was abandoned in the mid-1980s by CSX and its through traffic shifted to other routes, including the Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline that serves Akron.

Smith spoke of watching what he described as a massive ghost train announce itself with its whistle, then broke through the fog and rattled past on an autumn evening.

“The next year, while some friends and I lived in nearby Gamertsfelder Hall, our assigned dining hall was Nelson Commons. Every day we crossed the tracks several times for meals. Quite frequently, we’d have to wait while a train slowly lumbered past. Some extremely reckless students, growing impatient, would crawl under the moving train rather than wait for it to move past.”

Smith said it was common for OU students to hop aboard B&O trains for short trips across campus. Two of his friend even took trips east to Belpre or Marietta.

Upon realizing that the train was being followed by railroad police in a jeep and knowing the railroad cops were known to place a phone book flush against the head of a trespasser and hit it with a hammer, the scared students jumped off the train.

One slid face-first on the ballast and the other wrenched his shoulder.

“That night, while we Gam Hall residents were preparing to go uptown, our friend showed up with a raw, open sore where his face had been,” Smith wrote.

It was, Smith said, “one of the all-time great OU train stories.”

Then there was the time when some OU students on the East Green hopped aboard and found to their amazement that the car they were riding was carrying full of cases of miniature bottles of 100 Pipers Scotch.

“They shoved several cases off the train and for the rest of the school year, a common sight at the uptown bars was students withdrawing miniature bottles from their purses and pockets and discreetly pouring them into a 7-Up or Sprite,” Smith said.

W.Va. Secondary Hosts Last NS Train

February 6, 2016

Norfolk Southern ran its last trains over the West Virginia Secondary this week, thus ending service over 100 miles of the former New York Central line.

The last train from Dickinson Yard, located south of Charleston, West Virginia, and Watkins Yard in Columbus ran on Thursday.

NS logo 2Trains magazine reported that the last train had three former Conrail locomotives. It picked up four cars at Nitro, West Virginia, changed crews at Hobson Yard near Point Pleasant, Ohio, and came to a halt in Columbus on Thursday night.

NS has abolished the crew terminals on the route, but portions of it will continue to see service. Local trains originating at Dickinson Yard will continue to serve industries in the Charleston region. The Ohio Central will continue to use the north end of the route.

Much of the traffic moving over the route had been tank cars, hopper cars and gondolas. The line was once a conduit to move coal.

But the route had little to no rail served customers left in southeastern Ohio and central West Virginia.

NS had announced last month that it would change traffic patterns and close part of the 253-mile West Virginia Secondary due to a steady decline in business.

As for traffic pattern changes, NS is expected to route manifest traffic over the former Virginian on the Princeton-Deepwater District.

Previously a coal route, the P-D District will host a pair of freights between Alloy and Gilbert yards in rural southern West Virginia.

The trains take the P-D District to Gilbert via Elmore before getting onto a former Norfolk & Western coal branch to Wharncliffe, West Virginia

At Wharncliffe, the new train is expected to go west to Williamson where cars will be switched for forwarding to their destination.

Last October, NS removed 55 miles of the P-D District from service between Elmore Yard and Princeton on the Clarks Gap route.

At the time, NS said the move was made due to falling coal volumes.

NS to Idle Part of West Virginia Secondary

January 13, 2016

Norfolk South said it will mothball a portion of its West Virginia Secondary, a 253-mile ex-Conrail line between Columbus and central West Virginia.

NS said the route has seen a steady decline in business in recent years due to falling coal traffic. Last September, NS idled a 33-mile section of the former Virginian Railway main line between Elmore and Princeton, West Virginia.