Posts Tagged ‘Union Pacific’

CSX Eyes Building Chicago Intermodal Terminal

February 1, 2017

CSX is planning an intermodal facility near Chicago along the joint line that it uses with Union Pacific.

CSX logo 1The site is on the former Chicago & Eastern Illinois route in Crete, Illinois, 33 miles south of Chicago.

Although CSX has not announced plans for the 1,100 acre site, speculation on public forums has already triggered NIMBY opposition amid support from public officials.

Some residents have objected to the likelihood of CSX building an overpass for Crete-Monee Road.

Opponents appeared at a public hearing last month and signs opposing the intermodal site have sprung up along roads in the largely rural area.

The intermodal site, though, would be within the village of Crete.

“There is substantial support among local, state, and regional officials for the (Crete) concept,” said CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle. “Locating a facility there would enhance the region’s ability to manage the growing volume of intermodal freight moving to and from the Chicago region.”

The area where the intermodal site would be built has seen growth in warehouses and distribution businesses in recent years.

The village has rezoned the property for intermodal terminal use. CSX purchased the land in June 2016.

If CSX develops the intermodal facility it would part of its Southeastern Corridor and become the first Chicago area intermodal facility tied directly to the port of Miami, which is a gateway to Latin American.


5 Class 1 RRs to Cut 2017 Capital Spending

January 28, 2017

Five of North America’s seven Class 1 railroads plan to spend less in 2017 on capital spending than they did last year.

train image2Norfolk Southern’s capital budget will remain static at $1.9 billion while at CSX capital spending will fall from $2.7 billion to $2.2 billion.

The NS budget includes $930 million for track maintenance, $290 million for locomotives, $240 million for positive train control, $170 million for facilities and terminals, $110 million for technology and similar initiatives, $80 million for infrastructure, and $50 million for freight cars.

The CSX budget figures include $307 million in payments for locomotives that were purchased under seller financing and delivered in 2015.

In 2017 equipment investments are significantly less due to the completion of locomotive purchases.

Canadian Pacific plans to spend C$1.25, an increase of 6 percent from the 2016 budget with around 70 percent of that earmarked for basic replacement and maintenance of way work

Union Pacific has cut its capital budget by 11 percent compared with 2016. The western freight hauler plans to spend $3.1 billion, compared with $3.5 billion last year.

BNSF is cutting capital spending by 13 percent from $3.9 billion to $3.4 billion, saying it has invested a lot of capital in network improvements and growth during the past several years.

At Canadian National, capital spending for 2017 has been set at C$2.9 billion of which C$1.6 billion is for for basic track infrastructure work.

Kansas City Southern has slashed capital spending by about $30 million and expects to spend between $550 million to $560 million in 2017.

CP Won’t Bar Harrison from Working for CSX

January 25, 2017

A regulatory filing made by Canadian Pacific with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shows where E. Hunter Harrison can and cannot work under the terms of his non-compete agreement with CP.

E. Hunter Harrison

E. Hunter Harrison

Harrison, who recently stepped down as CP’s CEO, cannot work for Canadian National, BNSF or Union Pacific. But he could work for CSX, Norfolk Southern or Kansas City Southern.

CP granted Harrison a limited waiver of the non-compete clause, which also included waiving a provision that Harrison is not permitted to solicit for employment at another company any CP employees above the level of manager.

Specifically, CP’s waiver makes an exception for the railroad’s chief of staff.

News reports have said that Harrison is teaming up with activist investor Paul Hilal of the firm Mantle Ridge to oust CSX CEO Michael Ward.

Some believe that Harrison would use being the head of CSX to lead a merger effort. Last year Harrison and CP unsuccessfully sought to merge with NS.

If Harrison does make a bid to become part the CSX CEO, he will have until Feb. 10 to do so under the terms of the CSX bylaws for nominating members of the board of directors and filing resolutions to be heard during the annual meeting, which is usually held in May.

I Just Felt Like Shooting a CP Unit

October 14, 2016





I don’t know why, but I just felt like photographing this Canadian Pacific locomotive at Berea.

It’s not leading and there is nothing special about this unit. But it was the first thing I saw when I arrived to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning.

It was a day of sun and clouds and sometimes you got the sun and sometimes you didn’t. Also shown is the eastbound Q158 and the eastbound Q090. In both instances I tried to emphasize the clouds and sky, which were nice on Sunday.

The Q090 is a train that I haven’t seen for awhile. It was also the first time I’d seen it since UP and CSX began teaming up to offer express produce service from Washington State.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

AAR, Unions Spar Over Brake Inspection Waiver

September 30, 2016

The railroad industry is pushing the Federal Railroad Administration to allow unit freight trains to travel up to 2,600 miles between air brake inspections.

FRABut the proposal being pushed by the Association of American Railroads is being resisted by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

The AAR wants the FRA grant a waiver so railroads can check if wheel temperature detectors can replace a mandatory visual inspection.

The pilot program would be undertaken on the Union Pacific on coal trains operating between the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and an unloading terminal in White Bluff, Arkansas.

Under current federal law, the air brakes on a unit train must be inspected every 1,500 miles.

Wheel detectors measure temperature of the entire wheel and railroad industry officials argue that an abnormal wheel temperature reading is a more accurate measurement of whether the braking system is working.

They note that a visual inspection does not take temperature into consideration. Railroad hot box detectors measure the temperature of the wheel’s journal.

AAR contends that relying on wheel temperature detectors will increase employee safety.

The BLET, though, counters that using wheel temperature detectors to replace visual brake
inspections is a poor use of the technology.

“BLET believes [temperature detectors] should be deployed in the field and utilized for their intended use of examining wheel temperature in between terminals. [Detectors] should not, however, be used as a pretext for dodging regulatory safety standards,” said Vincent G. Verna, BLET’s regulatory affairs director.

The Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Union, Transportation Division officials are also asking the FRA to deny the AAR’s request.

The FRA will be taking comments on the AAR proposal through Oct. 13. A decision is not expected for several months after that.

Mix of Uncle Pete and Espee

September 10, 2016
SP Patch 02-x

I first encountered the UP 6161 passing the grain elevator at Oak Harbor. I didn’t know it was coming until it showed up.

Coming into Graytown.

Coming into Graytown. We were able to get ahead of the train because it had to be talked by a signal that was on the fritz.

Passing the grain elevator in Graytown.

Passing the grain elevator in Graytown. The crew of this train would be banner tested a few miles west of here by an NS road foreman. It passed the test and went on its way.

There are well over 100 Union Pacific “patch” locomotives floating around America. They are units still wearing their original colors and markings, but which have received a UP roster number as a patch.

I don’t pay much attention to these patch jobs, but they are tracked on I suppose there are people who are seeking to collect all of them.

Most of the patch units are of Southern Pacific heritage, but there also are some of Chicago & North Western and Denver & Rio Grande Western vintage.

Every so often one of these patch units gets repainted and removed from HU.

I was out along the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern when I happened upon one of those UP patch jobs, the UP 6361 leading westbound 25E, an auto rack train.

It found it interesting that the 6361 has had its Southern Pacific markings painted over on the body, but not on the nose.

Red lettering reading “Union Pacific” has been applied over the light gray paint used to paint over the SP markings on the flanks.

There are, no doubt, some folks out there who despise patch jobs because the original colors and markings tend to be badly faded and the locomotive is a mish-mash of markings.

If so, UP 6361 is a good example of that. It sorta of looks like an Espee unit, but it has a strong UP identify that doesn’t quite look like UP.

I photographed No. 6163 at Oak Harbor because it was a train that happened to come along and because it is out of the ordinary.

Soon enough all of these SP patch units will be gone, although some might survive if stricken from the roster than then sold to locomotive leasing company which might rent it as is. In that case it would be a double patch.

Then again maybe 6163 will eventually be scrapped before it is repainted. Class 1 railroads have been retiring or furloughing large numbers of their locomotives in the past year because of falling traffic.

No. 6163 may is an “older” unit, having been built in 1995 as SP 101.

Perhaps the fate of No. 6163 (nee SP 101) has been or will be determined soon at a desk in Omaha.

When I last checked, the 6361 was still out working on the UP. It may or may not return some day to Ohio.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders


CSX to Host New UP Food Service Train

September 10, 2016

CSX will be hosting a new refrigerated rail service between the Pacific Northwest and Rotterdam, New York, that is being launched by Union Pacific.

CSX logo 1The “Food Train” will originate on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in Wallula, Washington, with 25 to 30 refrigerated reefer cars.

It will pick up additional cars in Pocatello, Idaho. The train will be interchanged to CSX in Chicago where it also will pick up cars from another produce train that originated in Delano, California. The two trains will be combined and interchanged to CSX Transportation for the remainder of the trip to Rotterdam, N.Y.

UP said that products carried by the Pacific Northwest train will include fresh potatoes, frozen potato products and Washington State apples, onions and seafood.

UP Most Heavily Fined Railroad in 2015

June 16, 2016

Union Pacific was the most heavily fined Class I railroad last year, paying $4.7 million after being cited by the Federal Railroad Administration.

FRAThe FRA conducted nearly 64,000 safety and hazmat inspections of railroads, contractors and shippers, and reported 11,000 defects serious enough to warrant fines.

UP was cited for 2,471 violations and 47,802 defects.

BNSF paid fines of $3.6 million after being cited for 2,794 violations and 42,132 defects.

Among railroads serving Northeast Ohio, CSX paid $1.6 million and was cited for 719 violations and 41,296 defects. Norfolk Southern paid $1.2 million in fines and was cited for 426 violations and 29,545 defects.

Amtrak was fined $205,000 after being cited for 213 violations and 2,324 defects.

Hazmat shippers collectively were assessed $3.9 million in fines and cited for 1,423 violations and 14,111 defects.

The period covered was the 2015 fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30.

A Few Sightings on NS at Rootstown

June 15, 2016






The class leader Norfolk Southern tier 4 GE 3601 led train 34N on Tuesday through Rootstown.

Also the pass through were the Penn Central heritage locomotive — I missed that — and the Virginian heritage unit. I did see, though, a new Union Pacific EMD SD70ACE came through.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

One Spring Day Near Benton, Illinois

October 9, 2015
Walter Sanders greets a passing Union Pacific manifest freight near Benton, Illinois, in March 2014.

Walter Sanders greets a passing Union Pacific manifest freight near Benton, Illinois, in March 2014.

When I was growing up, my Dad would occasionally tell train stories.

The farm where his family lived was located outside of Benton, Illinois, next to a branch of the Missouri Pacific that ran from Gorham to Benton.

He would stand next to the tracks as a boy and wave at the passing train.

A crew member noticed him and began throwing him a newspaper every day, a copy of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Once a week, the crew member – who might have been the train’s conductor – would wrap a candy bar inside the paper.

Dad read that paper religiously. It introduced him to a world well beyond the hardscrabble existence that he lived in Franklin County, Illinois.

That interest helped to motivate him to become the first member of his family to attend high school.

His two older brothers used to watch for that train, too.

They would walk down the track to meet the train before it passed the family farm.

They would climb aboard, throw chunks of coal off a hopper car and go back to retrieve it.

The train crew might have known what they were doing. But it was the depths of the Great Depression and life in rural Southern Illinois was tough even before the economic downturn.

So if they knew they looked the other way.

Eventually, my dad graduated from high school and joined the Navy. World War II was well along and military service was expected.

He would board a Chicago & Eastern Illinois train in Benton to ride to Chicago to report for duty.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard him talk about riding that night train and how it would just seem to get up to speed when it was slowing down to stop for the next town.

After the war, my dad became a chiropractor and established a practice in Mattoon, Illinois, which is where I was born.

After I moved to Cleveland in 1993, I would travel by rail to visit him in Mattoon.

In March 2014, I made one last trip to Mattoon on Amtrak. Dad was moving to Arizona in less than two months to live with my sister.

I offered to drive him to Benton to visit the cemetery where his parents are buried and to swing past the old farm where he grew up.

No one lives there now. The house he lived in is long gone. The property is lying fallow.

The railroad tracks are still there, but today are part of the Chicago-Texas route of Union Pacific that bypasses St. Louis.

We knew that this visit would be the last time that my dad ever saw again the place where he grew up.

I was hoping a train would go past during our visit so I could “recreate” that scene that my Dad played out many times more than eight decades earlier.

As luck would have it, I heard a train horn and a westbound UP manifest freight rolled past.

Dad walked to the approximate location of where he used to stand to watch the train go past as a boy. I imagine, though, that he stood closer to the tracks back then.

The locomotives had already passed by the time he got into position. So the recreation wasn’t ideal. It was close enough, though.

That is an iPad that he is holding in his left hand as he waves at the train.

We later used it to make a video of him standing here and talking about how he used to watch the trains go past.

We once rode over these very railroad tracks. The St. Louis chapter of the National Railway Historical Society held a Southern Illinois circle trip back in August 1995.

The trip covered a portion of that old C&EI route that my over which my Dad traveled during World War II and the line that went past where he grew up.

This week my Dad celebrated his 90th birthday. We held a surprise party for him earlier in Arizona at which time we also celebrated my sister’s 60th birthday and her daughter’s 30th birthday.

Dad and I spoke by phone and I teased him about being officially “old” now.

No one in the Akron Railroad Club has ever met him and it is unlikely that anyone ever will.

Dad was never a railfan but had a passing interest in railroads because he is from a generation in which the railroad used to play a major role in their lives.

He, of course, knows of my passion for railroad operations and history. He has a copy of every railroad history book that I’ve published.

So, happy birthday, Dad, and here is hoping that you have many more.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders