Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia railroads’

Storm Damage has CSX Still Recovering in W.Va.

June 28, 2016

The flooding from a severe storm that struck CSX hard in West Virginia late last week still had rail operations stymied on Monday.

CSX was particularly hit hard on its former Chesapeake & Ohio mainline between Hinton, West Virginia, and Clifton Forge, Virginia.

CSX logo 1Washouts and debris on the tracks of the Alleghany Subdivision have halted rail traffic in the wake of the storm, which dumped up to 7 inches of rain in some areas.

Trains magazine reported on Monday that much of the track infrastructure near Caldwell, West Virginia, had been washed out.

Similar, although less severe, damage was reported on the New River Subdivision.

A railroad spokesperson said CSX continues to assess the damage and make repairs. Where feasible, traffic has been re-routed around the hard-hit areas.

CSX expected to resume limited operations on Monday. Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal, which uses the affected tracks, will not resume running over its regular route until Wednesday.

The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad operated its weekend tourist trains and other all attractions.

It had canceled last Friday its Cheat Mountain Salamander train.

Storm Disrupts Rail Service in West Virginia

June 25, 2016

A severe storm that dumped more than 6 inches of rain on parts of West Virginia played havoc with railroad operations in the state.

West VirginiaThe Alleghany and New River subdivisions of CSX between Clifton Forge, Virginia, and Handley, West Virginia, were closed.

Also closed was the Kanawha Subdivision near Huntington, West Virginia. Workers on Friday were clearing downed trees and evaluating the damage caused by rock and mud slides.

In some areas, track was submerged in water and culverts had washed out beneath the tracks.

Trains magazine reported on Friday that CSX appeared to be focusing on reopening its mainlines before moving on to fixing damage on branch lines in the state.

Amtrak’s westbound Cardinal that was to leave New York on Friday morning was canceled.

The eastbound Cardinal that departed Chicago on late Thursday afternoon terminated in Indianapolis and its equipment was to turn back on Saturday (June 25) to run to Chicago.

The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad cancelled its Cheat Mountain Salamander tourist train out of Elkins on Friday due to a track washout between mileposts 56 and 58.

The Cass Scenic Railroad suffered flooding near Back Mountain Road grade crossing.

Stopping by a West Virginia Short Line

May 12, 2016

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On the drive to Roanoke last week I stopped by a short line at Cabin Creek, West Virginia. Turns out it is the former Winifrede Railroad and later the Big Eagle Railroad.

This short line runs between a mine and a barge loading facility on the Kanawha River and also a CSX interchange.

I had a very short window of light which was about perfect but clouds were fast closing in. I hurried about a dozen or so photos but the clouds showed up before I could finish.

Here are a few photos with the evening light.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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West Virginia and its Railroads Pondering Next Moves in a World of Declining Coal Production

March 16, 2016

The news over the past year for railroads that serve West Virginia has been bleak. Coal mines have closed and Norfolk Southern and CSX have mothballed routes that primarily serve as conduits to move coal to market.

CSX is in the process of closing its division headquarter in Huntington, West Virginia, and transferring its staff to other division offices.

In an analysis published by Trains magazine, railroaders based based in the Mountain State said they continue to brace for further cutbacks.

West VirginiaThe slippage of coal business has other worried in West Virginia, too, because so much of the state’s economy is built on black diamonds.

State officials are talking about the need to diversify the West Virginia economy. Railroads are expected to play a role in that process.

“While we diversity our state’s economy, we must take advantage of our location and existing infrastructure to recruit and develop businesses that rely on rail transportation to move their products,” West Virginia state Senator Bill Cole told Trains. “This includes a manufacturing strategy to revitalize our product output and making our state a warehouse hub for distribution.”

That means that during the current session of the state legislature lawmakers are considering adopting laws to make their state more attractive to businesses. The measures being considered include regulatory reform and right-to-work law changes.

NS and CSX each have taken steps to diversity their traffic bases in West Virginia.

NS recently opened an intermodal complex near Huntington as part of its Heartland Corridor route.

CSX has being routing intermodal trains over its former Chesapeake & Ohio main line between North Baltimore, Ohio, and Portsmouth, Virginia

However, Trains noted, these trains may be rerouted over the CSX New Castle Subdivision once the railroad finishes its National Gateway Project. Clearance restrictions in Washington are keeping double-stacked container trains from moving through the nation’s capital.

Justin Gaull is the vice president of economic development for the Charleston Area Alliance.

As he sees it, the new NS intermodal center at Prichard represents an opportunity for southern West Virginia to connect its manufacturing and distribution businesses  . . . and perhaps a few businesses could be linked to the facility exclusively via rail using existing rail infrastructure.”

Gaull told Trains that the decline of coal has opened an opportunity for West Virginia economic development officials to analyze the state’s inventory of available rail and land assets that can be offered to attract manufacturing and distribution locations.

But not all of West Virginia’s rail lines are suitable for such activities and some of the coal branches are likely to wind up becoming hiking and biking trails.

In some instances, the rails might remain in place and opened for use by foot-pedaled rail carts, which are quite popular in Austria and Germany.

However, few rail lines in America have been used for those carts. But that may soon change in West Virginia.

Christine Kindern is an extension agent in Raleigh County, which is seeking to convert 15.2 miles of an abandoned CSX route into recreational use.

The line in question is the Jarrolds Valley Subdivision from between Whitesville and Clear Creek.

The Raleigh County Commission and National Coal Heritage Area funded a study that found that converting the rail line to recreational use would boost tourism.

The New River Gorge Regional Development Authority might convert a former C&O coal branch to a museum that would celebrate the state’s coal heritage.

West Virginia has more than 500 miles of branch-line routes that are used exclusively to haul coal.

Many of those miles are facing abandonment although local officials have not given upon converting some of them into other uses to be served by rail.

W.Va. Short Lines Feeling Pinch of Coal Decline

October 26, 2015

The big guys – Norfolk Southern and CSX – are not the only railroads making changes in response to a softening market for coal.

Coal companies and short line railroads in West Virginia are also having to react to the market forces.

In some instances, reports Trains magazine, the short lines are finding themselves pressed to maintain adequate volume and revenue in order to stay financially healthy.

It is hardly a surprise that companies such as Patriot Coal have or will be laying off miners.

Patriot, which has sought bankruptcy protection from the courts, has said it will give pink slips to as many as 2,000 employees.

However, Blackhawk Mining is seeking to acquire some Patriot facilities as well as increase its operations in West Virginia. Blackhawk is based in Kentucky.

The financial woes of Patriot may have an adverse effect on the Winifrede Railroad, which is operated by Patriot subsidiary Kanawha Eagle Coal.

The railroad ships export coal via rail to a connection with CSX. Some coal is also trucked to a loading facility served by NS.

Patriot’s recent layoff notice did not include the mine served by the Winifrede, which is located in Kanawha County.

The Beech Mountain Railroad is dependent on coal mined by a single customer, United Coal Company.

Loadings have fallen to two or three trains in some months. The coal, also bound for the export market, is carried to CSX, which hauls it to Curtis Bay, Maryland, for shipment to the Ukraine.

The Appalachian & Ohio has been averaging three to four trains of coal per week coming from mines located between Grafton and Cowen.

This coal is also conveyed to CSX. Some coal is taken to Curtis Bay for export but other coal shipments go to domestic customers.

Hard times have befallen the Elk River Railroad in central West Virginia. It no longer has any coal to haul.

Instead, the railroad has resorted to repairing rolling stock at its Gassaway facility.

As coal volumes have fallen, some of the slack has been taken up with commodities for the natural gas and oil-drilling sector.

CSX has a pair of trains hauling sand that is used in the sand in the process of producing petroleum fluids. The trains, K274 and K275 operate between Benwood, West Virginia, and Utica, Illinois.

The sand business has of late has become robust in central and northern West Virginia.

CSX trains Q316 and Q317 (Russell, Kentucky, and Cumberland, Maryland) have seen an increase in sand traffic. The sand cars are delivered to Fairmont and Clarksburg for transloading into trucks.

The Little Kanawha Railroad near Parkersburg has acquired another EMD SW-type switcher to handle an increase in its sand business.

Also benefiting from the increase in traffic related to the oil and natural gas business has been the Wheeling & Lake Erie, which is investing in its infrastructure to accommodate this business.