CSX SEEKS TO SELL OLD B&O WEST END

WM734 Jul 8, 2004

  1. WM734

    WM734 E-Mail Bounces

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    I heard this rumor a while back, but discounted it because of the amount of coal and frieght still coming from these mountains.


    From today's Cumberland Times-News:

    CSX jobs in jeopardy?
    Other railroads asked to bid on two routes in region; up to 250 positions may be affected

    From Staff Reports
    Thursday, July 8, 2004 9:02 AM EDT



    CUMBERLAND - It's too soon to say how many and what types of jobs could be affected locally, but a move by CSX Transportation could impact up to 250 railroad jobs overall.

    CSX has invited eight short-line railroads to bid on buying or leasing two major rail routes in West Virginia and Western Maryland.

    One is a 182-mile east-west route that runs from the New Martinsville, W.Va., area to Cumberland by way of Clarksburg and Grafton, W.Va. The other is a 116-mile north-south route between Grafton and Cowen, W.Va.

    "These lines require more capital than we are willing to invest, and we hope short-line operators can make their economics operate better than we currently can," said CSX spokesman Gary Sease from Jacksonville, Fla. The company did not identify the eight short lines.

    About 535 miles could be sold or leased, including second main lines, branch lines, yard tracks and industrial tracks, Sease said.
    Jane Covington, a CSX spokeswoman, said it's too early to determine what the impact will be on local jobs.

    "We have not gotten that specific yet," she said Wednesday. "The deal is so preliminary."

    The short lines originally were asked to submit bids by July 20; however, late Wednesday, that deadline was extended to Aug. 12, Covington said. She said CSX officials will notify all bidders Aug. 23 of the decision.

    Covington emphasized that if a bidder is successful, changes won't take place "until significant analysis" on such data as jobs and travel flow has been conducted by CSX.

    The company isn't 100 percent sure what direction it will take and won't know until bids, if any, are received.

    "We're not sure we're going to do this," Covington said. "We're putting it out to bid and at the end of the day, we'll make the best business decision."

    If a bid is accepted, CSX workers may either relocate to other routes operated by that carrier or apply to the leasing company for work, which could decrease their seniority and pay scales.

    Other CSX jobs could be affected because those who relocate could displace younger workers.

    "The company should consider the predicament they're putting these men in," said F.S. Furbee of Point Pleasant, W.Va., a retired CSX engineer. "They shouldn't be so concerned with making money that they refuse to consider the feelings of the people who have given them so many years of faithful service."

    Retiree Kyle F. Hall of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., whose work used to take him into Huntington, also had concerns. "Going to work for the other company shouldn't be a choice they have to make," Hall said. "They would lose many of their fringe benefits, the security of a large corporation and much of their pay, particularly if the short line uses nonunion labor."

    Hall added that if short lines use older locomotives, "It'll set railroading in that area back probably 20 years."

    Don Menefee, general chairman for the Northern Alliance of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen union, said that if experienced CSX employees choose to relocate, short-line crews may not have the skills required for the routes.

    "That's a unique operation," he said. "The territory is unforgiving. A mistake might be fatal."

    The two routes involve much coal traffic, a mountainous terrain and tight curves.

    But Frank Wilner, spokesman for the United Transportation Union, said the goal is to keep freight on the railroads.

    "If the alternative is seeing abandonment of these lines, we would not necessarily oppose such leases if we were convinced that the alternative would be abandonment and scrapping of the rails," Wilner said.

    The U.S. Surface Transportation Board must approve any operating control changes, said board staff attorney Rudy Saint-Louis.

    Overall, CSX wants to cut 1,200 miles from the 23,000-mile, 23-state system this year, Sease said.
    ........................................................................................
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    Never thought I'd see this day. Those pencil pushers at their desks in corporate headquaters have dreamed up another way to save their own jobs again. You offer an idea and make it look good. Save the company a couple of bucks. It's the big blue blob paint job scheme run amuck.
    If the route is abandonded, will all this coal come out of the mountains by truck? I can't imagine the impact on highway saftey in the mountain state, or even the huge increase of super large coal trucks on the interstates between here and Baltimore.
    I suppose CSX would willingly accept coal hauls at Cumberland though.
    I've seen it mentioned that the new "railroads" are more "plant" orientated, that real railroading is not considered so much anymore. Is this what's happening here?
    Looks like CSX needs to replace the CEO. A man who knows railroading enought to understand how to make a profit from all that coal that comes from those mountains, and the impact on the citizens there, from public saftey to jobs.

    If the track is torn up, how about the big paper mill in Luke Md? Are us locals gonna hafta suffer even more annoying truck traffic? I can see why goverment gets involved in these things. I can't imagine if all those carloads in the Luke Mill's yards starts getting hauled in by truck, the impact on the public in such a case.

    Ed
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    This sounds like some major changes upcoming. Wish I had a little more familiarity with the areas in question. It would help to see a map. If you find one showing the effected lines, and the other railroads in those vicinities, please post a link.

    :D

    Boxcab E50
     
  3. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    my Gosh, this is the very line that runs right through my hometown. There are 3 industries that rely heavily on Rail traffic: Coastal Lumber (lumber), TJM-Weyerhauser (parallam), and ETI(plastics). Also the numerous coal mines. Roads are way too dangerous with the trucks on them now, if the railroad leaves this area, this area of West Virginia will be set back more than 20 years!
     
  4. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Ed-

    This is stereotypical corporate America today. What they are doing, equates to the same type of action, as if you'd decided to save on your blood circulation. So you cut off your hands and feet.

    This is what happens, when bean counters run the show, instead of railroad skilled businessmen.

    [​IMG]

    Boxcab E50
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Pat-

    That site helps.

    Do you know of a map that would show the New Martinsville-Cumberland segment they outlined?

    [​IMG]

    Boxcab E50
     
  7. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    West End This includes: West End Approach, Newburg, Cheat River Grade, M&K Junction, Cranberry Grade, The Glades, 17-Mile Grade, & the Eastern Approach. It has been said you could stand at the top of Cranberry Grade and hear a train for 4 hours before it actually saw it.
     
  8. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    It took a matter of months for the old B&O Saint Louis Line between Clarksburg and Parkersburg to go from double-tracked active mainline to a backroad to the local fishing hole, if you know what I mean.
     
  9. WM734

    WM734 E-Mail Bounces

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    Fellas, I was born and raised in Piedmont, WVa, a the foot of 17 mile grade. Our house was on a hill in Piedmont, and my bedroom window faced the Savage river canyon, on which the fabled 17 mile grade ran. The summit of the grade is at Altamont, and I swear, on a cool summer night I could hear those EM1's and helpers all the way to Altamont. The sounds are etched in my mind forever. Boxcab, I have searched the web everywhere for a map, and can't find one!
    6183, I can easily believe that Cranberry grade story.
    My wife and I recently went up to Altamont.
    I was suprised to find part of the old helper wye up there still exists!

    Ed
     
  10. WM734

    WM734 E-Mail Bounces

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    Box, I found a map of the effected area..thanks to the Ol Nikon 990, here's what it looks like.
    [​IMG]

    Ed
     
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thanks for the maps guys. Now I can really see just how significant the impact could be.

    [​IMG]

    Boxcab E50
     
  12. ajy6b

    ajy6b TrainBoard Member

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    I wish I could say I can't believe CSX is doing it. I guess the "corporate suits" would rather spend there time shaking down model railroaders and videographers for licensing fees instead of trying to run a railroad. Corporations no longer believe you have to spend money to make money. Instead it's cut service to make money.
     
  13. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    I do see why CSX is having a hard time maintaining the line. The whole Cown sub follows the rivers and is numerous places they are constantly putting in more ballast and re-reinforcing past reinforcements of the banks. In fact, in 2 locations they had to actualy dregde the river because so much ballast had accumulated and disturbed the river flow.
     
  14. BrianS

    BrianS E-Mail Bounces

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    CSX isn't totally giving up on these lines yet. If they end up leasing them to the shortlines they will only be turing over maintence and junk freight customer service. CSX will still maintain access to the unit train customers, in this case the coal mines, and provide service to them. They are doing the same thing in Indiana and Ohio, leasing secondary routes to shortlines and maintaining their own service to the larger on-line shippers.

    Most railfans tend to forget that the transfer of a line to a shortline usually means its revival and if nothing else than simply its survival. Just because the engines won't be blue and yellow doesn't mean you won't see any trains on the line.
     
  15. nsnscalerailfan

    nsnscalerailfan E-Mail Bounces

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    Who knows there is even the possibility NS could get some of the coal traffic if it is dropped (unlikely though). The NS has trackage rights into Grafton and they run the Mon line. Foreign export coal coal either travel to Philly or even down the Port Road and down the Corridor into Baltimore. There will be no business lost to trucks regardless of what happens though fortunately.
     
  16. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    I the 7 years of railfanning Grafton I have never seen a NS engine. When did they get trackage rights? They don't have any connections to anything they own in Grafton or the area do they? I would doubt NS would have much interest, if CSX wants to get rid of the line, NS is probably smart enough to not want to fool with it. CSX probably doesn't want to sell it to them since they are competition, they can control shortlines some, but they can't control another Class 1 road.
     
  17. ajy6b

    ajy6b TrainBoard Member

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    Pat,

    I railfanned the Magnolia Cut-off about 4 years ago, and one of the trains was an autorack train with a NS widecab leading. It is just run-through or power swapping by the railroads. Not trackage rights or anything.
     
  18. ajy6b

    ajy6b TrainBoard Member

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    Sorry Pat, I should have read earlier post. I did not think NS had trackage rights there either. Maybe they do but they didn't excercise them.
     
  19. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    Yeah. I mean I HAVE seen NS stuff but it was only run-though or on engine time. Extremely rare to see anything other than CSX around in the area.
     
  20. WM734

    WM734 E-Mail Bounces

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    I can't see a short line operator bringing coal down to Keyser from Grafton. It takes real skill and the best locomotives made.
    The April 2004 issue of TRAINS magazine was deidcated to mountain railroading, and had a great story by Ed King, called "Getting them down the mountain" . It's well worth a read in the context of this CSX move.

    Ed
     

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