Gulfport (MS) Branch Upgrade

Hytec May 5, 2011

  1. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    I attended a public information meeting yesterday discussing the KCS Gulfport Branch upgrade. The project will allow the line to run double-stack containers at 49 MPH to support the Mississippi State Port when it's finished recovering from Hurricane Katrina. The project should start in about a month, depending on the Corps of Engineers issuing bridge replacement permits, and is expected to complete in about a year.

    The project will replace the existing 90# jointed rail with 115# continuous welded rail, and more than 30% of the ties between Gulfport and Hattiesburg, MS, 67.5 miles away. The current track condition restricts speed to 10 MPH for the entire line. Kinda makes for a 6+ hour trip of nothing but B-O-R-E-D-O-M!

    The replaced 90# rail will be used to replace the 75# rail in the Gulfport yard. 75# rail explains why this line is restricted to lightweight GP-38s and GP-40s. I was told that the upgrade will allow 6-axle locos and 3800' trains. Gee, do you think we’ll see some modern 4400HP GE and EMD power on this Branch??? Hey, the -38s and -40s are "modern" compared to the bunch of GP-10 Paducah Re-Builds that KCS inherited from Mid-South in '93. BTW, the 3800' restriction is due to the distance between residential area grade crossings at each end of the Gulfport yard.

    The Branch will remain Track Warrant territory, at least for the time being. KCS expects to run about 8 trains a week after the upgrade. That should change by 2017 when a fourth container terminal is added to the Port. By then KCS and the Port are projecting that 100,000 TEUs per year will be shipped by rail.
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    It's interesting to read the rail will be 115 lb. All these years we've read fairy tales about the poor old Milwaukee Road and their 115 lb transcontinental line. Here is a modern day upgrade- To 115 lb and.... Hmmm.

    All the recent storms somehow missed your town? I hope?

    Boxcab E50
     
  3. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    I find that ironic also. What I find most surprising is that the yard has 75# rail throughout. Though maybe not...20-25 years ago I was wandering the outskirts of the yard and came across a lone weed and tree covered siding that went off into the woods. Back in the trees I came across a flat car with a BLT date of 1946, and lettered for the Gulf & Ship Island. G&SI was the original name of this line, built around 1900. The IC took over the G&SI in 1946 or '47, and apparently folks forgot that the car was on the property.


    Yes, they did, thanks for asking. The closest violent weather was in Leakesville, MS, about 65 miles northeast of us.

    The six coastal counties are in a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that all the violent weather and flooding has been, and is north of the Coast. The bad news is that the six coastal counties are in a severe drought situation, having had less than 1/10 inch of rain since mid-February. However, we're being very careful about what we ask for.....:tb-ooh:
     
  4. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    I received an e-mail this evening giving the latest status of the Gulfport Branch upgrade....

    "I was told by a KCS employee at the Gulfport yard office today that there would be another ribbon rail rail train arriving at Hattiesburg in a few days, and that track work would begin around the end of the month. The track work will start in Hattiesburg and work south."

    Apparently this means that the Corps Of Engineers has approved the permits to repair or replace the necessary trestles and bridges. I was told at the public information meeting that the permits were the only holdup to starting work on the project.

    I'll try to get some photos when the rail replacement crew comes through my area. The project is split into two phases, replace all rail, then replace about 33% of the ties. The project is about 60 miles overall, and I'm about 40 miles south of Hattiesburg. So I assume the rail crew will come through here in 3-4 months, then the tie crew about 6 months after that. I assume that bridge/trestle repair/replacement will be done by a third crew in parallel with rail and tie work.

    Can anyone experienced with projects like this add anything?
     
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hope you can get some photos. And, perhaps you can report on how much daily progress they make on average, each phase. WIll KCS be doing this work in-house? Or is it a contractor?

    Boxcab E50
     
  6. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    That's one thing I didn't think to ask the Project Engineer....:tb-embarrassed:
    I'll look for logos on the equipment and hardhats when the rail crew comes through.
     
  7. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    There is a Public Notice in our local paper this morning notifying the public of a two-week written comment period ending on 7/1/2011 regarding this upgrade. The notice states that the upgrade will be totally within existing KCS property, will include a new 8500 foot siding, will include minor bridge work at 29 locations, and will not impact 166 acres of wetlands adjacent to existing KCS property.

    My cynical mind feels sure that KCS will receive one or more letters concerning the impact to a previously unknown, but now threatened insignificant life form. However, I assume this notice indicates the project will start in earnest on 7/5/2011, if it hasn't already.
    Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of this soap opera, err, Project....:tb-wink:
     
  8. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Naturally. With associated addditional costs to doing business, and which will be passed along to all of us in increased prices of food, etc, etc....

    Boxcab E50
     
  9. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Rail replacement is moving rapidly south, with almost 50 miles complete and less than 20 to go. The rail crew stopped about 1000 feet north of my street and took the rest of Sunday off. I assume they will restart tomorrow after the northbound freight goes through. I'll try to grab a bunch of photos.
    BTW, R.J. Corman is performing the work. Be great if Corman would bring his steamer and business train through to celebrate completing the contract next summer....right. :tb-wacky:
     
  10. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Photos, I got Photos....!

    I had a long conversation with members of the Corman rail crew. They replace one rail at a time. They first travel south replacing 3-5 miles of the west rail, then head north replacing the east rail for the same stretch, which is what they're doing in the photos. This is something that I never thought about, but assumed that both rails would be replaced at the same time. I was told that Corman doesn't have any dual-rail equipment available, or any "double-size" crews which dual-rail replacement requires. I asked this first operator if it was any problem with one set of wheels riding on 90# rail and the other side riding on 115# rail. He said it was only about a 2" difference, but that the machine had hydraulic leveling pistons under the bull ring to compensate. He then said the pistons leaked so badly that he just got used to operating on a slant.

    #1 shows the new CWR being swung into position between the two existing rails.

    [​IMG]


    #2 is one of two spike pullers. Behind the spike puller is a machine with two rotating magnets that pick up the spikes and puts them into a bin. Actually, the operator walks behind it picking up missed spikes. The spike puller operator was taking a break, so had fun posing for his photo.

    [​IMG]


    #3 occasionally there are one or two reluctant spikes that must be pulled by hand and a get-serious crowbar.

    [​IMG]


    #4 this backhoe is lifting the old rail off to the side and out of the way.

    [​IMG]

    Continued next post.........
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2011
  11. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Continued from above.

    #5 this machine has a large wheel magnet that picks up the tie plates and dumps them into a bin. The operator walks behind the machine to pick up the occasional missed tie plate.

    [​IMG]


    #6 this operator injects an epoxy foam into the spike holes, sealing them and strengthening the ties to receive spikes for the new rail.

    [​IMG]


    #7 this beast clears the top layer of ballast from atop and between the ties, then uses a rotating adz to cut a slot in each tie to receive the new tie plates, It’s very messy and occasionally kicks rocks out 150-200 feet. My car was parked about 300 feet away, on the opposite side of the tracks.

    [​IMG]


    #8 the new tie plates were placed on the ties manually, then this man aligns them against a steel plate with his foot.

    [​IMG]


    Continued next post....almost finished.
     
  12. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Continued from above, again....

    #9 the CWR is then positioned onto the tie plates using the hi-rail wheel flange for rough alignment. This was followed by a machine that does the final alignment, but that was about a half mile back, and after 3 hours I was hot, thirsty, hungry, and needed to... well, all my fellow foamers and chasers know what I mean.

    [​IMG]


    Stay tuned, this crew will be down near my home on Wednesday and I hope to catch photos of the rail alignment machine and ballast tamper/shaper.
     
  13. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

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    WOW....where is this stretch?....does this line parrallel 49?....lived in Pass Christian until Katrina...worked in Gulfport...trying to wrap my brain around the orientation of the Mid-South KCS...does it go through Wiggins?...up through Camp Shelby?
    Bruce
     
  14. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Bruce, you got it. This is the ex-G&SI, ex-IC, ex-Mid-South, and now KCS Gulfport Branch that runs from the port in Gulfport up to the yard in North Gulfport. It then runs north through Saucier, Wiggins, Camp Shelby, to the yard just south of Hattiesburg where it interchanges with the CN/IC and the NS. These photos were taken in McHenry, about 25 miles north of Gulfport and about 10 miles south of Wiggins.
     
  15. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Nice to see the crew is friendly to your presence.
     
  16. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Ken, they could not have been more friendly. In fact four of them asked me to take photos of them specifically, then e-mail the photos to them so they could forward them to their families.
     
  17. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    I was surprised to learn that some of the 90# rail being replaced was rolled in 1921, though most was rolled in 1925. I assume when the G&SI was completed in 1912, the original rail was lighter than 90# and had to be replaced when heavier locomotives and loads started to run over the line to and from the port at Gulfport, MS.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    The next sequence shows the process of joining the new 115# CWR to the existing 90# being left at the crossing. First is the sawing for the butt joint, then drilling the bolt holes, finally tightening the bolts on the joint plate. I am surprised that there is such a height difference between 90# and 115# rails.

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
     
  19. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    The final sequence shows two lengths of CWR being electric field welded. There appeared to be about a 1/4” separation between the two rail ends, I assume to be filled during the welding process. First the rail webs either side of the joint are brightened to ensure good conductivity for the welding electrodes. Then the welding head is lowered and positioned around the joint and energized, note the heavy sparks coming out of the head. Fortunately there was a sturdy housing surrounding the weld area or there would have been hot metal flying all over everywhere.

    [​IMG]

    Th[​IMG]e

    The final photo shows the gauging and spiking team waiting for the welder to finish for the night. You’ll notice that the shadows are getting pretty long by this time.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

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    Great pics and news...
    I'm going to have to grab the camera and run up to Hattiesburg for a little railfanning...then down to Gulfport.
    I'd like to find the yard that interchanges with the NS and IC...never have railfanned Hattiesburg, but it's hard to miss the diamond and yard right downtown by the old station...The 'Crescent' eastbound runs through about 9:30 AM...sounds like a plan!
    Bruce
     

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