Ex-Conrail GP38 Getting New Life on PA Shortline…

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

WEST CHESTER, PA – December 5, 2012 – The West Chester Railroad will be officially taking delivery of the former Conrail GP38 7706 today, which had long served the Cromby, Pennsylvania, Generating Station as a switch locomotive for Exelon Corporation.

The 43-year old locomotive has been used at Cromby for the past 15 years to switch out 50-car cuts of coal hoppers at the coal-fired power plant in East Pikeland, Pennsylvania, but will soon be serving the West Chester RR in a passenger hauling capacity.  The locomotive will be completely restored during the next two years and then be used to power tourist train operations on 90-minute scenic round trips between Market Street in West Chester and the village of Glen Mills, according to Derek Slifer, director of passenger operations at the tourist railroad.

The locomotive was built in July 1969 for the Penn Central as their 7706 and has plenty of life left, Slifer said, but it is in some need of exterior restoration.

Most of the work needed is cosmetic and the restoration costs are estimated at $20,000, though that amount is not definite.

NY Gov. Cuomo Details Amtrak Lease Agreement with CSX…

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday officially announced the long-term lease agreement between CSX Corporation and Amtrak, enabling Amtrak to take full control of the Hudson Line between Schenectady and Poughkeepsie.

The contract, which took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, December 1, ensures that passenger rail service has scheduling priority there and paves the way for four significant rail improvement projects totaling $181 million. The improvements will reduce congestion along the Empire Corridor from New York City to Niagara Falls and improve travel times and reliability for passengers and freight.

Amtrak’s “Hudson Dispatcher” has taken over dispatching the line, with the exception of the local operator at Livingston Avenue Bridge in Albany, who controls the swing bridge and the Rensselaer station area.  Amtrak now uses 160.725 (AAR Ch. 41/41) between CP-75 (Poughkeepsie) and CP-169 (Hoffmans) and none of the territory is under the CSX “NC” dispatcher any longer.

“High-speed rail is a critical part of the transportation network of New York State’s future and these four projects made possible by an historic and long-awaited agreement between passenger and freight rail partners are another step toward improving New York State’s economy by fostering a rail system that is fast, reliable and efficient for business and leisure travelers, as well as for companies shipping goods across the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “Communities, especially in upstate New York, rely on rail transportation to bolster local economic activity. Enhancements to rail service will continue to lead to job creation and business growth all over New York State.”

Governor Cuomo has successfully competed for and won scarce federal passenger rail funding over the last several years. In addition to ensuring that the Hudson Line funding can be spent efficiently through this unique lease arrangement, Governor Cuomo has increased the total federal funding captured by NYS by over $400 million and has leveraged significant state funds to win federal competitions. As of today, NYS is progressing passenger rail projects with federal, state and local funding amounting to over $942 million.

The New York State Department of Transportation led the efforts to transform the 94-mile Hudson Line from Schenectady to Poughkeepsie from a freight-controlled line to an Amtrak-controlled line. For decades signals have been designed to freight standards, and all planning and construction was subject to approval and control of the freight railroad. Dispatching of trains will now move from CSX’s freight yard at Selkirk to Amtrak’s Command and Control Center in New York City. Amtrak also can improve the Hudson Line and take advantage of Federal Railroad Administration funding without the approval of CSX.

“For years I have been working to improve passenger rail service across the Empire Corridor in New York State,” said Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, founder and co-chair of the Bicameral Bipartisan Congressional High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Caucus. “This is certainly a wonderful step and I am hopeful that it serves as the beginning for similar agreements that will benefit those of us in other parts of New York State. This agreement will go far toward improving reliability and speed for the thousands of New Yorkers who depend upon rail service for their livelihood and to stay connected to their loved ones. I look forward to working with all of the parties involved as we introduce similar agreements in the Rochester region.”

“With this historic agreement, Amtrak and our state partners can now move forward together and begin work on key infrastructure projects to enhance passenger rail travel in New York State,” Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said. “Our goal is to provide a more reliable and enjoyable travel experience for passengers. I would like to thank our state and federal partners for their continued support of rail travel in the region.”

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Commissioner Joan McDonald said, “These rail projects will upgrade technology, modernize the corridor and enhance the traveler experience by providing faster, more efficient service that users can count on. The agreement between Amtrak and CSX also means the State’s high-speed rail system will be eligible for additional federal funding, which we will work with our state and federal partners to aggressively pursue.”

“CSX is very pleased that it could work with New York State and Amtrak on this historic agreement that establishes the foundation for even stronger rail connections between metropolitan and upstate New York. We look forward to working with Amtrak as it takes on responsibility for operations on the Hudson Line between Hoffmans and Poughkeepsie,” said Louis Renjel, CSX’s vice president-strategic infrastructure. “The agreement also ensures that CSX will have the ability to continue providing efficient, economical and environmentally beneficial freight rail service to customers and communities on the line.”

Work already is underway on four significant passenger rail improvement projects being progressed jointly by NYSDOT and Amtrak. $155.5 million of funding for these projects is being provided by the federal government, including $147.6 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. $23.15 million will come from New York State. The four projects are:

  • Construction of an additional track between Rensselaer and Schenectady to significantly reduce congestion. Work started this fall on a $91.2 million project to build 17 miles of new track, doubling capacity between the two cities. With the existing single track, a train must stop and wait for a train running in the opposite direction to pass. A double track will eliminate this critical bottleneck for the entire corridor and improve performance time for all trains between Albany and points west. The project began this season with delivery of materials and culvert work, with track work to begin next year and project completion scheduled for the fall of 2017. The work is fully funded through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • Building a critically important fourth track at the Rensselaer Station to reduce congestion and delays. When the Rensselaer Station was built in 2002, funding was not available to build a fourth track. Trains wait outside the station for as long as 20 minutes for a platform to become available, causing congestion at the station and delays for passengers. This is a $50.5 million project funded with State and federal dollars. Construction began this season with preparatory culvert work and delivery of materials, including 20,000 railroad ties, 9,000 tons of ballast, 137,000 pounds of railroad spikes, and 1,000 tie plates and anchors. Track installation will begin next year and the entire project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2017.
  • Grade crossing improvements along the Empire Corridor South to improve safety for motor vehicles and trains. The railroad runs along the Hudson River where people also live, work and enjoy boating and other pastimes, making it critical that crossings over the rail tracks are safe for vehicles and pedestrians. This $2.45 million project includes safety improvements at 13 at-grade rail crossings in Columbia, Dutchess and Rensselaer counties. Work includes installing new LED lights, electronic flashers and bells, speed predictors, new gates and constructing other intersection improvements. The first location at Ferry Road in the town of Stuyvesant, Columbia County, has been completed.  Improvements at the remaining 12 locations are to be completed during the next two years. The work is fully funded through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • Signal line improvements south of Albany to significantly improve the reliability of rail service, particularly during inclement weather. This is a $36.5 million project to replace more than 60 miles of obsolete signal wires, burying lines that now hang on poles along the rail line and replacing 30-year-old wiring with new underground power cable and electronic track circuits. The signal wires are the source of frequent outages along the Hudson line, especially during inclement weather. Travelers all too often experience the frustration of moving at 15 miles an hour over track capable of supporting 110 mph. Approximately 30 percent of the delays south of Albany during bad weather are caused by signal malfunction or damage. Design is ongoing and work will begin next season. The project is being advanced with State and federal rail funds and is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

“This is tremendous news for New York rail passengers and will finally allow for millions of federal dollars to be spent on vital rail improvements and the improved reliability that we have long advocated for,” said Senator Schumer. “The second track between Albany and Schenectady has long been considered the “Holy Grail” Upstate rail project, and the new station at Schenectady and 4th track in Rensselaer station will make rail travel much more efficient and enjoyable.”

“I firmly believe in the power of high speed rail to drive economic growth in New York State,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Investing in new transportation infrastructure is one of the fastest, most effective ways to create jobs now, and lay the foundation for a growing economy and more jobs in the future. We’ve worked hard to make high speed rail a reality in our state. With these new projects in motion, we can connect more of our major business and research hubs, connect workers and businesses faster, attract new businesses, spark new innovation, and create thousands of new construction jobs right now developing rail lines.”

Representative Paul Tonko said, “This deal between Amtrak and CSX is yet another step in the right direction for passenger rail travel in New York State,” said Congressman Paul Tonko. “As we continue to incrementally pursue and build high speed rail, especially with these four crucial projects around the Capital Region, travelers will continue to see rail as a viable, competitive alternative to driving. Rail is the most energy efficient form of travel and can help improve our regional marketability and quality of life.”

Travel on Amtrak was the highest in its 41-year history in July 2012. All indications are that the trend will continue, especially since here in New York State investments in passenger rail infrastructure are being prioritized and built for the first time in decades. Albany-Rensselaer is Amtrak’s 5th busiest station in the nation. More than 1.65 million people traveled between Albany and New York City in 2012, up 3 percent from 2011.

Amtrak, MARC Accepting Donations for Toys for Tots…

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 5, 2012 – On December 5 and 6, Amtrak and MARC passengers can donate toys for the annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots holiday campaign at Washington Union Station.

Passengers are encouraged to bring a new and unwrapped toy or make a monetary donation (checks payable to Toys for Tots Foundation) that will benefit local children this holiday season.

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects toys each year and distributes these toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. For more information about the Toys for Tots Program, visit www.ToysForTots.org.

The collection will take place December 5 and 6 from 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. outside Gate A at Washington Union Station. Marine Corps Reservists will be at the station to collect toys and money for the children of Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas.

Last year, more than $40,000 and 2,000 toys were collected, making it one of the largest drives in the area.

CP’s Harrison Outlines the “Go-Forward” Plan to Efficiency…

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

CALGARY, AB – December 5, 2012 – Canadian Pacific President and CEO E. Hunter Harrison on Tuesday afternoon outlined CP’s go-forward plan for change that will greatly improve service, increase the railway’s efficiency, lower cost and grow the business.

“Momentum is building at Canadian Pacific and the organization is driving to a culture of intense focus on operations.  Service will be what drives this organization, by providing a premium, reliable product offering through a lower cost operation,” Harrison said.  “We have initiated a rapid change agenda and have made tremendous progress in my first 160 days, and we are only getting started.”

Progress Already Underway

Harrison provided various examples of steps taken over the past five months highlighting CP’s evolution to a more competitive railway, including the following:

  • New executive leadership team now in place including a new Senior Operations lead team with a mandate for centralized planning and decentralized execution, to eliminate bureaucracy and have service decisions made faster and closer to the customer;
  • Revamped intermodal and merchandise train service resulting in faster transit times for customers -  example of new intermodal services connecting Vancouver to Chicago or Toronto;
  • Closure of hump-switching yards in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Chicago – producing significant cost savings and more efficient operating practices;
  • Closure of intermodal terminals in Milwaukee, Obico (Toronto), and Schiller Park (Chicago) – reducing footprint and operating expenses while also facilitating efficient operating practices and reduced end-to-end transit times;
  • Improved train service and network velocity resulting in the need for 195 fewer locomotives and 3,200 fewer leased rail cars – current stored, year-to-date lease returned and declared surplus locomotive units total 460.

Harrison continued, “We are hearing feedback from customers that they are seeing and liking the results.  The reduced number of assets and the decentralized decision making within the organization will allow us to appropriately size to any changes in market conditions. I have always maintained that by focusing on the best possible service, along with appropriate cost containment, the operating ratio will take care of itself. CP is no different; we already see the service and related bottom line benefits of our early actions.  It’s an exciting time to be a part of this great franchise.”

The Plan for Change Going Forward

“We now have a leadership team that understands the urgency of making change and improving the culture of this organization” Harrison said.  “CP has many talented railroaders who want to win.  Together we are squarely focused on improved service and becoming the low cost carrier.  This will allow us to continue to grow with our customers.”

Moving forward, Harrison outlined various plans CP will execute to continue to improve service reliability, increase the railway’s efficiency, and grow the business.  Key highlights include:

  • Reduce roughly 4,500 employee and/or contractor positions by 2016 – through job reductions, natural attrition and fewer contractors.  We have already made progress on this front and expect 1,700 positions to be eliminated by year end;
  • New longer sidings program will improve asset utilization and increase train length and velocity – The plan will allow CP to move the same or increased volumes with fewer trains, and is expected to save over 14,500, or 4%, crew starts;
  • Explore options to maximize full value of existing and anticipated surplus real estate holdings;
  • Relocate CP’s current corporate headquarters in downtown Calgary to new office space at CP-owned Ogden Yard by 2014;
  • Review options for the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) in the U.S. Northeast, while maintaining options for continued growth in the energy business;
  • Announced earlier, CP is seeking expressions of interest on the 660-mile portion of the former Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern (DM&E), west of Tracy, Minnesota.

“I am excited about what we’ve achieved to date, but we have only just started this journey to being a more competitive railway. We will continue to drive our service offering while focusing on taking unproductive costs out of the business.  We see a strong earnings profile and solid free cash flow picture emerging.” Harrison added. “Canadian Pacific is a great franchise with strong growth upside and we are more confident than ever that we will drive shareholder value long into the future.”

Financial expectations on CP’s journey to 2016 include:

  • Compound annual revenue growth of 4% - 7% off the 2012 base
  • A full-year operating ratio in the mid-sixties for 2016
  • Cash flow before dividends (*see Non-GAAP Measures below) of $900 million – $1,400 million in 2016
  • Annual capital spending in the range of $1.0 - $1.1 billion over the period

Key Assumptions

  • Average fuel cost per gallon of $3.45 U.S. per U.S. gallon
  • Defined benefit pension expense of $140 -  $150 million through 2016
  • Defined benefit pension contributions between $100 – $125 million through 2015 increasing to $200 – $300 million in 2016
  • A tax rate of 25 – 27%
  • CP becomes fully cash taxable during the four-year period
  • Canadian to U.S. exchange rate at par

CSX to Double Train Speeds Through Muncie, Indiana…

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

MUNCIE, IN – December 4, 2012 – CSX Transportation has issued notice to the City of Muncie, Indiana, that it intends to raise train speeds from 30 mph to 60 mph beginning on January 1, 2013.

The increased speeds for CSX are apparently being met with some resistance by Mayor Dennis Tyler, who said the city would battle implementation of the new speed limit.  “We’ve got a 40-mile-an-hour ordinance in the city of Muncie,” Tyler told The Star Press. “I intend to have that honored and enforced. That’s an unsafe standard speed the railroad wants to implement.”

CSXT said on Monday that the increased speed would address a traditional complaint of Muncie drivers by reducing wait times for motorists at crossings as well as improve the efficiency of rail operations.

There is upward of 20 daily trains passing through Muncie, Indiana on CSX Transportation-owned tackage.

In the press release announcing the increased speeds, CSX also urged the public to arrange safety education presentations through Operation Lifesaver.

CN Recognized for Top 10 Most Admired Cultures in 2012…

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

MONTREAL, QC – December 4, 2012 — CN has been recognized by Waterstone Human Capital as having one of Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures of 2012.

Waterstone, a leading Canadian executive search firm specializing in organizational culture, assessed CN’s leadership, organizational culture, corporate responsibility and innovation and selected CN for recognition from more than 600 nominated companies. Waterstone’s Board of Governors was impressed with CN’s successful transformation from the rail industry laggard to today’s rail industry leader. Very few companies have been able to achieve such a transformation.

Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive of CN, said: “We are very pleased with this recognition by Waterstone, which is testament to the passion and commitment of CN’s 23,000-strong team of railroaders.

“CN’s business agenda is shaped by what the company stands for: creating value for its customers and shareholders, delivering goods safely and sustainably, supporting the economies we serve, and connecting strongly with our employees.

“CN has experienced a remarkable transformational journey and will continue to pursue its role as a true backbone of the economy.”

CSX Files $22M Damage Report for Baltimore Pier…

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD – December 4, 2012 – CSX Transportation filed documents with the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, claiming that the collision between a Panama-owned tanker ship and the Curtis Bay coal pier caused in excess of $22 million in damages — more than four times the original claim.

The August 25 accident took the Bayside Coal Pier out of action for nearly two months and a CSX employee was hospitalized for injuries, according to CSX.

The 479-foot Wawasan Ruby was making a left turn from Curtis Bay on its approach to the Bitumar Asphalt Dock when it struck the Bayside pier. In its filing, CSX accused vessel owner Trio Happiness S.A. of operating an “unseaworthy, unportworthy and unfit” vessel.

A lawyer for Trio Happiness said that the ship, built in 2010, was under the control of a member of the Association of Maryland Pilots.

The Coast Guard has not completed its investigation.

CSX Certifies Kingsboro Ind. Sites as Select Sites…

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL – December 4, 2012 – CSX Corporation on Monday announced that the Kingsboro Industrial Sites in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, are the first recipients in the state to receive CSX Select Site designation.

CSX’s Select Sites program reviews manufacturing and distribution development sites along the CSX network that can rapidly utilize freight rail service. This designation confirms that standard land use issues have been addressed and that the site is ready for development.

“Through Select Sites, we can provide increased speed to market and lower up-front development risk for companies seeking industrial property for manufacturing operations,” said Clark Robertson, assistant vice president, regional development, CSX. “This program helps communities identify sites that can compete effectively for new investments and job creation.”

“The Kingsboro Industrial Sites are a rare find,” said Jonathan Gemmen, location consultant, The Austin Company. “With increasing demand for rail services, we were surprised to see this available group of large, rail-served industrial sites adjacent to an interstate quality highway. The sites are flat and cleared, and the utilities are adjacent to the property with ample capacity.”

CSX introduced the Select Sites program in January to better serve customers in their own backyards by adding rail transport access routes for some of the premier manufacturing properties in the eastern U.S. CSX partnered with The Austin Company, a nationally-known site selection and certification consulting firm, to screen candidate sites and assist communities with the application and certification process.

To receive CSX Select Site designation, the location must meet a rigorous list of criteria. Once certified, the sites are also featured on a new user-friendly web portal featuring press releases, promotional materials and direct marketing to site selection professionals.

CSX would like to thank the Carolina Gateway Partnership, Edgecombe County, Edgecombe-Martin Cooperative, Golden Leaf Foundation, and NC Eastern Region for their financial support to complete the Select Site work.

GWI’s CUOH to Serve Ohio Frac Hub…

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

GREENWICH, CT – December 3, 2012 – Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (GWI) announced today that its wholly owned subsidiary, The Columbus & Ohio River Rail Road Company (CUOH), has signed a long-term agreement to serve the $900-million natural gas liquids (NGLs) fractionation hub being constructed in Scio, Ohio, by Utica East Ohio Midstream, LLC.

First announced in March 2012, the processing/fractionation/storage facility will be the largest integrated midstream service complex in eastern Ohio and GWI’s largest customer to date in the Utica Shale. The plant’s location was selected based on proximity to the Utica Shale’s liquids-rich gas, to key natural gas pipelines and to the CUOH. The CUOH will construct a one-mile rail siding and rehabilitate a three-mile storage track to serve the facility, which when fully operational is expected to ship 10,000 carloads of NGLs annually.

Upon its planned opening in May 2013, the Scio plant will also benefit from a recent $2-million expansion of CUOH’s main rail yard in Newark, Ohio, funded by a public-private partnership between CUOH and the State of Ohio. The Newark Yard expansion will facilitate the sorting of 100,000 railcars per year for more than 80 current customers and will also serve several new, Utica Shale-related projects that have located or are planning to locate on the CUOH.

“We are excited to be expanding our service relationship with Utica East Ohio Midstream and to be investing in rail infrastructure to support their business,” said John Murray, assistant vice president of sales and marketing for GWI’s Ohio Region. “Efficient rail service is a key requirement of shale development, and we are committed to providing our customers with the necessary rail services to meet their long-term transportation needs in the Utica and Marcellus markets.”

Matthew Dietrich, executive director of the Ohio Rail Development Commission, said, “The Newark Yard project with CUOH is an excellent example of how public-private partnerships spark economic development and job creation by improving our transportation infrastructure.”

GWI’s Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York railroads directly overlay the core development areas of the Utica Shale and western Marcellus Shale formations (see map at www.gwrr.com/shale).

CSX Pair of Derailments Cleared with Little Disruption…

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

ALBANY, NY and CATAWBA, SC – December 3, 2012 – A pair of CSX Transportation mainline derailments disrupted traffic last week – one in Nelliston, New York and the other in Catawba, South Carolina.

On Friday, CSXT train Q35129 was enroute from Selkirk, NY to Willard, Ohio when a single car derailed at milepost QC203.0 on #1 Main Track of the Mohawk Subdivision, Nelliston, at approximately 1:00 a.m. The derailment saw only one truck leave the rails with the car remaining upright and inline.  By 3:00 a.m., inspection indicated that traffic could pass on the #2 Main Track until the derailed car was rerailed.  Crews from Selkirk-based RJ Corman Derailment Services were summoned to the scene and rerailed the car, opening #1 Main Track by 10:50 a.m.   Multiple trains were delayed on either side of the derailment, however none required detouring or rerouting.

There were no injuries or hazardous materials released in the New York derailment.

Last Tuesday, November 26, at 8:49 a.m. CSXT train Q66726 derailed a total of eight cars near Catawba, South Carolina on the Monroe Subdivision.  The Q66726 was enroute from Hamlet, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia with two locomotives and 117 cars and operating on the Catawba Siding when the eight cars derailed at milepost SG332.  Four of the cars reportedly wound up on their sides, 2 more were leaning at odd angle and the final 2 were upright and inline with the rails, albeit derailed.

At least one derailed car blocked the main track of the Monroe Subdivision, blocking all rail traffic movement on the line.

There were no injuries and no hazardous materials involved in the South Carolina derailment.  Crews from Mid-East Crane Service were summoned to rerail the equipment, with the rerailing process completed by 3:30 p.m. on November 27.  The Main Track had been cleared for passage by 11:45 p.m. on Tuesday night, while the siding track wasn’t restored to service until 10:50 p.m. on November 28.

An investigation into each of the derailments is ongoing and no cause has been reported.