CSXT Adds Two Operating Divisions
CSXT has added two more operating divisions: the Blue Ridge Division (based in Erwin, Tennessee), and the Nashville Division. This brings to five the number of divisions the company has added since this past September.
Centralized Dispatching Now in Effect at CSXT's Toledo Terminal
Centralized train dispatching became effective December 13 at CSXT's Toledo Terminal, with responsibility transferred to the AX train dispatcher in Jacksonville, Florida.
CSXT Realigns its Engineering Department
CSXT has realigned its engineering department with the formation of regional design and construction offices in Atlanta, Cincinnati and Richmond.
NS, Conrail Operate Twice-Weekly Roanoke-Baltimore Coal Train
Norfolk Southern and Conrail are now operating a coal train approximately twice a week from Roanoke, Virginia, to Consolidated Coal in Baltimore. The train has 80 to 100 cars, and uses two Conrail units with a third Norfolk Southern unit being cut off at Manassas. The train interchanges with Conrail at Potomac Yard.
Conrail Petitions Portion of Meadville Line for Abandonment
Conrail has petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission for abandonment of the western portion of the Meadville Line between Meadville and Corry, Pennsylvania.
Conrail Offering Early Retirements
Conrail is offering a voluntary early-retirement program to about 400 of its non-union workforce age 55 and over.
Washington Union Station is Metro's Busiest Stop
The Metro station serving Washington's Union Station is now the system's busiest stop. A new passenger entrance is planned using a pedestrian tunnel section constructed 17 years ago but never completed, and an existing entrance is to be enlarged.
SP Plans Dispatching Consolidation with DRG&W
Southern Pacific intends to consolidate its Roseville and Houston dispatching centers with that of the DRG&W in Denver.
BN, Morrison Knudsen Get Commuter/Subway Pact in Argentina
Burlington Northern and Morrison Knudsen are partners in a consortium that has received a 20-year franchise to operate and maintain the Urquiza commuter line and subway system serving Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Amtrak Names Thomas Downs Chairman, President
Thomas Downs has been named chairman and president of Amtrak replacing Graham Claytor Jr., who retired December 6.
The End of the Track for "Tracks End"
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
GLADSTONE, VIRGINIA -- At the end of 1993: "Tracks End" was the name of a 24-hour restaurant that served railroaders for many years at this one-time railroading hot spot along CSXT's former C&O James River line. The restaurant and adjoining motel were closed December 31, 1993 - ending a long tradition.
I ventured to Gladstone on December 14 to take a final look. I was joined on my visit by Matt Atkinson of College Park, Maryland.
Gladstone was at one time a very busy spot. It had an engine facility (now gone), a large yard (now all but gone), and many trains which stopped here both day and night to change crews. The restaurant and motel - then the function of the Railroad YMCA - served as the home for crew members while they rested awaiting their turn for a run back to their home terminal. The Railroad YMCA ceased this role about four years ago, and CSXT then made a contract with the Motel Sleepers Company of Little Rock, Arkansas, to manage the facility. Motel Sleepers also manages similar facilities elsewhere, including one at Brunswick, Maryland.
But things changed at Gladstone, and a YMCA-type facility became less and less of a necessity. For starters, crews had the option of using other accommodations elsewhere if they preferred -- a facility having such amenities as a phone, TV, and private bathroom for each room. These were things the Gladstone facility lacked. While some crew members opted to stay at Gladstone nevertheless (to do otherwise meant a half-hour taxi ride), yet another development recently came about: the inter-divisional crew agreement. This meant that fewer trains would stop to swap off at Gladstone. Then came the reduced crew agreement, which cut the need for a sleeping facility here even further.
So in the end it was economics that saw the demise of this once proud and busy facility. CSXT decided to sever its Gladstone contract with Motel Sleepers, and crew members still in need of lodging will now go by taxi to another place.
Things were peaceful, if not somewhat somber, on the day of our visit. A Motel Sleepers employee was taking inventory - the final one - and the manager's office showed all of the cluttered effects of an impending move. Still, the restaurant presented a neat, homey appearance, and current newspapers were on the counter for those choosing to relax through their meal. There was a pinball machine at one end of the room, and souvenir goodies were for sale at the cash register. Patrons numbered up to half a dozen, mostly from the community. Meals were promptly served, and filling.
One who will surely miss the place is Loretta Staton, the friendly Tracks End hostess on the daylight shift. She worked at the facility for 40 years, beginning her career when the YMCA was in the "old" building, which no longer stands. Another is Leslie Moore, a regular patron and retired conductor from the Southern Railway with 32 years of service.
Leslie Moore, retired Southern Railway conductor, hostess Loretta Staton, and her husband Howard.
Martha Woodroof, the facility's manager, was a relative newcomer, with less than a year of service. She will not transfer to another facility, but would happily do so if one were nearby. None is. She said that her company was a good one to work for.
The motel's function was to accommodate CSXT crew members, but outsiders could sometimes get space, if enough rooms were available - at $17.50 a night. Judging from the occupancy on the day of our visit, outsiders would have had little trouble finding space that night. Out of a capacity of 50, only three rooms were booked.
The loss of the restaurant and motel will impact Gladstone in a peaceful sort of way. Gone will be its round-the-clock railroading presence. Trains will still go through, and some will stop, but things will be far from the boom days of yesteryear. That, of course, will never be the same.
Old coaling tower graces the west end of Gladstone.
Capitol Limited Passengers Get Thanksgiving Adventure
[By Mark Sublette] . . .
Passengers and crew on board eastbound train 30, the Capitol Limited, had quite an adventure on Thanksgiving, 25 November 1993. After a normal departure from Chicago, the train was proceeding on time through western Indiana at track speed when the driver of a Pontiac Firebird disregarded crossing warnings and collided with the train at LaPorte, Indiana, in the downtown area. The vehicle struck right between lead unit 217 and second unit 228, causing them to uncouple, and the auto spun off into a ditch. Both occupants of the Firebird survived, but the engines could not be recoupled due to damage. So after a three-hour delay - and the transfer of short-haul passengers to the eastbound Lake Shore - the Capitol Limited proceeded east with second unit 228 as its sole power.
After a brief station stop at South Bend, the train continued onward. But halfway to Elkhart, the next stop, the remaining diesel died - its engine unstartable due to a now-dead battery. A Conrail SD60 (No. 6861) was dispatched to drag to train to Elkhart where the Capitol Limited was annulled. Passengers were put up for the night in a local hotel, then took the morning Capitol Limited back to Chicago to continue their holiday journey the following night on the next train 30. (Amtrak made alternate travel arrangements for some.)
The disabled Capitol Limited was hauled back to Chicago the morning of the 26th, stripped of its stock, and the two equipment consists were shipped out to Washington that evening, hooked into one long 20-car train. The displaced crew from the train of the 25th, of which I was one, deadheaded home, arriving Saturday the 27th, giving us four days on the road and one day off -- all on the holiday weekend! GR-R-R!! (Thanksgiving in Elkhart? No thanks!)
Rail Line to Disney Park
[By Greg Mazzie] . . .
As reported in last month's issue, officials were looking at the possibility of rail service to the proposed Disney theme park in Prince William County, Virginia. Since then, there have also been rumors of building a light rail line. However, according to an article in the December 8th Washington Post, the Virginia State Transportation Board has announced a plan to utilize Norfolk Southern's Front Royal branch. According to the state, this plan has been in the works for over a year, prior to Disney deciding to build the theme park. The plan was originally designed to ease traffic problems for commuters, but can also be utilized for the theme park. It calls for running commuter rail service over the branch to western Prince William County. Plans are to relocate the line in the Gainesville, Virginia, area. It is here that the line crosses major roadways and Route 29 at grade, and has caused some major traffic problems and numerous accidents. Long trains causing traffic backups have been a problem in the area for some time. Freight traffic on the line has grown by 500 percent in five years, according to the report.
The detailed plan announced by the State Transportation Board called for a first phase costing between $5-million and $38-million, depending on how much it will cost to relocate ten miles of track in the Manassas-Gainesville area. An additional $7-million to $19-million would be spent to build a parallel track for passenger trains. The cost of these improvements would be shared by federal, state and local governments, and by Norfolk Southern and Virginia Railway Express.
Transportation planners say the project is "ten years away" unless there is a groundswell of support. Anyone familiar with the area and traffic situation knows that the residents will not allow more congestion without pressuring their politicians. The area is already over-capacity and rush hour traffic is a major problem even without the theme park.