David Gunn Named President of Amtrak
David L. Gunn, 65, a transportation consultant, has been named president of Amtrak to become effective May 15. A former railroad executive, he was the head of Washington's Metro system from 1991 until 1994, and then was chief general manager of the Toronto Transit Commission until 1999. Previously, he served as president of the New York City Transit Agency and general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. He will replace George Warrington as president of Amtrak, who is resigning.
Amtrak's Cardinal to get Single-Level Equipment
Amtrak's three-day-a-week Washington-Chicago Cardinal is slated to operate with single-level equipment, including Viewliner sleepers, beginning with the westbound portion on May 5 and the eastbound portion on May 7. The Kentucky Cardinal will also operate with single-level cars. Formerly, they operated with Superliners, but there is currently a shortage of that type of equipment. The National Association of Railroad Passengers had recommended that the Cardinal be extended to New York, since there would be no height restrictions such as there are with Superliners, but Amtrak has cited "logistical problems," including construction in Washington, to the idea for the time being.
NS, BNSF Begin New Intermodal Service
Norfolk Southern and Burlington Northern Santa Fe have begun coast-to-coast guaranteed intermodal service between Southern California and the Northeast. Shippers will have the option to purchase, for a premium, the service for domestic and international container loads moving between San Bernardino and Harrisburg. For each load that does not meet the scheduled availability time for customer pickup, NS and BNSF will offer a 100 percent refund.
Alameda Corridor Opens
The 20-mile Alameda Corridor in Los Angeles County, California, opened on April 11. The $2.4-billion project is a series of bridges, overpasses and street improvements that separate freight and passenger rail from street traffic. The centerpiece is the Mid-Corridor Trench, a 10-mile trainway that runs parallel to Alameda Street. The Alameda Corridor is a partnership between the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach, Union Pacific, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
UP to Shift Locomotive Repair Work
Union Pacific has announced plans to move locomotive repair work from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to other UP facilities in Chicago, Fort Worth and Houston. According to news reports, the reason for the shift is the need to provide repair work at key locations where trains originate and terminate, rather than at the mid-point location at Pine Bluff. UP will continue to fuel and service locomotives at Pine Bluff.
VRE Adds Train to Fredericksburg Line
Virginia Railway Express now offers a five-day-a-week train leaving from Washington at 1 P.M. to Fredericksburg, Virginia. Friday-only service at that hour had been available since March, but the service was so successful that the run has now been extended to the other days of the work week.
Michael Ward Elected to CSX Board
[CSXT Midweek Report, April 26, 2002]... CSXT president Micheal Ward was elected this week to CSX's board of directors at its annual meeting of shareholders in Albany, New York. His election makes him the first CSXT president to sit on the board, excluding the period when chairman and chief executive officer John Snow served as interim railroad president. Ward, along with 11 other directors, including Snow, were confirmed by a majority vote of shareholders. During the meeting, which was held for the first time in a location on the former Conrail territory, shareholders ratified the appointment of Ernst & Young LLP as the company's independent certified public accountants. In addition, shareholders approved a proposal requesting that the board redeem the company's shareholder rights plan unless it is ratified at a subsequent shareholder meeting. The board adopted the rights plan because it believes rights plans are an effective deterrent against abusive takeover tactics. While the proposal was approved, it received votes of only 48 percent of the company's outstanding shares. Prior to the shareholder meeting, Northeast Region vice president Bob Downing and general manager Jim Decker told the board about the region and the important role it plays in the CSX network.
CSX Reports Higher First-Quarter Earnings
[CSXT Midweek Report, April 26, 2002]... CSX Corporation this week announced first-quarter earnings of $25-million or 12 cents per share, up from $20-million or 10 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Results for the current quarter include a non-cash, after-tax charge of $43-million or 20 cents per share, to record the cumulative effect of adopting Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 142, "Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets." Before the cumulative effect of the accounting change, 2002 first-quarter earnings were 32 cents per share. At CSX's rail and intermodal businesses, first-quarter operating earnings were $194-million versus $182-million a year ago. Revenues were down three percent and carloads were four percent lower than in the first-quarter of 2001. Combined earnings from CSX's marine business were up 33 percent from a year ago.. John W. Snow, chairman and chief executive officer, noted: "All of our businesses performed well in a struggling economy. Our railroad and intermodal operations, which are the core of CSX today, continue to produce higher year-over-year earnings, reflecting stringent focus on costs and efficiencies gained from delivering high levels of service to customers. As demand strengthens, I am confident that our rail operations will demonstrate the substantial earnings power inherent in our network." CSXT president Michael J. Ward added, "Far less coal was carried than a year ago because of the mild winter and merchandise shipments were down. But margins were up as price increases were achieved in certain markets, fuel expenses were lower, and we realized the cost benefits of a smooth running railroad. I'm particularly please with the terrific progress we continue to make in safety, service and on-time performance, which we monitor very closely."
Amtrak Auto Train Investigation Continues
[CSXT Midweek Report, April 26, 2002]... CSX continues to work closely with investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board to find out why Amtrak's Auto Train derailed April 18 in Crescent City, Florida. Four people were killed and more than 150 injured when 14 of the train's 16 passenger cars and 23 auto racks derailed on CSX tracks. The NTSB reported that the Auto Train engineer said he saw misaligned track moments before the derailment. "Our heartfelt condolences are extended to the families of those killed and injured in this accident," said president Michael Ward. The Auto Train was about an hour into its trip from Sanford, Florida, to Lorton, Virginia, when the accident occurred. The track had been inspected twice earlier on April 18. Wayne Workman, general manager-TAPS, is coordinating the CSX investigation and working with the NTSB. Mike Pendergrass, vice president- Southern Region, and Wayne Richards, general manager- Jacksonville Division, praised the work and cooperation of emergency responders in the hours and days that followed the tragedy. The derailment closed CSX's A Line until early on April 21. Trains were rerouted to the S Line in the interior of the state.
Internet Tools Helping Customers
[CSXT Midweek Report, April 12, 2002]... A CSXT project designed to provide customers with internet billing and payment alternatives was rolled out this week. The new functions, E-Dispute and E-Pay, provide customers the opportunity to resolve billing discrepancies quickly and pay their invoices on-line without having to send payments via the U.S. Mail. "This was a great team effort by Customer Accounting, Technology and E-Business to deliver the product on time and on budget," said Alison Brown, vice president- accounting. "It is a significant step forward in making CSXT easier to do business with." A previous phase introduced E-View, a program that provides customers the capability to view and print freight, supplemental and intermodal bills on the internet. E-Forms, the final phase scheduled for a June release, will allow prospective customers to apply for credit via the internet.
Mechanical Engineer Wins AAR Environmental Award
[CSXT Midweek Report, April 26, 2002]... Ted Stewart, systems engineer- mechanical, was recently named winner of the AAR's John H. Chafee Environmental Excellence Award. The award recognizes the person whose leadership and innovation in the railroad industry most significantly contributed to environmental improvement. Stewart was selected from among seven nominees from Class I North American railroads. He played a key role in the research, design and implementation of the Auxiliary Power Unit that dramatically reduces gaseous and particle emissions by idling locomotives. "Ted's environmental leadership within CSX and the rail industry is widely acknowledged," said John Snow, chairman and CEO, who attended the award ceremony. "We are proud of Ted and his achievements, which will benefit CSX, the rail industry and our environment." Stewart's achievement was also recognized by U.S. President George W. Bush in a congratulatory letter, which said in part, "Dynamic and talented individuals who strive for excellence in their endeavors reflect the true spirit of America." The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the APU for use, making it the only EPA-certified engine idle reduction system available in the rail industry. The CSXT team was also recognized at March ceremonies in the nation's capital, where members accepted the EPA's Clean Air Act Excellence Award - Technology Division.
Coal Loadings Off in First-Quarter
[CSXT Midweek Report, April 18, 2002]... A mild winter, lower natural gas prices and large stockpiles all contributed to decreased coal production in the first quarter of this year, compared to a year ago. As a result, CSXT had 43,000 fewer coal carloads during the period and volume was off by four million tons. "The weak demand has been disappointing to the coal companies, who predicted a production increase before the start of the year," noted Jeff Heath, a regional manager in the Coal Development group in Lexington, Kentucky. "On the positive side, we're already seeing a lot of hot weather, which is going to drive up electricity production in the coming months." In addition, the Coal Development team under the direction of Steve Crum, director-coal development, is continuing the aggressive work that earned it an Award of Excellence in 2001. Through infrastructure investments and by building producer relationships, the team was instrumental in adding 4.5-million tons in 2001 from new or reactivated origins on CSXT. New origins this year could put another 8.2 million annual tons on CSXT, nearly half of which is being converted from trucks at two Massey Energy mines in West Virginia. "The excellent service provided by our crews and managers in the field, and coordinated by the Coal Desk in Jacksonville, are a significant factor in our customers' production decisions," Crum said. "We need to keep up the good work, especially in light of the weak demand in the first part of the year."
CSXT Recognized by Auto Industry Giants
[CSXT Midweek Report, April 4, 2002]... Recently, three leaders in the auto industry recognized CSXT for the service it provides to their companies.. In March, CSXT received the 2001 Toyota Logistics Services Excellence Award for Rail Customer Service. The award was presented in recognition of CSXT's outstanding customer service in support of Toyota.. General Motors also recently recognized CSXT with its prestigious Quality All-Star Award in recognition of superior performance in achieving General Motors Vehicle Logistics' quality goals for 2001. CSXT leads the industry in damage-free finished vehicle transportation. GM is CSX's largest customer with more than $400-million in annual revenue.. A team of CSXT employees was recently commended by American Honda Motor Company for its extraordinary service performance during the Easter holiday weekend. Because of the group's outstanding levels of support, a record 7770 vehicles were shipped over a four-day period without one safety or service issue.
Rigolets Bridge Reopened
[CSXT Midweek Report, April 4, 2002]... Just 11 days after a fire began burning through nearly 500 feet of the Rigolets Bridge between New Orleans and Bay St. Louis, the rebuilt span reopened for traffic early last Friday, March 29. The effort to replace the bayou bridge was a feat of engineering crisis response, and the operational response involved hundreds of employees in Transportation, Sales & Marketing, and Customer Service. The fire started near the beginning of a five-day Engineering Jamboree, so the line, which normally handles 30 trains a day, was already shut down. Material earmarked for other projects was rushed to the Rigolets Bridge. CSXT teams worked side-by-side with crews from five contractors, and spans were shipped in from CSXT's Barboursville, West Virginia, bridge shop. All of the work was accomplished without an injury.. The fact that reroute plans were already in place for the Jamboree helped the situation, but the ability of terminals in the Midwest to handle rerouted gateway traffic also played a major role. When the bridge reopened, the network quickly came back into balance.
Governors Take Steps to Improve Safety at Grade Crossings
[CSXT Midweek Report, April 18, 2002]... Tennessee governor Don Sunquist has announced that a special federal appropriation of $4-million will be combined with $1-million from the state transportation fund and used to improve the safety of more than 750 highway-rail crossings where school buses cross daily. About two-thirds of Tennessee's 3429 public highway-rail crossings are not currently equipped with active warning devices. These 2080 crossings are currently marked with passive warning systems such as crossbucks, advance pavement markings and signs. "These locations represent hundreds of Tennessee crossings where our children cross on school buses each day," said Sunquist. "We believe with these funds and our commitment, we can make significant improvements to these highway and rail crossing locations. We will do this by improving signs, pavement markings and sight distance with brush removal," he added. "However, even with these improvements, it is ultimately motorists who can make the difference at train crossings by remembering two things: trains always have the right-of-way, and train speeds can be deceiving." Lyle Key, CSX regional vice president in Tennessee, commended Governor Sunquist's actions. "We have a strong commitment to the public in the communities that we serve, especially in the area of safety," said Key. "CSX and the other Tennessee railroads appreciate the governor's personal involvement in developing the program for improving safety at railroad crossings." In Florida, Governor Jeb Bush declared the week of April 15-22 "Train Safety Awareness Week." In his official proclamation, the governor stated that this observance is a state priority and will lead to greater safety awareness and a reduction in highway-rail intersection collisions and trespassing incidents. In Florida alone, 479 highway-rail intersection collisions have resulted in 193 personal injuries and 59 fatalities during the past five years. In that same period, 115 pedestrians were killed and another 103 injured while trespassing on railroad property. More than 50 percent of the collisions at crossing intersections occur where active warning devices exist. Operation Lifesaver, a nationwide public education program, plays a key role in the goal of reducing crashes at grade crossings and trespassing incidents. The group conducts presentations throughout the year to assist in public education. To arrange for a presentation, contact Don Lubinsky, CSXT's director-public safety and quality, at 904-359-3949. Those with intenet access can also find more information about Operation Lifesaver at its website, www.oli.org.
Hyundai to Locate $1-Billion Auto Plant on CSXT
[CSXT Midweek Report, April 4, 2002]... South Korea's Hyundai Motor Company has announced that it will located a $1-billion assembly plant on CSXT lines near Montgomery, Alabama. The plant will produce 300,000 automobiles annually, officials said. Alabama governor Don Siegelman and other state and local officials cheered the announcement, which followed intense competition with several states for more than 18 months. "This is a terrific success for CSX, especially its Industrial Development team and the Automotive Service Group," said Randy Evans, vice president- real estate and industrial development. "As a result of our close work with Alabama development agencies, we're looking at a multi-year commitment from Hyundai," said David Hemphill, assistant vice president- industrial development and project manager on the Hyundai initiative.. Mike Giftos, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said while the Automotive Service Group obviously stands to gain, other CSX business units also will benefit. "The plant location will create potential business for Intermodal of move parts, Merchandise to serve the dozens of suppliers and vendors that will support the plant, and TDSI to win automotive management business," Giftos said. "We want them all to gain business." Andy Strok, vice president- Automotive Service Group, said CSX growth targets rely on significant new business like Hyundai. "Hyundai's decision to locate its first U.S. assembly center in Montgomery and on CSX demonstrates its confidence in our ability to meet Hyundai's transportation and logistics requirements," Strok said. The plant will be located on 1600 acres and employ more than 2000 people. Construction is scheduled to begin in November with the first cars rolling off the assembly line in 2004. Full production will begin in 2005. The site is on CSXT's Dothan Subdivision.
Old Track Cleared in Scout Project
[By Allen Brougham] . . .
It has been three decades since trains have used the old Sykesville branch that interchanged with the B&O Railroad half a mile west of Sykesville station. From that point, the branch climbed a steep grade up the valley wall, terminating high above town on the grounds of the Springfield State Hospital, which used the line to receive deliveries of coal and supplies. In 1972, the hospital switched to fuel oil, and the branch was no longer needed.
Still, the branch - about two miles in length - remained intact. Rail is still in evidence along most of the line, but with 30 years of neglect, it is mostly overgrown. Its several grade crossings have been paved over, but one can easily explore most of the right of way, including a high trestle spanning Spout Hill Road just north of the main part of town.
The State of Maryland, which owns the branch, also used it as a right of way for a pipe line from a pumphouse that once supplied water from the Patapsco River to the hospital.
At the top of the grade, the line levels off, and for a distance of about 500 feet it is juxtaposed by a park on one side and a school on the other. This meant a narrow swath of trees and overgrowth to mark the spot of the old rail line.
For Mike Shenk, 16, this did not look right. This part of Sykesville's history was buried beneath all of that brush, and he decided to do something about it. So Mike, a Life Scout with troop 735 in Gamber, Maryland, with the blessing of the Town of Sykesville and his troop leaders, undertook brush clearing of that portion of the line as his Eagle Scout project.
With the help of fellow troop members, family and friends, Mike has been clearing the line in Saturday work sessions. He hopes to clear the track to the point where it formerly crossed Maryland State Route 32. The track on the east side of Route 32 has all along been neatly maintained by the Northrop Grumman Company, which, under previous ownership, had a siding to its facility. Mike's work will effectively complete the link on the west side so that the track is visible on both sides of the road at that location.
Mike, a junior at Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore, sees this as a "cosmetic" restoration. There are no plans to resurrect the line for train service, but by clearing the old track of its overgrowth, it will restore the dignity of the line to its historic appearance. Once the work is completed, town maintenance workers plan to keep the track clear of brush.
A further part of Mike's project - research on the history of the branch (which some locals call the "Dinky Track") - will be writing a pamphlet for use at Sykesville's Gate House Museum, the back of which faces the line where Mike and his team have been working.