Latest Rail News
Dozens of Washington Grove and Gaithersburg, Md., residents told officials from CSX Corporation that it should lower its railroad under the East Deer Park Bridge rather than raise the historic span to make room for double-decker trains, according to the Gaithersburg Gazette.

It was standing room only as residents gathered at the selectmen's meeting in Westminster, Mass., to learn more about the plan to build a commuter railway station at Routes 2 and 31, locla newspapers report. The plan also includes building a layover station farther west at the Westminster business park, along which the rail line runs, that would hold up to six commuter trains. That part of the plan also includes a parking area for 286 vehicles, handicap parking and a waiting area.

The state of Mississippi is holding a hearing to outline CSX Transportation's plans to cap deposits of creosote in the West Pascagoula River and Bayou Pierre near the site of a former creosote plant, the Biloxi Sun Herald reports. The company is proposing to do the environmental work and needs a state permit to proceed.

The Maryland Transit Administration said that the rehabilitation of 17.5 miles of the State-owned freight rail line from Massey to Worton in Kent County is under way. The $1.5-million project, awarded to Bullock Construction of Easton, Md., began in mid-September and is scheduled for completion in early May, 2010. As of the end of November 40 percent of the work is complete.
The project includes the replacement of some rail, more than 6,000 railroad ties and the installment of new ballast. The improvements will improve safety along the line and will reduce the level of maintenance needed.

The Florida State Senate passed a rail bill 27-10, local newspapers report. It now heads to Gov. Charlie Crist for his signature. Crist has said he supports the bill. The bill clears away obstacles for construction of SunRail, a $1.2-billion commuter rail project in central Florida, and shores up South Florida's Tri-Rail with an extra $15 million in annual funding. The bill could also help the state win a $2.5-billion federal grant to link Tampa and Orlando with a high-speed rail line.


Norfolk Southern has joined the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit, membership-based organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for the nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

Koppers Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koppers Holdings Inc., has signed a letter of intent to acquire 100 percent of the outstanding shares of privately-owned Cindu Chemicals B.V. from joint owners Cindu B.V. and Corus Staal B.V. for an undisclosed purchase price. The proposed transaction is subject to the negotiation and execution of a definitive purchase and sale agreement, the completion of due diligence, certain regulatory approvals, consultation with Cindu's Works Council, and other customary closing conditions. Upon completion, Koppers expects to fund the acquisition primarily with cash.

Florida's House of Representatives passed rail legislation that would fund Tri-Rail, create SunRail, create the first leg of a high-speed corridor and reduces tax-payer liability should a freight accident occur on tracks that also operate passenger service.

A partial summary of the legislation as reported in the Miami Herald includes:

  • • SunRail: Allows state to spend $432 million to buy 61 miles of existing rail track,owned by CSX Corp., from DeLand in Volusia County to Poinciana in Osceola County for operation of a commuter rail system. Additional money comes from the federal government, four Central Florida counties (Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia), the city of Orlando and passenger fares.

  • • High-speed rail: Earmarks $2.6 billion over 30 years, most of it federal money, for a high-speed rail system linking Tampa, Orlando and Miami. The first leg of the system will link Tampa and Orlando.

  • • Tri-Rail: Provides $13 million to $15 million annually to reduce operating deficits in Tri-Rail, which serves Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

  • • Liability: Requires the state to buy a $200 million liability insurance policy for SunRail, with the annual premium expected to be about $2 million. The state agrees to hold CSX harmless in crashes, but the carrier must pay the state's insurance deductible (about $10 million) in certain cases caused by the willful misconduct of the company or its employees or subsidiaries.

The bill has cleared the Senate Transportation Committee, Judiciary Committee and Transportation Spending Committee, it will be taken up on the Senate floor this afternoon.

The recession is being blamed for pausing several Union Pacific construction projects across southern Arizona and New Mexico. The projects were meant to increase UP's freight-moving capacity on its main line.

UP gave no definitive time table for when a new yard in Pinal County, Ariz., a new rail facility in Santa Teresa, N.M., and installation of a second set of tracks across Arizona would restart, but expects all projects to proceed when the economy turns around. UP reported a 15-percent down turn in its rail traffic during the third quarter compared to the same time period in 2008.

BNSF assumed switching and classification responsibilities at the Dayton, Texas, Yard on Dec. 1.

Dayton Yard is about 40 miles east of Houston and functions as part of the Houston Complex and consolidated terminal. Construction at the yard started in 1996 with two tracks; the yard currently has 78 fully-operational tracks.

The additional switching and classification responsibilities are a "big deal" for BNSF for a number of reasons.

"This really lets us establish a footprint in the Houston area, more so than we have been able to in the past," said Marc Stephens, BNSF's general director, transportation. "In the longer-term, this opens the door for possibilities of other business."

Dayton Yard's role is to support the Gulf Coast chemical network, to which BNSF gained access as a result of the Union Pacific/Southern Pacific merger. Dayton currently operates manifest trains to Memphis, Tenn.; Galesburg, Ill.; and New Orleans, where trains connect to eastern gateways.

BNSF now has 67 additional positions, a significant increase from the yardmaster and 10 yard positions prior to Dec. 1. "We're using furloughed employees to fill the yard-related positions," Stephens said.

BNSF employment at Dayton now includes 12 lead jobs, three utility positions, four industry assignments, one air test crew, six transfers, seven relief assignments and extra board support, giving Dayton a total of about 100 trainmen and engineers.

About 15 chemical company customers use BNSF in this area. The yard also supports industry releases on Port Terminal Railroad; Bayport, Texas; Beaumont, Texas; Bay City, Texas; Seadrift, Texas; and Lake Charles, La.

The yard operation breaks down into three components: classification of intermediate connections, industry yard operations for the Dayton Branch and storage for major chemical customers. The yard has capacity to store 3,000 carloads of plastics along with 1,000 cars in working inventory for the classification and branch yards.

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