Friday, March 8, 2013

A Grand Old Iron Horse Roundup for February 2013

Brian Fuelner- Bangor Daily News

UPDATE: 3/8- Almost as soon as I finish the first draft, Pan Am suffers not one, but TWO derailments.

Thirteen tank cars loaded with crude oil derailed near Mattawamkeag, ME on Thursday. Despite the fact that the cars have a 31,000 gallon capacity, officials said that just 3 gallons were spilled in the derailment. Officials cite the tank car's sturdy design along with the slow track speed through the area for the relative lack of damage.
The Pan Am Railways tanker cars, which were among 15 that derailed on the 96-car train, went off the tracks near Route 2 and the Winn town line about 5 a.m. Thursday. No injuries were reported. Thirteen of the 15 cars tipped over but none ruptured, said Pan Am Railways Executive Vice President Cynthia Scarano.

Scarano described the oil spill as that which typically accumulates around the two hatches atop the tank when tanks are filled or emptied. About a gallon of oil came from three overturned tankers, Mattawamkeag Fire Chief Robert Powers said.

“Three gallons — that’s amazing [when you] have the cars laying on their sides, a couple of them in trees,” Powers said. “They’ve built the rail cars to sustain derailment. We are very thankful that that’s where we are at right now.”

Maine Department of Environmental Protection crews and a private contractor will be working with Pan Am to transfer oil from the 13 tankers to 20 smaller tankers. The work likely will continue for two or three days, said department spokeswoman Samantha Warren, who said the spill could have been “disastrous.”

Workers emptied the first car at about 9:15 p.m. The offloading went well, but the work “will be delicate,” she said.

“There are still hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil in derailed cars within sight of the Penobscot River,” Warren added, joining a chorus of voices from the state Legislature and environmentalist community that called the accident’s lack of environmental damage a miracle.

Scarano said a severe leak into the river was never very likely. The train was on a stretch of track from Waterville to Canada that is rated Class 1, which means suitable for traffic moving no faster than 10 mph.

The Federal Railroad Administration investigation of the accident is continuing, but it appears that the train was moving no faster than the speed limit. Firefighters said train workers told them it was traveling 8 mph when the derailment occurred.

A slow speed would be logical, Scarano said, given that the train was approaching a switch in town. Its cargo was to be transferred to New Brunswick Southern Railway for eventual arrival at a refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. She said the train had three engines pulling it.
Meanwhile, along the Pan Am's former B&M line in Nahusa, NH, eight cars on a loaded unit coal train destined for the power plant at Bow, NH derailed on Thursday night.
A Pan Am train was heading north on Thursday when eight cars filled with coal derailed before the Nashua River and the Bridge Street Crossing. None of the cars rolled over. The cars are leaning, and there was no spillage, the Nashua Fire Department said.

Fire officials said about 100 feet of track were damaged, as well as parts of the steel bridge’s wooden decking. Pan Am crews towed away the remaining cars to reopen the Bridge Street Crossing.
No injuries were reported at either derailment.

Looking more like a scene from the Pacific Northwest, a trio of big GE's idle in the siding with empty grain train AYRJ [AYer, MA to Rotterdam Jct, NY] as eastbound freight MOED [MOhawk Yard, Schenectady, NY to East Deerfield, MA] blasts through North Adams, MA with a pair of leased former BNSF SD40-2s on the point on February 22, 2013. Gary Schermerhorn photo
PAN AM- Thanks to an increase in traffic, Pan Am Railways is finding itself short on motive power and has been leasing SD40-2s from Helm Leasing and maximizing their use of run-through power from BNSF and CSX. The 10 Helm Leasing SD40s join some 21 SD40s that Pan Am acquired back in 2010.
The loaners are still painted in BNSF and Burlington Northern colors, some of them blending in seamlessly with the newer BNSF power that has been appearing on the unit oil trains between the CSX interchange in Rotterdam Jct, NY and the New Brunswick Southern at Mattawamkeag, ME as well as unit grain trains to the Cargill mill in Ayer, MA.

OTHER PAN AM NEWS- An Icelandic shipping company has signed a contract with the Maine Port Authority to begin operating out of Maine's largest seaport, Maine governor Paul LePage announced in February. The firm, Eimskip, also announced that they would partner with Pan Am Rail to provide cost effective access to markets across North America and that the Portland location would shave off travel time between North America and Europe.
Eimskip will open a warehouse in Portland and begin providing biweekly cargo service at the end of March, replacing the company's container operation in Norfolk, Va., according to Eimskip's website.

The company is moving to Maine's largest commercial port in order to shorten travel time between North America and Europe.

Eimskip also will partner with Pan Am Railways to offer cost-competitive access to other North American markets, according to the governor's news release.

LePage met with representatives of Eimskip and Pan Am Railways in January to discuss the new service.

“Maine’s economy will be strengthened by this new service and accessibility to markets,” LePage said in the release. “Maine produces some of the best products in the world and this investment by Eimskip is a testament to that quality."

Eimskip President and CEO Gylfi Sigfusson said, "PanAm has been very helpful working with us to make this possible and we believe that our work together is critical for success moving forward."

Details about the contract, the number of jobs to be created and the location of the warehouse will be announced Wednesday at a 10 a.m. news conference at the terminal on Commercial Street.

Portland has been without contracted cargo service for nearly a year, after the New York-based American Feeder Lines suspended operations and closed in April 2012, citing a lack of volume and loss of private investment.

At the time, the terminal was in the midst of a $5 milion, federally funded renovation and expansion that was completed last summer. The Maine Port Authority lost $200,000 it had loaned to the company. Boston and Halifax, Nova Scotia, had made similar investments.

In 2011, Eimskip added a new route to its shipping system, connecting North America to northern Norway, according to the company's website. The new shipping route has opened new markets for Eimskip customers in the North Atlantic.

"The port is well equipped to handle the operation and has been renovated during recent years," according to Eimskip's website. "Eimskip will operate a warehouse and an office in Portland and the terminal is equipped with 150 (refrigeration) plugs, a 100 ton mobile crane and other equipment required to serve Eimskip and its customers."

Eimskip will continue to receive smaller shipments in Norfolk and New York.

Maine's agricultural, forest and seafood industries will benefit from the expanded service, providing new opportunities for growth in Canada and Europe, Maine officials said.

The service will call on Portland every 14 days and give Maine businesses direct import-export access to eastern Canadian and European markets.

Access to these markets may result in both larger freight volumes and access to previously cost-prohibitive markets for importers, exporters and manufacturers.
Although traffic in oil, grain and clay slurry has picked up in recent years, intermodal service hasn't been Pan Am's strong suit. In early 2011, Pan Am innagurated triweekly intermodal service between eatern Massachusetts and Halifax, NS with New Brunswick Southern called the Bluenose.

NEW YORK CITY- Manhattan's Grand Central Station is turning 100 this year. The cavernous station originally was a meeting point from trains from the New York and Hudson River Railroad, the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railway and the New York and Harlem Railroad.
The actual 100th anniversary took place on February 1st with ceremonies and tours with ongoing exhibits throughout the year. Some of the restaurants in Grand Central got into the spirit of things by offering 1913 prices on some of their meals.

The landmark terminal fell into disrepair in the late 1960s with the bankruptcy of the New York Central. In 1968, NYC successor Penn Central announced plans to demolish Grand Central to make way for a skyscraper. The proposals drew opposition from a number of New Yorkers, including former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis. Prior to the Penn Central's unveiling, New York City's Landmarks Comission designated Grand Central a landmark, meaning that Penn Central was unable to secure permission to demolish Grand Central [the matter went before the supreme court in 1978 with the justices ruling in favor of the city- NANESB!]. By 1994, the Penn Central's Corporate successor, American Financial Group, reached an agreement with New York's Metropolitan Transit Agency to lease Grand Central for more than 200 years- the MTA's Metro North is turning 30 this year.

Despite the fact that Grand Central hasn't seen regularly scheduled long-distance passenger service since 1991, recent timetables show more than 280 trains departing from the New York landmark on any given weekday. New York's MTA operates commuter trains north to the Hudson River Valley and western Connecticut out of Grand Central while Long Island Railroad, NJ Transit and Amtrak operate out of Penn Station.
A full schedule of this year's events and exhibitions is available at the Grand Central's Centennial website.


BNSF- I'm about a year behind schedule with this, but I thought it would still be worth pointing out. The Burlington Northern-Santa Fe handled a rather unique cargo in April of 2012 that was destined for the Arizona capital of Phoenix. That cargo was actually the barrel from the USS Arizona, one of four battleships sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, HI on Dec 7th, 1941. More than 1100 sailors were killed when the ship's magazine exploded and to this day, the site of the sunken Pennsylvania-class battleship remains a memorial site.
One of the guns from the USS Arizona was being refurbished on the mainland at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack and during wartime, was refitted on the USS Nevada during WWII. The 67-foot long gun was transported on a special-purpose flatcar from Virginia and joins one of the guns from the USS Missouri- the battleship on which the Japanese formally surrendered to the USA in Tokyo Harbor in 1945- heralding the end of World War II. The Navy reportedly refused the Arizona Capitol Museum's initial request for the barrel from the Arizona but offered them one from the Missouri instead before relenting.
Both guns will be on display at the Wesley Bolin plaza as part of the Arizona Capitol Museum in Phoenix and are on permanant loan from the US Navy.
Twin Cities Western GP39-2 #2300 is seen leading a short freight across the Minnesota/South Dakota state line and over BNSF trackage rights at Big Stone City, SD in January 2013. The train is enroute to the TC&W's newly acquired Sisseton-Milbank Railroad in Milbank, SD. Jeremiah Rindal photo
TWIN CITIES & WESTERN- South Dakota's 37-mile Sisseton-Milbank railroad joined the Twin Cities & Western fold as of last summer. The line between the two South Dakota towns its named after went through a number of operators since the Milwaukee Road's 1982 bankruptcy, including the Milwaukee Road, Dakota Rail and Sisseton Southern. However, the Sisseton-Milbank has been in operation since 1989, interchanging with the BNSF at Milbank, SD.
Between the Twin Cities & Western and affiliated railroads Red River Valley & Western and Minnesota Prairie Line, the TC&W system has more than 800 route miles of track throughout North Dakota and Minnesota. The Sisseton-Millbank is connected to the rest of the TC&W system thanks to trackage rights over BNSF between Milbak, SD and Appleton, MN and represents the TC&W's first foray into South Dakota. Power for the Sisseton-Milbank is a pair of EMD endcab switchers while the TC&W fleet uses a number of Caterpillar re-engined EMDs as well as some EMD end-cab switchers and Geeps.
Chicago, Ft Wayne & Eastern SD40T-2 #3316 is seen leading former BNSF GP50# 4023 with symbol freight FWWA [Fort Wayne- WArsaw, IN] at Arcola, IN on March 7th. The CFW&E is one of many former Rail America properties that Genesee & Wyoming has wasted no time in applying their corporate image on. Matt Weldon photo
RAIL AMERICA- It seems as though the Genesee & Wyoming wasted little time in putting their mark on former Rail America properties. In addition to locomotives on the Chicago, Ft Wayne and Eastern, Connecticut Southern and Indiana & Ohio visitors to Rail America's website are redirected to the Genesee & Wyoming homepage.
The first Rail America locomotive to appear in GWI colors was Central Railroad of Indiana RP20B Genset #2001, which was actually in orange and black before the merger was finalized at the end of December. The former Rail America genset was repainted at Norfolk Southern's Juniata shops in Altoona, PA at the beginning of December 2012. Some other locomotives from Rail America lines to appear in the GWI ornage and black include Chicago, Ft Wayne & Eastern SD40T-2 #3316, repainted at Ohio Central's Morgan Run shops at the end of January [the previously independent Ohio Central was purchased by GWI in 2008- NANESB!] and Connecticut Southern GP38 #2201 which was repainted in New England Central's St Albans, VT shops in the first week of March.

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