Monday, April 1, 2013

Today's Train of Thought- Yankee Clipper, April 1, 2013

One might be surprised to learn that despite New York City's status as the largest city in the United States, the five boroughs are served by exactly one class one freight carrier. Norfolk Southern stops at the western shore of the Hudson River in New Jersey, regional Providence & Worcester reaches New York City from Connecticut via trackage rights over the Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, Anacostia Pacific's New York & Atlantic handles freight over the Long Island Railroad and New York New Jersey Rail operates a carfloat between Jersey City, NJ and Brooklyn.

That leaves just the CSX and in turn, the CSX has to deal with something called the Selkirk Hurdle. Since freight trains aren't allowed through the Northeast Corridor tunnel linking Manhattan and northern New Jersey, the nearest crossing of the Hudson River that freight trains can use is nearly 150 miles to the north at Selkirk, NY. That's been the case since 1974, when the former New Haven Railroad bridge over the Hudson River was taken out of service on May 8th, 1974 after a fire damaged the bridge's decking and girders on the eastern approach [the bridge was turned into a state park in 2009].

One example of this problem can be demonstrated when the City of New York reached a 30-year agreement with Waste Management [NYSE- WM] in 2009. The trash is hauled out of Brooklyn by train with a final destination in Virginia- some 300 miles away- has to move north over the Metro North commuter line between New York City and Poughkeepsie, continuing north through Hudson and linking up with the Selkirk-Boston, MA former Boston & Albany mainline before heading south along the west side of the Hudson into northern New Jersey before continuing south- a distance of more than 250 miles to cover 15 miles as the crow flies before continuing to Virgina. Moreover, because of the busy commuter operations on Metro North, most of the freight operations are limited to nighttime.

With that in mind, CSX operations in the Big Apple remain a fairly elusive and seldom photographed affair. But Railfan & Railroad contributor Michael Foley knows his subjects well and has been able to document CSX operations in their Big Apple hub- the Bronx's Oak Point yard.

On Opening Day, Today's Train of Thought offers us a glimpse of the ballpark where the Red Sox and Yankees will renew their rivalry and kick off their respective 2013 seasons. Here, Foley has photographed a mixed bag of second generation EMDs in charge of CSX freight B949-07, heading south past Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on February 7th, 2009. The train was sidelined with mechanical difficulties in the overnight hours, resulting in a fairly rare daylight run to Oak Point. Part of the original Yankee Stadium, which had seen its final ballgame some five months earlier, can be seen off to the righthand side.

For more images of CSX in and around the Big Apple, Foley has a photo gallery of this seldom-seen aspect of CSX operations on display on the Railfan & Railroad website as well as his own online photo gallery, Yonkers Rails.

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