CSX Activity in New England

Discussion of the operations of CSX Transportation, from 1980 to the present. Official site can be found here: CSXT.COM.

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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby Ryanontherails » Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:46 pm

ButtersROW wrote:-CertainTeed (aka "Bird") on the East Walpole IT is serviced M-W-F and receives boxcars and covered hoppers of abrasives (around noontime)


They're served three times a week? That's pretty surprising given what I'd heard about that service being all but dead. The others (save Home Depot) are just as small as we've been saying though.

ButtersROW wrote:Americold is NOT serived via Readville anymore. The evening job in Walpole, B735, services Americold in South Boston on Monday and Wednesday nights. After they return from switching Foxboro Terminals, they head to town. On Sun-Tue-Thu, they head up to Forge Park to service Garelick in Franklin, BlueLinx in Bellingham, and Ardargh Glass (Saint-Gobain) in Milford.


That's about to change once G&U finishes the Milford connection and takes those jobs from CSX.
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby johnpbarlow » Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:57 am

As of the end of May 2016, G&U's expansion activity to Milford had made no further progress south of Hopedale. I haven't checked since then so perhaps that situation has changed. I wonder if JDP is waiting for CSX to unload freight operations out of Framingham before this goes forward? Specifically, MassDoT now owns the Framingham Secondary, a line that roughly parallels the G&U (with a much better track profile and condition), that is being dispatched and maintained by Mass Coastal (a RR of which JDP had been CEO until Iowa Pacific bought Cape Rail Inc) with CSX providing the freight service. But I may be mongering rumors...
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:34 am

G&U's been preoccupied with the North Grafton Yard expansion, which matters a whole lot more to CSX's bottom line at the interchange. They've also been sending out a few of their locomotives for overhaul.

If you check the 2016 Google imagery the line from Hopedale to Milford has been brush-cut this year, so that's still trudging along. And there are rumors that they've agreed-in-principle with the MBTA and CSX on overhead trackage rights to Walpole Jct./Walpole Yard. But as of now CSX is in no hurry to push them towards a deadline on Milford/Franklin because the projects that have been preoccupying them of late are for substantial new revenue targets that are good for everyone.


The only other move CSX has to shed more territory is giving Mass Coastal the Old Colony main north to Braintree Yard and Middleboro Secondary west to Attleboro Jct., which may or may not be in the cards within a few years. But that's as far as MC can go and still be securely landlocked at both ends by CSX. The NEC locals, Framingham Secondary, Fitchburg Secondary, etc. have no one to outsource to without risking statistically possible future competitive intrusion from P&W via the East Junction Branch or Pan Am via Clinton Jct., so Jacksonville will hold onto those until the end of time. The MC dispatching deal for the Framingham Sec. is simply a MassDOT thing because MC's owner Iowa Pacific can run that remote from some office in another state so MBTA southside dispatch doesn't have to. CSX co-signed on that outsource to save a couple bucks on its own dispatching rather than retain that responsibility.
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby johnpbarlow » Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:33 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
G&U's been preoccupied with the North Grafton Yard expansion, which matters a whole lot more to CSX's bottom line at the interchange. They've also been sending out a few of their locomotives for overhaul.

If you check the 2016 Google imagery the line from Hopedale to Milford has been brush-cut this year, so that's still trudging along. And there are rumors that they've agreed-in-principle with the MBTA and CSX on overhead trackage rights to Walpole Jct./Walpole Yard. But as of now CSX is in no hurry to push them towards a deadline on Milford/Franklin because the projects that have been preoccupying them of late are for substantial new revenue targets that are good for everyone...


I posted a drive-by illustrated analysis of the state of G&U property and locomotives as of Friday 9/16/16 at http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=126&t=391&p=1401193#p1401192
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Sep 30, 2016 3:55 pm

Houghton Chemical has agreed to end rail service in 2 years and allow its spur to be torn out for the Mass Pike straightening project and Harvard-led redevelopment. However, the nukes are coming out over the stalled relocation negotiations as their Founder/CEO just resigned one finger in the air from the working committee. Rail deliveries will be shifted to Scranton, PA with some job loss at the Allston plant.

https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2016 ... rs-resign/

Bruce E. Houghton, a task force member and the president of Allston-based industrial company Houghton Chemical, had some news of his own.

“I’m doing something different than I’ve done before,” Houghton said. “I am offering you my resignation to this task force... really, I’m offering it to the community.”

Houghton, who was originally appointed to the task force by former Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino to represent the business community, said concerns over transparency compelled him to resign. A section of railyard owned by his company, he explained, lies directly in the path of the $260 million Turnpike realignment project, which proposes to straighten Interstate 90 over the Harvard-owned Beacon Park Railyard.

Houghton, who also sits on the Turnpike project task force run by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said the conflict has been “tearing him apart” over the past year.

“I was sitting through your meetings and Turnpike meetings and realizing that I couldn’t serve you and Harvard and the taxpayers and the Turnpike all at the same time,” he said to the audience.

He approached Harvard to help resolve the conflict, and the two reached an agreement. Houghton Chemical will relinquish all rights to the railyard property in two years, and Harvard will provide Houghton with “a certain amount of financing” to relocate the rail house, most likely to Scranton, Pa., he said.



They are adamant that they are not considering closing the plant, but they refuse to move from Allston so the relocation negotiations have been terminated.

https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en# ... I5l34yIR3w

Just for clarity sake:
Houghton Chemical will NOT be moving from its' current site in Allston and has no plans to in the future. This is a cooperative arrangement negotiated between Harvard, Houghton and CSX. Houghton Chemical will relinquish its' rights to the rail spur in two years, not now. Harvard has been gratuitous in their willingness to support the replacement of Houghton's rail capability with a confidential financial support. I, Bruce Houghton, Will resign from the Harvard/Allston Task force if the community thinks this arrangement in anyway compromises my impartiality or independence. The task force will let me know by the next meeting. No resignation will be made to the Mass. Turnpike Advisory committee.



Well...loss of yet another Boston rail customer is never good. Lowering of capacity at one of Boston's few remaining industrial sites is never good. The travesty that these negotiations became isn't good, because the City and Harvard were not dealing in good faith and the trust issues got so bad that a private partner is cutting them off. And this doesn't bode well for the long-term future of the Boston plant if management finds local institutions so hopeless to deal with. Chances just got a whole lot better that they'll decide in a few years to just close it and move everything out-of-state. Lot of people did a real shameful job messing this one up.


As for CSX, this now sharply increases possibility that they may pursue Pan Am haulage outsourcing of the Everett Terminal job now that the only customer on that job that can't be outsourced is transitioning out in 2 years. And CSX let the other parties terminate Houghton's siding with nary a shrug, which says something about how much it values that daily. So stay tuned for 2018 because we may well be entering the terminal era of east-of-Framingham Worcester Line and Grand Junction freight depending on what options get mulled over continued in-house vs. new haulage servicing of their Everett customers.
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby Backshophoss » Sat Nov 05, 2016 10:50 pm

Forgive the "dust" :wink:
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby Ryanontherails » Mon Nov 14, 2016 12:58 am

So what is the likelihood that the Norwood Industrial gets abandoned within the next few years? Surely these legacy contracts must expire or be terminated by whichever party can do so (apparently not CSX). If CertainTeed is indeed served three times a week then maybe it is profitable for CSX, but if it is not then they may want to find a way to get out of that one (raise their rates like they would Stoughton?) and then abandon and/or sell the ROW to the town to get it off the books. It would make for a nice rail trail between Bird Park and Norwood Central Station.

If I ruled the world (or was in charge of things, or whatever), CertainTeed would just move across town to the warehouses on the Norwood/Westwood Industrial line next to Home Depot. If there is space on the Norwood side of the town line then Norwood keeps the tax money from them, CSX adds them to an already-profitable service instead of losing them as a customer, and the Norwood Industrial turns into a bike path connecting Norwood Central Station with Eliot Park in South Norwood and the square in East Walpole which is just a block away from Bird Park. There is an abandoned rail tunnel underneath Washington Street nearby that the town has always wanted to put a walking/bike path under and it wouldn't be too hard to connect it to the conservation land in the area. So it would be a win-win proposition for all parties!
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:10 pm

Most of their contracts with anyone approaching anchor customer -size are really, really long-term so if CertainTeed is steady-as-she-goes it's probably going to stay. It seems the source of the instability there was that labor situation they had at the plant a few years ago that interrupted service and made deliveries really erratic for awhile. If it's re-stabilized and the deliveries are conforming to a regular 3-day-a-week schedule without hiccups then threat level for that branch probably slots back into "guarded". CSX of course isn't going to be all that interested in trying to develop new business, but if Town of Norwood wants to take bull by the horns and apply some planning oomph around that industrial park there's plenty of rail-accessible sites they can market if they're creative enough. Used to be a grade crossing on Pleasant worming its way past the Lorusso factory through all those masonry supply businesses across the street. This whole are those few blocks west of the Route 1 drag strip is always going to be industrial. It's just too fugly to try to tart up into mixed-use as the river divides the Pleasant St. industrial abutters from the Washington St. residential street grid. They might as well get themselves semi-organized into making that stretch a more cohesive industrial park, because that's about the best land use they'll ever have available to them the whole length of Pleasant to the Walpole town line. It's not high-value real estate by any stretch.


Stoughton's different. All those building material businesses on Evans Dr. are sharing the same space as de facto dorm mates. It's not even clear who is getting the remaining carloads right now on that siding pair because so many tiny companies share that space. Tenancy there has fragmented into even ittier-bittier pieces ever since that larger customer relocated to Middleboro. They're transients, and because it's an ever-changing cast CSX has more bites at the apple when there's a change to jack rates. Whenever there's an interruption in carloads because that last transient customer left, that's when CSX is going to say "No mas" to running that job south of the Westwood Industrial and their Home Depot Warehouse meal ticket. Even if another itty-bitty transient tenant comes along interested in getting a couple weekly carloads.
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Jan 16, 2017 1:36 am

"Just for clarity sake:
Houghton Chemical will NOT be moving from its' current site in Allston and has no plans to in the future. This is a cooperative arrangement negotiated between Harvard, Houghton and CSX. Houghton Chemical will relinquish its' rights to the rail spur in two years, not now. Harvard has been gratuitous in their willingness to support the replacement of Houghton's rail capability with a confidential financial support"

What the hell does that mean? I am rather confused.
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby dbperry » Mon Jan 16, 2017 4:02 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:"Just for clarity sake:
Houghton Chemical will NOT be moving from its' current site in Allston and has no plans to in the future. This is a cooperative arrangement negotiated between Harvard, Houghton and CSX. Houghton Chemical will relinquish its' rights to the rail spur in two years, not now. Harvard has been gratuitous in their willingness to support the replacement of Houghton's rail capability with a confidential financial support"

What the hell does that mean? I am rather confused.


My guess is that Houghton made the argument that losing rail access will increase their costs. So Harvard paid them to compensate them for the added future cost of doing business (presumably via truck only).
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jan 16, 2017 4:14 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:"Just for clarity sake:
Houghton Chemical will NOT be moving from its' current site in Allston and has no plans to in the future. This is a cooperative arrangement negotiated between Harvard, Houghton and CSX. Houghton Chemical will relinquish its' rights to the rail spur in two years, not now. Harvard has been gratuitous in their willingness to support the replacement of Houghton's rail capability with a confidential financial support"

What the hell does that mean? I am rather confused.


1. Negotiations on a rail-accessible relocation in Greater Boston completely fell apart, and Houghton's CEO resigned from the Beacon Park redevelopment working group because he no longer trusted Harvard's motives. So the plant property won't be exchanged for Harvard redevelopment and they won't be setting up shop somewhere else across town. CEO blames Harvard, City of Boston, and Boston Redevelopment Authority for not looking hard enough to find appropriate relocation sites for them near the CBD rail-accessible and near highways (e.g. South Boston/Marine Terminal, Charlestown/Mystic Wharf Br., East Boston Br., Everett Terminal, a trucking access-improved Readville, etc.). And that's not the first time this charge has been levied against the City/BRA (and Harvard for its vast Allston holdings) by industrial and shipping tenants under pressure to relocate in order for their land to be flipped for high-end mixed-use redev. There's ample local history fueling Houghton's skepticism of its negotiating partners.

2. They made a final settlement with Harvard, with Houghton agreeing to give up its rail siding in 2018 in exchange for a one-time 'hardship' compensation payout from Harvard for loss of the rail access.

3. The hardship payout will be used to restructure some manufacturing operations around other rail-accessible Houghton plants (there are several, mostly Norfolk Southern-served), and to re-optimize the Allston plant's manufacturing around more truck-appropriate loading so they're not just unilaterally handicapping their margins with the loss of rail.

4. The Founder/CEO is a Boston native, and a lot of the longstanding staff who built the company from scratch are from Boston. He's a homebody not anywhere near retirement, and doesn't ever want to pull up stake from Boston. It's a pride and personal preference thing keeping them in Boston-proper despite the higher cost of doing manufacturing business here, and that's why every relocation proposal by Harvard to kick them out of sight into the 'burbs got shot down.

Thus, packing up and consolidating ops to the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest after the local-relocation negotiations collapsed was never a viable option to him, even though most other private companies in the same situation would've pocketed the money and left town as a business decision. It was always Boston or Bust for Houghton.



Now...what does this mean for their future in Allston? Probably means some manufacturing capacity is going to move out of Allston to other plants no matter what, since their overall mfg. costs just aren't as good sans rail to keep every mixing tank on the property chugging along at full-tilt forever. They'll probably evolve towards all executive & office staff being based here, and more and more production gradually based elsewhere. Possible endgame is they eventually pass some tipping point where they end all manufacturing ops in Allston and downsize to plain old office space with company HQ and all the white-collar execs & desk jockeys based in Boston, all mfg. jobs based at other plants.

So they'll always be headquartered here...but they may not always have manufacturing here or nearly as much manufacturing here. And any which way it evolves Allston won't be nearly as prominent a manufacturing site after the rail deliveries stop, so it's an end of an era of sorts. And a missed opportunity for Harvard/City/BRA to not have done enough due diligence on the local relocation when there are decent sites like Southie/Marine T. being built out for exactly these sorts of businesses.
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby Plate C » Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:06 am

Curious if anyone knows what's going on around the West Springfield yard, never seen it so empty as I have in the past week... you can stand on one side and see clear across. Layoffs? Impending track work? Can't see car counts dropping that low so suddenly.
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:56 am

Plate C wrote:Curious if anyone knows what's going on around the West Springfield yard, never seen it so empty as I have in the past week... you can stand on one side and see clear across. Layoffs? Impending track work? Can't see car counts dropping that low so suddenly.


Track work, I think.

Keep in mind as well that Monday--day after Easter--is Patriot's Day, a Massachusetts state holiday. As well as start of a school vacation week. Major time of year for MA workers of all stripes to be burning vacation time, railroaders included.
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby Tracer » Sat May 06, 2017 10:56 pm

Ryanontherails wrote:So what is the likelihood that the Norwood Industrial gets abandoned within the next few years? Surely these legacy contracts must expire or be terminated by whichever party can do so (apparently not CSX). If CertainTeed is indeed served three times a week then maybe it is profitable for CSX, but if it is not then they may want to find a way to get out of that one (raise their rates like they would Stoughton?) and then abandon and/or sell the ROW to the town to get it off the books. It would make for a nice rail trail between Bird Park and Norwood Central Station.

If I ruled the world (or was in charge of things, or whatever), CertainTeed would just move across town to the warehouses on the Norwood/Westwood Industrial line next to Home Depot. If there is space on the Norwood side of the town line then Norwood keeps the tax money from them, CSX adds them to an already-profitable service instead of losing them as a customer, and the Norwood Industrial turns into a bike path connecting Norwood Central Station with Eliot Park in South Norwood and the square in East Walpole which is just a block away from Bird Park. There is an abandoned rail tunnel underneath Washington Street nearby that the town has always wanted to put a walking/bike path under and it wouldn't be too hard to connect it to the conservation land in the area. So it would be a win-win proposition for all parties!


I kindly disagree with a "win-win" if the line is abandoned. What "abandoned" Washington street tunnel are you talking about?
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Re: CSX Activity in New England

Postby Ryanontherails » Mon May 08, 2017 4:03 pm

Tracer wrote:I kindly disagree with a "win-win" if the line is abandoned. What "abandoned" Washington street tunnel are you talking about?


If you go on Bing Maps, pull up the bird's eye (not aerial) view of the intersection of Washington and Chestnut, and orient it so that the clock tower and Chestnut Street go towards the top of your screen (so looking east), the tunnel can be seen quite clearly.

Just curious, why don't you feel like that would be a win-win (not that my scenario would ever happen)?

I have confirmed that CertainTeed is indeed scheduled for three times a week, although sometimes they are only served twice a week. So that one's probably not going anywhere anytime soon, as much as I'd like to see a rail trail!
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