• CSX Mountain Subdivision

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

Moderator: MBTA F40PH-2C 1050

  by dkgrubb
After several weeks and even months of speculation on the CSX Northern West Virginia Lines future. The following article appeared on the front page Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram for Thursday, July 1st.


Railroad Giant Seeks to Lease Large Portion of Tracks in W.Va., Maryland

By Gary A. Harki

Clarksburg: CSX Transportation is entertaining bids for lease of 1,200 miles of railroad track, including the Harrison County portion that is currently operated by the company. That may mean job losses or transfers for at least 120 CSX Employees who work in the region, said Gary Sease, spokesman for CSX.

The 530 Mile line from Cumberland, MD, to Brooklyn Junction, just south of New Martinsville, is up for bid to smaller railroads. It is hoped the smaller companies may be able to make the stretch of track more profitable, Sease said.

"This is not a done deal," Sease said. "CSX is asking that bids be back to the company by July 20. We are not selling the track but giving it to others to operate." The line that continues south of Grafton would also be a part of the lease, he said. The track will not be sold "piecemeal," Sease Said.

Sease noted CSX would not necessarily accept the bids. A decision on the bids would come within a period of some weeks after July 20. Most of the railroad customers are related to the coal industry, Sease said. "These lines require more capital than we are willing to invest, and we hope short-line operators can make the economics of the line operate better than we currently can," Sease said.

CSX is still in the process of determining how many employees will be affected. There is a variety of options for the employees depending on their job and position, Sease said. Options include relocating with CSX and applying for employment with company leasing the track. CSX operates 23,000 miles of railroad track in 23 states, Sease said.

"We just don't know what is going to happen, " said a CSX employee who asked not to be identified. "Some of these guys are about to retire in the next few months. We just don't know what this means for our jobs. We wish the company would give us a little more information about what is going on."
  by Guest
Sounds like CSX wants to farm out the Cumberland Coal Business Unit. Has coal traffic declined that much? I imagine RJ Corman might take a crack at it.

  by ACLfan
Yeah, it does seem like CSX is looking to dump the Cumberland Coal Unit! That is really surprising, considering the thousands of hours of time and $ invested in determining the best locomotive designs for handling heavy coat trains along the mountain grades, acquiring new locomotives that were specifically designed for use on the Cumberland, and then abruptly turn about and say "Is anyone interested?"

If I were a CSX stockholder, I would be looking to CSX management for some serious explanations to this confounding change of position! Given the world's energy consumption demands, the long-term outlook for Apalachian coal is extremely high!

I would also be very concerned about turning the Unit over to an outside party, only to have them run the system into the ground, and then have to spend major bucks to rehab the track back to usable condition!

  by Jay Potter
I wanted to offer some additional information regarding the Cumberland Coal Business Unit and its motive power. Strictly speaking, there never were any locomotives specifically designed for use on the CCBU. When units 700-724, which were standard SD70MACs, were delivered between July and September 1997, they were intended to operate primarily on the CCBU. However they were not operated exclusively there, particularly after January 1998; and the CCBU itself ceased to exist in August 1999.

About a year later, in September 2000, CSXT took delivery of units 495 and 496, which were AC4400CWs configured as prototype test units for the company's "heavy" locomotive project. These units were, in a sense, AC6000CWs with 4400 hp. In other words, they weighed as much as the company's production-model AC6000CWs; and they had the same advanced adhesion-management software as those AC6000CWs. Otherwise, they were standard AC4400CWs. The purpose of the increased weight and advanced software was to make the "heavy" AC4400CWs more reliable in low-speed drag service. Basically they outperform standard AC4400CWs at speeds of 10 mph or less; and perform basically the same as standard AC4400CWs at higher speeds.

Units 495 and 496 were tested for eight months on various parts of the system, including what used to be the CCBU. Then, in June 2001, CSXT began taking delivery of its first 50 production-model "heavy" units, AC4400CWs 497-546. Only 24-to-30 of those units were needed, at any given time, on what used to be the CCBU; and so a substantial number of them were used elsewhere on the system. Since then, every new CSXT AC4400CW and SD70MAC has been a "heavy" unit; and, beginning in July 2003, its older SD70MACs were modified into "heavy" units.

So, basically, I don't really see much of a relationship between the company's current plans to lease most of what used to be the CCBU and its current or past locomotive-development plans. The Mountain Subdivision has been the area most commonly used by the company for testing its AC-traction locomotives; however the locomotives that have been acquired as a result of that testing have always been used in a variety of assignments all across the system.

  by ACLfan
Oh, I see. You weren't aware of the thousands of man-hours of locomotive testing that was performed by CSX and GE personnel in the design detail and specifics of the locomotive orders placed by CSX for specific usage on the rugged grades in W. VA. Of course, the locos could be used anywhere on the CSX system (and will be). But, first and foremost, they were designed to meet the needs of helper units on slow-moving unit coal trains. That's the facts! The Diesel Era Magazine has some excellent articles on the testing process that resulted in the specifics of the locomotive orders.

  by Jay Potter
I'm aware of the testing sessions and the Diesel Era articles. I attended the testing; and I'm the author of the articles.

  by ACLfan

Wow! I'm iimpressed.

To me, it seemed that the critical design feature was the enhanced pulling power capabilities on steep mountain grades while traveling at slow speeds like experienced in coal train service.

I have seen some of the heavy AC4400 units in Florida, so I never had any illusions that they were somehow exclusively intended for mountain grades. Until some years ago, we had only one pusher district in FLorida. The "heavy" AC 4400 units weren't on that particular district. Rather, they were on billiard table terrain, and were assigned to hotshot intermodals. But, all this aside, CSX didn't see the need to extensively test the units on billiard table terrain, but on the mountain grades. So, that aspect appeared to be a critical design feature in terms of their performance. That was my point--no more, no less.

Again, a great job on the Diesel Era articles. I really enjoyed them!
Best wishes!

  by Jay Potter
You're entirely correct about the purpose of the "heavy" AC4400CW design changes being to enhance pulling ability in low-speed service on grades. At speeds in excess of 10 mph, the relative performances of a heavy AC4400CW and a standard AC4400CW are essentially the same.

I suspect that the tendency to associate the heavy units more with drag service on the former Cumberland Coal Business Unit than with that type of service on other segments of the system is the extent to which they've been tested in Mountain Subdivision helper service. One reason for this is the company's belief that, because of the gradient and curvature of that line, a locomotive that will perform adequately there will be able to perform adequately in drag service anywhere else on the system. However there are also several other reasons.

First, the units are not tested in helper service because the company necessarily intends to assign them to helper service but, rather, because comparisons of test data are more accurate when all of the data has been generated under rail conditions that are as identical as possible. The best way to achieve this is to take readings after a full train has passed across the track in front of the unit being tested. That and the reason that follows explain why the units are not tested on the head end.

Second, the Mountain Subdivision helper remains on its train for a relatively short period of time; and so it's oftentimes possible to conduct several test runs on a single day.

Third, there are sometimes 15-or-so people participating in a test session; and the technical research car is not used in all sessions. If the car is not used and if the test team is relatively large, there will not be enough room for all of the necessary people to ride the train if it is powered by only three units (two on the head end and one as the helper). Unlike many of the helper consists elsewhere on the system, the Mountain Subdivision helper always has at least two units.