• Worcester yard

  • 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 MrB
I live out in Charlton and on a local forum there have been posts talking about trains sitting at idle for days on end before heading off to Worcester, my guess is perhaps they don't have space for the train. If that is the case and with the takeover of Pan Am increasing traffic coming down from Maine along the Worcester line, if space is going to be a problem is there any chance that CSX rebuilds the old B&M yard that was next to Rte 290 at the 190 interchange?
  by taracer
The issues you are talking about have nothing to do with the Pan Am takeover. It all goes back to the cuts made starting in 2017 under PSR management.

During that time, on the B&A alone they have cut at least 4 road trains and many local and yard jobs. For example, one of the trains that always sits in Charlton now used to go directly to the yard in Framingham. Once there, in Framingham, yard and local crews based there would deal with that train. Those jobs we cut under PSR and now just one local deals with that train, but out of Worcester. The same thing is happening in West Springfield. We are seeing all these cuts coming back to bite them.

Worcester yard was rebuilt and designed by CSX Intermodal for their needs, not by CSX Transportation which has different needs and would have designed a different yard.

So you are correct that the yard in Worcester can't really handle non intermodal freight, it wasn't designed to.

I wouldn't expect the old B&M yard to be rebuilt, since the problems are not due to the Pan Am takeover, nothing has really changed yet as far as the B&A is concerned.

They really need to add a few trains, but that goes against the PSR management style of more with less. I think they will have to make some kind of changes at some point soon.

What they are doing now is not working.
  by copcars
I swing by Readville yard, every week or 2 ,and I have never seen so many cars there,at least 80, some mt some loads.THE Attleboro turn would go west through Walpole 6 days a week at 6AM like clockwork. Before covid the MBTA started going to Foxboro, and the Attleboro turn would wait east of Foxboro stadium,Gilette,and follow passenger train to Walpole at around 6AM.I have not seen this freight in 6 months.The mbta is running again to Foxboro, does anyone know what days and times this train is running..The switcher for Mansfield sits at Walpole overnight and heads East at around 7AM 5 days a week.Monday morning the train crew was at Walpole but the engine was not there and I think the train crew left by personal cars.CSX definitely needs to get their act together.CSX used to go to Chelsea produce market from Beacon Park and had quite a few cars ,especially on Sunday late afternoon.Is CSX still running to Chelsea out of Lawrence THANKS
  by MrB
taracer, I know the Pan AM acquisition is not the cause of the delays here in Charlton, it was more of if there is an increase in traffic from the former Pan Am lines in the future along the old B&A, would they consider rebuilding part of the old B&M Worcester yard, because otherwise the trains coming down from Worcester will have to run straight out to Springfield?
  by taracer
No, most likely the old B&M Worcester yard will not be rebuilt.

I think a second track though the old yard area is likely due to the extension of the T to Springfield and increased Amtrak service to Boston as agreed to in the Pan Am deal.

They are definitely going to have to make some changes, and to all the people that will chime in and say they used to run X number of trains up there 20 years ago, I know what they used to do.

I'm telling you they can't run that way now without making major changes, which would have to be handed down from Jacksonville, not local management.
  by johnpbarlow
Can CSX better utilize Westborough yard to free up capacity in Worcester? I have seen Selkirk bound carloads from Framingham/Westborough parked on the CSX main next to the intermodal tracks waiting for a pickup from M427 or I115. Maybe CSX could reinstitute M437?
  by taracer
They finally abolished 437 during the slowdown at the beginning of covid, but they had been trying to do it for about a year prior to that. The goal was to cut jobs in Framingham, and the Selkirk crews were making a setoff in Westborough on the 436. It didn't work out well because we'd usually outlaw there after the setoff.

There is actually talk of the 437 coming back but the problem is still no place to put it in Worcester and Selkirk crews are no longer qualified east of Worcester. We can only go one train length east of CP42, the east end of Worcester yard.

Major changes to the operating plan would have to happen and that basically means adding at least 2 more trains if they want things to be fluid again.

That goes against the principals of PSR though, so I'd say it's unlikely to happen.
  by johnpbarlow
C&D business continues to grow SE of Framingham (eg, new facility being built at Holbrook). Mass Coastal seems to be developing new business in New Bedford and Fall River area. C&D, Ken's, and building supply transload business on the Ag branch is solid. G&U tonnage is growing. Net: CSX traffic is traffic to/from Westborough/Framingham is growing - good news!

As an aside, when L005 arrives Nevins Yard around 0900 after L002 has emptied the yard to head west, it overflows Nevins mostly with C&D loads - seems to me that CSX could just haul all this Selkirk-bound freight off the Framingham secondary to Westborough tp build an M437.
  by Douglasphil
There is often not all that much room in Westboro yard . There are only 4 longish tracks (35-40 car lengths) and the job based there, L003 have their own customers to service . They handle inbound and outbound cars for the G&U, the Transflo and 3 smaller customers.
  by QB 52.32
To the question of adding more expensive long-term assets in additional Worcester track capacity that would have to be financially justified in cost v. benefit v. competing use for other projects over a 25-year time horizon, that would be considered in long, strategic terms and beyond the shorter-term issues and observations continuing to be seen throughout this year.

The problem of trains sitting idle for days in Charlton (Westfield or elsewhere) has been a symptom, probably the most critical short of embargoing traffic with both seen elsewhere, of congestion caused by a shortage of qualified train & engine crews on CSX in New England and along their northern tier Baltimore-Selkirk-Buffalo, amplified by a much-widened variation in the flow of traffic caused by this and overall railroad network congestion, including amongst customers. Additionally, to some degree, the added demands caused by crew shortages on other New England railroads and in meeting important customer needs across CSX's various New England markets has added to the problem. So, a solution of adding more trainstarts or increasing the risk of re-crews is not the immediate answer, at the least until there's enough crews, and for a problem that in all likelihood will be short-term in the scheme of things, investment in new track is also not the answer.

As I see it, using Worcester as a hub to mix & match blocks of traffic to a balanced train operation, even if it requires hours-long use of main track, and supporting the new demand of an added car-handling-saving Westborough block amongst other blocks' requirements as well as the imbalanced westbound service demands of intermodal, all within the context of today's sophisticated network decision-making operating under strategically-beneficial PSR principles, made sense. When you think of the form & function of Worcester, it's not to classify individual cars into blocks (that's being done in Framingham and Selkirk), nor to provide the same amount of intermodal flatcar storage outside the intermodal yard as was once required. And, ex-Conrail east-of-Worcester carload merchandise traffic has been a net-same/negative with westward C&D waste traffic trending upwards but offset by eastbound traffic losses and with the closure of Beacon Park shifting traffic to a renewed-G&U and new Westborough transload, both created by the closure, changing traffic block/ing characteristics. In the shorter-run, beyond the challenging problem of congestion created by the crew shortage, looks to me like Worcester has enough track capacity to meet the existing demands without creating more trainstarts or adding new track.

Moving forward, the bigger, longer-term and more-important effects of probable further shifting in ex-Conrail east-of-Worcester traffic (to the G&U, southeast MA , up onto Pan Am (where I place my bets for the majority of it), or elsewhere?)) with 5-10 times the potential impact of trending C&D and other growth potential seen this year; CSX's Pan Am and Pan Am Southern purchase; and, a probable multi-billion dollar investment in passenger rail primarily Boston-Springfield will be the drivers of Worcester's future form and function within CSX's blocking and train operations. In this regard, I think a change in CSX train operations could likely be driven by an addition of the NS trackage rights intermodal train pair, if not before, and should there be investment in additional track it'll come from an East-West Passenger Rail Project as Taracer wrote.

As a couple of related asides, I recall when Worcester ~50 years ago required 4 yards each staffed with yardmasters and clerks and 10 daily yard crews consisting of 38 crewmembers to do what probably is roughly the same relative business as today, and, driving by a local national trucking company's terminal frequently during this period of tough area railroad congestion seeing the same kind of congestion with their daily inbound trailer loads sitting parked and untouched in their yard for the same reasons- not enough drivers and dock workers and uneven and surging freight flows (though probably no talk of adding linehaul runs or expanding the parking lot!).