• Baltimore's failure to build a container yard for Panamax

  • Discussion pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Discussion pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Moderator: therock

  by gpp111
CSX has been unable to gain approval of a double stack container yard in either Jessup (south of Baltimore) or in Baltimore itself. There is now talk of CSX participating in the plan to enlargen the B&P tunnels but even if this was possible it would be many years in the future. So basically there is no way to efficiently handle the containers from huge Panamax ships which will call at the port of Baltimore once the new larger locks open on the Panama Canal. CSX has started work on the Virginia Avenue tunnels in Washington DC. My question is this, will CSX haul double stacks from Hampton Roads through Washington and then west to Ohio because Baltimore has not got its act together to find a solution to where a container terminal should be located there?

Norfolk Southern is better positioned than CSX but has height restrictions on the Susquehanna River bridge and has Amtrak controls movement of trains between Baltimore and Perryville.
  by gpp111
CSX has looked once again at lowering the Howard Street tunnel clearances to allow double stacks and the price has been reduced to about 425 million. CSX and the State of MD have committed funds to make this happen and are awaiting help from the Federal Govt to make it happen. This is a much better proposal than the previous truck to train terminal in west Baltimore. This fits nicely into the potential to develop Sparrows Point for port facilities, the former steel plant location.
  by Nhrp5
The Howard Street Tunnel can not be done for several reasons. First width wise, my grandfather owned Robert A Miller Stained Glass Studio before he died. The Howard Street Tunnel, you had the tunnel walls snd right next to them the basement walls of his shop on Howard Street. Height wise the tunnel roof in some spots is only 6 inches in thickness under Howard Street. The floor can not be lowered due to water table and the Baltimore Subway Tunnel below it.. The B&P Tunnels are now Amtrak and that is out because NS is only allowed to get out of the Baltimore Yards at night using Amtrak lines. Amtrak has narrowed down 2 locations to build new tunnels to replace the outdated B&P Tunnels that drastically reduces the speeds of the Acela Trains. No CSX needs a route around Baltimore connecting to the main on the east and west sides. Or a new tunnel dealing with Baltimore's old and deteriorating infrastructure underground. Either way you put a yard on either side you have to stop restack the train tun it through then restack on other side too time consuming. The only other option a tunnel under the harbor connecting Curtis Bay Yard with the yard at the seaport somehow.
  by gpp111
Looks like they found a way to enlargen the tunnel, raising it in some places, lowering it in others.

Earlier this year, Baltimore appeared to be heading back on track to have double-stacking capability through Baltimore City. In April 2016, CSX and Maryland announced plans to increase the height of the tunnel by 18 inches by lowering it in some places and raising the ceiling in others. The proposal called for CSX to pay $125 million, Maryland to contribute $145 million, and both Maryland and CSX to seek an additional $155 million federal funding. The undertaking was projected to take four years to complete. Unfortunately, in July the federal government declined Maryland's application for the $155 million in funding for the project. Next month, the Hogan administration plans to again apply for federal funding for the expansion of the tunnel.
  by gpp111
I would not hold my breath about a new tunnel, which would cost billions. Maybe ten to twenty years from now we will see this, but the new Panama canal is open, and a way to move double stacks out of the port is top of mind, both for CSX and the State of MD
  by mmi16
The State of Maryland, finally, sees making the Howard Street Tunnel suitable for double stacks as a critical element in keeping the Port of Baltimore viable in world commerce markets. The Port has already invested in dredging to increase channel depths to post-Panamax vessel drafts as well as investing in new container cranes to be able to handle the beam of the new vessels. Without improving clearance in the Howard Street Tunnel all these investments will have been in vain.
  by gprimr1
I still think the solution is to combine this with the Amtrak replacement tunnels. Connect the CSX and Amtrak lines in North and South Baltimore. I know there used to be a connection in South Baltimore leading from Mt. Claire Yard and there appears to be plenty of room to build one north of Baltimore.

CSX contributes to the cost of building the tunnel and splits their traffic between Howard Street and the new tunnel. In return, MARC is allowed to run a few trains up through Baltimore city to a new East Baltimore station.
  by gpp111
One thing that would probably keep CSX from using the Amtrak tunnels is that Amtrak only gives a brief window to freights operating in the Northeast Corridor. CSX wants to develop a double stack lane from New England south to Florida, can't work if you can only run through the tunnels a few hours at night.

The CSX Virginia Avenue tunnel project in DC, a single bore is being replaced by two tunnels that both can handle double stacks. Clearly CSX doesnt want a single track bottleneck and is willing to spend hundreds of millions to eliminate it. This is the reason running over Amtrak isnt a workable solution. CSX wants velocity in the stack lanes.
  by mmi16
Both Howard Street and Virginia Ave. Tunnels were constructed as double track tunnels for the equipment sizes that existed at the time of their construction. However, in the 100+ years since their construction equipment sizes have grown, mostly in height and for that reason both ended up being single tracked to take advantage of the height at the apogee of the tunnels arch.

A single track double stack capable tunnel through Baltimore is less of a bottleneck than double track non-double stack capable tunnel is. The entire line from control point HB to control point Clifton Park is all single track with a short passing siding between control point Mount Royal and control point Huntingdon Avenue as this line segment has multiple tunnels and overpasses for various streets and highways. It is probably not economically feasible to double track from HB to Clifton Park, secondly the rest of the Philadelphia Sub is currently a single track railroad, as it has been since the B&O ended passenger service to New York in 1958 and the installation of CTC in 1961. Double track from Clifton Park to Rossvile exists to facilitate movement of trains in conjunction with the operation of Bayview Yard.