• Car Float Down for Repairs

  • 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 riffian
Sounds to me like he is getting his ducks in a row to abandon barge service.
  by Sand Box John
There is a story that covers this from a different angle in the 10 29 2009 issue of the Eastern Shore Post (9.85 MB PDF file) page 1 and 13.


Sidelined Carfloat Threatens Chunk of Shore Economy

By Linda Cicoira
About 40 workers or 20 percent of the staff at Bayshore Concrete Products Corporation in Cape Charles could lose their jobs if Bay Coast Railroad (BCRR) doesn’t come up with the money to fix its carfloat operation.

"We’ve always done everything possible to keep the railroad going," said Johnny Williams, vice president of Bayshore. "Now we need them to help us."

"We have to truck all of our cement in," said Williams. "We pay a premium." In addition to the fuel surcharge and toll costs, "each rail car equals four trucks." At 200 cars a year, that equals 800 trucks, he
added. "It’s a much higher cost per ton of cement by truck."

When "you have to charge more for your product, " other companies "have a competitive advantage," Williams said. He explained that the company has tried bypassing the use of the barge. "They get hung up in Washington — the Potomac yard. They go to Pocomoke to pick up. It’s the timeframe. It’s so long we have to fill in with our trucks."

The most serious problem is transporting spent nuclear fuel storage containers out, Williams said. Without barge service, "the customer is talking about taking their business elsewhere. They could pull the contract. You’ve got to always be competitive in this business."

Bay Coast Railroad discontinued its carfloat operation to the Eastern Shore in June. Since then, businesses and officials have wondered why the situation hasn’t been remedied.

"Why hasn’t the railroad operator stepped forward?" said Richard Tankard, chairman of the Accomack-Northampton Transportation District Commission (ANTDC). "The discussion needs to go that way." Larry LeMond, manager of Bay Coast Railroad, said Tuesday it’s all about money.

While the state put up $700,000 toward the $1 million in repairs, "we’re looking for other funding to cover" the $300,000 match.

. . . .

"The marine link between Little Creek and Cape Charles is important to local manufacturing like Bayshore Concrete who must ship oversized components that do not fit safely on the roadways," wrote Tankard. "The carfloat enables companies … to be competitive in the global marketplace."


A couple of months ago I saw a 30 plus car train of flats loaded with over sized precast concrete units heading north through Salisbury.

As to the issue with cement loads being floated from the west, Wouldn't still be cheaper to ship them around the long way through Newark Delaware?
  by RailVet
Northampton County agrees to seek $1M in state aid for railroad

The Northampton Board of Supervisors on Friday (11/13) agreed to seek state aid for $1 million in repairs to the Bay Coast Railroad car float that has been out of service since June when critical structural problems were discovered during an inspection.

The car float provides marine service between the railroad’s yard at Little Creek in Norfolk and the Shore.

Though funds are expected to be available, the question for the board last week was who would pay back a local loan portion of $300,000.

Supervisors proposed that the two counties take on the debt, contingent upon receiving state funds and Accomack’s agreement, and that the railroad operator would pay back $100,000 of that amount equally to the two counties from revenues anticipated over 10 years.

Bay Coast representatives were present and supported the proposal.

Funds sought through rail preservation funds under the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation would provide 70 percent of the total estimated cost of repairs as a grant while the other 30 percent would come in the form of a local match.

That amount would be provided through a revolving loan fund of the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission, but County Administrator Katie Nunez asked the board who would be responsible for repayment — the two counties or Bay Coast Railroad, which has 26 years remaining on a 30-year lease operating agreement.

Supervisor Richard Tankard, who chairs the two-county transportation commission, said he and Accomack Chairman Steve Mallette met a week earlier with Bay Coast representatives, including Vice President Larry LeMond, parent-company founder Dickie Foster and chief executive Oral Lambert.

“Their statement makes their position clear,” he said of a document submitted to the board by Lambert and LeMond, both of whom were present.

“The railroad does not have funds to invest in the repair of the car float,” it stated. “In fact, the carfloat operations require heavy subsidies as the number of cars floated do not produce sufficient revenue to cover the costs of operations.”

Ceri Larson Danes/The Daily Times, November 16, 2009
  by Railman1396
I'm not surprised they don't want to fix it, they hardly move the freight to pay for the float.

If they could snag some of that traffic off the congested Richmond, Washington, Baltimore route, they could be making a good living.

Shame, it seems the operator just wants to 'play trains' with his Edwards motorcar instead of operating a successful railroad business.
  by Aardvark
I've visited this line quite a few times over the past couple of years. There's been a lot of work done on this line since the new owners have taken over. At least in sections it looks better than it used to with new ties and new signal equipment at crossings. If this is the owner's way of playing, I say have at it. Any improvement is better than letting the line rot.

Also, to send loads north once BCR gets the loads to NS at Pocomoke it takes 2 locals to get to Harrington, De where they're sent to Enola, Pa. About 300 miles out of the way vs the carfloat route.

Railman your're right on with your second comment, the original purpose of building the line to Cape Charles was to bypass the Richmond/DC/Baltimore area to link the North and South.
  by Railman1396
I haven't visited the line in a year or more, so maybe I was out of line with my comment about the operator. When I did see it last the physical track seemed to be in horrible shape and going downhill quick. I was referring more to the seeming lack of attempts to really drum up new or even retain current traffic. I believe if they sold themselves right and provided good service, they could start snagging some of that time sensitive freight off the slower routes.
  by riffian
As noted in the original article, the barge operation only operated about once every 10 days in its last year of operation, and then only at about 50% capacity on each trip. This is a money losing operation, with little hope of ever turning around. Marine rail operations are hugely expensive, labor intensive, propositions and that is why there are so few left. If the owner of the Bayshore concrete operation is willing to pay a premium for truck service, it seems to me he should be willing to pay a premium to continue rail service. Its the same old story with money losing rail operations.....the shippers involved think the railroads should lose money so they can continue to have cheap transportation alternatives.
  by riffian
Still talk, but no action....(so far)

The Daily Times

Divided board OKs car float repairs

By Carol Vaughn • Staff Writer • March 20, 2010

ACCOMAC --A sharply divided Accomack County Board of Supervisors voted 5-4 to take on a loan to pay part of the bill to repair the railroad carfloat Nandua, if language in the agreement about who is responsible for its maintenance is "satisfactory."

Supervisor Phil McCaleb made the motion. The agreement is between the companies that operate Bay Coast Railroad and the two counties, Accomack and Northampton, that own the carfloat.

The carfloat ferried rail cars across the Chesapeake Bay before it fell into disrepair.

The state has offered a $700,000 grant to pay the majority of the repair bill, but the counties must agree to pay $100,000 each, which will be funded through a 10-year loan. The railroad also would pay $100,000 under the agreement.

"The big issue is, is the county going to be liable for any subsequent maintenance" of the carfloat during the loan period, Supervisor Steve Mallette said. He voted against the measure, along with Jack Gray, Ron Wolff and Grayson Chesser.

Mallette said the real value of the railroad, which stretches north to south through Virginia's Eastern Shore, is its other uses as a "utility corridor."

"There's no other long, narrow corridor; you could never build it again," he said.

Chesser said the county got "the short end of the stick" in its agreement with the railroad and said of the carfloat, which has been out of commission for a year, "I see no reason why we can't make out another year without it."

He asked county attorney Mark Taylor to investigate Accomack's obligations to the railroad and give his appraisal of what legal action the county can take if the investigation shows the railroad is liable for maintaining the carfloat.
In Your Voice
  by riffian
Was at Little Creek in late June. the barge is still tied up there, (or was then) rusting away. The longer this drama takes to play out, the chance of service ever resuming becomes more and more remote.
  by riffian
A note on the barge "Nandua" which is currently in shipyard hands being rebuilt.

The steerable, double ended (with deckhouse) barge Captain Edward Richardson was built by the New York Shipbuilding Company at their Camden, NJ yard in 1948 for the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The original deckhouse was lost in a storm and a new one fitted. That deckhouse is currently sitting on the ground at Cape Charles and was utilized by the Eastern Shore Railway as the Cape Charles yard office. There is still a sign affixed to that effect.

In the mid-80's the barge was rebuilt without rudders (at both ends) and the deckhouse removed so that it was no longer manned and steerable. It remains in that condition today.

Information from the Cape Charles Historic Museum.
  by riffian
From the Eastern Shore of Virginia Community Development Agency newsletter:

"9/28/2010 The Car Float Barge "Nandua" is at 30% construction completion. Workers have noted she is in better shape than originally expected."
Flying into Norfolk airport last week , on final approach from the southwest there appeared to be the Nandua in a shipyard on the Elizabeth river, just east of the NS lift bridge - unless there is another large carfloat at that location, I believe that is where it is currently located.

Can anyone confirm this? I am a weekly flyer, I'll try to get a photo next time, we usually approach from out over the bay to Norfolk, I've gotten good photos of the carfloat at Little Creek this way in the past.