• CSX Boston and Albany Line

  • 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 johnpbarlow
 
Apparently Loran LMIX-613, a two unit specialty rail grinder (ie, grinds switches at interlockings) ran into the DPU on the marker of a stopped Q426 eb manifest around Spencer. No major track damage as trains (eg Q205 and Q427) are running here this morning. But apparently Loram crew had minor injuries.
  by QB 52.32
 
Since the start of the new year B&A auto traffic had initially run in the 30-60 daily autorack range half the time with an even split above and below-range variability, and as time has gone on become more consistent and generally on the upper end and above that range. There's even been 108, 99 and 97-autorack Q264's in the mix and at least a day when the train did not run. Intermodal has been relatively strong, especially the short-haul east coast port , e-commerce-driven, and temperature-controlled traffic, with post-PSR-adoption energy traffic in the form of ethanol and coal also in the picture.

On the new traffic front, CSX is handling all of the P&W wine business and recently-acquired Quality Carriers is moving some intermodal traffic over the Springfield ramp, among other lanes, as part of the strategic growth plan associated with that acquisition. It's also my understanding that a few containers off the first post-Panamax vessel Ever Fortune call in Boston were handled to the Midwest over the Worcester ramp for a different twist.

In the long history of Inland Route passenger service on the B&A as well as B&A vs. B&M competing east-west through routes, and moving forward, besides STB-regulated trackage rights for the proposed shift of an NS PAS auto/intermodal train pair over to the B&A with a 9,000' train-length limitation, of some significance CSX has agreed to Amtrak's condition in its bid for PAR/.5 PAS that the East-West Passenger Rail project will be evaluated at a level "no greater than the level forecast by CSX in their [PAR merger] application". Moving forward from a deal consummation with this adopted condition and constraint, additional B&A freight trains generated by new business or further shift of traffic off PAS would have to be slotted around what will become of the B&A with East-West passenger rail or otherwise be funded by CSX capital capacity expansion, with 8-18 passenger trains running at some higher MAS between Springfield and Worcester.
  by BobbyT
 
Thinking CSX will almost certainly need to double track Worcester to Springfield if they end up running all those passenger trains in addition to more freights resulting from the Pan Am acquisition.
  by jaymac
 
...especially if the Commonwealth pays for it and/or there's another Federal stimulus package.
Existing sidings are incompatible with PSR, ditto putting in intermediate crossovers as a way of building mixed-use capacity.
  by QB 52.32
 
To the extent of funding at the least from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law this past Fall, planning, and ability to overcome the Baker administration's on-going foot on the brake, at the upper end of passenger train MAS into high-speed territory, if not only full passenger train density, simply replacing the 2nd main and adding appropriately-spaced high-speed universal crossovers and triple tracking where and/or if necessary Springfield-Worcester next 5-25 years might be the least of it with things getting interesting.

On the B&A auto business front, interestingly, movement of traffic for the P&W began last week whether new or a short or long term shift from NS and/or off PAS. An early 2022 ~60/40-50/50 traffic split vs. PAS, since then looks to have disappeared with CSX dominating, whether with longer-term consequence or shorter-term expected duration resulting from NS/PAS service issues. Total volume exceeded 110 autoracks yesterday.

On the intermodal side, LTL carrier ABF has been consistently moving 28-foot pups westbound during the past couple of weeks, which might indicate empty re-positioning or a logistics move, if not linehaul.
  by johnpbarlow
 
Here's a photo of Q426 preparing to set out its P&W block containing 2 auto racks at CP-45 Worcester on Friday March 25, 2022. On a couple of occasions in the past week, I've also watched Q426 pass the Palmer, MA live cam with auto racks head out (eg, 9 racks on the most recent Q426 heading for Worcester in the wee hours of Saturday 4/2/22.)
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  by QB 52.32
 
Somewhere around a dozen+ autoracks originating out of the Carolinas on Q424 yesterday. At the moment B&A auto traffic is "booming", though likely across underlying reasons that might impact its extent and duration.
  by NHV 669
 
Q264 cleared Palmer about 10 minutes ago with 117 +/- racks.
  by F74265A
 
Much of this could have been avoided if Conrail had just left the double iron on the B&A in the 1990s. I always thought it was stupid to pull it out.
  by QB 52.32
 
Single tracking the B&A with an updated traffic control system was long planned starting back to New York Central ownership.

It made sense, was necessary, and was done in the 1980's. The proof is in the pudding in that only after ~35 years later with the introduction of a large-scale public passenger project are additional track-miles required.

No for-profit company could have justified the kind of capital expense that was necessary in upgrading Conrail's B&A without acting upon eliminating the available unnecessary, unproductive 1/3 of expensive long-term assets - it was anything but "stupid".
  by taracer
 
The cab signals are a huge improvement over the old ABS 251 that was in place until the late 80's, and the line is easily capable of handling many more trains. When I hired 20 years ago out there were at least twice as many trains compared to today. The MBTA's plans are ambitious and will require more track, but the old 251 wouldn't be able to handle it either.

It's a management issue causing most problems now. Trip optimizer runs nearly every train well below track speed. I remember pre TO, when you would get in trouble for that. They would ask you why it took so long to get from Palmer to Worcester for example. They would download the engine and if they saw you weren't running track speed without reason you would get in trouble.
  by Tallguy
 
What are the 8 CSX and 2 NS trains running on the B&A and when do they normally go through Palmer? Thanks.
  by NHV 669
 
NS isn't running anything on the B&A..... the work hasn't even started to rebuild the connection for them to access it.

11 different trains have passed the Chester camera today, some of those terminate in Springfield. Depends on who gets track priority, since you have three different railroads working Palmer, and freight doesn't run on a schedule.
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