by Otto Vondrak
As of 10/15/04, CSX turned operation of the lines out of Newark to the Ohio Central System.
OCR already operated over the Newark to Columbus line via the operation of the Columbus & Ohio River, which purchased the ex PRR Columbus-Mingo Jct segment of the Pittsburgh-Columbus Panhandle main line. The PRR operation over the B&O was a trackage-rights operation going back to the late 19th century. It was an odd operation - PRR/PC business was six to ten times that of the B&O's Pittsburgh-Wheeling-Columbus- Cincinnati secondary main. The line was outfitted with PRR amber position-light sign signals on overhead bridges, and reeked of a Pennsy main. Yet, the line was owned and dispatched by the B&O.
Toward the end, CSX dispatched one through freight a day each way (Q314/Q315) from Queensgate Yard in Cincinnati to Newark. Q314 would drop blocks in Washington Court House, East Columbus, and then proceed to Newark. Locals were dispatched in all three directions out of Newark, although not all them operated daily.
The line north, which used to extend all the way to Lake Erie at Sandusky, had been cut back to Fredericktown several years ago, and was further cut back to Mount Vernon within the last year. The south line, which used to extend south into the southern Ohio coalfield around Shawnee, has been cut back to local terminal trackage in the Newark area since the Sixties or Seventies. Going east, the former main line to Wheeling was cut back west to Gibson, OH back in the 80's, and then to Cambridge within the last ten years or so.
Of the traffic into Newark ( I would guess 35-50 cars per day), I would guess half was CSX's OCR/CUOH interchange. The line west of Columbus (now operated by the Indiana & Ohio) was much healthier, with 3-4 facilities that loaded or received unit grain & fertilizer trains, plus two locals working a healthy amount of local business out of WCH