• Morgantown/Chalk Point Coal

  • 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 Trackbolt
 
Has anyone heard any news about the coal barge unloader construction in the river at Mirant's Morgantown Plant? Has it begun and will it doom the Pope's Creek Secondary? I have not been down that way in a while to see. I do however pass through the south end of the Benning Yard in DC a couple of times per week. There are always a couple of loaded or empty coal trains there. One thing for sure, Benning is getting lots of new ties and there are three new contol point cabinets installed there. There is a new building there that CSX has occupied a few months ago. Lots of Maintenance of way Equipment. If Morgantown and Chalk Point ever stop getting coal from CSX via rail that will wipe just about all of the work for Benning.

Thanks

Trackbolt
  by therock
 
Trackbolt wrote: One thing for sure, Benning is getting lots of new ties and there are three new contol point cabinets installed there. There is a new building there that CSX has occupied a few months ago. Lots of Maintenance of way Equipment. If Morgantown and Chalk Point ever stop getting coal from CSX via rail that will wipe just about all of the work for Benning.

Thanks

Trackbolt

The new track/switches/bungalows are for a physical realignment of the plant at CP-Anacostia. The track will be realigned to make movements to/from the ex-B&O straigher & faster, and make moves into the yard as diverging. The result will be 2 main tracks extended from Shepherd Jct. to Anacostia.

  by Aa3rt
 
An article appeared in yesterday's (Thursday, Feb. 16th) Washington Post, in the Southern Maryland section, relating to this question.

The article was titled "Mirant Plan Would Send Coal Up the Potomac".

According to the article about 2.5 million tons of coal are received at the Morgantown plant via rail each year. However, Mirant plans to start using cheaper, less polluting South American coal. The Charles County (MD) commisioners visited the plant on Tuesday (14th). No construction has begun yet. Mirant plans to file for the necessary permits in the next 60-90 days with the pier for receiving barges tentatively scheduled to start operation in late 2008.

Plans are for 180-250 coal barges per year to be received. Each barge has a capacity of approximately 14,000 tons of coal. Currently the Morgantown plant burns about 10,000 tons of coal per day.

According to Mirant officials, the pier would eliminate approximately 300 trains a year from passing through La Plata. CSX is, of course, opposed to any barge operations, stating that the loss of revenue could result in the abandonment of the lines to Chalk Point and Morgantown, which could also adversely affect other local businesses who receive traffic by rail.

For more on the Pope's Creek subdivision:

http://www.traingod.railfan.net

Link to the Washington Post (requires registration):

http://www.washingtonpost.com

BTW-Mirant is currently mixing asphalt with coal at Morgantown and then sending some of this mixture (referred to as "synfuel") to Chalk Point with the synfuel trains utilizing the southern leg of the wye in Brandywine (Prince George's County).

  by Trackbolt
 
That is too bad about the barge business. I am going to miss all of the activity at Benning. I work near there. Saw a 800 series diesel there last week CSX's "Spirit of Benning" Once all that coal is gone there is not much else. As for the Popes Creek Branch there is not much business there either once the coal is gone.
BTW Shemp Howard...Cool. I dug the Stooges since the first time I watched them in the early 60's on channel five in DC. Got every short and a couple of Ted Healy features.

Thanks

Trackbolt
  by Aa3rt
 
Trackbolt-currently there are four other businesses receiving traffic (that I am aware of) on the Pope's Creek line. Chopp Lumber and The Ink Company in Waldorf, 84 Lumber in White Plains and a large gravel operation just north of La Plata. There is a local that currently runs twice a week serving the first three businesses and there is also a thrice weekly gravel train that serves the gravel operation in La Plata. In fact, this operation just started last fall (2005) and required the building of a new siding. The gravel operation has it's own switcher (a GP-7 or GP-9) that can be seen from Rosewick Road, parked near this operations' office building, when not in use.

It's pointless for me to speculate, of course, but I can't see CSX just pulling up the rails. Possibly they'd sell this line off to a shortline operator if they don't keep it themselves.

Additionally, with the ever increasing population boom here in southern Maryland (over 100,000 people in Charles County in the last 10 years), and accompanying traffic gridlock, there has been talk of commuter rail service. Of course this was being talked about in 1980 so I don't expect to see anything develop before I retire, but it is a remote possibility.

This line also connects with the now dormant US Navy line that runs to the NSWC (Naval Surface Warfare Center) in Indian Head. There are still six ex-Long Island coaches sitting in the 3-track Navy interchange yard in White Plains, visible from Rte. 301, remenants of the short lived "Indian Head Central" scenic railroad/dinner train.

Yes, I love the Stooges (much to my wife's chagrin) and Shemp was my favorite. Glad someone else finds it amusing.

  by CBRy
 
I have an article that reads similar to the one posted here, but it
also says that Mirant will receive coal at Morgantown and will ship
coal FROM Morgantown to Chalk Point. I'm assuming that will be by
rail since the two plants are connected by rail. Possibly the rail line
will be wholly owned by Mirant and operated as a Short Line? The
article didn't elaborate on this.Maybe some of you Southern Marylanders
out there might know.

BTW...The line going from Brandywine JCT to Chalk Point is construct-
ed from the old Southern Maryland Railroad (Washington, Brandywine &
Point Lookout RR) as far as Hughesville MD. The old line used to go
as far as Mechanicsville MD and was then taken over and extended
to PaxRiver NAS during WW2.

I have a few pictures of locos and rolling stock from W,B&PtL days,
but don't know how to post them here.

Also have some pics of USN locos and rolling stock at PaxRiver NAS
during WW2. They had an extensive steam roster there from 0-4-0
switchers to 2-8-0 road locos! Bunches of rolling stock of all kinds!
Later went to Baldwin diesels that have only recently been sent to
the scrappers after leading lives after PaxRiver at other locations!

W,B&PtL had many different types of motive power as well. 4-4-0s,
2-6-0s and even a Mack Railbus and a FWD Doodlebug! Have pics
(VERY old) of all of these.

  by gprimr1
 
If that is the line that runs through Croom and Upper Marlboro, I couldn't see it as a commute rail. It is only a single track in and through Upper Marlboro.

  by CBRy
 
Actually MARC runs trains almost down to Marlboro. Also in the
1980s there was a proposal to start up a privately owned rail
commuter service on the Morgantown line from LaPlata to DC
with stops along the way. This was during the gas crunch of the
80s. I have a copy of the prospectus written by the person who
was spearheading this. My second wife (the best one) knew this
man personally through her first husband. (We all know each
other) :P Anyhoo... The venture failed due to political problems
from Southern Maryland which caused a loss of matching funds
from the Feds, therefore the whole thing fell apart. The concept
was sound, however. Also MD gov't has looked at this route as
a possible commuter corridor in the future so I wouldn't write the
line off as dead yet.

  by Aa3rt
 
CBRy wrote:Actually MARC runs trains almost down to Marlboro. Also in the 1980s there was a proposal to start up a privately owned rail
commuter service on the Morgantown line from LaPlata to DC with stops along the way. This was during the gas crunch of the 80s. I have a copy of the prospectus written by the person who was spearheading this. My second wife (the best one) knew this man personally through her first husband. (We all know each other) :P Anyhoo... The venture failed due to political problems from Southern Maryland which caused a loss of matching funds from the Feds, therefore the whole thing fell apart. The concept was sound, however. Also MD gov't has looked at this route as
a possible commuter corridor in the future so I wouldn't write the line off as dead yet.
I remember very well the announcement that appeared in the two local newspapers (the "Maryland Independent" and the now-defunct "La Plata Times-Crescent") announcing the "Southern Maryland Railroad Company", possibly back in 1980 and 1981. You're correct, this was soon after that phony "gasoline shortage" of 1979. There was even a herald for the railroad that appeared in both papers with the profile of an "E" or "F" unit in the center. The line joins the Northeast Corridor in Bowie. I only wonder how much longer the ride from southern Maryland to DC will take considering the 19 mile "backtrack" from Bowie to DC. For anyone familiar with the population explosion and attendant traffic problems in the southern Maryland region, using this line for commuter service would make sense, which is why it will probably never be implemented by the State of Maryland.

  by CBRy
 
Art;

If you are interested, I could bring that prospectus with me to that
event you messaged me about later this month.

As for the roundabout route, it would still be quicker than a commute
by auto. I can testify to that first hand! I used to commute from
Lusby to the Navy Yard before retiring!

Also...from the wayback files...There was a proposal to bring a
light rail line down the center of Route 4 about 30 years ago ala
Metro-style using the center median. Not possible now due to all
the development along the Route 4 corridor and congestion from
feeder roads and intersections. Also the new bridge at Route 4
and Route 260 follows the old Chesapeake Beach Ry bridge line
through the lowlands. It even lines up with the old ROW!