The deal with the 205/206 and 22K/23K changes taking place when they did mainly stems from forced changes on the part of Canadian Pacific. Under original Trackage/Haulage Rights agreements dating back to 1998 and 2002 respectfully between CP and NS on the D&H operations, it was agreed to NOT run mixed NS Auto/Intermodal trains on the D&H. If NS was going to run Autoracks, they had to be in a seperate unit train and the same went for Intermodal. Because NS had no Auto business prior to the PAS venture running on the D&H, it wasn't a problem for years. But then once they got involved with PAR, the auto business came and they were given a bunch of "temporary ok's" by CP to run the autos mixed in on 22/23K and 205/206 UNTIL Mechanicville opened, then at that point they would have to be seperated under the agreement.
Well things kept getting delayed and delayed and delayed with NS getting Mechanicville up and running and when it finally happened, NS continued running the mixed trains eventhough it was against original CP/NS agreements. It was looked at as "no big deal" under the old regime (Fred Green) at CP, but when the new regime came in (Hunter Harrison) they found it to be unacceptable that NS was breaking signed agreements (from what I was told it was also looked at as a bargaining chip for CP on future CP business plans utilizing NS trackage as well). Eventually CP's patience with the mixed trains wore thin and EHH stated that at the beginning of 2013, the Autos and Intermodal HAD to be seperated and run in unit train form on the D&H. This forced NS's hand to make changes to the 22/23K and 205/206 on the D&H. Essentially it is mandated by signed contract that 205/206 be autos only and 22/23K be Intermodal. I figure because they were making these changes anyway that NS just decided it was the right time to begin running the long anticipated second pair of trains to and from Ayer. Of course PAR/PAS wasn't quite ready crew wise, so things are a bit tight on manpower on D3 at the moment from what I was told.
So after that long story (maybe more than many wanted to know), the bottom the line is the 205/206 only have to be Auto's only when on the D&H. Otherwise they could be mixed. I know 205/206 handle NS Taylor, PA Intermodal b/w Buffalo and Binghamton and do setout/pickups in Binghamton of that traffic and then from what I was told 205/206 are also handling overflow intermodals to and from Mechanicville on the PAS as well. Any intermodal traffic out of Mechanicville heading towards CP is doubled onto 22/23K however.
Ok I'm done rambling now! I just figured everybody may have wanted to know the background with all of these changes, as on the surface they appeared to come out of nowhere...
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