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EASTERN RAILROAD NEWS
Last Updated 3/18/98 17:15 PM

WANTED: Persons interested in contributing reliable news. We are looking to put together a coverage area that encompasses all states and Canadian Provinces east of the Mississippi River (or equivalent in Canada). We already have some individuals who have expressed interest in certain area's, however we can use as many sources as we can round up. This is a free service, and you will receive credit for whatever you send along. We are providing this service for various magazine columnist's and other sources to review and gather pertinent news. If you would like to part of our newly established team, e-mail Kevin Burkholder at KBurkholder@psghs.edu

Last night, CSX sent 26 loaded welded rail cars and 2 support cars north from Hagerstown, MD. The train is destined to Selkirk, NY, but not before being inspected at the Lucknow Rail Welding plant in Harrisburg, PA. After successful inspection, Conrail will add a "threader" car, and the train will be routed to Selkirk. RAI-102 arrived in Harrisburg with CSXT 8417 at 22:30 ET. - Kevin Burkholder

In a late effort to keep the Bethlehem coke works from closing, Steelworkers have asked anarbitrator to intervene.

He will consider whether Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s plans to shut down the works and buy cokefrom outside the company violate its union contract, union officials said Tuesday.

The Steelworkers local in Bethlehem filed a grievance with the company soon after BethlehemSteel announced that it would close the 800-employee division at the end of this month. Anarbitrator is scheduled to hear the union's case at meetings in Bethlehem Thursday and Friday,said Tom Jones, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 2599.

Speed is important. The company plans to begin taking coke from the ovens for the last time March 22, Jones said. But the ovens are designed to stay hot constantly; if they cool,brick inside will collapse, leaving the ovens useless.

The union will ask the arbitrator to rule quickly or force the company to keep the ovensoperating while he makes his decision.

Bethlehem Steel confirmed Tuesday that an arbitration hearing about the coke works isscheduled for later this week, but would not comment further on the union's action. ''We willhave nothing further to say on this matter until we have a decision,'' a statement from thecompany read.

The union says the company shouldn't fire its own workers just to buy coke from outsidesources. Though the company has bought coke from other companies -- and from overseas -- for years, Jones said it never had to. Coke ovens at Bethlehem, Lackawanna and Burns Harbor wouldsufffice, he said.

"We are saying they don't have a right to contract out our work," Jones said. "It's acontracting issue. We can perform the work, and cost is not the issue.

"It's our work," Jones added.

But Bethlehem Steel has said cost is the issue. Though the company has never quantifiedthe division's losses, it has said the division lost ''millions'' of dollars in 1997 and wouldlose millions in 1998, if it stayed open.

The company also reiterated in its statement Tuesday that it had tried to find afinancially able, experienced buyer for the division. But, despite tours from five differentgroups, no buyer made an offer.

Coke is a key ingredient in ironmaking. It is made from coal baked at high temperatures.But steel companies are increasingly closing their coke batteries in favor of othertechnologies or imported coke.

Steelworkers protested when LTV Corp. said in July 1997 that it would close its Pittsburghcoke plant. There, the union had a specific agreement that allowed it to protest the closing,but the company prevailed after an agreement to "explore the serious possibility" oflocating an entirely new coke plant there.

The Steelworkers at Bethlehem do not have the same side agreement that the workers at LTVhad, Jones said. But, he added, the contracts of all Steelworkers are created from the samebasic pattern.

"The language is all basically the same," he said.-Carl Perelman


A pair of Duluth Minnesota & Iron Range (DM&IR) SD-M's (SD9 carbody) are currently being utilized by Conrail in various service. SDM 322 was reported as working out of Elkhart, IN and Toleodo, OH on Conrail train ELTO/TOEL. DM&IR 322 was assigned to the WICW-19 local out of Pittsburgh's Conway yard yesterday. The unit remains in the Pittsburgh area on Conrail. Sister unit DM&IR SD-M 318 also made a cameo appearance earlier this week, on Conrail train ZSR-72W, a taconite train destined to the Thompson Works south of Pittsburgh, PA. -CRTS E-mail Update, Various Sighting Reports

WASHINGTON, March 12, 1998 -- Thanks to sharp increases in loadings of coal, motor vehicles and metals, freight traffic on U.S. railroads during the week ended March 7 was up from the comparable week last year, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported today.

Carload freight showed a 2.1 percent gain, reaching 350,057 carloads, with loadings up 3.2 percent in the East and 2.7 percent in the West.

Intermodal volume, which is not included in the carload figures, totaled 165,227 trailers and containers, up 2.9 percent from last year. Total volume was estimated at 27.5 billion ton-miles, up 3.8 percent from the corresponding 1997 week.

Loadings of metals and products rose 13.7 percent from last year, while automotive volume advanced 9.8 percent, and coal loadings were up 8.4 percent. Grain volume was off 7.1 percent from last year while loadings of metallic ores declined 19.5 percent.

The AAR also reported the following cumulative figures for the first 9 weeks of 1998 on U.S. railroads: 3,126,789 carloads, up 2.9 percent from last year; 1,465,171 trailers and containers, up 1.2 percent; and total volume of 244.9 billion ton-miles, up 3.8 percent from 1997's first nine weeks.

Railroads reporting to AAR account for nearly 93 percent of U.S. carload freight and 98 percent of rail intermodal volume. Railroads provide about 40 percent of the nation's inter-city freight transportation, more than any other mode, and rail traffic figures are regarded as an important economic indicator.

The AAR also reported that intermodal traffic was up but carload freight was down during the week ended March 7 on Canada's two nationwide railroads. Canadian carload volume totaled 54,867 units, down 3.2 percent from last year. Intermodal volume totaled 26,874 trailers and containers, up 6.9 percent from the comparable 1997-week.

Cumulative volume for the first 9 weeks of 1998 on the Canadian railroads totaled 490,790 carloads, up 4.7 percent from last year, and 221,181 trailers and containers, up 3.1 percent from last year. Combined cumulative volume for 9 weeks of 1998 on 19 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads totaled 3,617,579 carloads, up 3.2 percent from last year's first 9 weeks, and 1,686,952 trailers and containers, up 1.4 percent from last year.

AAR is the world's leading railroad policy, research and technology organization focusing on increasing the safety and productivity of rail carriers. -CRTS E-mail Update


For those of you who are interested in the former PRR mainline to Detroit, I have good news for you. Currently Conrail is operating this line as basically a stub ended spur that is 20 miles long. On this line, Conrail serves a Ford parts distribution warehouse, a junk yard and a Guardian Glass plant. There might be more industries on this line, but not many. The original line stretches from Detroit where the PRR reached Fort Street Station. The line proceeded south on the Union Belt RR which was jointly owned by the Pere Marquette, PRR, and the Wabash. Continuing south, the line passed through Delray interlocking, wherever major railroad in Detroit crossed except for the Grand Trunk. After Delray, but before the line crosses the Rouge River, the Pennsy line's Foreman Wye came into the Union Belt. Foreman Wye is still a major link and I'll explain later. Once the line crosses the Rouge River, now on Wabash trackage, it crosses the ex-NYC YD branch. The line continues south to the East Side of Wabash's Oakwood yard where the PRR heads due south from there. This spot is where their "major" yard was in the Detroit area. It really was never a major yard at all compared to the other railroads around Detroit. After Lincon yard, the line went through the communities of Lincoln Park, Southgate, Taylor, Brownstown, and finally Carleton where the line connected to the C&O. The line then took the C&O to Toledo and connected with the AA to get to home rails again. Currently the line does not see traffic on the southern part of the line. The glass plant in the as far south as it goes but the line was still intact to the C&O but the interlocking had been pulled. I think maybe when the Staggers Act was passed and traffic was no longer required to run on this line.

Anyway, currently there are two jobs that run this line, a Ford turn and the glass plant turn which also serves the Ford plant and the junk yard. To get to this line, Conrail takes the YD branch from River Rouge yard to where it crosses the ex-Prr and then switches over to the branch. Now for the good news, with the recent merger plans, CSX has decided that this line will help cut the transit times from Detroit to Toledo by at least two hours or more. Currently the Forman Wye is used as an interchange track between the CSX and NS, but it will soon be used as the CSX's main to Toledo. So for the past two months, crews have been working along this line at a steady pace to get it ready for the load of traffic that will traverse this line. South of the glass plant, they have used a Jordan Spreader to clear the many years of vegetation. They have put down new ballast and have panel track next to the C&O in Carleton. They are ready to put new ties in on the whole line and soon will reinstall the interlock in on the C&O. Over the past weekend they even had an SD50 deliver more ballast. This line probably has not seen a six-axle unit since the early eighties. Current power assigned is the array of four axle power with the main units being GP-15's. Under my examination, I would say that CSX will be running mainline trains on the Lincoln Branch by May. For a detailed look at the way it used to be before the interlocking was pulled, there is an unofficial track diagram of it on the PC web page under MAPS. Sorry for the long story but I wanted everybody to get the picture. -From Conrail-Talk report from Mark


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