Posts Tagged ‘CSX’

Gulf Coast Service Expected to Start in 2023

December 19, 2022

Amtrak’s proposed service along the Gulf Coast is expected to launch next year although no date has been set.

News reports indicated the details of an agreement between Amtrak and its host railroads that will pave the way for the twice-daily service to begin remain confidential.

What is known is that Amtrak will pay for the creation of a station in Mobile, Alabama, the eastern terminus of the route. CSX is expected to pay to build a station track in Mobile so passenger trains are not blocking traffic on the mainline.

Amtrak wants to operate between New Orleans and Mobile on a route once used by the tri-weekly Sunset Limited.

The route will use tracks of Norfolk Southern and CSX with most of the route being on track of the latter. It is not yet clear if Amtrak plans to operate one a day or twice a day when it begins service next year between New Orleans and Mobile.

In a related development, the Southern Rail Commission is seeking a $179 million federal grant that would pay for part of the instructure work needed for the New Orleans-Mobile route to host passenger service.

The funds would come from the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement fund.

CSX is expected to pay almost $10 million toward matching the grant while the Alabama State Port Authority will contribute $750,000 and Amtrak will pay $6 million.

Grant funds will be used to pay for infrastructure work in 12 areas and include new switches and turnovers, siding extensions, crossovers, and station, yard, and crossing work.

That work is expected to take until 2026 to complete but Amtrak expects to be able to operate on the route during that time.

Once the infrastructure work is completed, the travel time between New Orleans and Mobile is expected to be 2 hours, 23 minutes.

Grant Sought for Mass. Rail Expansion

December 9, 2022

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Amtrak, and CSX are seeking $108 million in federal grants to rebuild a line in the state between Springfield and Worcester.

The work would be part of the East-West Rail project, which seeks to boost Amtrak service on the route by two daily roundtrips between Boston and Springfield.

Current service on the line includes the Chicago-Boston Lake Shore Limited.

The rehabilitation would raise the top speed between Springfield and Worcester to 80 miles per hour.

MassDOT will contribute an additional $18 million and Amtrak will add $9 million toward the project.

The grant is being sought from the federal Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grant program.

Gulf Coast Case Settlement Reported

November 29, 2022

Amtrak, CSX and Norfolk Southern told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board last week that they have reached an agreement that would allow new passenger service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

The announcement came in the form of a motion asking the STB to hold in abeyance hearings regulators had set for Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in the case.

Amtrak brought the case in 2021 when it asked the STB to order NS and CSX to host the proposed double-daily service.

The host railroads had demanded infrastructure improvements that Amtrak considers excessive. Hearings were held earlier this year.

Also a party to the case is the Port of Mobile, which has expressed concern that the proposed Amtrak service would interfere with freight rail operations to the port.

Thus far the terms of the agreement have not yet been revealed nor has a date been set for when the service would commence.

The filing with the STB said, “The Parties have agreed to settlement terms that, when fully implemented, will lead to a complete resolution of this proceeding.”

The parties said they considered the settlement to be confidential and they would not comment upon it for the time being.

Earlier attempts to resolve the case through mediation had failed.

STB Delays Gulf Coast Case Final Hearings

November 11, 2022

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has agreed to postpone final hearings in the Gulf Coast case.

Regulators acted after the parties to the case told the Board there was a “substantial probability” of reaching a settlement through arbitration.

The case was brought by Amtrak against CSX and Norfolk Southern in an effort to obtain an STB order directing those railroads to host double-daily new passenger service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

The sticking point has been infrastructure improvements the host railroads have demanded that Amtrak has described as exorbitant and unneeded.

The case has focused on whether the addition of passenger service would unduly interfere with the host railroads freight operations.

The STB had been scheduled to conduct hearings late this month and to hold a conference in early December with the goal of reaching a decision in the case.

Instead, regulators directed the parties in the case, which also includes the Alabama State Port Authority, to provide a status report by Nov. 21 on their negotiations.

If a settlement is not reached, the STB said it would conduct hearings via Zoom on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and hold a conference on Dec. 7.

The parties in the case said if a final hearing is held they do not plan to call witnesses but instead will make their final arguments.

STB Grants Additional Mediation in Gulf Coast Case

November 3, 2022

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has agreed to give the parties in the Gulf Coast case additional time in mediation.

The STB granted the request by Amtrak, CSX, Norfolk Southern and the Alabama State Port Authority to engage in mediation for another month.

The agency had been set to hold hearings on the case in mid-November and issue a decision by early December.

In its order, the STB said it still plans to hold the hearings as scheduled unless it is notified by the parties by Nov. 10 that they want the hearings to be delayed or cancelled.

The parties would need to show the Board that substantial progress has been made in reaching a settlement in the dispute.

Amtrak is seeking an STB order allowing it to use CSX and Norfolk Southern tracks to launch twice-daily new passenger service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

The two host railroads have demanded what Amtrak considers an exorbitant level of infrastructure improvements before they will agree to host the trains.

The freight carriers have said Amtrak service would disrupt their freight operations without those improvements, an assertion that Amtrak denies.

If the hearings are not held as planned but no settlement is reached, the STB said it would conduct the hearings on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

The STB held 11 days of hearings in the case earlier this year.

Parties Want More Time for Mediation in Gulf Coast Case

November 2, 2022

The soap opera sage along the Gulf Coast added another chapter this week when the parties to the case before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board asked for another month of mediation.

The action followed last week’s STB action in setting hearing dates for the case, which involves Amtrak seeking an STB order to host railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern to allow two daily roundtrips between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

The Mobile service proposal has languished for years, largely due to host railroad demands for multi-million infrastructure improvements that Amtrak has balked at providing.

In recent months the parties in the dispute, which also includes the Alabama State Port Authority, have argued over how Amtrak service would affect freight service on the route.

Amtrak and the host railroads have engaged in STB-sponsored mediation before, but failed to reach an agreement to resolve the dispute.

The STB said last week that it could vote as early as Dec. 7 on resolving the dispute.

But Amtrak, CSX, NS and the port authority want the STB hearings to be delayed while mediation continues. They asked that regulators to stay proceedings in the case until Dec. 1.

The STB had set hearings for Nov. 17-18. However, the parties in the dispute said it would be difficult to conduct mediation and attend those hearings at the same time.

The STB has indicated that its preference is for the parties to settle their differences among themselves rather than have the Board decree a resolution.

Platform Work Begins on Gulf Coast Route

August 8, 2022

Although Amtrak service may still be years away, officials held a ground-breaking ceremony in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, last week to mark the “reactivation” of the city’s passenger station.

Amtrak’s Sunset Limited once stopped here, but that service ended in August 2005 in wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Amtrak has proposed establishing double daily service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, that would serve Bay St. Louis.

The start of that service is uncertain because the passenger carrier is locked in a dispute with host railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern over infrastructure improvements needed to host passenger service.

The dispute is currently before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

In a news release, the Southern Rail Commission said renovation of the Bay St. Louis station will begin soon so that it will be ready for the launch of the Gulf Coast service.

Boarding platforms in Gulfport, Biloxi and Pascagoula also need to be renovated.

“We are doing the platforms that are essential to properly serving our customers all the way across the Gulf Coast,” said Marc Magliari, an Amtrak media relations manager.

Amtrak is paying for the platform renovations. Magliari predicted that the Gulf Coast service would begin around the first of next year.

“We’ve been very public with our position that the Gulf Coast needs this service, the Gulf Coast deserves this service,” Magliari said. “This service is very possible; all we have to do is get some working agreements with the folks that own the tracks.”

STB Orders Mediation in Gulf Coast Case

June 16, 2022

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has ordered that the parties to a dispute over proposed Amtrak service along the Gulf Coast participate in mediation that would be sponsored by the Board.

The order by federal regulators also ordered CSX and Norfolk Southern to provide access to Amtrak representatives to information the two railroads consider to be confidential.

It is the latest development in a case that is more than a year old in which Amtrak has asked federal regulators to order the two Class 1 railroads to host new service Amtrak wants to launch between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

That service has been proposed for years and funding is in place for it, but the freight carriers have been demanding infrastructure improvements that Amtrak contends are unnecessary.

Regulators held public hearings earlier this year and the various parties have been waging a war of filings with the STB.

The confidential information at issue are the results of rail traffic controller studies conducted in 2020 and 2021.

Amtrak wants access to materials created during those studies to it can, in its view, better respond to evidence introduced by CSX and NS during the proceedings as to the effects that introduction of intercity passenger service would have on their freight operations.

STB members raised questions about some of that evidence during the hearings.

NCDOT to Update Wilmington Passenger Study

June 9, 2022

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said it will update this year a feasibility study for passenger rail service in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The study, known as the Southeastern North Carolina Passenger Rail Study, focuses the potential for rail passenger service between Wilmington and Raleigh.

Two routes are being considered for the service, include the CSX AC-Line via Goldsboro, and a route via Fayetteville and the CSX A-Line.

The updated report will review cost estimates, ridership forecasts and other considerations for future planning.

The updated study is expected to be completed by late this year.

Amtrak currently serves Raleigh and Fayetteville but there is no rail passenger service to Wilmington.

STB Gulf Coast Case Hearings Resume Monday

May 8, 2022

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board will resume its hearings in the Gulf Coast Case on Monday and Wednesday.

The hearings began last month and involves Amtrak trying to get federal regulators to give it access to tracks of CSX and Norfolk Southern for proposed double-daily service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

CSX and NS have demand that Amtrak made infrastructure improvements before agreeing to host the trains. Amtrak has balked at the scope of those improvements.