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Railfan Hot Rail NewsEdited by the Railfan & Railroad staff
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New Group Seeks to Revive NCStL No. 576
April 26th, 2016

Built by American Locomotive Co. in 1942 for the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis, 4-8-4 No. 576 has been on display in Nashville’s Centennial Park since 1953. Designed in Nashville by the railroad’s chief engineer Clarence M. Darden, the J-3 class locomotives came to be known as “Dixies” on the NC&StL. After more than 60 years of display, No. 576 is now the only surviving NC&StL steam locomotive.

Unfortunately, the ravages of time have taken their toll, with many parts removed or vandalized. The city did pay for installation of a protective cover in the early 2000s, the last major work performed on the locomotive to date. Over the years, volunteers have tried their best to touch up paint and perform other clean up work out of pocket.

The Nashville Steam Preservation Society (NSPS) is a new group of respected railway preservation experts, local business people, and historians interested in the restoration and operation of No. 576. “We are excited about this proposal to help secure locomotive No. 576’s future, and are looking forward to working with Metro Parks, the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, and the Nashville & Eastern Railroad to bring this Nashville icon back to life to educate and operate it for the good citizens of Nashville,” said president Shane Meador of the preservation society.

“The opportunity to ride a steam train out of Riverfront Park could be a much richer experience than the current static observation available in Centennial Park and is worthy of consideration,” said Parks Director Tommy Lynch. If approved by the Park Board, the agreement would next go to Metro Council for approval.

Gary Bensman has experience working on more than 20 steam restoration projects around the country, and is a member of the NSPS board of directors. “Given the condition and disrepair of the locomotive following more than 60 years of being exposed to the elements, this proposal comes at a critical time to ensure the locomotive can be preserved for future generations.”

The Nashville & Eastern Railroad has sent a letter of commitment stating it will allow the restored steam locomotive to run on its tracks. No stranger to passenger trains, N&E operates the Music City Star commuter rail service for Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee. To further support the proposed restoration project, the Tennessee Central Railway Museum has pledged the use of its fleet of restored vintage passenger cars for No. 576 to pull on excursions. Once an agreement is reached with Metro Nashville, the engine will be moved to the TCRM shops for restoration.

NSPS will raise $3 million to cover the entire estimated cost of restoration, towards which it has already garnered pledges of more than $200,000. The locomotive would not be removed from the park until at least $500,000 is raised to pay for the first phase of this extensive rebuild project. More information may be found on the NSPS website www.nashvillesteam.org.

—Railfan & Railroad

CSX Russell terminal to lose 100 jobs
March 16th, 2016

CSX officials announced on Tuesday that more than 100 jobs would be cut from transportation and mechanical departments based in Russell, Ky. More than 400 currently staff the yards and shops at Russell, though the recent decline in the coal industry has affected jobs system-wide. Locomotive shop personnel will not be affected, though cuts will be felt throughout the facility as CSX copes with declining traffic levels.

—Railfan & Railroad

Norfolk Southern combines divisions
January 12th, 2016

Norfolk Southern is consolidating its Virginia and Pocahontas divisions to form the new Pocahontas Division, with headquarters in Roanoke, Va., effective Feb. 1. The new Pocahontas Division will comprise 2,581 route miles, mainly in Virginia and West Virginia, extending from the Port of Virginia to Portsmouth, Ohio, and from Bristol, Va., to Hagerstown, Md.

In a related move, Norfolk Southern is changing traffic patterns and idling parts of its “West Virginia Secondary,” a 253-mile line between Columbus, Ohio, and central West Virginia that has experienced steady declines in business in recent years. This follows the idling of a 33-mile mainline between Elmore and Princeton, W.Va., in September 2015.

—Norfolk Southern Corp.

CP CEO Hunter Harrison Makes His Case for NS Merger
December 8th, 2015

Undaunted by the door-slamming response by the Norfolk Southern board of directors on December 4, Canadian Pacific CEO Hunter Harrison outlined his strong feelings for the proposed union in a spirited conference call with investors on December 8.

Harrison stressed the importance of adding capacity without adding infrastructure, and sees a combination with NS as the solution. He also called for competitive access to major terminals. President Keith Creel lauded CP's successful turnaround that cut costs and increased shipping velocity.

Investor Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management slammed NS CEO Jim Squires on his lack of operational experience, despite being part of the railroad's executive legal and finance team since 1992. "The problems at NS are not legal, they’re not finance, and they’re not administration," Ackman said, "They’re operations, and Jim does not really have an operating background."

A revised proposal was submitted that would reduce the cash offer to NS shareholders, but would increase their share in the new combined company from 41 to 47 percent, according to a report in today's Financial Times. Norfolk Southern CEO Squires said the revised terms were “even more uncertain and risky” than the previous proposal.

While NS currently has the worst operating cost-to-revenue ratio of any of the Class I railroads, Squires remained confident his railroad could turn their fortunes around with their own plan, despite a slumping commodities market. A lack of support from shippers and perceived roadblocks from the Surface Transportation Board are also cited as reasons not to pursue serious merger talks with CP.

—Railfan & Railroad

NS Says "No" to Unsolicited CP Offer
December 4th, 2015

Norfolk Southern announce their unanimous rejection of Canadian Pacific's "unsolicited indication of interest" in a press release this morning. "We believe that CP’s short-term, cut-to-the-bone strategy could cause Norfolk Southern to lose substantial revenues from our service-sensitive customer base," said NS president and CEO James Squires. The board of directors summarized their review of the CP offer as undervalued, facing substantial regulatory risk, and overreaching its estimates of cost savings and operational efficiency. 

The full text of the press release can be found here.

—Railfan & Railroad

NS reviews unsolicited bid from CP
November 18th, 2015

Norfolk Southern Corp. announced today they will review the unsolicited $28 billion offer made by Canadian Pacific yesterday. A merger between the two railroads would create a combined company worth $47 billion reaching from the Canadian west coast to the eastern Atlantic Seaboard and down to the Gulf of Mexico. The merger plan is being pushed by CP executive H. Hunter Harrison, backed by activist investor William Ackman's hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management. Reports indicate that Harrison met with NS executive James Squires last week in Florida to discuss the possibility of merger. Squires initial response was cool, citing what he saw as insurmountable regulatory hurdles blocking the way to the creation of a new transcontinental rail shipper.

—Railfan & Railroad

Canadian Pacific explores Norfolk Southern takeover
November 9th, 2015

According to a report released on Bloomberg.com, Canadian Pacific has held early stage merger talks with Norfolk Southern Corp. An earlier attempt by CP to take over CSX was abandoned last year. Canadian Pacific CEO Hunter Harrison advocates a consolidation of the rail industry, and integration with Norfolk Southern would create the first transcontinental carrier.

“There is no material news pending at this time,” Canadian Pacific said in a statement, citing a request from the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada that it respond to the day’s stock trading. “CP does not comment on market rumor and speculation.”

Norfolk Southern operates about 20,000 miles through 22 eastern states, while Canadian Pacific’s network spans southern Canada from Montreal to Vancouver, and turns south to connect Midwestern routes with Chicago.

—Railfan & Railroad via Bloomberg News

Maine Central No. 470 Purchased from City
November 6th, 2015

 Courtesy New England Steam Corp.

The New England Steam Corporation formally purchased Maine Central 4-6-2 Pacific No. 470 from the city of Waterville, Maine, in a brief ceremony on November 5. The purchase price of $25,000 was agreed to contingent on NESCo removing the locomotive to an off-site restoration facility. Built by American Locomotive Company in 1924, the No. 470 was retired in 1954. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Maine Central Railroad, the locomotive was donated to the city of Waterville, Maine, location of the railroad's largest shop facility. On display in its current location since 1971, weather and vandals have taken their toll. The next phase of fundraising will pay for movement to the Downeast Scenic Railroad in Ellsworth, Maine, where the locomotive will be rebuilt and tested. For more information, please visit http://www.newenglandsteam.org.

—Railfan & Railroad

Norfolk Southern announces cessation of service after December 1
October 21st, 2015

Norfolk Southern released a service alert on October 20 announcing the railroad would no longer accept hazardous shipments after December 1.

"Norfolk Southern Railway Company and its rail operating subsidiaries (“NSR”) will no longer accept shipments of Poisonous-Inhalation-Hazard (“PIH”) commodities, effective Dec. 1, 2015..."

The announcement is a reaction to the federal government's deadline to fully deploy and implement Positive Train Control (PTC) by December 31. The railroads affected have been appealing this deadline and requesting a reasonable extension to comply with the new law.

"These service changes – effective across the entire NS rail network -- are required  to comply with federal safety laws that become effective after Dec. 31, 2015, the government’s deadline for installation of PTC. Despite investment of nearly $1 billion to date, NS will not meet the deadline..."

Scheduled passenger service on NS rails will also be affected. "NS has notified in writing Amtrak, Virginia Railway Express and Metra that passenger trains will not be permitted to operate on NS track after December 31, 2015..."

At press time, neither Congress nor the FRA have given any indication that an extension to the PTC deadline will be granted.

Read the full service notice here: http://www.nscorp.com/content/nscorp/en/service-alerts/notice-of-cessationofserviceeffectivedecember12015forallshipment.html

—Railfan & Railroad via NS Corp.

CSX plans cuts at Corbin
October 20th, 2015

According to local sources, CSX is planning to close the terminal at Corbin, Ky., in response to a declining domestic coal market. This development comes on the heels of last week's sudden closure of the Erwin, Tenn., terminal, located in former Clinchfield coal country.

—Railfan & Railroad


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