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 Post subject: CSX- Cincinnati to East St. Louis
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:42 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:21 pm
Posts: 87
Not wanting to hi-jack the thread on Mainline Steam, I'm starting this to inquire more specifically about the CSX line between Cincinnati and East St. Louis. I saw from the Trains article that this is one of the lines CSX is looking to eliminate (was it sell outright, or only lease?)

This is the old B&O line that follows the Ohio River west out of Cincy, correct? This is an old stomping ground for me, and I'm familiar with the trackage to the Indiana line. I always wondered why there wasn't more traffic on this line, with all of the industrial plants along the river. It looks like once you climb out of the river valley, its mostly small towns and farmlands across Indiana and Illinois.

I remember the old Amshack on River Road along this line. Did Amtrak use this line at one time for the Cardinal?

Anyway, I would think the connection between Cincinnati and St. Louis would be somewhat lucrative with major metropolitan areas on each end. There should also be some decent scenery, at least on the western end for an excursion (depending on if the line is purchased outright or only leased from CSX).

Anyone closer to the area that can add some insight here?

Eric Hadder


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 Post subject: Re: CSX- Cincinnati to East St. Louis
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:33 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8636
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
hadder wrote:
This is the old B&O line that follows the Ohio River west out of Cincy, correct? This is an old stomping ground for me, and I'm familiar with the trackage to the Indiana line. I always wondered why there wasn't more traffic on this line, with all of the industrial plants along the river. It looks like once you climb out of the river valley, its mostly small towns and farmlands across Indiana and Illinois.


And that would be part of the problem.
I recall an old story about the Southern's Stanley Crane taking his first inspection car trip over Conrail after taking the helm there, and remarking about how, every time he rode over Southern mains, every mile or couple there was a turnout to a business that did at least a million dollar's worth of revenue with Southern. Here on CR, he was seeing mile after mile of nothing but a main line with no such sidings.

Now, that was back in the 1980s, and I'm certain there was a lot of hyperbole in his allegation. But the point remains the same. To justify miles and miles of main, you either need to have a LOT of bridge traffic (see the Santa Fe and its constant parade of stacked containers), or a lot of originating and/or receiving locations--grain, lumber yards, factories, scrappers, etc. The mains with neither are the ones in serious jeopardy now--the ones where the coal or lumber ran out, or the manufacturing disappeared.

I'm reasonably versed in Indiana geography, also being a covered bridge buff. I took a look over the line from Cincinnati to St. Louis, and for the love of me the only town names I recognized were Vincennes, Mitchell and Seymour--and the second only because of my name, and the latter only because of recent research into the eastern extremity of the Milwaukee Road. Now, certainly there could be some big assembly plants or coal mines or quarries along this line I've never heard of........ but you gotta tell me about them.

I recently had some correspondence with someone about National Railway Equipment, based in Mt. Vernon, Ill. (on the L&N/SR/MoPac 20 miles south of the B&O main in question), and was told that NRE literally had to build their own hotel and fine-dining restaurant in town because there was simply no other prestige location to entertain overseas business clients within 50-100 miles. Relevant? Well this bespeaks the economy of this region, to some extent.

Quote:
I remember the old Amshack on River Road along this line. Did Amtrak use this line at one time for the Cardinal?

As I recall and a quick check seems to confirm, the Amshack was demolished in 2010. It was erected in Oct. 1972 to serve a consolidation of the B&O/C&O George Washington to St.Louis and the NYC James Whitcomb Riley Cincinnati-Chicago,which both had through cars. That was the train that eventually was renamed the Cardinal in 1977.


Last edited by Alexander D. Mitchell IV on Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: CSX- Cincinnati to East St. Louis
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:36 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:08 am
Posts: 60
So it sounds ideal is a bit of a chicken and egg situations.

One, you'd have to offer up a more complete transport solution (I.e lay miles of turn outs to businesses, or run trucks from more centralised depots).

Second, there's probably no tourist infrastructure for even short stays. Meaning either you're also going into the hotel business (a potentially lucrative business, or a disaster with little seeming middle ground in between) or hoping you can prompt people to build them.


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 Post subject: Re: CSX- Cincinnati to East St. Louis
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:44 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
Posts: 2502
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
I recently had some correspondence with someone about National Railway Equipment, based in Mt. Vernon, Ill. (on the L&N/SR/MoPac 20miles south of the B&O main in question), and was told that NRE literally had to build their own hotel and fine-dining restaurant in town because there was simply no other prestige location to entertain overseas business clients within 50-100 miles. Relevant? Well this bespeaks the economy of this region, to some extent.


This is what happens when people from the East talk about "flyover country." Mount Vernon, Illinois isn't THAT bad. It's at the junction of two interstate highways (I-64 and I-57), and has several nice hotels. Not a Ritz Carlton, but a Fairfield and a Drury Inn. It's not Bethesda, but isn't exactly Hooterville either.

That being said, there's really nothing like that along the former B&O through Illinois and most of Indiana. It really missed the major population centers, and is likely why the line has been earmarked for sale/lease. Thus, without an easily-accessible Mt. Vernon-sized town along the line, it'd be hard to get people to come visit.

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 Post subject: Re: CSX- Cincinnati to East St. Louis
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:30 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:03 pm
Posts: 139
Location: Pennsylvania
This line is of particular interest to me personally, as I have a strong familial connection to it. My great grandfather was a station agent at the station in Medora, Indiana, and my father who grew up in the area has told me about visiting him at the station and remembered seeing steam go by in the 1950s.

Also, the tunnel at Tunnelton, Indiana "Big Tunnel," was something of a hangout for the kids in this part of southern Indiana back in the day. This tunnel is also said to be haunted by the ghost of a man named Henry Dixon, who was murdered and his body disposed of in the tunnel (or so they say). Superstitions aside, Dixon was my grandmother's uncle.

I've never actually seen this line in person,though it's on my "railfanning to-do list," even if it only ever sees trains once in a blue moon.


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 Post subject: Re: CSX- Cincinnati to East St. Louis
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:08 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 5221
I recall seeing a photo from one of those famous "end of steam" series of articles from TRAINS Magazine (either "Smoke Across the Prairies" or "Steam in Indian Summer") that showed a shot of a B&O steamer on this line. They didn't talk a lot about it, and there was just that one photo. I often wondered if Phil Hastings had taken a few more shots of that 2-8-0 and Morgan had judged it not of enough interest, and the photos, and any words he might have had, just ended up in the editors wastebasket. Sure did look like a neat line to me.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: CSX- Cincinnati to East St. Louis
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:22 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:39 am
Posts: 21
For the railfan, this line is awesome in 2018. You have B&O CPL's galore along with largely intact code line. Pair that with some large trestles in the vicinity of Pierceville and it's a very interesting line.

That being said, I can't say that I could see it exactly thriving as a tourist line.


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 Post subject: Re: CSX- Cincinnati to East St. Louis
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:00 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:37 pm
Posts: 38
Okay . to go along with the thread of Main Line Steam let's discuss what it would take to make it a profitable venture assuming a "benefactor with lots of $$$$$" could purchase it. The idea of having a neat place to run fast steam excursion trains, for long distances seems like a wonderful dream ....and it probably is.

Unless, you have established some type of bridge line connection with a western carrier at St. Louis and another on the east end and have suitable, high horse power diesels that is likely not a source of revenue.

Alright, how about local traffic to feed to either carrier(s) on either end of the railroad unless the line currently services a good deal of local business like frac sand mines, grain train terminals, chemical/oil refineries, ethnol plants, paper board box plants, plastics manufacturers, food processors or steel mills it will very difficult to exist on primarily, inbound local business.

When I worked for a few short/regional railroads we soon found out that new customer business of a few cars a week, while great for us, was not always so, for the connecting lines. If there wasn't enough revenue for them to over come the cost of providing additional service to handle our extra business they would tell us NO thankyou and not publish a joint rate with us. If we tried to publish a rate anyhow they would bid the price up on their end or not have the car supply for them to handle it to kill the movement. In addition, if they were the leasing/selling line they often controlled interchange to other roads to keep the traffic captive even if all we earned was a switch charge per car.

So while all these wonderful ideas are great, they come with a BIG pricetag not only, initially, but long term when it comes to rail, tie, ballast, bridge renewal an always on going huge expense.

Watching railroads and preserving them is one thing. Operating and maintaining them is another. No one ever got rich running a short line.

exprail


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 Post subject: Re: CSX- Cincinnati to East St. Louis
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:22 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 10:46 pm
Posts: 131
I am sure there are others with more information than myself. I work at a plant just north of the B&O (CSX) line, just East of the old North South Pennsy (now L&I) line in Seymour, IN. I see autoracks going by the plant Eastbound on the B&O many times per day. Also see mixed freight a time or two per day.

With all of the track improvement work nearing completion on the Pennsy line, speeds are up to 49mph, with predominant North bound Autoracks, along with an occasional stack train. The L&I also moves some bridge mixed freight and local traffic both directions. The rack trains on the L&I use run through CSX power and are usually a parade at night. I caught a mid day rack train the other day NorthBound with 129 cars.

I believe most of the rack traffic that is not already going North to Indy on the Pennsy, and is going East on the B&O will be going North to Indy soon, but that is just my guess.

I see some local traffic West of Seymour on the B&O, but it seems sporadic. BTW, the B&O position signals protecting the diamond came down in Seymour within the past few months.


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 Post subject: Re: CSX- Cincinnati to East St. Louis
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:31 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3235
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
A friend of mine from Facebook had this to say:

Quote:
I am very familiar with this line, having ridden the National Limited over it in 1964 and also saw many trains, as I grew up near the line where it passes thru Caseyville IL. It never had much in the way of local traffic and when CSX abandoned the main between Grafton WV and Midland City OH, it was endangered.


To me, this ties in with a part of the collapse of rail passenger service. In that case, some trains were doing at least OK, until another line, having problems and wanting to get out more than another, would abandon its service--and a formerly profitable train became unprofitable because it lost its connections. The same lesson would be seen again in Great Britain, where Beeching's cuts attempted to get rid of "dead wood," but instead, the loss of connecting traffic from branches often resulted in main lines becoming money losers.

The whole lesson was, or should have been, that you might not be able to cut your way to prosperity, especially in something as complex as a railroad network. I think this was a shortcoming of the late E. Hunter Harrison at CSX. He tried what seemed, at least to me, like 1960s-era cost cutting, but his experience had been on lines that were more dominated by a single, long primary route. Comparing CN, CP, or IC to CSX, on a map, is like looking at a string and comparing it to a spider's web. And in the web, you jiggle one thread, you wind up jiggling--affecting--the entire web.


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 Post subject: Re: CSX- Cincinnati to East St. Louis
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:37 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8636
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
wilkinsd wrote:
This is what happens when people from the East talk about "flyover country."

Actually, this is what happens when someone from the East paraphrases/quotes the words of someone who LIVES there and is planning to move out to an area with more economic opportunity for her chosen line of work.


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