CSX too hasty removing Florida lines

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Does anyone else feel CSXT may now feel they were too hasty in removing any ROWs in Florida? An alternate line down the Gulf coast would seem appropriate, such as SAL's &/or ACL's Tampa, Brooksville, Dunnellon, Starke.

I hated to see the demise of the Dunnellon, Trilby route. What is keeping High Springs active still? Last time I drove by, there seem to be lots of old cars stored there.

I now live in the mountains of North Carolina, but my RR heart is in the ACL/SCL territory.

-- Arthur Raynolds (ARdiver@citcom.net), June 09, 1999


Aaron, In regards to the 'new' BIDS service being initiated by CSX, I have to take disagreement with you on the newness of this concept. In mid- 1967, SCL began implementing a method called DistriBulk Service, which has many of the characteristics you have defined under CSX control. Other railroads such as PC, C&O, B&O, L&N, Southern and CN also capitalized on the idea. SCL was innovative in this field and as such established the ability to transport 20 or so odd commodities from rail to consignee with little investment outside of turning the wheels of a covered hopper. Loads were transferred to local trucking operations for final delivery, however, all were dependent upon the SCL owned unloading facilities. These facilities were operated in the following cities: Tampa, Jax, Ft. Lauderdale, Tallahassee, Columbus, Savannah, Atlanta, Charleston, Roebuck, Wilmington, Charlotte, and Richmond. The joint venture between rail and road seems to have been somewhat of a success as two years into the service SCL continued to build and operate Distribulk services throughout it's system. It's funny how old meets new again ! Take care, Justin May

-- Justin May (mayjustin@msn.com), October 20, 2002.

Railroads don't have a lot of incentives to donate land (abandoned rail lines)for trails, as the federaal government created a funding source for the purchase of abandoned rail lines for the conversion into multi-use trails through the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. The Act is referred to as ISTEA, or "Ice Tea". Most of the Rails to Trails projects have been funded through the ISTEA program, since it pays for the land purchases and the construction of the necessary trail facilities (pavement, restrooms, rain shelters, etc.). Aaron Dowling (aarondowling@cfl.rr.com)

-- Aaron Dowling (aarondowling@cfl.rr.com), October 14, 2002.

Just wondering...do the railroads get any sort of tax relief for rail-banking or turning the right-of-way over for trails? Thanks.

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), October 11, 2002.

Joe Oates hit on an answer to why the railroad companies are abandoning little or lightly used trackage. It's the expense of operation and upkeep. The railroad companies are emphasizing a relatively new concept (to the railroads, at least) called Bulk Intermodal Distribution System (BIDS). CSX is constructing and operating BIDS facilities in every major city, and they are designed for the offloading and transfer of all sorts of commodities to local truck traffic for distribution to customers throughout the local area. The railroad gets to abandon trackage while keeping the long-distance haul charges of its customers. After all, for the railroad, the most costly (and no profit) aspect of its operation is local switching services. With the BIDS terminals for intermodal transfer, the railroads can maximize their profit-making potential while cutting their losses. For us who enjoy "local" railroading, welcome to the brutal world of economics! Aaron Dowling (aarondowling@cfl.rr.com)

-- Aaron Dowling (aarondowling@cfl.rr.com), October 10, 2002.

It seems to me that it would be cheaper for Seminole Gulf to trans load the lumber and truck it twenty miles,rather than keep up the track.

-- Joseph Oates (jlosal@mindspring.com), July 04, 2002.

Of course, I hate to see railroads tear up their tracks. BUT...track costs money. Period. Buy a piece of property, and you have to pay taxes on it. Build a common-carrier railroad on it, and those taxes skyrocket. Even if you dont run trains on it you still have to pay the taxes. And you still have to maintain the rails, or you wont be permitted to run trains, even if you wanted too. Our local heroes, the Seminole Gulf, are saddled with the need to upgrade over a hundred miles of track, to serve a handfull of customers. They have to maintain over 20 miles to serve a single lumber yard. So when the traffic is no longer paying for the line to exit, the railroad takes up the rails and 'rail banks' the land...allowing the municipality to use it as a trail. Supposedly the railroad can come along and re=claim the right of way. Never heard of it having been done, though. One of these days this country is going to wish it had every inch of those former rail lines, and more. Bill

-- Bill Donahue (BillD53A@aol.com), July 04, 2002.

I just found this thread and feel the same also. I hated to see the SAL Atlanta to Birmingham line go because my great great grandfather ran the first freight train over this line. All this talk about ripping track up for no reasons makes me ask this question. What can CSX do to put track back down on their former road beds if business does start to bloom again near these former lines?

-- Jamie Prater (sthrn1974@aol.com), July 01, 2002.

To me, CSX severing the former SAL Atlanta-Birmingham line in 1988 is exhibit 1 in the absurd hasty abandonment department. They need that line today, and moreso it will be needed if/when the CSX and NS merge up with the UP and BNSF, no matter what the combo. Dumb dumb dumb.

-- Tom Randall (tkrandall@mindspring.com), April 19, 2002.

So what would those "bright" CSX people run down a line through High Springs-Trilby-Tampa? There are only two roundtrip manifest freights running on the A and S lines. Both leave Rice Yard, one switches Moncrief and the other Baldwin. There was nothing going on at High Springs and south to Lakeland-Tampa for many years. There are no intermodal trains which could be run through High Springs, they all work through Jax intermodal. There are only a few coal trains working to Red Level, and there may have been talk of that plant converting to natural gas. These are all operations based on the reality of losing traffic to I-75 and the mandate of stockholders to make a decent return on investment.

I hated to see the purple and aluminum F's and Geeps disappear on the C&WC but they won't be back either. Reality can be disappointing.

-- Riley Kinney (csx333@yahoo.com), April 19, 2002.

Arthur, The only thing I could think that would make sense out of abandonment is the fact that the railroad has to pay taxes on the land it owns, and to some business men this could be considered a waste of money...in the short term. However, with all the extra business the railroads have nowadays, I am sure they see the error of thier ways. Does this stop them from doing the same in the future? Probably not. CSX is in the business of making money, with caring for their communites in which they serve closer to the bottom of their list than their top. It is much cheaper to do as NS does and Rail bank thier lines, than to rebuild the entire railroad when business arrives.

With all that said, I know how it feels to lose a favorite railroad line. The New Bern to Wilmington, NC line I remember as a kid riding down US 17 staring out the window hoping to see a train. I never did see a train on the line, but I did see a few cars on a siding in Holly Ridge. When the State started to 4 Lane the highway, (which for some reason was two laned with a passing zone alternating every quarter mile or so the entire way from Jacksonville to Wilmington... never before or since have I seen such a thing.), most of the right- of-way was used. Now most of what is not paved over is grown over with trees.

Whoever said CSX had the brightest people who do not know how to run a railroad, certainly could not be more correct.

Dan Edwards

-- Daniel T. Edwards (mmedwards@charter.net), April 19, 2002.

Since I only recently joined this list I've just now come across this thread; I am in central SC and have wondered about this for years. I also wish someone in this group could help explain CSX'x thinking on this. The same kind of activity has gone on in this state. The former ACL line ripped out from Sumter to Florence and also from the present SCE&G coal/power plant at Cope to Augusta. And in reference to line previously mentioned in this thread, specf. Clearwater-Trilby-Dunnellon-Inverness, etc. - I cannot imagine that I saw in the book SCL in Florida (can't remember authors) that this line was WELL-MAINTAINED DOUBLE TRACK in many parts and must have hosted long through freights, but today has been totally removed! Was there not enough local industry in this part of the state, let alone thru traffic to at least keep a single main open??? I was born too late!

-- Capers Bull (eurekaairline@yahoo.com), January 31, 2002.

This habit of hastily ripping out pre-dates the CSX merger; SCL was also notorious for this in VA too. (ACL route out of Portsmouth, VA) I believe they brought this mentality with them to CSX. To me it would seem more cost effective to let the rails on the Right of Way grow over with weeds; at least you can keep it intact for later use as the need arises instead of fighting legal battles to put the track back in. Perhaps some of you with business savy can rationalize and explain CSX's train of thought.

-- Andrew Callo (acallo@dcf.net), August 24, 2001.

What is this thing that CSX has always had about ripping up track, anyway? Remember the late 1980s? Paint locomotives in a new scheme every week and rip up some new track every week...Grafton, W.Va. to St. Louis? Rip it up! Rockmart, GA to Atlanta? Rip it up! Later on, CSX starts regretting losing the Grafton line. They just seem to have this knack for cutting off their nose to spite their face, because they can be, as one observer put it, the biggest collection of "brilliant people who can't run a railroad". Meanwhile, NS "rail- banks" old lines and has them ready for future use should the need arise.

-- David L. Leggett (leggettd@dartnet.peachnet), June 09, 2001.

I agree. Does anybody know where on the web there might be pictures of the line that branched off the current CSX at Clearwater and then up through Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Tarpon springs, and points north?

-- Bob Brennecke (rbrenn2809@aol.com), November 30, 2000.

Not just in Florida! I'm sure they're kicking themselves over pulling up chunks of doubletrack up and down the East coast, as well as abandoning the ex-SAL from Norlina, NC north. They'd more than likely love to have some of that back! I understand that single-tracking and abandonment saves money, and it probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but with the increase in traffic density that has occurred over the last few years, things can get very congested at times.

-- Nick McKinley Jr. (nicholas.mckinley@beale.af.mil), October 11, 2000.

It seems to me why CSX is abandoning all of these routes is because they can sell the land property to the state and the state can make hiking trails out of them. I hate it when they pulled up the Aloma Subdivision from Wagner to Aloma. The reason why they did this is because the communty wanted to make a trail out of the right of way. With the local only hadling one car two days a week, it was no wonder why they sold the line to the state.

High Springs is used to store bad orders. One local services the yard, A765. But I do not now how many times he goes there.

-- Eric (don_john@bellsouth.net), February 14, 2000.

I wonder this same thing... growin up in Seminole, Florida (southwest of tampa) right next to the tracks (SCL, freight only) it broke my heart when they tore up the tracks (right after the csx merger)...now it seems like they are tearing up track everywhere... it seems like it cost more to tear up track than to just leave it... if nothing else one hell of a scenic passenger (tourist) route could have been made of the st pete-dunnedon-brooksville and points beyond route... now they just took out the old acl tracks in gainesville... when will it end?

-- troy nolen (kirkwood@gdn.net), January 08, 2000.

I certainly do! I really can't believe there is no through route on Florida's west coast...As an ACL fan I had particular interest in the Perry Cut-Off from Dunnellon to Thomasville...If CSX didn't want it I don't understand why Norfolk Southern didn't get themselves into Tampa this way!!! There is little or no rail traffic on Florida's west coast. Florida Power has a plant in Crystal River that gets a coal train maybe once a week but with the new natural gas lines going in that may not last for long! I understand there is no local traffic on this line just the coal train...Burnetts Lake, Archer, Williston, Dunnellon, Red Level (PowerPlant)....All ACL tracks along US 19 from Lebanon Station to near Tallahasee is gone....So Sad!

-- Steve Manuel (wwjb@innet.com), June 09, 1999.

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