Atlanta-Athens SAL line today : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

My work frequently takes me to the towns along the Atlanta-Athens-Elberton ex-SAL mainline. I am always amazed at the variety of motive power and number of trains. Can anyone enlighten me on the nature of the current traffic? Are there a lot of run-through operations? Why so many UP and SP units? (I'm not complaining!) Last week I was delighted to see a freight pulled by two sparkling BNSF units in the orange and red scheme headed east bound. Where is the traffic from and destined for? Thanks in advance for your knowledge.

-- Arnold W. Eaves (, September 29, 2001


Arnold -

I posed the question to two CSX engineers that I know. They work between Atlanta & Chatanooga, but provided the following insight. Hope it helps. ------ Current traffic is hard to tell right now. Traffic has been slow for the last 6 months or so. But, this being the end of summer there are still several large MOW projects all around Atlanta that the RR is trying to finish up before winter. This reroutes traffic sometimes to give the workers more track time. This makes one line seem very busy while others are dead. It can also change from week to week depending on where they are working. We do not get too many run through trains with the most common that I know of being. Wisconsin Central ones at a couple times a month. With lease power these days you can see anything anywhere almost. Once an engine gets in our system it seems to take weeks to get it back to the correct RR. Until it gets back we lease it by H.P./Hours. This is done the same as the HLCX, FURX, LMS and many other just lease units. New G.E.s come from Erie, PA I think? (I am not a fan of G.E. engines, so don't know for sure) This is in our territory being on the east coast. So new engines end up on our line a lot. They are supposed to go "dead in tow" to the new owner, but sometimes are needed for power and used as such! As for where the traffic on that line is destined for I can't say as I don't work on that line, but CSX is a north/south RR. Meaning we don't do too much east/west traffic. You can guess that most loads come south and a lot of empties go north as is the case on other CSX lines. ------ A general answer is that CSX does have contracts with UP and BNSF for seamless intermodal traffic. The transfer points are Memphis and Chicago. There was a news item about the BNSF agreement long about the second week inSeptember. I have worked at Hulsey Yard (our intermodal yard) several timesand, you're right) there is a tremendous number of UP engines - almost as many as CSX engines. I've been on vacation for the last two weeks so I don't know how things look around there now. Another answer is that there has been a lot of 'shared hours' of motive power going on. UP may be repaying CSX for some of those hours.

-- Bill Parks (, October 03, 2001.

Arnold, A fair amount of the traffic (and foreign power) you're seeing utilizes the former L&N between New Orleans and Montgomery, WofA/A&WP Montgomery to Atlanta, and ex-SAL north of Atlanta. SP/SSW runthrough power started on 144/145 several years ago, but now UP units seem to show up on just about any train that originates west of Mobile. I live adjacent to the former WofA about 50 miles north of Montgomery and see about as much UP power as I do CSX. David

-- David Harris (, October 02, 2001.

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