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Abandoned lines - what would look good on today's map?

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Abandoned lines - what would look good on today's map?
Posted by MP173 on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 11:50 AM

Fred Frailey's excellent blog on the Frisco line to Avard discusses how BNSF is investing big $$$ to install CTC on a line which at one time was considered for abandonment.  It is now a key route in the important Memphis - West Coast intermodal business. 

The discussion of the Rock Island Memphis - Amarillo line was pointed out as a shorter route (100 miles) yet that line was abandoned in the 1980s as there were no buyers at the "everything must go" sale.

What other abandoned railroad lines would be utilitized as important routes in today's railroad industry?

This is not necessarily to criticize the railroads for abandoning lines at the time, but simply a "what if" exercize. 

I realize this conversation comes up from time to time, but it has been a couple of years.

 

Ed

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Posted by henry6 on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 12:28 PM

This is not surprising.  Urban planners have for years found when drawing lines for new rapid or public transit projects, those lines often follow the routes of former transit lines.  And often, too, railroads have found old unused lines suddenly become valuable assets when new traffic, increased traffic, or changing traffic patterns emerge.   Conrail abandoned or otherwise got rid of a lot of the Erie and Erie Lackawanna lines only to find a use for them via short lines.  Even NS has leased the former Erie line east of BInghamton, NY but holds its options open as another route into and out of NYCity area...and CSX often uses the route for detours around problems on the RIver Line.  Another place CR realized the value of a line was when the abandoned and quickly ripped up the rails on the former DL&W NJ Cut Off knowing the value it would be to anybody else, i.e. real competition.  So, I think there are a lot of streaks of rust, and less, lying dormantly awaiting another day..

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Posted by MP173 on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 12:48 PM

An obvious friend of the forum, not quite ripped out...is Saluda Grade.  Lots of speculation on this route.  I would make a trip to SC to watch trains on that line.

Another line in "sleep mode" is Tennessee Pass.  Yet another route which I would make a trip to watch trains...and possibly fish for trout in adjacent streams.

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Posted by CShaveRR on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 12:58 PM

Closer to home for us, Ed, I'm betting that the Midwest passenger-rail planners wish they had a decent direct route from Chicago to Indianapolis. I'm not sure what could be cobbled together for them now.

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Posted by Junctionfan on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 1:26 PM

My gosh I haven't posted on here for a long time.

There are 3 areas I have actually looked at recently.  For CSX or NS-the old CASO line for their intermodal and high priority traffic to by pass all the conjestion in PA and Ohio.

There are a couple of lines that CN might look into.  One of them is the BPRR between Buffalo to Pittsburgh to link up to BLE for potential coal and who knows, intermodal development.  It would be even better if they could somehow reach Baltimore from Pittsburgh somehow.  Also, the Lehigh Valley line that is now largely abandonned between Buffalo and Syracuse NY I believe would be good if other shortlines could be bought out, it would might give CN the option for intermodal revenue between Chicago/Toronto and NY/NJ.  On the other hand, it would be such an expensive capital investment and would probably get into political upheaval with the STB, it would likely not be feasible.

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Posted by MP173 on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 3:01 PM

Carl:

Has there ever been a really good Chicago - Indianapolis passenger route?  Nothing like Chicago - Stl Louis or Detroit, or Milwaukee.

I think the current Monon/Crawfordsville route is decent...if they put big $$$ into it.  As it is now, too much jointed rail.  But, to get to Chicago and to Indianaplis is an issue...Amtrak has to go Monon/CN/UP/Metra/Amtrak to get from Dyer, In to Union Station.  That is brutal. 

 

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Posted by chad s thomas on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 3:33 PM

BRING BACK THE MODOC !!! Big Smile

I know, I know. But.....The Modoc could:

1. Do what it was intended to, send Oregon lumber to eastern markets (Mostly southern Oregon).

2. Provide a route for met. coal from Colorado (or Wyoming) to the Pacific (read China) withe very few ascending grades grades (Montello/Peqops, Sand Pass, Viewland grade Sagehen & Ambrose)

3. Provide an alternate route if either the Shasta route or Donner/FRC is closed.

4. Provide an alternate route if the OSL/UP route is closed. 

 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 7:15 PM

There's the former Milwaukee Road line over Snoqualmie Pass between Easton, WA and the Seattle area.  BN bought it and could have used it as a low grade/elevation alternative to their ex-NP Stampede Pass which they eventually had to re-open, after ripping up the old Milwaukee line.

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Posted by bkpigs on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 7:41 PM

The line I am thinking is the old L&N line from St. Louis to Evansville. It mostly still there with EVWR using the line from Evansville, Ind. to Okawville, IL. But from there to STL it is partly abandoned and partly used by a light rail transit. If EVWR would have the section going from Okawville to STL I think they could have become a larger part of the interchange business.

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Posted by mudchicken on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 7:54 PM

(1) The mothballed CRIP/Missouri Central StL-KC Line

(2) The Mothballed or partially abandoned Peoria - Champaign Peoria & Eastern Line either side of Mansfield IL

(3) The abandoned Dawson RR or ATSF/DC&CV Raton Pass Bypass (Boise City-Felt-Clayton + Dora-Farley-Colmor)

(4) The UP/Kansas Pacific/Arkansas Valley RR Kit Carson-Las Animas line

(5) The M&O/GM&O Mobile to MS State Line segment

(6) The D&NO/C&S Denver to Pueblo Line + Colorado Springs Branch (or CRIP Falcon-Co Springs)

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Posted by mudchicken on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 7:57 PM

MP173

 

The discussion of the Rock Island Memphis - Amarillo line was pointed out as a shorter route (100 miles) yet that line was abandoned in the 1980s as there were no buyers at the "everything must go" sale.

 

How soon Fred fails to remember the Sunbelt & Santa Fe trial balloon and the SP/SSW monkeywrenching.

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Posted by Murray on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 9:56 PM

We need back:

1 - The Lehigh Valley

2 - The Erie Lackawanna

3 - The Milwaukee Road (back to the Pacific Northwest)

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Posted by Falcon48 on Thursday, October 25, 2012 12:49 AM

mudchicken

(1) The mothballed CRIP/Missouri Central StL-KC Line

(2) The Mothballed or partially abandoned Peoria - Champaign Peoria & Eastern Line either side of Mansfield IL

(3) The abandoned Dawson RR or ATSF/DC&CV Raton Pass Bypass (Boise City-Felt-Clayton + Dora-Farley-Colmor)

(4) The UP/Kansas Pacific/Arkansas Valley RR Kit Carson-Las Animas line

(5) The M&O/GM&O Mobile to MS State Line segment

(6) The D&NO/C&S Denver to Pueblo Line + Colorado Springs Branch (or CRIP Falcon-Co Springs)

I wouldn't include the CRIP StL-KC line.  It hasn't been used for a long time. Even SP, after it acquired it, never used it, opting instead for trackage rights over the UP (ex MP) route between the two cities Since it remained in place (unlike some of the other candidates) it could have been restored relatively easily, if there were a reason to do so.  There hasn't been, and it's unlikely there ever will be. 

Last year, Missouri Central abandoned a segment on the western end of the line that severed the route (STB Docket No. AB-1068X), The ROW will probably be made into a trail under the National Trails System Act, so the ROW is technically available for reconstruction of the rail line. But, as a practical matter, the abandonment seals the fate of the line as a through route..

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Posted by henry6 on Thursday, October 25, 2012 7:50 AM

Just because ROW's exist or even exist with rails, does not make a line ripe for renewal or reuse...there has to be a sound marketing and trafficking reason.  Also, many I've seen posted, especially here in the East, are not viable because of other uses and blockages by adjacent property owners.  What looks good on a map, or in one's mind, may not be good in reality.

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Posted by Junctionfan on Thursday, October 25, 2012 8:46 AM

That is true Henry6 but some lines I think were abandonned to avoid competition and customers being leeched.  Good example in my opinion is the Canada Southern Line once operated by Wabash.  In Ontario, Nanticoke (Esso Oil, Stelco Steel now I think owned by US Steel and a coal using power plant) alone could make a railroad a nice bit of revenue.  At one point in St Thomas to Simcoe I believe, all auto parts or auto manufacturing such as Formosa Frames in St Thomas, Ford Assembly in Talbotville (closed down now unfortunately), a few fertilizer and milling operations including ConAgra I believe.  Once upon a time, despite using CN trackage rights, NS used to run 4 trains from Buffalo to St Thomas every day and a couple between St Thomas and Detroit.  Other major industrial areas once upon a time was Windsor and Niagara Region particularly Port Colborne with multiple milling operations, a bio diesel plant now running, chemical plant making citric acid, steel pipe manufacturing, INCO refinery and several transloading facilities mostly all serviced by a shortline (Triliium Railways).  Besides NS or CSX purchasing the CASO to perhaps leech into CN and CP's revenues neer by, it is a very attractive intermodal route between East Coast and Chicago.  Currently anything around here in Ontario, needs to go through CN or CP and ship their containers to Toronto/Brampton for terminal loading/unloading.  NS has an intermodal yard in Buffalo (William Street) and I believe CSX built an intermodal terminal in their old defuct Seneca Yard I believe.  At one point, Dain City (between Welland and Port Colborne Ontario) had an intermodal facility.  If the CASO line was still in existence today, I wonder if NS and CSX would be leeching intermodal revenue from CN and CP as well as Dain City still being in service today.

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Posted by henry6 on Thursday, October 25, 2012 9:01 AM

Definitely, almost the entire E and EL routes were dumped by CR but not abandoned because they knew how often there were much better the grades and clearances,  ability to avoid major yard and traffic gridlock situations,.  These routes were held, even with feint attempts to run trains, just so competition would not be effected.  LV, DL&W, E, CNJ, all had properties which threatened the mojo of PRR and NYC and were therefore dismissed but not dismantled by CR...well, the NJ Cut Off was dismantled, the DL&W from Binghamton to Scranton sold to the D&H,  the LV dismantled across NY and stubbed out in northern PA.  CR also did it to their own: the NYC from Corning, NY to Newberry yard/Williamsport, for instance.  In addition to the lines loss to overhead moves, a lot of local industries were forced out of business and towns decimated by the actions of CR...but CR was a success, so?

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Posted by Murray on Thursday, October 25, 2012 9:28 AM

I understand that around or about 1961, CN was toying with the idea of purchasing the Lehigh Valley from the then-controlling PRR.

Kind of a shame that they did not follow through with this.

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Posted by CShaveRR on Thursday, October 25, 2012 11:59 AM

Just thought of another one--the old CNW cutoff between Nelson and Nachusa, Illinois, could eliminate or reduce the ruling grade for eastbound coal trains coming out of the Rock River valley.

Carl

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Posted by diningcar on Thursday, October 25, 2012 1:23 PM

MP173

Fred Frailey's excellent blog on the Frisco line to Avard discusses how BNSF is investing big $$$ to install CTC on a line which at one time was considered for abandonment.  It is now a key route in the important Memphis - West Coast intermodal business. 

The discussion of the Rock Island Memphis - Amarillo line was pointed out as a shorter route (100 miles) yet that line was abandoned in the 1980s as there were no buyers at the "everything must go" sale.

What looks promising on a map frequently lacks credibility when all factors are considered. The Memphis-Amarillo ( and on to Tucumcari) line had many shortcomings for Santa Fe. They still had to have the Transcon to Avard and on to KC and Chicago so this would have been a partial duplication. The RI line was in shambles with some incursions by private and public  interests (both legal and otherwise) so the cost to rehab and signalize it would be tremendous. The routes through OKC and Little Rock did not lend themselves to expedient operations. The engineering computations which analyze equivalent straight and level miles reduced the 100 miles savings to somewhat less. So at the time Santa Fe was looking at acquiring this line it did not make sense.

 

 

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, October 25, 2012 1:26 PM

Falcon48

mudchicken

(1) The mothballed CRIP/Missouri Central StL-KC Line

(2) The Mothballed or partially abandoned Peoria - Champaign Peoria & Eastern Line either side of Mansfield IL

(3) The abandoned Dawson RR or ATSF/DC&CV Raton Pass Bypass (Boise City-Felt-Clayton + Dora-Farley-Colmor)

(4) The UP/Kansas Pacific/Arkansas Valley RR Kit Carson-Las Animas line

(5) The M&O/GM&O Mobile to MS State Line segment

(6) The D&NO/C&S Denver to Pueblo Line + Colorado Springs Branch (or CRIP Falcon-Co Springs)

I wouldn't include the CRIP StL-KC line.  It hasn't been used for a long time. Even SP, after it acquired it, never used it, opting instead for trackage rights over the UP (ex MP) route between the two cities Since it remained in place (unlike some of the other candidates) it could have been restored relatively easily, if there were a reason to do so.  There hasn't been, and it's unlikely there ever will be. 

Last year, Missouri Central abandoned a segment on the western end of the line that severed the route (STB Docket No. AB-1068X), The ROW will probably be made into a trail under the National Trails System Act, so the ROW is technically available for reconstruction of the rail line. But, as a practical matter, the abandonment seals the fate of the line as a through route..

Fallcon:

(1) The abandonment is less than six miles ...and should the line come back to life (BIG IF), there would be two logical moves made that would make the railbanked line a non-issue.

(2) You forget why SSW/SP got the lne in the first place and why the people who have the line now have no desire to rehab it. (neither ever wanted to run it, in the right hands, the line remains a "threat")

(*) Know the line better than most, have walked it all end to end twice since 1998. (and the Osage River Bridge is a thrill along with the tunnels...) The line has several interesting opportunities.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, October 25, 2012 1:31 PM

mudchicken

...

(6) The D&NO/C&S Denver to Pueblo Line + Colorado Springs Branch (or CRIP Falcon-Co Springs)

Looking at topo maps, this line seems to have followed a torturous path over 3 highplains divides, the highest elevation equal to the Palmer Lake divide.  Would this be preferable to re-installing the second track on the Joint Line north of Colorado Springs?

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, October 25, 2012 3:49 PM

MidlandMike

mudchicken

...

(6) The D&NO/C&S Denver to Pueblo Line + Colorado Springs Branch (or CRIP Falcon-Co Springs)

Looking at topo maps, this line seems to have followed a torturous path over 3 highplains divides, the highest elevation equal to the Palmer Lake divide.  Would this be preferable to re-installing the second track on the Joint Line north of Colorado Springs?

You expect the politicians in Colorado Springs/El Paso County to consent to living up to the original agreement in 1975-78 or admit it exists?Laugh; The knucklehead planners in the Springs are trying evererything they know, including suspending the laws of physics to get the surviving rail line out of town or make it commuter-only.

 

The D&NO alignment and profile was not as bad as you make it out to be / and it could be improved as well to get away from Sand Creek and the Fountain River south of town. The biggest problem would be a certain dam closer to Denver. 

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by MP173 on Thursday, October 25, 2012 9:18 PM

Mudchicken:

What purpose would the Champaign - Peoria line serve?  Is there grain that could move on that line?

Ed

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, October 25, 2012 10:39 PM

Ed: The line currently is caught in a big game of keep-away.The outfit that has it out of service goes around the other two sides of a triangle to get to its connections in PIA. The outfit that wants it has a good sized yard at Champaign and would love to access an automobile plant and interchange at Peoria that it used to have over a tenuous excursion over some branchlines that it dumped thirty years ago. Traffic patterns changed and now PIA would be access to multiple AgEnergy and shortline partners.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by blownout cylinder on Thursday, October 25, 2012 11:17 PM

Murray

We need back:

1 - The Lehigh Valley

2 - The Erie Lackawanna

3 - The Milwaukee Road (back to the Pacific Northwest)

I'd love to see The Rock back as well...

Any argument carried far enough will end up in Semantics--Hartz's law of rhetoric Emerald. Leemer and Southern The route of the Sceptre Express Barry

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Posted by MP173 on Friday, October 26, 2012 6:40 AM

Thanks Mudchicken....so the outfit with the yard in Champaign would like the auto traffic out of Normal and the current owner keeps them out. 

The outfit with the yard in Champaign accesses Peoria now via Decatur.   ADM is a huge shipper both in Decatur and Peoria.

Ed

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, October 26, 2012 7:04 AM

blownout cylinder

I'd love to see The Rock back as well...

Most of the Rock Island never went away:  Chicago-Omaha is now Iowa Interstate; Kansas City-Tucumcari, Minneapolis-Kansas City and Kansas City-Fort Worth are part of Union Pacific, plus an assortment of short lines elsewhere.

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Posted by carnej1 on Friday, October 26, 2012 11:35 AM

Murray

We need back:

1 - The Lehigh Valley

2 - The Erie Lackawanna

3 - The Milwaukee Road (back to the Pacific Northwest)

With the exception of the Milwaukee's Pacific extension, arent significant portions of those Railroads still operated? I know another exception would be the western end of the Erie mainline..

 

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Posted by henry6 on Friday, October 26, 2012 4:21 PM

The LV west (north) of Van Etten, NY is gone as a through route with a few double deadends between Geneva an Buffalo but is fairly intact from Oak Island to VanEtten but under several differrent owners and operators.   LIikewise the Erie/EL is chopped up into similar unattached segments west of the Meadville/Youngstown area to Chicago.  The DL&W/EL is missing a line segment in NJ from Port Morris to Slateford, PA although NJT has ownership of the ROW and in fact is laying a 7 mile section of track west from Port Morris to Andover and hopes to build to Slateford.    The Erie from Meadville and Buffalo east is intact but under different owner/operators and leases to Hoboken, NJ (but freight only as far as the NJ Meadows/Jersey City area).

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Posted by D.Carleton on Friday, October 26, 2012 7:18 PM

This is the sort of "what if" exercise that has ruined many a night's sleep.

That said, many north-south lines in the Midwest, specifically in Indiana and Ohio, were abandonded with the formation of ConRail. The PRR from Chicago to Cincinnati was the fastest route and called the "passenger line." The majority of the PRR from Pittsburgh to Chicago via Columbus was abandoned west of Columbus. Both of these would have fit very nicely with today's Norfolk Southern. Unfortunately the problem back then was "too much track" and I cannot fault the decision makers of the day for what they kept and what they let go.

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