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8/28/2012    



Maintenance Of Way Article
Railroads prepare for impending Gulf Coast hurricane



Maintenance Of Way
Tropical Storm Isaac's slow movement through the Gulf of Mexico and onto land means the storm — which might still evolve into a minor hurricane — could hit coastal areas with up to 36 hours of tropical winds and 10 to 16 inches of rain.

Therefore, CSX Transportation officials continued to assess the storm’s impacts yesterday and prepare for its wrath. As the storm approached New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., the New Orleans Levy Board closed flood gates yesterday, preventing rail movements and interchanges by all railroads in New Orleans, CSXT officials said in a customer bulletin posted on the Class I's website.

“Traffic destined to New Orleans, Mobile and Pensacola is being held until the storm passes and routes reopen,” they said, adding that, where possible, traffic will be moved via alternate routes.

CSXT also made a $75,000 contribution to the American Red Cross for use in storm preparations and as resources wherever needed.

Meanwhile, Norfolk Southern Railway implemented emergency plans for Gulf Coast areas projected to be impacted by Isaac.

“Traffic normally routed via interchanges in the New Orleans and Mobile areas are being curtailed and some traffic has been rerouted to avoid areas that may be impacted by flooding or high winds,” NS officials said in a service alert posted on the Class I’s home page. “Rail cars held in the areas around Mobile and New Orleans will be moved to avoid areas prone to flooding. Local service in these areas will be suspended effective [today] until the storm passes and operations can safely resume normal schedules.”

At Union Pacific Railroad, an embargo was issued yesterday for intermodal traffic heading to its Avondale, La., yard. New Orleans interline traffic currently online or en route will be diverted to Memphis, Tenn., UP officials said in a customer announcement posted on the Class I’s website.

Today in Avondale, all gate activity will be discontinued, buildings and equipment will be secured prior to the storm’s arrival, and personnel will be released, they said.

Storm preparations at the Kansas City Southern Railway Co. (KCSR) include shutting down service in the Gulfport and New Orleans subdivisions until Thursday, weather and crew availability permitting, and working with other railroads on alternative routing options for New Orleans gateway traffic.  

“The Meridian Speedway between Meridian, Miss., and Shreveport, La., is expected to remain open,” KCSR officials said in a service status update posted on the railroad’s website. “There may be delays to normal operations, as we patrol the line and remove any possible obstructions.”

The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Co. (NOPB) went into preparation mode, too. Effective yesterday, all work assignments in all crafts were canceled until further notice.

“Return to work notification will follow the passing of Hurricane Isaac once the determination is made there is no immediate threat to our employees, their families or the railroad,” NOPB officials said in a notice posted on the short line’s home page.

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