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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Hurricane Katrina puts the hurt on Class Is', other roads' operations

It’ll take months for cities in Mississippi and Louisiana to recover from the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. On a much smaller scale — paling in comparison to the life-and-death struggles of residents in the over-flooded, partially flattened states — it’ll take weeks for Norfolk Southern Railway, CSX Transportation, BNSF Railway Co. and other railroads to repair hurricane-damaged track and completely restore service.

NS has re-routed traffic south of Meridian, Miss., including service to New Orleans and Mobile, Ala. The Class I also embargoed all shipments to locations south of Meridian and Marion Jct., Ala., to avoid further congestion in the areas.

Before the storm, CSX Intermodal ceased all operations from New Orleans to Pensacola, Fla. Currently, CSXI’s New Orleans and Mobile terminals are out of service and officials aren’t sure when the terminals will reopen.

BNSF Railway Co. suspended operations before the storm, too. The Class I stopped running trains from Lafayette, La., east to New Orleans; BNSF typically operates two trains daily on the line. The railroad removed all rolling stock and signal system components from the area before the hurricane arrived.

At Amtrak, the storm affected three long-distance trains that service New Orleans. Through Sunday, the Chicago-to-New Orleans City of New Orleans will originate and terminate in Memphis, Tenn., instead of the Big Easy; Through Tuesday, the New York City-to-New Orleans Crescent will originate and terminate in Atlanta; and through Thursday Sept. 8, the Orlando-to-Los Angeles Sunset Limited (which stops in New Orleans) will originate and terminate in Orlando instead of San Antonio.

Meanwhile, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) is considering whether to change the dates or venue for its Southern Region meeting to be held Oct. 30-Nov. 1 at the Beau Rivage Resort in Biloxi, Miss.

“At this time, we are considering a variety of possibilities, including possibly moving the meeting date to early December, and/or changing the meeting location for this year and going back to Biloxi in fall 2006,” ASLRRA officials said in an email to members.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/31/2005