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Rail News Home MOW

April 2009



Rail News: MOW

8th Annual MOW Survey: Regional & Short Lines



by Jeff Stagl, managing editor

New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Assistant Chief Engineer Robert Kollmar best summarizes regionals’ and short lines’ 2009 approach to maintenance-of-way (MOW) programs: “The focus of our final capital plan will be on required investments rather than on desired investments.”

The 27 regionals and short lines that responded to our MOW survey plan to complete dozens of necessary infrastructure improvements this year. Eleven of the railroads have budgeted more dollars vs. last year to upgrade a tunnel, install more rail or ties, build a bridge or complete other vital work.

But several projects some respondents hoped to complete in ’09 now are on hold because of the recession. In addition, others are taking different measures to offset the economic downturn.

For example, Genesee & Wyoming Inc. is in-sourcing many capital projects the short-line holding company typically would subcontract.

This year, New Orleans Public Belt’s MOW budget has nearly doubled to $10.5 million vs. 2008’s $5.5 million because the short line boosted revenue more than 10 percent and aggressively managed costs last year, says Kollmar.

The railroad plans to focus on rail replacement (“which we don’t do every year,” he says), as well as tie replacement and surfacing work.

However, the 122-mile short line also has postponed two projects involving upgrades to the Cotton Warehouse Yard (half of which has been completed) and Race Street Yard because of the weak economy.

“By the end of the third quarter, we’re hoping we can put these projects back on schedule,” says Kollmar. “We’re hopefully optimistic we can do them this year.”

Farmrail System Inc. has deferred projects, too. The railroad’s 2009 MOW budget of $400,00 has been halved from last year’s in part because Farmrail postponed capital tie programs and one bridge upgrade project, says Roadway Superintendent and Safety Officer J.R. Gelnar.

“With extensive tie rehab work the past five years, we slightly increased our maintenance tie program and eliminated our capital program to make monies available for yard track relocations,” he says, adding that the bridge project will be reconsidered next year.

Under review

The Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co. (IHB) also expects to re-evaluate a few MOW projects next year. But for now, the railroad has pared down its projected spending to $10 million vs. 2008’s $24 million because of tight budget constraints.

This year’s program will focus solely on maintenance requirements, wrote IHB Chief Engineer Nick Montagano in the railroad’s survey.

“The engineering department will need to continue to be transparent in its maintenance practices, staying on top of items that lead to derailments or slow orders,” he wrote. “With limited funds due to tight budget restraints caused by the weakening economy, this is where all of the engineering work done over the past several years starts to pay off.”

Tunnel vision

Montana Rail Link (MRL) officials hope their decision to proceed with a $17 million tunnel project this year pays off, as well.

The timing is right for the project because traffic is down, providing more track windows to complete the work, says MRL Chief Engineer Richard Keller.

“We would need to do this project in one or two years anyway,” he says. “Now, we can work on it eight hours a day and six days a week.”

To begin in early April and conclude by year’s end, the project calls for expanding and widening a 4,000-foot tunnel west of Helena that stands at 2.2 percent grade and was built in 1883.

Coming up for air

The 900-plus-mile regional plans to raise the tunnel about five feet, widen it about three feet and remove an old brick lining.

“We’ll create more air in the tunnel to help prevent our locomotives from overheating,” says Keller. “We got new high-horsepower locomotives a few years back that have electronics that are more sensitive to heat and starve for air.”

MRL’s overall $45 million spending plan — up substantially from 2008’s $23.5 million budget — also calls for installing 20 track miles of 136- to 141-pound rail and 110,000 wood ties.

“Our biggest challenge this year is to coordinate the tunnel project track windows with the rail/tie gang windows required to get the work done,” says Keller.

 

2009 MOW Plans (by budget amount)

Genesee & Wyoming Inc.
(Data from 61 u.s. and canadian railroads)

2009 MOW budget: Total annual maintenance capex about $50 million for all of GWI, including holdings in Australia and The Netherlands (details below from U.S./Canada).

Rail: Replace or install 33 miles of CWR; 3 miles of bolted rail.

Sidings: Build two-mile siding in Carbon County, Utah.

Ballast: Install 158,500 tons.

Ties: Replace or install 219,000 wood ties.

Grinding/surfacing: Surface 596 miles.

Bridge work: Pekin, Ill. ($450,000, August); replace one and rehab three bridges in Butler, Pa. ($500,000, April); rehab four bridges in Houston, Pa. ($900,000, April); replace bridge in Albany, Ore. ($2.2 million, complete in December); numerous smaller rehabs in Southern and Canadian regions; miscellaneous repairs to bridge in Rail Link Region in Virginia ($460,000, January); rebuild bridge in Georgia ($97,000, second quarter); and miscellaneous repairs to bridges in Maryland, North Carolina and Tennessee ($96,000, second quarter).

Montana Rail Link

2009 MOW budget: $45 million

2008 MOW budget: $23.5 million

Reason for increase: Price increases and a $17 million tunnel project (see photos at left).

Rail: Replace or install 20 track miles of 136- and 141-pound rail.

Ballast: Install 100,000 tons.

Ties: Replace or install 110,000 wood ties.

Grinding/surfacing: Grind 1,200 pass miles; surface 250 miles.

Bridge work: Major rehab of a truss bridge west of Missoula. A two-and-one-half year project that started in fall 2008 (total of $4 million; $2.5 million in 2009).

Alaska Railroad Corp.

2009 MOW budget: $31.7 million

2008 MOW budget: $29.4 million

Reason for increase: Slightly more budgeted due to slightly larger work plan.

Rail: Replace 450,000 linear feet , or about 42 track miles, with CWR.

Sidings: Extend siding at Saulich to 6,350 feet (started in 2008 and complete in 2009); extend siding at Cantwell to 8,600 feet (start and complete in 2009).

Ties: Replace or install 62,200 wood and 4,500 concrete ties.

Grinding/surfacing: Grind 705 pass miles; surface 203 miles.

Ballast: Install 80,000 tons.

Bridge work: Total $6.3 million budget in 2009, with $4.5 million from the FTA and $1.8 million from railroad. Projects include rehab of four bridges; replacement of four bridges; construction of one bridge; and replacement of component parts at three locations.

Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co.

2009 MOW budget: $16 million

2008 MOW budget: $12 million

Reason for increase: Need to increase productivity due to increase in traffic volumes and loads on old 90-pound rail. Also, increase of car rail program to four rail trains (instead of two) and the reconstruction of three bridges.

Rail: Replace or install 28 miles with new 115-pound CWR in Madison Sub.

Ballast: Install 35,000 tons.

Ties: Replace or install 58,000 wood ties.

Bridge work: Replace structure of CrossPlain bridge; replace Whitewater and Monroe bridges ($2.5 million).

New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad

2009 MOW budget: $10.7 million

2008 MOW budget: $9.9 million

Reason for increase: Federal short-line tax credit projects.

Rail: Replace or install two miles of 132-pound welded rail.

Ballast: Install 40,000 tons.

Ties: Install 36,754 wood ties.

Bridge work: Rehab stringers at Deposit, N.Y., bridge.

New orleans public belt Railroad

2009 MOW budget: $10.5 million

2008 MOW budget: $5.5 million

Reason for increase: Precision execution of operating and capital plans yielded additional potential investment opportunities, which were supported by our commission leadership.

Rail: Replace or install 13.2 miles; 11.2 miles of CWR and two miles of jointed rail.

Ballast: Install 10,000 tons, granite.

Ties: Install 12,000 wood; 3,000 steel ties.

Grinding/surfacing: Surface 25 miles.

Bridge work: Ongoing $1 billion Huey P. Long Bridge improvements program (as part of roadway widening), which is funded by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

Iowa Interstate Railroad ltd.

2009 MOW budget: $10.2 million

2008 MOW budget: $11.7 million

Reason for decrease: We will install less CWR compared with 2008.

Rail: Replace or install 7.5 miles with CWR.

Grinding/surfacing: Surface 100 miles.

Ballast: Install 65,000 tons.

Ties: Replace or install 54,600 wood ties.

Bridge work: Various bridge rehabs; start in February and conclude in October ($750,000).

Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co.

2009 MOW budget: $10 million

2008 MOW budget: $24 million

Reason for decrease: Budget constraints.

Rail: Replace or install 7.3 miles with 136-pound rail.

Ballast: Install 23,000 tons (trap rock) and 20,000 tons (track rock).

Ties: Install 15,000 wood ties.

Grinding/surfacing: Grind 52 miles; surface 89 miles.

Bridge work: Replace 350-foot open-deck, three-track bridge at Blue Island Yard with new steel and deck; build new 107-foot bridge — single-track lead at CP Hill, which will be a connection to the UP Melrose yard.Wheeling & lake erie

Railway Co.

2009 MOW budget: $7 million

2008 MOW budget: $8 million

Reason for decrease: Lower revenue.

Ballast: Install 15,000 tons.

Ties: Install 20,000 ties.

Bridge work: Redeck five bridges; rehab 28 bridge pedestals; rehab two bridge abutments.

The Indiana Rail Road Co.

2009 MOW budget: $6.08 million

2008 MOW budget: $6.71 million

Reason for decrease: In line with the company’s five-year plan.

Rail: Replace or install 141-pound CWR.

Siding: Build 10,000-foot siding in Sullivan, Ind., to increase capacity in anticipation of new unit train moves ($2.55 million, project not included in ‘09 budget numbers).

Ballast: Install 10,000 tons.

Ties: Replace or install 3,000 wood ties.

Grinding/surfacing: Grind 65 miles; surface 125 miles.

Bridge work: New concrete bridges in Palestine ($1.8 million) and Oblong, Ill. ($950,000).

Evansville Western Railway

2009 MOW budget: $6 million

2008 MOW budget: $5 million

Reason for increase: Install new siding.

Rail: Replace or install 25,000 feet of CWR.

Ballast: Install 10,000 tons.

Ties: Replace or install 15,000 wood ties.

Grinding/surfacing: Surface 28 miles.

Siding: Build 9,000-foot siding in Mount Vernon, Ind.

Bridge work: Rehab 12 bridges (caps, piling and stringers).

Patriot Rail Corp.
(data from five railroads)

2009 MOW budget (total): $5 million

2008 MOW budget (total): $2.1 million

Reason for increase: Mainline tie project; rehab Rocker Yard; Utah Central Railway purchased in 2008; Sacramento Valley Railway started operations as new Patriot Rail operation in March 2008, so full-year 2009 budget vs. 10 months last year.

Rail: Install 7.75 miles; 115-pound jointed rail and other jointed rail.

Sidings: At least two additional 1,000-foot team tracks.

Ballast: Install 2,825 tons.

Ties: Replace or install 17,765 wood and 73 switch ties.

Grinding/surfacing: 10.5 miles; spot surface along 62 miles where needed.

Bridge work: (Louisiana & NW Railroad) Horsehead Creek and Brister, replace caps; South Athens, replace caps, stringers and pile work. (Utah Central) rehab transfer yard bridge in Ogden by replacing 75 deck ties and shins ($35,000, start in June); rehab Evona bridge by replacing 80 deck ties, surfacing, aligning approaches and painting steel truss ($65,000, start in July).

Reading and Northern Railroad

2009 MOW budget: $3.87 million

2008 MOW budget: $4.2 million

Reason for decrease: Will be installing a few thousand less ties this year.

Rail: Install approx. one mile of jointed rail.

Ballast: Install 10,000 tons.

Ties: Install 10,000 wood ties.

Grinding/surfacing: Grind 45 miles; surface 55 miles.

Bridge work: Renew two wooden decks in Jim Thorpe, Pa., area (summer project); various steel work and repairs on various bridges; still working on breaking ground on a new bridge across the Lehigh River in Jim Thorpe.

Providence and Worcester Railroad Co.

2009 MOW budget: $3.5 million

2008 MOW budget: $3.5 million

Reason for same: Capital budget remains flat due to current economic conditions.

Rail: Install two miles of 115-pound stick rail.

Sidings: Construct three tracks, about 2,600 feet in total length, in Providence, R.I.

Ballast: Install 15,000 tons.

Ties: Install 15,000 wood ties.

Grinding/surfacing: Total of 20 miles.

Bridge work: Deck renewals as follows: Norwich Bridge, Thompson, (start in June, $45,000); Plainfield, Conn., bridge (start in May, $25,000); Middletown Bridge (start in June, $55,000); Portland RT, Middletown (start in July, $45,000); Main Line, Worcester, Mass. (two tracks, $65,000).

Iowa Northern Railway

2009 MOW budget: $2.1 million

2008 MOW budget: $2.3 million

Rail: Replace or install 3.3 miles with jointed rail.

Sidings: Construct 3.3 miles of yard track in Manly, Iowa.

Ballast: Install 26,000 tons.

Ties: Install 27,000 wood ties.

Bridge work: Repair flood damage to bridge in Waterloo, Iowa.

East Penn Railroad

2009 MOW budget: $1.8 million

2008 MOW budget: $1.4 million

Reason for increase: Availability of PennDOT capital assistance and state/federal grade crossing programs. Of total, $1.3 million comes from state and federal grants under cost-sharing programs.

Rail: Install 1.1 miles of 110-pound and heavier rail.

Siding: 2,600-foot siding in Pocopson, Pa.

Ballast: Install 2,000 tons.

Ties: Replace or install 3,500 wood and 110 steel ties.

Grinding/surfacing: 5.7 miles.

Bridge work: Rehab Perkiomen Creek bridge on Quakertown Line; repointing and additional masonry work, $65,000.

Copper Basin Railway

2009 MOW budget: $1.6 million

2008 MOW budget: $2.1 million

Reason for decrease: Reduced revenue ($453,109 less); shipper cut backs.

Rail: Replace or install 1.5 miles of 136-pound jointed rail.

Sidings: Build 1,500-foot siding in Ray Junction and 700-foot siding in Florence, Ariz.

Ballast: Install 1,000 tons.

Ties: Install 1,000 ties.

Grinding/surfacing: Surface 30 miles.

Bridge work: Rehab only what’s required at approx. eight bridges (started March 30).

Central California Traction Co.

2009 MOW budget: $1.1 million

2008 MOW budget: $1.2 million

Reason for decrease: New yard tracks at Port of Stockton.

Rail: Install 2.5 miles of CWR at port; install 5,000 feet of 112-pound jointed rail.

Sidings: Construct three new yard tracks and one industry track at port.

Ballast: Install 4,300 tons.

Ties: Install 3,000 hardwood and 280 switch ties.

Grinding/surfacing: 7.5 miles.

Bridge work: Redeck one 80-foot bridge and install three caps on three bents of same bridge, rebuild two concrete head walls; replace three caps and repair head walls on second bridge; add new wood caps to seven steel bents on a third bridge.

Pioneer Railcorp
(16 railroads)

2009 MOW budget: $1.1 million

2008 MOW budget: $650,000

Reason for decrease: Economy concerns and project timing.

Rail: Install two miles of jointed rail.

Ballast: Install 10,000 tons.

Ties: Replace or install 15,000 wood ties.

Bridge work: General timber maintenance in Illinois ($75,000, begin in spring).

Greenville & Western Railway Co. L.L.C.

2009 MOW budget: $800,000

2008 MOW budget: $800,000

Reason for similar budget: Due to a late start on 2008 track upgrades to support a new unit ethanol distribution facility, only about $400,000 of a planned $800,000 was spent in 2008. This year’s budget will likely be about $700,000 to complete work begun in 2008 and around another $100,000 for maintenance.

Ties: Install 1,000 to 1,500 wood ties; limited amount of turnout tie work.

Bridge work: Re-deck two bridges.

Other work: Rebuild nine grade crossings; seek funds to install active warning devices at four crossings.

Madison Railroad

2009 MOW budget: $620,000

2009 MOW budget: $20,000

Reason for increase: Rail replacement, surfacing, tie installation and ballast.

Rail: Install four miles of mainline and one mile of siding rail.

Siding: New one-mile siding in Madison, Ind.

Ties: Install 4,700 ties.

Grinding/surfacing: Four mainline, one siding mile.

Ballast: Install 1,400 tons.

Brownsville & Rio Grande Railroad

2009 MOW budget: $484,200

2008 MOW budget: $480,000

Reason for decrease: Business has slowed down.

Rail: Install one mile of bolted-joint rail.

Ties: Install 1,000 wood ties.

Ballast: Install 100 tons.

Bridge work: Rehab three bridges ($75,000).

Farmrail System

2009 MOW budget: $400,000

2008 MOW budget: $800,000

Reason for decrease: Completion of major projects and concerns with the economy.

Rail: Install 5,000 feet of jointed rail

Ballast: Install 10,000 tons.

Ties: Install 25,000 ties.

Bridge work: Replace stringers on one bridge to obtain 286k; perform various maintenance on 25 timber bridges.

Central Illinois Railroad Co.

2009 MOW budget: $225,000

2008 MOW budget: $210,000

Reason for increase: Anticipated cost increases from contractors and materials.

Rail: Install jointed rail.

Sidings: Build 4,200-foot siding in Peoria and 2,500-foot siding in Chicago.

Ballast: Install 10 tons.

Ties: Install 75 wood ties.

Red River Valley & Western Railroad Co.

2009 MOW budget: $215,000

2008 MOW budget: $1.1 million

Reason for decrease: Project timing.

Rail: Install one mile of jointed and welded rail.

Ballast: Install 31,800 tons.

Ties: Replace or install 19,500 wood ties.

Grinding/surfacing: 11 miles.

Bridge work: Rehab/repair six bridges ($90,000 total).

Twin Cities & Western Railroad

2009 MOW budget: $80,000

2008 MOW budget: $780,000

Reason for decrease: Completed a new 7,400-foot siding and rehabilitated a 5,200-foot siding in 2008.

Rail: Install 840 feet of track.

Ties: Install 19,000 wood and 2,000 industrial grade ties.

Ballast: Install 17,300 tons.

San Pedro & Southwestern Railroad

2009 MOW budget: $5,000

2008 MOW budget: $40,000

Reason for decrease: Completed most major MOW rehab projects.

Rail: Install jointed rail.

Sidings: Build 6,970-foot siding in Benson and 1,780-foot siding in Curtiss, Ariz.

Grinding/surfacing: 9 miles total.

Ties: Install 500 wood ties.

Bridge work: Rehab a couple of bridges,deck ties, $2,000.

 


MOW ’09 Contents



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