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Five Class Is report minimal damage from Gustav

After spending a day or two in the Southeast assessing infrastructure damage from Hurricane Gustav, five Class Is as of yesterday determined no significant destruction had occurred.

CSX Transportation officials found minimal damage to bridges and terminals, and some damage to about 21 miles of track beginning 10 miles east of New Orleans. The railroad will spend about two weeks repairing the track damage, CSXT said. As a result, seven to 10 trains will continue to be rerouted daily through alternative gateways in Memphis, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; and East St. Louis, Ill.

By Friday, CSXT expects to repair other isolated track damage between New Orleans and Pascagoula, Miss., and remove downed trees and other debris in various areas.

Union Pacific Railroad officials discovered no major infrastructure damage that would prevent the Class I from resuming normal operations within a day or so. Crews continued to clear debris from tracks and install generators for signal systems without power. UP officials also are working with local power companies to clear downed power lines from tracks.

The Class I expected to restore service to New Orleans by last night and restore all signals by today. Some traffic still is being rerouted over Memphis and St. Louis gateways until the New Orleans gateway is fully operational.

Meanwhile, BNSF Railway Co. crews continued to restore tracks and inspect areas impacted by the hurricane. Traffic moving between Houston and Beaumont, Texas, and Lafayette, La., was projected to resume yesterday, while traffic moving between Lafayette and New Orleans is expected to resume today. Transit delays of 48 to 72 hours are anticipated.

Yesterday, Norfolk Southern Railway trains resumed operations between Hattiesburg, Miss., and New Orleans. Local yard and customer switching operations will resume as inspections are completed and customer operations return to normal, NS said.

The railroad's New Orleans gateway is open for interchange traffic, but some traffic continues to be rerouted via the Memphis gateway until connecting carriers resume their New Orleans operations.

On Tuesday, The Kansas City Southern Railway Co. cleared trees and power lines from lines leading to terminals in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La. The Class I expected to open its line between Shreveport, La., and Beaumont, Texas, yesterday, and the line between Baton Rouge and New Orleans today.

New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Co. officials continued to inspect track and facilities as of yesterday. The railroad's operations in New Orleans and Jefferson, La., are shut down until inspections are completed and area residents are allowed to return to their homes.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/4/2008