American Railroads

News each weekday of American railroads. Our focus is on freight rail, but Amtrak and commuter rail are also essential ingredients. Nothing published on holidays.

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Location: Middleburg (Jacksonville), Florida, United States

Published in Trains magazine, Railfan & Railroad, Passenger Train Journal

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The centrist National Assn. of Railroad Passengers directors approved a resolution in June “urging Amtrak to restore the New Orleans-Orlando segment of the Sunset Limited now that CSX tracks have been restored to a higher standard than existed before Hurricane Katrina.”
Dan Harmon, of Tampa, is an inveterate railroad observer, especially on things CSX. He pointed out, “T100-112 series coal trains run from Kentucky to the Seminole Electric Power Plant at Bostwick, Fla., near Palatka.”
He also noted, “Both CSX main lines run through Clay County, but most traffic is over on the S-Line which runs from Baldwin to Highland, Starke, Waldo, Wildwood, and Tampa.”
Over the years, he has learned that “Much chemical traffic runs over the S-Line. Ammonia and sulfur for the Bone Valley are included, as well as other chemicals for other industries.”
CSX’s so-called “Juice Train,” K-650, also travels this way. It hauls Tropicana orange juice from Bradenton, Fla. to Kearney, N.J. in cartons on pallets inside refrigerator cars.
Westward freight trains leave South Baldwin Yard in Baldwin, Fla., near Jacksonville, onto the Wildwood Subdivision at milepost S 656 and continue to Lawtey, Starke and Camp Blanding on what is essentially double track. Near milepost 680, the double-track ends, and it continues as single track on to Zephyr Hills, at milepost AR 840.7 – nearly 156 miles from Baldwin. Eventually it joins up with the A Line to continue to Miami.
Viewers will see varieties of “reporting marks” on freight cars. “OUCX” is the reporting mark for Orlando Utilities Commission and their open-top hopper cars. Those are coal hoppers for Stanton Power Plant in Orlando, but are owned by Trinity Rail Management, Inc.
“A lot of coal runs down the S-Line, several trains a week to Lakeland Power Plant. At least one train goes daily to Crystal River Power. Some go to Indiantown Power Plant near West Palm Beach,” Harmon said.
A potential addition to the traffic mix, at least on the A Line, will be commuter trains.
That is still several years away, but in its “Feasibility of a Clay County Transportation Authority” report, dated March 10, The Clay County Transportation Advisory Commission remarked, “the County is served by only two bus lines in the extreme northern part of County, despite having present and future population densities that rival that of Jacksonville.”
Chairman John Tabor and the other 13 members concurred.
The TAC also heard various presentations on a potential commuter rail route along the CSX railroad right-of-way and the possibility of commuter boat service between Green Cove Springs, Orange Park, the Naval Air Station, and downtown Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority was supposed advertise last spring a quarter-million dollar study on behalf of the First Coast Metropolitan Planning Organization looking into potential commuter rail development, but so far, they have not.
Last month CSX and Gov. Jeb Bush said CSX would sell A Line track to the state so 61-mile commuter train service can begin in the Orlando area.
On July 18, Jacksonville-based CSX Corp. [NYSE: CSX] reported its second quarter 2006 net earnings of $390 million, or $1.66 per share.
“Earnings for the second quarter included insurance recoveries related to Hurricane Katrina and benefits associated with the resolution of tax matters with a combined impact of 50 cents per share.”
Last year’s second quarter earnings were $165 million, or 73 cents per share, “which included costs related to a debt repurchase of 54 cents per share, partially offset by a state income tax benefit of $0.31 per share.”
Its board also approved a 2-for-1 stock split and a 10-cent quarterly dividend on the post-split shares, “representing a 54 percent increase.”
The board also authorized a “$500 million share buyback program that the company intends to complete over the next 12 months.”
The dime post-split quarterly dividend will go to shareholders of record as of August 25 and is payable on September 15. The share buyback program began on July 24.
CSX stock closed on Monday, August 14, at $59.30.

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