April 04, 2008

CSX freight traffic: 'S-line' may carry 56 trains

WILDWOOD — Since last April, the number of freight trains traveling through Sumter and Marion counties has nearly doubled, according to officials with CSX Corp.

Early last year, CSX, a Jacksonville-based rail line, told Wildwood City Manager Jim Stevens that 15 CSX freight trains travel on the “S-line” through the city on a daily basis; by October that number had jumped to 27, according to CSX spokesman Gary Sease, who provided no explanation for the nearly 50 percent increase in freight traffic in less than six months.

The significant increase likely will not be the city’s last.

In November, the state of Florida purchased nearly 62 miles of track from CSX. That strip of track stretches from DeLand in Volusia County to Poinciana in Osceola County, and will be used to help establish a commuter-rail system through Central Florida, a taxpayer-funded project aimed at helping alleviate traffic congestion in and around the Orlando area.

As a result of the track improvements, CSX will be able to run up to 56 trains daily along the “S line,” nearly double the current level.

“If you ask me am I happy about it … no,” said Jim Stevens. The large increase in freight moving through Wildwood, combined with what he considers a failure on the part of CSX to keep him informed, has the Wildwood city manager annoyed. Stevens says he has yet to be contacted by CSX regarding the exact number of trains that run through Wildwood on a daily basis or the number of additional trains that would be added after the improvements are complete.

In Massachusetts, CSX told no-fault is a no-go

WORCESTER, MA - While state transportation officials continue negotiations with CSX Corp. to buy the railroad tracks between Worcester and Framingham, the state’s congressional delegation is threatening legislative action if CSX doesn’t accept a liability policy based on fault. [....]

In an interview yesterday, U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, knocked CSX’s argument that it is simply asking to maintain an industry standard.

"It is bad public policy for the Commonwealth to give no-fault liability to CSX or any other railroad," Mr. McGovern said.

He pointed to the company’s contracts with Amtrak, which, he said, have forced taxpayers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for liability claims that were caused by CSX negligence.

"CSX is being unreasonable here," he said. "It’s nuts, it’s crazy to enter into this kind of agreement."

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