Norfolk Southern, CSX agree to share West Virginia coal line

In a move that may aid coal production in Raleigh County, W.Va., Norfolk Southern Railway (NSR) has agreed to grant overhead and local trackage rights to CSX Transportation (CSXT) over the Pemberton Line, located between milepost WG12.0 near Helen, W. Va., and milepost WG23.6 at Pemberton, W. Va., a distance of about 11.6 miles.

The railroads worked out that deal in May and filed July 26 for approval with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, which posted a notice about the application in the Aug. 10 Federal Register. The transaction is scheduled to be consummated on Aug. 25.

“The purpose of the transaction is to permit CSXT to serve all existing and future customers at any point or connection located on the Pemberton Line, including access to and use of NSR’s side tracks at Helen, W.Va., and Amigo, W.Va., for use as interchange facilities between NSR and CSXT, including, but not limited to, use of those side tracks with respect to service to East Gulf Mine and other Stone Coal Branch traffic handled by agreement for CSXT by NSR from time to time,” said the STB notice.

The term “East Gulf Mine” is an apparent reference to the East Gulf prep plant of Pocahontas Coal, a unit of United Coal that operates several small mines that feed metallurgical coal into the East Gulf plant. The Pocahontas Coal operations are near the south (Helen) end of the Pemberton Line.

This deal could cover more than just existing operations. “In the event NSR decides to construct branch, spur, connecting, mine, switching or other tracks for the purpose of serving any coal mining operation, tipple, loading ramp, or other installation from any point on the Joint Trackage, NSR shall permit CSXT to participate on an equal basis in the costs of construction of such necessary tracks, provided that NSR shall give CSXT not less than sixty (60) days’ notice in writing of its intention to construct such tracks, which shall include design and construction plans and specifications for the tracks, and CSXT shall notify NSR within thirty (30) days of the receipt of such notice of its desire to participate in such construction,” said the agreement between the railroads. “In the event that CSXT notifies NSR within such thirty (30) day period of its desire to participate in such construction, CSXT shall, upon agreeing to pay one-half of the costs of construction, have the right to the joint use with NSR of such tracks so constructed, otherwise CSXT shall have no rights to use any tracks so constructed by NSR and NSR shall pay 100 percent of the construction cost.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.