Despite a depressed U.S. coal market, CSX Transportation, one of two major eastern U.S. railroads, was able to report several positive developments for coal in the Nov. 21 version of its coal newsletter.
For one thing, at the Curtis Bay rail-to-ship terminal in Baltimore, which handles a lot of Northern Appalachia coal, CSX demonstrated its ability to deliver a complete export product to customers originating in the Illinois Basin.
“It was great to win the customer’s trust to test the IL Basin to Curtis Bay supply chain, which allows producers to load large Cape-size vessels to the Far East and Europe. It was very rewarding to hear they were satisfied and pleased with the efficiencies of the new export route that maximized throughput in a relatively short window,” said Russ Epting, director-Export Coal.
“This move through Baltimore was not an obvious logistics solution at first,” said Lorenzo Jolley, director-Coal Operations. “But, along with the shipper, we took a closer look. We found we could load and move the coal to the terminal quickly. The coal was at the Curtis Bay Pier for as little time as coal coming from closer basins.”
Chris Bright, CSX’s export coal market manager, added: “We believe that Curtis Bay provides ILB customers certain advantages to the more traditional Gulf of Mexico export route – tighter control of the coal supply chain between production and vessel; faster mine-to-vessel distribution; and a nice vessel freight savings when sailing to Europe from Baltimore versus from the Gulf.”
Also at Curtis Bay, early in the third quarter two major capital projects were completed, resulting in greater throughput capacity and overall productivity.
- New indexing systems allow for line-of-road locomotives to deliver the fully loaded trains right to the front of either the #2 or #3 dumper, disconnect the locomotive from the loaded car string and return to line-of-road operations, the newsletter said. The indexing system connects to the car string and manages placement of the cars into the dumper. The indexing system combined with the long in-bound loaded tracks (completed earlier this year) has effectively reduced the placement time of a loaded train from 3.5-4 hours to about 30-45 minutes.
- The completion of the A-Pad ground storage area results in greater flexibility for ground storage management. The additional 30,000-35,000-ton storage area provides greater opportunity for additional total throughput and management of resources to load at both piers.
Coal and coke car program kicks off
In November, CSX began rebuilding traditional carbon steel Coke Express, bottom-drop coal hoppers, and its gray tub fleet with non-corrosive designs. The rebuild program is expected to last into 2015. The plan is to rebuild about 6,300 total cars, the largest such program CSX has undertaken.
- CSX said it will begin to rebuild about 480 coke cars from the traditional carbon steel design to an all stainless steel design. These cars will still have the current dimensions and capacities, but will provide the longevity and non-corrosive durability inherent with stainless steel. The rebuilt cokecars began production in mid-November and will be completed by February 2014.
- In support of the industrial coal and iron ore business, CSX will rebuild about 2,700 carbon steel bottom-drop coal hoppers into a full stainless steel configuration. This program will run from February to December 2014.
- The entire fleet of 3,200 gray tub coal gons will be rebuilt. They will go from carbon steel to an aluminum/stainless steel hybrid configuration, similar to 5,000 other cars that CSX has bought over the last few years. This program is due to start in September 2014 and be completed, tentatively, by the end of 2015.
CSX also reported on recent management moves in its coal division:
- Sara Schryer has moved from the Coal River market to the Automotive market for International accounts.
- Gary Bethel, Vice President of Transportation for the Northern Region, retired on Oct. 1.
- Bob Frulla, who had been Division Manager-Huntington, has been named as Vice President of the Northern Division, reporting to Cindy Sanborn.
- Brian Barr has replaced Frulla as Division Manager-Huntington, coming from a job as Assistant Division Manager-Atlanta.
- Bill Keough has been promoted to Assistant Division Manager-Atlanta, reporting to Jermaine Swafford.