Wednesday, July 17, 2013

NS completes Mon Line upgrade

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Norfolk Southern has completed $22.6 million in track, bridge, and signal improvements along its 85-mile “Mon Line,” a major coal route through Pennsylvania’s Monongahela Valley.

The Mon Line (a portion of the former Monongahela Railroad), extends south from Pittsburgh to serve five coal mines in Pennsylvania’s Washington, Greene, Marion, and Monongalia counties. During 2012, nearly 36.4 million tons of coal moved over the line, delivered to electric utility plants and east coast export terminals.

Norfolk Southern accomplished the Mon Line upgrade with a maintenance blitz that started with a partial shutdown of train traffic on June 24 before kicking into high gear with a full shutdown on June 29. About 400 NS m/w employees culled from all over the railroad’s 22-state system installed 26,904 ties and 75,000 tons of ballast; laid 13 miles of new rail; resurfaced another 110 miles of rail; added 961 new bridge ties; replaced 22 culverts and cleaned 110; and upgraded 40 road crossings. The crews also replaced a retaining wall and a 140-foot timber bridge with a ballast deck over the Pigeon Creek in Monongahela. NS crews, manning 60 work trains requiring 300 meals per day, labored through intense summer conditions, with some days seeing humidity at nearly 100%.

In a related project, NS crews installed new signals in West Brownsville, Pa., the first step in expanding the rail yard there so that 130-car unit coal trains (an industry standard) are staged and handled more efficiently. The project also calls for lengthening two main lines and two yard tracks. The yard also is a crew change point.

“Jobs, both railroad and non-railroad, depend on the vitality of the Mon Line,” said NS Vice President Engineering Mike Wheeler. “The work completed here will help keep this line safe and help us serve customers efficiently.”

The Monongahela Railway was a coal-hauling short line in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. It was jointly controlled originally by the Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Central subsidiary Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, with NYC and PRR later succeeded by Penn Central. The “Monon” was merged into Conrail on May 1, 1993, which Norfolk Southern and CSX acquired in a 58%/42% split in 1999.

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