Until I draw my last breath, I’ll remember that the speed on the curve at Dry Wall is 55 MPH. There were 331 speed restrictions on the 330 miles of the former B&O between Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh, Pa. (as well as 22 open train order towers) I had to know to qualify as the engineer of Amtrak’s Capitol Limited in 1986, but I’ll never forget that one.
The railroad industry is making steady progress implementing Positive Train Control. You wouldn’t know it though, if you believed some of the choreographed histrionics the House Subcommittee on Railroads and its chairman displayed at a Feb. 15 hearing on PTC.
The battle between labor and the management over mandatory two-person crews is far from over and will heat up if a new Democratic-controlled Congress takes charge in 2019. Hoping for big Democratic wins in the U.S. House and Senate later this year, railroad labor quietly continues to set the stage to push for mandatory two-person train crew legislation.
Those who have spent many years in the rail industry know that rail workers are among the most loyal of employees, spending entire careers on the railroad and often following a parent into railroading. This loyalty is expressed in a myriad of ways, including today’s internet chat rooms devoted to railroad topics where railroaders discuss everything from operating plans to locomotive livery, and share photos and recollections.
Kenneth Kermit Kitts was not only the man who facilitated the interview that resulted in my being hired as a switchman on the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad in 1977. He was my mentor and friend. He also had the undying respect of every man and woman who ever worked for, or personally knew him. He died Jan. 23, 2018.
For the Trump Administration to offer in a congressional election year a Cracker Jack box containing a prize of massive renewed infrastructure, yet absent a realistic funding source (as the Treasury cupboard is bare), is the equivalent of a Samaritan in a sinking boat offering a hand to a struggling swimmer.
CSX is a mighty fine line, with an equally illustrious railroad ancestry. That CSX has fallen on difficult times, service-wise, is regrettable.