CSX Transportation idles hump at Cumberland, Md.

Former B&O yard becomes fifth converted to flat switching since March
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Cumberland, Md.
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CUMBERLAND, Md. — CSX Transportation this week converted its former Baltimore & Ohio hump yard in Cumberland, Md., to a flat-switching facility, the fifth such move since E. Hunter Harrison became the railroad’s CEO in March.

Harrison’s view on yards is different than how CSX has historically viewed its terminals, Frank Lonegro, the railroad’s chief financial officer, said at a transportation conference on Thursday.

“We have been a hump yard-centric eastern railroad,” Lonegro says. “His point is, ‘Why?’”

Classifying merchandise traffic multiple times en route only adds cost and transit time, Lonegro says.

“The big thing he is doing is eliminating infrastructure that we thought was historically required to move that traffic,” Lonegro says.

CSX has converted four other hump yards — Toledo, Ohio; Louisville, Ky.; Hamlet, N.C.; and Atlanta — to flat-switching facilities. As part of the conversions, train plans have been modified so that traffic bypasses the yards, with the exception of cars destined for those locations.

The remaining seven hump yards are under “heavy evaluation” Lonegro says. More hump yards will be converted to flat switching this quarter, Lonegro says, and CSX ultimately will be left with just three or so hump yards.

When converting a hump yard, CSX flat switches using the yard’s receiving and departure tracks. The classification bowl then stands empty. Eventually CSX will redeploy track and switches from the classification bowls, Lonegro says.

On Thursday, Lonegro said that CSX had idled the humps at four yards. Cumberland was not included in that tally due to the timing of the transition, CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle says.

The remaining active hump yards on CSX are at Waycross, Ga.; Birmingham, Ala.; Nashville, Tenn.; Cincinnati; Avon, Ind.; Willard, Ohio; and Selkirk, N.Y.

Hump yards date to an era when a much higher percentage of traffic moved in merchandise service than it does today, Harrison said last month on CSX’s first-quarter earnings call.

Not all of the railroad’s humps are needed today, Harrison says, and some of them are so old that CSX can’t get retarder replacement parts.

“They’re simply not made anymore,” he says.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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