CSX files discontinuance PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 18 November 2009 00:00
    CSX railroad has filed for a discontinuance of the rail service line that will affect Bedford, Mitchell, Salem, Pekin down to New Albany.
    Salem Mayor David Bower and members of the city council discussed the issue at the group's regular meeting Nov. 9.
    “(The discontinuance) simply means they don't have to provide service,” Bower said. “The lines and the rails will still be there, but if business doesn't warrant them running a train down the track, then they don't have to.”
    Bower said CSX representative Brian Glover assured him that the discontinuance of service is being done because of the slow economy and at this time there are no plans to abandon the lines all together.
    “Our concern is number one, the impact on economic development,” Bower said. “(Mitchell) Mayor (Dan) Terrell's concern is that, not all the time, but often times, discontinuance is the first step in abandonment and we do not want to be a city without railroad service. In these tough economic times, if that were to happen, we would never be on the short list of cities that may be chosen for economic development or for new industry.”
    Another thing that concerns Bower about a possible abandonment is that the upkeep on local crossings would be affected.
    “(With no rail service) are they more inclinced, or less inclined, to keep our railroad crossing on our streets in good repair?” he said. “Since I was a kid, that has always been an issue in Salem are these bumpy railroad crossings. What a lot of people don't realize is we have no authority. We can't touch their tracks without their OK. They're the ones who have to keep them up and smooth. If they discontinue the line, or even abandon them, they still have to keep those crossing up to snuff, but I am a little leary that they would actually do that. I think they would fall in disrepair quicker and not have as much attention paid to them.”
    Bower said CSX leases the line on occasion to Indiana Rail and that's why there is still occassionally a train that travels through town. As far as making that traffice more regular, he said the city is limited in what they can do.
    “What's so frustrating is the railroad is a world of their own and there is not a lot we can do,” he said. “We can contact our legislators and they can write letters to the department of transportation, but there is really not much to keep them from getting the discontinuance.”
    Bower was given an example about the decline in use of rail service. He declined to mention the company's name, but said a business in New Albany shipped 50 boxcars of product in 2007 and that number dropped to nine in 2008. This year the same company has shipped one.
    “It's basically dollars and cents,” he said. “Just like we would if we were running the operation, if you have an area that isn't making you money, or even costs you money, you close it down.”
    The economic impact on Salem is the biggerst concern for Bower. He said when cities and town compete for business to locate in their community, every asset helps.
    “If you have an industry that is looking at Salem that ships realitively heavy and hard goods, they're going to be looking at a railroad spur,” he said. “It's an asset to have a railroad service in your community especially for heavy service. A lot of big industry would require this. Can trucks provide the same servie? Probably so, but not as efficiently and at an inexpensive price as rail, especially if you have extremely heavy goods. We don't want to be taken off any company's list because we don't have rail service. We don't want to lose aminities at all, not in tough times. If anything, we want to be able to highlight our assets. And that would be a lost asset.”
    Monday's news will also affect Pekin. With the regular use of the local line being discountinued, that means rail cars that sit in Pekin along Highway 60, will be here for a long time.
    Pekin Town Manager Gary Nale said xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.     
    The discontinuance has been filed with the federal transportation board and those local communities affected have a chance to respond.
    Bower said the local communities are drafting a letter to send to the board.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:42