INTRO: In preparation for the planned break-up of Conrail between CSX and Norfolk Southern, CSX is investing US$220m in upgrading 435 route-km of main line between central Ohio and Chicago

THIS MONTH will see further progress towards completion of the first phase of a major route upgrading programme in western Ohio and central Indiana. Work has been progressing ahead of schedule for the past 10 months, while contractors have been busy expanding the capacity of CSX Transportation’s former Baltimore & Ohio main line between Greenwich, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois.

According to CSX Corp Chairman & Chief Executive Officer John W Snow, ’this is one of the most ambitious US rail freight development ventures in modern times. This major construction project will create a truly world-class stretch of railroad with enormous economic potential not only for CSX, but also for the region.’

Launched in May 1997, the US$220m Midwest Rail Upgrade forms a critical link in CSX’s proposals to split the Conrail network with Norfolk Southern. Detailed proposals for the merger were filed with the Surface Transportation Board in June 1997, and a formal decision is now anticipated on June 8. The section of line being upgraded links Conrail’s ’Water Level Route’, which connects Cleveland and the key eastern markets of Boston, New York and Philadelphia, with the industrial heartland of America and the major gateway to and from the west at Chicago. Conrail’s existing Cleveland - Chicago corridor would pass to Norfolk Southern under the terms of the merger.

According to CSX Transportation President & CEO A R ’Pete’ Carpenter, the reconstruction is being done in two main phases; the first includes construction of over 110 km of new track, with a further 65 km in Phase II to be completed by September. Another 400 route-km of existing track is being reconstructed and upgraded or resurfaced.

The project also includes installation of crossovers and new signalling to allow bi-directional running on all tracks, increasing operational flexibility. In addition, new connections are being installed to smooth traffic flows and improve interchange of traffic with short lines, regional carriers and other railways in the region.

CSX appointed Sverdrup Civil Inc of St Louis as general design-and-build contractor, with Harmon Industries Inc of Missouri providing the new signalling services. In addition to its existing St Louis and Chicago offices, Sverdrup opened temporary construction offices at Auburn, Indiana, Defiance, Ohio, and Willard, Ohio, to manage the project.

Rapid progress

Work on the first phase of double and triple-tracking the Greenwich - Chicago route began immediately after the May 19 1997 announcement in Willard, Ohio. In the first two months, the existing tracks between Albion and Garrett, Ind, had been resleepered, and a further 3500 sleepers had been installed between Auburn and the Ohio State line. Installation of a new second track east from Auburn began in early August, and almost 50 km had been laid by the end of that month.

At the same time, work began on the expansion and remodelling of CSX’s divisional hub yard at Willard. By January, track and signal work was completed between Albion and Garrett, including expansion and remodelling of the CSX yard at Garrett. The newly-constructed second track was opened to traffic on January 19. Another 40track-km had been laid to expand existing double-track sections to three tracks, and more than 132000 new sleepers had been laid.

In Ohio, two more sections were double-tracked by the end of November: the 19 km from Standley to Hamler and the 15 km from Defiance to Sherwood. In northern Indiana, double-tracking is complete on the 18 km between Auburn and Indo.

By the end of January, the cumulative work included laying 80·7 km of rail, construction of 120 new 1 in 20 turnouts, laying of 243000 tonnes of new ballast, wiring up of 112 signal housings and installation of 52.

Work on the track expansion for the remainder of the route is under way, on segments from Garden to Bremen, Suman to Webster, Willow Creek, West Nappanee to Milford Junction, Tracy to Walkerton and at East Gary. Plans call for segmental opening of new and reconditioned track sections every two weeks, moving eastwards from Garrett to Willard. o

CAPTION: A major element in the upgrading is installation of crossovers for bidirectional running on both main tracks

CAPTION: Left: Tracklaying contractor Sverdrup Inc has brought in several teams of workers to complete the upgrade in a relatively short timescale

Below: The upgraded B&O corridor and ex-Conrail tracks will create a new main line from Chicago to Cleveland

CAPTION: New signalling is being installed throughout the line, boosting capacity on both the original and extra tracks

TABLE: CSX Midwest Rail Upgrade

Location Distance km Works involved


Greenwich 3·0 Reconstruction of both main tracks.

Willard 10·2 Reconstruction of both main tracks with 67·5 kg/m rail and wood sleepers.

Willard Yard Reconditioning of receiving area and addition of seven tracks to allow ’block swaps’ of cars between through trains.

Fostoria New east-north and west-south curves to CSX Toledo - Cincinatti line.

Hamler - Standley 20·7 In progress: 11 turnouts, 1 bridge, universal crossover and single crossover.

Defiance - Sherwood 15·1 Completed reconstruction including two-track bridge over Maumee river.


Indo - Auburn 18·7 Reconstruction with 18 turnouts, 3 bridges.

Garrett 80 Third main track as approach to Garrett yard.

Garrett - Albion 16·9 Reconstruction with 8 turnouts, 1 bridge, single crossover.

Kimmel - Wawasee 14·7 Reconstruction with 2 bridges, 1 universal turnout.

Milford Jct - W Nappanee 15·5 Reconstruction with 1 bridge, 2 universal crossovers, 1 single crossovers.

Bremen - Garden 14·5 Reconstruction with 9 turnouts, universal crossover.

Walkerton - Tracy 15·5 Reconstruction with 1 bridge.

Willow Creek 3·5 Reconstruction with 2 new bridges, connection to Indiana Harbour Belt.

East Gary 10·9