In all the discussions to do with the various options for increased rail capacity I don’t recall any that are written from the point of view of CSX operations.
The western bypass option is what is referred to as “greenfield”. It would be built as a stand-alone project that would not affect current operations. Once the bypass is built they quickly cut over to the existing tracks. This means that the managers who are running the trains while construction is taking place can continue their work as normal. Current operations would not be affected at all. The transition to the new system would be quick and seamless.
The trench option is “brownfield” — they would be building new track while attempting to maintain current train service — both freight and passenger. Doing so will be extraordinarily difficult. The concerns include the following:
- There will be constant interruptions to existing operations as construction equipment is moved around and temporary tracks are built, relocated and removed.
- Inevitably the operations managers will have to run a single-track system at times — they may even drop down to zero tracks occasionally.
- It will be a huge challenge to ensure the safety of the workers. They will be working just a few feet from mainline trains that are constantly rumbling by. Given a philosophy of “safety first” this means that train operations will often have to be discontinued, often on very short notice.
The reality is that the trench operation will severely impact the reliability and profitability of CSX operations for many years whereas the bypass option which will have minimal impact.