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A major derailment on CSX's busy former New York Central Water Level Route in East Schenectady, N.Y., on December 6 did more than put the Chicago-New Jersey/New England main line out of commission for nearly 16 hours. It knocked CSX out of the running for a flawless handling of United Parcel Service business during the shipping company's annual holiday peak period, which runs from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.
Thirty of Q367's 132 cars derailed around 12:15 a.m. on the Selkirk Branch, blocking both tracks. One track was reopened through the wreck site around 4 p.m. December 6.
But by then the damage was done. CSX had been forced to detour several trains over Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific's Delaware & Hudson via Buffalo, N.Y.; over NS's former Pennsylvania main line via Pittsburgh; and even over CSX's own roundabout former Baltimore & Ohio route via Philadelphia, Cumberland, Md., and Pittsburgh.
CSX wasn't able to provide a tally of how many UPS priority trains were delayed, and UPS determines what trailers arrive too late for their packages to be sorted on time. But a CSX spokesman did confirm that the railroad had to begin another streak of on-time arrivals for UPS traffic, a streak that was still alive as of December 12.
From November 27 until the wreck, CSX had carried more than 7000 UPS shipments without a sort-failure, CSX spokesman Dan Murphy said, and it took some hustle to keep that record going. A week before the New York derailment, a wreck fouled CSX's former Big Four line to St. Louis, delaying train Q108.
"Until our team reacted, Q108-30 was looking like it might be our first late UPS arrival," said Jim Fallon, CSX senior vice president-transportation. "It lost more than five hours due to a derailment we had ... on the St. Louis Line. But after a detour, we got it fueled, recrewed, and inspected in Cleveland in just 21 minutes. It was a real team effort." The result: Q108 arrived in North Bergen, N.J., an hour ahead of schedule.
Another significantly delayed UPS train, Q109-29, ran into trouble not long after it departed North Bergen for Chicago. On the single-track River Line along the west bank of the Hudson, train Q159 was being held for a train inspection following a hotbox detector alert. The delays rippled along the line, and Q109 departed Selkirk, N.Y., nearly three hours late. "It normally takes 18 hours to make it from Selkirk to Chicago, and that's if everything goes well," Fallon said. "Thanks to the teamwork of our crews and dispatchers ... Q109-29 arrived Chicago in 16 hours and 25 minutes--85 minutes ahead of schedule."
CSX praised the actions of the train crews and dispatchers for getting the trains to arrive on time.
Last year's holiday rush was the first time that all four major U.S. railroads--CSX, Norfolk Southern, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and Union Pacific--put together perfect records for handling UPS intermodal traffic during the holiday peak.
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