JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two special relief trains operated by CSX Transportation and Union Pacific Railroad were moving toward Florida today to provide fuel for emergency operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Frances, which struck the state on Labor Day weekend.
The dedicated trains – one consisting of 20 cars and the other 24 cars – departed the Houston, Texas area recently and were expected to arrive in Florida at distribution points in Sanford and Tampa on Wednesday. The first train began its journey on UP rails and connected with CSXT at New Orleans; the second connected at Memphis, Tenn. to avoid Hurricane Ivan’s approach, which likely will close temporarily CSXT’s Florida Panhandle line and possibly others.
A total of 40 cars of diesel fuel or about 1.1 million gallons make up most of the shipments, although four cars of gasoline, or about 114,000 gallons, are also included. The fuel shipments were requested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State of Florida to alleviate shortages created by Hurricane Frances and earlier, Hurricane Charley. The diesel fuel will be used for emergency generators at hospitals and in fire and rescue vehicles. The gasoline will be used in police cars.
“Throughout our history, Union Pacific has stepped up and assisted communities in times of need,” said Dick Davidson, Union Pacific chairman and CEO. “We are pleased to be able to provide assistance to FEMA as they help so many in Florida.”
CSX Corporation Chairman, CEO and President Michael Ward had offered free rail transportation to the State of Florida in the wake of Hurricane Charley, which struck Aug. 13 at Punta Gorda.
“Our company and our employees have certainly felt the full brunt of these storms, and we are proud to help our neighbors in need,” Ward said. “We are coordinating this relief in advance of Hurricane Ivan and securing our railroad for its landfall behind these trains.”
TRANSFLO, a CSX subsidiary, is providing the facilities in Sanford and Tampa as well as the specialized equipment, including generators should electrical power fail, to transfer the fuel. Additional TRANSFLO employees are coming to Florida from Charlotte, N.C., Richmond, Va., and Savannah, Ga., to assist Florida employees.
A total of 20 cars of diesel, each holding 27,500 gallons, and the four cars of gasoline, each holding 28,500 gallons, will be staged in Sanford. The other 20 cars of diesel will be placed in Tampa.