JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – CSX Transportation is resuming local freight rail service on its Gulf Coast line, a vital transportation artery to New Orleans, railroad officials announced Jan. 18.
Service through the entire area is expected to be restored beginning in early February.
“We are incredibly proud of our employees and contractors for their tireless efforts to help bring the railroad and its economic benefits back to the region,” CSXT Chief Operating Officer Tony Ingram said. “Many of them contributed to the rebuild straight through the holidays while dealing with their own storm-related issues at home.”
Over the past five months, the company has been working to restore six major bridges, more than 40 miles of track, and its major rail yard in New Orleans. The largest engineering challenge was the nearly two-mile bridge at Bay St. Louis, Miss.
During construction, CSXT employed several solutions to continue rail service to its customers. These include re-routing trains on other railroads, where possible, and the construction of temporary transload facilities.
In New Orleans and the broader Gulf region, CSXT handles or interchanges with western railroads more than 1,000 freight cars per day. The company also serves more than 20 industries and ports, delivering products ranging from plastics and resins to building supplies and apparel.
“Industries and communities throughout the Gulf region depend on free- flowing rail service,” Ingram said. “It was critically important that we get the railroad back up and running as soon as possible.”
CSXT, like other companies, is participating with public and private groups to identify ways to best serve the Gulf Coast region’s economy in the future, railroad officials say.
“We are open to ideas that are in the best interests of CSXT, its customers, and its communities,” Ingram said. “We have been a proud citizen of this region for generations. Our recent rebuild of the Gulf Coast line restores vital service and underscores our commitment, but does not foreclose other long-term alternatives for the rail line.”
More than 300 CSXT employees in the Gulf region were affected by Hurricane Katrina, and many took advantage of assistance offered by the company that included disaster relief payments and temporary jobs in other regions. Many transferred employees will be returning to the area as operations resume.
Ingram also urged citizens to be alert at rail crossings, which have been largely inactive since Hurricane Katrina made landfall Aug. 29. CSX, along with Operation Lifesaver, Inc., has launched an awareness campaign in targeted locations.
— PRNewswire-First Call