One of the great things about commuting regularly between Athens, Ga., and Winder, Ga., is the fact that the road runs parallel to the CSX main line. As such, I often bring my camera to catch some railfanning action.
ATHENS, Ga. — For better or worse, 2005 began and ended with the railroad industry in the headlines. On Jan. 6, two Norfolk Southern trains collided in Graniteville, S.C. The National Transportation Board later ruled the crew of a Norfolk Southern train failed to return a main line switch to the normal position after the crew completed work at an industry track. Fast forward 12 months. In December, the subway drivers in New York City went on strike, an illegal strike at that. It was eventually resolved, with the union coming out of the deal with what it wanted. But
Short-line rail companies continue to carry their weight on routes that otherwise might have been abandoned The train grinds to a halt, and engineer Eddie Pitchford breaks out his cell phone. Two locomotives with coal cars in tow sit idle in a wooded area north of downtown Athens, and the train’s progress rests on the word of an anonymous dispatcher 300 miles away. “Some days we get hung up here,” Pitchford said. The Hartwell Railroad freight train must cross CSX Transportation’s main rail line running between Atlanta and Wilmington, N.C., before it can proceed into downtown Athens. From his cell