Company says maintaining the unused line east of O’Fallon will cost them $543,000
O’FALLON – The future of the CSX rail line running through O’Fallon may have taken another negative turn, as CSX has petitioned the Surface Transportation Board to discontinue service from Aviston to Flora.
As was first reported by the O’Fallon Weekly, the rail line was originally severed at Caseyville and Flora last August, shutting down any rail traffic through O’Fallon. Following that action, CSX petitioned to suspend service over the line for two years while they sought potential business along the line to make it financially viable to stay open.
The petition filed on August 31, 2016, CSX requested a discontinuance exemption, allowing them to discontinue service to approximately 59.3 miles of rail line on its Southern Region, Nashville Division, Illinois Subdivision between Flora and Aviston, in Clay, Marion, and Clinton Counties. CSX goes on to say the reason for the request is due to a significant decrease in traffic.
“Local traffic on the Line has fallen to two cars in 2015 and no traffic to date in 2016 and all overhead traffic has been rerouted,” as stated in the petition. CSX goes on to say they have kept ProBuild East LLC, the last active shipper located along the line, apprised of the situation and they state their belief that ProBuild will not oppose the discontinuance of service.
CSX goes on to say that discontinuing service will save the company money.
“Discontinuance of service over the Line will allow CSXT to avoid maintenance, inspection, and operating costs while leaving the line in place to be reactivated in the event traffic reemerges on the Line. Rehabilitation costs will also be avoided,” the petition states. “CSXT recognizes that abandonment authorization is required from the Board if it decides to abandon the Line in the future.”
While CSX states it has intentions to leave the track and material, the company will no longer have to maintain the line, leaving the materials to age. According to the petition, CSX estimates the maintenance costs for this stretch of track to be $543,000. CSX states in its report that the two carloads per year from ProBuild did not generate enough revenue to cover the maintenance costs of the line, much less any rehabilitation costs.
“Continued operation of the Line by CSXT will create a burden on CSXT and interstate commerce. The traffic on the Line is not sufficient to offset maintenance costs or the costs to rehabilitate the ties. There is no CSXT overhead traffic on the Line. In the Forecast Year, CSXT will incur an avoidable loss of $1,606,473,” the petition summary states.
“CSXT contends that in balancing the harm to itself and interstate commerce against the absence of harm to shippers and local interests, the balance clearly favors the discontinuance of service.”
CSX workers were seen in the last two weeks in O’Fallon working along the line near Vine Street. When asked if he knew what the CSX crews were doing, City Administrator Walter Denton said he was unsure.
“There is some debris we have asked CSX to clean up along side the track, however it was still there when I drove past there a bit ago,” Denton said.
Denton said he had heard rumors that CSX was shopping the line around to try and sell it, but he was unsure of any concrete plans for the rail line.
The petition is still pending before the Suface Transportation Board. CSX did have to republish their notices, as they accidently omitted two affected zip codes from the orignial petition.