CLNA NEWS – December, 2014
The last half of 2014 has been an exciting time on CLNA. Even though traffic levels have been down from the prior year, we are beginning to see things happening that should provide for longer term growth. We have always been successful in developing new business. This year, at the Norfolk Southern shortline meetings, we received a gold award for new business growth.
Over the last several months, we are starting to see signs for future growth on CLNA. We have developed a few new customers. We brought a new customer to a transload site we established at Wilkerson Siding on the Belhaven Branch. Technology Crops will be shipping outbound rapeseed oil from this site. At Middlesex, Pencco is now bringing in acids and other raw materials on the new siding we helped them build. They are also looking at outbound shipments. In Farmville, Hexacomb is now bringing in corrugated cardboard, switching this from truck. At Morehead City, Mitel is now bringing in steel for transload on a regular basis. At Plymouth, the former Roanoke Farmers facility is now being used by Lake Phelps Grain for wheat shipments. All of this new business will start to offset some of the traffic reduction due to plant closings and shippers losing contracts or changing suppliers.
Probably the single biggest example of changed traffic flows is with Ag Lime coming from Tennessee Valley Resources. TVR was changing the way they do business, going from rail direct to centralized distribution centers. CLNA had been losing some rail direct business and worked with TVR to identify Greenville as a distribution point they wished to serve. We set up a temporary terminal in February and handled 250 carloads in a few months. Using a matching NCDOT grant, we built a permanent facility at the former landfill site in Greenville, which opened August 18. Since then, we have handled another 250 cars of lime and are in discussions for other TVR products. Our Greenville transload terminal is perfectly positioned to attract materials needed for the Greenville Bypass. We are also in discussions with other potential customers for the site. Seeing the trend toward distribution terminals, we will be using another NCDOT matching grant to build a terminal at Rocky Mount in early 2015.
We have also developed new traffic flows from existing customers. Perdue at Bishops Cross is a good example. With a lot of personalized service, we have gotten Perdue to think rail when shipping from Bishops Cross. This benefits not only the Belhaven Branch, but also the Nash County line, as Perdue is now shipping product to their own facility at Nashville, as well as to Braswell Milling. Traffic changes brought about by the shutdown of Cargill’s soybean mill in Raleigh have led to new traffic for CA Perry, as well as new traffic flows for Cargill.
We are working with other customers to help them grow their rail business. We have been working with two customers at Plymouth on both crane mats and outbound “green” ties and are currently working on a project that would significantly increase that business. We are also partnering with a company in an effort to handle scrap ties. We expect Hanson to open a new off-site terminal in 2015 that will significantly increase stone shipments and are working with Braswell Milling to help them expand their rail footprint and convert some of their truck business to rail.
We continue to work with Wood Fuels on their pellet mill project at Sims, although this project has slowed significantly. This traffic would move through Morehead City, as would several other traffic flows that have been identified. We are working with the Port to help secure a matching NCDOT grant to construct some necessary facilities at the port to handle this new business. We are also pleased to note that the former Southern States mill at Farmville has been sold to Goldsboro Milling and we can expect rail shipments to resume there.
We continue to work toward standardizing our locomotive fleet. We have acquired four GP9R’s to go with the five already on the roster and will continue to work toward eliminating our turbos and going with smaller geeps. We have added a few covered hoppers to increase our fleet to handle our growing outbound grain business. We also continue with many track projects. Several thousand ties have been installed and more 85lb. rail has been changed out on the Nash County line.
We had more than 60 attendees at our annual Day at the Lake in July, which included a golf tournament and a corn hole tournament. The Christmas party in December also had about 60 in attendance. In the last few months, we have also added new employees Rodney Gable, Alex Oliver, Ben Brantley, Chase Taylor, and Jamie Bradshaw. Finally, we’d like to welcome a couple new editions to the team at CLNA. Nick and Rebecca Coleman gave birth to their first child, a beautiful baby girl born on September 27th of this year, Callee Elisabeth Coleman. Also, Josh and Brittany Boseman welcomed their first son into the world just a few days ago on December 15th, William Mitchell Boseman. Congratulations to both couples and we wish you the best with your new bundles of joy!
Best wishes to all for happy holidays
and a prosperous and growing New Year!
CLNA Transload Grand Opening
The opening of the CLNA transload site drew quite a crowd to a normally dull area that morning. Among the guest were Nick Tennyson, Chief Deputy Secretary of the NCDOT; Jake Moser, President of Tennessee Valley Resources; Doug Golden, President of Carolina Coastal Railway; and Scott Elliot, Pitt County Manager. Local news teams were also in attendance to document the event. A few key points were made by speakers stressing the importance of a site like this for the local economy. This transload site provides a place for multiple shippers to send in many different commodities of goods to be unloaded where they may not have had an opportunity for rail service in the past. It keeps long haul trucks off the road limiting abuse on the highways and allowing those tax dollars to be used in other areas. It also allows for shippers who already have a solid base in the region to deliver to multiple customers in one location, making it easier on both the shipper and the customer. After the speeches were given, a golden spike was hammered by the four major participants to finalize the building of the track. The CLNA 4624 was then run through the banner pulling the first two loads for the transload to symbolize the ribbon cutting. As stated in the overview, more than 250 loads of agricultural lime have been unloaded for Tennessee Valley Resources alone with many other potential business partners looking to ship in products as well.
Meet Our Employees
Randy joined the Carolina Coastal Railway in March 2010 after spending 3 years with CSX working out of Rocky Mount. As one of the more tenured transportation employees at the CLNA, I’ve gotten to know Randy pretty well over the years. An avid outdoorsman, he loves to spend his time in the mountains hiking and watching birds. When he’s not off on a weekend trip exploring in the wild, Randy enjoys spending time outside at home with his dog Missy. Don’t let his outdoor tendencies fool you however, because when Randy gets in the kitchen he’s quite the cook. He’s contributed as part of a cooking team with a former CLNA employee, Phil Searcy. Although Randy claims he’s just a taste tester, he must have good taste as their team has won multiple chili cook-offs. I can promise you that he makes a mean key lime pie. Randy says his favorite part about working at the CLNA is the fact that he can work in a more relaxed environment and doesn’t feel like he constantly has to be looking over his shoulder all the time.
CLNA – Then and Now
I wanted to do something a little different with the newsletter and I began looking into the history of the track that CLNA runs on. As part of the original Norfolk Southern mainline, there were years of history through rural eastern North Carolina waiting to be dug up and brought back to life. My search brought me to a short little stub track just off the Pamlico River bridge in Washington, North Carolina. In the 6 plus years that I’ve been here, it’s never been anything more than a track that was used to store a piece of track equipment from time to time. Digging a little deeper, this old piece of track holds a lot of history. What is now an overgrown stub track that ends behind Builders FirstSource is all that’s left the lead to the Norfolk Southern depot some 100 years ago. The railroad hub of Washington, both passengers and freight would come and go from the depot. In the early 1900’s there stood a two story depot that was the headquarters of the Pamlico Division of the Norfolk & Southern railway. There were two passenger trains that came through per day, #1 and #2. #1 was the train that departed Norfolk heading south until it reached its final destination in Charlotte. #2 was the train that departed Charlotte heading north to Norfolk. By the 1930’s, feeling the effects of the great depression, the depot had been downsized to a one story building but was still a regular stop along the mainline. As the years went by and vehicles became more popular, the passenger traffic dwindled down and by 1948 Norfolk Southern had become strictly a freight railroad. What was once a key part of a community’s growth has now become nothing more than a relic to remind us of days past.
See previous Newsletter