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Environmental Matters > CSX - Louisville & Indiana

CSX Transportation, Inc. – Joint Use – Louisville & Indiana Railroad Company, Inc.

CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT) and Louisville & Indiana Railroad, Inc. (L&I) submitted an application to the Surface Transportation Board (Board) in 2013 seeking approval for joint use by CSXT and L&I of L&I’s 106.5-mile rail line between Indianapolis, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky (Proposed Transaction).

Description of the Proposed Transaction

To jointly use the L&I rail line, CSXT would pay L&I $10 million dollars for an operating easement over L&I’s rail line. CSXT would also spend between $70 and $90 million to improve L&I’s rail line to allow CSXT to move trains that are longer (from current 5,100-foot long trains to proposed 7,500-foot long trains), faster (from the current 15 to 25 miles per hour to proposed 49 miles per hour), and heavier (from current railcars that can carry 263,000 pounds of freight to proposed railcars that can carry 286,000 pounds of freight) than what the L&I rail line can currently accommodate.

CSXT proposed improvements to the L&I rail line include installing heavier-weight and continuously welded rail over the entire 106.5-mile rail line, adding “hot box” detectors (i.e., track-side devices that can detect overheated axel bearings on passing railcars), replacing older cross-ties, adding new ballast, and replacing the Flatrock River Railroad Bridge (an existing bridge with height and weight restrictions), located in Columbus, Indiana. CSXT could also increase the length of rail sidings at Elvin and Brook, Indiana to make it easier for trains to pass one another on the L&I rail line. These changes would allow CSXT to move freight more quickly and more economically than it can today. The Proposed Transaction would not include any construction on or physical improvements to any of CSXT’s rail lines.

Today, between two and seven trains (mostly L&I but a few CSXT) operate on L&I’s rail line between Indianapolis and Louisville. The L&I trains serve rail customers along the 106.5-mile rail line and transport a variety of commodities, including cement, chemicals, food products, grain, lumber, manufactured goods, paper, plastics, scrap and steel. The few CSXT trains currently operating over the L&I rail line do not serve shippers located on the L&I rail line; rather, they move over the rail line to other destinations (called “through traffic”).

If the Board should approve the Applicants’ Proposed Transaction, CSXT would shift between 13 and 15 trains per day to the L&I rail line. Most of these trains would come from CSXT’s Louisville to Sydney rail line (consisting of all or portions of CSXT’s LCL, Cincinnati Terminal, Toledo subdivisions). The rerouted CSXT trains would also add to existing traffic on CSXT’s rail line between Indianapolis and Sydney (i.e., the Indianapolis Line Subdivision).

CSXT states that if the Board approves the proposal, it would take approximately seven years for CSXT to complete the planned rail line improvements and it would not materially increase its train traffic on the L&I rail line until it has completed the improvements. Once completed, CSXT would shift some its trains, mostly carrying automobiles and automobile parts, to the L&I rail line.

Environmental Review

Before deciding on whether to approve the Proposed Transaction, the Board must consider the potential environmental effects of its decision. Following pre-application discussions between CSXT, L&I, and the Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA), OEA made a site visit of the project area on May 27, 2011 to inspect the rail lines and adjoining areas first-hand. OEA was accompanied by CSXT and L&I staff, who provided information on the Proposed Transaction and current rail operations.

OEA issued a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) on August 30, 2013 for a one month public review and comment period. The Draft EA examines the potential impacts of the Proposed Transaction and the No-Action Alternative and the need to mitigate potential adverse environmental impacts. Some of the comments received on the Draft EA raise environmental concerns not assessed in the document. Consequently, OEA determined that additional environmental analysis is necessary and will prepare a Supplemental EA.

OEA solicited comments on the scope of the Supplemental EA from interested Federal, state and local agencies. OEA considered those comments, finalized the scope of the Supplemental EA and is currently preparing the document. The Supplemental EA will focus on the potential operational impacts of moving an additional 11 trains per day between Indianapolis, Indiana and Sydney, Ohio on CSXT’s Indianapolis Line Subdivision. Other areas to be assessed in the Supplemental EA include:

As noted above, the Proposed Transaction would not include construction or ground-disturbing activities on any of the CSXT rail lines.

OEA anticipates issuing the Supplemental EA for public review and comment by late summer 2014. The STB docket number for this case is FD 35523.