Fueling NS in Chicago

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Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby rettop » Wed Nov 11, 2015 7:40 pm

Driving on the Skyway road as it approached the Dan Ryan, I saw a tanker truck fueling a set of NS road engines. This was near the container/trailer loading yard along the Skyway, this is the first time I have seen this (I finally saw a plane leave the Gary airport--what a day). Anyways ,where does NS fuel the engines heading for the East coast?
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby MSchwiebert » Wed Nov 11, 2015 8:35 pm

I know there's fueling racks at Elkhart, I'd suspect NS does as much there as possible to avoid Illinois fuel taxes.

rettop wrote:Driving on the Skyway road as it approached the Dan Ryan, I saw a tanker truck fueling a set of NS road engines. This was near the container/trailer loading yard along the Skyway, this is the first time I have seen this (I finally saw a plane leave the Gary airport--what a day). Anyways ,where does NS fuel the engines heading for the East coast?
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby Standard Railfan » Thu Nov 12, 2015 10:09 am

Fixed locomotive fueling systems have mostly gone by the wayside. The cost of installing a regulations compliant fueling system is enormous. Most railroads have restricted fueling systems to locations where large numbers locomotives are serviced and/or are based for crew calls.

In other locations like intermodal yards, and even some engine terminals, railroads employ Direct Truck Loading (DTL). The idea is to avoid the costs and liability associated with fixed systems, improve flexibility, and avoid the inventory carrying costs of a fuel inventory.
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby CSX_CO » Thu Nov 12, 2015 10:25 am

Standard Railfan wrote:Fixed locomotive fueling systems have mostly gone by the wayside. The cost of installing a regulations compliant fueling system is enormous. Most railroads have restricted fueling systems to locations where large numbers locomotives are serviced and/or are based for crew calls.

In other locations like intermodal yards, and even some engine terminals, railroads employ Direct Truck Loading (DTL). The idea is to avoid the costs and liability associated with fixed systems, improve flexibility, and avoid the inventory carrying costs of a fuel inventory.


If anything, the opposite is true. Fuel at fixed locations to avoid the cost of buying at outlying terminals through a truck. A lot of EPA regulations when not fueling at a set "pad" and God forbid any gets spilled. I have a feeling the fueling at Park Manor was a fluke and not very common occurrence at all.

CSX fuels at service centers and mainline fuel pads. Built two at Cleveland in the last 15 years to fuel everything going both directions. Some locations might have a mobile truck, but AFAIK they can only fuel in certain locations where spill prevention equipment is set up.

For the longest time NS and CSX avoided fueling in Illinois like the plague. Even the IHB would ferry their power across the state line to Gibson to fuel to avoid the taxes.
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby Standard Railfan » Thu Nov 12, 2015 10:53 am

CSX_CO wrote:If anything, the opposite is true. Fuel at fixed locations to avoid the cost of buying at outlying terminals through a truck. A lot of EPA regulations when not fueling at a set "pad" and God forbid any gets spilled.

For the longest time NS and CSX avoided fueling in Illinois like the plague. Even the IHB would ferry their power across the state line to Gibson to fuel to avoid the taxes.


I admit my locomotive service/fueling expertise is limited to design and installation of upgraded systems for Canadian National.

Yes, the cost per gallon of the fuel is much less when the fuel is delivered to a standing fuel system. The question becomes: does the cost savings make up for the Installation and O&M costs of the fuel system? In a big terminal like Elkhart or Flat Rock, yes a fixed installation is cost effective. Battle Creek? No, all DTL now.

As far as fixed versus mobile refueling regulations, I beg to differ.
The EPA actually relaxed some of the rules for mobile refueling. http://www2.epa.gov/oil-spills-prevention-and-preparedness-regulations/spcc-rule-amendments-streamlined-requirements

Fuel will get spilled and leakproof systems aren't. There is a line of reasoning that suggests that not concentrating the spills in one place, i.e. a fueling pad, will limit contamination issues and liabilities.

There is also a cost savings of having a fuel truck meet a locomotive where is sits vs. running the length of a yard or to the next terminal to get fuel.

I can understand the "Don't fuel in Illinois" mindset. I wonder how many mainline fixed fueling systems are in Illinois.
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby MSchwiebert » Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:33 pm

I'm sure there's no one simple answer as to the why's and wherefore's of one system over the other. For example, the North Baltimore intermodal yard is uses trucks (but does have bulk storage tanks to fill the trucks with). Contrast this to CSX operations in Toledo where both methods are used, with the Conrail era pit at Stanley still being used and fuel by truck also used to take care of fueling at other locations (Walbridge, the Docks, etc.) in town.
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby CSX_CO » Fri Nov 13, 2015 9:49 am

Standard Railfan wrote:I can understand the "Don't fuel in Illinois" mindset. I wonder how many mainline fixed fueling systems are in Illinois.


Probably about the only one I can think of off hand, and not sure how much fueling they do there, is NS Decatur. They're really the only one with a completely across Illniois line that doesn't have a 'mainline' fuel counterpart somewhere in Indiana. They may just fuel in St Louis and/or KC for that traffic.

Obviously the BRC has to fuel in Chicago, UP has a strong presence at Proviso, BNSF at Galesburg, AMTRAK, etc. CSX avoided it at all costs but re-opened the Barr Yard service center in the last year to service at least yard locomotives. I know they would call a local fuel dealer to Garrett post CR Split to fuel, and delay the train, rather than run the train to Chicago and fuel there. Cost difference was enough that the associated delays were still cheaper than fueling in the land of Lincoln.

I thought I'd heard that Illinois had started to relax its death grip on those fuel taxes, so that might explain why the eastern carriers are starting to fuel in Chicago again. For through traffic, Cleveland was the game changer for CSX. Could reach NY and back from there, and St Louis and back, and cut out the need to fuel at the outlying points. So, in so far as Cleveland, the fixed cost of installation will be made up by not paying those Illinois taxes, and not paying for a mobile truck at the intermediate points.

I never understood why the mainline station at Battle Creek didn't really take hold. I heard someone designed it with Steel ties on rubber pads, which was all well and good until the pads wore out, and the ties started shunting the signals. Oops on that one. Otherwise to me, it seemed perfectly located to send traffic west to Chicago and back, or through Illinois to reach Memphis before servicing again. But, then again, I think CN really didn't 'mainline' a lot of the freights in Battle Creek, opting to instead work them through the yards swapping cars, etc.?
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby JoJames » Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:19 pm

Very amusing no fuel can be spilled while refueling engines. It's ok though for M&W to spill diesel fuel along the tracks to fix pull a parts and or heat the rail.
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby Pixl » Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:44 pm

I wonder why Illinois or any other state can tax railroads for fuel when they don't use the roads. You could say those taxes are used to build highways that competing trucks drive on.
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby GreatLakesRailfan » Fri Nov 13, 2015 8:51 pm

Pixl wrote:I wonder why Illinois or any other state can tax railroads for fuel when they don't use the roads. You could say those taxes are used to build highways that competing trucks drive on.


Road taxes aren't the only taxes you pay on fuel. The sales tax in parts of Illinois, and especially in certain parts of Cook County, is quite high as well. And speaking of Cook County, it wouldn't surprise me at all if there are localized off road fuel taxes or something to that nature applied to fuel use as well.
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby Standard Railfan » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:31 pm

Pixl wrote:I wonder why Illinois or any other state can tax railroads for fuel when they don't use the roads. You could say those taxes are used to build highways that competing trucks drive on.


I would not be surprised if there is an Illinois/Cook County/Chicago tax on fuel used by railroads. Given the volume of railroad activity in Chicagoland, a fuel tax would be an easy way to tax the railroads without actually running afoul of Interstate Commerce laws and protections.
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby JDavis21835 » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:03 am

GreatLakesRailfan wrote:
Pixl wrote:I wonder why Illinois or any other state can tax railroads for fuel when they don't use the roads. You could say those taxes are used to build highways that competing trucks drive on.


Road taxes aren't the only taxes you pay on fuel. The sales tax in parts of Illinois, and especially in certain parts of Cook County, is quite high as well. And speaking of Cook County, it wouldn't surprise me at all if there are localized off road fuel taxes or something to that nature applied to fuel use as well.


Just like diesel in heavy equipment, there is no road use tax. That is why there is red dyed diesel fuel for off road, which is not taxed, and green or yellow fuel for on road, which is road taxed. To muddy the waters even more, you can buy and use on road fuel in equipment, keep the receipts, and write off the road use tax on your taxes.

As far Illinois tax, or Chicago taxing fuel for the railroad on tanker delivered fuel, I would lay odd that it is going to depend on where the tanker fills up, not where it drops. As an operating engineer, I talk to field fueling drivers quite often. They do have regular fuel deliveries to all the railroads, fueling equipment, locomotives, and even filling bulk tanks. Its all a crap shoot as to where and why near as I can figure
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby LakeATCS » Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:32 am

The Erie Lackawana has to be the most famous example of fueling one place to avoid taxes and charges elsewhere.

EL did all it's road unit fueling in Marion Ohio for all the Chicago Jersey freights. To accomplish this, EL ordered it's diesel locomotives with those giant fuel tanks. They could make it from Marion to Jersey and then back without fueling. Same with the run to Chicago.
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby EWRice » Wed Aug 17, 2016 1:09 pm

This makes me wonder:
Is there/was there any railroad that had there own fuel trucks? The only way I see this as beneficial is if there were two or more yards in close proximity, that saw enough traffic to justify it.
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby MSchwiebert » Sat Aug 20, 2016 4:33 pm

CSX has/had a fuel truck for Toledo. With the number of origin/termination points in Toledo (Walbridge, Stanley, The Docks, Boulevard etc.) it's handier for them to take the fuel where it's needed than to jostle the locomotives down to one point.

EWRice wrote:This makes me wonder:
Is there/was there any railroad that had there own fuel trucks? The only way I see this as beneficial is if there were two or more yards in close proximity, that saw enough traffic to justify it.
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby Standard Railfan » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:33 pm

EWRice wrote:This makes me wonder:
Is there/was there any railroad that had there own fuel trucks? The only way I see this as beneficial is if there were two or more yards in close proximity, that saw enough traffic to justify it.


Sorry to resurrect an old post....

I know most Direct To Locomotive (DTL) fueling is performed by the fuel vendor. There is no reason to support the equipment and trained personnel to conduct fueling when the vendor is ready willing and able to do the for you. In addition, using railroad owned equipment would result in double handing the fuel. Once from the vendors truck and again into the locomotive.

I have seen railroad operated fuel trucks, other also providing lubricating oils etc. These trucks are often deployed with MOW gangs to refuel equipment working on the line. Wisconsin Central had at least one truck in the UP/ Northern Wisconsin that seemed to be everywhere.
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby lakeshoredave » Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:57 pm

excellent information
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Re: Fueling NS in Chicago

Unread postby esprrfan » Mon Jan 30, 2017 7:47 pm

What you seen along the skyway is park manor. The premium trains normally get fueled to avoid stopping in Elkhart, like 24M, 20E, 24N, 20K 26W then the truck goes to 55 and will fuel 206/22K. Once in a great while others if low on fuel will get some too.
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