WHEELING - While the city of Wheeling is void of a working railroad system, points south and around the state maintain a close relationship with trains.
CSX Corp., which operates about 1,300 miles of railroad in West Virginia, continues to service communities from Benwood south, with major yards in Charleston, Huntington, Logan and Parkersburg. Its West Virginia division headquarters can be found in Huntington.
But just what impact do rail lines have on the area?
Photo by Scott McCloskey
A line of CSX rail cars is shown in Benwood. CSX operates more than 1,300 miles of track in West Virginia.
CSX, headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., employs more than 1,700 workers and handled just over 1.3 million carloads of freight in the Mountain State last year. Of that freight, the local coal industry was among its most noted customers in the Ohio Valley.
However, the rumbling rail cars also transport large quantities for the rock, chemicals, plastics and lime produced in the state.
CSX officials maintain that rail transportation is at least three times more fuel efficient than over-the-road transporters. Since 1980, CSX has stepped up to improve its trains' fuel efficiency by almost 90 percent and strives to find even more ways of increasing efficiency on the rails.
What impact does the rail industry have in the local area?
The railroad remains an important resource for the Ohio Valley, even if cities such as Wheeling have removed track from within their boundaries. CSX Corp. employs more than 1,700 West Virginia workers, and Murray Energy continues to run trains on the Ohio side of the river to move coal mined from its East Ohio operations. Also, the motion picture "Unstoppable" was filmed in the local area.
According to company officials, trains can move 1 ton of freight 436 miles on a single gallon of fuel. A single train can carry the load of more than 280 trucks.
In a time when economic conditions - including rising fuel costs - mandate that companies operate at maximum efficiency, CSX is riding out the current depressed economy with much success.
CSX reported in January that it will invest $2 billion "to increase the quality, flexibility and capacity of its rail network."
That figure reflects an increase from the $1.8 billion it invested in 2010. Despite economic challenges, CSX reported operating income totaling $3.1 billion last year, an increase of 16 percent from 2009.
CSX is a regular contributor to regional and national organizations, such as National Safe Place, the Wounded Warrior Project, local schools and emergency management services. CSX also has been a service provider for the U.S. military throughout its 150-year history. One out of every five CSX employee is a veteran of the military.
Meanwhile, in Ohio CSX maintains more than 3,100 public and private grade crossings and handled more than 2 million carloads of freight in the Buckeye state in 2009. About 3,000 people work for CSX in Ohio.
When those CSX railcars roll through Ohio communities they are carrying coal, steel, grain, consumer goods and passenger vehicles.
Its major rail yards in Ohio are located in Willard, Toledo/Wood County, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus with additional intermodal centers throughout the state.
Along with transporting cargo, the region's rail line also served as host for the recent movie, "Unstoppable," which depicted a runaway locomotive carrying hazardous materials.
Much of the film was shot locally, with the village of Bellaire serving as the host city.