Craig Camuso is a railroad guy. Actually, he is the Regional Vice-President of CSX Transportation, a class 1 railroad transportation system where he has worked for 18 years.
Camuso shared a story with the Rotary Club of Madison County Sept. 27 to prove that he understands how frustrating it can be to have to wait for a train to pass. He was on his way to a CSX executive meeting, early in his career, and was late because he was stopped for a long time waiting for a train to pass.
Camuso said CSX is number one in employee pay, it is number one in employment, and it is number one in number of cars moved. Railway has always been the country’s major mode of moving cargo, but it is becoming even more necessary. Savannah is doubling the amount of cargo going in and out of the area, and Waycross is processing 2,500 cargo cars each day.
Even when the economy is down, the railroad is working. The Abbeville line was built in the late 1800s, and has been operating for over 100 years running through Madison County as well as elsewhere. This line moves chicken feed, granite, coal and much more. But changes have occurred. This line now runs trains that are sometimes 10,000 feet long and are operated by only two people, the conductor and engineer, where it used to have six to eight people running a train and a caboose.
Now they operate on “distributive power,” with the power in the train’s center. It is more productive. The industry is looking at a way to operate a train with only one person, and they already have trains in the yard running without people on board. These trains are operated by remote control.
CSX comes in through Atlanta from five areas: Abbeville, Augusta, Waycross, Chattanooga and LaGrange and moves tonnage that trucks aren’t equipped to move. This 19th century industry working in the 21st century touches everything Americans do and use.
Ellen Cowne provides news from the Rotary Club of Madison County.