(The following was researched & submitted by Richard Palmer; article from Patriot & Free Press - May1-7 2013; Maps from Submitters collection.)
FREIGHT TRAINS PROVIDE AN EFFICIENT, AFFORDABLE WAY TO MOVE GOODS AND RAW MATERIALS
By Cynthia Dutton
ALLEGANY COUNTY—The Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad (WNYPRR) operates a system centered in Olean with daily trains traveling through Allegany County. The main line extends for 190 miles from Hornell to Meadville, Pennsylvania. This includes portions of the Erie Railroad’s historic broad gauge route that dates back to 1852. Another main line 90 miles long, which includes portions of the former Pennsylvania Railroad Buffalo Line, goes from Machias to North Driftwood, Pa. This intersects the Hornell-Meadville line at Olean, which is the location of the company’s operations headquarters and locomotive maintenance facility.
WNYPRR began independent operations in 2001 upon entering into a long lease with Norfolk Southern. Since that time, about 26 million dollars has been invested to upgrade track and structures, including installation of 15 miles of welded rail and over 125,000 cross-ties. Investment funds came from state and federal grants, private capital and reinvestment of the 45G railroad maintenance tax credit. The WNYP is controlled by Livonia, Avon and Lakeville RR Corp.
Information from WNYPRR states that in recent years, transportation economies have shifted in favor of railroads because they are three times as fuel-efficient as trucks. Shipping by rail is more environmentally friendly than shipping by truck. Steady improvements in rail speed and reliability can cut costs significantly. Because a railcar typically holds up to 110 tons, versus truck capacity of no more than 25 tons, rail use for the long haul can yield substantial savings. The advantages of using rail are greatest for movement of high-volume traffic like grain, for dense freight like minerals and bulky freight like plastic pellets. Also, shippers often use “multimodal and intermodal services” which means combined highway and railway transportation. Goods can be loaded from rail to trucks for final delivery.
Recently President Carl Belke answered questions about the trains that go through Allegany County. He said at one time, this line had daily coal trains from Pittsburgh to various New York and New England power plants. With the move to cleaner burning gas, the cargo shifted to materials used in fracking natural gas. He said that the number of trains is down from 2011 when hundreds of cars a week hauled fracking sand and pipe for natural gas pipe lines. As the price of gas fell, Pennsylvania fracking operations followed suit. As gas prices rise, so too will the fracking industry and increased rail use rise.
Currently there are several trains a week on the Olean to Hornell route. Twice a week the railroad brings raw materials to Sargent Transportation in Cuba for use by Empire Cheese. Once a week, a train hauls wax from a plant in McKean County, Pennsylvania east for use by Crayola Crayons, American Candle and the cosmetic industry. Also traveling east is sand for use in the glass industry. Coming west from Hornell is scrap metal, farm fertilizers and composite board for Bush Industries furniture making. The trains travel at about 25 mph and have two personnel on board: the engineer and a conductor. They carry no passengers.
If you wave to the engineer, you will always get a friendly wave back…just like when we were kids waving at the Pennsylvania and Erie Railroad crews!
( Website: WNYP RR )
Western New York & Pennsylvania
3146 Constitution Avenue,
Olean, NY 14760
Livonia, Avon & Lakeville Railroad
PO Box 190-B
5769 Sweeteners Blvd
Lakeville, NY 14480