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OreRail Top 10 2018

dmir227's picture

Here is a list of top news items for 2018.

10. CN added solar panels and monitoring equipment to two ore cars (one new car, one old car) to measure track conditions on the IR and Missabe Subs. The new car is based out of Two Harbors and the old high side car out of Proctor.

9. On September 14, 2018 all CN trains on the former Missabe (and surrounding area) sounded their horns in remembrance of conductor Dave Bruns. Dave started his railroad career on the DM&IR and was the number 1 seniority conductor on the former WC out of Pokegama.

8. PTC was implemented on CN’s Missabe Subdivision during fall while CTC completion on the IR Sub had not been activated by the end of the year.

7. Maroon and gold DM&IR 403 received engine work and was released still wearing its original Missabe colors. Unfortunately it also received remote control equipment and was assigned to hump yard service in Winnipeg. Maroon SD38-2 215 continues to work at Proctor.

6. Defying age, LS&I continued to operate a pair of U30Cs and C30-7s out of Eagle Mills. Most trains are handled by leased AC44CW units but the older green GEs still see plenty of service.

5. ERP, owners of the former Magnatation facilities, declared bankruptcy and the assets were sold off. ERP did ship some stockpiled concentrate from the Jessie loadout early in the year. It is unlikely the former Magnetation plants on the Iron Range will ever be restarted. Somewhat related, the former Essar site remains in limbo as new ownership took control and has vowed to continue work at the site but progress remains elusive.

4. In a somewhat rare move, Cliffs Erie used two borrowed NSM SD40-2s (655/657) to move stored covered hoppers far down the former LTVSMC line to near Reserve siding. This line has seen storage cars before, but to have them move this far down the line is unusual. The short covered hoppers are used in the transportation of sand used in oil shale fracking.

3. Cliffs announced their new DRI plant would be built in Toledo and not Minnesota. The good news is that NSM is undergoing nearly $75 million in improvements to build a DRI-grade pellet to be used at the new plant. NSM was still using leased SD9043MACS for mainline moves in 2018.

2. U.S. Steel restarted two blast furnaces at its Granite City mill (near St. Louis) with the first train of pellets to the plant being loaded at Keewatin Taconite in April. Very good news for the Mesabi Range and Keetac specifically.  

1. Big motive power change on the former DM&IR as CN is replacing older EMD power with, initially, former C&NW C40-8 models retrofitted with straight air controls. The first train to operate with a solid GE set in pellet service was on February 17, 2018. Later in the year CN also tested more modern GEVO type GEs in ore service but as of January 1 none have been assigned to ore duty and a number of EMDs still supplement the C40s.                  

Dave Schauer

Duluth, MN