News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

NOCHE

Greater Akron Chamber


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment


Shale drives demand for Ohio short-line railroads
Some railroad companies have struggled for years with the decline of manufacturing and coal shipments, but now the new oil and gas production is changing that.
Story by TOM BORGERDING


 
Black Run Terminal
Courtesy of Tom Borgerding
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

The number of hydraulically fractured wells drilled in Ohio has now topped 800, with about half of those wells producing natural gas and oil.

While debates over safety and severance taxes continue, production is reaching critical mass. And that has created a need for more railroad capacity to move the oil and natural gas from drill sites to refineries and processing plants.

For Ohio Public Radio, WOSU’s Tom Borgerding reports on how rail-system improvements have rippled into Ohio towns, large and small.

Hear more on how drilling is helping Ohio railroad companies survive.

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:50)


The need to quickly transport oil and natural gas liquids away from Ohio shale drill sites is spurring new short-line rail construction. 

Matthew Dietrich at the Ohio Rail Development Commission counts 32 short-lline railroad companies. Some struggled for years as manufacturing and coal shipments declined.  But, the new oil and gas production is throwing them an economic lifeline.

“What you’re seeing now are some lines that were either preserved and had very little traffic ... have this resurgence. Basically, they’re back in the energy business so to speak, moving energy products,” Dietrich said.

Dietrich says Ohio’s short-line railroads provide critical links between storage terminals and the national rail network.

“What we’re facing is a bit of a challenge in Eastern Ohio in rehabbing this infrastructure to meet the need,” Dietrich said.

Investment impact
Dietrich says both public and private monies are being used to upgrade short line rails. And the investments are being felt in Ohio communities large and small.

In the village of Frazeysburg, 55 miles east of Columbus, it’s mostly quiet on a week-day morning.

While walking along Second Street, the sound of front porch wind chimes blends with the occasional car or truck heading for the main village crossroads. Little-used train tracks bisect the town.

Four miles outside the village, a Texas company is spending$6 million to re-activate a storage and rail transfer terminal. It will be the first rail facility to haul oil and natural gas products from Ohio’s shale region to refineries and chemical processing plants.

Frazeysburg’s mayor, Gary Middlemus, says the rail-line improvements are a bellwether of more investment.

“I don’t think they’ve been putting all that money in there if they don’t plan on something,” Middlemus said.

The company, Enlink Midstream says the spur railroad at Frazeysburg will move crude oil and other products at a rate of 24,000 barrels per day.

National resurgence
While more tank cars begin moving out of Frazeysburg, executives at a Columbus foundry are also seeing effects from shale production, not only in Ohio but nationwide.

Columbus Castings Sales Executive Jeff Laird says the manufacturer is making and selling more heavy metal castings and couplings to rail-car companies.

He suggests taking notice of rolling trains when you're next stopped at a crossing. 

“On each end of that car you see two wheels,” Laird said. “Those two wheels are held together by a large casting that goes over the axles and the bearings of those cars, which holds those together. Those are the castings that we make here as far as probably our bread and butter.”

New rail cars on the way
Laird says the industry is expected to build more than 60,000 new rail cars this year.

Nearly half of those cars will be tankers designed to haul oil and natural gas liquids.

Columbus Castings currently employs 900 workers. But, Laird says demand for new rail cars will likely require more employees.

“Given more volume business, we would pick up and add a complete second shift,” Laird said. “So, we expect business to pick up the coming months.”

The resurgence of short-line railroads in Ohio is part of what oil industry officials call the midstream or next phase of the shale play.

Well production in counties that hug the Ohio River is substantial enough now to convince private and public investment in transportation.

So far, nine short-line rail improvement projects have been started in eastern Ohio.  Continued improvements in Ohio’s freight rail network hinges on the price of crude oil. 

 

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio's Supreme Court narrowly upholds Ashford Thompson's death sentence
"Justices" William O’Neill, Paul Pfeifer and Judith Lanzinger should all be immediately removed from the court. If they could actually believe that this murde...

Ohio's Sen. Brown is pushing for more assistance for homeless vets
That would be a great program to have for the homeless vets. Many of them are still suffering from PTSD even from the Vietnam war.

Lordstown GM plant plans to install 8,500 solar panels
How much will this solar array cost? How is it being funded, and who is really paying for it? How much real useful electricity will it actually produce in MEh p...

Local Ebola concerns cause officials to pay more attention to West Africa
I have a better idea, let's secure our borders and spend those billions of dollars on our own first.

HUD and Cuyahoga Land Bank extend a housing deal for another year
Need to sale lot, and would like to know how to contact someone to see if they may be interested in the property that sat between two lots. If you can give me...

Akron Beacon Journal details abuse claims against televangelist Angley
In the early 90's I went forth for pray. And the man was anointed by the hand of God. Just a fact I will never forget

Lawmaker questions why a million voters didn't get absentee applications
He's a damn lie! I vote n all elections. I missed 1. Haven't gotten my absentee ballot and their making it hard to get one.

Thirsty Dog Brewery warns it might have to leave Akron
Why is it the city's responsibility to find this guy a location? There are a hundred realestate companies that could help him.

Kent State sends home three after contact with second Ebola-stricken nurse
Why weren't all health workers who were around Duncan quaranteened for 21 days and tested for Ebola? That's a no-brainer. Why was Vinson allowed to travel right...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University