Sunday, August 10, 2008

All the Way to the Bank

The Genesee and Wyoming is going to buy the Ohio Central system for $219.0 million in cash, barring the current managment screwing the pooch too badly. It was all over the local railfan world for a few days before an official release hit the web, late on a Sunday. The paper in New Philadelphia had it that Monday, the Coshocton and Zanesville papers followed suit on Tuesday. Front page news, too.

Apart from the obvious railfan interests, the real fun will be following a few story lines. The pending, on again, off again long term lease of the Panhandle line. The state owns it, and currently OC has a five year lease, give or take. Some political types in Licking County, through which part of the state owned line traverses, have this idea that the Panhandle should be open to all comers. Because clearly all the class ones are just itching to get hold of line that starts in Columbus and ends in east bumhump, doesn't have clearance for stacks (or racks, for that matter, most likely) and has long stretches of single track.

There is also a lot of coal out toward Cambridge, which some day may start leaving the area in unit trains. Not to mention the Buckingham Coal Co mine in Perry County. I don't know how long the OC contract is, but coal prices are up, so who knows where they could sell it.

People started talking about the steam program right off the bat. It will be interesting to see what happens to that. And sooner or later, the paint will change, and the orange will start to spread. Logic would say that it would spread to the ratty former UP and CR engines running around, if they stay on the roster. Most of OC's power was repainted in the last few years, and it would be throwing money away to repaint it when it doesn't need to be. But then again... logic.

All in all, does it matter? I don't ship, I am not employed by the railroad. Trains will still be running (usually in crappy light). It affects me not in the least. But in a way, it is kind of sad that the local railroad, headquarted about 30 miles away, will now just be another part of a larger, although disparate, system.

The photo: A northbound Glouster Turn leaves Zanesville along the Muskingum River. (A shot facing the other direction was in the Trains magazine article about the OC, labeled as being in "North Zanesville." I have never heard of North Zanesville. Northern Zanesville maybe. Anyway.) I shot it on February 21, 2002. I had been in town for a little less than a month. 3255 is gone, off the roster, sold to MBTA, I think. The 5855 has been renumbered into the 402x series, and even the coal gons are different. The Thrall rotary dumps aren't used as much more coal, some 4000cf Ortners taking their place. So in short, much has changed, but at the same time, nothing really has.