Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific Railway
|Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific Railway|
|Locale||Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee|
|Dates of operation||1881–present|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge); originally 5 ft (1,524 mm), converted to standard gauge in 1886|
The Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific Railway (abbreviated: CNO&TP; (reporting mark CNTP)) is a railroad that runs from Cincinnati, Ohio, south to Chattanooga, Tennessee, forming part of the Norfolk Southern Railway system. The rail line that it operates, the Cincinnati Southern Railway, is owned by the City of Cincinnati and is leased to the CNO&TP under a long-term agreement. It is the only such long-distance railway owned by a municipality in the United States. The CNO&TP's lease of the Cincinnati Southern Railway is currently set to expire in 2026, with an option for a 25 year renewal. The agreement is governed by the Trustees of the Cincinnati Southern Railway, who are appointed by the Mayor of the City of Cincinnati.
The construction of the railway was spurred by a shift of Ohio River shipping, at the time an important economic engine in Cincinnati, to the nascent railroad industry. Fearful of losing further shipping traffic (and its commensurate employment and tax revenue), the City recognized the need to remain competitive by developing its own railroad infrastructure. Forbidden by the Ohio Constitution from forming a partnership with a stock corporation in such an endeavor, the City took upon itself the building of the railway, and city voters approved $10 million in municipal bonds in 1869 to begin construction.
In 1925 CNO&TP reported 1688 million ton-miles of revenue freight (not including Harriman & Northeastern) on 338 route-miles operated; in 1967 it had 4116 million ton-miles on 337 route-miles. Revenue passenger-miles were 134 million in 1925 and 15 million in 1967.
The CNO&TP main line has three districts: the First District from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Danville, Kentucky; the Second District from Danville to Oakdale, Tennessee; and the Third District from Oakdale to Chattanooga. The Second District is known as the "Rathole" due the steep grades, 27 tunnels, and numerous curves which were once this line's signature. While several projects over the span of 60 years eliminated several problem areas, the Southern Railway's line improvement project between 1961 and 1963 is the best known. This project saw numerous cuts and line relocations to bypass tunnels and reduce the steep grades and tight curves. Only Tunnels #22 and #24 at Nemo, Tennessee and Tunnels #25 and #26 at Oakdale remain on the line; all but #25 were built brand-new in the 1960s. The late 1990s saw another improvement with the Norfolk Southern Railway double tracking the segment south of Somerset, Kentucky, between Tateville and KD Tower (near Greenwood, Kentucky). As of 2013, a massive project is underway to double track from Woods, also known as Somerset, to Grove just north of Burnside. This project will also straighten a curve near the KY914 bypass overpass, and allow for improved train handling. This comes after the major move in 2010, which forced nearly all Danville, Kentucky, train crews, to relocate, or drive to Burnside KY, as this is now their new crew change point, basically replacing both Danville, Kentucky, and Oakdale, Tennessee, as crew change locations. Eventually, most former Danville, Kentucky, employees are slated to be replaced by a more plentiful, and easy to manage workforce from the four corners. This will involve massive need for hiring near Jeffersonville, Indiana; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee, completely eliminating central Kentucky crews and improving train crew management.
The Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific is operated by Norfolk Southern as part of the Central Division. Between Cincinnati and Somerset the line is under control of the North End Dispatcher, Knoxville, Tennessee. Somerset to Hixson, Tennessee, is dispatched by the South End Dispatcher, Knoxville. The CT (Chattanooga Terminal) Dispatcher controls the last few miles and a few surrounding lines into Chattanooga.
More than 50 trains a day can be seen on the CNO&TP, with the heaviest concentration between Danville and Harriman, Tennessee. Quite a bit of the traffic is intermodal and automotive. General manifests, local freights, grain, coal, and other bulk commodities make up the rest of the traffic.
- Southern Railway Ties, August 1963
- Trackside Guide No. 1 - Cincinnati, Trains September 2002
- Railroad History Database
- Railroads of Cincinnati, includes a history of the CNO&TP with photos
- Z. Harrison (1878), Description of the Cincinnati Southern Railway from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, Cincinnati: Spencer & Craig printing works, OCLC 13741078