The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for May 19th, 2010

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having travelled to the unknown shores of New York’s borough of the Bronx for the recent Madison Avenue Bridge Centennial event, the municipality being a foreign territory to your humble narrator, one of my companions suggested we take advantage of circumstance and head over to the Oak Point Yard and see if anything interesting was happening there. Excitement was had when your humble narrator’s ignorance was punctured as to where the crossing of the Hell Gate Bridge leads to.

from wikipedia

The Oak Point Yard is a freight railroad yard located in the South Bronx, New York City. The yard is owned by CSX Transportation, but is used by CP Rail, New York and Atlantic Railway and the Providence & Worcester Railroad. Amtrak owns and operates two electrified tracks for the Northeast Corridor Line, on the west side of the yard. Freight traffic comes either from the Oak Point Link railway line, the Hell Gate Bridge from Long Island, or from Connecticut via the Northeast Corridor line to the northeast. Freight destined for the Hunts Point Cooperative Market also comes into the yard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A freight railroad yard, Oak Point sits in a bleak industrial corridor, populated by weary looking laborers and is typified by heavy municipal infrastructure. High fences and admonitions of trespassing adorn tantalizingly photogenic acres of fuel depots, bridges, and high voltage equipment which are required to keep the larger City in business. This area, part of the infamous and much maligned Hunts Point, is what Newtown Creek must have looked like- back in its day.


Hunts Point is located at the confluence of the Bronx River, the East River and the Long Island Sound. Surrounded by water on three sides, the fourth side is bounded by the Bruckner Expressway and the CSX/Amtrak rail corridor. The Bruckner Expressway connects Hunts Point to Interstate-95, the Northeast, the Midwest and the ports of New York and New Jersey.

The Hunts Point peninsula has an area of approximately 690 acres, nearly half of which is occupied by the 329-acre Food Distribution Center. The Food Distribution Center feeds the New York region: fifteen million people in the region consume food distributed through the markets each day. The remainder of the peninsula comprises an industrial neighborhood where a diverse mix of food, manufacturing, construction, utility, municipal, auto-related and waste-related uses coexist. The northwestern portion of the peninsula contains a solid residential community, now home to roughly 12,000 residents.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Coincidental, as I really didn’t understand what I was looking at while I hung over the barbed wire fences, these are actually kind of interesting trains.

note: 9 times out of 10, the photos and postings exposed to you here- at your Newtown Pentacle- are just found in situ. Often, I have no idea what I’m shooting- it just looks like something that might be interesting and I’ll investigate its possibly dire meaning back at Newtown pentacle HQ later on. Luckily, your humble narrator has always had an eye for that which doesn’t belong, my curse is always to notice everything. Meeting me has often been compared to a cross between a military inspection and appointment with a probing psychologist, an unpleasant experience by all accounts. This is mentioned, solely because I’ve lately been accused of self aggrandizing agenda and political intent, which is not the case. That which is presented here is observable by all but noticed or commented on by few. Always… an Outsider.

It’s what’s known as an “Ultra Low Emission GenSet locomotive”.


But the new diesel GenSet switcher locomotives can be cranked up as quickly as a truck engine, avoiding the need to leave engines idling for long periods of time, resulting in drastic reductions in pollution and fuel consumption. The GenSet achieves its impressive 80% reduction in nitrous oxide and particulate matter emissions, in addition to approximately 50% CO2 savings capability by monitoring engine idling and switching to a sleep mode after a period of inactivity.

Under the hood of the GenSet are three 700 horsepower Cummins diesel engines. The engines run independently of each other and depending on the need of speed and amperage, 1, 2, or 3 of the engines will be used. When the need goes away, the third will shut down after one minute, after five the second will shut down, the third will go into sleep mode after 15 minutes.

CSX is only in the early stages of rolling out the $1.8 million locomotives, with a total of 9 GenSets in operation by 2009. The company plans to eventually replace the entire switching fleet with the low emission locomotives.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the actual declination of the ground down there, and the blue bridge observed represents the grade of the surrounding streets.

A cool set of photos of the GenSets by Michael Foley can be found here. And a great page at detailing the nitty gritty of the GenSet class can be had here.


The Oak Point Rail Yard, a major switching station for the Albany region of CSX, is located in Hunts Point.

The south Bronx, where the yard is located, has the highest rates of asthma of any community in America.

According to Congressman Jose Serrano, the creation of the GenSet locomotives help reduce emissions by requiring less fuel to transport freight than tractor-trailer trucks or even traditional locomotives with single, larger engines.

“I applaud the ongoing efforts of CSX Transportation to move freight through my district with a minimum amount of environmental impacts,” Serrano said. “The growing use of rail freight in the Bronx is already responsible for taking thousands of diesel trucks off the road each year. With this project, CSX is ensuring that its locomotive technology is not only cost effective and efficient but also earth friendly.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As commented on in the beginning of this post, the Bronx is unknown country to me. Having grown up in Brooklyn, lived in Manhattan and Queens, my travels have more often taken me to Long Island and Westchester than the Bronx. An intuition tells me that I’m going to have to look in on the place more often.


“Improving air quality and ensuring efficient movement of freight in our region do not need to be mutually exclusive,” said Joel P. Ettinger, Executive Director of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. “The technology that will power the new locomotives will reduce NOX and Particulate Matter (PM) emissions and in doing so, will bring us closer to reaching air quality improvement goals established in our Regional Transportation Plan. NYMTC is pleased to have been able to play a role in securing CMAQ funding for these new engines.”

CSXT’s introduction of the GenSet locomotives is part of an overall plan to reduce CO2 emissions associated with its operations by 8% per revenue ton mile by 2011. This commitment was made as part of its participation in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Climate Leaders Program, a voluntary program for businesses to inventory and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CSXT has invested more than $1 billion to upgrade its locomotive fleet with technology that reduces fuel consumption and air pollutant emissions. Through these efforts, the company has improved its fuel efficiency by approximately 80 percent since 1980. By the end of 2009, an additional 1,200 CSX locomotives will be upgraded to further reduce emissions and lower fuel consumption by nearly 10 million gallons. CSX has a long standing commitment to air quality and clean operations.

CSX Transportation Inc. is a principal operating company of CSX Corporation. CSX Corporation, based in Jacksonville, Fla., is one of the leading transportation companies, providing rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services. The company’s transportation network spans 21,000 miles with service to 23 eastern states and the District of Columbia, and connects to more than 70 ocean, river, and lake ports. More information about CSX Corporation and its subsidiaries is available at the company’s web site,

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 19, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Posted in Bronx

Tagged with , , , ,

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