I assume you are referring to the "Lincoln Secondary," line running from Carleton up to the east end of Oakwood Yard near River Rouge. Very briefly:
This was one of the last main lines constructed in Michigan, in the early 1920s. It was built by the Pennsylvania RR to access the growing Detroit manufacturing base. The PRR, being such a mighty railroad, had only this one line to access Detroit. They used trackage rights from Toledo to Carleton, then switched onto the "Lincoln Line" up to River Rouge, where they joined the Union Belt for the trip to Fort Street Union Station. The Union Belt was jointly owned by the Wabash, the PM/C&O and the PRR. PRR's main Detroit area yard was Lincoln Yard, located in Lincoln Park, and hence the namesake for the line. The Lincoln was the rare opportunity to see PRR position light signals in eastern Michigan.
PRR discontinued Detroit passenger service fairly early - 1959 I think, but their freight operations were profitable moving autos and parts in and out of the city. The line was brought into the Penn Central fold, but given that the south end of the route was over the C&O and the NYC already had their own routes and much larger yard facilities linking Detroit to Toledo, the PRR line was downgraded and received little maintenance. Even for much of the Conrail era, it was maintained to branchline status, so rusty rails would have been common.
In the late 90's, before the CR split, Conrail began work to rehabilitate the line to give another route to Toledo. Major trackwork was already underway when the Conrail split happened in 1999. Given that half of this Detroit-Toledo route was already over CSX tracks (C&O), the Lincoln Line was given to CSX, while the former NYC Conrail mainlines closer to the lakeshore went to Norfolk Southern. CSX found this to be adventageous as an alternate for the longer C&O routing via Plymouth, and the Lincoln line has a straight lead in to Livernois Yard and the old Conrail system with fewer junctions than going via Rougemere.
Current traffic on the Lincoln is almost exclusively containers. I believe Q304/Q305 mixed freight traffic used to go this way (from former CR yards on Detroit's north and east sides) but that train was discontinued with the recession.
Has the Lincoln been reclassed as its own Subdivision? For a long time, it was officially the CSX "Lincoln Secondary." "Subdivisons" by CSX aren't just mainlines, but all connecting tracks as well. The Detroit-Plymouth mainline is the Detroit Subdivision, but so are all connecting spurs, etc.
The link below sheds a bit more light on the construction of this line:
« Back to index