The Conrail
Detroit Shared Asset Area


When CSX and Norfolk Southern carved up Conrail, the two giant railroads needed to preserve competition in certain regions where Conrail's physical plant could not be easily divided. These regions were Northern New Jersey (and New York City), Southern New Jersey (and Philadelphia), and Detroit. Their solution to this problem was the creation of three "Shared Asset Areas" (SAA), where Conrail still exists but in the form of a terminal railroad which is owned by both CSX and NS.

The Conrail Detroit SAA, unlike the other two Conrail SAAs on the east coast, is primarily former New York Central System territory (the obvious exception to this is the Lincoln Secondary, which was the Pennsylvania Railroad's entry to the Detroit market).


Map courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency

The state of Michigan is a peninsula. Therefore, Detroit is a stub end terminal for most domestic traffic arriving there, much of which is automotive industry related. Detroit is also an international gateway for transcontinental traffic from the western US and Canada to Toronto, Montreal, and the Maritimes. Note that Detroit, MI and Toledo, OH are very close together.

Some traffic enters Michigan by way of the Indiana communities of Elkhart and Fort Wayne for NS, Porter for CSX, and especially South Bend for GTW.

But Toledo still acts as a funnel for a lot of CSX and NS traffic bound for Southeast Michigan in general, and the Conrail Detroit SAA in particular.

Closing In

All, or at least most, roads lead to Detroit. Here we see Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio. The lines radiating away from the Detroit area are NS's ex-Wabash Detroit District, NS's ex-Conrail Detroit and Michigan lines, the Conrail Detroit SAA Lincoln Secondary and Sterling Secondary, the CSX Toledo Terminal, Saginaw, and Plymouth Subdivisions, GTW's Mt Clemens, Holly, Flat Rock, Shore Line, and River Subdivisions, plus CN and CP's CASO Subdivision east through the Detroit River Tunnel to Windsor.

The Basic Physical Plant

If you take away all the branch lines, spurs, and connections with other railroads, The Conrail Detroit SAA looks like a backward letter "K".
Map not to scale.

The Branches

When we add the branch lines, it kinda' looks like a dancer...
"...and if you hold it this way it looks kinda' like Elvis".

NS and CSX

When we add existing CSX and NS properties, and combine that with NS Lines acquired from Conrail, then it looks like we have some railroading happening.

NS, CSX, and GTW

We add to this picture Grand Trunk Western...all of a sudden there seems to be
a lot of railroading happening.

Radio chatter

Conrail is dispatched by three different dispatchers of three railroads: Conrail, NS and CSX. In addition, certain towers control certain interlockings or stretches of track, and quite naturally they are on different frequencies than the DS channels.

  • CSX BX desk 160.635 - Conrail Lincoln Secondary, CSX Toledo Terminal Subdivision [Carleton south to WR Tower in Toledo].
  • NS River Bridge 160.440 - Ecorse Jct., Oakwood Jct.
  • CSX Delray Tower 160.230 - Delray Interlocking, Foreman Wye, Union Belt. Note: this channel is also the CSX Road Channel in the Detroit area.
  • Conrail Detroit Line DS 161.070 - Conrail Detroit Line [CP-West Detroit south to Conrail Rouge Bridge], North Yard Branch, Michigan Line [CP-Bay City Jct. west to CP-Townline], Junction Yard Secondary. Note: This channel is also the NS Toledo Yard DS channel.
  • Conrail Detroit Line DS 160.800 - Conrail Sterling Secondary
  • NS Dearborn DS 160.800 - Conrail Detroit Line [Conrail Rouge Bridge south to milepost 20 in Gibralter], NS Detroit Line [milepost 20 south to CP-Alexis], NS Michigan Line [CP-Townline west to BO Tower, Kalamazoo].
  • Sterling Yardmaster 161.070 - Sterling Yard, Utica Branch.

Table of Contents


The Four Main Lines

Presented counter clockwise, south to north

The Branches

We'll add more as we write them up...

The Towers and Junctions

Presented south to north

More to come, please bookmark and stop in again.

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