Harrisonburg, Virginia is served by Norfolk Southern, Virginia Division, Chesapeake Western Branch. The line sees 4 regularly scheduled local trains, with no regular saturday service. Train numbers are V90, V92, V93, and V94; extra's are frequent. V90 and V93 work M-F durring the day. V92 works nights M-F, and V94 works Sunday through Thursday. V90 occationally also operates on Sundays. The locals will often come into town as one long train (with two crews onboard), and the train is then broken up downtown. When trains leave town, they are also often made into one longer train. Locomotives are occationally parked in town overnight, but not often, as they usually head back to the yard in Shenandoah. When trains are running, there will be anywhere from 3 to 8 locomotives within the city limits.
(In May 2000 I saw a train leaving town with 8 locomotives and only about 20 freight cars.)
V92 generally hits the road at 5:00am, heading as far north as Mt. Jackson. V90, V93, and V94 generally only work Harrisonburg. Each local averages 40 or more cars.
Train crews on the CW branch of NS's system are non-union, which is very unusual; crews are non-union because before N&W bought Chesakeake Western Railway, C&W was non-union (more below, in the history section). This means a number of things for crews: they can be fired much easier than union employees, but they can also be required to do track maintenance work on the branch. Generally, only extra-board crews, when not running trains, perform track maintenance. I don't know specifics about wages, benefits, etc, but I believe they are pretty much in line with the rest of the NS system.
Another irregularity is that all trains on the branch are dispatched from NS's Chesapeake Western offices in Harrisonburg, not from the Roanoke, Crewe, or Shenandoah dispatchers offices. In Elkton, where the CW branch meets the main line, trains are dispatched from the Shenandoah Yard in Shenandoah, Va. (only about 10 miles away from Elkton; Elkton is about 20 miles from Harrisonburg). Between Harrisonburg and Elkton, trains cross Massanutten Mountain; grades exceed 2% in a single 5 mile stretch, and later 1.85% for more than 5 miles. The line between Elkton and downtown Harrisonburg is TWC (Track Warrant Control), but the entirety of Harrisonburg seems to be yard limits, which can mean two or three trains operating simultaniously on the main, scattered throughout Harrisonburg. click here for maps of the area
Click for a bigger view (33k)
Pictured above are CW's offices, located on Chesapeake Ave in downtown Harrisonburg. The main is located behind the office. The location of this office is represented on the map of the city above by a blue dot.
A little history...
The Chesapeake Western Railway used to be a short line through the Shenandoah Valley, getting it's start in the 1892 under the name Chesapeake, Shendun, and Western Railroad Company, renamed in 1895 to Chesapeake and Western Railroad Company (and being renamed a few times since), it has operated continously since 1892 in the valley. In 1954, the road was bought by Norfolk & Western Railroad, but maintained it's name for a few years more (and the CW is still a wholly-owned subsidiary of NS; ie, the company still exists--on paper only). When the company was started, it had been planned that the railroad would run from Virginia's coast west to an undetermined point--rumored at various times to reach anywhere from West Virginia to the Pacific Coast! Alas, it never reach the West Virginia state line, and Elkton is the farthest east it ever reached.
An excellent book on the railroad, 'The Crooked & Weedy', was written by Charles Gratten Price, Jr. and published in 1991, being reprinted in 1993. The book is available only in the central Shenandoah Valley area (maybe only in Harrisonburg)(as far as I know) and copies of the book are very rare; if you are a railfan with a large library, or a railfan with an interest in the area, get your copy now before it is too late.
UPDATE ON THE BOOK: It is out of print, but you may find it forsale at used book stores or antique stores. I know of NO bookstores that have it stocked. I cannot stress enough, if you are even remotely interested in the CW or in unusual aspects of NS or N&W, get this book!
Probably 90+% of all freight cars on the CW branch contain grain *IMPORTED* from the mid-west; it seems strange that the 'bread basket of Virginia' would import grain until you realize that the Valley is the country's second largest grower and processor of poultry food products in the United States. Over 100 cars of grain run to the Harrisonburg area everyday. Other goods shipped include wood/lumber products, occational ice shipments (Casco Ice Co.), frozen foods (processed poultry), petroleum, used cars (an auto auction is in town), etc.
Though not on the CW lines, but rather, the NS main, Coors Brewing company has a large plant in Elkton; beer concentrate is shipped in from Colorado (by rail), beer is shipped out (by rail and truck). Coors also has it's own switcher, but David's never seen it (it's pretty far from the road and fenced in). The switcher is supposed to have a great paint scheme.
Scanner and Radio Info: The CW branch is dispatched from the CW's Chesapeake Ave. office in Harrisonburg, VA. They are assigned the flowing channels: