The James River Subdivision runs from Clifton Forge to Gladstone, on a water-level route parallel to the James River. The route crosses the river five times between Clifton Forge and Glasgow. To the east of Balcony Falls, the James River Sub enters the water gap in the Blue Ridge and then hugs the south side of the river to Lynchburg. At Lynchburg the line keeps to the riverfront. At the foot of Washington Street the remnants of the old Southern main line through the city provides the connection used by NS when running on trackage rights. To the east of this location lies Sandy Hook yard and the coaling tower.
Norfolk Southern has trackage rights over the line between Balcony Falls and Lynchburg. The connection at Balcony Falls is used the route trains from the NS Valley line to the James River Sub. An abandoned C&O branch line connected Buena Vista and Lexington. The C&O had trackage rights between Buena Vista (actually from Loch Laird just south of Buena Vista) and Glasgow which CSX still retains.
The line is dispatched by CTC controlled from Jacksonville's Dufford Dispatching Center. Signals are C&O-style three-color lights mounted on masts or cantilever bridges.
The James River and Rivanna Subdivisions constitute CSX Transportation's principal route between West Virginia and Tidewater Virginia. The route has carried the majority of traffic since the near-elimination of the C&O main line via Charlottesville as a through route. The James River Sub carries all loaded trains and most empties, as well as a pair of wayfreights. A handful of empty trains are sent via Charlottesville. The NS trackage rights over the James River Sub between Lynchburg and Balcony Falls were negotiated as a result of the CSX merger and at present NS frequently exercises these rights. The most common visitors are NS 371 and 372, unit trash trains serving a landfill at Waverly, Va. NS 211 (symbol Z711 on CSX), the Kearny NJ to Atlanta "pig" train, is a less frequent user of trackage rights. Occasionally NS will send a number of trains by this routing during heavy maintenance work on the ex-Southern main or the Manassas Gap Branch. Q302 and Q303 are the only non-coal trains to appear on a regular basis, with the exception of grain trains, locals and loaded unit sulphur trains. The line also hosts train movements serving the U.S. Navy's nuclear program. The Q302 and 303 mixed freight trains run on a Russell (Ky.) to Acca Yard schedule. Two local jobs operate out of Lynchburg's Sandy Hook Yard.
Janes, Dick. Trains Hot Spots, Lynchburg, Trains (Jan. 1992): 68-69.
For CSX coal train symbols The Bull Sheet
(1) Balcony Falls: Q303, Richmond to Russell manifest train, at the Balcony Falls coaling tower and depot. Photo by Vic Stone.
(2) Major: CW440OAC #75 heads a loaded coal train eastbound. Photo taken from Blue Ridge Parkway. January 1997.
(3) Major: SD50 8612 powers a loaded coal train eastbound, with a trailing Cotton Belt unit. Photo taken from Blue Ridge Parkway. July 1997.
(4) Reusens: CSX ballast train on the main meets the Z708 (NS 456) at the siding at Reusens. NS train is exercising trackage rights between Lynchburg and Glasgow. February 1997. Photo by Garland Harper.