Running through the gently rolling countryside east of Gordonsville, the Piedmont Sub is the eastern leg of the old C&O main line through Charlottesville. Most through traffic has been re-routed via the James River line, except for a half-dozen westbound empty coal trains. This route once hosted the Richmond/Norfolk sections of the C&O's name trains, such as the FFV, the George Washington and the Sportsman. Click here for more historical information.
While the Piedmont Sub stretches from Rivanna Jct. in Richmond to
Gordonsville, this page only covers the line from Doswell, the crossing over
the busy RF&P, to Gordonsville. At Doswell, connections are made with the RF&P Sub through a small yard in the northwest quadrant or through a connecting track in the southwest quadrant.
The line is mostly jointed rail and the Piedmont Sub is dispatched by Direct Traffic Control. Block signals still stand along most of the line, although they were deactivated in the 1980s, as part of a general downgrading of the old C&O main line through Charlottesville. There are no talking detectors on the Piedmont Sub. Traffic is limited to 40 mph.
The line is accessible for all of its length from parallel roads and grade crossings. There is one overpass, on US 1 at Doswell.
A Doswell-based local (H756/H757) works the line west to Charlottesville on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. The crew has an 8AM call in Doswell. This train will turn in Charlottesville and run east, usually the next day, after the crew has had their rest. On occasion, the local will meet the
empty trains at the siding at Noel or at one of the shorter sidings. These are often blocked with cars, requiring a backup move to exit the siding. Typically six to ten empty grain or coal trains are routed over the
line daily, but this can vary widely. These trains come either up the RF&P Sub from Acca Yard or from Fulton Yard via the eastern extremity of the Piedmont Sub. A new connecting track in Richmond allows for empty trains from the south to come off the ex-SAL and directly onto the Piedmont Sub. This connection lies to the north of Main St. Station. The number of empty trains on the Piedmont/Washington/North Mountain route has increased, as the connection avoids Acca Yard and the congested RF&P Sub between Acca and Doswell.
The line also plays host to rock trains
from the quarry at Verdon, which run loaded to Amoco on the Peninsula Subdivision. The line to the North Anna nuclear power plant is largely dormant, although cars are occasionally stored on the spur.
(1) Doswell: Amtrak #80, the Carolinian, heads toward Washington on the RF&P. HN tower and the Doswell station can be seen in the background. March 1996.
Doswell local works Beaverdam with GP38 #2119
(3) Mineral: Amtrak inspection train, on the CSX Piedmont subdivision, May 1996.