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Week of February 9, 1998

Rail News from Central Virginia
Week of February 9, 1998

Rail News from Central Virginia, by Paul WilsonWeek of February 9.
Posted February 11

NS Goes Splash

All three units and two cars off train X61 derailed near Glasgow on the Roanoke District, due to slide caused by heavy rain in the early morning hours of February 5. It is not clear whether the tracked washed out in advance of the train, or whether soft earth gave way under the weight of the engines. There were no injuries. SD40-2 6075 ended up in the Maury River. Trailing SD40-2 1628 remained upright and the last unit, C40-9W 8984, overturned and came to rest at 90 degrees to the track alignment. A small diesel fuel spill required containment and clean up.

The crew swam to shore and then walked to a nearby Burlington textile mill to report the incident. As a result of the wreck at least three trains detoured from Lynchburg and Roanoke to Riverton via Manassas. On Friday 460 came north and on Saturday morning 461 operated via Manassas. Waverly-Hagerstown unit trash train 371 also detoured on Saturday afternoon. NS crews returned the line to service on Sunday, Feb. 8th.

Bristol Rail Study Unveiled

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is holding a series of hearings around the Commonwealth to roll out Phase 2 of the Bristol Rail Study. The report received a warm response in Southwestern Virginia, especially in Bristol, which has been without passenger service since the inception of Amtrak in 1971. In addition to the Bristol line, passenger service would return to Roanoke, Appomattox and Farmville.

The study calls for two daily round trips between Bristol and Washington and Richmond, via Lynchburg. The train sets would join and split in Lynchburg. Bristol to Richmond travel would be scheduled for a six-hour and forty-two minute travel time, while a Bristol to Washington trip would take seven hours and twenty-seven minutes. The service requires a $93 million commitment from the General Assembly: $9.3 million in capital expenditures and the remainder for twelve years of annual operating subsidy. The VDRPT expects the service to break even after twelve years.

Rolling stock similar to tilting Talgo train sets is anticipated in order to negotiate the routes at a reasonable speed. If the project receives state funding, operation could begin in two to three years, pending the outcome of negotiations with Norfolk Southern. The final public hearing on the study is scheduled for Charlottesville on February 24th. The Central Virginia Railfan Page will offer a more detailed analysis of the report after the hearing.

Amtrak Meets Amtrak

Due to severe weather-related delays and other problems, the almost five hours tardy # 50 and # 19, the southbound Crescent, arrived the Charlottesville station simultaneously on Friday, Feb. 6th. They also departed at the same time. Amtrak personnel asked the NS Greenville dispatcher to take down the signal at JC Cabin, so that # 50 could cross the diamonds first, for the benefit of connecting passengers.

CSX Snowed In

In some areas of West Virginia up to three feet of snow fell from a storm that hit the area on January 27 and 28. The weather effectively shut down the New River and Alleghany Subs and in Southwestern Virginia the former Clinchfield experienced a similar fate. Trees toppled under the weight the heavy wet snow, clobbering track side code and power lines and causing numerous signal outages. This last storm illustrates how CSXT's pole line elimination program should improve signal reliability in bad weather.

The storm impacted coal deliveries as CSX reported only 300 cars being loaded per day as a result of the storm, where 800 to l,000 cars are the norm. Few trains ran between Handley and Clifton Forge until Friday, due to downed trees numbering up to 150 to the mile. Newspaper accounts ran describing the helicopter rescue of a stranded crew at Quinnimont.

Two round trips of Amtrak's Cardinal were annulled, with P05027 terminating at Cincinnati while no trips ran on January 29 and 30. Three to four hour delays to Amtrak #50 lasted for a week once the trains resumed. P05007 arrived in Charlottesville a little more than an hour late on Sunday, February 8, signaling a relative return to normalcy.


-Paul Wilson