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Week of February 16, 1998

Rail News from Central Virginia
Week of February 16, 1998

Rail News from Central Virginia, by Vic Stone
Back Issues of the "Mid-week Report" are available

A note in passing - Jack Stith of Richmond, VA died last week as a result of complications from heart bypass surgery. He was 59. Jack was an avid rail proponent, and one of the forefront leaders in the Old Dominion Chapter of the NRHS. His experience can be traced all the way back to the '60s when Jack organized and coordinated many rail excursions. Recently, Jack described his experiences in teaching as "enjoyable". The rail enthusiast world has lost an experienced friend.

Around the region, heavy rains from the first week of February have caused operational problems and resulted in several detours on both class one systems. There was virtually no snow east of the Appalachian range, but the rain was still a substantial problem.

NS - Several detours trains operated via Roanoke and Walton. These included 167, 177, and 571. These are trains normally plying Kentucky Division rails, but snow in the Rathole has shut down the route. 167 and 177 ran via the Hurt connection, but most northbounds were held at other terminals and detoured via other routes.

Locally, the derailment of X61 on the Shenandoah Valley Line caused several trains to detour via the ex-Southern main. Included were trains 460/461 and the NY trash trains, 371/372. 461 was daylight on Saturday, as the crew awaited a pilot at Riverton. 461 had previously come down from Hagerstown to Shenandoah where it set off cars and then ran around to head north.

SP & C&NW power has been sighted on 341/342 in the past two weeks. NS handled the Ringling Bros. circus train from Greensboro to Richmond (as in years past), appearing in Lynchburg on Mon, Feb. 16. Train was symbolled O48 and departed eastbound just before 12 noon.

CSX - A big sinkhole caused a major dispruption in traffic on the ex-RF&P late last week. Trains were limited to 10 MPH and single-track operation was in effect north of Fredericksburg. On Saturday night, all operations were curtailed (including Amtrak) as major repair efforts began to buffer up the right-of-way.

The history of recent storms knocked out CSX's code line along the New River between Hinton and Prince with trains operating under DTC blocks. As a result, major delays are being encountered, especially by P050/P051.

Several coal trains have even be detoured to avoid the DTC operation. Such trains are some of the Possum Point trains for VA Power, and the V954/V956 trains for Bethelehem, both of which are now running via Russell, Columbus, Cumberland to get to their destinations.

Upgrading of signal is occurring on the COBU on the Coal River subdivision where Electro-code is being installed along with new signals.

Two signal system gangs are working on installing a new set of double crossovers at Featherstone (just south of Woodbridge) on the ex-RF&P, funded by VRE.

Several SD70AC's (#703, 719, 722) have been plying the COBU rails over the last week as well as AC60W 602.

Cutover of the new right-of-way occurred on Thursday, Feb. 12 with T70712 being the first train over the new alignment. The eastbound home signal at JC Cabin was moved south and re-used for the new alignment. The alignment is part of the project to build an underpass at 10th St. for hospital access, and to close the 9th St. grade crossing near the diamond. An increase in the number of trains has been seen as trains from the Peninsula have frequented the Piedmont/North Mtn route over the past several days.

Amtrak - Some F40's have recently appeared on trains operating to Richmond and Newport News (85, 95) which is mostly held down by a single P40/P42. Elsewhere on the East Coast, F40's also run in pairs between New Haven and Boston.

The Flexliner completed its tour in the US in early February. The last tour, through the state of North Carolina included several runs over rare-mileage segment, including the ex-Southern L-line from Winston-Salem to Charlotte. Upon completion, the train then operated to Dundalk Marine Terminal for return to Israel.

- Vic Stone