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Week of Feb. 26, 1996

Rail News from Central Virginia
Week of February 26, 1996

By Vic Stone
Mid-week report from the Piedmont:
NS - Traffic levels remain above average, but are down a little
from last week.  M55's and M54's are still running, but about
once every 2-3 days now.  Fairly common now are coal trains
Z96's which supplement 696.  The CN (et-GTW) unit that was
running up & down on the Southern was on the Montview yard
switcher, P43 on Saturday and later headed north on 342 that
same day.  On Friday, Feb. 23, several CSX train were detoured
via the N&W due to a derailment (more below).  NS Widecabs have
been showing up left & right including on trains 456, 155, and
460.  It is expected that trains that are runthrough from
Conrail may now have NS widecabs as leaders.  A "mixed"
executive train, symbolled #043 was headed west on the N&W on
Sat with a GP38, a really bad-order N&W hopper car, and track
observation car "Buena Vista".

CSX - Empty coal trains continue to run through on the
Piedmont/North Mountain Sub's.  These are often led by a pair
of 6-axles (SD40-2's, C30's, and AC's).  On Sunday, Feb. 25, a
"zig-zag" took place at Brand siding (just east of Staunton)
when a wb empty train pulled past the east switch of the siding
on the main so that Amtrak #51 could go into the siding.  Once
#51 was in the siding, the empty train backed up to clear the
west switch so that #51 could exit the siding at the other end
and get ahead of the coal train.  This has been the first such
instance since 1987 for this to occur as recalled by many from
this area.  Amtrak #50 also met 2 wb's that day.  Average
westbound traffic is about a train every 2 hours or so.
Traffic over the weekend was particularly heavy due to the
fact that there was a derailment just east of Gladstone on
Friday afternoon.  Several trains were routed up the Old Main
Line in Lynchburg to the N&W for travel to Petersburg, but only
on Fri. night.  No trains on Sat. were detoured and they were held 
until the track was opened up in the early evening.  Also noted 
were several-reactivated B36's including one in pure Seaboard 
livery with no CSX markings on it.  An EMD lease unit was on the 
Sandy Hook-based local as well.
Speaking of locals, local H756, formerly based in 
Charlottesville, VA has now been relocated to run from
Doswell, VA.  Following a 3-days a week in each direction
 similar to the Clifton Forge based local, H757 runs west on Su,
T, Th, with return east on M,W,F.  Arrival in C'ville is about
7 PM with departure the next day in mid-afternoon.
The routing of empties over the Mountain is rumored to continue
for the next several weeks, when they are supposed to be
rerouted back to the James River Line until an analysis is done
to determine how the operations have gone.  Currently, the
James River Line carries few westbounds.  Those that still run
west are the coal trains to/from the plant at Bremo Bluff,
empties from the NS at Lynchburg and R303.
- Vic