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Week of March 18, 1996

Rail News from Central Virginia
Week of March 18, 1996

By Vic Stone
Piedmont Report:

NS - Manifest trains have been running slightly later than
"normal schedule", but intermodals all seem to be running close
to previous times.  213/214 still have CR power leading, but
the widecabs have sometimes infiltrated into the lead on the
other trains.  211 still runs down the Valley Tu-Fr, and
sometimes Sa.  There is a work train out, doing work north of
C'ville now (symbol #909).

CSX - The frequency of empty trains over the Mountain has
become sporadic.  Rumor has it that there are simply not enough
crews to run these trains.  Also, the majority of crews are
still not making the Richmond-Clifton Forge run in 12 hours, as
they do on the James River.  One sub-problem has been lack of
available pilots for these trains, and some trains wait as much
as 4 hours to get a pilot to head west out of C'ville.  

Overall, some days see 2 trains, while other days see 4 trains
within an hour!  Amtrak engineers have commented on how the
track on the Mountain and Washington subdivisions are getting
rougher.  This concurred with the placement of 6 slow orders on
the North Mountain sub last week when the Sperry car tested the
track.  Track inspectors and track crews are now out every day
working.  Amtrak's Cardinal has seen fewer delays, and no
zig-zags have occurred in the last week.  The NRHS/RRE trip to
Staunton over the weekend saw the eastbound (#50) go into the
siding just once (at Afton) for a wb empty.

Out of Town Segment:
While out in the Chicago area, there were some items of
- IC's business train was being waxed one day.  We found that
the train runs shippers from Homewood down to New Orleans, and
usually departs on Sat. mornings from Homewood.  We also
learned that the E-units also see freight service once in a
while, particularly on the Chicago-Memphis intermodal trains.
- The semaphores on the C&NW lines are still there.  There are
three sets in a row after the curve outside of the C&NW station.
- Metra operators have said that they expect the next tower to
be closed is Gresham (to be remoted to their dispatching
- Speaking of Metra, we searched (in vain) for their F-units,
which are probably stored at the 47th St. Rock Island facility
(inside, when not in use).  They make a journey to Blue Island
to get refueled, but they seem to be based there, and they make
occasional trips out on work trains, etc.  But, they still
exist and move around.  Although we didn't see them, we
concluded that they were inside these shops (after virtually
looking in every shop Metra had).
- IC Signal crews at Gilman, IL are currently working on new
signal installation that is a part of the CTC work involved in
closing the "tower" at Gilman (actually inside the station).
The operator's position is expected to be abolished (and
control transferred to Homewood) in mid-summer.

Along with the above stuff, we did see Warbonnets (both Santa
Fe and BNSF ones) galore.  Also, the C&NW power is still strong
on its mainline out of Clinton.  

Closer to home:
- RG Tower (in Philadelphia's East Side Yard) is currently
in the cutover phase.
- Rumor has it that Hyndman Tower may be the next CSX tower to
- MARC last two E-units, #91, 92 performed a "switching move"
on Sat, Mar 16 as they were in temporary "freight service".
They were turned with a gondola on the wye at Bailey's in
- As of this week, D&H 555/556 are still running via theie
Sunbury Line & the corridor, although this may change since the
Lehigh Line in Solomon's Gap has been reopened.