Rail News from Central Virginia
Week of April 22, 1996
By Vic Stone
Mid-week report from the Piedmont:
I apologize for not sending out an update from last week - lots
of school work & unexpected train events (see below).
But first, current news:
* Reminder * - AOE nb on Sat. If NS doesn't throw another
derailment in front of this one, it'll be nb into Lynchburg
about 12:30 PM on Sat. and heading north out of here about 6 PM
for DC. Sb on Sun departing DC at 9 AM, arriving C'ville
11 AM, departing for Lynchurg 4:15 PM, and departing Lynchburg
5:30 PM for points south and west.
NS - Major trackwork has the Manassas-Front Royal B-Line down
for stretches of up to 4 hours. All northbound traffic
destined to Hagerstown (except 212) was routed via the CSX
James River Sub and up the ex-N&W Shennedoah Valley Line on
Mon-Thurs. This included 154, 456, 214 (stacks were taken off
at Lynchburg), 222, and roadrailer 266. Lots of meets in the
Valley this week between these trains and 211. Friday should
see the normal route of these trains reactivated. The
southbound traffic appears to be relatively unaffected.
CP power is now mixing with NS power on 341/342. Sometimes the 341
is combined with 741 from Van Dorn St. An NYS&W SD70M was
sighted going to Norfolk last week, coming up from Linwood. CP
power is now travelling beyond 341/342 routes, making trips to
Asheville, Atlanta, and Chattanooga.
CSX - Major maintenance on the North Mountain Sub has kept
empty coal trains at a slower pace this week. Ballast train
have dropped rock along the siding at Brand last week, and work
is now progressing with both ballast and tie replacement
between Charlottesville and Afton. P051 has been running
off-schedule by at least half an hour for every time in the
last 2 weeks. P050 usually meets at least one empty coal
train, typically at Brand, Afton, or Ivy sidings. Work on the
Piedmont includes ballast (and also expected tie replacement
there in the upcoming weeks).
Coal trains have been running, via the RF&P up to Doswell, and
even sb empties are coming from Possum Point and points north
to Doswell to go over the C&O. The pace averages about a train
every 4-6 hours now, and is slower than normal this week.
** Extra Section - Circus Train Fiasco and the Canadian
Last week, as anticpated, the Red Unit of Ringling Bros. circus
train traversed over the Piedmont and North Mountain Sub's on
its way to Charleston, WV. But, the trip was everything but
uneventful for P988-16 with GP40-2 #6240 and EMD GP40 #193.
The train arrived off the RF&P at Doswell at about 12:30 PM. A
new (C&O) crew was added, and the train was to head west ahead
of a local. While pulling through the north wye track onto the
C&O, the 6-axle diner derailed on a curve and travelled about
150 yards before rerailing itself on a curve. After inspection
by track and mechanical crews, it was decided to set off the
diner because truck damage was bad.
Another problem - this one, a personal one. My new Canon EOS
A2E had crapped out - apparently due to a bad shutter curtain.
It's less than a month old, and it's already broken! It's
turning out to be a great day ... NOT!
After setting off the diner, the train began pulling again at
about 5:45 PM. Two trainmasters, track, and mechanical
personnel watched carefully as the train pulled west slowly.
Attention was focused on the curve where the initial derailment
had occurred. About 10 carlengths from the end of the train,
it derailed again, this time, more seriously. Two cars were on
the ground. One set of trucks from one car was inside the
south rail, while another set of trucks from the adjacent car
split the rail.
This was serious enough to call the crane from Richmond to
rerail the train. It was evident that we weren't going to see
this train travel west over the Mountain in daylight. In
disgust, we left for Charlottesville.
At 3:30 AM, the circus train was coming by Gordonsville. At
Charlottesville, another GP40-2 was added for the trip over the
Mountain. At 4:30 AM, the train left Charlottesville. At 6
AM, there was a crew change at Brand. A little after 7 AM, the
train was in Clifton Forge.
Determined to get a shot of this train, I set up at Covington
in a nice, open area to get a good train shot. About 30
seconds before the train rounded the curve, a local showed up
and blocked the view of the train as it roared past.
So, another attempt was made at White Sulfur Springs; this time
the weather was the culprit as clouds blocked the sun as the
train arrived. So, onwards to Hinton - hell, I had come this
At Hinton, the train was watered and the animals fed. At 12:25
PM, the train was set to go, and finally, all the elements came
into place - open space, sun, and moving train. Finally!
Epilogue - the now-repaired diner was sighted westbound on a hopper
train on Fri last week to catch up with the rest of the train
And then, it was back to C'ville for a few hours of sleep
before heading to Montreal for the VIA F's.
So, to Montreal I went, and on the way did some Amtrak FL9s.
In Montreal we saw everything we had planned for - VIA F's on
the steam-heated trains, dead-hulk FPA4's used for CP Alco
parts, a Milwaukee Road switcher (still in Milwaukee lettering)
with CP snowplows, MUCTC F's, more VIA F's and a bonus, the St.
George & Murray Bay (ex-VIA) FP9 switching in the VIA yard at
Montreal. There is even a boxcab wrapped up in a tarp in the
Mount Royal city utility yard next to the CP line.
What a week - but, it was worth it. And thank God for that
manual Pentax K1000 that I've used for so long. It was there
when I really needed it.