Rail News from Central Virginia
Week of May 20, 1996
By Vic Stone
Mid-week report from the Piedmont:
The mid-week report has returned after being on vacation for the last 2
NS - Train #211 has returned back to a Southern routing via Manassas
after a derailment on the CSX connection at Glasgow has forced its return
to back to this route. It often holds for meets at Alison on the
B-Line. CSX is refusing to repair the connection track at Glasgow since
little traffic is interchanged this way. It is also no secret that 211's
movement over the James River Line was a kink in the normal, slower
running of CSX's coal trains on this route.
Leased power has run through with sightings by Nick Page of a UP, and
ex-SP HATX leasor. CP power continues to dominate 341/342. The ballast
cleaner worked south over the line during the past week. It is
self-propelled and has been up and down the ex-Southern.
CSX - Heavy maintenance work dominates this scene with tie replacement
and drainage improvements over on the Piedmond S-D. Work crews typically
tie up the line during daylight Mon-Thurs and all empties are run via the
James River during the maintenance window. On Fri-Sun and at night on
Mon-Thurs, the empties continue to run. Qualification of crews over the
line west of C'ville continues to be an issue.
Amtrak #50 still meets empties, especially east of Afton on Fri & Sun.
An inspection train was run on Tues, May 21 via Gordonsville to C'ville.
Afterwards, the train went down to Newport News via the Piedmont
(including the segment east of Doswell). The train consisted of a P40,
F40, a Superliner, transition sleeper, and Inspection Car #A-10001, the
Amtrak - The Crescent is scheduled to go daily to New Orleans in July as
a service extension for the Olympics in Atlanta. Two F40s have been
dominating the scene over the last 2 weeks as power for this train, which
usually has a Genesis-leading an F40 combination. The Auto Train has
gone all Superliner, and even some of the racks have been painted in the
Superliner II scheme with the darker blue.
The Cardinal has been carrying a fair amount of mail cars recently. And
bringing up the markers have been a number of private varnish over the
past week including a Wisconsin Southern car.
End of mid-week report
So, you're not bored enough, if you're reading on ... Below is a quick
summary of my trip out to do 4449 and Arizona in mid-May.
On Wed, May 8, 4449 was running Vancouver, BC to Seattle. It met a Talgo
set at the US-Canada border at Blaine, WA. It ran well down the BNSF to
Everett where the passengers were taken off due to BNSF's request that
all passengers (including those on Amtrak trains) be bussed between
Seattle and Everett. I continued to follow it at Interbay to downtown
Thurs, May 9 - Fast-running day for the 4449 as it put on a magnificent
show departing Seattle at 9 AM. A Pentrex fellow and I were teaming up
for the rest of the chase. We chased it to a view overlooking the tracks
coming under the Tacoma Narrows bridge (beautiful scene!) After meeting
the sb Coast Starlight, we followed it to an unplanned meet with a
Weyerhauser train at Kelso, WA, and continued to Portland. The SP&S #700
also came out of SP's Brooklyn Yard up to the station that afternoon. It
was truly a great day for steam.
Fri, May 10-Sun, May 12: It rained for these 3 days, and instead of going
down to do the Modoc Line out of Klamath Falls, I stayed around Seattle
and Portland instead. A big mistake as those three days were mostly a
total wash. The outbound move of the steamers back to the yard on Sunday
was in rain (& darkness!) as the switching move took longer than
planned. The doubleheader did finally move south about 9 PM. I got a
chance to see the Washington Central dinner train with the F's - quite a
Mon, May 13 - Another rainy day. I called about changing my flight to
Arizona to leave this afternoon. Instead of charging me a change fee,
they actually refunded $27! Pretty good deal. Flew into Phoenix and
took the rental car to Holbrook.
Tues, May 14 - A great day with the Apache - it started off a little slow
with the green and white Alcos doing some work train duty dropping
ballast. But, then it was on the road from Snowflake to Holbrook. The
afternoon chase from Holbrook back to Snowflake was magnificent. Then it
was a deadhead back to Phoenix for Amtrak's Sunset Limited.
Wed, May 15 - It was a good day for the SP's Phoenix Line west of town.
Starting off with Amtrak #2 in the morning, a morning eb and a PM wb
rounded out a great day on this semaphore-laden line. With no customers
between Buckeye (west of Phoenix) and Roll (near the junction with SP
mainline), this stretch is likely for abandonment after the Sunset is
rerouted off this line on June 1.
Thu, May 16 - After staying in Yuma, AZ (southwest corner of AZ; border
between Mexico, CA and AZ), I had heard that a derailment on the main
between El Paso and San Antonio the previous night would choke off most
of the wb's. There were many great views east of Tucson that I had set
up for, but no trains. The new CTC was in place, replacing the
semaphores that were only there last year on the main. A Loram
Railgrinder was bracketed by 2 water train since the fire danger in the
area was so high.
Fri, May 17 - Another day on the Phoenix Line, the eb LAPX was the train
of the day. Seeking out the east end of the line later in the day, there
are no semaphores to be found anywhere in this section. Traffic on the
Phoenix side was a little slow, though.
Sat, May 18 - Another mini-chase of Amtrak #2 (this time, with several
other followers) before flying back home.
Definitely a good trip, although next time, I'll bring a polarizer for
*** End of summary ***