Rail News from Central Virginia, by Paul Wilson
Mid-week Report: issued on June 20th, 1997
There's been a great deal of activity since I left town on May 14th, and this is an attempt to recap developments of since the last Mid-Week Report.
Work on the Norfolk Southern shoo-fly was completed during the first week of June and speeds on both tracks have been raised to 25 mph. The CSX interchange track remains out of service for the time being. That work should be complete within the next week or so. Crews are removing the former main tracks in order to construct the 9th/10th Street underpass near the University of Virginia Hospital.
Kanawha Sub Wreck Department
The rear-end collision of Q302 and a V601 coal train at Bills Creek, W.Va., (just east of the now appropriately named detector at Scary, MP 470) on June 7th, resulted in the death of 302's engineer and the lengthy blockage of both main tracks of CSXT's Kanawha Sub. Due to difficulty of extinguishing a burning tank car, the line remained closed until late Wednesday (11th), requiring the termination of two Cardinal roundtrips in Huntington and Charleston. On Sunday and Wednesday, 50's train turned at Huntington to become 51. Sunday's #51 was halted at Charleston to become 50, after receiving passengers from Huntington by bus. The train was then dragged east by a CSX locomotive, arriving in Charlottesville at 7AM the next day, some 14 hours off schedule. On Wednesday, buses were ordered from Huntington to points east, and 51's train deadheaded back to Washington, arriving around dawn Thursday in Charlottesville (see below). Friday's Cardinals operated normally, after both tracks were returned to service at Bills Creek.
Special Trains Department
Thursday, June 12th was quite a busy day for special passenger trains in Charlottesville. Highlights included an off schedule deadhead move of the Cardinal, the Great American Stations train and the CSXT "Safety Special" of office cars bound for White Sulphur Springs. Here's Vic Stone's report on those events:
The first train was P050, running nearly 13 hours "behind" schedule. However, this was really just a deadhead move to return equipment back to Washington. P050 north: 2 AMTK P42's dep Charlottesville at 0604 (got the signal at the diamond ahead of NS 222) met an empty westbound coal train at Massie (just east of Charlottesville); 12" delay by Gordonsville at 0645 onto the Orange Branch by Orange at 0658 (to NS) on main 1 NS 222 north: NS 8868; 12 trailers (3 5-packs) by Orange at 0709 on main 2 Amtrak 20 (O20) north: AMTK 842, AMTK 270; 14 cars by Orange at 0832 on main 2 NS E41 north: NS 7074, NS 1649; 4 cars by Orange at 1041 on main 2, next stop Cargill at Culpeper NS R19 Amtrak extra south: AMTK 51, AMTK 73; Great American Stations Train by Orange at 1058 on main 2 DS says he will hold at Weyburn to meet hotshot NS 214, then proceed to Charlottesville on main 1 to hold that track until 2 PM At 1130, North End DS tells E41 that he will have to clear up to meet passenger extra R51 at Cargill. NS 214 north: CR 6090, CR 6179, CR 6144, NS 9005, NS 6092; 33 cars total (7 5-packs, 2 autoracks, 3 doublestacks) by Orange 1148 on main 2 NS 265 south: CR 6176; 23 Roadrailers by Orange 1158 on main 2 North End DS mentions that he will meet 456 at Weyburn CSX AL Dispatcher, Jacksonville, lines the signal south at Orange for R51 at about 1230. NS 456 north: NS 6651, CR 6239, CR 5639, mid-train radio car Southern 905932 linked with NS 6574: total 114 cars (56 cars, radio unit, 58 cars) by Orange 1257 on main 2 CSX P932-10 west (NS symbol R51): CSX 6236, 6232: 9 passenger cars including CR dome 55, and 2 UP cars. by Orange 1328 on main 1 (to CSX). Following this train to Charlottesville, the Great American Stations train was finishing up its exhibit. Both this train and the CSX executive train were scheduled to go through the diamond at about the same time. The Amtrak extra decided it would wait for the CSX train to clear. CSX P932-10 by Charlottesville at 1440 (with a lot of surprised people looking on, and R19 sitting at the home signal for the diamond). R19 then departed at 1450.
Cardinal Consist Changes Department
Single P42-9BWH locomotives have become standard on the Cardinal this month, ending the long run of the venerable F40PHs. A diner and second sleeper have been added to the Cardinal as well. Effective this week, Amtrak has reassigned the Cardinal's baggage cars to other service. In their place, the lower level of a transition sleeper is now carrying baggage. Express shipments on the Cardinal have been embargoed for the time being until baggage cars return.
Amtrak Notes Department
Effective July 10th, Newport News will be the terminus of the Twilight Shoreliner, the new incarnation of the nightly Washington to Boston "Night Owl." The new train will carry Viewliner sleepers, but no checked baggage will be accepted, ending all baggage service at New London and Providence. The inauguration of the new train will restore same day round trips to Williamsburg from the north.
The VRE coach added to 19 and 20 is being sold as a separate service, at a lower rate, between Virginia stops and Washington. So far this service has received mixed reviews from passengers. Complaints have centered around uncomfortable seating and lack of restroom facilities in the commuter car. On the positive side, there are now plenty of seats available for short-haul Virginia riders, and riders will only be seated in the VRE car when the rest of the train is full.
CSXT Maintenance-of-Way Department
CSX crews are busy rebuilding the Middle Depot track through Charlottesville, as part of a tie and resurfacing project. As a result of this effort on the North Mountain SD, CSX returned the siding at Bells Valley to service and raised track speeds through the Blue Ridge Tunnel to 25 miles per hour. The latter followed replacement of the sleepers in the tunnel, which had been installed incorrectly by a contractor several years ago. Also, there are indications that CSX will install two talking defect detectors on the line west of Staunton. These would be the line's first and a welcome improvement in safety.