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Week of July 29, 1996

Rail News from Central Virginia
Week of July 29, 1996

By Vic Stone

* News for Central VA*

Correction from last week's report:

The detour of Amtrak 20 was not a deadhead move, as previously stated,
but an actual revenue, passenger-carrying train that carried the
passengers for Washington, DC and points north around the CSX derailment
at AF Interlocking on July 21.  Amtrak had hired buses to carry people
around the derailment, but officials at NS refused to let the people
detrain at Calverton (the detraining site suggested by the NS in the first
place) after they decided the height between between the track and the
ground level was too high.  Amtrak was then stuck with paying the bill
(several thousand dollars) for the mostly-unused buses (passengers for
Manassas and Alexandria were taken on the buses).  The detour of Amtrak
 20 was via Riverton Jct. and Shenandoah Jct. onto CSX for the run into

NS - Trackwork abounds with multiple smoothing projects and work trains on
the both the Shenandoah Valley Line and the ex-Southern mainline.  Work
train #909 is working around Charlottesville, picking up old ties, plates,
etc.  Some slow orders still exists as a result of the work, mostly on the
northern end of the ex-Southern and in some places on the Valley Line.

This trackwork has resulted in a rather chaotic schedule for trains, with
virtually every daylight train affected.  Train 213 has been running up to
4 hours behind schedule with the southbound Roadrailer #265 just ahead.
341 is back to its wildcard running times, and even dependable 203 is up
to an hour late than its usual 6 PM appearance here.  Least affected are
the night trains, usually 204 & 212.

Instructions have been given for train 342 to skip its previous normal
stop at Culpeper to switch out cars for Cargill.  These cars will be sent
to Manassas and handled by E41.

Intermodal train 211 has been mostly on the Valley this week, and even 461
was seen in daylight, running about 3 hours early.

Both Amtrak 19 & 20 have been delayed several times this week at the
diamond due to CSX pulling in a signal for westbound empties before Amtrak
is on the approach circuit for the crossing.  Delays average about 10-15

The temporary bridge at Main Street in Charlottesville is being torn down
as the finishing touches are occurring on the new bridge.  Most helpful to
photographers, there is no high fence on this bridge, and there are convenient
"alcoves" as extensions of the sidewalk which are helpful in overhead shots
from here.

CSX - With virtually no foreign power sighted (on both the River & the
Mountain), the colorful character of motive power lashups has disappeared
for the most part.  However, there have been lots of westbound empties
going over the Mountain, sometimes up to 3 in an hour.  Amtrak 50 has met
up to 4 empties again this week.

An eastbound ballast train with YN2 engines went through town on Thursday.
Both locals (from Doswell & Clifton Forge) have been running behind
scheduled times this week, and again, no unusual power has been seen.

Other items of interest - (mostly Amtrak notes)

1) After the Olympics are over, NS will probably run its office cars back
toward Roanoke (via Lynchburg) and cut off the 1 Conrail car for
forwarding to Hagerstown.  Keep your eyes open on Monday, Aug. 5 for this
move; it should be an "O" symbol.

2) NCDOT and Amtrak had agreed to run preseason football trains to the
stadium at Charlotte on Aug. 2 & 17 which involved an afternoon run from
Raleigh to Charlotte and a return after game's end.  This would an extra
section of the Piedmont.  There was a possible extension to run the trains
to the stadium lead itself (via the R-Line), but this was up to NS'
discretion.  However, no other word confirming these trains had been
heard, and there's a possibility that these trains might be cancelled
altogether.  In addition to the "rare mileage" on the Observer Lead,
NCDOT was pondering the lease of another locomotive to supplement this
train since the other NCDOT unit would be protecting the Piedmont.  We
will update this as info becomes available.

3) Amtrak's Crescent will return to daily service through to New Orleans
after the Olympic are over.  This is due to the higher ridership that has
been generated.

4) All but official ... Amtrak will probably add a third Florida train
with timetable changes in October.  The Silver Palm will run similar to
the Silver Meteor's schedule now, while the Silver Meteor will shift
approximately 12 hours later.  The Silver Star will run about 3 hours
later.  The Silver Palm is supposed to run to Miami via Tampa, but nothing
official has been heard from Amtrak, yet.

5)  The Amtrak station in Spartanburg, S.C. was destroyed by fire on July 27
and service on 19/20 to Spartanburg has been suspended.  Passengers are being
directed to Greenville.

For those of you who are interested, on NS' web site, there is a short
executive speech by Bill Schafer on why NS is opposed to passenger trains
on its tracks.  Ironically (as mentioned before), NS ran a special
passenger train from Manassas to Charlottesville just so this speech could
be made.  Apparently, orders were given to the dispatcher to hold this
train for any opposing freight.


Speaking of NS ... a court in NC has ruled that the newly negotiated
contract for use of the North Carolina Railroad is invalid.  They claim
that there needed to be a quorum of shareholders to vote on this contract,
which was not present.  In the past, NS paid $600,000 a year to use the
tracks between Morehead City, Greensboro and Charlotte.  The new contract
calls for $8 million per year.  A legislator from Greensboro states that
the $8 million is too low of a price, and wants to charge more.

That's it for this week ...  Thanks for all the contributions.

- Vic Stone