Facebook Page
Week of August 4, 1997

Rail News from Central Virginia
Week of August 4, 1997

Not very much to report except on the Safetrans signal project.


The Safetrans signal project is now as far as south as Midvale siding with the several N&W intermediate installations already taken down. Initially, the position light heads are turned to the side until the salvage crews can come in & take down the mast altogether. On Wednesday, August 6, the cutover between Stuarts Draft and Midvale took place.

The project has already seen Safetrans erected as far south as Cloverdale, with crews continuing to work south. The southbound approach to Lithia has already been altered with this position light signal being deactivated a few years ago. It is likely that the entire segment down to Roanoke might be completed with the next month or two.

NS signal forces said that after this Valley project is completed, the next segment to be cut over will between Suffolk and Norfolk, VA on the ex-N&W main.

For track improvements, many of the sidings on the Valley have now been welded, possibly in anticipation of increased traffic from the Conrail incorporation.

On the ex-Southern side, surfacing at various points has been the primary maintenance. Traffic, in general, is slightly down from previous weeks as the frequent second sections of trains has become much less common. Trains 203/204 is feeling the pressure of the lack of UPS traffic, and are often quite short now. 341 continues to run with CP power including leased MK and Helm Leasing units.

Below is a summary of the approximate train times on a typical day on the ex-Southern mainline through Charlottesville. These are only approximate.

4-5 AM: 457
5-6 AM: 342
6-7 AM: Amtrak 20 (scheduled 6:48), normally followed close by 222, 341
9-10 AM: 265, 456
10-11 AM: 214, E41 (local about once per week)
12-1 PM: 213
2-3 PM: 266 (run as 244 on Saturdays about 1-2 hours later)
6-7 PM: 203, 212
7-8 PM: 211
8-9 PM: 204
9-10 PM: Amtrak 19 (scheduled 9:35 pm)
10-11 PM: 221


General maintenance has replaced the heavy surfacing and tamping activites of the past few weeks. Some trains have suffered engine failures and less than optimal performances which have forced some trains to cut off extra cars in the sidings at Crozet, Afton. On Sunday, August 3, one of the westbound empties powered by a single AC whose engine had completely failed was rescued by the Doswell local, and had to run back to Noel to retrieve the train.

A larger number of News trains have been returning via the North Mountain side, much more so than in the past month.

A Cotton Belt unit was sighted as middle unit on a power plant train running via the James River. Other than this, there has been few sightings of run-through units except on the acid K-trains to/from Lee Creek. - Vic Stone