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Week of August 25, 1997

Rail News from Central Virginia
Week of August 25, 1997

Rail News from Central Virginia, by Vic Stone

NS -

Track-coded signals are being cut in this week between Teel and
Charlottesville; the approach circuit to the C&O diamond from the south
side is also being lengthened to the intermediate signal at Arrowhead.

A fire at a plastics company in Atkins, VA on Fri, Aug. 22 caused the
detours of stack trains 235 & 227 from the Bristol Line to the ex-Southern
and Valley to Hagerstown, MD.  The trains were interchanged to the W&LE at
Hagerstown, and heading west on CSX.  This has been the first return of
trains to the W&LE routing since they were removed from this routing
earlier in the year.

With higher-than-average foreign power locally, SP and UP units have been
sighted on several 696's with return south on either W41 or 203.  A DWP
unit added to the Canadian pool of power on 341/342, making thr trip into
Roanoke on X27, and returning to Lynchburg on 428.

Several extra sections of 457 & 456 have been running, with lots of trash
cars.  Speculation has it that an independent trash train may be
established to relieve extra tonnage off these trains.  

The end of the UPS strike has signalled the return on 211 & 212.  The
former, however, was still sporadically operated.  A derailment at Town
Interlocking in Hagerstown at the CSX/CR diamond delayed 211 for nearly 7
hours.  The traffic off these trains were often handled combined with
other trains during the strike.

Safetrans signals on the ex-N&W Shenandoah Valley Line have been activated
as far south as Buena Vista, but several persistent problems have plagued
the new blocks.  New signals are up all the way to Roanoke, awaiting


Differing from operation patterns in the past, CSX has cleared the North
Mountain & Washington SD's during Amtrak hours, holding westbound empties
east of Gordonsville for up to 7-8 hours.  In the past, westbound empties
have come west, and have met Amtrak with the latter going into a siding
because of the short sidings which could not accomodate long empty trains.
Recently, a few trains have met Amtrak on the Mountain, but this is now
the exception rather than the rule.

The rebuilt interlocking at RO was completed in mid-August after much
delay.  Trackwork further south continues to progress with completion
scheduled at the end of this month.

Amtrak -

As shippers who use UPS needed to turn elsewhere for delivery, the share
received by the U.S. Postal Service provided Amtrak with many extra mail
cars to carry on several trains.

The trains which received at least 3 extra mail cars were Amtrak 19 (to
New Orleans), and #97 (extra mail to Jacksonville).  These cars were
handled on the corridor by 171 & 13.  And extra mail returned north on
the counterpart of these trains as well.  Trains 97 & 98, which normally
rate 1 unit, had 2 units with these extra mail cars, forcing the Silver
Star (91/92) down to a single unit. 

Several other trains received an extra car or so ocassionally, but not
nearly as much as the above trains.  Even after the Teamsters returned to
work, extra mail cars were still being carried on these trains.

Amtrak will display the Flexliner IC3 train at Steamtown over the Labor
Day weekend, and will also formally accept a P42 delivery there as well.
There will also be a display at the B&O Museum over the Labor Day Weekend
with a P42 and Viewliner intended for display.  A special deadhead move
over the CSX Capital SD to Riverside is expected sometime on Thursday. 

Amtrak has run into problems with the new express boxcars.  Many railroads
have been dissatisfied with Amtrak's attempt at moving express in these
cars.  NS had come out with instructions that any Amtrak train carrying
these cars would be considered "intermodal" trains, and restricted to 60
MPH.  UP and BNSF already have expressed dissatisfaction at the new cars.
A new ruling by the FRA on the mandated head-end handling of these cars
has caused some confusion as well since these cars do not have run-through
head-end cables for the rest of the train.

- Vic Stone