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Week of September 22, 1997

Rail News from Central Virginia
Week of September 22, 1997

Rail News from Central Virginia, by Paul Wilson

William Hollifield, 1953-1997

With great sadness we note the passing of Amtrak agent William Hollifield. William, 44, was stricken by a fatal heart attack as he left the Charlottesville station on September 18th. A 21-year employee of Amtrak, he had served as one of Charlottesville's ticket agents for eighteen years. William had also worked for Amtrak in Charleston, SC and on the extra board at several stations in Virginia. He is survived by his wife and son and he will be sorely missed.

Station news followup

As reported in our last issue, once contractual issues are resolved between NS and Amtrak, NS will convey the station and surrounding property to Union Station Partners. The selling price is $700,000. Once the property changes hands, Amtrak will then sign a 20-year lease with Union Station Partners for a lump-sum payment of around $500,000. ISTEA enhancement funds will finance platform and canopy work. The developers will also build a street, to be turned over to the city, which will link the station to 7th Street.

154/155 re-routed

NS has once again changed the routing of Birmingham-Hagerstown manifest trains 154 and 155. Since last spring they had run via the Hurt Connection, Roanoke and the Valley Line in order to reach Hagerstown. NS, citing congestion in Roanoke, has returned them to a routing via the B-line and the Washington District. The return to B-line means a substantial traffic reduction (for the time being) on the Valley line.

Merger details

A summary in September's CTC Board provides more details regarding Norfolk Southern's plans to realign local operations after the Conrail merger.

  • On the Southern side, plans calls for a new Roadrailer and through Oak Island-Linwood manifest train to run on Amtrak's NEC,then south on the Washington Dist. via Manassas. Trains 227 and 228 (Norfolk-Chicago double stacks) will return to Hagerstown, on a new routing via Harrisburg and Cleveland.
  • On the N&W side, a new pair of intermodals will run New Orleans to Harrisburg via Knoxville, Roanoke and Hagerstown. A new Allentown-Knoxville manifest schedule will also be instituted. In addition, West Virginia coal off Conrail's WV Secondary will be re-routed on the ex-VGN line via Deepwater, Elmore, W.Va., Roanoke and the Valley for northeastern points. This traffic now moves via Columbus on Conrail. After the merger the Valley line will see more than a twofold increase in traffic, wiht up to twelve trains per day.
  • CP Rail's interchange point with NS will be moved from Alexandria to Harrisburg, effectively ending CP operations on the NEC.
  • NS will also seek new labor agreements in order to create new crew districts. New territories would eliminate the crew change at Hagerstown by instituting Harrisburg-Shenandoah and Harrisburg-Manassas runs.

    Shorts and Sightings

  • Amtrak F40PH 374 is now sporting a "Florida Fun Train" livery. The unit was spotted on #50, the eastbound Cardinal, on September 23rd. Amtrak is under contract to operate the new service linking Orlando and Miami.
  • Excursion fever will strike North Carolina and Virginia in October and November. Amtrak's excursion fleet of Superliners is scheduled to run trains on three consecutive weekends, as follows:
  • The North Carolina legislature has approved a state buyout of minority shareholders in the North Carolina Railroad. The purchase would allow a new lease negotiated several years ago with Norfolk Southern to finally go into effect.
  • Soo Line SD60s 6056 (red scheme) and 6036 (white scheme) were spotted on an empty sulphur train on the No. Mountain SD on Friday, Sept. 26th. Sulphur trains have been making regular appearances now on the former C&O. The trains cycle between Alberta and Lee Creek, NC.

    -Paul Wilson