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Weeks of September 30 and October 7, 1996

Rail News from Central Virginia
Weeks of September 30 and October 7, 1996

By Vic Stone

* News from Central VA*

Because of the lack of available track & time, this week's edition is a
combined section, covering the last 2 weeks' sections as well.

** Advance slide show notice ** - 2nd Annual End-of-Year Slide Show on
Dec. 27-30 at my place in Charlottesville with day's photography
activities TBA.

We all have heard the top story of the day ...

Conrail has agreed to a purchase offer by CSX for a total price of $8.4
billion.  The "merger" would create the largest freight transportation
carrier in North America, while UP would retain the honor of being the
largest freight railroad.

Although few details have been released in their plan, it is expected that
the proposal would be submitted to the STB in early 1997 for approval
later that year.  It is still not definite as to who will be the new CEO
for the combined company, and what operational changes would take place.
NS has voiced an immediate "concern" as to the consequences of the merger.
Other railroads have yet to release official statements on their

For us railfans, it is only the start of all the speculation on what will
happen if and when the companies become one.  What will happen to the B&O
line?  Will this new company retain the CR E-units for an office car
train?  As one friend put it, "I don't whether to photograph Conrail or
CSX trains now".  Another put it right to the test: "Can you say Selkirk
Service Lane or how about Big Four Business Unit?"

Whatever happens, today's set of westbound empties that I did see over the
Mountain was certainly symbolic.  A Conrail C40-8 led a CSX SD50 into the
midday sun.  Only time will tell if this will be an often-recurring sight
in the future.

Area News -


Effective Sep. 30, crew dispatching for the Piedmont Div. was transferred
to Atlanta (from Greenville).  VA Division crew dispatchers may also move,
but this hasn't been confirmed yet.

Most trains are running normally with the bulk of train moving between
sunrise and 1 PM.  Between 6 PM and 10 PM, the second "wave" is occurring.
Some CSX units have been appearing on 341/342 along with the usual NS and
CP power.

The Main St. bridge project is in the landscaping stages as tree planting
on the west bank of the tracks is almost complete.  The suspect light for
the platform has been adjusted for clearance.  Steps from Main St. now
lead down to track level on both sides (north and south) of the bridge.

A Lancaster Chapter, NRHS excursion, which was to travel down to Manassas
from Harrisburg (via Philly, DC) has been nixed by NS.  The train was to
be turned on the wye leading to the B-Line.

CSX - Trackwork continues along the Piedmont, mostly for drainage
improvement.  Westbound continue to run, with several notable power
consists.  About 2 weeks ago, a pure CP power set powered a westbound.
This train later caused problems for Amtrak P050 when its crew outlawed at
Crozet, and the engineer from a following train had to be taxied up to the
CP power to pull it clear from the end of the siding.  And then the
engineer had to be run back to his original train to do the same thing.

A washout on the Piedmont SD caused a work train H050 to run several times
between Massie and the washout (located east of Doswell).  Trains from the
Peninsula SD ran via the James River while the SBD trains were unaffected.

Leased MRL 221 led a westbound through here on Oct. 4.  Conrail engines
have also been appearing periodically.  CSX AC6000W's 600, 601 took a
westbound train through here in the wee early hours of Oct. 15.

A truck hitting the CSX-NS bridge at Waynesboro caused delays on Fri, Oct.
11 for several trains including the eb and wb Cardinal.  Trains were held
until a B&B inspector could be brought in to OK the structure.

A Chessie unit was also spotted working on H740/741 on Oct. 13-14.

Quick Trip Reports -

Metra excursion on rare mileage of Wabash track did run on Oct. 5, but did
not have the advertised F-units (either Metra or Wabash) as planned.  Two
trips were made from Chicago Union Station to Manhattan, IL.  While out in
Chicago, we did observe Belt Railway Alcos C424's 604 & 605 hauling a
transfer train, and working various yards.

C&O 614 ran a successful first excursion on Oct. 12 with 22 cars and
having no problems with the train.  NJT did run a protect set of diesels

behind the excursion in case of any problems.  They were also used to
switch out the tool car and the water tender when 614 was turned on the
Port Jervis turntable.  A fence has just been constructed around a
perimeter of the turntable.  The performance of the train was excellent as
the train departed Hoboken on time, and arrived in Port Jervis early.

On Oct. 13, the Central NY Chapter, NRHS, ran 3 E-units on a fall foliage
excursion from Syracuse down to Chenango Forks, up to Norwich, and return
to Syracuse.  NYS&W E-unit 2402 was on the south end with NYS&W 2400, and
CNY's Lackawanna 808 on the north end.  On the return trip, the 808 was
set off in Cortland for some unknown reason.  Otherwise, the trip was very

Partial Listing of Fall Excursions - 1996

Oct 18-30 AAPRCO train Chicago-New Orleans via IC
Oct 19    614 excursion on NJT: Hoboken-Port Jervis & return
          Conway Scenic RR Railfan Day
          UP 844 St. Louis-Springfield-S Pekin & return
Oct 20    614 excursion on NJT: Hoboken-Port Jervis & return
          UP 844 St. Louis-Springfield-S Pekin & return
Oct 21    AAPRCO special w/IC E9s Chicago-Memphis
Oct 22    AAPRCO special w/IC E9s Memphis-New Orleans
Oct 24    UP 844 St. Louis-Poplar Bluff via Chester Sub
Oct 25    UP 844 Poplar Bluff-Little Rock
Oct 26    614 excursion on NJT: Hoboken-Port Jervis & return
          UP E9's Little Rock-Russellville RT
          MARC excursion Hagerstown-Gettysburg-New Oxford
Oct 27    614 excursion on NJT: Hoboken-Port Jervis & return
          MARC excursion over Conrail's Pope's Creek Secondary
          Bowie-Brandywine-Chalk Point & return
          UP 844 Little Rock-Bald Knob RT (dep 1 PM)
Oct 29    UP E9's Little Rock-Branson OW
Nov  1    UP E9's Branson-Kansas City OW
Dec 7     Wilmington & Western steam excursion
          MARC excursion Hagerstown-New Oxford-Hanover
- Vic Stone