Rail News from Central Virginia
Weeks of November 3 and 11, 1996
By Vic Stone
* News from Central VA*
It was pretty boring around here, that is until Monday, November 11. CSX
experienced two derailments on major arteries which caused multiple
detours. There is an account of the detours over the N&W via Crewe at the
end of this report.
First, the other news ...
NS - It's been pretty quiet on the ex-Southern mainline recently. The
traffic pattern has been relatively normal recently. Every once in a
while, one of the trains will run abnormally late, including a 341
and 154 recently, but no specific patterns have developed.
CP power on 341 is getting less frequent as horsepower hours owed to CP is
bringing the NS power north and having the CP power retreat back and/or
turning at Van Dorn. 244 had a NS unit leading an apparently-ailing CR
unit last week. 457 and 155 also appear to be back fairly dependably
on a morning schedule.
GP59 4610 was still in Southern paint (although sighters report it
peeling) and came into Lynchburg on 154 on Wed, Nov. 6. It worked as
PM-60, the local yard job all day, and then headed south on 155. Later it
worked a Linwood-Memphis train. So, she still exists in green (at least
The N&W mainline east of Lynchburg is experiencing lots of work. C&S
crews are working on the Old Line through Farmville while trackwork is
concentrated on the Belt and ex-Virginian Lines. Rare eastbounds on the
Old Line have been more abundant than "usual" recently as 428 has
travelled the line at least twice in the last week.
The west end of Appomattox plant trackage will be changing ... new
switches are in place, potentially to replace the rare N&W equilateral
switch that now exists. It is also possible that the signals might be
replaced as well here.
Train 214 appears to be under the gun ... with recently tardy running
times, NS seems to have made a significant effort to get this train back
on time. Trains are being held fairly far in advance of 214, including
the Hagerstown-bound merchandise trains begin stopped south of Manassas
for 214 to go ahead.
CSX - As most of you have heard, CSX G370 derailed 20 cars at Shores
(near Strathmore Yard) on #2 track on early Monday morning. Some cars
fell into the James River and broke open. The local newspaper had an
interesting quote: "One farmer asked if they could use the spilled soybean
as feed for livestock ... a CSX track supervisor responded - They'll need
to contact the Claims Dept."
The accident occurred at nearly the same spot that a train had derailed
about 14 months ago. Cars had accordioned onto the other tracks and
blocked both mains. And with the Rivanna SD shut down, CSX began to
detour loaded coal trains via the N&W at Lynchburg. See the attached
report for details.
Needless to say, the westbound traffic over the Mountain picked up with
all the westbound coming via Charlottesville. Conflicting with trackwork
and some slow orders, it was a beehive of activity for most of Tuesday and
Wednesday morning. A flurry of leased units have been seen with HATX and
EMD dominating the scene.
While the cleanup was progressing on Monday at Shores, an L173 had
departed Richmond for Jacksonville when it derailed near the diamond at
Fayetteville, NC. It, too, blocked the main line, but this time, an Amtrak
corridor was affected.
With P053 was right behind the L173, plans were made to haul the train
backwards (via CSX units cut off from a following train) back to Selma
where they would detour to the S-Line and down to Hamlet and on into
Savannah. P053 was plagued by delays on the detour route with lack of
pilots, a defective defect detector (a "DDDT"), and lack of communication
on where pilots would change. P053 made it into Sanford, 11 hours, 59
minutes behind scheduled (not 12 hours, mind you). P052, and P097 also
followed the detour route. Wednesday's trains were run via the A-Line as
the derailment had been cleared off the track.
Locally, CSXT 2119 in Chessie has moved onto other assignments from its
job as part of the Doswell power for the Piedmont local.
** Detour/Trip Report - Here's a recount of the detour trains I followed
on Tuesday, November 12.
3 CSXT trains detoured over the N&W:
- CSXT U724-07 became NS O24, led by CSXT CW44AC 158; departed Lynchburg
at 0900 on the N&W; by Pamplin Jct. at 1104; by Burkeville at 1148
- CSXT W747-07 became NS Oxx (not sure of exact #'s), led by a CSXT SD50
8xxx; departed Lynchburg; by Pamplin Jct. at 1422
- Last detour train became NS O56, departed Lynchburg about 1615; met NS
159 with high & wide at Appomattox
At this point CSXT has begun routing trains on the Rivanna Sub. AL
Dispatcher says they will run on #1 track later tonight.
The whole story:
On a record-cold, but cloudless 18-degree day in Lynchburg, VA, CSXT
finally began to detour trains via the NS.
Early this morning (Tues, Nov. 12), U724-07 led by CW44AC 158 came back
west from Gladstone, and ran around its train at Reusens siding at about
At the same time, neither the NS yardmaster in Montview nor the
NS South End Dispatcher were aware of any CSX detour trains. "They're not
running on our railroad tonight ... Let them run on Conrail!" said one of
them. CSX was, however, planning to run them as they began to gets crews
in position. Then, a call from CSX in Huntington to NS came, and the
wheels were set in motion.
At 0200, a CSXT recrew arrived to take the train to Collier Yard. The
crew discussed plans with the road foreman of engines, and was taking the
train to Southern Crossing to await an NS pilot. At about 0300, CSX AM
Dispatcher called the eastbound. "Recrew on the U724, that's your signal
at the East End of Reusens, " he replied. The U724-07 did proceed
onto the ex-Southern mainline at Southern Crossing, and awaited
At 0330, the crew discussed further plans with the road foreman. However,
nothing materialized as they still awaited a pilot.. At 0345, sitting
next the abandoned X Tower in downtown Lynchburg, the crew is told by AM
Dispatcher that they will be taxied to Richmond. The baffled crew agrees,
and begins coordinating to get a taxi to pick them them up. The signal
has gone to approach at the west end of Reusens, indicating AM has
something lined into there.
At 0430, the crew calls the Lynchburg yard office and discusses their
updated plan of being picked up at Conner Produce next to X Tower.
Lynchburg yardmaster concurs. At about 0445, the Lynchburg extra local,
H944 heads east by NC Cabin led by CSXT 6000 with 17 cars. At 0500, the
crew is getting restless; the taxi has arrived at the yard office (about 2
miles away), but is still searching for the train.
At the same time, W747-07 heads west by NC Cabin. CSX AM Dispatcher tells
asks the crew, "Will your train fit in at Reusens?" Then he instructs
them that they will run around their train at Reusens and then proceed
east to Southern Crossing to await a pilot.
At 0515, the taxi for the U724 is at the wrong crossing (about a mile
away). The crew is getting noticeably impatient. Produce workers begin to
come in for the day's work.
At 0530, the crew calls again for the taxi. This time, the taxi is back
at the yard office to get more directions. Finally, at 0545, the taxi
arrives to pick the crew.
At about the same time, the W747-07 is ready to run around its train at
Reusens. AM Dispatcher says, "Let me get this one eastbound by one,
first". At 0540, H081 heads east with a Geep and three work cars filled
by track panels on its way to the derailment.
At 6:45 AM, the sun is rising over the hill, and a van has brought, the
4th crew for the U724 down to the train. Five crew people get onto the
train. At the same time the crew is arriving, three light engines,
symbolled H200, including a GATX 73xx and two CSX 2xxx head west. These
will be the pushers to shove the train over the Old Main Line.
At 7:15 AM, the H200 has tied onto the U724, and is doing a brake test.
We're still waiting for a pilot. The helper crews tunes the radio to the
Southern channel, and tones into the DS. Answering back, "NS North End
Dispatcher, Greenville, answering the High Peak call-in over". The CSX
trains says, "This is CSX U724-07 at Southern Crossing; do you know when
our pilot is coming?"
The NS North End Dispatcher is baffled (and righfully so, this is actually
South End DS' territory). He responds, "NS North End Dispatcher
Greenville to somebody ... all I got was this 724 something or other".
The CSX train tries: "This is the detour CSX coal U724 at Southern
crossing; we were wondering if our pilot was called". The North End
Dispatcher repeats his confused state, "NS North End Dispatcher Greenville
to somebody ... I'm not sure who you are or where you're at, over".
At this point, a little of bit of friendly advice was in order ... I went
to the engine and explained that they needed the South End DS, and to hit
a "7" on their radio instead. I suggested that they mention they were
on the Old Main Line. The crew was somewhat appreciative. And then, they
tried again. "NS South End Dispatcher in Greenville answering the High
Peak call-in, over". "This is CSX detour train U724 on the Old Main Line;
is our pilot on his way?" A bit of silence. "Yes, he is," comes the
A familiar face enters the scene - Doug Koontz has arrived, and we discuss
our plans for photos on the N&W.
So, at 0745, the yardmaster and pilot engineer and conductor arrives.
They discuss the plan, and then they board the CSX train. They accelerate
slowly, as the pushers engage. Then, they open it up as they head past
Washington St. on the grade up the hill toward the NS yard.
At 0805, the lead units are by Durmid on a diverging approach onto #1. At
0810, the pushers are by. The pushers cut off and begin a brake test for
the U724. The N&W pilots board, and they're ready to go at 0855.
At 0900, the U724 accelerated out of Kinney yard, across Montview trestle.
The two units have no problem bringing the train up to timetable speed.
NS 811 goes into the siding for them at Appomattox, and they hardly slow
down. They're roaring through town as they head east toward Pamplin Jct.
They take the Belt Line down toward Abilene, and passes Burkeville. The
Crewe DS tells them that they will be held at Blackstone for single track
ahead. At Burkeville, another familiar face is evident. Nick Page, our
Rivanna NRHS chapter editor is out & about, catching the action. We
marvel at the abundance of traffic, and then V03 heads east about 1300.
The rest of detours were pushed over the hill into Montview. The second
train (W747) was of note since its trailing CW44AC (153?) had died. But,
it was still moving as it came by Pamplin Jct. Following close on its
heels was NS 158.
Also of note, NS 428 travelled Old Line via Farmville today - an eastbound
train on the Old Line (original main of the N&W) is rare now, as its ABS
sees virtually only westbound and locals.
In addition, making a special appearance, Crewe-based local V03, which
should be running only at night. It made a special daylight appearance,
switching at Burkeville today before heading west to Green Bay, and then
back east to Crewe.
That's it for this edition.