By Paul Wilson
New Richmond connection
Work is underway on a new connecting track in Richmond to allow CSX trains from the south direct access to the ex-C&O Piedmont Subdivision. This is essentially the reverse of the Brown St. interlocking which allows Amtrak trains to travel between former C&O trackage to ex-SAL tracks north of Main St. Station. The new connection, to be completed this winter, bypasses Acca Yard and the congested RF&P Sub. It will be used mostly for empty coal and grain traffic headed for Clifton Forge via Charlottesville.
Richmond Station news
Main St. Station in downtown Richmond will again see passenger service in 1997 thanks to the construction of a new 500-foot platform for use by Amtrak's Newport News trains. A second phase of construction, which will include turning facilities at Fulton Yard, will allow all NortheastDirect trains to end their runs downtown instead of Staples Mill Rd. station. The third phase will make the station a multi-modal center, serving buses and possible light-rail and commuter operations. There are no current plans to reroute Florida trains and the Carolinian through Main St., as this would require about $20 million in track upgrades to former SAL trackage between Richmond and the ex-ACL main at Centralia. All trains serving Main St. will continue to call at the suburban Staples Mill Rd. station. Richmond is Amtrak's busiest station in Virginia and served more than 265,000 passengers in 1995.
(source: VARP On Track newsletter)
Norfolk Southern will operate a special office car train to New Orleans on Dec. 31st, leaving Roanoke in the morning. The consist, expected to number 22 cars, will join the KCS business train in New Orleans for Sugar Bowl festivities.
(source: Jim Fetchero)
Position light signals succumb
Norfolk Southern has cut in the new tricolor light signal installation between Pamplin City and Burkeville on the Old Main through Farmville. The old N&W position lights have been removed and the blocks have been lengthened. In places the pole line has also been taken out as well. The new signals are controlled by microwave links and require no wired connections. As part of the signal project the 30-mile line was upgraded to CTC.
CSXT CW6000ACs 600 and 601 again traveled east from Clifton Forge to Richmond on Dec. 22. They returned west to Clifton Forge early on December 24th, just before the railroad's holiday shutdown.
The Virginia Association of Railway Patrons has slated Saturday, Feb. 8 at 12:30 pm. for a membership meeting. The luncheon gathering will be held at the Henry Clay Inn in Ashland, adjacent to the station. Amtrak has arranged for trains 79 and 80 to make special stops in Ashland for attendees.
That's about all for 1996. Happy New Year!