The Shenandoah Valley line (Hagerstown and Roanoke Districts) of the Virginia Division is the former N&W line which runs between Hagerstown, Md. and Roanoke. The Shenandoah line traces the foot of the western slope of the Blue Ridge, which offers a dramatic backdrop along much of its length. In Central Virginia Railfan Page territory the line makes connections with the NS Chesapeake Western line at Elkton, with the CSX North Mountain Sub in Waynesboro and with the CSX James River Sub at Glasgow. It is this last connection that allows NS to exercise its trackage rights over the James River Sub between Balcony Falls and Lynchburg. At Natural Bridge, the line crosses above the CSX James River Sub and the James River on a dramatic high span.
The line is single track with controlled sidings and one double-track section of the line: the three-mile segment between Pkin and Vesuvius. Southbound trains will usually take the right-hand main on this portion.
Most signals located at interlockings are mast-mounted N&W color position lights, although several interlockings have been renewed with tri-color lights. All position light intermediates were replaced with tri-color lights in a signal upgrade completed in the summer of 1997.
Regrettably, traffic is not heavy on this scenic line. The Shenandoah line plays host to six regular trains, the Roanoke-Hagerstown wayfreight symboled 460/461, two coal trains and two unit trash trains. The coal trains include Delaware Power trains carrying symbol 574 and Bethlehem contract trains numbered 576. Bethlehem empties return as 577. Bethlehem trains had previously run on the ex-Southern and then over CSX/D&H to reach Bethlehem. Coal empties may also return on 461 or as a separate movement carrying symbol X61. Hagerstown/Waverly unit trash trains 371 and 372 operate twice weekly. The trains move trash from Oak Point Yard in the Bronx to a landfill near Waverly, Va. 211, the Kearney-Altanta intermodal train off Conrail, makes irregular appearances on the line to avoid congestion on the "Branch" between Riverton Jct. and Manassas. This train comes down the Valley and then use trackage rights on the CSX James River Sub between Balcony Falls and Lynchburg. 211 runs with predominantly Conrail power. NS's Conrail merger plan call for the line to receive a 33 million-dollar upgrade of signals, track and clearances since it will become a more important link between the Northeast and NS gateways in Memphis and New Orleans.
Several locals serve segments on the line. V84, works the line between Shenandoah and Stuart's Draft, serving industries along the route. This section of the line benefits from the presence of large on-line shippers, including a Coors brewery, Merck chemical plant, Dupont in Waynesboro and a Little Debbie bakery in Stuarts Draft. V80 works north from Roanoke to Buena Vista. There are no shippers between Buena Vista and Stuart's Draft, so local trains rarely operate on this segment.
(1) Elkton: NS 211 splits the signals south of Elkton. March 1996.
(2) Sampson: NS 211, with Conrail C40-8W #742 on the point. March 1996.
(3) Waynesboro: High and wide extra 052 at Russell, the north end of Waynesboro siding. NS C40-8 pulls an Schnabel car, idler gondolas and a rider coach. The shipment is a decommissioned nuclear reactor vessel. April 1997.
(4) Pkin: FRA T-10 test car at north end of double track. November 1996.
(5) Marlbrook: Light power move symboled 971, halfway between Midvale and Vesuvius. This position light has been removed. November 1996.
(7) Glasgow: SD40-2 #3207 leads train 755, a southbound empty move, at Glasgow. The connecting track to the CSX James River Subdivision veers off to the right.
(8) Glasgow: NS safety cab C40 9122 leads a 577 empty coal train past the approach signal to Glasgow.