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Virginia Southern Railroad

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Virginia Southern Railroad


Locator Map
Typical traffic and volume
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Description of line

The 75-mile Virginia Southern is a former Southern Railway operation which runs from Burkeville south to Oxford, NC. A Burkeville the VS connects to the main NS lines between Norfolk and Roanoke. (NS lines are shown in red at left.) Norfolk Southern leased the line to RailTex as part of a Thoroughbred Shortline Program spin-off in 1988. The line was once the Southern's line connecting Raleigh and Richmond. VS maintains an office in the former Southern Railway depot in Keysville.

The line is unsignalled and limited to a top speed of 25 miles per hour. Track conditions in some places require slower speeds. Scenic highlights include the 1400 foot-long bridge over Buggs Island Lake, just north of Clarksville.

Reference: see Doug Koontz, "Virginia Southern: The first Thoroughbred Shortline", Railfan and Railroad 14:3 (Sept. 1995): 52-59.

Typical traffic and volume

Six major shippers, particularly the Mecklenburg Cogeneration facility at Clarksville which receives 25-car cuts of coal hoppers from NS, provide a strong traffic base for the railroad. Other shippers include Chesapeake Forest Products in Ontario, a Russell Stover Candy factory and a Burlington Industries facility at Clarksville. Several other pulpwood facilities dot the line.

The Virginia Southern operates the line with two crews, the first going on duty daily (M-F) at 7:00AM at Keysville. The morning crew works the line south switching Chesapeake Forest Products and the cluster of industries at Clarksville, which generate the majority of the railroad's traffic. They will return north working industries as needed until their shift ends. A second crew, usually on duty at 4:00PM, will finish switching duties and head north to the Burkeville interchange. As a result, the interchange duties almost always occur in darkness. The train will then return south to Keysville or another convenient point on the line in order to begin the next day's work.

Since the VS represents NS's shortest route between the main line at Crewe and the Raleigh-Durham area, overhead bridge traffic is occasionally carried over the entire length of the railroad between Burkeville and Oxford. So far, this traffic is not substantial and the run usually only occurs once a week.

The Virginia Southern is an all-EMD operation. As of 1995 two GP40s, #200 and #512 (ex-MKT), were on the property and saw regular service. GP9 #618 (ex-B&O passenger unit) saw service on an irregular basis when tonnage warranted. All three units wear the Virginia Southern's attractive green and yellow livery.

Listening in

Road161.310AAR Ch. 80
In the Burkeville interchange area, the crew may talk to the NS Lynchburg dispatcher and the NS yard crew.
NS Road & Dispatcher161.190AAR Ch. 72


Virginia Southern Railroad

Burkeville to Oxford--Southward
Burkevilleinterchange point, NS
Chase City
Information incomplete

Photographs from the Virginia Southern Railroad
Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.


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Page maintained by Paul A. Wilson/ Your comments are welcome. A special thanks to Chris Crosby for providing information and photographs on the Virginia Southern.
Page last updated April 24, 1997.
Copyright (c) 1997 by Paul A. Wilson. All rights reserved.