Shipper's "right to route"

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Thu Jun 30 01:01:26 EDT 2005

Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 21:21:47 -0300
From: nw-mailing-list at
Subject: Re: Line south of Roanoke
To: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>


That could have been anything. Maybe a detour, a
routing experiment, crew availability, a rate break,
on and on. Who knows? If A. E. Staley had objected,
it would be their right to select the route. I
wonder if the divisions of revenue lined up that way.


Don Corbin

Don C:


I came across a unit grain train on the Whitethorne
District and using NS's computer determined that it
was a shipment from A.E.Staley to Liberty, NC (on
Southern's Greensboro-Sanford line -- the old A&Y).
It was quite enlightening to find that the route
beyond Roanoke was the "Punkin Vine" to Winston,
former Southern's "K" line Winston to
Pomona(Greensboro), then to destination on the "CF"
line. Southbound, the grade over White Oak Mountain
is far
superior than those on the "Punkin Vine". It's also
twelve miles (+ or -) longer to move the train via
Winston. Why, then, would NS route the movement thru

Harry Bundy


The Winston-Salem District is also known as the R Line
to the railroad. The trackage begins at Randolph St.
Tower and goes via the Belt line to Belt Jct. before
heading south to Winston-Salem, NC. The
timetable I have dated 10/2/88 lists the distance of
121.3 miles. The mile posts column lists W-S (Old
Yard) as being 126.3 miles. It may be even shorter
with the line relocation at Martinsville Speedway (MP
R 72) this year.


Take care, John Hecker

June 30, 2005

Good morning, all:

This has been an interesting thread. I missed some of
the earlier discussion, but want to touch on a
"shipper's right to route." That used to be far more
significant in the past than now, since rail carrier
consolidations have erased many of the bridge routes,
short-lines, and interchange points that once existed.
A shipper can only specify a preference for carriers
and interchange points. However, from what I've seen
in the message string above, A. E. Staley's shipment
is entirely over NS lines, at least as far as seems to
be relevant here. The routing of traffic within a
carrier is entirely at that carrier's discretion.

There are many instances in which a somewhat longer
distance is preferred by a carrier, even if track
profile or configuration doesn't seem obviously
better. The one I observe is that NS will route
traffic from Roanoke to Harrisburg, PA, via Altavista
- Manassas - Riverton Junction instead of going
straight up the Shenandoah Division. Even if all
political and economic issues were resolved for rail
improvements parallel to Interstate 81, NS would still
prefer to improve operational trackage over the route
just mentioned instead of the line through Waynesboro
and Shenandoah. What comes to mind are two issues:
the former Southern was double track while the
Shenandoah Division never was. Putting back what used
to be there on an already-graded right-of-way is far
less costly than expanding right-of-way width and
doing new civil engineering on a line that never had a
second track.

That leaves the Harrisonburg Branch segment from
Manassas to Riverton Junction and thence to Hagerstown
as the truly new capital investment. This amounts to
just under 100 route miles to focus on.

Good night and good morning,


Dr. Frank R. Scheer, Curator
Railway Mail Service Library, Inc.
f_scheer at
(202) 268-2121 - weekday office
(540) 837-9090 - weekend afternoons
in the former N&W station on VA rte 723
117 East Main Street
Boyce VA 22620-9639

Visit at

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