Roanoke Passenger Service Returns

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Tue Jan 21 10:44:45 EST 2014

I saw this article last week, but didn't grab the attached PDF until
someone posted the link on another railroad list I'm on. The agreement
raises some interesting questions.

The Roanoke Times isn't what it used to be; a lot of "news" is reporting by
press release with few details or expansion of information. For example,
there is this throwaway line: "NS will upgrade its rail facilities at state
expense, which means new track, signals and facilities in and between
Roanoke and Lynchburg." But check out the agreement between the state and
NS, which the paper did manage to track down via a Freedom of Information
request. While it is mostly the legalities of who pays what and what will
be provided, there are some details that go beyond that throwaway line:

Green-Smothers Double Track Completion Date January 2016
Altavista Clearances Completion Date December 2016
Lynchburg Wye and Platform Completion Date January 2016
Roanoke Station and Service Facility Completion Date October 1, 2016

The easy one is the Roanoke Station, which has been covered before (and is
mentioned in the current story). There is a major culvert adjacent to the
tracks on the downtown side that needs to be replaced, which the City of
Roanoke with help from the state has as a capital improvement. We've
discussed that before.

But where are "Green" and "Smothers" that will be double-tracked? What
clearances in Altavista are being taken care of? Does this mean NS might
use the Virginian from Roanoke to Altavista, then run up the Durham line to
Lynchburg as an alternative route? Or just continue east on the VGN with
stack trains like coal is run now? And what work needs to be done in
Lynchburg? Are there plans to add a new stop at the former N&W station at
the end of Woodall Road? A lot of work was done on the wye there before the
service was extended to Lynchburg, to facilitate moving the train to
Montview yard for service and to be turned. Does this involve work on the
N&W side of the wye?

Granted, the story wasn't written for rail fans, but this project does
involve spending tax dollars, so one would think some additional details
would be useful.

Bruce in Blacksburg
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