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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Scenic and busy coal lines in Appalachia


Date: 10/18/21 06:58
Scenic and busy coal lines in Appalachia
Author: chubbsandblubbs

Good morning,

I'd like to know which mainlines CSX and NS primarily use to run their coal trains. Looks like the increase and use in coal will be going on longer than most people think, probably well into next year even if the U.S. manages to avoid the worst of the ongoing energy crisis. I'm assuming a few additional trains are running both east and west to load onto ships for Europe and Asia. I'm primarily interested in West Virginia and Kentucky, but would also consider Tennessee. So far the only train watching I've done in Appalachia is the NS Pittsburgh Line from Pittsburgh to Altoona, which was decent and managed to see a few coal train per day.

I know Bluefield, West Virginia is a well known location to see coal trains; does anyone know what traffic is like currently? Also I'm looking for some lines with nice scenery as well. Not the most important factor but would be nice.

Any help would be appreciated.



Date: 10/18/21 11:22
Re: Scenic and busy coal lines in Appalachia
Author: eabbot

I would think that the CSX Alleghany, New River, Kanawha subs (former C&O) and the Cumberland and Metropolitan (to Point-of-Rocks, MD) subs (former B&O) would be good candidates for you. These lines act as funnels with higher concentrations of coal traffic (loads and empties) destined for other subs in additition to being scenic. I'll defer to others for specific locations.



Date: 10/18/21 11:41
Re: Scenic and busy coal lines in Appalachia
Author: LV95032

Busy coal line is an oxymoron in todays world.
RWJ



Date: 10/18/21 12:22
Re: Scenic and busy coal lines in Appalachia
Author: DJ-12

Busy is all relative. Even a decade ago, most of the coal lines weren't that busy like you would find on the NS Pgh etc. That are even less busy now despite the recent uptick. There were days several years ago I visited the C&O main near Thurmond WV and one could go several hours without a train. I'm sure that is the case today.
-Brownsville PA on the former Monongahela Ry is down to Bailey Mine and Marion County (formerly Loveridge) Mine. I'd venture maybe 6-10 trains a day loading at Bailey and 2 at Loveridge.
-Grafton WV is pretty much the epicenter of coal operations for CSX in northern App. You will get coal off the MGA (3-4 per day), coal off the A&O (Maybe enough for one per day on avg.), One per day from Leer, and Robinison Run each. At GRafton you will also get 2 Q trains, and various locals. I was down there last Wednesday and we managed to catch 5 trains between about 8AM and 6PM in the area (Loaded train towards Clarksburg, Loaded Robinson Run Turn to Grafton, B772 Local to Keyser, Loaded Drag east, A&O mtys), Invariably, when you go off to chase something something else will come or leave so you can't get everything.
Good luck!



Date: 10/18/21 14:48
Re: Scenic and busy coal lines in Appalachia
Author: chubbsandblubbs

Thanks much for that information, eabbot. Will look into checking out a few spots on each line eventually.

Kentucky/West Virginia railfanning in Appalachia is something I haven't done yet so I'll dedicate a trip entirely to it for sure.



Date: 10/18/21 15:36
Re: Scenic and busy coal lines in Appalachia
Author: chubbsandblubbs

Interesting and helpful information, DJ-12. I would have figured those lines you mentioned get around half dozen movements a day at present. If I can manage to get a few before nighttime I would consider it a day well spent. With the longer lulls these days I might explore the local towns and visit some antique shops. But who knows, maybe traffic patterns will change for the better and these coal heavy lines could start seeing some container or petroleum traffic go through. Doubt it though, always seeing lots of trucks on the road.



Date: 10/18/21 15:44
Re: Scenic and busy coal lines in Appalachia
Author: ns1000

Railfanning is not what it was (at least along Class 1 rails) and neither is the demand for Appalachia coal..... 



Date: 10/18/21 19:20
Re: Scenic and busy coal lines in Appalachia
Author: eabbot

Completely agree, but there are some areas that you stand a better chance of scoring a coal train than others.



Date: 10/18/21 21:38
Re: Scenic and busy coal lines in Appalachia
Author: howeld

You could watch the Landgraff, WV camera on Railstream to get an idea on movements on NS pokey sub. I don’t know how much coal is moving over there these days.

https://railstream.net/live-cameras/item/landgraff-wv-elkhorn-inn



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/18/21 21:38 by howeld.



Date: 10/20/21 08:56
Re: Scenic and busy coal lines in Appalachia
Author: MPCA349

CSX Kanawha / New River / Alleghany Subdivisions are quite slow overall.  Most EB coal loads originate off the branches on the Kanawha / New River as 100-110 car trains that become combo'd (DPU'd) at Hinton for the ride East from Hinton.  As such, the traffic level East from Hinton are lower.  Currently 24 hour levels on the Alleghany counting all trains is 8-16. Mtys return from NPN / Richmond as 210-230 car trains as well.

The NS Pokey is busier than the old C&O, but crap in comparison to a few years ago.  The black horse is fully embracing the under-powered land barge philosophy too.  Makes for some interesting attempts going up Elkhorn and into Bluefield yard.








 



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