Norfolk Southern Will Only Use 611 In 2016

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Iconic Steam Locomotive Steals The Limelight

The Norfolk Southern Railroad for the last 5 years has been running 20th Century Steam excursions utilising Berkshire 765. Used on the Nickel Plate Line, it was fully restored in 2006 and has been in operation ever since. This loco is classic American with lots of pips on the outside.

765 Berkshire1-650x270

With the restoration of 4-8-4 no 611, 765 has been somewhat overshadowed by its more glamorous cousin, which is a real pity. I guess it has always been the way with streamliners having some kind of hold over the best looking engine stakes!

As a result of 611 being back in service for this summer, there are two excursion timetables, one for 611 and the other for 765 and other Fort Wayne Locomotives.

2016 SCHEDULE FOR NORFOLK & WESTERN CLASS J 4-8-4 #611

April 9: Spencer, North Carolina to Lynchburg, Virginia (310 miles round-trip)
Departure Time: 7am
Tickets: $169+ (on-sale February 2 from North Carolina Transportation Museum)

April 10: Spencer, North Carolina to Asheville, North Carolina (285 miles round-trip)
Departure Time: 7am
Tickets: $169+ (on-sale February 2 from North Carolina Transportation Museum)

April 23-24: Greensboro, North Carolina to Roanoke, Virginia (325 miles round-trip)
Departure Time: TBA
Tickets: $169+ (on-sale February 15 from Virginia Museum of Transportation)

May 7-8: Roanoke, Virginia to Lynchburg, Virginia (98 miles round-trip)
Departure Time: 8:00a, returning 12:00p
Tickets: $109+ (on-sale February 15 from Virginia Museum of Transportation)

May 7-8: Roanoke, Virginia to Walton (Radford), Virginia (84 miles round-trip)
Departure Time: 1:30p, returning 5:30p
Tickets: $109+ (on-sale February 15 from Virginia Museum of Transportation)

May 14-15: Virginia Museum of Transportation (Roanoke, Virginia)
611 fired up during museum hours for photos and cab tours
Tickets: Virginia Museum of Transportation

June 4-5: Manassas, Virginia to Riverton (Front Royal), Virginia (102 miles round-trip)
Departure Time: 8:00a, returning 12:30p (Saturday & Sunday); 1:30p, returning 6:00p (Sunday only)
Tickets: $129+ (on-sale February 15 from Virginia Museum of Transportation)

July: North Carolina Transportation Museum (Spencer, North Carolina)
Details TBA

August: Virginia Museum of Transportation (Roanoke, Virginia)
Details TBA

September: North Carolina Transportation Museum (Spencer, North Carolina)
Details TBA

September 24-25: Danville Rail Heritage Days (Danville, Virginia)
Details TBA

As for 765, at this stage the program hasn’t been published. The good news for train buffs is that there is one more amazing steam locomotive running in the Eastern USA.

TRNB0815_51

In the meantime, here is the latest information from Norfolk Southern

At the end is a video of 765 in action in 2014.

ROANOKE, Va. – Norfolk Southern says the railroad has “fulfilled the program’s goals, and we are scaling back now” in regards to its vastly popular 21st Century Steam Program. In an article published in The Roanoke Times on Dec. 21, Norfolk Southern said the company would not operate any 21st Century Steam trips for the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum or the Ft. Wayne Railroad Historical Society in 2016.

“For one thing, the 21st Century Steam program is over. Begun in 2011, the program was conceived with a five-year life span,” NS spokesperson Susan Terpay told the Roanoke Times.

“We have advised our third party, the Virginia Museum of Transportation, that we will work with them, if they meet financial and operational requirements, so that they can run 611 in Virginia and the Carolinas in 2016,” Terpay added.

Trains News Wire reached out to the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum to see how this affects their 2016 operations and schedule.

“I think we all understand its 611’s time to shine. We’ve been extremely fortunate to help usher in a successful 21st Century Steam program and mainline steam in general on NS,” said Kelly Lynch, the communications manager at Fort Wayne. “We’ve been developing relationships for several years and now it’s time to expand on those. We’ll also be working closer with NS as our Headwaters Junction project moves forward. NS has committed to assisting the FWRHS in getting the 765 anywhere it needs to go.”

TVRM President Tim Andrew says there will be greater opportunities to see steam-powered trains on the museum’s own railroad next year with both locomotives remaining on-site. Diesel locomotives had to supplement steam power on excursion trains during the 21st Century Steam program, but now both locomotives will be in Chattanooga, powering excursions without diesels, during the 2016 season.

No set schedule has been announced for No. 611 next season, but Virginia Museum of Transportation Executive Director Bev Fitzpatrick told the newspaper that his organization has had “ongoing discussions with Norfolk Southern” and they hope to announce something after the first of the year.

This story was updated Dec. 23 to reflect the comments of TVRM.

765 During the 2014 Season

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