Buckingham Branch Railroad

the Buckingham Branch Railroad is the largest short line railroad in Virginia, with over 280 miles of track in four divisions
the Buckingham Branch Railroad is the largest short line railroad in Virginia, with over 280 miles of track in four divisions
Source: Buckingham Branch Railroad

The Buckingham Branch is a short line railroad that started running trains in 1989 on the 17-mile stretch of track between Dillwyn to Bremo Bluff. That track was deemed surplus by the CSX railroad. Making the track available to a short line freed CSX of operating expenses, while assuring it of freight traffic brought north to Bremo Bluff.1

The Buckingham Branch Railroad expanded in 2004, acquiring rights to operate on the CSX track between Richmond and Clifton Forge. The Virginia Central had originally constructed most of that track prior to the Civil War; the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad built the western end later. The Buckingham Branch Railroad now operates the trains that pass though the Blue Ridge Tunnel between Charlottesvile and Staunton.

CSX continued to send its empty coal trains westward on the Buckingham Branch Railroad, routing loaded coal trains headed to Newport News on the gentler grades of the track running parallel to the James River on the old towpath of the James River and Kanawha Canal. When Governor Northam announced in December, 2019 that the state would purchase the CSX track between Doswell and Clifton Forge, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) announced that Buckingham Branch Railroad operations over that line would continue.2

Virginia committed to continued use by the Buckingham Branch Railroad of the Doswell-Clifton Forge track (purple) that the state agreed to purchase in 2019
Virginia committed to continued use by the Buckingham Branch Railroad of the Doswell-Clifton Forge track (purple) that the state agreed to purchase in 2019
Source: Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), Map of Future Program Highlights

The next expansion was in 2009. The Buckingham Branch Railroad leased the 59 miles of Norfolk Southern track between Burkeville and Clarksville.3

The track between Clarksville and Keysvville had been built in 1884 by the Richmond and Mecklenburg Railroad. The track between Keysville and Burkeville had been completed by the Richmond and Danville Railroad, which connected those two cities in 1856. It was operated by the Southern Railway until its merger of the Norfolk and Western Railroad in 1982.

The new Norfolk Southern Railroad reduced costs by abandoning duplicative track, or spinning off short lines to create the Thoroughbred Shortline Program. In 2009, Norfolk Southern changed operators and the Buckingham Branch Railroad began operating the "Virginia Southern" between Clarksville and Keysvville.4

The most recent expansion, creating the fourth division of the Buckingham Branch Railroad, occurred in 2018. The private corporation owned by Norethampton and Accomack counties, Canonie Atlantic Company, shut down the Bay Coast Railroad on the Eastern Shore. That eneded the unique car float that barged freight cars across the Chesapeake Bay between Cape Charles (in Northampton County) and Little Creek (in Norfolk, next to Virginia Beach).

Most of the Bay Coast Railroad track on the Eastern Shore was abandoned, but the track at Little Creek retained value. It provided an interconnection between Norfolk Southern's Portlock Yard and the CSX, via traffic rights over the Norfolk Portsmouth Beltline to Coleman Place. It also serviced the Navy's amphibious base at Little Creek, part of Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.5

the Buckingham Branch Railroad operates the Virginia Southern shortline between Burkeville and Clarksville
the Buckingham Branch Railroad operates the Virginia Southern shortline between Burkeville and Clarksville
Source: Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), Virginia State Rail Map

Today, the Buckingham Branch Railroad advertises:6

With four divisions and 280 miles of track the Buckingham Branch is the largest short line railroad in Virginia. The Buckingham Division consists of 17 miles between Bremo, VA and Dillwyn, VA. The Richmond & Alleghany Division spans 199 miles between Richmond, VA and Clifton Forge, VA. The Virginia Southern Division encompasses 59 miles between Burkeville, VA and Clarksville, VA. The Norfolk Division covers 5 miles between Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Blue Ridge Tunnel

Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad

Delmarva Central Railroad

Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line

Norfolk Southern Railroad

Richmond and Mecklenburg Railroad

Roanoke Valley Railroad

Southern Railway

Virginia Central Railroad

Virginia Southern

the Buckingham Branch Railroad began operating between Dillwyn-Bremo Bluff (red circle) in 1989, and between Richmond-Clifton Forge in 2004
the Buckingham Branch Railroad began operating between Dillwyn-Bremo Bluff (red circle) in 1989, and between Richmond-Clifton Forge in 2004
Source: Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), Virginia State Rail Map

Links

References

1. "Buckingham Division," Buckingham Branch Railroad, http://buckinghambranch.com/buckingham-division/ (last checked January 16, 2019) 2. "Richmond & Alleghany Division," Buckingham Branch Railroad, http://buckinghambranch.com/richmond-division/; "Transforming Rail in Virginia," Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, http://www.drpt.virginia.gov/rail/transforming-rail-in-virginia/ (last checked December 23, 2019) 3. "Virginia Southern Division," Buckingham Branch Railroad, http://buckinghambranch.com/virginia-southern-division/ (last checked December 6, 2019)
4. Fairfax Harrison, A history of the legal development of the railroad system of Southern Railway Company, Washington DC, 1901, pp.507-529, https://books.google.com/books?id=0IkjAQAAMAAJ; "North Carolina Railroads - Roanoke Valley Railroad," Carolana, http://www.carolana.com/NC/Transportation/railroads/nc_rrs_roanoke_valley.html; "North Carolina Railroads - Oxford & Clarksville Railroad," Carolana, http://www.carolana.com/NC/Transportation/railroads/nc_rrs_oxford_clarksville.html; "North Carolina Railroads - Oxford & Henderson Railroad," Carolana, http://www.carolana.com/NC/Transportation/railroads/nc_rrs_oxford_henderson.html; Alan Coleman, "The P&W Supplement to Railroads of North Carolina," http://www.pwrr.org/ncrrs.html; William E. Griffin Jr., The Atlantic and Danville Railway Company, TLC Publishing, 2006, pp.4-5 (last checked December 2, 2018)
5. "Norfolk Division," Buckingham Branch Railroad, http://buckinghambranch.com/norfolk-division/ (last checked December 6, 2019)
6. Buckingham Branch Railroad, http://buckinghambranch.com/ (last checked December 6, 2019)


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