CSX Tests Longer Coal Train in West Virginia

CSX began tested this week a two-mile long train this week in West Virginia that was believed to be a move is to showcase General Electric 4,400 horsepower Evolution Series locomotives and their abilities.

The development was reported by the Daily Independent of Ashland, Kentucky, which quoted an unnamed CSX locomotive engineer.

CSX logo 1Trains magazine reported that the train operated under symbol T302 and featured an all-AC traction locomotive consist.

The newspaper said the test train was to have 220 cars loaded with coal and travel from Russell Yard to Richmond, Virginia, but Trains said the destination was Cross, South Carolina.

The train had distributed power including two units on the head end, two in the middle. A helper on the rear was to be added at Ronceverte, West Virginia.

The helper unit would not be providing power to the train and was to be used if something were to happen in a tunnel, providing the ability to quickly extract separated cars from the rest of the train.

The usual train length on the Kanawha Subdivision for loaded coal trains through West Virginia is 175 to 150 cars.

The 220-car train was the first of its kind on the former Chesapeake & Ohio route.

For several months CSX has been operating 200-plus car coal trains as part of a “long train initiative.” All trains have been running with extra head end power while also using the Ronceverte helper for an extra boost over Alleghany grade on the Virginia-West Virginia border.

The newspaper said the CSX employee related that engineers stationed in the DPUs in the middle of the train would be given bottled oxygen in case there is accident that causes the train to stop in a tunnel.

One concern is that the train might break in two along the mountain grades through the New River Gorge.

Three crews were expected to handle the train en route with a road foreman of engines also assigned. The train would have a re-fueling stop in Clifton Forge, Virginia.

Trains said CSX is using distributed power to ensure that brake pressure is adequately charged throughout a train during cold weather.

“We have necessary engineering and communications to get distributed power through all tunnels on the C&O,” said Mike Pendergrass, CSX vice president and chief transportation officer in an interview with Trains.

CSX officials said the use of distributed power technology will provide maximum operating efficiency and ease congestion in Richmond in the transition to Acca Yard.

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