Posts Tagged ‘Clinchfield Railroad’

CSX Santa Train Runs on the Clinchfield Route

November 22, 2022

The CSX Santa Claus train returned to the rails last weekend after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Santa Train ran between Pikesville, Kentucky, and Kingsport, Tennessee, over the former Clinchfield Railroad.

One crew operated the train, which made made 14 stops in Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. During the journey on Saturday CSX and the train’s co-sponsors gave away 16,000 toys and backpacks.

On board was CSX CEO Joe Hinrichs who said he had learned about the train the day before he was announced earlier this year as the Class 1 railroad’s next CEO. He said he asked what could be done to bring it back.

Aside from having just one operating crew run the train the length of its route, the CSX engineering department also provided protection for the train during stops. In previous years those duties had been undertaken by operating personnel.

It was the 80th running of the Santa train and it drew large crowds along the way.

CSX to Run Santa Train After All

September 28, 2022

CSX has decided to run its Clinchfield Santa Train after all.

It will operate on Nov. 19 from Shelby Yard in Pikeville, Kentucky, to Kingsport, Tennessee.

The Class 1 railroad had earlier cited personnel shortages and supply chain issues for its decision not to host the Santa Train this year.

It will be the 80th running of the Clinchfield Santa Train. The train is being co-sponsored by Food City, the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Appalachian Power and Souls4Souls.

The Santa Train first ran in 1943 and was operated by CSX predecessor Clinchfield Railroad. It did not operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drive Up Sites Named to Replace Clinchfield Santa Train

October 30, 2020

Drive-up gift stations have been chosen to replace the annual Santa Train on the former Clinchfield Railroad.

Toys will be distributed on Nov. 21 at Food City grocery stores in Pikeville, Kentucky, and in St. Paul, Clintwood, and Weber City, Virginia.

The gift stations replaced the long-standing Santa train. CSX earlier this year said it would suspend the Santa train this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clinchfield Business Car to be on CSX Santa Train

November 15, 2019

A former Clinchfield Railroad business car will be assigned to the annual CSX Santa Train that will operate on Nov. 23 on the former Clinchfield in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.

Car No. 100 is owned by the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum in Johnson City, Tennessee, and will be on the rear of the 77th edition of the Santa Train.

CSX business car West Virginia had been the tail car and will still be part of the consist.

No. 100 has recently been refurbished and will be used by Santa to toss gifts of food and toys to the crowds that turn out each year along the train’s journey.

Watauga Valley volunteer Mike Tilley told Trains magazine that Clinchfield No. 100 has operated on past Santa trains.

The train in recent years has also had other Clinchfield touches.

Former Clinchfield F unit No. 800 led the Santa Train two years ago. Other locomotives assigned to the train have either been re-lettered “Clinchfield” or had a “Clinchfield” sticker applied to their nose.

No. 100 was built by Pullman Car Company in 1911 for the Atlantic Coast Line.

The Clinchfield purchased it in 1951 and rebuilt it to include three bedrooms, a kitchen and a restroom.

In the recent renovation of the car, the bedrooms were removed and the interior was redone. The kitchen and restroom were left intact.

The Santa Train will start its trip at Shelby Yard near Pikeville, Kentucky, and travel through Southwest Virginia en route to Kingsport.

Gifts will be distributed at 13 locations along the route. More information is available at

Details Emerge of Plans by CSX to Restructure Service Patterns on its Coal Country Routes

October 17, 2015

The contours of plans by CSX to revamp service patterns in Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas as a result of falling coal traffic are starting to take shape.

The railroad said earlier this week that it would close its terminal in Erwin, Tennessee, and reroute most traffic away from the 275-mile former Clinchfield Railroad route.

Coal trains that had used the Clinchfield are being moved to other lines, including the ex-Chesapeake & Ohio mainline.

The former C&O route via Huntington and Charleston, West Virginia, may see an increase of two to three daily trains, Trains magazine reported on Friday.

Pusher jobs are being eliminated on the Big Sandy Subdivision, but traffic levels are expected to stay about the same.

Big Sandy train crews will handle coal trains in both directions. Service to Pikeville and Martin coal customers will remain unchanged.

The Clinchfield north of McClure, Virginia, will continue to see service because CSX serves a mine there.

Coal from that mine will be routed north to Shelby Yard and into Russell, Kentucky.

Also, coal trains inbound for a utility at Brice, North Carolina, will be routed north from Spartanburg, South Carolina, over the southern end of the ex-Clinchfield.

However, the last revenue freight may have operated between McClure and St. Paul, Virginia.

CSX spokeswoman Melanie Cost told Trains that the railroad would still host the 73rd annual Santa Train on Nov. 21.

She said there are no plans to discontinue Santa Train, which was begun by the Clinchfield Railroad as a good will gesture toward the families and children living in the impoverished communities in the territory served by the Clinchfield.

South of Erwin, a meet between Q696 and Q697 is expected to occur daily in western North Carolina during the mid-afternoon hours.

Those manifest freight are expected to operate between Kingsport, Tennessee, and Hamlet, North Carolina, and will be the only mainline traffic on the former Clinchfield.

Falling Coal Traffic Prompts CSX to Cut Service on ex-Clinchfield, Detour Trains Over Other Routes

October 16, 2015

CSX has begun whittling away operations in coal country by planning to reduce its use of the former Clinchfield Railroad route between Elkhorn City, Kentucky, and Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Affected will be the Kingsport Subdivision between Shelby Yard in Pikeville, Kentucky, and Erwin, Tennessee; the Blue Ridge Subdivision between Erwin and Spartanburg; and the Big Sandy Subdivision between Russell, Kentucky, and Pikeville.

Particularly hard hit will be Erwin, where CSX plans to abolish local management jobs, cut the number of regularly assigned train jobs and reduce the number of train service positions. CSX has 300 employees at the Erwin terminal.

CSX said in a news release that employees based in Erwin will receive 60 days of pay and benefits with many of them retaining eligibility to bid on jobs elsewhere in the CSX system.

The former Clinchfield is a 275-mile route through some of Appalachia’s most remote and scenic territory.

Trains magazine reported that most rail traffic using the affected routes will be re-routed onto other lines.

Coal loads and empties are expected to move over the route via Corbin, Kentucky, and Etowah, Tennessee, on the former Louisville & Nashville mainline.

Some trains are expected to use the former Chesapeake & Ohio mainline in West Virginia. Service to customers in Kingsport, Tennessee, will be served by a shortened Q696/Q697 manifest freight.

At present, these trains operate between Russell and and Hamlet, North Carolina, but are expected to begin running between Kingsport and Hamlet.

The cutbacks in operation of the former Clinchfield was expected given that CSX recently said that a soft market for coal decreased the company’s earnings in the third quarter.

During a conference call earlier this week, CSX officials told investment analysts that the railroad expects to trim its workforce by 2 percent by the end of 2015 due to the decline of coal traffic.

CSX said coal traffic in the third quarter of 2015 was 20 percent lower than it was in the same period of 2014.

When one analyst asked about what restructuring that CSX plans to do to address the coal decline, Cindy Sanborn, the railroad’s chief operating officer, replied that everything is on the table.

“And as far as whether it would be facilities or lines, I think you will understand and appreciate that we want to be able to talk about those things internally before we do externally,” Sanborn said. “But there’s really not anything that’s not on the table.”

Aside from scenery, the Clinchfield is also known for hosting an annual Santa Claus train.