Soon-to-be abandon track in Va. might be turned over to rails-to-trails program


News article: Soon-to-be abandon track in Va. might be turned over to rails-to-trails program

The railroad company that owns a line around the eastern shore of Virginia is petitioning to abandon the route.

  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
What was running on this line prior to April 2018?  A year is hardly a long time to decided to abandon a line.

Soon-to-be abandon track in Va. might be turned over to rails-to-trails program

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  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
What was running on this line prior to April 2018?  A year is hardly a long time to decided to abandon a line.

Soon-to-be abandon track in Va. might be turned over to rails-to-trails program

Former train ferries in USA (wiki).
Southern Pacific Railroad in New Orleans

Chesapeake Bay - Bay Coast Railroad from Norfolk to Cape Charles, Virginia. The shortline railroad had two ferries (25 & 15 cars each) that crossed the Chesapeake Bay about twice a week

BCR had three distinct operating areas. The 64.1-mile (103.2 km) northern portion of its rail system connects with the Delmarva Central Railroad in Pocomoke City (north) and the system's car float in Cape Charles, Virginia. A car float, crossing 26 miles (42 km) of the Chesapeake Bay from Cape Charles to Norfolk, comprises the middle portion. The southern end of the system is a terminal track around Little Creek, Virginia, connecting with Norfolk Southern Railway, CSX Transportation, and the Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad.[7]

End of traffic
At the regular meeting of the Accomack-Northampton Transportation District Commission held at the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce Building, Melfa, Virginia, on Monday, November 6, 2017 at 5:30 p.m., BCR President Alex Parry "reported that the DCP traffic (butane) has been lost from the Little Creek side; however, he is hopeful that other new traffic will be realized to fill the void."[8] DCP traffic amounted to approximately 75% of the carloads handled by the railroad. In January 2018 the BCR suffered another loss when customer Bayshore Concrete announced it was putting its Cape Charles plant up for sale in the wake of declining business.

I get the feeling the line connected to a rail ferry service that no longer operates and hence most of the line has no future. The section that was still used has been taken over by others, but the ferry section is history.
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

The car float has not operated for seven years now (the only remaining customers are up the top of the peninsula, where direct access to the Class I railroads would be closer and more convenient) and the barge itself was sold off, making it effectively a dead-end line with no customers on the southern section which is proposed for abandonment. It would look like the writing has been on the wall for a long time now.

The abandonment proposal has been open for over a year with no proposals from any other railroad to buy it, it's a very fair process in the US which provides ample opportunity for other rail operators to step in before allowing a section of line to be abandoned.

At this point even the most strident rail advocates should recognise that the best option remaining at this point is to use it for a rail trail, as that would be a method which would keep the corridor intact rather than returning it to the land parcels from which it was carved out in the first place. If the corridor is intact then there is still the possibility of a railroad buying it and rebuilding a track if the need ever arises, but they wouldn't be able to do that if they had to negotiate with every land holder along the route.

The abandonment process should be allowed to proceed without further delay, because the alternative to doing that properly is for the current owner to use the 'nuclear option' of transferring it to a separate limited liability company and letting that new company go bust, leaving someone else to clean up the remains.

The US Department of Defence would be interested in seeing the end of the car float operation formalised, as they could then start proceedings to acquire the land with the old ferry wharf on the Norfolk end which splits a major naval base in two.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
really appreciate the feedback in posts guys.  A most interesting little operation.

I wonder why they lost the gas traffic?
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

I've done some detective work and managed to piece together a few details. For a start, here's a map showing the area we're talking about.

The section proposed for abandonment by Bay Coast Railroad (BCR) is the red bit from Hallwood to Cape Charles, which has no customers after the cement plant closed.

The purple bit at the north has been leased to Delmarva Central Railroad, and continues to operate.

The car barge has not run for some time, and all traffic to/from Cape Charles was going to/from the north.

The blue bit at the south is basically an industrial spur line which handles some switching traffic from the Norfolk Southern to a number of local sidings, and is now leased by the Buckingham Branch Railroad (a railroad with a number of shortlines inland from Norfolk). This part appears to be on borrowed time too, as much of the surrounding area is undergoing post-industrial urban regeneration and the main remaining traffic is serving a construction depot for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel expansion project.

The Little Creek part is where the former butane traffic was, it served a distribution depot. So far as I can tell, this traffic finished when the distribution depot there was consolidated with another facility not far away which has more direct rail and road links.

Considering that road traffic on the adjacent highway is likely to increase as a result of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel expansion, using the former railroad corridor to give people an opportunity to make local journeys by bicycle (including e-bikes as used by The Vinelander, or e-trikes like the one our late friend woodford used) safely without going on the highway would be a win-win scenario for the local area. Using the corridor to give people non-car options for local transport would be a great way to extend the route's long history as a functional transport corridor into the 21st century and provide opportunities for interpretive displays at various locations along the route to pay tribute to the past rail usage.

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