Williamsburg and Norfolk
January 1 - 13, 2012

Don Winter


This trip was to attend the NRHS 2012 Winter Conference in Williamsburg, VA. We also spent a day riding the new light rail line in Norfolk, VA. As usual, we traveled out and back on Amtrak.

The Journey East (1/1-1/5)

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

We arise early (for us) and by 10 am, we're on our way south towards Los Angeles. The weather is windy, but not windy enough to slow us down much. We're on the parking structure at Los Angeles Union Station by noon, and have acquired the tickets and checked two bags thorugh to Washington, DC, well before 12:30 pm. So Chris calls her brother, whom we're meeting for lunch, and adjusts the meeting place from the Amtrak ticket office to the restaurant in Olvera Street.

We walk over there and get a table for eight (which is what we're expecting), but in the event there are only six of us. Roger and Kris bring along our son Henry and his significant other, Samantha, neither of whom we've seen in several years. Roger's daughter and her boyfriend are no-shows. Seasonal gifts are exchanged and pleasant conversation ensues as we do some catching up. Afterwards, they head for homes (in Roger's car), while we walk back over to the station, get our carry-on bags, and head for the platform where our train is just arriving. I collect the consist before boarding.


P42                       20
P42                      120
Baggage              1720                     (previously coach 4738, prev. 4864, orig. ATSF coach 2852, Budd 1953)
Dorm                39019
Sleeper              32020
Diner                 38021
Lounge              33046
Coach-Baggage 31016
Coach                34136
Coach                34032                       (to Train 22 at San Antonio
Sleeper               32095    Nebraska    (to Train 22 at San Antonio

Train 2, 1-1-2012



Los Angeles

3:00 pm

3:00 pm

Pomona 3:41 3:46-49
Ontario 3:54 3:58-4:05
Palm Springs              PT 5;35 5:33-48
Yuma                         MT 8:45 8:56-9:02
El Paso                      MT 8:10 am
8:35 am
7:35 am
8:35 am
Alpine                       CT 1:45 pm 12:51-1:45
Sanderson 3:36 3:34-36
Del Rio 6:02 6:15-24
San Antonio 9:50
Beaumont 7:05 am 7:41-50 am
Lake Charles 8:29 9:00-02
Lafayette 10:15 10:39-44
New Iberia 10:41 11:10
Schriever 12:03 pm 12:30-32 pm
New Orleans 2:55 2:22

Sunset Limited route description

The train leaves on time, and loses only a few minutes out to Yuma (which is during dinner, with the time change at the Colorado River). On the way, we encounter only four UP freight trains, a pair of which (going opposite ways) we avoid by crossing over at Ordway. We're in bed before Maricopa.

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

I awake as we arrive at El Paso, and we eat breakfast before the train departs that location. We meet a westbound UP double-stack at McNary (which may have come off the ex-T&P), follow a freight into Alpine, where we sit for awhile (during our lunch), meet a double-stack at Lenox, and finally catch up and overtake the eastbound double-stack at Emerson. We then meet a westbound manifest at Shumla, have to wait three minutes for a westbound manifest at Amanda, have dinner east of Del Rio, and meet a westbound double-stack at San Antonio, after pulling into the station (preceded by Train 21). In spite of our lateness at Del Rio, and a wait at Tower 105 for Train 21 to clear, we're early into San Antonio (due to the amount of schedule padding at San Antonio). I fall asleep while the train is standing at San Antonio.

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

We're about 45 minutes late when I awake approaching Beaumont, where we eat breakfast. Just west of Lake Charles, we run through a siding due to a broken rail on the main. We meet a westbound UP manifest at Roanoke (Louisiana), have to wait ten minutes at MP 149 due to another broken rail ahead, meet a westbound BNSF freight at Cade, along a section with numerous 30 mph slow orders, We have to stop at the Allemands drawbridge before getting confirmation it is locked for our crossing. There anticipated slow passages approaching Avondale Yard and a stop to throw a handthrow switch at West Bridge Junction. In spite of these and our 30-minute tardiness at Schriever, as well as turning the train before arrival, we're early into New Orleans, again due to the schedule padding. In one of the platforms are private car Chapel Hill and two others

It's Sugar Bowl day in New Orleans, and we encounter many Michigan and Virginia Tech fans at our hotel, and as we walk over to Bourbon Street for dinner. By the time we get to the French Quarter, the football fans are marching, many drunkenly, in the other direction, heading for the Superdome (which is just a block away from our hotel). With the fans mostly gone, the restaurant is about half empty. Returning to the hotel, we go to bed early anticipating a very early arising in the morning.

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Up at 5:30 am, take a taxi over to Amtrak at 6 am, check-in with the ticket agent, and sit in the tiny First Class lounge for 20 minutes or so. First-class passengers get to board at 6:30 am, and I manage to collect the consist on the walk down the platform. Chapel Hill is now on the rear of our train. The other two private cars are still in their previous locations.


P42                   13
P42                  188
Baggage            1230                                (previously 1055, ex-ATSF 3541, Budd 1957)
Sleeper           62032    River View
Sleeper           62009    Evening View
Diner                8509                                (previously 8046, ex-NP 460, Budd 1957
Lounge            28006
Coach             25109
Coach             25061
Coach             25029
Coach             25046
Coach             25030
Private            Chapel Hill 800043

Train 20, 1-4-2012



New Orleans

7:00 am

7:01 am

Slidell 7:57 7:53-57
Picayune 8:22 8:17-22
Hattiesburg 9:30 9:22-30
Laurel 10:05 10:01-05
Meridian 11:02
Tuscaloosa 12:44 pm 1:11-16 pm
Birmingham 2:15
Anniston                    CT 3:59 4:08-10
Atlanta                       ET 7:35
Culpeper 8:01 am 8:05-08 am
Manassas 8:35 8:50-52
Alexandria 9:32 9:24-26
Washington, DC 9:53 arr. 9:42

Crescent Limited route description

The train departs on time, making its usual slow progress out to the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain, and breakfast is called before we get to the causeway across the lake. We pass both an NS freight and a BNSF freight east of East City Junction, and an NS peddler at Lumberton. At Miller (west of Tuscaloosa) we use the siding because there are track machines on the main track. Chris and I eat lunch at Tuscaloosa. We meet Train 19 at Bryant, just east of Tuscaloosa, and three NS westbounds at Vance. At Anniston Army Depot there are several trainloads (without locomotives) of tanks and APCs, presumably only just returned from Iraq. Approaching Atlanta, we stop for ten minutes at Howells for a CSX freight to clear. Chris and I eat dinner as the train stops at Atlanta, and go to bed before Gainesville.

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

I awake as the train leaves Charlottesville, and we eat breakfast around Culpeper. The train makes a six minute stop next to the VRE yard south of Manassas, for a VRE train to clear into the yard. In Washington, DC, we take the redcap cart up to the station, taking a route at the south end of the platform and up inside the station building that I've not seen before. In the station, Chris gets the checked bags back from the baggage area, when they are brought up from the train. We sit in the Club Acela lounge until lunchtime, and then go to the Sbarro area for a light lunch, watching the crowds pass by as we eat.  On our return, Bob Ernst is also in the lounge. At about 2 pm, the redcap takes us (using the route via the north ends of the platforms) down to the platform occupied by Train 95, and loads the luggage onto the Business Class car for us. I collect the consist as we pass by the train, and step forward to note the locomotives as they change (from electric to diesel).


HHP-8                659    (off at DC)
P42                       99    (on at DC)
Business Class 81545
Coach              82608
Coach              82672
Dinette             43369
Coach              82648
Coach              82551
Coach              82071
Coach              82717    

Train 95, 1-5-2012



Washington, DC

2:30 pm

2:30 pm

Alexandria 2:46 2:45-47
Woodbridge 3:04 3:05
Quantico 3:17 3:17
Fredericksburg 3:39 3:39-41
Ashland 4:24 4:23
Richmond Staples Mill 4:40
Richmond Main Street 5:12 5:07-12
Willaimsburg 6:10 6:16

Virginia Tidewater route description

We meet Train 80 at Arkendale, CSX Train 416 at Fredricksburg, and CSX Q740 at MP 39, all before Richmond, and stop for 14 minutes at Providence Port siding for both Train 66 and CSX train 931. At Williamsburg, Greg Molloy, Walter Zullig and wife, Smoke and Helen Shaak, Tony White and Roberta Ballard, Rick Davidson, and Bob Ernst also leave the train, and we're met by Joe Maloney with the 16 passenger van he's rented for Friday's excursion to Norfolk. With all the luggage, he can't fit everyone in, and has to make two trips (less than 15 minutes round trip).

After check in at the Willaimsburg Lodge, Chris and I eat dinner in the dining room and then go to bed.

At the Conference (1/6-1/8)

Friday, January 6th, 2012

We arise and have breakfast in the hotel restaurant. At 8:30 am "sharp", we, Greg Molloy, Walter Zullig and wife, Smoke Shaak, Tony White and Roberta Ballard, Wes and Shirley Ross, Rick Davidson, and Bob Ernst all pile into the van with Joe Maloney driving, and we head east onto I-64 and through the tunnel under the James River to Norfolk. On the south side of Hampton Roads, we use a printout that Walter has and Bob's PDA to guide us around the freeways and west across the Elizabeth River to the Tidewater Chapter's museum at Cleveland Circle (east end of Cleveland Street) in Portsmouth, where we're met by two chapter members and given a tour of their collection assembled as a train on a piece of track at the west end of the former Atlantic Coast Line's route into Portsmouth.

The collection includes:
    former N&W M-class 4-8-0        1134
    former N&W Mail Storage Car    1401
     former N&W Mail Storage Car    1424
    Former N&W Diner         TWCX 1420
    former N&W Caboose             S18666

Inside, there is much work still to do on these cars before they can be opened to the public, but the work is clearly ongoing.

After about an hour, we leave the museum and Joe drives east across the Elizabeth River, and then west to the west end of the Hampton Roads Transit "Tide" Light Rail line at Fort Norfolk. Here, he leaves us to ride the line, while he ehads off to do some NRHS business with a calligrapher in Norfolk. The rest of us take photos of the light rail car which arrives, and then board the car. It transpires that this photographic activity has attracted the attention of the car's operator, who has called security. An officer boards the car two or three stops along the line, and starts to question us. We direct him to "our lawyer", Walter Zullig, who goes over the whole NRHS photography spiel with him. After the officer makes a 'phone call to his office, we're all pronounced OK to take pictures of the line and its trains!

We all ride to the east end of the line, after which we go our separate ways. Some stay at Newtown Road to take pictures of the car as it leaves (with an old-folks outing on board), while others of us ride to various stops along the line. Chris and I get off at MacArthur Square and go into the shopping center there for a biology break and light lunch. After visiting a nearby pharmacy, when then sit outside a small cafe, in the mid-60s (F.) sunshine, watching the passers-by and the light trail trains go by, until it's almost time to return to Fort Norfolk to meet up with Joe for the ride back to Williamsburg.

As we sit down on the platform to wait for the train, Bob and Diane Heavenrich appear. They've flown into Norfolk this morning and rented a car, which is at the east end of the line. We all board the train for Fort Norfolk, and chat the whole way out and then for the 15 minutes until the next train appears with the rest of the trip members. Bon and Diane head back on the train for Newtown Road, while the rest of us get into the van and head back through the I-64 tunnel to Williamsburg.

In the evening, Chris and I partake of the Seafood Buffet in the hotel's restaurant.

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

On Saturday, we walk over to the meeting room and pick up the registration envelope and badges for the Board Meeting. The initial subjects on the agenda are the voting districts for the first elections under the new governance system, with discussion off the record and then approval votes on the record. the two districts for At-Large members have been drawn (by a statistician who happens to be the Secretary's son) such that all the At-Large Directors there have ever been, not named Jeff Smith, are in the same district. This is purely based on the numbers, but has the effect of excluding two of the current At-Large Directors from being elected to any of the four total positions available! The districts are approved on a voice vote.

Some controversy develops over a proposal from the floor to provide voter addresses to candidates so that they can send additional election messages to voters. This turns into a more controversial proposal to restrict the content of electioneering materials that can be sent out. After much off the record discussion, the one the record vote rejects any limitations on what can be sent out. (No vote transpires on the original proposal to make addresses available.)

A buffet lunch in the restaurant is provided to all meeting attendees, at which Chris and I sit with Wes and Shirley Ross and have some interesting conversation. The first day of the meeting is over by mid-afternoon, permitting us to watch the day's NFL playoff games, if desired. Again, Chris and I eat dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

The regular Sunday session of the Board Meeting is over by 10:45 am, with nothing controversial transpiring. The West Coast session of Railcamp, in Tacoma, meets with Board approval.

For lunch, Chris and I partake of the hotel's "Brunch" buffet, which is excellent but overpriced (as was the Seafood Buffet on friday evening). During the course of the afternoon, we prepare for departure the following morning, and then eat lightly in the bar in the evening.

The Journey West (1/9-1/13)

Monday, January 9th, 2012

This morning, most of the people who came down on Train 95 on Thursday are departing on Train 94. The hotel has arranged for a large shuttle to take us over to the station, but before departure at least some of us partake of breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Joe Maloney brings Bob Ernst, who has been staying at his house, over to the station and stays around for the departure. The train is on time, and as is usual when we join a train at an intermediate station, I only note the locomotive before boarding. (Chris walks the train later to collect the rest of the consist.) As usual, we ride in Business Class, while the others seem to be distributed throughout the coaches.


P42                        78
Business Class   81517
Coach                82587
Coach                82560
Cafe                   43351
Coach                82798
Coach                82674
Coach                82800
Coach                82531

Train 94, 1-9-2012




9:38 am

9:42 am

Richmond Main Street 10:29 10:31-33
Richmond Staples Mill 10:59
Ashland 11:19 11:15-17
Fredericksburg 12:06 pm 12:01-05
Quantico 12:24 12:26-29
Alexandria 1:00 12:55-59
Washington, DC 1:35 1:27

On the way, north of Richmond, we meet a southbound CSX manifest, cross over from Track 3 to Track 2 at South Milford (there are only two tracks, and it's Track 1 that was removed!), meet Train 89 at Fredericksburg, cross back over at Dahlgren, meet CSX train Q.703 at MP 69, pass CSX Q.418 at Possum Point, meet CSX Q.401 at Woodbridge, and meet a southbound VRE train at Crystal City. There are snow flurries as we arrive in Washington, DC.

The redcap again uses the internal route to take us up to Club Acela, and then takes Chris and the two bags we're checking to Los Angeles over to baggage check for us. In Club Acela, Bob Ernst asks Chris if she'll be making a group dinner reservation again, as she did last year on the return from Williamsburg, and she agrees. Bill Dredge and Ed Berntsen appear, having spent the night with John Goodman at BWI. (John has met with Amtrak this morning on the inbound and outbound for the June Convention in Cedar Rapids, and is on his way to Wilmington for another Amtrak meeting on Tuesday.) We again eat pizza at Sbarro before the redcap takes us out to Train 29, on the stub-end low-level platform it's always on. I collect the consist on the way out to the train.


P42                     98
P42                     40
Baggage           1753                               (formerly 1724, from coach 4006, ex-Milwaukee 609, built Milwaukee 1948)
Dorm              39037
Sleeper            32062
Sleeper            32077    District of Columbia
Diner               38066
Lounge            33012
Coach              34052
Coach              34026
Coach-Baggage 31045  

Train 29, 1-9-2012



Washington, DC

4:05 pm

4:05 pm

Rockville 4:29 4:27-29
Harpers Ferry 5:16 5:21-23
Martinsburg 5:45 5:44-48
Cumberland 7:14
South Bend                 ET 7:51 am 7:47-51 am
Chicago 8:45 8:30

Capitol Limited route description

It's still snowing as we pass Silver Spring on the way out of Washington. We stop for two minutes at North WB (Brunswick) for a MARC train to clear, cross over 2 to 1 at Martinsburg and back over at Cherry Run, pass a CSX westbound at Hancock, meet CSX Q.276 at Orleans Road, CSX Q.676 at Paw Paw, and a CSX freight on the scales at Green Spring. We have dinner with Bob Errnst and Bill Dredge, and Ed Berntsen at a table across from us, during the Cumberland stops. I'm in bed about the time we cross Sand Patch summit.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

I awake as we leave Elkhart and get up after South Bend. The train crosses over from Track 1 to 2 at CP 464 to pass an NS double stack, crossing back at CP 466, meeting an NS double stack at MP 472, and crossing over 1 to 2 again at CP 481. We pass NS train 33 (a manifest) at CP 491, meet Amtrak train 370 at Hammond-Whiting, stop for six minutes east of Englewood for two Metra trains to clear on the former Rock Island, cross over from 2 to 1 at CP 518, and meet NS train 16A with UP 4811 on the point at that location.

We say goodbye to Bob (who lives in the Chicago area), and see both Bill Dredge and Ed Berntsen in the Metropolitan Lounge. Chris and I eat lunch in the food court on the mezzanine level.  Train 21's conductor collects sleeping car tickets at 12:45 pm and the boarding call is made at 1 pm. We ride out to the train with the redcaps. The consist has arrived from New Orleans, and the other two private cars that we had seen in New Orleans had arrived with it. I walk the train to collect the consist before boarding.


P42                     199
P42                     132
Dorm                39034
Diner-Lite          37013
Lounge              33047
Coach-Baggage 31035
Coach                34100
Coach                34055
Sleeper              32094    Montana  

Train 21, 1-10-2012




1:45 pm

1:45 pm

Joliet 2:40 2:36-40
Pontiac 3:27 3:37
Bloomington-Normal 4:04 4:02-07
Lincoln 4:37 4:36
Springfield 5:14 5:11-14
Carlinville 5:49 5:52
Alton 6:22 6:40-43
St. Louis 7:21
Marshall 7:50 am 7:22-50 am
Longview 7:28 arr. 7:22

Texas Eagle route description

After starting away from Chicago, the train stops, still in the platform, because an Amtrak emloyee has baorded the train while it is moving. Ten minutes later, the train makes a brief stop at Halsted Street to transfer items from Train 22's diner to Train 21's diner. Just west of the connector off to Corwith Yard, we meet a BNSF stack train headed there. We then stop for seven minutes due to cross traffic at Argo (IHB). Approaching Joliet, the train runs very slowly, because a BNSF double-stack is occupying the station area. Leaving Joliet, we again run very slowly because of the presence of a UP work train. From 5:01 to 5:04, we stop at I&M Junction for the Ann Rutledge, train 304, to clear. We meet a nb UP freight at Carlinville

At North Godfrey, we pull in behind a freight for Amtrak train 306 to pass, then back out again and continue south, being stopped for 11 minutes, but losing more than that. The train takes the route along the east bank of the Mississippi River, crossing over at the MacArthur Bridge. Chris and I eat dinner mostly during the St. Louis stop.

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

I awake north of Marshall, when the train stops for 20 minutes for a nb UP chemical freight, and we dress and eat breakfast during the Marshall stop, in which, as seems usual, the train pulls in to discharge passengers, then reverses to clear the junction at the south end and pulls back in for the timetabled departure time. After departure, we stop for three minutes for a northbound UP chemical train, then stop for two more minutes at Keokuk for a nb UP chemical train headed by NS locomotives. Before reaching Longview, we meet three eb UP double stack trains. (It seems likely, with this maintenance blitz, that intermodal trains that would normally take the T&P from Sierra Blanca, through Fort Worth, are instead taking the Sunset Route into central Texas and then coming up the International Great Northern (later MoPac) line into Longview.)

At Longview, everyone on the train leaves, mostly to board buses to take us to Fort Worth. UP has a track maintenance blitz somewhere in between (east of Dallas), and those two locations are the only ones suitable for turning the train. It takes a half hour to load passengers and luggage (including checked baggage) on the buses. Our bus leaves Longview at 8:55 am, and arrives in Fort Worth at 11:20 am. Deplorably, nor particular arrangements are made in Fort Worth for a trainload of passengers which now has to wait in the uncomfortable Transit Center waiting room for (it turns out) four hours. The only lunch arrangement is to hand out a box of sugar-laden snacks.

When the train arrives from San Antonio (with its passengers making the reverse bus transfer), the locomotives run around to take the cars back south in the same arrangement in which they arrived. (This is why there are two locaomotives on these trains at present.) I collect the consist from the platform.


P42                       159
P42                          87
Sleeper                32029
Coach                  34022
Coach                  34114
Coach-Baggage    31000
lounge                    33029
Diner-Lite              37001
Dorm                    39023                

Train 1021, 1-11-2012



Fort Worth

1:52 pm
2:10 pm

2:59 pm
3:46 pm

Cleburne 2:52 4:28-32
McGregor 4:00 5:40-42
Temple 4:43 6:11-19
Taylor 5:36 7:32-34
Austin 6:30 8:35-50

As we depart the station, I see that the Amtrak 40th anniversary display train is parked in the Amtrak sidings a few tracks to the east. South of Tower 55, we meet a nb freight headed by a CSX locomotive on the ex-MKT line, then a nb BNSF manifest at Birds, a northbound empty coal train at Crowley, a northbound empty grain train at Midway, a northbound double-stack at Rio Vista, a northbound empty grain train at Blum, a northbound empty grain train at McGregor, and a northbound empty coal train at Moody, all without significant delay to the southbound passenger train.

UP is less friendly, perhaps due to the unusual diversionary train level on the former IGN/MoPac. We stop for 23 minutes before running into the station at Taylor, during the time Chris & I are eating dinner, for three northbound freights to clear on the IGN. We also meet another UP northbound just south of Austin, before I go to bed and stop recording such things.

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

During the night, the sleeper and adjacent coach are switched to the rear of Train 1 at San Antonio. I awake, as usual on this train, as we pass through Uvalde. Chris walks the train to get most of the consist, and I walk the platform at El Paso to get the rest.


P42                       90
P42                     204
Baggage             1759        (formerly 1739, and coach 4643, rebuilt from coach 4445, originally UP 5513, Budd 1961)
Dorm                39044
Sleeper              32018
Diner                 38030
Lounge              33007
Coach-Baggage 31038
Coach                34093
Coach                34022     (from 21 at San Antonio
Sleeper              32029      (from 21 at San Antonio  

Train 1, 1-11-2012



Del Rio

8:35 am


Sanderson 11:10 pass 11:19
Alpine                       CT 1:24 1:07-24
El Paso                    MT 4:15
Deming 6:11 6:39-42
Lordsburg 7:06 7:38
Ontario 6:46 am 6:46-48 am
Pomona 6:56 6:57
Los Angeles 8:30 7:45

We eat breakfast with a couple from Bloomington, IN, whom I had seen walking around in Forth Worth the day before. The train passes a westbound UP double-stack at Johnstone, after following it for awhile, and then meets a Herzog ballast train at Del Rio, waits from 9:45 to 9:50 at Shumla for an eastbound UP manifest, passes stored cars in the sidings at Langtry, Shaw, Mofeto, Emerson, and Maxon, waits from 11:59 to 12:10  for an eastbound UP double-stack and Tropicana reefers at Tesnus, passes stored autoracks at Haymond, and meets eastbound UP autoracks at Warwick, Chris and I eat lunch at Alpine, with a couple who seem fascinated that I once lived in England.

After the crew change at Alpine, we meet Train 2 at Alpine Siding (stop, 1:30 to 1:54, and an eastbound double stack at Wendell. We follow a westbound train from Wendell, unable to pass him because intermediate sidings are blocked by stored cars, such as autoracks at Lobo and Hot Wells, and the operating rail grinder at Collado. We finally overtake at Mallie. Approaching Sierra Blanca, there's a double-stack on the T&P, but we go first. There's an unexpected yellow flag at McNary, an eastbound UP double-stack at Iser, and a freight at Alfalfa (on the double track). We stop from 4:42 to 4:46 at Campbell Street (in downtown El Paso, and again from 5:10 to 5:12 (west of the station) for Foreman Chavez, who is overrunning his time.

Once in New Mexico, we cross back and forth several times to run around freights that I can't see in the dark. Chris and I eat dinner with a man who boarded at Deming and lives south of there, near the Mexican border.

Friday, January 13th, 2012

I awake approaching Ontario. We arise and get dressed ready for our arrival in Los Angeles, an hour later. The train is stopped several times from Yuma Junction to Terminal Tower due to intersecting Metrolink and Surfliner traffic. In LA, we take the carry on bags to the car, get the checked baggage from baggage claim and take it to the car, stop at Bristol Farms in South Pasadena, and then head for home, where we arrive just before noon. All seems well.