Old 02-02-2021, 03:19 PM   #1
Grewup on the CW
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Default Portion of Chesapeake Westerns going to a Rails to Trails? Why not a scenic Railroad?

NS is supposedly open to selling part of the Chesapeake Western Line from Broadway to Mt Jackson, VA and the NS Line from MT Jackson to Front Royal. There is an active part of the line from Front Royal over to Strasburg so the part supposedly up for sale is probably Strasburg to Broadway. The portion from Strasburg to Mt Jackson has seen no rail service since NS split the rail traffic away from Southern's original path (Front Royal to Harrisonburg) during the early years of the NS merger. The portion from Mt Jackson to Harrisonburg's was then transferred to the Chesapeake Western time table/workload. Said all that to say this portion of track (Mt Jackson to Harrisonburg) has been kept up maintenance wise and only recently was the line cut at Broadway when traffic dwindled to two customers beyond Broadway. (Self inflicted NS wound from the drop in traffic as NS would not negotiate freight charges with those customers and those that already went to trucks) This part of the line can still handle traffic and the few bridges along the way are still in service. However the portion beyond Mt Jackson was not kept up and in some locations vegetation has completely reclaimed the line. The bridges along this portion of the line are in dire disrepair as the engineers running the trains over them shorty before the closing of the line were always worried of potential derails and accidents. So from my view point of the line (based on family members working these lines) and my own observations, I'm not sure how half of the proposed 50 miles of "Out of service" line can be even safe for public use if converted to a trail with out costing more than it would bring in returns. Personally, having traveled and visiting every part of the state of VA, there are plenty of places already available for bikers and and hikers to do their thing. Why another rail to trail? If the law makers want to fund a project with taxpayer money, Why not a scenic Railroad? If nothing more than on the 25 miles of track that can still handle rail traffic and would require less expense bring it to safe standards. Obviously, I am a railfan and the railroad put food on my table growing up so, I am slightly partial to railroads but no where in VA is there a scenic railroad. Why not invest in a scenic railroad? While this is not new "News" to those of us with our ear to the ground, below is the first article (that I am aware of) that has been made public about this rail to trail in the valley. I am bringing this subject to the forums to hear other viewpoints on this subject, rails to trails.


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Old 03-08-2021, 03:47 PM   #2
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Default Update: Rail trail gaining more support

Link is to a recent article from a local news paper;

While this is just one of many steps for those in favor of the rail trail, the local town council is on board for the conversion. The article supposedly quotes a statement from the meeting "The resolution stated that the railroad in its current state is a “blight’ on the community and a danger to those who trespass." I found this statement rather humorous and ironic on their part, had the railroad they find as "blight and dangerous" not laid tracks in that part of Virginia, the town of Broadway would not have came to fruition or thrived as a community without it. If they want to spend taxpayer money on converting a "blight" to a paved trail that supposedly limits the risk of liability, law suits and bring revenue to the communities, I think Virginia should have it very first tourist train, ride at your own risk, limited liability. With enough planning, folks living in the Northern VA over populated rat race could climb on board in Manassas and take ride thru the countryside and spend some of their hard earned cash supporting local shops in the passing community's during brief layovers. I dont see to many cyclists buying items of size and strapping them on their two wheeled ride only to peddled the added weight back to their original starting point. The possibility's are endless and my ideas may seem bias but If its not clear where is stand on this matter, I think the already existing 48 trails with 400+ miles is plenty for those who like to bike, hike or run.....

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Old 03-10-2021, 04:50 PM   #3
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This is an ages old dilemma. Trails always seem to be a "shiny object" dangled in front of communities through which rail lines pass. Sometimes they can be a boon and actually bring tourism dollars; often times they can be a waste of money, generating few visits outside of locals and sometimes even becoming a bit of a crime problem.

I could certainly see potential for the line as a scenic railroad, but it won't be boarding in Manassas. NS is not going to allow that to happen. But even beginning in Strasburg, it could be a destination for weekend visitors, especially if marketed in cooperation with some of the region's wineries.

The biggest obstacles I see right now is the general state of the tourism industry and the high cost of liability insurance for passenger rail. A grand idea such as this could possibly get off the ground during a red hot economy, but not at present.

But bottom line, I see where you are coming from. And having lived in Northern VA for 15 years and still working up there, I know very well there are enough high-wealth individuals in that area who live to LEAVE on the weekends. And a Napa Valley Wine Train level operation could likely succeed with the right financial backing to get it started. I would see two different audiences for such an attraction-- families looking for a train ride during daylight hours, and the "wine and cheese crowd" looking for a gourmet dinner in a unique setting during the evening hours.
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