CSX run-through freights return to Clinchfield route for now

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CSX trains Q696/Q697 were once daily trains on the railroad's former C&O Big Sandy Subdivision and Clinchfield Railroad routes in the south. After being abolished from the route, Q696/Q697 have returned to the C&O and Clinchfield routes in rural Appalachia. Here, CSX Q696 rolls through Louisa, Ky., on its way to Shelby Yard in Pikeville, Ky., in March 2015.
Chase Gunnoe
ERWIN, Tenn. — CSX Transportation is running a pair of daily freight trains the entire length of the former Clinchfield Railroad that was partially mothballed in 2015.

CSX freight trains Q696/Q697 are now operating between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Hamlet, N.C., via the former Clinchfield mainline through eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia, eastern Tennessee, and western North Carolina. Eastbound CSX Q696-24 recently completed its first run via the railroad’s Big Sandy Subdivision to Pikeville, Ky., and south on the Kingsport and Blue Ridge subdivisions through Kingsport, Tenn.; Erwin, Tenn.; and to Bostic, N.C., before going the rest of the way into Hamlet.

Its westbound counterpart, CSX Q697-24 arrived in Russell Yard in Russell, Ky., on Tuesday using the same route from the east.

Sources familiar with railroad operations say the Clinchfield routing is temporary and the two daily freights' routing is expected to be temporary.

The two daily freight trains aren’t the only moves to run the full length of the Clinchfield in recent months.

CSX, amid an operational restructuring under the guidance of new CEO E. Hunter Harrison, has run unit trains westbound across the Clinchfield in recent months. While an occasional move across the full length of the Clinchfield is not as unusual move in recent months, the railroad has yet to reestablish crew bases on each end of the Clinchfield, sources say. 

The temporary reestablishment of the Q696/Q6967 trains will, for now, serve as the only regularly scheduled daily trains on the route.

Trains News Wire has reached out to CSX for comment on the routing change.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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