Where F still stands for 'freight" in North America

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WVCChase
A West Virginia Central freight train led by C&O-painted, ex-Milwaukee Road F7A No. 7094 near Elkins, W.Va.
Chase Gunnoe
Keokuk Junction Railway in Illinois recently sidelined its F-units in revenue freight service, however cab unit enthusiasts can still capture first generation diesels pulling freight on two railroads in North America. According to the managers of those railroads, this might be the case for the foreseeable future.

Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad
The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad’s 132-mile West Virginia Central is the United States only regular operator of F-units in freight service. The shortline railroad regularly operates two EMD FP7As, a F7A, F7B, and a 1948-built BL2. The cab units are assigned to freight and passenger excursions trains and operate as often as three times a week pulling revenue freight between the railroad’s interchange at Tygart Junction and Elkins in West Virginia’s eastern mountains. Commodities include aggregates, salt, scrap metal, and other dry bulk commodities. In addition to cab units, the railroad has a growing fleet of EMD GP9s that is has acquired from terminal and quarry operations in the tri-state region.

“F-units ride smooth and handle much like our fleet of high-hood GP9s,” says John Smith, president of the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. Smith says the railroad has no intentions of sidelining its cab units from freight service.

When asked about the availability of parts and other maintenance, Smith says that body parts are increasingly difficult to find, but other mechanical components are still around and there’s a strong market for some items. The railroad’s roster of active cab units includes:

• WVC 67, ex-Clinchfield Railroad FP7A No. 200

• WVC 82, ex-Western Maryland BL2 No. 82

• WVC 243, ex-Canadian Pacific FP7A No. 4071

• WVC 415, ex-Nashville Chattanooga & St. Louis F7B No. 918

• DGVR 7094, ex-Milwaukee Road F7A No. 109A

Ontario Southland Railway
The Ontario Southland Railway serves freight customers on its more than 75-mile network in southern Ontario. With six different operations, the freight railroad continues to regularly use three EMD FP9us and it has no intentions of sidelining the locomotives.

“We do not plan to retire the three cab units. They are used regularly each week and are reliable,” says L. McDonald, administrator for the Ontario Southland. Commodities include chemicals, automobiles, and other freight. In addition to cab units, the railroad also operates GP9s, MLW RS-18s, and other similarly aged diesels. The railroad’s full cab unit roster includes:

• OSR 1400, ex-Canadian National FP9A No. 6539

• OSR 1401, ex-Canadian National FP9A No. 6523

• OSR 6508, ex-Canadian National FP9A No. 6508

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