• Current Military Rail Operations

  • A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads
A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by Teutobergerwald
The OPFOR at Fort Polk are some bad dudes. Depending on the visiting RA or ARNG brigade on rotation at the post, and the combatant command they are chopped to in a real world contingency, they can operate as ISIS, Taliban, North Korean special forces, Russian Spetsnaz or paratroopers. Money well-spent, improving the railhead at Camp Swampy / Tigerland.
  by riffian
News blurb on the move to Anniston from Hill AFB. According to another site, units currently at Hill are GP10's (all ex-IC rebuilds) 1869 (shop switcher), 4605, 4607, 4618, 4626 and 4627. In the shop for rebuild is GP40 4670, ex Virginial Rail Express V-21 still In VRE colors, apparently one of three (4670-4672)recently purchased from VRE.

https://www.army.mil/article/199005/arm ... e_for_dgrc" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by riffian
The US Army roster on "The Diesel Shop" site appears to be the most complete and accurate on the web. Unfortunately there are no dispositions on the vast number of units no longer rostered. Most of the GE's and all the minority builders have been disposed of. There are still a few GE 80 tonners around, but the current numbers and locations are not listed anywhere that I know of. The majority of active units are GP7/9 rebuilds, former IC GP10s, CSX GP16's, Espee GP9e and so on. There are 15 in the 1867-1881 group, and 46 in the 4600-4645 group. There are 10 or so active GP40 variants. All units to my knowledge are painted red and lettered US Army, except for the two GP40s at Eielson AFB Alaska, 4902-4903, which are painted blue and lettered "US Air Force" . There are also 24 gensets 6500-6523 which are active at many Army posts and at least one Navy facility. The three former Virginia Railway Express GP40Hs 4670-4672 are a mystery as far as the reasonthey were purchased and their intended purpose.

Additions and corrections most welcome. Perhaps we can build on this roster to construct an accurate current roster of US military units.
http://www.thedieselshop.us/US%20Army.HTML" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by riffian
Scroll down to the second article for a nice (but basic) synopsis on current military rail locomotives. Was not aware that the GE 80tonners had all been completely rebuilt in the 80's and 90's:
https://static.dvidshub.net/media/pubs/pdf_32086.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by RailVet
The three former Virginia Railway Express GP40Hs 4670-4672 are a mystery as far as the reason they were purchased and their intended purpose.
The VRE locomotives were purchased by the Army when it had a plan to ship Army trainees between Fort Lee (now the combined home of Quartermaster, Transportation and Ordnance training) and Fort A. P. Hill near Fredericksburg, VA. The latter is largely used for field training. This was discussed a number of years ago here:

viewtopic.php?f=111&t=73095" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

viewtopic.php?f=111&t=73095&start=15" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Army acquired three locomotives from VRE as well as some commuter coaches, and the plan was to run trains up to Milford, VA, on the ex-RF&P (there's no rail spur into Fort A. P. Hill itself) and transfer trainees by bus to the post.

I don't think the plan was researched sufficiently because, as I recall, it turned out that implementing the plan would cost much more than the original estimate, plus to fit these special troop trains as extras along this corridor would result in the trains spending a lot of time waiting for an opening, negating any possible savings in transportation time.

The cars were sold off (some to be scrapped) without ever being used and the locomotives were supposedly going to go to Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point near Southport, NC, although I haven't heard that they actually ever went there. I'm told the locomotives were "dogs" on VRE and the Army would not get good performance out of them.

As for field training, after the proposed troop train operation was cancelled, I met an employee from Fort Lee and asked him how trainees now do their field training. He said the post simply uses what little "field" area it has on post at Fort Lee and does the training there.

Here are some related stories:

https://www.fredericksburg.com/local/ar ... b229a.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

https://www.richmond.com/business/army- ... 9106c.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

https://www.richmond.com/business/econo ... eb21b.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

https://www.richmond.com/business/surpl ... 977bb.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by riffian
Per Railfan LocoNotes, 80 tonners 1642, 1647, 1649, 1658, 1676 and 1692 all to North Louisiana and Arkansas.
  by riffian
At the same time the US Army purchased 20 gensets, the US Navy purchased four, all built in August, 2013. Navy units were (65-00)647 and 648 for Earle NWS, New Jersey and (65-00)649 and 650 for the former NWS Crane, Indiana. Attached is a two year old photo of one of the Crane units which the photographer noted was stripped of it's Navy ID in preparation for the Army to take over switching there. Don't know anything about Crane, but it must have been one of the two busiest Navy rail operations to warrant new gensets. According to the Crane website, the facility is now primarily involved in research and development activities with 75% of its civilian work force (of 3,300) consisting of scientists, engineers and technicians. The name of the facility was changed to Naval Weapons Support Center. Among the several tenant agencies now located there is the "Crane Army Ammunition Activity" which would tend to support the change in rail operations.

Can anyone confirm this info and have the two units been repainted/renumbered into the Army Series? Besides Earle and Puget Sound (mentioned earlier) are there any remaining Navy facilities with active rail operations? I believe Port Hueneme, CA is still fairly active.

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/locoPi ... ?id=230256
  by RailVet
Here is my list of the remaining USN bases with their own rail operations:

NWS Charleston, SC
NWS Earle, NJ
NCBC Gulfport, MS
NSB Kings Bay, GA
NB Kitsap (Formerly Naval Submarine Base Bangor. Naval Base Kitsap was created in 2004 by merging the former Naval Station Bremerton with Naval Submarine Base Bangor.)
NSY Puget Sound, WA
NSA Mechanicsburg, PA
NSY Norfolk, VA
NCBC, Port Hueneme, CA
NSY Portsmouth, NH

NWS = Naval Weapons Station
NCBC = Naval Construction Battalion Center
NB = Naval Base
NSY = Naval Shipyard
NSA = Naval Support Activity

When I visited Port Hueneme about a decade ago I found the locomotive sitting for months on end, and the rail surfaces and couplers were rusty. An employee said another employee, who was qualified to operate the locomotive, had left seven months earlier and it hadn't moved since then. I think it has seen some activity since then but I believe the rail system is only used occasionally.
  by riffian
Thanks for your updated list, but you can cross Port Hueneme off. Detailed information from local Oxnard residents indicates that Ventura County Railway does all switching for Port Hueneme Naval Base and the civilian port as well. This is a very active base as all US Government Vehicles destined for the Pacific area of operations are transloaded here from rail to ship. The US Navy 80 tonner (65-00516) is still on the property in a more or less derelict condition. It hasn't been used in over ten years is not likely to be since it is 76 years old.

Also not sure about Charleston Naval Ship Yard. The base has been repurposed and the naval and Charleston Air Force Base is now a Joint Base. I've been there several times to view CSS Hunley and I've never seen signs of a military rail presence. Palmetto Railway is very active in the area however, and there is a large new container yard called "Naval Base Intermodal Facility" under construction.. Palmetto Railway is a combination of South Carolina State Docks and East Cooper and Berkeley Railway. The former Naval Shipyard is home to many federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of State office of payroll and financial services from where I get my monthly retirement check.

This old photo may give some indication of the state of the US Naval Shipyard Railway:
http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPi ... id=3527857
  by RailVet
True, the military rail operation at Naval Shipyard Charleston ended along time ago. I believe it was in March 1993 that its closure was announced and the end came in March 1995. It had USN 65 00528, a GE 45-ton centercab built in 1944 and USN 65 00607, a GE 65-ton built in 1941. Around 1990 I visited the base and was able to get a cab ride in one of them. I was living in the area at the time but moved away, and later I returned for a visit in August 2003. The equipment was still there but in derelict condition. In addition to the locomotives there had been a mix of other rolling stock. One inventory listed three box cars, 17 flat cars, 35 tank cars, 10 hopper cars, and two gondola cars, at least at one time, although I don't think I saw quite that many during my visits. Three cranes on site were numbered USN 84-00521, 84-00522, and 84-00526 (ex-USA C-209). Most of this rolling stock was in poor condition, intended only for on-base movements, and some were missing such things as air brake hoses. By the time I returned for another visit in the summer of 2011, everything was gone. I think all of it, including the locomotives, had been scrapped. That's too bad because the locomotives had been working fine not too many years earlier. Unfortunately I think they were left outside and uncapped, and in the end it was probably easier just to sell everything for scrap than to search for a buyer or let operating rail museums have a chance at acquiring anything.

Naval Weapons Charleston, located to the north in Goose Creek, SC, well outside of downtown Charleston and an entirely separate base, appears to be a continuing operation. Unfortunately most of its tracks are located inside a restricted area and there's just no way to see most of the operation unless you have a valid reason for being there. At one time there was an enginehouse in the main base area (less restricted) and the locomotives were parked there when not in operation, but it was condemned and torn down a long time ago. To my knowledge the base is still operating a number of GE 80-ton centercab locomotives but it appears they remain inside the restricted area unless they're making a movement through the main base area to the CSX interchange.

If you look at the current satellite image for NWS Charleston in Google Earth and locate the main base area, you can see three pale yellow GE centercab locomotives as well as an Alco S1, the last such locomotive in the DOD inventory. The Alco is sitting where the enginehouse formerly stood. I believe all of these locomotives were pulled from service at the time the photo was taken and some or all may have departed the base by now, going to new owners. In the picture you'll also see a blue upper-cupola caboose that belongs to a contractor. If you explore the rest of the NWS via Google Earth you may be able to spot the active locomotives among the trees. If there's a new enginehouse within the restricted area, I've yet to figure out which building it is.
  by riffian
I realized after I posted my message that the two were separate activities. Joint Base Charleston still lists a Naval Ordinance Activity. Thanks for the clarification. On the other Coast, It appears that the two Washington State bases are the last Pacific bases with active Navy locomotives.
  by RailVet
Yep, Naval Weapons Station Charleston handles ordnance (munitions), which makes it extraordinarily difficult to enter. A military ID can get you into the main base area but you need to have special access to enter the restricted area. This is true of any DOD base handling munitions.

I think you're right about the two bases near Seattle, WA, being the last other naval bases with locomotives. The San Francisco area once had a number of bases but those rail systems are all gone now. The Navy closed its former Naval Weapons Station Concord and the Army took over a portion of it as Military Ocean Terminal Concord (MOTCO), which it maintains in caretaker status with Army locomotives. I've been told the Army may regret the decision to set up MOTCO because it cost a great deal more than anticipated.
  by RailVet
At one time Charleston AFB (now part of Joint Base Charleston) had a GE 80-ton centercab locomotive on its short branch leading into the base. I've never been able to determine when it left but I believe it departed in the early 1980s for Barksdale AFB, LA, which also abandoned its base railway decades ago. The track into Charleston lay in disrepair until it was finally torn up around 1991-92. It consisted of a spur into the fuels area and a track behind the Base Supply warehouse, but the construction of an underground fuel line negated the need for fuel shipments by rail and it has been many decades since general supplies, destined for Base Supply warehouses, were shipped by rail. The only thing that kept the rail in place was an outdated Reserve component mobilization plan that (inaccurately) anticipated the arrival of numerous Air Guard and Air Reserve units to Charleston AFB by rail, which never happened and couldn't have happened since the track was in poor shape. The Gulf War came and went without the track being used and that led to the track finally coming up.

The creation of the Joint Base concept saw a reorganization of the C-17 airlift wing at Charleston AFB. Generally speaking, support units that were formerly part of the 437th Airlift Wing were split off to become part of the new 628th Air Base Wing, while flying squadrons and units supporting flying operations, such as aircraft maintenance and aerial port, remained under the airlift wing. More details can be found here:

  by riffian
Not sure how up to date this is - from the King's Bay Naval Base website. Haven't been down there is a few years, but the track into the base was always heavily rusted.

##There are approximately nine of the original 47 miles of railroad track laid down by the Army still in regular use on the base. St. Marys Railroad still delivers various supplies and missile components by rail.