• Fort Eustis Trackage

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

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by armyalco
I just purchased a copy of a used Fort Eustis RR timetable # 8 from the year 1967. In 1967 they had a lot of track in use, how much is still there? How much if any freight is moved? Does the RR still serve any of the Heating Plants? Thanks Armyalco

  by SemperFidelis
Fort Eustis is the training point for 88U (locomotive operators). I'd imagine there must be a healthy amount of rail traffic aboard base.

  by CJPat
Ft Eustis is the Army's training school for all (most) modes of transportation operators. The question truly is, do they still have a "Rail" school or is that left as OJT to the local Reserve units that still carry the MOS.
  by RailVet
There's a tremendous amount of difference between operations in 1967 and today. First, the post has not had an active duty railway battalion based there since the inactivation of the 714th Trans Bn (Rwy) in mid-1972 and no active duty railway unit at all since the inactivation of the 1st Railway Detachment on 30 Sep 78. No coal goes to the heating plants and has not for many years. Much of the track displayed in that 1967 map is now gone, to include the track from Wagner to King (the rifle range at the south end - reportedly the passage of large locomotives didn't agree with the radar at the airfield nearby), the second track on the east side of the loop, all of the heating plant spurs, and the locomotive and car shop tracks across from Hanks Yard. The shops themselves are long gone. Also, I don't think the port track is used anymore, although it remains in place. There are no regular shipments of freight, and the post's utility rail crew was laid off in the late 1990s. The 7th Transportation Group (Composite) is reportedly the most deployed unit in the Army, so its elements often come and go by rail, but that's on an as-needed basis only. Army civilian employees and Army Reservists come to the post for training in the three rail MOSs (rail operations, track maintenance, and locomotive repair), but the number of students is limited due to the fact that there's only one USAR rail battalion left (the 757th Trans Bn with HQ in Milwaukee, with certain elements gained upon mobilization) and there are only so many civilian rail employees. (Note: The 757th is a deployable unit, so a great many of its MOSs are not directly rail-related.) There were two civilian rail instructors, one of whom retired early last year. I know of no current effort to replace him or the remaining instructor when he finally retires. That lone instructor also handles rail-related blocks of training (such as rail car loading) for Transportation Corps officer classes. When reservists come to train, the instructor staff is typically augmented by experienced members of the unit, but the quality of such USAR instructors varies. Army Rail does not appear to have any serious enthusiasts at upper echelons and its future does not look good at all.

  by Legio X
I think the Army's growing lack of an organic rail transport capability is another example of SecDef Rumsfeld's drive to basically outsource everything that has to do with logistics to corporations, in this case, Class 1 and in some cases, shortline railroads.

Since the mid-Nineties most of the CONUS posts that are home to manuever units have had their railheads upgraded. Fort Carson, CO, home again to the crack 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) comes to mind. In Trains magazine within the past three years there was a picture of 4th ID equipment moving out , pulled by either BNSF or UP, and I believe the caption said the railhead had recently been upgraded.

At least they're doing that. The best way to move a heavy division, Stryker brigade or a light division's tracked and wheeled vehicles and artillery to it's port of embarkation is by rail.
  by RailVet
Outsourcing rail operations, rolling stock maintenance, and track maintenance on Army posts was a big topic a decade or more ago (long before Rumsfeld became SecDef), and then we didn't hear much more about it. There will continue to be a need for post utility railways to handle deployable combat units, but it's quite possible they could be outsourced to contractors at some point in the future. The same holds true for railway operations at Army depots and ammunition plants. Whether or not there is a future for railroaders in uniform remains to be seen. Their numbers have been following a downward track for a very long time, leaving us now with just one USAR rail battalion and two USAR garrison support units that both have a small number of railroad troops assigned.
  by CVRA7
Stopped by Ft Eustis, visited the Transport Museum and toured the base for the first time in a good 10 years. Although the rail along Washington Blvd was somewhat shiny, there was no sign of activity on the weekend day we were there back in April.
I had visited a friend in the 714th back in 1971, then was there on active duty / training March - July 1972, then back with the 729th through 1978.
Saw MRS1 1811 looking somewhat derilect, also two "baby Baldwins" 4020 and 4034 on flat cars. Steamer 607 which I fired a few times in 1972 was nowhere to be seen, someone at the museum said it was being refurbished somewhere on the post which must have been in the rail shop.
From what I could see, the Mulberry Island line was intact, but the James River disappeared into the brush beyond the James R "beach" areas.
It was good to share the locations of a whole bunch of memories with my wife, but sad to see the changes such as the vacant lot where the steam shop once was. Felt like a WWII vet returning to an old battlefield!
  by RailVet
Unless there's a very big reason for justification (i.e., emergency deployment of a unit on post), weekend rail movements are extremely unlikely. While that means you won't see any action, it also means you can go almost anywhere on the rail network and no one will be around to tell you to go away.

USA 1811 has been at the post for over a decade, having been shipped up for display in the museum. Limited funding for cosmetic restoration has kept it looking scruffy.

USA 4020 and 4034 were reportedly sold to Larry's Truck & Electric in McDonald, OH, and should be gone by now.

The James River line terminates just before the bridge, and the line up to it is now used for car storage as necessary. Although I've never walked out onto the bridge, the rails have reportedly been pulled off of it. Removal also included all of the track down to the junction by the rifle range at the south side of the post.

In 1975, the small successor to the 714th Trans Bn, the 1st Railway Detachment, was located in half of the small H-shaped barracks building closest to the enginehouse, in the wing closest to the road out front. The rail side had a couple of serious alkies, while the non-rail personnel on the other side were blowing some serious dope. Ironically, the building now houses a law enforcement office (CID, Provost Marshall?).

  by Legio X
Would'nt the MP Company on post be around to shoo you away? I've been to APG and there are MP's everywhere, even on weekends.
  by RailVet
Visitors to the rail line at Fort Eustis are unlikely to encounter MPs. The post is largely dead on weekends and the MP presence isn't very visible. When visiting the post I haven't climbed all over equipment or gone into restricted areas, so as long as one behaves oneself, there shouldn't be any problems. Just looking at rail equipment from the adjacent road isn't going to get anyone bent out of shape.
  by CVRA7
During my recent visit, we drove around as reported above. I never left any paved road or my car for that matter, no MPs around but heavy security and vehicle search at the main entry gate to the post - that was new!
  by RailVet
http://www.railwayage.com/breaking-news ... astic.html

Two Army rail bridges will be nearly all recycled plastic

Demolition of two existing short rail bridges is now under way at the Fort Eustis Army Transportation Corps post in Virginia to make way for two new bridges that will consist almost entirely of heavy-duty recycled plastic parts.

The prime contractor for the project is Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Axion International Holdings, Inc., is providing holdings, I-beams for pilecaps and main girders, and crossties/curbing. "All parts of the bridges will be made from Axion products except the steel fasteners and bolts,” said the company.

“We are pleased to announce the Ft. Eustis project is under way as we demolish the existing wood spans and make way for two new bridges utilizing our patented thermoplastic technology,” said Axion CEO Jim Kerstein. “Being the first known structures of this kind able to support 130 tons is a milestone achievement, considering the main components of these bridges are made entirely from 100% recycled consumer and industrial plastic. In fact, the only non-recycled plastic components of these bridges will be the steel connectors holding our Axion parts together and the rubber bearing pads that provide cushion between the main girders and pile caps.

“By utilizing recycled plastic, not only will these bridges not rot, rust, or corrode like traditional building materials, they will also help divert literally tons of recycled products that would normally be destined for landfills. This includes household items such as milk jugs, detergent bottles, and car bumpers.”

The new short-span bridges will extend approximately 40 feet and 80 feet, respectively. Each of these bridges are designed to achieve a high-load rating of 130 tons (in order to transport locomotives and freight traffic for military movement and base exercises and achieve a Cooper E60 Rating).

Railway Age, January 27, 2010
  by kevin.brackney
I read these posts about Ft. Eustis first, then commented on a post about rail ops at Ft. Belvior. My post would have been more appropriate here.

I was an 88U (Railway Operations Crewmember) for 13 years, having served in the 757th TC Bn and the 1205th (226th TC Co.). I also did some time in the rail section in the detachment of the 4003rd GSU at Ft. Hood. I moved, and could no longer afford the long commutes to drill every month, so I eventually transferred to the ARNG. I was saddened (but not entirely surprised) to read here that the rail MOS' would go away in 2015.

Ft. Eustis is like a second home. My baptism under fire occurred there during a SEDRE (Sea Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise) for the 101st Airborne Div. It was the first time I ran a locomotive with any serious amount of tonnage (for an RS4TC 60 ton loco). That was before the track was upgraded in the days just before the Army decided to voluntarily comply with CFR 49. Maximum authorized speed anywhere was 10MPH. Just to run around cars in Hanks Yard we would often have to run out to Sea Lock (by the range). When I went through the 88U course, I had been working as a yard forman on the CNW at proviso for about four months; so I was used as a peer instructor for my class. I developed alot of rapport with the instructors; I looked forward to any chance to go back and AI an 88U class or support other missions there. I once rode a track speeder over the James River Sub onto the bridge beyond the yard where all the derelict equipment was stored. The only thing that stopped us was the overgrown brush on the far side of the bridge. One evening, preparing for night training, during the 88U AIT (Advanced Individual Training) class, we ordered pizza and had it delivered to a warehouse across the street from Hanks. We picked it up with the train and went out to the park next to the track, with a view of the James River Reserve Fleet, as the sun went down.

Currently I'm deployed; not due to rotate back until next September. If I can (partly due to my years of service and ability to commute), I would like to get back to doing rail operations in the Army Reserve for the last couple of years; then Uncle Sam can retire the rail MOS' and me at the same time.
  by jhdeasy
Fort Eustis has been hosting an Amtrak certified privately owned railroad business car, PPCX 800188, "INSPECTION CAR NAVY 118."

http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=2887096

http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=2961680

http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=2961681

After the car arrived at Newport News VA on the rear of Amtrak train 67, a CSX switch move delivered the car to Fort Eustis.

Although this car is 98 years old, it is maintained to the highest standards and is certified for 110 MPH operations on the Amtrak and Via Rail Canada systems.
  by RailVet
Fort Eustis started a deployment exercise by rail on 14 January and it may go on for several weeks, so if you're in the area you may see some rail cars with military vehicles leaving the post.