• Fort Lee to Fort A.P. Hill: Army looks at troop trains

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

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by the-rail-life
There were whisperings of this a year or so ago, but the Army has granted permission to move forward with the idea of troop trains running between Fort Lee, south of Richmond, VA, to Fort A.P. Hill in Caroline County. Here's an article: http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2010 ... 010/556346 and another one here: http://www2.timesdispatch.com/rtd/busin ... 05/352077/

There are more articles to be found if you do a search for it. Thoughts?
  by Nelson Bay
The Army has been busing troops to AP Hill for training for at least 50 years. Glad they are finally looking into doing it differently.
  by Jeff Smith
The military train, if it launches, would carry 800 to 1,100 Army soldiers from Fort Lee to a drop-off point in Milford. Local buses would be arranged to carry soldiers the approximate three miles between Milford and Fort A.P. Hill.

After training for five days, a southbound train would carry the 800 to 1,100 soldiers back to Fort Lee, said Stuart Gregory, executive officer, deputy to the commanding general at Fort Lee.

The train would run an estimated 37 to 40 weeks in a year, Gregory said.
Fascinating stuff. I haven't been on AP Hill in a while, but I do not recall a rail head there. It is, however, a somewhat active range post, with limited barracks facilities and not much of an AAFES/PX/Commisary. I was mob'd there for the Persian Gulf War (circa 1991). There are two distinct areas; one is for annual type or field type training. There are hard decks which accomodate GP medium tents. It is used by both reservists and Boy Scouts, who have an annual jamboree there. The BSA actually built a very large shower facility adjacent to this "camp ground". There is also a barracks area with some older style barracks (which may have been modernized since 91) that are fairly decent; unlike Devens old "splinter city", these are not old style wooden WWII barracks.

Later in the article it mentions that the last time trains were actively used to transport soldiers was the 1960's. This may be referring to chartered trains, or military operated trains. In 1979 I took the Amtrak Crescent (shortly after Southern withdrew this train from passenger service, I believe Feb 79, and gave it all over to Amtrak) to basic at Fort McLellan (Anniston) AL. I also took Amtrak on ocassion from Stamford, CT to BWI (Fort Meade) at government expense for training.
  by CJPat
I saw AP Hill back in '85. Belvoir used it for it's training grounds since the Belvoir grounds are so small and restricted. All I got too see at AP Hill was their one story U-shaped WWII billets. The plumbing was updated and the buildings were in decent shape for the short stay we did. Spent most of the time playin in the woods. Interesting place for patrolling. Nice little hill and dale environment.
  by RailVet
There is indeed no railhead at Fort A. P. Hill. The plan envisions troop trains from Fort Lee to run to Milford, where there is a siding, a short distance southwest of A. P. Hill. Passengers can ride a bus from there to the post.

These trains will not be military operated. The passengers will be military, but there's no requirement for train crews to be military as well.
  by Jeff Smith
I figure they'll run it with VRE crews. Military/contract buses can do the rest. Oh hell, make them march! Nothing like a good road march to get the blood pumping!
  by CJPat
Yeah, kind of sad to think they need buses for a 3 mile trek. Hell, throw the gear in some deuces/5Ts and let 'em do the PT test for the first couple of miles. Then they can "route step" the last mile in.
  by Jeff Smith
Yeah, we always either marched to the range, or rode cattle cars, five tons, or deuces. Next thing you know they'll want beds from the Westin and a mint on their pillow.
  by CJPat
...marched to the range, or rode cattle cars,...
Ahhh, reminds me of days at Dix. I think we could pack two full Training Platoons on 1 cattle car (but you had to stickthe little guys up in the overhead handrails).
  by the-rail-life
Milford is just down the road from the southwest side of the base. And A.P. Hill is rapidly growing in terms of its activities there. Case in point and one of the biggest to-dos here locally: the Army ordnance school is moving to Fort Lee, and EOD training will be at A.P. Hill. Two thousand soldiers a year...No wonder they're looking to the rails! :-D
BRAC Brings Ordnance Training to A.P. Hill

Jan. 8, 2010 3:22 pm

BRAC Brings Ordnance Training to Virginia Bases
Release by U.S. Army Ordnance School

The Hurt Locker, a critically-acclaimed commercial film of 2009, focuses on the exploits and critical mission of a U.S. Army bomb squad in Iraq. Real-life Soldiers in that military occupational specialty are known as Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians. Currently, the U.S. Army Ordnance Munitions and Electronic Maintenance School trains these Soldiers at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., however as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure initiatives their training is moving to bases in Virginia.

“It takes a special kind of man or woman to become an EOD technician,” said Colonel Howard L. Merritt, commander of the 59th Ordnance Brigade that trains EOD. “This is one of the few jobs in the Army that a soldier must volunteer for. These Soldiers put their lives on the line every time they render-safe an improvised explosive device (IED).”

Over the next year, construction will begin at A.P. Hill on state-of-the-
art facilities which will be used to train more than 2,000 EOD Soldiers
annually. Facilities include several ranges for demolition exercise and
training areas where EOD technicians will be taught to employ highly
technical robots for remotely defusing improvised explosive devices.

“IEDs are the number one killer of our Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Merritt said. “We’re fighting an enemy that watches what we do and adapts to it. We’re constantly integrating lessons learned from real-life incidents into our courses to provide EOD technicians with the knowledge, skills, and tools to perform their critical, lifesaving mission.”

Five Army EOD courses will move to Virginia: the EOD Senior Leader and EOD Phase 1 Course will join other ordnance courses at the Home of Sustainment at Fort Lee. The two-week Senior Leader Course trains experienced noncommissioned officers in EOD tactics and techniques. The eight-week EOD Phase 1 Course trains Soldiers in basic EOD skills and prepares them for more advanced training with the Navy at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Two days of the Phase 1 Course will focus on demolition training and will be conducted at Fort A.P. Hill. Fort A.P. Hill will also be the home of the eight-week Advanced Leader Course, the one-week Tactical Post Blast Course, and the two-week Global Antiterrorism and Operational Readiness course.

“ALC trains noncommissioned officers to become EOD team leaders,” said Dr. Richard Armstrong, the civilian deputy to the 59th Ordnance Brigade commander.

“The GATOR Course provides refresher training for EOD personnel being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Our newest course is the Tactical Post Blast Course, which trains Soldiers in analyzing remnants from bomb explosions. It’s our real-life version of the TV show CSI {Crime Scene Investigation}.”

The Ordnance School also trains civilian bomb squads in partnership with the FBI, although that training will remain at Redstone Arsenal.

“It’s easy to watch films and TV shows and separate what’s happening there from our Soldiers’ daily lives,” added Armstrong. “But we train men and women every day and give them the skills they need to help save lives. When the Soldiers graduate, they‘re willing to sacrifice their lives for our country. They deserve the very best training we can provide.”
  by CBRy
Does anyone think that there will be track additions or upgrades at Ft. Lee?
Not only will there be transportation/shuttles to-from A.P. Hill, but I hear
that the Army Transportation Museum at Ft. Eustis and also what little of
the railroad training there is will also be moved to Ft. Lee.

I only see minimal track facilities in the supply depot area of Ft. Lee in the
satellite views. The trackage seems to be in good repair, though.

I would think that there will not be enough trackage and facilities to properly
accommodate everything....
  by RailVet
So far I've heard nothing from my contacts within Army Rail that there will be any upgrades of track at Fort Lee, except perhaps to simply improve the existing warehouse area to facilitate the loading and unloading of personnel at trackside.

Regarding the Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, there are no plans to move it to Fort Lee. The Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground is moving to Fort Lee, but not the Trans Museum. Likewise, there is no plan to move rail training there, either. Other than some fairly short tracks in a warehouse area on the north side of the post, there simply is no rail network on which to operate a training railway.
  by Jeff Smith
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Nothing new, but did find some more links:

https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity ... e&_cview=0
Added: Nov 10, 2009 8:19 am
The U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center), Cambridge, MA, is conducting a sources sought notice to locate business concerns interested in leasing railroad and bus services and all required maintenance for moving 1,200 people twice per week in Virginia. Operations would consist of the following: Bus transport: Between Fort Lee and Petersburg and between Guinea Station and AP Hill; Rail Transportation: Between Petersburg and Guinea Station; Days of service: Sunday and Thursday; Sunday: Transportation of people from Fort Lee to AP Hill; Thursday: Transportation of people from AP Hill to Fort Lee; Operations:
But Desbois said some of the details are still being worked out - including the purchase of rail cars and locomotives.

Virginia Railway Express was recently granted approval to sell railcars and locomotives to the Army - a total of 10 cars and three locomotives - for $260,000. However, Desbois said the purchase has not been made yet

Read more: http://progress-index.com/news/train-ma ... z1QfdnUH8p
And this PDF, dated : http://www.co.caroline.va.us/army9210.pdf
The passenger train will be a Chartered,SpeciaI Movement Train, operated under contract to the Army by AMTRAK. An average of 800 passengers (and high of 1100) will be transported to Fort A. P. Hill and retum to Fort Lee approximately forty times a year (approximately three times a month). The primary purpose for this procedural change is safety. A passenger train is a
safer way to transport large numbers of soldiers.

The passenger trains will be home stationed on Fort Lee, V A. The train will average six passenger cars and two locomotives, and it wiIl offload and park at one of several privateIy owned sites under consideration in the vicinity of MiIford, VA. Current plans are for the train to depart Fort Lee on Sunday afternoon and arrive in Milford the same day. The passengers will be transported by shuttle buses from the rail site to Fort A. P. Hill. The train will remain at the Milford rail yard until tralning ends four or five days later,when shuttle buses will return the soldiers. The train will return to Fort Lee for storage, refueling, and replenishment for the next trip.
  by RailVet
I checked the website for the Fort Lee newspaper but found nothing more recent than 9 Sep 2010:

http://www.ftleetraveller.com/news/loca ... 6d30a.html

Earlier this year I visited Milford, VA, where troop trains would drop off trainees heading to nearby Fort A. P. Hill but found no indication of the construction of a bus parking lot, passenger platform, etc.