ACL Freight Traffic Density : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

Does anyone have information on the desity of freight traffic on the pre-merger ACL? I can remember thumbing through the current Employees' Timetable on a visit to the Jarratt (Va.) interlocking plant in the summer of 1966, and noting only three daily through third-class freights, whereas the paraleel SAL carded eight to ten. I'm wondering if this was normal traffic, or if the ACL might have carded a soild piggyback train as first class, or run extra freights on a regular basis. If some veteran of that era could elighten me, it would be appreciated.

-- Don Shultz (, October 13, 1999


I don't know what had transpired by 1966, but ACL's Richmond Div. Timetable No. 4 (eff. 12/14/62) lists Nos. 105 and 109 as first class freights Richmond to Rocky Mount and No. 211 as third class. Northbound, No. 112 was first class (daily excpt Tuesday) and No. 210 was third class. Probably by 1966, No. 175 -- the Piggyback Special also appeared. In many instances, freight schedules shown in employee timetables were no more than "tent stakes" for establishing some order of train service. When the volume of freight traffic increased, these trains may have operated in sections or the traffic may have been handled in extras. The double-tracked (and in portions CTC'd) Coast Line offered a great deal of flexibility. Because observance of the superiority of trains was greatly curtailed, ACL could operate sections and extras without ever raising a flag or copying a train order. Why clutter the timetable with schedules that really weren't needed ?

On the neighboring SAL, there were numerous freight schedules published in their Virginia Division timetables (nos. 27,75, 88, and 280 to name a few). SAL was primarily single-track CTC. But the SAL's philosophy was somewhat different. From experience, SAL had learned that when CTC fails, train movement reverts to timetable and train order operation. Therefore, they had all those freight schedules published "just in case".

-- Harry Bundy (, October 13, 1999.

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