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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / NS Trash Train consigned to the dumpster of history

NS Trash Train consigned to the dumpster of history

By Samuel Phillips | April 9, 2021

After 27 years, Roanoke Valley operation to be replaced by trucks

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Black locomotive pulling cars of trash through fall colors
Black locomotive pulling cars of trash through fall colors
Norfolk Southern’s Trash Train passes through Waburn, Va., in November 2016. After 27 years, the operation ended earlier this month. (Samuel Phillips)

ROANOKE, Va. — For more than a quarter century, at approximately 5:30 p.m., a Norfolk Southern crew would report in Roanoke and start train V60, commonly known as the “Star City Stinker” or “Trash Train.” No more.

The Monday-through-Friday operation would start just east of Roanoke’s famed East End Shops and travel 30 miles west to a landfill near Ironto, Va. A turn job, for 27 years, the train would take loads up and empties back, with a single vintage EMD locomotive hauling anywhere from five to 15 cars of trash.

On April 2, 2021, the Trash Train came to an end, as the engineer knocked off the brakes one last time and pulled from the landfill with all 27 cars in tow bound for Roanoke behind SD40-2 No. 3412. After the crew tied up, train V60 was abolished and the Trash Train became a part of railroad history .

Making this train noteworthy, it would travel west up the former Virginian from Salem Connection (milepost V-250.9) to Bradshaw (milepost V-264.3) before splitting off on the 4-mile-long Bradshaw Branch. The former Virginian, known today as the Whitethorne District, is primarily a directional-running mainline that hosts heavy tonnage eastbound trains, with westbound trains using the former N&W. Rarely does a westbound trek against the flow of eastbound trains on the Whitethorne District unless there’s an issue on the N&W side; the Trash Train was the one exception.

The Trash Train began in 1993 when the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority built a new landfill in Montgomery County Northwest of Ironto in the Roanoke Valley, as well as 27 trash cars capable of hauling roughly 65 tons of trash each. Just west of Furnace Crossing by the East End Shops at the start of the Blue Ridge District to Crewe, the authority constructed a small facility to load the trash onto railcars.

With the end of the Trash Train, the Bradshaw Branch is slated to be removed this summer, with the authority turning it into a road to truck all waste material into the landfill.

13 thoughts on “NS Trash Train consigned to the dumpster of history

  1. Seems odd that they would switch from rail to truck. NS may have just wanted to get out of the contract or the city may very well have one of their “friends” bid on the contract? Anyway, the good people can have this right next to them on the freeways, back roads and parked across from your schools….coming to your neighborhood soon.

  2. Typical of PSR, isn’t it? “We don’t want your business”. Take it elsewhere. We’ll rip up the tracks to make sure this business will never happen again…

    Instead of 1 train, 20-40 round trip truckloads. Great for the environment and auto drivers.

  3. This seems illogical, I certainly would not want these trucks going past my house. So far plenty of garbage trains on the Seattle Sub on both UP and BNSF. I cannot even fathom trucks on an already very congested freeway I-5.

  4. If NS does not want the business. Then let a shortline handle it. County should by it then run it as a utility or port authority.
    Had to cost more going by truck!!

  5. Where is the Northham administration which wants to be so “green”? Hey gov, you ok with this? And if so why? You say you like trains.

  6. An explanation as to why it was discontinued would be a welcomed addition to this article, but still very interesting and disheartening

  7. I’m a high school drop-out and a ‘Nam draftee…but even I can see PAYOLA going on here…


    Hopefully the link above will work, I still am not sure about this new Trains.Com site. The local trash authority made the decision to no longer use rail for a number of reasons and not as a result of rail service. One reason is that a lot of the trash in the Salem area had to be trucked back east of downtown Roanoke to the trash train loading site before it could go west back through Salem to the landfill.

    Once the train arrived at the landfill the covered gondolas (based on a woodchip gon design) had to be rotary dumped and then loaded into dump trucks to carry the trash to were it was being dumped. The tractor-trailer rigs that will replace the train can drive to the location of the final dumping spot and unload themselves. They have built a transfer site in Salem where the garbage trucks can transfer their loads to the semi rigs so there is no back haul on that portion of the trash.

    Another factor is that apparently the rotary dumper at the landfill has been a constant maintenance headache. The trash authority says that going to all truck will save them money in the long run. Of course they are probably are not accounting for the additional wear on Interstate 81and congestion from the 50 or so truck trips each day.

  9. ” Of course they are probably are not accounting for the additional wear on Interstate 81and congestion from the 50 or so truck trips each day”. Not out of the waste authorities budget, so they don’t care. On the other hand VDOT will care.

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