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CSX Santa Train photo gallery

By Steve Smedley | November 23, 2023

Holiday tradition returns for 81st year

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CSX Santa Train

Long passengr train on curve
CSX Transportation’s Santa Train departs Dante, Va., with its 13-car train as it rolls along empty coal hoppers and Lick Creek on Nov. 18, 2023. The photo is from Dante Mountain Road. Steve Smedley

The CSX Santa Train, enjoying new life after a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, again delighted children and adults along its 110-mile former Clinchfield Railroad route between Shelby, Ky., and Kingsport, Tenn. This year’s train featured a new “Santa Car” rebuilt from a former Pan Am Railways office car, as well as the active participation of CSX CEO Joe Hinrichs, who has embraced the Santa Train tradition since joining the railroad. Here’s a look at the train from photographer Steve Smedley, plus some bonus images from Ron Flanary, who filed a report on the Nov. 18 trip for Trains News Wire [see “CSX Santa Train returns …,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 19, 2023].

Train on large bridge
The CSX Santa Train rolls slowly across the Copper Creek Bridge as it nears its destination of Kingsport, Tenn., on Nov. 18, 2023. Steve Smedley


The Santa Train rolls through an S curve at Granny Branch, Va., Nov. 18, 2023. Steve Smedley


Train passing church
The Santa Train, in its 81st year, arrives in Dante, Va., on Saturday, Nov. 18. A locomotive failure on F40PH No.2 led CSXT to borrow ET44AH locomotives No. 3323 and No. 3411 from a northbound train the previous evening. Steve Smedley


View from behind of girl waving to Santa
A young girl looks on as Santa greets the crowd during a stop at Fremont, Va. Ron Flanary


Four locomotives of train round curve
CSX’s Santa Train comes around a curve north of Dungannon, Va. Steve Smedley


The new Santa Car, rebuilt from a former Pan Am Railways business car, is at the end of the Santa Train south of Granny Branch, Va., on Nov. 18, 2023. Steve Smedley


Crowd of people
A portion of the crowd greeting the Santa Train at Elkhorn City, Ky. Ron Flanary


Santa Claus and his helpers wave from the rear of the Santa Train as it approaches a stop at Dungannon, Va., on Nov. 18, 2023. This was the 81st year for the Santa Train. Steve Smedley

4 thoughts on “CSX Santa Train photo gallery

  1. CalTrain, which runs from San Francisco south to Gilroy, CA., still runs their “Holiday Train” with stops at select stations. Our model railroad club (West Bay Model Railroad Association in Menlo Park) has a 2 day open house on the weekend the train runs. Our open houses usually run from 1-4 in the afternoon but on Sunday, the train stops at the CalTrain station just to the north of our clubhouse, and so the open house will last until the train arrives somewhere around 7:30. It’s always crowded, but, it’s a lot of fun too, and that’s what it all about, right?

  2. Yes, in these rather dark and troubled times that we find ourselves in, it’s very heartening to see CSX Transportation keep up this long-standing tradition of the ‘Santa Train.’

    Kudos & special thanks to CEO Hinrichs and all of the good folks at CSX who made this happen and did good for communities along the CSX (ex-Clinchfield) line through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia …..

  3. It is nice to see CSX Railroad still embraces a community tradition of the Santa Train. Too many railroads today do not do enough to get positive publicity for doing good for their communities they run through. May it run for years to come and bring joy to the people it touches.

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