I had really been hoping for this news for a long time, but a skeptical part of my brain never thought I would actually see this happen. However, after canceling their steam excursion program in 1994, NS issued a wonderful press release last week. Excerpts:
NORFOLK, VA., and CHATTANOOGA, TENN. – Norfolk Southern Corporation is in negotiations with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum with regard to the operation of a limited schedule of steam locomotive event appearances and passenger excursions beginning later this year…
“21st Century Steam” would highlight milestones in rail history and provide an opportunity for audiences to learn about today’s safe and service-oriented freight railroads…
This is the right time for steam to ride the Norfolk Southern rails,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “We have a fascinating history, and we have a compelling message about how today’s railroads support jobs, competition, and the economy. It is a forward-looking message that resonates with people everywhere.”
“21st Century Steam can help introduce historic and modern railroading to a broad new audience of supporters,” said TVRM President Tim Andrews. “We are pleased to be developing this relationship with Norfolk Southern for the purpose of preserving and interpreting the steam age, and of bringing today’s railroad closer to people young and old, in communities large and small.”
The program is described as limited and featuring three locomotives (Southern 4501, Southern 630, and TVRM 610), but if the program is successful, who knows? For the first time in many years, it is possible to envision the 611 riding the rails again.
The Low-Tech Times strongly applauds NS’s decision to move forward with their Steam in the 21st Century program. We look very forward to the coming months!
See Also: Book Review: Steam’s Camelot by Jim Wrinn — This is a very highly recommended book covering the complete history of the Southern Railway / Norfolk Southern Steam Program