Historic Rail News & Notes

Steam locomotive No. 576 is pictured as it looked in 1951 at the height of its service for the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway. Photo courtesy of the Nashville Steam Preservation Society, Inc.

Nashville Steam launches funding campaign for No. 576

The Nashville Steam Preservation Society, Inc. has launched the Last Mile Campaign, which will match dollar for dollar certain donations in support of restoring locomotive No. 576 to service.

The plan is for the 1940s-era steam engine to provide excursions in the Nashville area, adding another dimension to the tourism industry there, Nashville Steam said. All donations of $576 or more will be matched dollar-for-dollar as part of the Last Mile Campaign.

“We just received the drive wheels back from being serviced and we plan to reinstall them in the early summer. If all goes well we hope to be up and steamin’ in about two years,” said Joey Bryan, the nonprofit’s board secretary and communications manager, in an email.

The goal of the Last Mile Campaign is to raise $350,000. Matching funds totaling $100,000 were provided by the Walter Ferguson Charitable Trust, and $75,000 came from The Right Track Foundation. Previous fundraising drives generated more than $2 million to relocate No. 576 from Centennial Park to a local shop for dismantling and overhaul.

For more information, visit nashvillesteam.org.

The vintage locomotive is shown here after crewmembers removed the front of the smoke box during the dismantling phase. The next step in the restoration is reassembly of the components. The locomotive will eventually be used for local passenger excursions. Photo courtesy of the Nashville Steam Preservation Society, Inc.

Canadian Pacific Railway acquires Kansas City Southern

The federal government’s Surface Transportation Board has approved Canadian Pacific Railway’s acquisition of Kansas City Southern freight rail company, the board announced in March.

The combined railroads will be known as Canadian Pacific Kansas City, or CPKC. The Southern Rail Commission, a public board that advocates for expanded passenger service, has favored the merger because of the potential for more travel options. The tracks owned by Kansas City Southern will be transferred to Canadian Pacific, which had previously announced that it will work with Amtrak, the commission and other local partners in the efforts to start passenger rail service along multiple routes.

Amtrak is anticipating a beneficial working relationship with CPKC, as the two have already agreed to share the tracks along the I-20 corridor and between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. CPKC has also committed to funding infrastructure improvements along the routes. This collaboration will lead to the expansion of long-distance passenger rail service in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, aiding in the economic development of cities along the routes, officials said.

Members of Brightline's test crew take a break during the South Florida passenger rail company's trial speed runs on its new track between Cocoa and Orlando International Airport. When the expanded service begins later this year, Blightline's passenger trains will whisk travelers from Orlando to Miami in about 3 hours. Photo courtesy of Brightline

Brightline test train reaches 130 mph on Orlando-Cocoa run

Passenger rail company Brightline has begun testing its trains on the 35-mile rail corridor between Orlando International Airport and Cocoa, reporting that one run reached 130 miles per hour, the fastest of any train in Florida.

The tracks are built along site the Beachline Expressway - SR 528 - and have no grade crossings. The entire route is fenced. The company said once its trains are running on a regular schedule, the maximum speed will be 125 miles per hour.

“Reaching 130 isn’t just another milestone to our team, but the continuation of a dream that we’ve been working towards for several years,” said Patrick Goddard, president of Brightline Trains, in announcing the speed record. “More importantly, this historic feat brings us one step closer to launching Brightline service between Orlando and Miami.”

Based in South Florida, Brightline operates regular passenger service between Miami and West Palm Beach, with the expansion project extending the rail network north to Brevard County, where the trains head west to the airport in Orlando.

When the expanded service begins later this year, Brightline said travelers will be able to go from Central Florida to Miami in about 3 hours.