Railfanning 5-19-18: NS 12R, Amtrak 20, 214 (with a UP trio!) and 203

After spending my morning chasing one of the final excursions for RF&P #101, I opted to take a leisurely drive home by stopping at various locations along the way to railfan Norfolk Southern's Washington District. My trip north on US 15 brought me close to the tracks beginning around Orange, VA, and I hopped off on some side roads to try and get a better shot. I had seen photographs from other railfans taken at railroad location Winston, where a group of signals govern the control point of the tracks splitting in two northward before reaching Culpeper, VA. I parked up and didn't have to wait long before train 12R came through:

Afterwards, I doubled-back 10 miles down the single-track line to another point where the tracks split in two, or merge into one for northbound traffic. The entire Washington to Atlanta mainline was double-tracked until the 1980s, when dispatchers and management found that they could make do with alternating 10-mile sections of single track and double track (fun fact: dispatchers were asked to give this technique a try by putting electrical tape over the tracks on their CTC boards. When it was determined that alternating single and double track would work, the tracks were physically removed both from the board and in real life). This way, trains could meet each other without either train having to come to a complete stop. This principle was demonstrated to me at Rapidan, where I watched Amtraks northbound Crescent, running quite late, rip through on Main 2, followed closely by intermodal train 214 on Main 1, which had been overtaken by the Amtrak and was now picking up speed again. I was hoping for a shot with both trains in the image, but thanks to the efficiency of 10-mile double-track, 214 did not have to wait at the stop signal at this interlocking point as I had hoped.

Usually, once I've bagged three trains on the Wash, I call it a day. The line only sees ~15 trains a day, most of which pass through at night. However, as I was driving home, now on US 29, I caught a glimpse of 214's tail through the trees, and my scanner (which I hadn't bothered to turn off yet) informed me that the train would be changing crews at Bristow. This would give me ample time to set up a second shot of the train at Gainesville. So, I did!

Once again, I was ready to head home at this point, but the scanner again informed me that perhaps I ought to wait; 214 would be meeting 203 just up the line. 203 is a favorite of mine, and I threw my cares out the window and parked up at the crossing at Wellington (where I typically film westbounds, rarely eastbounds) to see one more train for the day. Admittedly the consist of 203 wasn't terribly special, but it was still one more train in the books for the day:

A link to a YouTube video from today is provided below, and as always, thanks for reading!