The Buckingham Branch Railroad (BB) is a family-owned short line railroad that operates 275 miles of railroad in central Virginia. The BB was founded in 1988 by Robert and Annie Bryant and ran its first train on March 6, 1989. Since then it has grown from a 17 mile line with two employees to its current size today of 275 miles with 88 employees. The Buckingham Branch has developed a reputation for dependability and service and its small size offers greater flexibility to respond to customer needs as well as providing more personalized customer service.
The BB interchanges freight cars with CSXT at Strathmore, Doswell and Clifton Forge, Virginia. It also interchanges cars with the Norfolk Southern at Burkeville, Charlottesville, Orange and Waynesboro, Virginia and with the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad at Staunton, Virginia. Through these connections, the BB provides service to points all across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
In addition to freight service, the BB hosts passenger service in the form of AMTRAK, which operates between Orange and Clifton-Forge, Virginia and also seasonal passenger excursions on the Buckingham Division operated in partnership with the Old Dominion Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society
The BB has three Divisions: The Buckingham Division operates between Dillwyn and Bremo, Virginia. The Richmond & Alleghany Division operates from Richmond, through Charlottesville, to Clifton-Forge, Virginia. And, the Virginia Southern, operates from Burkeville, Virginia, through Keysville, to the North Carolina state line.
The Buckingham Division is 17.3 miles long and is the original trackage for the BB. Most of the traffic on the Buckingham Division is outbound, originating in Dillwyn or other points along the line in Buckingham County. This traffic includes wood chips from Alpha, Virginia for MeadWestvaco, which are shipped in open hopper cars to Covington, Virginia where they are used to produce paper, and Kyanite ore (aluminum silicate) for Kyanite Mining Corp. Kyanite is a high temperature material used as a component in firebrick, spark plugs, and high temperature cookware and it is mined and processed in Buckingham and then shipped in bulk in covered hoppers or bagged and shipped in boxcars throughout North America and around the world.
The Buckingham Branch also hauls lumber in the form of untreated railroad crossties which are cut at local sawmills and shipped from Koppers Industries’ local tie procurement yard to various tie treatment yards on the East Coast. Longwood (trees stripped of their limbs) destined for paper mills is shipped from the Emerson-Clements Woodyard in Dillwyn and crushed slate and related products are hauled from the Buckingham Slate quarries to various points in the United States. Additionally, the Buckingham Division serves the crushed and slate cinders facility now owned by RockTenn.
Richmond and Alleghany Division
The Richmond & Alleghany Division is 200 miles long and carries a wide variety of both inbound and outbound traffic. Inbound products include plastic pellets used for film production at Klockner Pentaplast Corporation; wood products for Nickander Associates, Sound Structures, Ruffin & Payne, and Biomass Energy; coal for the University of Virginia; naphtha for Flint Ink; and newsprint for Richmond Newspapers, Inc. Feed ingredients and fertilizer are hauled for Valley Feed Company, Houff Feed and Fertilizer, Augusta Coop, and Orange-Madison Coops. Propane gas is hauled for Dixie Gas and Oil and Amerigas and cement is delivered to Transit Mixed Concrete and Essroc.
Outbound traffic on the R&A Division includes aplite rock from U.S. Silica, vermiculite from Virginia Vermiculite and stone from Martin-Marietta's Verdon quarry and Luck Stone's Charlottesville plant. Treated railroad crossties are shipped by Stella Jones, Inc. and untreated ties are shipped by Koppers Industries. Feed ingredients are shipped by Bakery Feeds, Inc. and newsprint is shipped by Bear Island Paper Company to major newspaper printing facilities.
The R&A Division operates on a scheduled basis five days per week. Trains operate Monday through Friday between Staunton and Clifton Forge and between Staunton and Gordonsville. Trains also operate between Doswell and Richmond and between Doswell and Gordonsville. Yard duties are handled by trains in Doswell and Charlottesville. Amtrak operates The Cardinal over part of the R&A between Clifton Forge and Orange on its journey between Chicago and New York. In addition CSXT operates unit trains of empty cars westbound from Richmond to Clifton Forge on an as-needed basis.
Virginia Southern Division
The Virginia Southern Division is 58 miles long and the primary commodity is coal for the Dominion Virginia Power Mecklenburg Power Station. This Division also serves a wood chip mill in Keysville.