The Virginia Museum of Transportation expects the return of 611 steam excursions to bring many visitors to the the region. It’s a complicated challenge; Museum Executive Director Mendy Flynn says it starts with finding a railroad to run such excursions — and developing a plan likely to make such excursions profitable. After that, there are considerations like watering and fueling the iconic Roanoke-built locomotive when it hauls passengers from the small community of Goshen to Staunton and back, plus staffing the train both mechanically and for the passengers. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones:
NEWS RELEASE: August 2, 2023 — The Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc. (VMT) and the Virginia Scenic Railway (VSR) are excited to jointly announce that the Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 steam passenger locomotive will be operating a series of specially scheduled passenger excursions later this fall within the Commonwealth of Virginia. The sleek and powerful Class J locomotives, designed and built in Roanoke by the Norfolk & Western Railway, were widely hailed as the finest steam passenger locomotives in the world. The 1950 Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 is the sole surviving member of fourteen Class J locomotives produced and is owned and operated by VMT as a traveling exhibit, showcasing the legacy and craftmanship of Virginia’s railroad workers. The 611 will remain in Roanoke for preparation and maintenance and its annual Federal Railway Administration inspections. Following that work, public excursions behind 611 on the VSR track will begin.
The VSR is delighted to host these 611 excursions, which will be operating twice daily as the Shenandoah Valley Limited throughout October and November 2023. Upon boarding the train in Goshen, Virginia, guests will travel eastward through the fall foliage of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, into the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley where the train will pause without disembarking, to be joined by a pair of diesel locomotives for the return trip back to Goshen. We are delighted to help make this run possible,” says Steve Powell, President of the Virginia Scenic Railway. “We love trains and railroad history, and we look forward to partnering with the Virginia Museum of Transportation to host the legendary 611 and bring the steam engine roaring to life in the Shenandoah Valley. This is one of the prettiest routes around, and we are excited to share it.”
Tickets will be available for purchase by the general public in mid-August via Virginia Scenic Railway’s website (virginiascenicrailway.com). Seating options will include Coach, Premium Coach, First Class, and Dome Classes, ranging from $99.00 to $249.00 per seat. Sign up on VSR’s or VMT’s (vmt.org) website to be among the first to know when tickets are available. “We are excited for the opportunity to partner with Virginia Scenic Railway. These excursions will have a major tourism impact on the region and showcase Virginia’s Rail Heritage to visitors near and far.” said
Mendy Flynn, Executive Director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
611’s Excursion Schedule
The Shenandoah Valley Limited will depart at 9:00 AM and 2:30 PM on the following dates:
▪ October 6 – 8
▪ October 13 – 15
▪ October 20 – 22
▪ October 27 – 2 9
▪ November 3 – 5