Commonwealth Railway

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Commonwealth Railway, Inc.
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Reporting mark CWRY
Locale Suffolk, VA to Portsmouth, VA
Dates of operation August 1989–present
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Wilroy, Suffolk, VA

The Commonwealth Railway, Inc. (reporting mark CWRY) is a Class III short-line railroad operating 16.5 miles (26.6 km) of track of a former Norfolk, Franklin and Danville Railway line from Suffolk, Virginia, to Portsmouth, Virginia. The main office is in the Wilroy area of Suffolk. Commonwealth Railway is owned by Genesee & Wyoming Inc. and is a part of Norfolk Southern's "Thoroughbred Shortline Program". They interchange with Norfolk Southern in Suffolk.

An important industry on the line is the BASF Chemical plant in the West Norfolk area of Portsmouth. The plant is usually switched by locomotive #444, a GP16 class locomotive rebuilt by Seaboard Coast Line Railroad in the early 1980s. The main locomotive is #517, a CF7 rebuild of an EMD F7 performed by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in the 1970s.

Another important industry is APM Terminals, which is a modern shipping container port in Portsmouth, VA along the Elizabeth River. This port was leased by Maersk to the Virginia Port Authority in late 2010. Commonwealth Railway is the only rail line to access the port. Another port is planned for Craney Island. With the opening of this new container port, two EMD SW1500 type switch engines were added to the roster. To handle the container traffic to and from the port, the Commonwealth Railway line through the city of Portsmouth has been realigned down the medians of I-664 and SR 164, at a cost of $60 million. A small marshalling yard has been built in the Baileytown area of Suffolk. Double-stack container service started in December 2010. A second phase, paid for by $9 million in federal stimulus funding, will further improve port access and is expected to be completed in September 2011. [1]

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