UPDATE - The announcement of the 611's excursion schedule comes as exciting news for the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
Norfolk Southern chose the 611 as the only steam excursion program it would partner with this year after announcing the 21st century steam program would end.
Last year's excursions pumped between $4 and $7 million into the Roanoke Valley.
The museum's executive director, Beverly Fitzpatrick says ticket prices will be announced in early February.
"She's raring to go," said Fitzpatrick. "Virginians and others seem to want her to go. I think the railroad understands there is a significant demand. This is an opportunity for people to ride behind the queen of steam."
In a matter of weeks, the 611 will travel to Shafer's Crossing where four new front wheels will be replaced and the front truck will be rebuilt.
ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - The Virginia Museum of Transportation and the North Carolina Transportation Museum announced Monday the Norfolk & Western Class J 611 steam passenger locomotive will return to the mainline in 2016 with an exciting schedule of public excursions and special appearances.
The sleek and powerful Class J steam passenger locomotives, designed and built in Roanoke, Va., by the Norfolk & Western Railway, widely were hailed as the finest steam passenger locomotives in the world.
Today, the 611 is the only Class J still in existence and is owned by the VMT.
It was restored at the NCTM in 2014-2015 through a worldwide fundraising effort by the VMT.
The 611 will move from Roanoke to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in February in preparation for maintenance and its annual Federal Railway Administration inspection.
Following that work, spring will see a total of four weekends of public excursions behind 611 on the Norfolk Southern system. A variety of seating options, including coach, first class, and dome cars is planned for each excursion. In addition, special appearances by 611 are planned for Roanoke, Manassas and Danville, Va., and Spencer, N.C.
2016 Public Excursion Schedule:
- April 9, 2016 -The Virginian, Spencer, N.C., to Lynchburg, Va.
- April 10, 2016 -The Blue Ridge Special, Spencer, N.C., to Asheville, N.C.
- April 23, 2016 -The Roanoker, Greensboro, N.C. to Roanoke, Va.
- April 24, 2016 - The Roanoker, Greensboro, N.C. to Roanoke, Va.
- May 7, 2016 -The Powhatan Arrow, Roanoke, Va., to Lynchburg, Va.
- May 7, 2016 -The Pelican, Roanoke, Va., to Walton (Radford), Va.
- May 8, 2016 -The Powhatan Arrow, Roanoke, Va., to Lynchburg, Va.
- May 8, 2016 -The Pelican, Roanoke, Va., to Walton (Radford), Va.
- June 4, 2016 -The American, Manassas, Va., to Front Royal, Va., (runs once)
- June 5, 2016 -The American, Manassas, Va., to Front Royal, Va., (runs twice)
Ticket sale dates will be announced in February.
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