A common site on railroads is the unit train. This is an entire train devoted to a single delivery of a single commodity to a single customer. Coal is often shipped to power plants in long unit trains. On the LK&O Mettiki Coal, located in Table Rock MD, ships unit trains of bituminous coal from the mines in West Virginia and Maryland on CSX via the Thomas Subdivision. The Spirit of Cumberland SD70MAC on the LK&O roster is the perfect workhorse for these long and heavy trains. To carry the coal, the AAR J311 aluminum gondola is the ideal choice. With its 48′ interior length and gross rail loading of 286,000 lbs. each J311 can carry a lot of coal. Now imagine a seemingly endless string of J311’s winding their way along the Potomac river past Kitzmiller and on to power plants in the major cities of Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario. Well, at least imagine 12 gondolas winding their way past Kitzmiller on the LK&O. For our size we will call that a long unit train!
Nice pictures of real CSX J311’s here.