NS set to auction passenger cars

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) As heavy traffic rolled by on Interstate 581 Wednesday afternoon, several people down below were getting a closer look at several Norfolk Southern passenger cars.

They'll be auctioned Thursday morning, along with more than 60 locomotives.

"I hope somebody buys them that can use them, and benefit from them," said Virginia Museum of Transportation Executive Director Bev Fitzpatrick. "I can say unequivocally, if we had more liquidity at the Virginia Museum of Transportation, we'd be bidding tomorrow, but we just can't afford to do that."

The coaches aren't particularly historic.

They were never part of the Powhatan Arrow, or other Norfolk and Western passenger trains.

But they carried thousands of passengers during recent excursions.

Fitzpatrick says he's disappointed they are being sold, but he isn't second-guessing the railroad's decision.

"They have been wonderful letting us use them at no cost to us and that's helped the museum immensely," Fitzpatrick said. "They belong to them and they've decided not to be in the excursion business any more, and it's not our right to question their decision in any way, particularly when they've been so good to us."

So, what does this mean for the future of excursions with the 611 steam engine?

Fitzpatrick says the transportation museum has had positive discussions with Amtrak, and he is hopeful the museum's steam program will be able to continue under Amtrak's banner.