Here’s what you need to know about the 611 locomotive excursions

Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 3:58 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Last week we learned the Queen of Steam, the Norfolk & Southern 611 Class J No. 611 steam locomotive, will take to the rails in southwest Virginia again. This after a several-year hiatus.

We know a lot of you had questions, so we got to work getting the answers.

Hundreds of you shared our Facebook post about the announcement. And the president of the Virginia Scenic Railway, Steve Powell, said he’s had to hire additional temporary staff to help handle their phone calls about the 611.

The locomotive, built right here in Roanoke, returned to the Virginia Museum of Transportation a few months ago after it spent some time in Pennsylvania.

Last week came the confirmation that the museum will partner with Virginia Scenic Railways and the Buckingham Branch Railroad to make it happen.

These will be limited run excursions starting in October. The train will depart from Goshen and head through the Shenandoah Valley.

“It’ll then come out onto our main line,” said Powell. “It’ll be the only power on the train going from Goshen all the way to Staunton. So that’s about a 32 mile trip. Going over mountains, going over a pretty big grade for most of the trip. And then once it gets to Staunton it’ll be joined by some diesel locomotives. And so the diesel locomotives will actually pull it back to Goshen. While it’s going between Goshen and Staunton, the 611 will be in the lead. It’ll be the only power that’s on that train.”

There will be 30 trips over 15 days. They’ll run every weekend in October and the first weekend in November.

There will be two trains a day on the excursion says. Powell said the trip is expected to last three to three and a half hours.

Tickets start at $99 but go up to $249 and vary by rail cars.

Powell says if you’re interested, he recommends signing up for their mailing list, that way you’ll be notified when tickets go on sale.