Frequently Asked Questions

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Getting Started

Who is my contact for new rail freight service, transload service, or site location assistance at the Buckingham Branch?

Bill Hamilton, our Director of Business Development, will be happy to answer your questions.  We offer you a one-stop shop for freight service and site development.  Contact Bill at 540.292.4309 or billh@buckinghambranch.com.

I'm new to rail. How do I get started?

Just contact us and let us know what you would like to consider and we will walk you through the steps and answer all your questions.  We will even help you in dealing with our connecting Class 1 Railroad partners, CSXT and Norfolk Southern.  Let us be your freight connection to North America.

Can I start with the Buckingham Branch or do I need to go directly to the Class 1 Railroads?

You can start with us.  We can answer all your initial questions and help you understand your rail freight options.  We have excellent relationships with both CSXT and Norfolk Southern, our Class 1 Railroad interchange partners.  When it comes time to get information about, or coordinate with, either Class 1 Railroad, we can smooth your way.

Can you assist me in finding a rail-served site or building on the Buckingham Branch or a transload location in Virginia?

Absolutely!  We suggest that you call or email Bill Hamilton at 540.292.4309 or billh@buckinghambranch.com to get going.  But if you prefer to start on your own, go to the “Site Location” page of our website and explore 30+ available buildings and sites for direct rail service and 12 transload locations that will enable you to combine the best of affordable, long-haul rail service with the convenience of pick up or drop off by truck.  You no longer need to be located on our rail line to get the advantages of rail freight service to or from anywhere in North America.

Can I purchase property with rail access?

Yes.  We have sites available on the Buckingham Branch that already have sidetracks to the property.  If you choose a site, however, that does not have existing sidetrack into the property, we can coordinate for you the design and construction of a new sidetrack.  Many sidetrack construction projects are eligible for Rail Industrial Access Funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia to help defer costs.  We can help coordinate with local county or city approvals and with application for state grant funds.

What type of freight can I ship by rail?

The Buckingham Branch and our Class 1 railroad partners can ship many freight commodities.  These freight products include heavy industrial freight such as cement, lumber, and steel.  We can also handle many agricultural commodities like grain, fertilizer components, soybeans and soybean meal, milk, and corn sweeteners.  In addition, many powdered chemicals can be shipped by rail, as well as petroleum products such as butane and diesel exhaust fuel.  Finally, you can ship by rail many finished food and beverage products, including beer and wine.  Contact us to see if your freight can be shipped by rail.  Chances are it can.

What if I'm not located on rail? Can I still get the cost advantages of freight shipment by rail?

Yes.  Transload service combines long distance freight movement by rail with transload to or from trucks for the first few miles or the last few miles to or from your facility.  Transload service gives you the benefits of cost savings from long distance rail transport with the convenience of truck delivery or pickup at your door.  The Buckingham Branch has been providing transload service for more than 20 years.  We transload a wide range of products from butane to bentonite clay to potatos.  Generally speaking, transload service may offer cost savings on any freight that will move 300 miles or more.

Is rail transport safe for my product?

The Buckingham Branch can move a wide array of freight safely.  A variety of types of railcars are available to ensure the safe shipment of your freight.  These railcars include several sizes and types of boxcars, general purpose flatcar, bulkhead flatcar, centerbeam flatcar, open-top hoppers, covered hoppers, plane gondola, covered gondola for steel coil shipment, tank cars for liquids, auto rack cars for shipment of automobiles, and others.  A pdf summary of freight cars types is available at:  (Insert link.)    The Buckingham Branch or our Class 1 railroad partner can train your employees how to load your freight for safe travel.  We can also arrange test shipments so you can be assured that your freight will arrive safely before you commit to regular freight shipments.  The safety of your freight, your employees and our employees is the highest priority of the Buckingham Branch.

How do I become a Buckingham Branch Railroad customer?

Contact Bill Hamilton, our Director of Business Development, for all your questions about BB rail service.  He can be reached at 540.292.4309 or bill.hamilton@buckinghambranch.com and Bill can help you start the process.

Pricing

How do I get a price quote from the BB?

Contact Bill Hamilton at 540.292.4309 or bill.hamilton@buckinghambranch.com to initiate a price quote for your freight.  There are a number of factors that impact the pricing for rail freight. Primary among these are origin and destination points, commodity being hauled, type of railcar required and number of interchanges required.  For a listing of freight tariff, general rules, local rates to and between all points on BB, switching charges, accessorial charges, storage charges and demurrage charges, please see the following pdfs of BB tariffs:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7jfcKntSHtIYkpFZGxOWjRuU3c;  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7jfcKntSHtIVTY3M01Bd3VSY1k.

What information will I need to request a freight price?

In general, the BB will request the following information in order to generate a rate quote:  type of freight, point of origin and point of destination, type of rail freight car, who owns the freight car, the shipper, the receiver, who pays for the freight charge, and the annual volume of freight.  The BB can provide you a questionnaire.

Can I get a bundled price to include rail shipment, warehousing, and trucking of freight to my final destination.

Yes.  The BB can coordinate a bundled price to include rail shipment, warehousing, and trucking to the final destination.  The BB has warehousing facilities available on our rail lines.  We also have partners that handle truckingand transloading if needed.  Bill Hamilton, our Director of Business Development, can develop this bundle of services and pricing for you.  BB customers, of course, who prefer to handle their own warehousing and trucking arrangements are free to do that with BB participating as requested.

Buckingham Branch - a short line railroad

What is a short line railroad and how many are there in America?

The Buckingham Branch is a short line railroad.  Short lines typically have fewer than 350 miles of railroad track and annual revenues of less than $50,000,000.  There are about 550 short line railroads in North America.  Short lines combined operate 50,000 miles of railroad track, about 40% of all railroad track miles in North America.  One in every four cars of freight either originates or terminates on short line railroads.  The Buckingham Branch is the largest of nine short line railroads in Virginia.

Will I have to settle for a lower level of freight service because the Buckingham Branch is a short line?

Absolutely not.  Every one of the 40+ BB customers is important to our company, whether we move 10 freight cars a year or 500 cars a year for the customer.  We know our customers personally and can respond to special requests for extra service or modify freight schedules as needed.  Our employees are highly-trained professionals, including our train crews, rail traffic controllers (dispatchers), track and structures crews, signal crews, and customer service representatives. We provide regular train service Monday through Friday and specially scheduled trains when requested on weekends.  Providing outstanding customer service is the way we have built and sustained the Buckingham Branch for 27 years.

Are short lines subject to federal and state regulations that are similar to regulations for Class 1 railroads, and what is the BB safety record?

Yes, the Buckingham Branch is regulated by more than a dozen federal and state government agencies, with many of the regulations similar to those for Class 1s.  We have an in-house track inspection program, as well as frequent inspections from federal and state agencies.  The level of regulation and inspection for the BB is more intense than for many short lines because, in addition to our own trains, both CSX and Amtrak operate trains across BB tracks.  The BB has invested heavily in training and building a safety first culture.  The results of this investment were recognized by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association when ASLRRA named the BB as the short line with the most improved safety record in America for 2014 among more than 450 short lines.

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