Where it all began
The Buckingham Branch Railroad is a family-owned, short line railroad that operates 280 miles of railroad in Virginia. Bob Bryant began his railroad career the day after graduating from high school in the early 1950s when he went to work for the former Chesapeake & Ohio (C & O) Railway. After more than 30 years of railroading Bob retired and returned home with his wife, Annie, and family to Buckingham County from Baltimore when the C & O and Baltimore & Ohio (B & O) merger eventually led to the creation of CSX Transportation. Bob and Annie created the BB in 1988, acquired from CSXT the 17 mile branch line between Bremo, VA and Dillwyn, VA, the Buckingham Branch Division, and ran the first BB train on March 6, 1989. Operation began with one locomotive and two employees. The Bryant’s son, Mark, and daughter, Lois, also joined the family business in the early years. Over 15 years, the Bryant’s upgraded the Buckingham Division track and structures, added new customers, and grew the company to 13 employees.
The first major expansion occurred in 2004 when the Buckingham Branch completed a lease with CSXT for the 199-mile Richmond & Alleghany Division (R & A) track between Richmond, VA and Clifton Forge, VA. Not only were there more freight customers to be served by the BB, but the busy R & A Division also hosts westbound CSX overhead trains for most of its length, as well as the Amtrak Cardinal train for 125 miles of its trip between New York City and Chicago. The BB had to significantly expand it’s track and structures and signal departments to undertake upgrades and perform annual maintenance on the R & A. With additional train crews as well, employment soon grew to 56. By 2007, employment had increased to 73 when the BB assumed responsiblity for dispatching BB, CSX and Amtrak trains on the R & A and created a rail traffic control department.
The next expansion took place in 2009 when the BB leased from Norfolk Southern, and began operation on, the Virginia Southern Division. The Virginia Southern spans 59 miles between the interchange with Norfolk Southern at Burkeville, Va and its termination at at Clarksville, VA. Employment soon reached 77.
The most recent expansion took place in 2018 when Buckingham Branch started leasing and operating the Norfolk Division. Part of the line is leased from Norfolk Southern, and part is leased from Canonie Atlantic. Even though this line is only 5 miles long, it is strategically located in Virginia’s most industrialized region and has connections to both Norfolk Southern and CSX. With the addition of the Norfolk Division, employment reached 79.
Today, the BB operates 275 miles of track, has seven train crews and 14 locomotives, and more than 40 freight customers. The BB has developed a reputation for dependability and flexible service that responds effectively to the changing needs of freight customers in todays’ U.S. logistics and transportation market. Through three interchanges each with CSXT and Norfolk Southern, BB customers can reach freight markets anywhere in North America. The BB also operates passenger excursion trains on the Buckingham Division in spring and fall, as well as Santa trains and a Toys for Tots train in December.
We started with a 17 mile line and two employees. We've grown over the years to offer 280 miles of track and to employ around 80 team members.