Trains hauling coal, freight and passengers through Charlottesville soon will be moving a little faster as railway improvements by the Buckingham Branch Railroad allow for higher speeds, company officials said.

Within the next month, freight train speed will accelerate to 20 mph from the current speed limit of 10 and passenger trains will increase from 15 to 20 mph, according to Steve Powell, Buckingham Branch president.

“We’ve done some upgrades and improvements on the tracks and the crossings so we can move trains through the area a little faster,” Powell said. “We’re going to be getting them up to 20 miles per hour, which may not seem like much, but that’s almost twice as fast for the freight trains.”

Powell said it’s unlikely that area residents will notice the change, except if they get stopped at a railroad crossing.

“There have been times when we’ve run trains of 250 cars and that can take 15 minutes to get through a crossing,” he said. “That time will be cut, possibly in half.”

Buckingham Branch Railroad is a family-owned, short-line railroad that operates and maintains 275 miles of railroad track in Virginia. Amtrak passenger service and CSX Transportation freight trains rent tracks from the railroad.

Buckingham Branch also runs seven train crews and 18 locomotives and serves more than 40 freight customers, including the University of Virginia, Luck Stone and AmeriGas in Keswick.

The railroad began in 1988 when it acquired a 17-mile branch line between Bremo and Dillwyn from CSX.

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