FORT LEE, Va. (Oct. 31, 2011) -- The first components of a passenger train that will transport sustainment warriors to Fort A.P. Hill arrived here Wednesday.

Four 138-passenger-capacity railcars are part of a passenger train system that will carry mostly advanced individual training Soldiers and cadre to the north-central Virginia post for mandatory field training. Six additional cars and three locomotives are scheduled for delivery early next month.

The train will be Army's first since the Berlin train was deactivated 25 years ago.

Thurman Brayboy, train operations principal planner, Transportation Corps, said the delivery signals the near-end to a two-year process to change the mode of transport for students currently being bused to the field sites.

"The bottom line is safety," he said, noting why the change was made. "This is a safer mode of transportation than putting numerous buses on the road at one time."

Currently, 13 buses transport 700-1,200 students weekly to Fort A.P. Hill for an end-of-cycle event called the Sustainment Warrior Field Training Exercise. Interstate 95 is part of the 63-mile travel route to the Caroline County installation. It is frequented hourly by thousands of tourists, regional commuters and commercial transporters headed to the nation's capital and other population centers along the East Coast.

Brayboy said the next step in making the Army-owned, contractor-run train operational will be to configure the vehicle components and clear a number of administrative issues.

"Then we will conduct a few trial runs before it actually starts to transport troops," he said.
Without any delays, said Brayboy, the passenger train should be operational in January.

Fort Lee began transporting students to Fort A.P. Hill two years ago when the Logistics Warrior field training site was razed to make way for the Ordnance Campus, a consolidation of two schools that were relocated to Fort Lee as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure mandate.