NUCLEAR FUEL TRAIN ESCORT CABOOSE
The North Carolina Railway Museum is now home to two historic nuclear fuel train escort cabooses once used by Carolina Power & Light Company (now Duke Energy) to move spent nuclear fuel between nuclear power plants in the Carolinas. Both cabooses were donated to the NCRM by Duke Energy. After moving them to the NCRM as part of our “Save the Ten” in May 2022, the two cabooses were meticulously restored by our volunteers.
The first of these two cabooses is now available to ride on New Hope Valley Railway train rides. Caboose #302 (formerly CPRX 10002) is a rolling museum that tells the history of the nuclear fuel trains and their crews with many displays and pictures that can be seen during the ride.
A ride in #302 is offered as a private experience for a group limited to 6-8 people (note: two seats require climbing up into the cupola area). Children under age two that can ride in an adult’s lap can also be accommodated at no extra charge. Rides in caboose #302 are being offered as a fundraiser to help pay for continued restoration and preservation of our two fuel train cabooses. Tickets to ride caboose #302 may be purchased on our Buy Tickets Calendar Link. If not listed for a date/time you select it is already sold. Try another date/time. Be careful when trying to book caboose #302 to not incorrectly book either caboose #308 “The Family Caboose”, or the stationary “Party Caboose”.
See the link to the Simulated Fuel Train Video.
History of the Fuel Train Cabooses
In May 2022, the NCRM successfully moved 10 railroad cars over public roads from the Harris Nuclear Power Plant to our rail yard. Two of these railroad cars are cabooses that were used as escort vehicles to accompany trains carrying spent nuclear fuel between Duke Energy predecessors Carolina Power & Light Co. and Progress Energy nuclear power plants in the Carolinas. These trains ran between 1989 to 2008 safely moving spent nuclear fuel without incident. Aside from utility and railroad personnel that would ride in these cabooses, there were also NC State Highway Patrol personnel providing security. Given their unique escort duties, these cabooses received many modifications not normally seen in typical railroad cabooses. Diesel generators, upgraded electrical systems to support utility and NC SHP radio equipment, air conditioning, and other creature comforts for the crews. There are also gun mounts installed for the rifles carried by the NC SHP personnel.
Over the past year these two escort cabooses have been meticulously cleaned, and repainted. The many, many items left behind by the last crews have been curated for display. And yes, the “historic” Fig Newtons left behind in one of the cabooses by its last crew are on display, too. A collection of historic photos, maps, and diagrams have also been installed to tell the history of the nuclear fuel trains.
To inaugurate the escort cabooses into operation on the NCRM’s New Hope Valley Railway, a special event was organized on May 20, 2023 for 11 remaining nuclear fuel train veterans, their families and guests plus a number of NC State government dignitaries. All were able to ride a “simulated” fuel train with both cabooses and other fuel train rail cars plus our regular excursion train to allow a run by of both trains at our north end.