My wife and I noticed a "work train" on the NS tracks, by the river, Sunday a.m., as we were headed to church. On the way back, we drove down to the tracks to take a closer look. There, parked on a little used siding, was a long string of weird looking locos, that didn't look a whole lot like locos. The were the make-up of track-grinding units. As I was trying to figure out what was going on, my wife struck up conversation with some of the guys working with the equipment. (The fact that she is very beautiful, helps.) They told her that they were replacing some of the motors that operate the grinder, and these motors have to be replaced every two weeks. The motors are then repaired and readied to be put back in service the next cycle. For every twelve hours spent on track grinding, twelve hours must be spent on equipment maintenance. They usually average 30 miles per day, but sometimes can go 150 miles per day, depending on the condition of the track. These grinding locos are huge, probably heavier than the regular locos. While in that location, I noticed that NS had put new ballast around the tracks. It isn't the type of ballast that I am used to seeing. It is a very coarse ballast which is much coarser than gravel. This stuff is all Granite, and about two inches in diameter. With the new coal hoppers being built out of aluminum, and capable of hauling several more tons of coal per unit, I suppose the coarser ballast is necessary. NS has been spending a great deal of money on track maintenance, just since we moved here 6 years ago. If anyone would like some photos, I'll be glad to post them. Or I will e-mail them to you, if you send me your address. Thanks, sgtcarl NS: Norfolk Southern Here: Southwestern Virginia, Appalachian Region.