The Valley Division of the New York Central System serves the upstate New York region originally handled by the Catskill Valley Railroad until 1849. The NYC's heavily-used four-track Water Level Route ("You can sleep!") mainline along the Mohawk River frequently experiences washouts or landslides from heavy rainstorms. No alternate routing exists. The Valley Division of the NYC, somewhat "off the beaten track" from the primary mainline between New York City and Buffalo, remains an important back-up route for cross-state passenger and freight traffic. Local customers on the Valley Division include extensive dairy farming and creamery operations, logging and sawmill industries, petroleum refining, coal extraction, a steel mill and numerous smaller supporting companies. The NYC Valley Division provides transfer of freight between many local industries with interchanges at Albany and Utica. It also has extensive local passenger service to the many hamlets of the Catskill mountains and valleys.
The railroad maintains a major presence in the town of Montclaire with an active passenger station, a freight station, a small classification yard and engine servicing facilities including a roundhouse, turntable and diesel shops. NYC's Valley Division has a friendly cooperative relationship with the WSLCo. which is headquartered on the west side of the Catskill Mountains. Running rights for the WSLCo. on Valley Division trackage have been negotiated (for a fee, naturally) and the Montclaire shops are available to repair WSLCo. locomotives when needed. Nowhere else in America can Shays Climaxes and Heislers be observed running next to the mighty 20th Century Limited on an adjacent track.
Recognizing the importance of maintaining this back-up route during World War II, railroad management upgraded the physical plant to a two-track mainline throughout the region with CTC-like signaling in both directions on both tracks. The heavily-ballasted and well-maintained right of way permits track speeds comparable to the primary Mohawk Valley four-track mainline. Dedicated dispatchers of the Valley Division do their best to minimize delays to both passenger and freight traffic re-routed into their service territory.
Thanks to Chuck Hakkarinen for this creatively written concept.