A post I never expected to write . . .

but I’m delighted to have the opportunity to do so.

According to this Norfolk Southern press release, Southern Railway steam will be out on the main line again soon:

Norfolk Southern Corporation is in negotiations with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum with regard to the operation of a limited schedule of steam locomotive event appearances and passenger excursions beginning later this year.

No, you’re not mistaken. I just linked to a Norfolk Southern Corporation press release – a real one – announcing “steam locomotive appearances and passenger excursions.” (Note that it does NOT specifically announce excursions powered by steam locomotives – this could very easily mean steam locomotives on display and diesel-powered excursions.)

“This is the right time for steam to ride the Norfolk Southern rails,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “We have a fascinating history, and we have a compelling message about how today’s railroads support jobs, competition, and the economy. It is a forward-looking message that resonates with people everywhere.”

Sounds very much like Graham Claytor in 1966.

21st Century Steam’s initial appearances and runs tentatively could take place in the Chattanooga area this fall, with locomotives 610 and 630. No. 4501 could join the program sometime in 2011, after rehabilitation. Exhibit dates, ticketing, and other details will be announced later.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy a lottery ticket.

(Via Trains NewsWire.)