the Virginian Railroad took a different route east of Roanoke than the Norfolk and Western
Source: Library of Congress, Railway mail map of Virginia (by Earl P. Hopkins, 1910) The Virginian Railway was built as a coal-hauling line from West Virginia to Sewell Point at Norfolk. Two coal piers there loaded coal onto ships for export. The first pier was completed in 1909, and the second in 1925.
The Virginian was designed to compete with the Norfolk and Western Railroad, not to share traffic. The two railroad lines crossed only twice, at Glen Lyn on the New River in Giles County and in South Norfolk.
After the Norfolk and Western acquired the Virginian in 1959, coal was loaded onto ships at the Lambert's Point piers of the Norfolk and Western Railroad. The US Navy purchased the Virginian's railyard with the Sewell Point piers in 1966, and Naval Station Norfolk expanded into that area.1
the Virginian Railroad was a single-purpose line, with a route designed to carry coal (not passengers or other freight) from West Virginia to Norfolk
Source: Boston Public Library, Map of the Virginian Railway
1. Virginian Railway - First Subdivision (Norfolk Division), Rails in Virginia, http://www.railsinvirginia.com/abandoned/virginian/norfolk_division.html (last checked December 3, 2018)