NS Wants to Buy Cincinnati-Chattanooga Line

Norfolk Southern wants to buy the tracks it now leases from the City of Cincinnati between the Queen City and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The railroad pays $26 million annually for the 336-mile route popularly known for its Rat Hole Division south of Danville, Kentucky, due to its numerous tunnels.

NS has offered the city $1.6 billion for the line. The proposal will be discussed during a meeting to be held Nov. 21 at Cincinnati Union Terminal.

The lease on the line runs through Dec. 31, 2026, with NS having an option to extend it for another 25 years.

The prospect of the city selling the line to NS, which is formally known as the Cincinnati Southern Railway, has been subject to discussions for several years.

A news report indicated that under the latest sale proposal, the annual payments NS makes to the city would more than double, to about $56 million.

Any sale of the line would need to be approved by voters and the Ohio General Assembly.

The route is the only municipally owned interstate railroad. It opened in 1869 and has been leased since 1881 to a subsidiary company of the Southern Railway known as the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific.

The City of Cincinnati uses the lease payments it receives from NS to help pay for infrastructure projects.

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