Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southen’

Severe Weather Disrupts Intermodal Shipments

February 17, 2021

Extreme winter conditions across the country prompted Union Pacific to nearly halt its intermodal network.

UP told shippers it would no longer accept loads at most intermodal terminals starting at 8 a.m. local time on Tuesday morning. The suspension is expected to last for 72 hours.

An exception was made for international shipments to and from on-dock facilities at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, and westbound domestic interline shipments from Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, CSX and Norfolk Southern.

The service suspension, UP said, was necessary to maintain fluidity at its intermodal terminals.

 “Several areas of our operating territory have experienced widespread interstate and road closures as a result of this weekend’s winter storms,” UP said in the advisory sent to shippers.

The advisory said shippers should expect delays of a minimum of 72 hours.

BNSF also said it is experiencing delays due to the weather conditions but stopped short of suspending acceptance of new loads at its terminals.

In an advisory sent to its shippers, BNSF warned of “extended delays” although it didn’t say for how long.

PSR as Seen From a Large Intermodal Shipper’s View

September 10, 2019

J.B. Hunt is a major trucking company that also ships a lot of trailers and containers by rail.

So its management takes a special interest in developments involving railroad operating practices because Hunt’s financial well being is tied to that.

During a recent transportation conference, officials with the trucking company said its experience with railroads implementing the precision scheduled railroading operating model have been a “mixed bag.”

Darren Field, the company’s executive vice president for intermodal, described himself as a supporter of PSR so long as Hunt can continue to communicate well with the railroads implementing that plan.

“One of the biggest challenges for our customers over the past many years has been the inconsistent service, so if the implementation of PSR will mean a higher quality service, we’re certainly in support of it,” Field said.

He said Hunt, like the railroads implementing PSR, is always seeking to better manage its assets.

What Field hasn’t liked has been “a kind of brute force of PSR” that does not communicate well with customers.

He was referencing the implementation of PSR by CSX in 2017, something Field called a disaster.

Many railroad industry analysts have concluded that CSX tried to implement PSR too quickly and the upheaval in operating practices caused severe service quality deterioration.

“We were receiving phone calls [from customers] that said: ‘We’re cancelling a service tomorrow,’” Field said.

Since then service quality at CSX has improved. Field said that carrier and Norfolk Southern are now providing higher quality service than they did a year ago, but he is unsure if it is due to improved operations or because of lower traffic volumes.

“So far they’ve had better service, but I think they have to sustain better service during a market of tightening truckload capacity and we really haven’t experienced that so far,” Field said.

It also takes time for customers to adjust to changes in railroad operating practices brought about by PSR.

“PSR’s tricky. “It’s come on very fast and it does require all of us to plan and communicate better,” Field said.

In some cases, he said, the changes in how railroads are operating has meant that Hunt and its customers have had to change the way they operate.

“We’re all working to clear the terminals faster, we don’t want to have destination terminal dwell,” Field said. “We want to work within the railroads’ physical plant so that we can actually execute more business inside their same asset base.”

Coal Firm Served by NS, CSX Files for Bankruptcy

June 27, 2019

A Kentucky coal operator whose mines in the eastern region of the state are served by CSX and Norfolk Southern has filed for bankruptcy protection in what is viewed as a step toward the sale of the company.

Cambrian Holding Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. District Court in Lexington, Kentucky, and subsequently issued a statement saying that is “will explore a sale process under court supervision.”

The company is based in Belcher, Kentucky. The bankruptcy filing said Cambrian has nearly $21 million. S&P Global said Cambrian lists assets of $10 million and $50 million, and liabilities between $100 million and half a billion dollars.

Cambrian President Mark Campbell attributed the bankruptcy to falling coal prices and financial complications following its purchase of Teco Energy.

In a statement, Campbell said Cambrian’s mines will continue to operate.

DOJ Opposes CP Voting Trust Arrangement

April 9, 2016

A powerful opponent has lined up in opposition of Canadian Pacific’s plan to acquire Norfolk Southern.

The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that CP’s proposed voting trust would compromise the independence of NS before the STB could finish its review of the proposed merger.

STBCP has proposed placing itself into control of a voting trust during the merger review process.

CP CEO E. Hunter Harrison and select members of his CP management team would then take over the management of NS.

“Canadian Pacific’s voting trust proposal would compromise Norfolk Southern’s independence and effectively combine the two railroads prior to completion of the STB’s review,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “That makes no sense. We urge the STB to preserve its ability to review the impact of the proposal on competition and consumers before Canadian Pacific starts scrambling the eggs.”

The Justice Department said the two railroads would have an economic incentives to align their business strategies before the merger has been reviewed and that those arrangements would be difficult to undo if the STB rules against the merger.

“The STB should reject the proposed voting trust structure because it risks altering the competitive landscape between the two railroads and indeed the entire rail system in a way that could not be reversed if the STB rejects the merger,” the Justice Department said in a filing with the STB.

“In reality . . . CP hopes to use Mr. Harrison as its proxy to implement the changes it desires at NS,” the Justice Department filing said.

Earlier this year, CP asked the STB to review whether a hypothetical trust structure would pass legal muster.

The STB has not said when it will rule on that request, but it has set an April 13 deadline for the submission of statements by interested parties.

Typically, a voting trust is put in place at the company to be acquired not at the company making the acquisition.

A CP spokesman expressed disappointment with the position of the Justice Department.

“Voting trusts have long been recognized by the STB, regulators and the courts as an effective means of insulating the carriers from unlawful common control during regulatory review,” said CP spokesman Martin Cej. “We strongly believe Mr. Harrison would be completely independent and clear from any influence at CP if he were to assume the role of CEO at NS.”

CP Seems to be About the Only Party in Favor of its Proposed Stock Takeover of Norfolk Southern

January 9, 2016

The U.S. Surface Transportation board on Friday made available for public view the correspondence it has received regarding a proposed merger of Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern and no one seems to want it except CP.

At this point, the issue is moot for the STB because a formal merger plan has not been filed with the board. NS management has rejected as “grossly inadequate” CP’s proposal to buy NS stock and has also cited potential regulatory opposition.

In the correspondence that the STB received within the past month, no shipper group or public official expressed support for the merger.

Some of the concerns raised by NS were echoed in the correspondence. Some argued that CP’s plan to create a voting trust while the merger works its way through the regulatory review process is illegal.

There also was expressed a concern that CP’s emphasis on increasing profits might result in worker layoffs.

A CP spokesperson took issue with that, saying that CP work force reductions have come through attrition and not furloughs

“This is more evidence that NS leadership continues to mislead all stakeholders, including shippers, trade unions, and lawmakers, before they have even sat down with us to discuss the details of this transformational opportunity,” CP spokesman Martin Cej said.

“The record shows that any claim that CP boosts profits at the expense of its workforce is false,” Cej said. “CP has worked hard with union leadership to negotiate forward-looking, fair agreements in Canada and the U.S.

“And contrary to accusations that CP is a company that ‘cuts to the bone,’ CP spent approximately $1.5 billion, or 21 percent of revenue, on capital expenditures — by percentage of revenue, this represents more money invested in capex than any other Class I railroad.”

Among the other groups to file letters of concern or opposition with the STB were Subaru, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, the Indiana Manufacturers Association, the Palmetto AgriBusiness Council and the congressional delegations of Virginia and Illinois.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers — which represent all of the major automakers in the U.S. — said the merger “poses significant service and competitive concerns.”

The automaker trade groups said that additional consolidation in the railroad industry would result in increased rates and reduced service options while threatening competition.

Out of the Ordinary Tale of an Ordinary NS Train

October 4, 2015

Young guy-x

I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of the city park that hugs the north side of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Olmsted Falls. It was early on a nice, but cool Sunday afternoon.

I had my scanner on and my camera sat in my open camera bag on the seat next to me. But photographing trains wasn’t my primary reason for being there.

I had a three Sunday newspapers with me that I intended to read them between trains.

As far as I knew, nothing out of the ordinary was likely to come by. No NS heritage locomotives were within a couple hundred miles.

An eastbound NS train had tripped the detector near milepost 199 so I knew that something was coming. Just before it arrived, a newer model blue car came rushing into the parking lot.

At first I thought it was a vehicle turning around because the driver made a U-turn and was headed back toward North Depot Street.

But the vehicle stopped and a young man got out. A split rail fence surrounds the parking lot on three sides and although he was 6 feet or less away from the edge of the fence, he climbed up and over it and headed toward the railroad tracks.

At that point, I concluded that he must be a railfan who knew something about the approaching train that I didn’t know. In fact, I assumed that he knew there was something special about this train.

The fact that he raced into the parking lot and hurried to get trackside was the first piece of evidence.

But his age was another clue. Many of the young railfans I know – meaning age 25 or younger – have an intelligence network that I often envy.

If there is a something out of the ordinary moving on any railroad, they’ll know about it because they are constantly texting each other with that information.

I could see that this young man had a smart phone in his hand. For a young railfan, a smart phone is a more valuable railfanning tool than a scanner and almost as valued as a camera.

The young man sat in the grass, looked at his phone and then photographed the train with his phone as it approached.

By now I had grabbed my camera and walked up to the fence in anticipation of something out of the ordinary.

But what passed by was an everyday auto rack train with two run-of-the-mill NS wide cab locomotives.

The young man didn’t even stay to watch the entire train. After shooting the head end, he got back in his car and left.

Maybe he wasn’t a railfan at all. Maybe he had been crossing the NS tracks at Brookside Drive, seen the headlight in the distance and on a whim decided to photograph the train.

But even if that were the case he likely would have to have some interest in railroad operations to stop and make an image.

I’ll never know. But I got a moment of enjoyment out of what otherwise was just another train.

The story wasn’t the train; it was the young man who made a brief stop to catch a train and was gone as fast as he had come.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

NS Donates $1.5M to 611 Restoration Fund

November 23, 2013

With a $1.5 million donation from Norfolk Southern on its way, the restoration of Norfolk & Western class J steam locomotive No. 611 is close to being assured.

However, Trains magazine reported on Friday that the 611 will remain at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Va., until the remainder of the funding has been raised.

NS announced at 6:11 a.m. on Friday that it has sold a well-known abstract expressionist painting and will donate the proceeds to the fund for restoration and long-term maintenance of the locomotive.

NS Chairman and CEO Wick Moorman said in a news release that the railroad sold its untitled 1959 Mark Rothko painting through an auction in New York City on Nov. 14 for $1.5 million.

“No. 611 is an American classic, a reflection of a time and a people who put the country on their backs and carried it into to the modern age of railroading,” Moorman said. “611 is not an NS, N&W, Virginia, or Roanoke locomotive. It belongs to everyone and every generation. In that spirit, and on behalf of NS employees everywhere, I announce our strong support for bringing back a true national marvel.”

NS President Jim Squires said that “with railroads as the backbone of the country’s transportation system – today as during 611’s time – we all can look forward to the brightest days of America’s future. No. 611 represents not just past glory but infinite possibilities for the future.”

Bev Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the Virginia museum, hailed the NS donation.

“People from 15 countries have contributed their time and resources to bring back the ‘Queen of Steam,’” Fitzpatrick said in a news release. “NS’ generous and timely support gives us the best opportunity to reach the $5 million needed to put this icon back on the rails and keep her moving for decades.”

Fitzpatrick said the Fireup 611! Fund now has about $2.1 million. It needs $3.5 million. “So we are now over halfway there. This is the most significant cash gift that the Virginia Museum of Transportation has ever received,” he said.

The $3.5 million figure is enough to pay for restoration and construction of a shop to be used to maintain the locomotive. The museum wants to raise a total of $5 million to be used to create an endowment and pay other related expenses.

Plans are for the 611 to be moved to Spencer, N.C., so restoration work can be performed at the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

“We feel comfortable if we can get to $3.5 million we can move 611 to Spencer” [for restoration]. So we are more than halfway to our goal, and the end is in sight.” Fitzpatrick said

Fitzpartick said the museum would like to have the 611 running sometime in 2014.

He expects that the NS gift will prompt other donors to chip in funds to the Fireup 611! fund, saying that the museum has made many requests for funding from several sources that have yet to come in.

“Our hope is that with the incredible support of Norfolk Southern, that folks will understand that we have momentum, that we are over halfway there, and the engine could be running next year if they help,” Fitzpatrick said.

Previously, the had raised $500,000 through individual donations. Thus museum fell short of its original goal of raising enough money by Oct. 31 to allow the engine to be make its first trip in spring 2014.

The museum now hopes to reach the $3.5 million objective by Dec. 31, which would allow the engine to be running by fall 2014.

“If we can garner the amount of support we need by the end of the calendar year, we would be very close to enabling that to happen,” Fitzpatrick says, adding that the Dec. 31 date is not a “drop dead” mark where “we are going to do it or not going to do it. But it does mean we can have it running in 2014. Our hope is to have it [the funding] to bed by Dec. 31 if people want it to run next year.”

No. 611 was built by N&W’s Roanoke shops in 1950. With its sister Class A and Y6 locomotives, it made up the “Magnificent Three” that pulled passenger and freight trains through the late 1950s.

Retired in 1959, the 611 was restored in 1982 and spent more than a decade in excursion service. It was retired again in 1994 and put on display at the Virginia Museum.
The Rothko painting that NS sold was created in 1959. Rothko (1903-1970) was a Latvian émigré who resisted having his works labeled. But art critics said he wanted people to have spiritual experiences when viewing them.

The Rothko painting that NS sold was an “oil on paper laid down on canvas” image measuring 29.5-by-21.5 inches and featuring amorphous forms that float on top of each other, “. . . wonderfully capable of moving the viewer to extreme states of feeling…” according to Sotheby’s, the auction house.

NS bought the painting in 1996. It was part of the railroad’s collection of public area visual art and historical artifacts that include train models, tools, clocks, safety and service awards, and maps. Some pieces – including the Rothko – have been loaned to museums in the U.S. and abroad for exhibitions.