Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

NS Net Profit Up 23% in 2nd Quarter

July 27, 2017

Norfolk Southern said this week that its second quarter 2017 net profit was up 23 percent and revenue had risen by 7 percent to $2.6 billion.

The railroad said traffic and revenue growth combined with productivity gains enabled it to achieve a record operating ratio of 66.3 percent. That compared with 68.6 percent during the same period in 2016.

Citing gains in coal and intermodal traffic, NS said it posted a 6 percent increase in volume. Income from operations was up 15 percent, to $888 million.

Intermodal traffic increased by 6 percent overall during the quarter with domestic business up 6 percent due to highway conversions and new service offerings.

International intermodal business rose 5 percent due partly to a 13 percent increase in volume from East Coast ports.

The company said it continues to see international volume shift from West Coast ports to the East Coast as a result of the expanded Panama Canal.

Coal traffic was up 27 percent with utility and export metallurgical coal both posting increases in traffic. Some of the traffic came from a 23 percent rise due to lower utility stockpiles and higher natural gas prices.

Export coal volume skyrocketed by 78 percent due to constrained Australian supply and increased steel making in China.

Merchandise traffic was flat with metals and construction the only categories seeing increases. There were declines in chemicals, automotive, agriculture, paper, clay and forest traffic.

NS reported earnings per share of $1.71, which beat the forecast of Wall Street analysts of $1.65 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“Norfolk Southern’s strong financial results and all-time record operating ratio reflect the power of our team, successful execution of our dynamic plan, and focus on operating even more efficiently while providing high quality service to customers,” CEO Jim Squires during an earnings call.

NS Chief Marketing Officer Alan Shaw said the railroad has seen some traffic come its way from CSX, but it is a small amount. Trucks remain the chief competitor of NS, Shaw said.

Some key operating metrics suffered during the quarter due in part to flooding near the Cincinnati terminal and on its line linking Louisville, Kentucky.  There was also flooding near Kansas City and operating issues related to fires in northern Florida.

Average train speed decreased, while terminal dwell grew. “We’ve turned the corner on that,” Squires said. Train speed has increased 10 percent and terminal dwell bounced back to previous levels.

NS expects to achieve $100 million in productivity gains in 2017. It has retired 100 locomotives and cut the work force by 10 percent compared with 2015.

Chief Operating Officer Mike Wheeler said NS set quarterly marks for locomotive productivity, fuel efficiency, and train length,

In looking toward the rest of 2017, NS management expects continued growth in intermodal and coal traffic while merchandise traffic is likely to decline slightly due in part to slowing auto production and assembly plant downtime.
NS plans to increase its share buyback program by 25 percent to $1 billion for the year.

Plenty of Action on NS Sandusky District on Longest Day

July 25, 2017

While Marty was out on Sunday morning chasing trains on the Sandusky District, Norfolk Southern ran a steady stream of trains through the mini plant back in Bellevue. Shown is a manifest freight going to the Sandusky District with helpers on the rear. Reportedly, this train will separate into two sections further down the road.

The 2017 ARRC longest day outing took us to the Norfolk Southern capital of Ohio, Bellevue.

My day began about 10 minutes late at 7:10 a.m. I had hoped to be on the road by 7, but not to worry, Bellevue is less than an hour if I use the Ohio Turnpike.

I got to Bellevue just minutes before 8 a.m. I made a pit stop at McDonald’s on the way into town, passing the Kemper Railfan Pavilion at 8:05 a.m. No one else had arrived yet.

Train 12V was heading south on the Sandusky District, so I gave chase.

The first spot I got it was at Frank, which is the second wide spot in the road south of Bellevue. Flat Rock is the first.

It was easy to get ahead this morning as there was no traffic to speak of and the 12V was not going at any breakneck speed.

I was heading for the northerly road crossing at Caroline. This is south of Attica. I saw a shot on Railpictures.net of a morning southbound from this crossing.

It features the train in the dip crossing Honey Creek with the Attica water tower and grain elevator in the distance.

The 12V got hung up waiting to cross CSX at Attica Junction for a few minutes, so I had plenty of time to set up my shot. Alas, 300 mm of telephoto doesn’t quite make the shot; I needed more. I shot the 12V here anyway, just to record the scene.

NS had plenty more action in the works for this morning. The 188 was on the heels of 12V, a 51V grain train and the two hot eastbound van trains, 234 and 218, were coming south.

And if that’s not enough, I got 217 and a 604 coal train going north. A seven train morning in great light on a line with multiple good photo opportunities, what more could you want? I know, eight trains.

By 11:15 a.m. the last of the seven trains was heading off to it destination and I hadn’t been back to Bellevue to see if anyone else had shown up.

I rolled into town about 11:30 to find about a dozen ARRC people gathered in the parking lot across from Wheeling Tower.

The light was still on this side of the tracks for photography. Craig’s car was there but he wasn’t. I found out a few minutes later that he and Todd Vander Sluis had walked down the street looking for the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

As noon approached, lunch sounded like a good idea. So we were off to Subway for its foot-long sub of the day, a meatball sub. As I told the gal making my sandwich, “We are what we eat.”

Alas, I was only able to eat half of the sandwich. I had placed part of it on my Jeep Patriot, but the wind blew it off and onto the ground.

Traffic past the ARRC assembled faithful in Bellevue had been steady all day so far. The longest lull was just 15 minutes, plus they got the W&LE going into the yard.

The afternoon began much like the morning ended, busy.

Another coal train came north off the Sandusky District. Two trains came in off the Toledo District. A nauto rack train came off the Toledo District and headed out on the Fostoria District. Its destination was the Mixing Center just outside Fostoria.

The L11 bound for Blair Yard in Fostoria went past behind two SD 40s.

Craig and Todd wanted to spend some time south on the Sandusky District in the afternoon. I told them to be patient and we’d pick out the right train at the right time.

About 1:30 p.m. a 194 went south. It was a little too early for this one; the sun was still too high. We’ll wait for 175 in about another 45 minutes to an hour.

Besides we might see the 194 again. CSX was doing track work on its No. 2 main around Attica Junction and the 194 might get delayed there.

The 175 left about 2:30 p.m. and Craig, Todd and I were in hot pursuit. Our first shot was at Schriver, although the corn was getting a little high. In another week this shot won’t be doable.

We went Omar for the 175, shooting it framed between two barn-like structures on the farm near the Ohio Route 162 crossing.

We continued south to find the 194 cooling its heels at West Attica. CSX had the diamonds and wasn’t giving them back. The 194 was delayed an hour and 25 minutes waiting to get across Attica Junction.

The 194 finally was let loose and  we headed toward the old reservoir at Attica. Normally the calm water makes for a nice reflection, but it was so windy today that there were white caps on the water.

We heard a northbound train as we were going to shoot the 194. It was train 25G, a one-unit wonder and a very short stack train.

The CSX dispatcher let the 25G across, because it was short, but the 175 with its almost 9,000 feet of train would have to wait.

We went north of Omar for the 25G, shooting the train while watching one of the locals cutting his grass on a riding mower.

Paul Woodring OSed to me another southbound, a potash train with symbol 60U. We shot the 175 again at the old reservoir and waited there for the 60U.

It was time to head back to Bellevue, where we arrived about 6 p.m. In our absence the rest of the gang that had stayed there had seen one of the NS green “echo” units come by, albeit trailing, off the Fostoria District.

We decided that 7 p.m. would be our curfew. Dinner would be at the Bob Evans on the north side of Norwalk.

NS had two trains for us in the 6 o’clock hour, the last being the 12Q. It passed just minutes before 7 p.m.

When it passed, we wrapped things up and headed for dinner. It had been a fantastic day in one the busiest places for NS action around. We did not see any heritage units, but if we had stayed until after dark, we would have seen the Interstate H unit pass through.

That is the only H Unit I have not SEEN. Hopefully that changes sometime soon.

Article by Marty Surdyk

NS to Auction Locomotives, Passenger Cars

July 25, 2017

More Norfolk Southern locomotives are about to go on the auction block.

The railroad plans to sell more than 70 EMD GP38-2 high-hood locomotives and five passenger cars on Aug. 17 in Roanoke, Virginia.

The lot includes former Southern Railway 2,000 horsepower high-hood locomotives in the 5000 and 5100 series that are in mothballs.

The units worked largely in local switching service on the Pocahontas, Piedmont, Georgia and Alabama divisions and are said to be unique due to their Southern-affiliated sub-lettering.

This includes initials for the Central of Georgia, Alabama Great Southern Railroad, Georgia Southern & Florida Railway, Carolina & Northwestern Railway, and Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway railroads.

Also being auctioned are two ex-Southern EMD MP15Es (2393 and 2416) and Railpower RP20CD genset 3830.

NS passenger cars being offered for sale include five Tuscan red cars once used in steam excursion service: Nos. 43, 44, 45, 46, and 47.

These cars were once used in commuter train service in Pittsburgh and by the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Shoreline East service before going to NS.

The auction, being conducted by Blackmon Auctions, also will include extra passenger car seats, and such locomotive parts such as injectors, radiators, filter kits and other items.

Oddball Sightings on NS in Cleveland on Friday

July 22, 2017

On Friday afternoon Norfolk Southern train 17N came through Cleveland.

What made it special was an ex-Conrail E33 electric engine, No. 4601. Originally built for the Virginian Railway, it was on its way to the Illinois Railroad museum.

I also got the L13, which runs between Bellevue and Rockport and return. The past few weeks it has had a pair of former Burlington Northern SD60M engines.

These are somewhat oddballs on the NS diesel roster the past few years. Along with new locomotive purchases NS also has bought several hundred used locomotives.

Called tryclops by railfans because they have an unusual third window and also nose headlights where the NS standard is above the cab, another bonus is they are consecutively not numbered 6807 and 6808.

The 17N was at Sheldon Rd and the L13 was across from Hopkins airport.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

NS to Close Central Division HQ in Knoxville

July 20, 2017

Norfolk Southern said this week that it will parcel out the Central Division headquarters operations in Knoxville, Tennessee, into three surrounding divisions.

The changes, expected to take effect on or about Nov. 1, will reduce the number of operating divisions from 10 to nine.

In a news release, NS said that dispatching responsibilities now handled from the Central Division, which includes track primarily in Tennessee and Kentucky, will be divided among operating divisions headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama; Decatur, Illinois; and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Affected will be 50 employees who work at the Central Division headquarters in management, dispatching, and clerical positions.

NS said dispatchers will have the opportunity to transfer to one of the other three divisions or apply for vacancies across the system. Administrative and clerical employees will be offered opportunities to apply for vacant positions elsewhere.

Current yard and field operations on the Central Division will not be affected by the changes but will be reassigned among the other three divisions.

After the operating changes are made, NS will employ more than 250 in Knoxville.

What Has Roger Seen Lately? Take a Look

July 18, 2017

Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee has been catching up on showing some of his more recent photographs.

He writes that this gallery is nothing too special, just some stuff from around work and nearby locations that he has captured.

The top image was made on one of the rails in the yard. Conrail’s welded rail plant was Lucknow in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

A splash of Kansas City Southern color on train 22K passed the Brookpark yard office when Roger was nearby.

Then there are these two views of LMIX 132, a car billed to Amtrak. Note the gas grill on the one end of the platform.

The Savannah & Atlanta heritage unit on was NS train 310 passing through Sheffield Lake. “[I] did the best I could with the higher summer sun,” Roger wrote.

You never know what you might find, including a restored Lake Shore Electric car in Avon.

Finally, here is the “Blue Mane” DC to AC conversion No. 4004 at Rockport.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Appeals Court Strikes Down STB On-Time Standards

July 18, 2017

Another federal court has struck a blow to the efforts of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to establish on-time standards for Amtrak trains.

The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the STB standards to be unconstitutional, saying that the STB had “exceeded its authority” in creating the standards.

The appeals court ruling came in the wake of a similar U.S. Supreme Court decision that development of on-time metrics by the Federal Railroad Administration and Amtrak as directed by Section 207 of 2008’s Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act was unconstitutional.

In the Eighth Circuit ruling, Chief Judge Lavenski R. Smith acknowledged that the absence of on-time standards would make it impossible for the STB to investigate or adjudicate disputes brought by Amtrak against its host railroads in the event that punctuality fell below 80 percent for two consecutive quarters.

However, the court in essence decided that the STB’s inability to measure on-time performance is not a problem for the judiciary to solve.

There are two cases pending before the STB in which Amtrak alleges that host railroads needlessly delayed Amtrak trains.

One case involves the handling by Canadian National of the Saluki and Illini between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois, while the other regards Norfolk Southern’s handling of the Capitol Limited west of Pittsburgh.

In both cases, Amtrak contends that dispatching decisions made by the host railroads are delaying its trains.

The STB had contended that it had the legal right to establish on-time standards “by virtue of its authority to adjudicate complaints brought by Amtrak. Any other result would gut the remedial scheme, a result Congress clearly did not intend.”

Supporting the STB’s position were 13 intervenors, including the National Association of Railroad Passengers and its state affiliates, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Challenging the on-time standards were Union Pacific, CSX, CN and the Association of American Railroads.

They argued that the “gap-filling rationale does not allow one agency to assume the authority expressly delegated to another.”

The court found that the only place in federal law where the 80 percent standard was spelled out was in section 207, which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional because Amtrak had a hand in developing it.

Although the court let stand Congress’ setting a statutory right of passenger train “priority” over freight trains, the practical effect of the court decision is that Amtrak has no way to challenge a host railroad’s systematic denial of that right.

Instead, the only motivation for railroads to keep Amtrak trains on time are the proprietary and confidential incentive contracts Amtrak has been able to negotiate with its host railroads pertaining to on-time handling.

The only action Amtrak can take against a host railroad would be to refuse to make incentive payments due to non-performance under the terms of its operating contract with a host railroad.

The court rulings do suggest that Congress could give the FRA a mandate to establish on-time standards provided that Amtrak was not a participant in the writing of those standards.

Erie Heritage Unit Leads 22K

July 16, 2017

I saw on Saturday morning that Erie 1068 was on 22K. I had things to do and got home about 2 p.m. and, luckily,  it wasn’t by yet. I got it at 3:20 p.m. at the Painesville trestle. Each week it will be a different view with all the construction of the new bridge underway.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Amtrak Running Super Late Again

July 15, 2017

The past two Sundays have seen some extraordinary late running for Amtrak trains serving Northeast Ohio.

Now we can add today (Saturday, July 15) to that list. As this is written around 6: 30 a.m., the westbound Capitol Limited is still not in Pittsburgh. Amtrak’s website estimates it will arrive in Cleveland at 9:34 a.m., which is 6 hours and 41 minutes late.

An online report said the train left Washington late due to malfunctioning air conditioning in two cars.

Amtrak also reports that the westbound Cardinal is running 6 hours, 15 minutes late today.

The reasons for the last running the past two weekends have varied.

On July 2, flooding in New York State and Norfolk Southern track work in Ohio combined to force the westbound Lake Shore Limited to run more than five hours late and take a detour via Bellevue that added even more lateness as well as rare mileage for the train’s passengers.

On July 9 the westbound Capitol Limited suffered a locomotive failure in Pennsylvania that forced it to rely on freight units from its host railroads.

No. 29 became an afternoon train in Ohio rather than a middle of the night one.

Will this Sunday bring another catastrophic bout of late running? Probably not, but for those who missed the daylight westbound Capitol Limited, here is a look back at it passing through Elyria.

Looks like the AC might have failed on the NS unit given that it has an open nose door. On the rear was a string of private passenger cars.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Cleveland Commercial to Upgrade Crossing

July 14, 2017

The Cleveland Commercial Railroad will improve a grade crossing in Cleveland following action of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

PUCO approved the project, which involves upgrading the grade crossing signals at East 116th Street.

The work must be completed by April 12, 2018, and will be funded in part by the federal government.

PUCO also directed Norfolk Southern to relocate existing warning devices at the Wilkins Road/County Road 108 crossing in Lucas County to accommodate a track expansion project.  The work must be completed by Oct. 12.