Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

Evacuation Order Remains at NS Derailment Site

February 5, 2023

Residents of East Palestine on Saturday night remained under evacuation and shelter-in-place orders as work continued to extinguish a massive fire triggered by a Norfolk Southern derailment Friday night.

During a Saturday news conference, National Transportation Safety Board member Michael Graham said officials could not estimate when the fire would be contained.

He said NTSB has the image and data recorders from the locomotives of NS Train 32N, which was en route to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh with 150 cars when the derailment occurred.

Graham said that 50 of the train’s cars derailed.

Officials are still seeking a cause for the derailment and said it might take four to six weeks before the safety agency has a preliminary report.

Graham said one freight car released vinyl chloride through a safety release valve.

However, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials said they have not detected any harmful levels of the chemical at the derailment site or in the air surrounding it.

The National Cancer Institute describes vinyl chloride as a colorless flammable gas that is associated with a higher risk of some forms of cancer.

“Ohio EPA will remain on site and air monitors will remain in place as long as necessary,” Ohio EPA spokesperson James Lee said in a statement.

The statement also said Ohio EPA officials are working with local officials and NS personnel to “identify the nature and extent” of any possible contamination and will work to ensure cleanup efforts to protect human health and the environment.”

City officials cautioned that although drinking water is safe to consume, it may be discolored because of the amount of water being used to fight the fire.

The train involved in the derailment had more than 100 cars and derailed at 8:55 p.m. Friday on the Fort Wayne Line about 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. East Palestine, located on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, has a population of 4,700.

The train had originated in Madison, Illinois, near St. Louis and traveled via Decatur, Illinois; Lafayette, Indiana, and Cleveland.

Officials said 20 cars contained hazardous material and 10 of those cars derailed. Five of the derailed cars carried vinyl chloride.

“We have not confirmed vinyl chloride has been released other than from the pressure release devices,” the Ohio EPA said.

East Palestine residents displaced by the derailment and fire are being accommodated at two evacuation stations. About 2,000 people were affected by the evacuation order.

One news report said NS was not allowing firefighters into the area because of safety concerns resulting from a lack of knowledge over which cars may be involved in the fire.

NS Derailment Leads to Fire, Evacuations in East Palestine

February 4, 2023

Some residents of East Palestine, Ohio, were evacuated Friday night after a Norfolk Southern train derailed and caused a massive fire.

News reports indicated that the 32N derailed around 9 p.m. near the James Street crossing in the community of 4,700 on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border in Columbiana County.

A report on Facebook said the NS train crew was uninjured. The report said the crew uncoupled the locomotives from the train’s consist and moved them to safety.

Youngstown TV station WFMJ reported that the smoke was so thick that it showed up on the station’s weather radar.

East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway said anyone within a mile of the James Street crossing needed to evacuate immediately. Others were directed to stay at home and stay off the roads while the fire is cleared.

The evacuation zone was reported to be the area East of Market St from Highland Avenue to Jimtown Road.

One report indicated that 30 fire departments from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia sent personnel and equipment to the scene to battle the blaze.

The train originated in Madison, Illinois, near St. Louis and was en route to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

East Palestine is located about 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh on the NS Fort Wayne Line.

NS was reported to be rerouting some trains via its Youngstown Line and the Cleveland Line via Bayard.

In a statement, NS said it was aware of the derailment and was “coordinating closely with local first responders while mobilizing our own teams. We will share more details as they become available.”

Amtrak said on Twitter that the eastbound Capitol Limited that departed Chicago on Friday terminated in Toledo. Passengers bound for Sandusky, Elyria and Cleveland were able to continue their journey aboard the eastbound Lake Shore Limited. The equipment turned at Toledo and returned to Chicago.

Likewise, Train 29 that departed Washington on Friday afternoon terminated at Pittsburgh and then returned passengers to Washington.

East Palestine officials opened two evacuation stations to accommodate displaced residents and the Red Cross was providing assistance. Some of the evacuees were taken by school bus to the gymnasium of a local school.

Another evacuation center was set up at the New Waterford Community Center.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was monitoring air quality near the derailment site.

An online report said some derailed freight cars landed on the property of the Leake Oil Company and struck storage tanks. Another report said the train severed a gas line.

The report said 50-70 cars were reported to be on fire with some cars carrying vinyl chlorine, a hazardous substance.

The crew of a westbound NS train the vicinity was able to stop its train and backup to safety after being informed of the derailment via radio.

Working off the NS in Canton

February 2, 2023

WE SD40-2 No. 6350 has entered the eastbound Norfolk Southern main in the NS yard in Canton on April 13, 2012. The crew will bring the train east and then back up into the NS yard to interchange cars. The 6350 was built for Canadian Pacific and later rebuilt by Alstom.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

NS Assisted 120 Companies in 2022

January 30, 2023

In its annual economic development report, Norfolk Southern said it worked with 120 companies in 2022 to help develop 159 industrial development projects valued at a combined $3.2 billion.

One of those was Commercial Metals Company, which spent $450 million to build a rebar steel mill in West Virginia.

Also in West Virginia, CONSOL Energy spent $100 million on the Itmann Preparation Plant in Itmann, West Virginia, to produce premium, low-vol metallurgical coking coal to serve the domestic and international steel markets.

In a news release, NS said it helps businesses identify rail-served sites that reliable, sustainable and efficient transportation.

This year NS said it is working with 33 companies that have announced plans for a new production facility or a significant plant expansion along the NS rail network or with one of its short-line partners.

NS Reports 14% Operating Revenue Growth in 2022

January 26, 2023

Norfolk Southern on Wednesday reported that its railway operating revenue reached a record $12.7 billion in 2022, an increase of 14 percent, or $1.6 billion, compared with 2021.

The Atlanta-based company said these results were driven by an 18 percent increase in revenue per unit.

Railway operating expenses were $7.9 billion, an increase of 19 percent compared with the same period last year, driven by higher fuel prices, inflation, network congestion, and higher compensation and benefits.

Income from railway operations was $4.8 billion, up 8 percent, or $362 million year over year, an annual record. Diluted earnings per share were $13.88, up 15 percent, or $1.77, compared with 2021.

During the fourth quarter of 2022, railway operating revenue was $3.2 billion, a 13 percent increase, and railway operating income was $1.2 billion, a 5 percent increase compared with fourth-quarter 2021 financial results.

NS set fourth-quarter and annual records for railway operating revenue and income from railway operations.

Diluted earnings per share were $3.42, up 10 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2021. Operating expenses in the quarter increased 19 percent to $2.1 billion compared with the same 2021 period due to higher fuel prices, increased claims costs and higher compensation and benefits, NS officials said.

However, during a conference call with investors NS executives said they expect a slowing economy and declining freight demand to produce flat revenue and earnings in 2023.

CEO Alan Shaw said service is the best it’s been in two years with NS having 7,500 active conductors and engineers, which is 100 below its goal for May. “We made great strides to close the year and are encouraged by our progress,” Shaw said.

Chief Marketing Officer Ed Elkins said during the conference call that he was optimistic NS would “claw back some volume.”

Still, he said there remains concern in the executive suite about slowing demand in intermodal and merchandise traffic.

NS executives said key operations metrics, including average train speed and terminal dwell time, continue to show improvement.

The Atlanta-based Class 1 carrier expects to continue hiring new operating workers and pledged to avoid furloughs of workers in order to make service more resilient.

NS plans to spend $2.1 billion on capital projects this year, including the modernization of 115 locomotives as part of its ongoing DC-to-AC traction conversion program.

CN, NS CEOs Defend Scheduled Railroading

January 21, 2023

CEOs of Norfolk Southern and Canadian National sought to make the case for why precision scheduled railroading is best for shippers and railroads during the recent Midwest Association of Rail Shippers.

As reported by Trains magazine on its website, CN CEO Tracy Robinson argued that scheduled railroading is working for shippers and the railroad alike.

NS CEO Alan Shaw reiterated a point he made last year that the Atlanta-based Class 1 carrier is seeking to refine its scheduled railroading practices to move away from the cycle of reducing its workforce during economic downturns as has been the industry standard.

Robinson described PSR as basic railroading that provides consistent service. The key to that is providing on-time service.

“We are moving meaningfully faster, and we are dwelling less,” Robinson said.

“So we’re learning as we go, we’re relearning as we go, and we’re going to remain focused on scheduled railroading.”

During his remarks Shaw said NS is no longer trying to “time the market” in its decisions about crew staffing and assets.

“Because frankly, that’s where we’ve gotten in trouble in the past,” he said. “The economy moves up, and we don’t have enough crews, or enough intermodal chassis, or enough locomotives.”

Shaw said NS is taking a longer view by seeking to determine what it needs to get to where it wants to be in terms of operating efficiency three to five years from now and pouring resources into achieving that.

He attributed the service issues NS has experienced in the past couple years to trying to move up and down with the economic cycle.

Reacting to the current economic cycle has been useful in achieving short-term profitability but Shaw said that has come at the cost of lost revenue opportunity in the longer term.

“We took a look at this, and look at the revenue opportunity you lose, when you have a poor service product,” Shaw said. “And we’re also talking about the additional costs. I don’t think people realize a faster railroad is a less expensive railroad. One that’s running on time, one that’s running on schedule, is less expensive than one that’s running off schedule.”

Additional information about what Robinson and Shaw had to say can be read at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/cn-ns-ceos-tell-shippers-service-will-continue-to-improve/

NS Resumes Using ex-NKP West of Cleveland

January 18, 2023

Norfolk Southern has resumed using the Cleveland District west of Cleveland for through freights.

Earlier this week we reported that in the past couple of months NS use of the former Nickel Plate Road mainline had been minimal.

Reportedly, NS has set a freight tonnage quota for the line and stopped running through freights there in late 2022 after the quota was exceeded. But with a new year underway the quota has been reset.

The route in question extends from Vermilion to Cloggsville via Lakewood and Rocky River.

Manifest freights 315 and 316 were the most frequent users of the route in the past.

NS Resumes Publishing Wall Calendar

January 18, 2023

Norfolk Southern has resumed publishing a wall calendar with photographs contributed by company employees.

The 2023 calendar is the first to be distributed since 2020.

In a news release, NS said the photos appearing in the 13-month calendar were selected by NS workers. Winning entries came from across the NS system.

Copies of the calendar are $24 apiece and can be ordered at https://www.nscompanystore.com/home.php

NS Making Minimal Use of ex-NKP West of Cleveland

January 17, 2023

Norfolk Southern appears to have stopped operating through freights on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline between Vermillion and Cloggsville.

Local freight trains continue to serve shippers along the route, which passes through Lakewood and was the subject of controversy more than two decades ago when NS and CSX acquired Conrail.

At the time the discussion about concerns that NS would increase the number of trains on the former NKP, which has multiple grade crossings in Lakewood.

The last through freights known to use the ex-NKP, known as the NS Cleveland District, were Trains 315 and 316. Reportedly, those trains have operated between Vermilion and Cloggsville on an irregular basis.

In other Cleveland rail news, some of you may have noticed last fall two SW1500 switchers parked in Parma on CSX.

The units were painted in the livery of Canadian National but carried LTEX markings.

The units have been acquired by Cleveland Cliffs and have been spotted of late working industrial tracks in the Cleveland Flats.

The units are expected to receive Cleveland Cliffs colors and may be repainted at the facility of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society.

One of the switchers once worked for the Soo Line while the other came from the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal.

NS to Keep 2023 Capital Spending ‘Steady’

January 8, 2023

Norfolk Southern’s plans for capital spending this year are in a “steady state,” one of its top executives said recently at a conference.

As reported by Trains magazine on its website, Ed Boyle, NS vice president of engineering, said much of the capital expenditures will be focused on rail and tie replacement.

Speaking to the National Railroad Contractors & Maintenance conference, Boyle said a focus of work this year will involve expanding capacity of its corridors between Chicago and Jacksonville, Florida, via Cincinnati, and between Atlanta and New Orleans/Mobile, Alabama.

Five sidings will be expanded including one at Campbellstown, Ohio, on the New Castle District. That siding will be lengthened to 15,000 feet.

Work on the Campbellstown siding began in 2022. The New Castle District between Cincinnati and New Castle, Indiana, is a former Pennsylvania Railroad route that once continued to Chicago.

During 2023, NS expects to replace 2.225 million ties, resurface 2,000 miles of track, install 425 new panel turnouts, and install or replace 31,000 bridge ties. Forty-one bridges will be replaced and 79 bridges will be rebuilt.

The story can be read at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/ns-holds-steady-with-2023-capital-plans/