Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

STB Asked to OK Sale of Rail Line to NS

June 3, 2023

Norfolk Southern has filed with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board an application for regulatory approval of its proposed purchase of the Cincinnati Southern Railway from the City of Cincinnati.

The line runs between Cincinnati and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is presently leased by NS from the city. NS and the city have agreed on a purchase price of $1.62 billion for the 338-mile line.

The sale has been approved by the City of Cincinnati and the governing board of the CSR, but still needs approval from the voters of Cincinnati. The earliest the latter could occur is this November.

The CSR route hosts about 30 NS trains a day and is a key artery for the Class 1 railroad between the Midwest and Southeast.

The lease of the CSR that NS holds will expire on Dec. 31, 2026, but has a 25-year renewal option. NS is paying the city about $25 million annually to lease the line.

The railroad and city began discussing a sale of the after their failure to agree to terms for an extension of the lease.

Cincinnati officials have said they will place the proceeds of the sale into an infrastructure fund to be known as the “Building Our Future Trust Fund.”

Officials expect that the fund will generate annual interest payment of $88 million a year. Of that amount, $56 million would go to the City, with the remainder reinvested.

The CSR board is expected to decide next month whether to put on the November ballot the question of voter approval of sale of the line to NS.

NTSB Eyes Defective Defect Detector in May 10 NS Derailment in New Castle, Pennsylvania

June 2, 2023

Federal investigators are eyeing a defect detector failure that may led to a May 10 derailment on North Southern’s Youngstown Line in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board has determined that a detector found a critical alert several miles before the train reached New Castle, but that alert was not received by the crew aboard the train or the NS network operations center in Atlanta.

Instead, the train continued to travel for between 15 to 34 miles before derailing.

Had the alarm been received the crew would have been required to stop their train immediately.

The NTSB said the defect occurred on the 164th car of train 14M, which was en route from Conway Yard near Pittsburgh to Buffalo, New York.

The report said signal maintainers working on the track two days before the derailment removed and reinstalled components of the defect detector but did so incorrectly.

That led the detector to transmit inaccurate data to the Atlanta Center regarding the defect.

The component parts in question has since been reinstalled and tested to determine they are working properly.

Nine cars of the 14M derailed in the late night incident, cars 165 through 172. The train was traveling 28 miles per hour at the time of the derailment.

Investigators recovered a burned-off bearing from the wreckage.

No one was injured in the derailment and just one car in the train was carrying a hazardous substance.

NS to Donate Depot to East Palestine

May 31, 2023

An artist rendering of the restored East Palestine depot.

Norfolk Southern said last week that it will renovate a former Pennsylvania Railroad passenger depot in East Palestine and donate it to the town.

In a news release, NS said it will provide a $100,000 grant for the renovation, which the Class 1 carrier said will restore and upgrade the exterior of the building.

The depot’s interior will be turned into a “blank space” that the community can use in whatever manner it desires.

The depot is thought to have been built in the 1890s and has sat unused for the past few decades.

In an unrelated development, NS also said last week it has signed a two-year lease to continue operating a family assistance center in East Palestine that it established shortly after a Feb. 3 derailment forced the evacuation of hundreds for several days.

The FAC opened at its new location at noon on Tuesday. The center was moved from the Abundant Life Fellowship Church in New Waterford to Rebecca Place, located at 191 East Rebecca Street in East Palestine.

The center will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center is closed on Sundays.

Consultant to Review NS Safety Culture

May 31, 2023

Norfolk Southern has hired a consulting firm to evaluate the company’s safety culture.

In a news release, NS said it has retained Atkins Nuclear Secured to conduct an independent review of safety practices.

The consultant will report to NS President and CEO Alan Shaw. Among the items that ANS will review are the railroad’s safety training programs, employee engagement, oversight and monitoring, and communications protocols and practices.

NS said it will implement in stages changes to improve safety.

In an unrelated development, Shaw and the leaders of 12 labor unions representing NS worker have written a letter pledging to work together to improve safety practices.

The letter was sent to all NS craft employees represented by the unions and to NS management.

“We won’t agree on everything. That’s OK,” the letter said in part. “Our belief in the importance of safety unites us. We want our people to show up to work every day knowing their employer and their union are working diligently to help them do their jobs safely.

NTSB Sets Hearings in East Palestine

May 29, 2023

A two-day hearing has been set for June 22-23 in East Palestine to take testimony as part of the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board of a Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern derailment in the town located near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

The hearings, to be held at East Palestine High School, will begin at 9 a.m.

In a news release, NTSB officials said the hearings will focus on hazard communications and emergency responder preparedness for the initial emergency response; the circumstances that led to the decision to vent and burn five rail tank cars carrying vinyl chloride; freight car bearing failure modes and wayside detection systems; and tank car derailment damage, crashworthiness, and hazardous materials package information.

The hearings are open to the public but only NTSB board members, investigators, scheduled witnesses and parties to the hearing will be allowed to participate.

Fine Day Railfanning in Wine Country

May 28, 2023

An eastbound CSX strack train passes a sitting westbound manifest freight outside North East, Ohio.

Ed Ribinskas and I got together last Thursday to do some railfanning in the wine country around North East, Pennsylvania, and in Conneaut, Ohio.

Our primary objective was to spend time at Bort Road just outside of North East.

The one lane wood deck bridge remains in place despite efforts by highway department officials over the years to remove it and replace it with a new bridge closer to North East.

I don’t know where those plans stand or even if they are active.

Bort Road long has been a favorite railfan hangout location where you can photograph trains on the CSX Erie West Subdivision from the bridge and on the Lake Erie District of Norfolk Southern. The lines are of New York Central and Nickel Plate Road vintage respectively.

We arrived around 9:45 a.m. to find the rear of a westbound CSX manifest freight sitting to the west of the bridge.

Although we never learned the details, it appeared that CSX was single tracking west of North East.

Shortly thereafter a relatively short eastbound CSX strack train came rushing through. The westbound manifest then moved on and to our displeasure CSX then went into a siesta that lasted for more than two hours.

CSX is by far the busier of the two railroads here so that was not good news.

However, NS came to life around 10:30 a.m. when a four-car eastbound local came by.

The crew of the local talked with the dispatcher about working in Ripley, New York. That conversation yielded the news that two westbounds were coming on NS.

The first of those showed up in relatively short order and appeared to be calling the symbol 18N, which we believed to be the Buffalo, New York, to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh train.

However, in looking at online listings of NS train symbols the 18N is shown as originating in Conway and operating to New Jersey. The Buffalo to Conway train is 15M so maybe we misheard the symbol. It sure sounded like 18 and not 15.

Behind that train was the 309 but the train that operates from East Binghamton, New York, to Elkhart, Indiana, was held while the local did its work in and near Ripley.

Whatever the case, we endured a lull that lasted until about 12:30 p.m. when the 309 came past led by a lone BNSF unit.

The CSX lull finally began to break at 12:45 p.m. the same time I had been planning to leave to go to the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East to check out what was new before heading to Conneaut.

But CSX came back to life right around the time I planned to leave, sending the I002 eastward.

Shortly thereafter came a third NS westbound that caught us by surprise. We never got the symbol of that train.

Then came a long westbound CSX stack train that stopped west of the bridge. As I suspected, it was waiting for an eastbound which turned out to be the empty trash train for the East Coast.

As we arrived at the museum in North East, a westbound CSX manifest freight was passing by.

New to the collection since was my last visit was GEAC60CW No. 6002 in a GE livery.

We were dismayed to see how badly faded the paint was on the former Chesapeake & Ohio B30-7 No. 8272, which arrived at the museum in 2017 freshly repainted in a Chessie System livery.

Also looking the worse for wear was New York Central U25b No. 2800.

I suppose that locomotive that sit out in the elements all year long are going to lose some of their luster in time.

From the museum we made our way to Conneaut to check out the progress of the new bridge NS is building over Conneaut Creek.

During our time there we saw one eastbound leave town on NS. CSX sent an eastbound and westbound past us as we sat next to the Conneaut Historical Society across the tracks from the Conneaut railroad museum.

It was time for us to call it a day and head to Geneva where we met up with our respective spouses for dinner at the Old Mill Winery. While there we saw though the windows of the restaurant one of those NS westbound that we had photographed earlier in the day at Bort Road.

It’s always nice to get “one more” to conclude the day.

Article by Craig Sanders, Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

NS Reaches Sick Leave Pact With BLET

May 21, 2023

Norfolk Southern and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen last week reached agreement on paid leave for union members.

The pact provides for up to seven paid sick days a year. Locomotive engineers will receive five new days of paid sick leave per year while having the option to use up to two additional days of existing paid time off as sick leave.

In a news release, NS and union officials said the agreement will affect 3,300 locomotive engineers, representing almost 25 percent of NS craft workers.

NS now has agreements in place granting paid sick leave to 98 percent of its craft employees.

The paid sick leave agreement is accompanied by a second quality-of-life agreement that needs to be ratified by BLET members.

That agreement offers additional preservation of earnings unique to NS engineers when they use paid sick leave, as well as greater protection for vacation time, officials said.

The paid sick leave agreement will be effective upon ratification of the second agreement.

NS to Finish Track Cleanup by Early June

May 19, 2023

Norfolk Southern expects to reopen Track 2 in East Palestine by early June. NS CEO Alan Shaw made the announcement at an investors conference this week.

Trains magazine reported on its website that Shaw told the conference that the Atlanta-based Class 1 carrier has thus far distributed $34.5 million to area schools, businesses, and families as part of its recovery efforts from a Feb. 3 derailment that spilled hazardous substances and forced hundreds to evacuate their homes for several days.

NS closed both main tracks at the derailment site on a rotating basis to remove contaminated soil and ballast. Work has already been completed on Track 1.

Shaw said NS and contract workers have removed more than 40,000 tons of soil along with 17,000 gallons of contaminated water.

The derailment site is on the busy Fort Wayne, which is a key NS route between Chicago and the East Coast.

The story can be read at

Cincinnati Southern to Consider Sale Vote

May 18, 2023

The board of trustees of the Cincinnati Southern Railway has set a July 11 meeting to consider the sale of the railroad to Norfolk Southern.

NS has agreed to buy the Cincinnati-Chattanooga, Tennessee, line from the City of Cincinnati for $1.62 billion.

The sale is subject to regulatory approval and must be approved by Cincinnati voters. NS and its predecessor Southern Railway, have operated the line since the late 1800s.

The CSR trustees will decide at the July meeting whether to submit the sale to the voters for approval.

Hoping to Get the NKP PA and Settling For NS’s Southern, Reading Heritage Units

May 13, 2023

The Southern heritage locomotive passes BE Tower in Berea on Friday.
At Chatfield on the Sandusky District
North of Attica
Crossing the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision in Marion.
The Reading heritage unit leads an NS stack train through the Cleveland area.

This past Friday I went to Berea in hopes of catching the Nickel Plate Road No. 190, a restored Alco PA1 locomotive on its trip to a new home in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately that would not happen as it was still sitting in Indiana. However, I did have the Reading heritage leading a westbound train.

It had been recently repainted but has been out on the road for just over a month and is accumulating road grime.

About an hour behind it was the Southern No. 8099. It had just been rebuilt after being in a rollover derailment almost two years ago.  It was its very first trip hauling train 746 a unit coal train for Bellows Creek, North Carolina. It looked very sharp.

I got both at Berea and ended up chasing the Southern as far as Marion. Maybe the NKP PA will come this weekend.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the PA spent a week in Clearing Yard on the Belt Railway of Chicago.

It was spotted on Norfolk Southern in South Bend, Indiana, on Friday trailing four NS and BNSF units.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon