Posts Tagged ‘NS hump yards’

NS to Close Enola Hump

September 24, 2020

Norfolk Southern will end hump operations on Sept. 25 at Enola Yard near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The carrier said Enola will change to flat switching. A railroad spokesman said some jobs will be curtailed by the change, but no jobs will be lost in the diesel shop.

The closing of the Enola hump is the fifth hump that NS has closed this year. Earlier it shut down the hump in Bellevue, which is NS’s largest railroad classification yard in the East.

NS also shut down hump operations in Allentown, Pennsylvania; Sheffield, Alabama; and Linwood, North Carolina.

The NS spokesman sought to frame closing the Enola hump as a service improvement, saying it would reduced the amount of time that rail cars wait to be processed.

Shuttering humps has been a part of NS adopting the precision scheduled railroading operating model in which use of hump yards is de-emphasized in favor of pre-blocking more traffic at point of origin and engaging in block swapping en route.

NS Acknowledges Closing Hump in Bellevue

June 18, 2020

Norfolk Southern acknowledged this week that it is ending hump operations in its Bellevue yard and will use the facility for flat switching.

The move comes as NS continues to see a slump in its carload traffic.

An NS spokesman told The Blade of Toledo that some workers would be furloughed but did not say how many.

“This alteration will allow for greater efficiencies and customer service that achieves the goals set forth in the company’s strategic plan,” said NS spokesman Jeff DeGraff.

DeGraff said those furloughed would be given the opportunity to apply for positions elsewhere at NS.

NS had told shippers recently that it was reviewing operations at yards throughout its system in part in response to lower traffic volume and in part as it moves to the precision scheduled railroading operating model.

Thus far in the second quarter of 2020 NS merchandise traffic volume is down 32 percent.

The carrier had earlier closed the hump at its Linwood yard in North Carolina.

The yard in Bellevue, which is named for retired NS CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman, was expanded in eight years ago during a $160 million project that added another hump and classification bowl.

Moorman was the head of NS when the yard was expanded.

The hump in Bellevue was built in 1966 by Norfolk & Western.

Although NS has declined to say how many workers in Bellevue will lose their jobs, a social-media post from a private Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said it was 26 carmen.

Moorman Yard is the largest classification yard on the NS network and second largest classification yard in the United States behind Bailey Yard on Union Pacific in North Platte, Nebraska.

For now NS will continue to operate hump yards in Elkhart, Indiana, and at Conway Yard north of Pittsburgh.

Report Says Bellevue Hump to Close on Tuesday

June 14, 2020

Hump operations in Bellevue will cease on Tuesday said a report published by Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports, a publication that covers railroads, ports and the shipping industry.

The news outlet posted on its Facebook page on Saturday that some block swapping and flat switching may continue at Moorman Yard.

Some switching and classification work now being done in Bellevue will reportedly move to Airline Junction in Toledo and Rockport Yard in Cleveland.

The report said 26 carmen positions will be abolished but six yardmasters will reportedly be retained.

The development comes five years after NS completed a $160 million expansion of Moorman Yard that included construction of a second hump and classification bowl.

Moorman Yard is the largest NS classification yard and the second largest in the country.

NS to Change Operations at Moorman Yard

June 5, 2020

NS trains classify cars at the hump in Bellevue in August 2015.

Norfolk Southern is planning to change operations later this month at Moorman Yard in Bellevue but has yet to say what those changes will entail.

The changes are part of a larger review the railroad is undertaking of yard operations throughout its system Chief Marketing Officer Alan Shaw said in a letter to shippers.

The letter indicated that NS has completed its review of Moorman Yard, which is the largest classification yard in the East and second largest in the country behind Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard in North Platte, Nebraska.

NS may idle hump operations in Bellevue and convert it to flat switching.

Since 2008, NS has closed five humps including two in the past year as part of its transformation to the precision scheduled railroading operating model.

Closed were humps in Sheffield, Alabama, and Allentown, Pennsylvania. More recently, NS changed operations at Linwood Yard in North Carolina by taking the hump out of service and furloughing 85 workers.

NS Chief Financial Officer Mark George said during an investor conference last month that those moves would save $10 million to $15 million annually.

Aside from the move to PSR, NS is also being motivated by falling carload traffic, which has declined 33 percent to date in the second quarter.

In his message to shippers, Shaw said there will be service modifications later this month pertaining to Bellevue and that shippers would be notified of those changes.

“We are reaching out to affected customers directly over the next two weeks to discuss the planned changes,” Shaw wrote.

“We are especially mindful of first- and last-mile changes, and we plan on working closely with you as we implement these steps.”

Bellevue was a major terminal for the former Nickel Plate Road and its successor, Norfolk & Western, built a larger classification yard there in 1967.

NS expanded the yard in 2014 to add a second hump and classification bowl that doubled the yard’s maximum classification capacity to 3,600 cars a day.

Earlier this year NS Chief Operating Officer Mike Wheeler said NS was looking at its yard and terminal network with an eye toward determining what it can live without.

He did not officer specifics as to which terminals and yards must be closed or trimmed in size.

Although NS has suffered the largest decline in carload traffic among Class 1 railroads, its management has said that was because it is more closely tied to industrial sectors that have been hard hit by the economic downturn, including the auto industry and steel mills.

Shaw noted in his letter that NS was conducting a review of its network before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“The current economic disruption is a challenge for all of us, but we are using this time to find additional ways to streamline our operations,” Shaw said.

He said NS is seeking to make its network more efficient while “providing a platform for growth.”

This includes routing shipments more directly to their destinations with fewer handlings and classifications along the way.

NS Leasing More Locomotives, Reopening Hump Yard

May 16, 2018

Norfolk Southern has continued leasing locomotives to handle traffic surges and alleviate congestion that has occurred in particular in the southern reaches of its network.

The Class 1 carrier leased 90 locomotives in the first quarter and has added another 50 leased units to its fleet

NS CEO James Squires said the additional motive power will help handle traffic growth and enable the carrier to convert 120 older six-axle DC units to like-new AC-traction locomotives as part of its ongoing DC-to-AC conversion program.

It has also hired 400 new conductors to keep its train and engine crew headcount up.

Speaking to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2018 Transportation Conference, Squires said congestion in the South prompted NS to plan to reopen a hump yard in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Squires said the hump at DeButts Yard will be a hybrid operation, meaning it will be used to classify traffic for local customers. Block swapping will continue to be done in the yard as well.

In the past year NS has increased its building of large blocks of cars and swapping them en route to minimize handling and to speed shipments along.

NS had closed the DeButts hump in May 2017. Since them terminal dwell times in Chattanooga have risen sharply.

Dwell times in Chattanooga have increased from an average of 33.5 hours in the second quarter of 2017 to 49.5 hours in April and to 62.7 hours this month.

Squires did not say when the hump would reopen. It remains in place, but workers must re-install the retarders used in hump operations.

Dwell times have also risen in other yards in the South as have average train speeds.

Despite efforts NS has made since last year, the service metrics in that region have not improved.

“We’re holding our own against strong volume growth,” Squires says. “Volume on our network is at a 12-year high.”

The NS CEO said that humps allow resiliency and operational flexibility when traffic rises by absorbing surges in traffic and metering the flow of volume by holding cars until they are ready to be released to customers.

“Customer service is not where we want it to be,” Squires said. “I want our customers to feel fully satisfied with the service they are getting from us, and right now many of them don’t.”

Despite the problems it has experienced, Squires said NS had the strongest volume growth among the Class I railroads for the year to date and that demand for rail service is the strongest he’s ever seen.