Posts Tagged ‘NS Southern Tier Line’

NS Details Service Issues in Letter to STB

December 14, 2021

Norfolk Southern President Alan H. Shaw acknowledged in a letter to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that its service quality is not where it should be.

The letter, dated Dec. 10, outlined the steps the Class 1 carrier is taking to improve its performance.

Shaw’s latter came in response to an inquiry from STB Chairman Martin Oberman who had written in November to then NS President James Squires to ask the railroad to address the deterioration of “key operating metrics” and an increasing number of shipper complaints about NS service.

Shaw blamed high workers attrition and a tight labor market for the service issues, noting that the company has been actively seeking to hire new conductors.

The service issues have been particularly acute in the Cincinnati-Chattanooga, Tennessee, corridor; in Birmingham, Alabama; and on the former Southern Tier line east of Buffalo, New York.

NS has taken such steps as redeploying personnel, reworking crew districts on the former Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific line, and taking advantage of reduced activity during the Thanksgiving holiday period to alleviate yard congestion in Birmingham and Chattanooga.

However, Shaw said similar progress has remained elusive for the Southern Tier.

As for hiring new conductors, Shaw said that through Dec. 6 NS had 285 employees in conductor training with another 939 prospective employees in the pre-employment process.

The company has offered economic incentives to prospective new hires and existing workers to encourage them to continue working for NS.

Shaw said it will take time to get its new hires into position and to address the service issues it has experienced.

The letter from Shaw to the STB can be viewed at

NS Dedicates Genesee Arch Bridge

May 25, 2018

New York State and Norfolk Southern officials dedicated a new bridge on the Southern Tier line this week that spans the Genesee River gorge in Letchworth State Park.

The new steel arch bridge cost $75 million and is 963 feet in length. It replaces a distinctive trestle built by the Erie Railroad in 1875.

The new bridge, which has been named the Genesee Arch Bridge, spans a 235-foot deep gorge sometimes known as the Grand Canyon of the East.

NS officials said that the bridge will expand freight rail capacity and economic opportunities for businesses and communities across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions.

The new bridge was built through a public-private partnership. It replaced the single-track Portageville Bridge, whose restricted train speeds and railcar weights had  NS said, “become a major transportation bottleneck.”

NS said the new structure will be able to handle industry-standard 286,000 pounds gross rail load.

The previous bridge was limited to railcar weights of 273,000 pounds.

“Trains crossing the new bridge are operating at up to 30 mph with fully loaded cars,” NS officials said.

The bridge actually opened in December 2017 and was built 75 feet south of the former bridge.

New York State contributed $15.5 million for design and construction work, including a $2 million grant from the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and $13.5 million in state and federal funds through the New York State Department of Transportation. NS paid $59.5 million for the project.

NS also funded improvements of trails and public access to Letchworth State Park and preserved portions of the old bridge, which has been dismantled, for use in historical exhibits.

2 NS Crew Members Hurt in Derailment

February 16, 2018

Two Norfolk Southern crew members were injured Thursday afternoon after an eastbound auto rack train derailed in a remote location near Attica, New York, on the Southern Tier line.

The injured workers were the conductor and engineer, both of whom were taken to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York.

The train had two locomotives and 43 loaded auto rack cars. Both locomotives derailed along with nine cars.

NS spokesman Jonathan Glass said the injuries were not life-threatening.

Online reports indicated that the train was symbol freight 28N and Glass said it was en route to Mechanicville, New York.

After the derailment, fire broke out on the lead locomotives and authorities decided to let the fire burn itself out, in part because the derailment site is difficult for fire fighters to reach.

However, several fire departments and hazmat units were at the scene.

The derailment was reported at 4:03 p.m. on a stretch of track with a top speed of 35 miles per hour. The cause of the derailment has not yet been disclosed.

NS said that although the train was not carrying hazardous materials it was sending its environmental specialists to clean up spilled diesel fuel, a process expected to take several days.

Authorities said both locomotives and some rail cars of the train went over an embankment and landed in a ravine.

The track in that vicinity is about 50 to 75 feet above a nearby farm field.

NS is reportedly detouring trains that normally use the Southern Tier route west of Binghamton, New York, via Sunbury and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and then westward.

NS Kicks off NY Bridge Replacement Project

October 30, 2015

Work to replace the former Erie Railroad bridge over the Genesee River Gorge in Letchworth State Park in New York began Thursday with a ground-breaking ceremony.

Norfolk Southern, which owns the Southern Tier route, plans to construct a $70 million single-track steel arch span over the gorge.

The bridge will be 900 feet in length and positioned 75 feet south of the current iron truss bridge.

As part of the project, the railroad will install 1,200 feet of new track on each side of the gorge to align the tracks.

The new span will take three years to construct and is being built in part with public funding.

The project budget includes $3 million in design costs and $2.5 million in construction costs from the New York Department of Transportation; a $2 million grant from the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council; and a $10 million grant from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. The remaining funding will come from NS.

“This successful public-private partnership underscores the strong confidence we all have in the ongoing potential of the Southern Tier,” said NS Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer James Squires. “Norfolk Southern has a robust bridge program, and the new Portageville Bridge will be a testament to today’s expert engineers and the craftsmanship of today’s railroaders.”

Western New York Turns out in Droves for 765

August 3, 2015

It was a weekend of firsts for the Nickel Plate Road No. 765 and the Norfolk Southern 21st Century Steam program.

The 765 ran over some new territory when it pulled a pair of excursions on Saturday and Sunday over the Southern Tier route between Buffalo and Corning, New York.

The train carried 933 passengers on Saturday, which was a sellout, and 869 on Sunday.

The Lima-built Berkshire drew applause when it crossed the Portageville Viaduct in Letchworth State Park.

The steel trestle, erected in 1875, will soon be replaced by NS with construction set to begin later this year.

Passengers also received sparkling views of the Genesee River and the lush hills of Western New York.

A box lunch was put aboard the train at Hornell and made a two-hour layover in Corning. Some passengers took advantage of the service stop to make an optional tour of the Corning Glass Museum.

The Saturday train arrived in Buffalo nearly 90 minutes late. Some of the delay was attributed to the train slowing at grade crossings for safety reasons due to the large crowds of spectactors and photographers on hand.

The next excursion for No. 765 will be the Allentown-Pittston, Pennsylvania, Lehigh Gorge Special on Aug. 22 and 23.

Iconic Southern Tier Rail Bridge to be Replaced

January 4, 2015

An iconic bridge on the Southern Tier route will be replaced soon after the Federal Highway Administration approved the design and construction of the replacement span.

The Portageville Viaduct over the Genesee River on the former Erie Railroad has been a favorite of photographers almost since it was built in the 1870s. It features waterfalls crashing beneath it.

Located in Letchworth State Park, the bridge soars about 245 feet above the river gorge. The wrought iron viaduct is 820 feet long and sits on six steel towers constructed in 1875.

Three spans of pin-locked deck trusses and 10 spans of deck plate girders were built in 1903.

The bridge is at milepost SR 361.66 in the Town of Portage and the Town of Genesee Falls. It will be removed once the new bridge is completed in three years.

Norfolk Southern acquired the Southern Tier route in 1999 as part of the Conrail breakup.

Construction of the new bridge will begin this year with the new span located just south of the existing bridge.

The New York Department of Transportation is paying $3 million in design costs and landed secured $12.5 million in state and federal funds for construction. The balance will be provided by Norfolk Southern.

The bridge was been labeled as one of the 10 most significant rail bottlenecks in New York.

Once completed, trains on the bridge will operate at Federal Railroad Administration Class 4 speeds. NS also expects to reduce ongoing maintenance efforts and costs.