Norfolk Southern Railway is a major Class I railroad in the United States, owned by the Norfolk Southern
Corporation. With headquarters in Norfolk,
Virginia, the company
operates 21,500 route miles in 22 eastern states, the District of
Columbia and the province of Ontario, Canada.
common commodity hauled on the railroad is coal
from mines in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
The railroad also offers an extensive
eastern North America. The current system was formed in 1982 with
the creation of the Norfolk
, a holding
, and on December 31, 1990, the Southern Railway
was renamed Norfolk
Southern Railway, and control of the Norfolk and Western Railway
transferred from the holding company to the Norfolk Southern
Railway. In 1999, the system grew substantially with the
acquisition of over half of Conrail
History of the railroad
NS was created from predecessor railroads which date back to the
early portion of the 19th century. Prior to current times, the
three main branches of the current corporate family tree were for
many years themselves systems: Norfolk and Western
, formed in 1881,
Southern Railway System
1894, and Conrail
, formed much later, in
1976. Each of these grew from many smaller local and regional lines
as the industry grew.
The South Carolina
Canal and Rail Road
, the earliest predecessor line, was
chartered in December 1827 and ran the nation's first regularly
scheduled passenger train
December 25, 1830. The Richmond and Danville
(R&D), formed in 1847, which expanded into a large
system after the American Civil
under the leadership of Algernon S. Buford
When the R&D fell on hard times financially in the early 1890s,
it became a major portion of the newly created Southern Railway
in 1894. Financier
selected veteran railroader Samuel Spencer
President to head the firm, which became well-known as both
profitable and innovative. Southern Railway was the first major
U.S. railroad to completely switch to more efficient diesel-electric locomotives
steam in 1953.
Norfolk and Western
City Point Railroad was a
nine-mile railroad just south of Richmond, Virginia established in 1838 which ran from City
Point (now part of the independent City of
Hopewell) on the navigable portion of the James River to Petersburg,
It was acquired by the South Side Railroad
After the War, it became part of the Atlantic, Mississippi
and Ohio Railroad
(A,M&O), a trunk line across Virginia's
southern tier formed by mergers in 1870 by William Mahone
, who had been builder of the
Norfolk and Petersburg
in the 1850s. The A,M&O was the oldest portion of
the Norfolk and Western
(N&W) when it was formed in 1881, under new owners with a keen
interest and financial investments in the coal
fields of Western Virginia and West Virginia, a product which came
to define and enrich the railroad.
In the second half of the 20th century, the profitable N&W had
already acquired the Virginian
, the Wabash Railway
the Nickel Plate Road
others, before it combined with the also profitable Southern
Railway to form the new Norfolk Southern.
NS was created in 1982 from the merger of the Norfolk and Western
Railway and the Southern Railway Company, both profitable
companies. An earlier company, also named the Norfolk Southern Railway,
serving primarily North
Carolina and the
southeastern tip of Virginia, had been
acquired by the Southern Railway in 1974.
The older company
was the namesake for the 1982 combination. Headquarters for the
newly established NS were established in Norfolk,
The 1982 combination of the profitable Norfolk and Western Railway
and Southern Railway was done to compete in the eastern United
States with the Chessie
which had been approved by the Interstate Commerce
in 1980, resulting in formation of CSX Transportation
(Conrail) was an 11,000-mile (18000 km) system
which had been created in 1976 by bringing together several ailing
northeastern railway systems into a government-owned corporation.
Conrail had become profitable after the Staggers Act
in 1980 largely deregulated the
U.S. railroad industry.
In 1996, CSX Transportation made the first move to buyout Conrail.
Norfolk Southern had to respond or else CSX would dominate the rail
traffic in eastern half of the country and Norfolk Southern would
not be able to compete. Norfolk Southern responded with a bid of
its own which began a biding war over who would get "Big
On June 23, 1997, NS and CSX
filed a joint application with the Surface Transportation Board
(STB) for authority to purchase, divide and operate the assets of
CR. On June 6, 1998, the STB approved the NS-CSX application and
set August 22, 1998, as the effective date of its decision.
NS acquired 58% of CR’s assets (CSX got the remaining 42%). As a
result of the transaction, NS's rail operations grew to include
some 7,200 miles (11500 km) of the CR system (predominantly
the former Pennsylvania
). NS began operating its trains on its portion of the
CR network on June 1, 1999. This marked the official end of the era
of the Super Seven
and introducing the
era of the Big Four, Norfolk
in the east and Union Pacific
in the west.
Presidents of Norfolk Southern have included:
The railroad is a major transporter of domestic and export coal in
the Eastern half of the country. The railroad's major sources of the
mineral are located in: Pennsylvania's Cambria County, Indiana County, and Monongahela
regions of Virginia, Kentucky, and
In Pennsylvania, NS also receives coal
through interchange with R.J. Corman
Railroad/Pennsylvania Lines at Cresson, Pennsylvania, originating in the so-called "Clearfield Cluster".
Southern's export of West Virginia bituminous coal,
begins transport on portions of the well-engineered former Virginian Railway and the famous former
Norfolk and Western's
double-tracked line in Eastern Virginia to its Lambert's
Point coal pier on Hampton Roads at Norfolk, Virginia.
Coal transported by NS is thus exported to
and power plants
around the world. The company is
also a major transporter of auto parts and completed vehicles. It
container and TOFC (trailer on flat car) trains, some in
conjunction with other railroads. NS was the first railway to
, which are highway
truck trailers with interchangeable wheel sets.
According to NS’s 2003 Annual Report to Investors, at the end of
2003, NS had more than 28,160 employees, 3,468 locomotives, and
101,095 freight cars.
At the end of 2003, the transport of coal, coke and iron ore made
up 23% of the total amount of traffic hauled by NS. Intermodal
containers made up 19% of the total; autoracks
14%; chemical tankers 12%; metals,
construction materials, agriculture commodities, and consumer
products 11%; paper, clay, and forest products 10%.
Track network and facilities
an eastern United States railway, NS directly owns and operates
21,300 miles of track in 22 states: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New
Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South
Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. In addition, Norfolk Southern owns track in
D.C. and the Canadian province of Ontario.
operates three primary hubs in its system, in Harrisburg, Chicago and Atlanta.
Furthermore, NS has rights to operate its trains with its own crews
on competing railroads' tracks. These trackage
rights permit NS to operate as far west as Dallas, Texas, as far north as Waterville, Maine, and as far south as Miami, Florida. NS locomotives also occasionally operate on
competitors' tracks throughout the United States and Canada due to the
practice of locomotive leasing and sharing undertaken by the Class
Not including second, third and fourth main line trackage, yard
trackage, and siding trackage, NS directly operates some 21,500
miles (34,601 kilometers) of track. When the additional tracks are
counted, however, the amount of track NS has direct control over
rises to over 38,000 miles (61,155 kilometers).
The company has several major rail classification yards
, located in:
Norfolk Southern's Intermodal
are located in:
Six major locomotive shops are located in:
shares interest with CSX in the Conrail Oak Island classification
yard and complex in Newark, New Jersey.
Norfolk Southern's 11 operating Divisions
This route is NS's principal East-West line from the Northeast to
the Midwest. Running from Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania to Conway, Pennsylvania, it once was the core of the Pennsylvania Railroad's main
On average, on any given part of the line, anywhere
from 60-80 trains, of all types, ply the line in a 24 hour period.
is also home to the world famous Horseshoe
at Alto Tower in Altoona, Pennsylvania and ending at Conpit in West
Wheatfield Township, Pennsylvania, trains are challenged to ascend and control speed
down the faces of the Allegheny Ridge; some of the steepest slopes
in the Allegheny Range.
It is a helper locomotive district.
Most common on helper assignments are pairs of EMD SD40-2s
applied to the head or rear end of a
train. Norfolk Southern has also began operating new SD40Es(former
units rebuilt at Norfolk
Southern's Juniata Shops in Altoona, Pennsylvania) which are
becoming more and more common on the route. On heavier unit coal
trains, it is not uncommon to see two helper sets put together to
create what local railfans
call by the
slang term four-bangers
. Certain Pennsylvania Power and
Light unit coal trains routinely exceed 12,000 tons in weight, and
it is not uncommon to see two helper sets in front of the train's
locomotives and an additional two helper sets on the rear.
Chicago To Fort Wayne
This is most direct route for NS trains to take from Chicago,
Illinois to Fort Wayne, Indiana or vice versa. This route has 16
passing sidings which allow trains coming from one direction to
stop while another train passes. In addition to these sidings there
are several sections of double track on either end of the line.
longest passing siding on this section of the railroad is located
At over 9600 feet in length it allows the
longest of trains to pass. Nine other rail lines cross over this
line segment. These interlockers or diamonds are in the
following general locations: Claypool, Indiana; Argos,
Indiana; Thomaston, Indiana; Valparaiso, Indiana; Gary,
Indiana (3); and Burnham, Illinois.
See Kankakee Belt Route
Pan Am Southern / Patriot Corridor
On May 15, 2008, NS announced that it had come to an agreement with
Pan Am Railways
to "create an
improved rail route between Albany, N.Y., and the greater Boston,
Mass., area called the 'Patriot Corridor'."
On March 12, 2009, the Surface Transportation Board
approved the deal. Each of the two companies now owns 50% of a new
company known as Pan Am Southern
(PAS). PAR's trackage between Ayer,
Massachusetts and Mechanicville, New York was transferred to PAS, and will continue to be
operated and maintained by PAR's Springfield Terminal Railway
NS will transfer to PAS cash and property valued
at $140 million.
Planned improvements to the route include track and signal
upgrades, and expansion of terminals, including construction of new
automotive and intermodal terminals.
In early spring of 2008, the state program manager for air quality
planning in Georgia, Jimmy Johnston, had been talking to NS about
voluntary upgrades to reduce the company's environmental impact. NS
is upgrading 3,800 of its locomotives with new technology that is
73 percent more efficient than previous models. The new technology
being put into the locomotives is making the ride more fuel
efficient and reducing idle time.
On January 6, 2005, a NS
resulted in a large amount of chlorine and diesel
fuel being released into nearby waterways in Graniteville, South
Carolina. In addition, a toxic cloud covered the city resulting in
the town being evacuated. Federal common
laws prevent railroads from refusing to transport
chlorine and similar Toxic Inhalation Hazard (TIH) commodities.
Local wildlife was killed, many of the local crops and vegetation
were contaminated or killed, nine human deaths were reported, and
thousands were injured. The company is being taken to court and
being fined for violating the Clean
and the Federal Superfund law. NS has spent a total
of $26 million for the clean up.
NS's locomotives are often called "catfish" by railfans
, as the stripes are said to look like
catfish whiskers. The locomotive numbered 4610, a GM
is painted in predecessor SOU colors of green and white with gold
trim and is a favorite of railfans. The work was done at the Debutts Yard in Chattanooga,
Tennessee during the summer of 1994 and the locomotive
received a repaint in the summer of 2004.
The current paint scheme for NS locomotives is black and white. The
locomotives feature a rearing horse on the nose, which is
consistent with prior marketing campaigns where NS has billed
itself as "The Thoroughbred."
In 2005, NS added two new types of locomotives to its roster:
, which when all are
delivered, will be numbered 2649–2778, and GE
, which will be numbered 7500-7719.
Historically, NS has only purchased DC
traction Diesel locomotives
. NS inherited a small
number of AC traction locomotives (EMD
) from CR. Currently, 10 of the 17 SD80MACs are
assigned to the locomotive pool in South Fork,
It wasn't until September 2008 that NS
purchased its first-ever order of brand new AC traction
locomotives: 24 GE ES44ACs
8000-8023. NS began receiving these units in October 2008. These
new locomotives will be used for pusher service on long haul coal
Most NS locomotives have flashing ditch lights. NS has many
different horns on locomotives such as the Nathan K5LA, K5H, K5HL,
K5LLA, P3, and P5, and the Leslie RS3L and RS5T.
Loco No.9903.jpg|NS #9903 D9-40CW
along with two other units head west from NS Elkart Yard.Image:NS Loco No.8372.jpg|NS 39J lead unit
NS #8372 D8-40CW with 5 others are
late leaving Kalamazoo due to weather and delays from Amtrak.
Image:NS Loco No.3524.jpg|NS #3524
at NS Hinman Yard.Image:NS Loco
No.3067.jpg|NS #3067 GP40-2
with it new
paint scheme sits in the snow at Botford Yard.Image:NS5333
DoverDE.JPG|A NS GP38-2 in Dover,
depot in background.Image:Railroad Pictures 022.jpg|SOU 4610
working train GD01 in Dalton, Georgia, on January 19, 2006.Image:Norfolk
Southern GP38 5610.jpg|A NS GP38-2
running long hood forward through
New Jersey, on March 1, 2008.Image:EMD-GP50-Northern-Suffolk-7069.jpg| A
GP50 approaches a level crossing in Charlotte, NC on June 22, 2005
Image:NS 8921 GE C40-9W.jpg|
A GE Dash 9-40CW
Wyomissing Pa on October 12, 2008
Railroads use initials as reporting marks, a universal system
intended to help keep track of rolling stock and financial
transactions between railroads. Although it has been widely known
as simply Norfolk Southern since 1982, the corporate structure and
reporting marks are more complicated. In 1990, Southern Railway
Company was renamed Norfolk Southern Railway Co. Its Norfolk and
Western Railway company was merged into the Norfolk Southern
Railway in 1997. In 1999, when most of Conrail
's ex-Pennsylvania Railroad
sold to the Norfolk Southern Railway, the Pennsylvania Railway
Lines was created, and PRR reporting marks used on the former
motive power and rolling
List of reporting marks
On September 3, 2007, NS Launched new television ads featuring a
family of gas cans cross country trekking to meet a NS train; it is
a message on NS' role to reduced congestion on highways
called "Lonely Gallon". It also features
the song "You Don't Need Me" performed by Ravi Krishnaswami
of New York and Steve Kolander
of Atlanta. The song was
created especially for NS. It was filmed in the Shenandoah Valley
Awards and recognition
As of May 2009, NS has been selected as the Group A Gold Harriman Award
recipient for a
record 20 consecutive years beginning in 1989.
The Harriman Award is intended to recognize railroads with
outstanding safety achievements. Group A comprises line-haul
railroads whose employees worked 15 million employee-hours or more.
Harriman winners are selected by a committee of representatives
from the transportation field and are granted on the basis of the
lowest casualty rates per 200,000 employee-hours worked with a
formula that accounts for volume of work performed as well as the
number of fatalities and occupational illnesses.
- The Norfolk and Western Railway in 1960 was the last Class 1
U.S. Freight Railroad to discontinue steam motive power operations.
Employees and Their Unions