Norfolk Southern will reduce train operations at its Knoxville, Tennessee (US), rail yard, effective May 1. The action is in response to lower traffic volumes and is consistent with the company’s ongoing implementation of its strategic plan to enhance operating efficiencies, reduce costs, drive profitability, and support long-term growth. NS remains on track to achieve its previously announced annual expense savings of more than $650 million and an operating ratio below 65% by 2020.
NS plans to idle switching operations at the rail yard, where freight cars from inbound trains are sorted by destination and assembled into outbound trains. As part of the change in operations, train traffic will decrease at the yard, reducing the need for personnel and infrastructure associated with train operations and maintenance activities. The Knoxville terminal will continue to serve as a hub for through-train operations and provide safe, reliable service to local customers, and NS has developed an operating plan to minimise any customer impact.
Knoxville will continue to serve as headquarters for the company’s Central Division, which includes 1,100 track miles primarily in Tennessee and Kentucky. Although approximately 135 positions will be impacted by the reduction of operations at the yard, nearly 300 employees in Knoxville will continue to support division operations and manage yard traffic. NS has stated that it will assist impacted employees by offering them opportunities to fill job vacancies as they become available across the system.
NS currently employs more than 1,570 people across Tennessee with nearly 850 miles of track across the state, intermodal terminals in Memphis, and a major rail classification yard and locomotive shop in Chattanooga.