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Norfolk Southern Railway yesterday opened a new locomotive maintenance and repair facility in Chicago to improve operational efficiency for trains moving through the area.NS' $9.5 million investment expands the Class I's locomotive repair capabilities in the Chicago region. Previously, locomotives in need of more extensive maintenance were transported to other repair shops on the NS system, company officials said in a press release.Located at the railroad's 47th Street intermodal facility, the 16,300-square-foot shop is equipped with a 125-ton drop table to inspect, repair, or replace locomotive traction motors; a mobile, 7.5-ton overhead gantry crane to hoist heavy engine components; and a 77-foot-long inspection pit to make repairs to the underside of locomotives. Four locomotives can be worked on indoors at one time.At full capacity, the shop will employ 25 craft workers around the clock.In addition to the new facility, NS operates a locomotive shop for minor repairs at its Calumet Yard intermodal facility, and mobile rapid-response crews inspect and service outbound locomotives."The investment is part of NS' commitment to provide timely and reliable service and will enable us to move goods even more efficiently across the Chicago gateway and benefit intermodal customers shipping freight to East Coast markets," said Don Graab, vice president mechanical.NS operates six rail yards in Chicago, moving more than 100 trains daily to connect Chicago and Illinois businesses to markets throughout the nation and world. In Illinois, NS employs 1,450 people and operates a network of 1,256 rail miles.