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An acceleration of resource additions, coupled with the annual volume decline after Thanksgiving, should provide incremental improvements in train performance and terminal fluidity heading into next year, Norfolk Southern Corp. officials said in a service update posted on the Class I's website on Monday."As severe winter weather will have an adverse impact to operations, we expect a return to historical train performance and velocity toward the end of the second quarter of 2015," they said. "We remain committed to an improved operating environment ahead."The service update included a summary of recent actions taken by NS to boost operational performance, as well as measures the Class I expects to implement soon.The railroad:• plans to increase the number of active train and engine service (T&E) employees by about 400 in November and December, largely concentrated in the Northern Region between Chicago and New Jersey;• expects to increase the number of active T&E employees in the range of 700 to 800 in 2015, with an emphasis on adding as many workers as possible in the year's first half;• plans to place the remaining 50 of 75 new purchased locomotives into service by 2014's end, as well as take delivery of 40 used locomotives, with an additional 60 scheduled for early 2015 delivery;• expects to complete rehabilitation work at several yard tracks in Conway yard by Thanksgiving; and• projects to start to reaping benefits from the $160 million classification yard expansion in Bellevue, Ohio, in early December, with full operations phased in during first-quarter 2015. (For more information on the Bellevue yard expansion, and how it factors into NS' long-term freight-moving strategy, read this cover story from Progressive Railroading's November issue.)NS also is rerouting some loaded and empty trains over alternative gateways to better manage interchanges in Chicago, particularly through the coming winter months, and has completed about 90 percent of major rail, tie and surfacing work across the Northern Region to enhance velocity and fluidity.The Class I plans to continue providing service updates on a regular basis.
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