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Norfolk Southern Corp. announced yesterday that it would consolidate from three operating regions into two segments as part of a previously announced five-year strategic plan to cut $650 million from annual expenses by 2020.The consolidation, which will take effect March 15, will make the Class I a faster and more profitable railroad, said Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Wheeler in a press release."Consolidating our operating regions will generate productivity savings, not only through right-sizing, but also by leveraging advancements in train dispatch technologies that support more fluid and efficient movement of freight across the network," Wheeler said.Under the new structure, NS will organize its network into northern and southern regions. The northern region will include the Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Dearborn, Lake, and Illinois divisions. Greg Comstock, a 41-year veteran of Norfolk Southern operations, will be the region’s general manager. The southern region will include the Piedmont, Alabama, Georgia, Central, and Pocahontas divisions. Todd Reynolds, a 22-year veteran of Norfolk Southern operations, will be the region’s general manager. Each region will support 1,000 daily crew starts for long-haul train operations.Earlier this year, NS streamlined division operations by combining the former Virginia and Pocahontas divisions into a larger Pocahontas Division. That change occurred Feb. 1. Additionally, NS has reduced its corporate office locations from three to two; restructured the Triple Crown Services subsidiary; integrated the D&H South Line to "increase options for shippers"; and idled some areas of the West Virginia Secondary line, according to NS' press release.Yesterday's announcement comes as NS continues to oppose Canadian Pacific's proposed takeover of NS.