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NS schedules ceremony to mark first Heartland Corridor train


On Thursday, Norfolk Southern Railway will hold a ceremony at the Cowan Tunnel in Radford, Va., to commemorate the opening of the Heartland Corridor.

The first double-stacked train to use the new intermodal route between Columbus, Ohio, and the Port of Virginia in Norfolk will go through the tunnel, which was built in 1906 and is the first and longest — at 3,302 feet — of the 28 tunnels in the Appalachian Mountains that were raised during the project. The event will be attended by NS Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Wick Moorman; Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo; and Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton.

The “most ambitious railroad engineering project in the past century,” the Heartland Corridor was completed on schedule, according to NS. The project was developed during the past three years through a public-private partnership.

The corridor will provide NS the “fastest, most direct route for double-stacked freight” from the Norfolk port to Chicago, according to the Class I. About 250 miles will be sliced from current intermodal routes, saving the railroad one to two days in transit time for freight moving from the East Coast to Midwest.

“The ports immediately can begin promoting a competitive advantage, and localities along the corridor will have greater access to world markets, reduced highway congestion and fuel use, and improved safety,” NS officials said in a ceremony announcement.