Norfolk Southern to lay off more people in Roanoke, move locomotive shops to Altoona

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ROANOKE, Va. — More railroaders will soon be out of work after new cuts were announced today in Roanoke.

According to local media reports, Norfolk Southern will close its "Roanoke Distribution Center" and move remaining locomotive shop operations to Altoona, Pa.

One outlet cites a Norfolk Southern news release that attributes the workforce cuts to a nearly 50% decline in coal traffic in the past decade.

Norfolk Southern's statement follows:

"Norfolk Southern today announced the closure of its Roanoke Distribution Center in Virginia and the planned transfer of the work associated with its Roanoke Locomotive Shop to Altoona, Pennsylvania. Roanoke Locomotive Shop mechanical employees will have the opportunity to transfer to the Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona and will be eligible for relocation benefits.

"This difficult but necessary decision reflects the importance of ensuring the company maintains the right mix of people and facilities, in the right locations, to deliver exceptional customer service. This decision follows a 48% decline in coal tons shipped since 2008. Norfolk Southern also has seen a 22% reduction in our locomotive fleet since late 2018, reducing the volume of locomotive maintenance and repair required to operate safely.

"We maintain a longstanding affiliation with the Roanoke area and the many generations of highly talented men and women who have worked for NS in Roanoke, which makes today’s announcement especially difficult. Norfolk Southern will continue its presence and operations in Roanoke, employing more than 650 people in the Roanoke Valley."

The railroad also said about 85 people — or all mechanical workers — will be offered jobs in Altoona while 19 clerical jobs are to be cut.

More information is available online. 

Update: Norfolk Southern statement. Feb. 18, 2020, 11:19 a.m. Central time.
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