Norfolk Southern idles hump at Linwood Yard in North Carolina

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NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk Southern has idled the hump at Linwood Yard in North Carolina due to the steep traffic downturn related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to unforeseeable business circumstances, including volume declines due to the global pandemic and the abrupt economic downturn, Norfolk Southern is reducing operations at our Linwood Terminal by idling the hump yard,” the railroad said in a statement on Friday. “Linwood Terminal will continue to provide switching service to local customers.”

The reduction in operations at the yard will result in the elimination of 85 jobs this month.

“Some employees have seniority rights to exercise to positions at other locations,” NS says. “Furloughed employees may have the opportunity to apply for positions, as available, elsewhere on the NS system.”

NS traffic was down 30% in April due to the economic impact of the pandemic.

On the railroad’s earnings call on Wednesday, executives said they were analyzing where they could close yards but they did not provide specifics.

“We are taking hard looks at our yard and terminal network, testing what we can live without,” Chief Operating Officer Mike Wheeler told investors and analysts on the earnings call.

NS has idled five other humps since the Great Recession, Wheeler noted, including two last year as part of its shift to Precision Scheduled Railroading. Those humps were in Sheffield, Ala., and Allentown, Pa., whose volume fell after the TOP21 operating plan reduced their switching volumes.

“We are continuing to look at that and those are long-term structural cost reductions and you will see more of that as we go forward,” Wheeler says.

Smaller outlying yards are also potential closure targets, he says.

The Southern Railway built Linwood Yard in 1979.
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