Norfolk Southern to idle hump at Enola Yard this week

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NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk Southern will idle the hump at Enola Yard outside Harrisburg, Pa., on Friday, the fifth such move the railroad has made in the past year under its shift to a Precision Scheduled Railroading operating plan.

“As of Sept. 25, 2020, Norfolk Southern will idle the hump at the Enola Yard. All cars will be sorted and attached to outbound trains through flat switching. This will shorten the amount of time a rail car waits to leave the yard for its destination, improving Norfolk Southern’s service to its customers,” spokesman Jeff DeGraff says.

“The change impacts a limited number of jobs at the site; the yard’s diesel shop will not be affected,” DeGraff says. “The Harrisburg area is one of Norfolk Southern’s three largest hubs; a productive and efficient Enola Yard is key to helping the region continue to grow as the economy rebounds.”

NS has reduced its reliance on major terminals as part of its shift to Precision Scheduled Railroading. By pre-blocking more traffic at origin and focusing more on block-swapping en route, NS has siphoned switching volume out of its hump yard network. The reduced volume at some classification yards means it’s more efficient to convert the hump yards to flat-switching facilities.

Over the past year NS has idled the humps at Allentown, Pa.; Sheffield, Ala.; Linwood, N.C.; and Bellevue, Ohio, which had been the largest classification yard in the East.

After Enola is idled, NS will have five active humps: Elkhart, Ind.; Conway, Pa.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Macon, Ga.

Last week NS CEO Jim Squires told an investor conference that the railroad was likely to idle additional humps.

“Over the past year we’ve fundamentally changed the way we run our railroad to ensure the greatest efficiency across our operations,” Squires said. “Step change is hardly adequate to describe the pace at which we’ve reduced resources and assets. And yet we’ve dramatically improved the service we’re providing to our customers and have created new capacity in the process.”

NS rival CSX Transportation also has five active hump yards, down from a dozen before the railroad adopted PSR under then-CEO E. Hunter Harrison in 2017.

In the West, Union Pacific has idled six humps since adopting a PSR-based operating model in October 2018

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