Freight rail is Norfolk Southern’s business, but we support safe, efficient passenger rail service as a means of relieving highway congestion and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To that end, we work with communities, states, and rail operators to give passenger trains access to our network when we determine it can be done safely and without negatively affecting our current and future business operations.
Currently, part or all of more than a dozen Amtrak intercity passenger-service routes run over Norfolk Southern lines, and several commuter rail systems also use our lines, including Metra in Chicago and Virginia Railway Express in Northern Virginia.
In the past five years, Norfolk Southern has helped develop several successful passenger rail initiatives. We partnered with Virginia to reintroduce Amtrak passenger service to Norfolk and daily passenger service to Roanoke over our rail lines. We continue to work with the Charlotte, N.C., Area Transit system on a light rail project expected to create significant community benefits. In 2013, we worked on the Indiana Gateway, a group of projects along the Chicago-to-Detroit high-speed rail line, and on our portion of the public-private Englewood Flyover project in Chicago, which is elevating Metra trains so they no longer cross grade-level tracks used by freight and Amtrak trains.
A Good Passenger Rail Project
While we support passenger rail programs, we must ensure that they are implemented in a way that sustains future freight traffic. We follow five guiding principles when evaluating the compatibility of passenger rail on our lines.
Passenger rail must:
- Provide safe operations for freight and passenger trains and the communities they serve
- Be transparent to freight operations, meaning sufficient infrastructure must be available, for both passenger and freight trains to operate without delays and to support business growth
- Provide fair value for the use of Norfolk Southern assets
- Offer full liability protection
- Operate without subsidy from Norfolk Southern