Norfolk Southern spokesman David Pidgeon declines to comment on specific conversations NS has had with Amtrak, though he tells Trains News Wire that “we generally have a cooperative relationship with Amtrak.”Put another way, the railroad spent the last quarter century cutting employees. And we have to learn this lesson every time an economic recovery shows staying power: railroads melt down, stores encounter spot shortages of stuff, customer service sucks.
“There’s palpable frustration in communities between Chicago and Cleveland over train congestion in that corridor, and that frustration is understandable. We’re frustrated too, because moving trains is just good business,” Pidgeon says. “These communities depend on Norfolk Southern to operate a safe, fluid network and that’s why NS is working proactively to solve these challenges and increase fluidity.”
The railroad expects by the end of 2014 to have hired 1,300 new conductors, “with a significant number heading to the corridor between Chicago and Cleveland. We’re hiring and training right now,” Pidgeon says, and the railroad is “looking at other potential operational measures to take because the national and local economies are depending on us to get this right.”
The difficulties on Norfolk Southern west of Cleveland have prompted Amtrak to alert prospective passengers on the Lake Shore and Capital Limited to delays. The alert is currently effective through January 15.