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Requirements for Shipping Locomotives

Shipping a Dead-In-Tow Locomotive

Browse Requirements for Shipping Locomotives

Norfolk Southern has specific requirements and procedures for customers and short lines shipping locomotives in order to ensure safe handling.

  1. Obtain Umler registration by calling 919-651-5038 or emailing

  2. Ensure the locomotive has visible and properly stenciled alphabetic and numeric UMLER-registered reporting marks.

  3. Equip locomotives with properly programmed, working AEI Tags that match UMLER reporting marks.

  4. NS requires a valid credit account and prepayment of all charges before locomotive movement, and customers/short line partners must provide documentation of waybilling, unit delivery, and revenue protection.

  5. Apply for credit online, or make a wire transfer by emailing or calling 404-589-6107 or 404-589-6108.

  6. NS will inspective locomotive(s) free of charge if roundtrip mileage to the inspection site is 50 miles or less. NS will assess any charges in accordance with  NS-8002-A, Item 6275. NS must have written authority to conduct an inspection as well as notification of the party responsible for payment.

    Make sure locomotive(s) meet all federal and other governmental requirements before you order an inspection. Inspection items include:
    - locomotive model
    - type/class
    - gear ratio
    - number of trucks and axles
    - spacing of axles and truck centers
    - type of bearings
    - journal and wheel size
    - type of draft gear
    - stop blocks
    - handbrakes/air brakes/piped straight air
    - working AEI tags with corresponding reporting marks on locomotive(s)

    NS requires that locomotive(s) be inoperable and safely accessible for mechanical inspectors. If NS is not the origin carrier, the responsible party must deliver the locmotive to a manned interchange point for inspection.   

    Inspections are subject to the availability of a qualified NS mechanical inspector. Order inspections by calling to 404-582-6950 or emailing .  NS will assess charges in accordance with NSRQ 4900, Rule 11. Obtain a rate through the Dimensional Shipment Clearance and Rate Request Form. If you have questions, contact or 757-668-1540.  

  7. Special charges may apply in the event of speed restrictions, friction bearings, or other special requirements. Locomotives must be in full compliance with all regulatory and NS requirements in order to qualify for transport.

  8. Note the following additional freight charges:
    - Fuel surcharges may apply
    - Rates do not include idlers, caboose, extra mechanical inspections, or special train service
    - NS bills accessorial charges separately
    - NS will bill additionally for rate requirements of other carriers or short lines
    - Shippers must have an NS credit account or prepay by wire transfer
    - NS considers rates pending until approved by the Clearance Bureau
    - Quotes are valid for 30 days and include a maximum carrier liability of $10,000 per shipment, though greater liability coverage is available.


  • If a unit does not have “self-alignment” couplers (i.e. alignment control draft gear), then the locomotive owner is responsible for application of stop blocks. Per the question below, welded blocks are acceptable.
  • Locomotives must be equipped with Roller Bearings
  • Air brakes must be operable and FRA compliant.
  • Hand brake must be operable and safely accessible by train crews. Idler cars may be used if hand brake is not accessible but it is the responsibility of the party shipping the locomotive to secure and arrange for idler cars and any applicable FRA Waiver for the shipment.
  • Wheels must be within FRA limits for locomotives (based on type of service) and free of FRA defects per 49 CFR 229.73 and 49 CFR 229.75