Our fleet includes locomotives with new technology to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
Locomotive Shutdown Policy
Our policy calls for idling locomotives to be shut down when operationally feasible. Wireless technology helps us monitor compliance.
LEADER® (Locomotive Engineer Assist Display Event Recorder)
This onboard locomotive computer system calculates optimum train handling conditions and provides feedback to crews.
For our switch heaters, we have changed from kerosene to cleaner-burning propane fuel. Propane burns cleaner and eliminates the potential of oil getting into a waterway.
Norfolk Southern works with partners to promote environmental stewardship.
EPA SmartWay Program — initiative to reduce emissions beyond regulatory requirements
CREATE — public / private partnership to improve the flow of freight and commuters through Chicago while reducing congestion and pollution for citizens
Heartland Corridor — public / private partnership to reduce transit times and fuel use by improving the nationís critical rail transportation route between Norfolk, Va., and Columbus, Ohio
U.S. Dept. of the Interior — program to protect red cockaded woodpeckers at a forest preserve owned by NS
Responsible Care Initiative - chemical and rail industry partnership to safely handle chemical products through manufacture and distribution to disposal
TRANSCAER Program — outreach training program to assist communities and their emergency responders to be prepared for hazardous material transportation incidents
Environmental Hotlines — easy ways for citizens and railroad employees to relay environmental concerns and ideas
A letter from Norfolk Southern Corporation Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer C.W. Moorman to Mr. Brent Blackwelder, President, Friends of the Earth:
December 21, 2007
Dear Mr. Blackwelder:
I welcome this opportunity to respond to your request regarding the transportation of
chlorine and similar Toxic by Inhalation (collectively “TIH”) commodities on Norfolk
Southern, and apologize for my delayed response. The issues surrounding TIH's are
complex and involve manufacturers, buyers, and users of these commodities. Focusing
exclusively on rail transportation misses the bigger picture. The issues of product
substitution and geographic substitution are far more important because they are the
only way to truly reduce or eliminate the risks associated with these commodities.
As you know, federal law requires railroads to transport these commodities. For our
part, Norfolk Southern neither manufactures them nor transports them for its own use.
Moreover, Norfolk Southern does not make enough money transporting these
commodities to justify the risks the federal government requires us to take.
Transporting TIH's by rail may be good public policy since rail is the safest mode of
transportation for major commodities. However, Norfolk Southern believes it is simply
not good public policy to force railroads to bear all the substantial risks associated with
transporting these commodities. They are risks we would not take absent the common
carrier obligation imposed by the federal government.
We would be delighted to work with your organization along with the shipping
community, rail car builders, railroads, and federal regulators to both sharply reduce the
general public's potential exposure to TIH's, and also remedy the inequity that arises
from the railroad industry's common carrier obligation.
Norfolk Southern has gone to great lengths to ensure the safe transportation of these
commodities. I would like to address a few of the many initiatives we have taken since
September 11, 2001, to address potential threats posed by terrorists seeking to use
TIH's to harm U.S. citizens. Then I will respond to as many of your questions as
possible. However, I appreciate your recognition of the fact that our response to some
of your questions is limited by concerns for security, antitrust law and commercial
First, Norfolk Southern Corporation and its railroad operating subsidiaries have
developed and implemented a comprehensive security plan that is modeled on and was
developed in conjunction with the security plan prepared by the Association of American
Railroads (“AAR”) post September 11, 2001. Although security concerns preclude
public disclosure of its contents, the Norfolk Southern plan addresses and complies with
all applicable Department of Transportation security components and regulations as
prescribed by 49 CFR Part 172 Subparts H and I under HM-232. Among the elements
of the plan, security awareness training is given to all railroad employees who directly
affect hazardous material transportation safety and is integrated into recurring
hazardous material training and re-certification programs. Toward that end, Norfolk
Southern, working closely with the National Transit Institute at Rutgers University,
developed a four-module uniform national training program. More in-depth security
training has been given to those select Norfolk Southern employees who have been
given specific security responsibilities, and additional, location-specific security plans
have been developed for certain metropolitan areas and each of six port facilities served
by Norfolk Southern. With respect to the ports, each facility plan has been approved by
the applicable Captain of the Port of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Additionally, Norfolk Southern engages in close and regular coordination with numerous
federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
(“DHS”), the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”), the U.S. Department of
Transportation (“DOT”), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), the Federal
Railroad Administration (“FRA”), the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, and various state Homeland Security offices. As one notable example, a
Norfolk Southern Police Special Agent, under the auspices of the AAR, has been
assigned to the National Joint Terrorism Task Force (“NJTTF”) operating out of FBI
Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to represent and serve as liaison to the North
American rail industry. This arrangement improves logistical flow of vital security and
law enforcement information with respect to the rail industry as a whole, and because
the post is filled by a Norfolk Southern Special Agent, Norfolk Southern and the FBI
have fostered a strong working relationship.
Norfolk Southern is also a certified carrier member of the voluntary Customs-Trade
Partnership Against Terrorism (“C-TPAT”) program sponsored by U.S. Customs.
Norfolk Southern has implemented procedures to meet all currently applicable rail
security recommendations made by U.S. Customs to help ensure the integrity of freight
shipments moving on Norfolk Southern, particularly those moving to or from a foreign
country. These measures include, among others, the vetting of new railroad customers
to verify their legitimacy.
Similarly, Norfolk Southern is guided in its operations by: (1) a voluntary initiative called
the “Recommended Security Action Items for the Rail Transportation of Toxic Inhalation
Hazard Materials,” which was jointly issued by DHS and DOT based on extensive
collaboration among TSA, DOT, and the freight railroads; (2) certain supplemental
security action items thereto, which were also issued by DHS and DOT, pertaining
specifically to TIH products; and (3) the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security
requirements of 33 CFR Part 105.
In addition, as you noted in your letter, Norfolk Southern is one of the Class I railroads
participating in a conference convened by the FRA Administrator pursuant to 49 U.S.C.
Section 333 to explore potential coordination projects designed to minimize security and
safety risks flowing from the rail transportation of TIH materials (“333 Conference”).
Norfolk Southern also strongly supported the AAR Tank Car Committee's adoption of
new design requirements for tank cars in anhydrous ammonia and chlorine service. If
railroads are required to transport TIH's, then the common denominator in any release
of a TIH is the tank car. While other factors that affect the safety of transporting these
goods, such as track, security, etc., are also important, a strong and safe tank car
provides the best protection from accidental releases whatever the accident cause may
be. Norfolk Southern continues to advocate a tank car standard that provides
significant safety improvements for the transport of not only TIH's but all highly
hazardous materials (“HHM's”). The new tank car specifications, which were issued
under the authority of the AAR interchange standards for cars interchanged between
the railroads, are intended to reduce the probability of product release from the tank car
in the event of a derailment, and are a step in the right direction, although certainly not
the final answer in the advancement of tank car design and construction. The new
specifications were scheduled to go into effect for newly constructed tank cars on
January 1, 2008, but that date has been delayed until April 1, 2008, at the express
request of DOT. The existing fleet, which is owned and/or leased by chemical shippers,
will still have to be retrofitted in accordance with the AAR's new tank car specifications
by the end of 2018.
With the foregoing as a backdrop to these critical matters, I now turn to your questions.
Your first question asks about distances and route lengths of TIH shipments. Our TIH
traffic can originate on Norfolk Southern or can be received in interchange as joint line
moves with other carriers. The majority of our TIH shipments consist of one interstate
move (meaning transporting material from one state to a neighboring state.) These
moves typically are 150 miles or less. On average, Norfolk Southern transports TIH
shipments 479 miles, with a range from one mile to 1,313 miles.
In your second question, you have asked whether we have identified preferred routes
for TIH shipments, whether those shipments traverse major cities, and if any such
routes are varied periodically. In the first instance, of course, shippers determine
whether or not to move their product by rail. It should also be noted that the shipper
determines the origins and destinations.
TIH shipments moving long distances on Norfolk Southern, including those which travel
through major urban areas, are transported over routes which meet the operating
standards of the AAR Circular OT-55-1. These routes represent the routes that are the
most optimally suited to handle TIH traffic in a safe manner and are selected based on
many factors, including but not limited to length of haul, potential transit times, other
traffic flows, population centers, and the locations of the shippers and the receivers. For
rail movements that are moved in interline service with another carrier, the location of
the gateways where the traffic is interchanged with another railroad is an important
factor in determining the general route over which the shipment is transported.
Selection of the precise route from the gateway to its next destination is left to the
carrier receiving this traffic at the gateway. Finally, as you are probably aware, DOT
(through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) has issued a
proposed rulemaking in HM-232E which, if finalized, will mandate routing risk
assessments of TIH and certain other hazmat traffic on an annual basis as well as
impose other new security measures.
Your third question requests volumes and frequency of shipments, presumably TIH
shipments. Our federal common carrier obligation means that on any given day we may
be engaged in the transportation of hazardous materials, including TIH's. Norfolk
Southern transports approximately 23,300 TIH carloads annually, an average of 64
carloads per day.
Your fourth question asks for information pertaining to travel times for shipments and
average dwell times in major urban areas. Given the sensitive nature of this information
from a security standpoint, we have not disclosed information regarding the average
travel and dwell times for TIH shipments. However, as you may be aware, there are
already legal limitations imposed by the DOT on dwell times for hazardous materials
and for expediting hazardous materials shipments, with which we comply. We continue
to evaluate and reduce dwell times in high threat urban areas (“HTUA's”) in accordance
with Norfolk Southern's voluntary adoption of the TSAIDOT Supplemental Security
Action Item No. 1 issued on November 21, 2006, which specifically addresses actions to
reduce risks of TIH's in HTUA's relating to dwell time. TSA has also issued its own
proposed rulemaking at Docket No. TSA-2006-26514 that will impose certain chain of
custody, attendance and other security requirements applicable to loaded TIH cars,
particularly those in or destined to travel to or through HTUA's.
With respect to your fifth question regarding which party selects routes, we believe we
have provided this information above in connection with our response to your second
In your sixth question you ask for information about our interchanges with other
railroads, specifically requesting an annual total number of interchanges for all Class I
railroads. Norfolk Southern interchanges approximately 5.5 million cars with the other
railroads. As you can see, TIH traffic represents a very small portion of these
Turning to your seventh question, which asks whether we have taken any special
security precautions for TIH shipments, Norfolk Southern has undertaken many efforts
and supports many initiatives addressed at making the transportation of TIH's by rail
safer and more secure. In addition to those discussed throughout this letter, examples
of such measures include the erection of physical barriers and new access control
measures at certain locations, issuance of employee photo ID cards to all NS
employees, security-specific employee training, security drills, increased patrol
frequency by NS police and certain infrastructure hardening and access
countermeasures that will remain confidential.
In your eighth question, you ask whether we have notified public officials and citizens in
communities through which TIH shipments pass on the potential for releases from tank
cars. Information pertaining to TIH shipments is provided to certain legitimate
governmental agencies. Further, upon request we provide local emergency response
agencies with a list of the top 25 hazardous materials transported through their
communities in order to aid in their emergency response preparedness, consistent with
the community flow information requirements of AAR Circular OT-55-1.
Your ninth question asks whether we have arranged drills for local emergency
responders that involve a release of a TIH tank car. Through the Transportation
Community Awareness and Emergency Response Program (“TRANSCAER”), Norfolk
Southern provides emergency response training, including TIH response, to many
communities located along our rail network. To date for 2007, Norfolk Southern has
provided hazardous materials training to nearly 4,800 emergency responders and has
conducted 15 drills (including table-top and full-scale exercises.) In 2007, Norfolk
Southern did coordinate a major table-top exercise involving the “staged” release of a
TIH shipment. This drill was a regional exercise and involved local, state and federal
agencies. In addition, we routinely sponsor the attendance of local emergency
responders at tank car emergency response training conducted at the AAR's
Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colorado.
Your tenth question refers to “market swaps.” Railroads are merely transporters, as
required by law, of the TIH products that are transported in bulk and which pose safety
and security issues. Your question would be better addressed to the manufacturers,
buyers, and users of these commodities.
In your eleventh question, you ask whether Norfolk Southern is aware of any previous
customers that have switched to a system of on-site generation and immediate use of
TIH's, thus eliminating the need for transportation. While we do not track this kind of
information about our customers, we're certainly aware that this does happen and does
reduce the transportation of TIH. Again we would suggest that this question be directed
to the manufacturers, buyers, and users of these commodities.
Your twelfth question asks if Norfolk Southern believes it has adequate terrorism and
accident insurance in arranging for chlorine and other TIH shipments. First, our
insurance costs are largely driven by the risks we face from complying with our common
carrier obligation to transport TIH's. At this time, Norfolk Southern has acquired as
much insurance coverage as is reasonably available to us. Norfolk Southern can
attempt to minimize the risks of transporting TIH's, but no level of effort and no federal
regulations on safety and security can eliminate those risks — so long as railroads
continue to have a common carrier obligation to transport them. Unless railroads are
relieved of the common carrier obligation to transport TIH's, we believe statutory caps
on liability, a risk sharing mechanism similar to that established by the Price-Anderson
Act, or both, are needed and appropriate to maintain the financial vitality of our nation's
Your last question asks Norfolk Southern to identify public officials with whom it has
shared information that responds to your questions. As you can imagine, Norfolk
Southern works with so many federal, state, and local government officials on safety
and security matters that they are too numerous to mention. Chief among these,
however, would be the Department of Homeland Security, its Transportation Security
Administration, and within the Department of Transportation, both the Federal Railroad
Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
In sum, Norfolk Southern shares your concern about the transportation of TIH's and the
risks they present to the public, the environment, our employees, our shareholders, and
all other stakeholders. Recognizing that the transportation of TIH's mandated by our
common carrier obligation is inherently risky, Norfolk Southern will continue to work to
transport TIH's safely even while pursuing policies that reduce and properly allocate
I would be pleased to meet with you at your convenience for a fuller discussion of any of
these issues that are not commercially sensitive or that must remain confidential in accord
with federal law or regulation.
Very truly yours,
C. W. Moorman