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Blowing past its own records, Norfolk Southern’s "pier without peer" sets new U.S. coal transload benchmark

Norfolk, VA - Sep 23, 2013
M/V Negonego
M/V Negonego

NORFOLK, VA. - It’s been an eventful month at Norfolk Southern’s Pier 6 at Lamberts Point, as the railroad’s coal transload facility again has loaded a record amount of coal into a single ocean-going vessel.

On Sept. 21, NS employees finished loading 168,977 net tons of coking coal into the M/V Negonego, destined for use by integrated steel producers in China. That’s a record not only for Pier 6, but also for the entire U.S., where Pier 6 is the top performer among more than a dozen export terminals on the East, Gulf, and West coasts.

“I can give you 450 individual reasons behind this achievement,” said Jeff Yates, NS superintendent of terminals. “Our Lamberts Point employees are passionate about safety, service, and productivity. That’s how they loaded the M/V Negonego in an astonishingly fast 40 hours and 45 minutes.”

T. Parker Host Inc. was the vessel agent. The coal was shipped by Xcoal Energy and Resources in 1,592 railroad coal cars. XCoal CEO Ernie Thrasher said, “Everyone from the miners at the Buchanan Mine to the employees at NS contributed to this record. They work every day to sustain our business, and they deserve the credit.”

The previous Pier 6 loading record was set just a couple of days prior, on Sept. 18, when 166,840 net tons of metallurgical coal were loaded into the M/V China Pioneer, just as Pier 6 was celebrating its 50th anniversary.

“Pier 6 truly is a ‘pier without peer,’” said Mark H. Bower, NS group vice president, export, metallurgical, and industrial coal marketing. “America has 25 percent of the world’s known recoverable coal reserves - more energy than all the oil in the Middle East. NS and our production and sales partners are the reliable team for getting that coal to the world’s utilities and coke plants.”

Norfolk Southern has been transferring coal and coke from railroad cars into ocean-going export and domestic vessels in the Lamberts Point area since 1884, when it opened Pier 1. In the first half of the 1900s, new Piers 2-5 featured improvements in speed and capacity and even loaded coal into a number of famous vessels, such as those used in Admiral Byrd's 1933 Antarctica expedition.

Pier 6 opened for business in 1962 as the hemisphere's largest, fastest, and most efficient transload facility. In 1999, Pier 6 dumped its billionth ton of coal and became the only facility in the world to have reached that milestone.

In addition to the quantity of its loadings, Pier 6 is known for speed. No vessel afloat can accept coal into its holds as fast as Pier 6 actually can load it.

Most of the coal moving through Pier 6 originates in Southwest Virginia, Southern West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. It is shipped to several dozen countries as well as to coastwise domestic receivers.

Pier 6 accesses Hampton Roads' deep 50-foot channel that allows modern vessels to make productive use of their large holds. Some of those vessels, such as the M/V Negonego with its length of 984 feet, are as long as three football fields.

Norfolk Southern Corporation is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal, automotive, and industrial products.



Norfolk Southern contacts:

(Media) Frank Brown, 757-629-2710 (
(Investors) Michael Hostutler, 757-629-2861 (