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Extension of Heartland Corridor from Columbus to Cincinnati, Ohio, benefits Port of Virginia

Norfolk, VA - Jan 19, 2012
The Heartland Connector
The Heartland Connector

NORFOLK, VA. - Norfolk Southern has cleared the way for more double-stack intermodal trains to use its Heartland Corridor with the opening this week of a newly improved double-stack rail line between Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio. The Heartland Connector will reduce transit times by one to two days and increase service reliability for double-stack freight traveling to and from the Port of Virginia and Cincinnati and Detroit.

The improvements also will provide Norfolk Southern with the potential to connect Ohio Valley markets to other major East Coast container ports.

The Heartland Connector project is a public-private partnership among Norfolk Southern, Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio Rail Development Commission, and Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Council of Governments to upgrade the NS rail line to accommodate double-stack trains. Previously, containers only could be single-stacked on trains moving over the connector.

The first double-stack intermodal train to operate
between Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, crosses
under a bridge near Middletown, Ohio, where the
track was lowered to allow trains carrying containers
stacked two-high to use the route, which connects to
Norfolk Southern's Heartland Corridor.

The project included raising clearances at five locations along the 124-mile route between Cincinnati and Columbus and adding tracks at Norfolk Southern's Rickenbacker Intermodal Terminal near Columbus. Prior to the upgrades, double-stack intermodal trains leaving the Port of Virginia for Cincinnati and Detroit followed longer routes through Tennessee or Pennsylvania. Now, double-stack trains bound for Detroit use a route that is 212 miles shorter, and trains traveling to Cincinnati travel 69 fewer miles and save up to two days transit time.

Financial support for the $6.1 million project included $3.6 million from the federal government combined with matching contributions from Norfolk Southern and the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Council of Governments.

"The Rail Commission is very happy to have been able to facilitate this very important infrastructure project that builds on previous investments and further solidifies Ohio's position in the global supply chain," said Matthew Dietrich, executive director of the Ohio Rail Development Commission.

"Routing trains over the Heartland Connector improves transit times and allows Norfolk Southern to provide more reliable service and handle additional intermodal freight," said Jeff Heller, NS group vice president international intermodal marketing. "The Heartland Connector is significant for the Port of Virginia because it increases the efficiency of the Heartland Corridor to move goods to and from Ohio and other Midwest consumer markets and adds to the competitiveness of the Hampton Roads region."

Norfolk Southern's Heartland Corridor is the shortest, fastest double-stack route from the Port of Virginia to the Midwest. A single NS intermodal train takes up to 300 trucks off America's highways, reducing traffic congestion and repair costs. In addition, rail transportation is nearly four times more fuel efficient than trucking, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Norfolk Southern Corporation is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway 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 and industrial products.


Norfolk Southern contacts:

(Customers) Chris Luebbers, 757-823-5279 (
(Media) David Pidgeon, 717-541-2247 (
(Investors) Michael Hostutler, 757-629-2861 (