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Norfolk Southern puts the brakes on Red Line talks

Norfolk Southern officials made it absolutely clear Tuesday that there would be no Red Line commuter-rail service on its O line track in Mecklenburg County under current plans.

“We don’t want to limit ourselves on when we can use our own track,” said Robin Chapman, director of public relations for the Norfolk, Va.-based rail freight company.

Norfolk SouthernIn an email sent Tuesday to Paul Morris, the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s deputy secretary for transit, Norfolk’s general director for passenger policy, John V. Edwards, said the current Red Line plan was “not feasible” and not “a starting point for further discussions” between state government and the company.

“The ‘Red Line’ plan is fatally flawed and based upon assumptions about the projected freight use of the O Line that are no longer valid,” Edwards wrote.

Chapman said the company expected there to be more freight cars using the O line in the near future and that Norfolk Southern expects an overall increase in the use of rail lines for freight over the next few years.

Most of the estimates for freight usage for the Red Line come from studies done in 1998, according to reports from Mecklenburg County transit officials. Chapman said the company would be willing to help with more recent studies but that the numbers from 1998 don’t make sense anymore.

“Things have changed dramatically since then,” he said.

Baughman can be reached at scott.baughman@mecktimes.com.

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