That’s why Norfolk Southern lacks capacity for new passenger trains inside Atlanta’s perimeter. Can new capacity be created? Sure, with tough choices about new passenger rights of way and public investment. Those choices should be part of any discussion about the MMPT.
Norfolk Southern is optimistic about growing our business by taking trucks off of Georgia roads. We have worked with the state, the Georgia Ports Authority, and local economic development agencies to improve our routes to the ports of Savannah and Brunswick so freight can move by rail — mostly through Atlanta. To handle growth, we’re making our trains longer, heavier and even higher by stacking containers two-high on our trains.
Atlanta sits astride Norfolk Southern’s Crescent Corridor, an award-winning public-private partnership that is working to move a million trucks a year from the roads to the rails. Norfolk Southern employs nearly 5,000 Georgians, and we are hiring more to move our freight trains.
Norfolk Southern is working with planners on 38 active passenger rail projects in 17 states. And Norfolk Southern will work with planners in Georgia to see what is possible in or around Atlanta. But any planning for the MMPT must answer the basic question of how passenger trains will get there. Not doing so would be akin to designing terminals at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport without considering the runways.
John H. Friedmann is vice president of strategic planning for Norfolk Southern Corp.