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Equipment Guide

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The Norfolk Southern (NS) Car Management group is primarily responsible for the long-term planning and tactical (day-to-day) distribution of empty railcars to our industrial products customers. All empty railcar requests must be submitted and are handled via the Empty Car Request system in AccessNS.

How do we help our customers every day?

  • NS Car Management specialists will work with you to provide empty railcars in accordance with your loading requirements. Each Supervisor manages a “desk” specific to equipment type and/or geographical region.

    Contact numbers for Private Equipment, Automotive Equipment and Merchandise Equipment can be found in the gray menu bar above. 

  • NS Car Management specialists will work with you to ensure that the inflow of empty equipment closely matches progress of loading relative to forecast and congestion at serving yards and your facilities. This will include, where and when necessary, jointly planned adjustment to inbound empty railcar pipelines

  • For new lanes and/or new commodities, Car Management, jointly with Marketing, Loading & Securement Solutions, and other teams, will work with you to identify the type of equipment most suitable to support your new shipping lanes. We will also evaluate, for example, quantity of equipment required based on overall cycle time, sourcing options for such equipment, and timing of equipment availability

  • Car Management, together with further teams as required, will also work with you to support your understanding of and compliance with Norfolk Southern’s various equipment-specific policies and procedures, which are designed to protect the safe and expeditious handling of equipment at customer facilities

  • Car Management furthermore supports the analysis, monitoring and resolution of ongoing equipment quality challenges that may adversely affect the loading of customers’ products

    Information and support on equipment and lading damage prevention can be found on the Loading & Securement Solutions page.

  • While the focus is on the management of equipment owned or leased by Norfolk Southern, we also work with industry partners, such as TTX, to support the development and ongoing management of national equipment pools to which Norfolk Southern participates. We also distribute such nationally pooled equipment to customers when such equipment is eligible for loading by NS customers

Click on the question below to view its corresponding answer.

How do I know which railcars to use to move my product?

Norfolk Southern manages, independently or jointly with other railcar owners, a wide variety of equipment types:

 

Intermodal

Intermodal trailers and containers are used to move finished goods via ship, rail, and truck. In rail transport this equipment is moved throughout our terminal network on specialized flat cars.

Trailer and container sizes and types vary, and customers can use their own or rent equipment from NS. After everything is loaded, the container or trailer is picked up and delivered to an NS intermodal facility, where it is planned for a specific train and moved to shipping ports or terminals for truck pick-up.

Explore site areas on requesting intermodal equipment including Fastrack EMP & TMX pricing, Intermodal domestic chassis registration, or contact an Intermodal equipment advisor.

 

Coal

NS has a large fleet of railcars for moving steam and metallurgical coal. This includes manual hoppers and gondolas for rotary dump service, high cubic capacity coke hoppers, and air-operated quick discharge hoppers.

Find out more about our Coal equipment fleet.

 

Automotive

NS provides railcars to move automotive parts, automotive frames, and finished vehicles.

Research our automotive railcar types.

 

Merchandise

If you are looking to ship goods in any of the following commodity areas:

Compare the railcar types available for loading in our merchandise equipment fleet, and discover which type satisfies your shipping needs.

 

Oversized Shipments (Dimensional Shipments)

Shipping a wide load? NS has a dedicated team to help you move your high and wide product on our network and across North America on specialized equipment.

How do I get railcars to move my product?

There are two basic options for railcar procurement:

  • Lease or purchase your own railcars known as private equipment, and make them available to NS for movement. 

  • NS can provide a variety of railcars for shipments using NS as the originating linehaul carrier. Use of NS equipment is subject to NS terms and conditions.

An NS Sales and Marketing representative can assist you with the initial evaluation of equipment procurement options.

Please consult the Shipping Options page to locate the contact details for a representative that works routinely with the commodities you wish to ship by rail.

How should I load my product into a railcar?

Safe and efficient loading of lading into railcars is governed by standards issued by the American Association of Railroads (AAR). NS’ Loading & Securement Solutions team can work with you to determine the safest and most suitable loading pattern for your product, based on product type, equipment type and applicable AAR standards. Consult our Loading & Securement Solutions resources to learn how we can assist you with safe loading of your product.

How do I monitor and manage the railcars moving my product?

Contact NS Sales and Marketing

Norfolk Southern’s AccessNS provides you with a variety of tools to manage railcars, including empty railcar requests for loading, railcar tracing, supplying bills of lading for shipment forwarding, and in-transit diverting of railcars. If you do not have AccessNS, please contact your NS sales and marketing representative. If you do not have a representative, please consult the Shipping Options page to locate contact information for a representative who works with the commodities you wish to ship by rail.

 

Requesting Railcars for Loading

If NS provides you with empty railcars, you can request cars via the Car Order application in AccessNS. If you do not have access to AccessNS, please contact your NS sales and marketing representative. If you do not have a representative, please consult the Shipping Options page to locate the contact details for a representative who routinely works with the commodities you wish to ship by rail. 

Problem Resolution for Railcar Shipments

If you are experiencing issues with inbound or outbound loaded railcars, please contact NS Customer Service at 1-800-635-5768.

Local Delivery and Pick-up of Railcars

The Operations and Service Support (OSS) Team is responsible for helping you manage delivery and pick up of railcars. If you do not know your OSS desk’s contact number, please contact NS Customer Service at 1-800-635-5768.

Railcar Management via our Online E-Commerce Tools

Norfolk Southern’s AccessNS provides you with a variety of tools to manage railcars including empty railcar requests for loading, railcar tracing, supplying bills of lading for shipment forwarding, and in-transit diverting of railcars. If you do not have AccessNS, please contact your NS sales and marketing representative. If you do not have a representative, please consult the Shipping Options page to locate contact information for a representative who works with the commodities you wish to ship by rail.

How should I report a railcar that is unsuitable for loading because it is damaged, dirty, or the wrong car type?

To report these types of railcar issues,  use PaceSetter on the NS network via the web-based e-commerce platform AccessNS. If you do not have AccessNS, pleases contact your NS sales and marketing representative. If you do not have a representative, please consult the Shipping Options page to locate contact information for a representative who works with the commodities you wish to ship by rail.

NS-served customers that do not use PaceSetter, such as jointly served facilities, can discuss options in this area with their NS sales and marketing representative.

Customers not served by NS, but who request equipment from NS, can report railcar issues directly to the Car Management desk via phone between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST, Monday-Friday, or any time via e-mail. Merchandise commodity customers should visit our merchandise equipment page to obtain the appropriate desk phone number based on car type.

If you require immediate assistance after hours on railcar matters, or for more general service issues, please call the NS helpline at 1-800-635-5768. A comprehensive menu of options will direct you to the correct support team.

Can I reload inbound loaded equipment that I have just unloaded at my facility?

You cannot reload inbound loaded railcars that you have unloaded at your facility without first speaking to an NS Car Distribution representative. Reloading of railcars is governed by AAR industry rules. Please contact your NS Car Management desk to discuss reloading of railcars. If you are a merchandise commodity customer, visit our merchandise equipment page to obtain the appropriate desk phone number based on car type.

If equipment is used without permission, you may be subject to tariff violations issued by the entity that controls such equipment.