Norfolk Southern Update
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Earlier this week, Norfolk Southern announced the closure of its locomotive repair shops in Roanoke Virginia. Some of those jobs, now making their way to Blair County. Marshall Keely spoke with a local representative about what this means for the locomotive shops in Altoona. Representative Lou Schmidt says 85 jobs are coming to the locomotive shop,as Norfolk Southern has shut down their Roanoke, Virginia repair facilities. Schmidt says the work being done in Virginia will be transferred to the shops at Juniata he says workers from the Roanoke shops will have an opportunity to relocate to Altoona and retain their positions. Schmidt says previously furloughed workers from Altoona may have a chance to apply for the open positions, depending on how many Roanoke employees plan to transfer. In the short term he believes this is good news for the Juniata shops, but the announcement comes during contraction for the industry overall. He says Norfolk Southern's precision schedule plan requires less locomotives and therefore less maintenance, meaning fewer repair jobs. Last year the company laid off nearly 250 workers from the Juniata shop "In the short term this is more work for our local shop, but it comes in the context of a continual contraction in the Norfolk Southern workforce, which I don't like to see and don't want to see and the question becomes, what are they looking at in the medium to long term with their locomotive fleet and that, I don't know, at this point." Schmidt says he hopes Norfolk Southern realizes the high quality facilities and strong workforce present here in Altoona and hopes they continue to support it