COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Ohio State Legislative Board is backing the proposed sale of municipally owned Cincinnati Southern Railway to Norfolk Southern.
The board’s executive committee announced on Friday that it voted unanimously to back the $1.6 billion sale, which will go before Cincinnati voters on Nov. 7.
Norfolk Southern’s Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific has leased and operated the Cincinnati Southern since 1881. The line forms the 338.2-mile Chattanooga-Cincinnati backbone of NS’s key corridor linking Chicago with Atlanta and the Southeast. In November 2022 the railway’s trustees unanimously agreed to sell the route to NS.
The legislative board’s position is a reversal: It had been critical of the proposal to sell the line to NS.
“Our Board was vocally critical of the sale during the lame-duck period of the 134th General Assembly,” the BLET leadership group said. “Since then, we have had the opportunity to meet with the legislators that represent the area, local elected officials, local labor leaders, and regulatory bodies responsible for rail transportation.”
Based on those discussions, the board believes the sale will be a financial benefit to the city while also shielding it from liability in the event of a disastrous derailment.
“Based on exhaustive research of the sale and its provisions over the past year, our Board feels that the sale is the best choice for the citizens of the City of Cincinnati and encourage them to cast a yes vote in November,” said the board, which represents 2,500 locomotive engineers in Ohio.