Norfolk & Western said it plans to lay off more than 1,000 employes for a month because of declining business and the seasonal slump in coal-mining operations during the miners' summer vacation period.
The furloughs will affect 1,091 locomotive and freight car repair workers beginning June 30, and that number will increase to 1,464 by July 14, the company said. Most of those laid off, however, will be recalled on Aug. 4, depending on economic conditions, the company said. A spokesman said he couldn't say how many employes would return.
In previous years the railroad generally hasn't laid off workers during the miners' summer vacation, and the furloughs this year were caused mostly by the slowdown in business. The railroad said its merchandise traffic levels have fallen drastically in recent months because of declining volume of automobiles and auto parts, lumber and other building supplies, and steel shipments.
For example, merchandise traffic of all commodities except coal coke and iron ore was down about 24 percent from the same month a year ago, and the trend is continuing this month, the company said.
During late June and July, the coal miners traditionally take vacations, closing some mines for two weeks to allow all of the miners to vacation at once. During the miners' vacation the railway, which serves many mining areas, loses significant volume, the company said.
In addition to the layoffs, the railroad announced it will suspend production of covered hopper cars at its Roanoke shops for two weeks beginning June 30.