Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations Wednesday held a ceremony to commemorate the completion of the rail system that will move nearly 85% of the cars built in the factory to Volkswagen dealer network across North America.
The rail yard at Volkswagen Chattanooga has access by CSX, which will serve the East Coast and Norfolk Southern, which will serve the other territories. The trains will deliver Passats to 16 U.S. destinations, three Canadian destinations and one destination in Mexico.
“This is another important milestone in Volkswagen’s return to production in North America. The rail yard is a vital connection for Volkswagen Chattanooga, as the vast majority of our cars will ship by train,” said Frank Fischer, CEO and chair of Volkswagen Chattanooga.
“But at a local level, I think it’s appropriate that Chattanooga’s past transportation icon, embodied by a beautiful 1904 steam engine was here to celebrate Chattanooga's transportation future, which will be produced very soon here in this factory,” Mr. Fischer said.
The Tennessee Valley Railroad Authority will serve as the switching agent to assist in moving the cars from the factory rail yard to the switch yard where CSX and Norfolk Southern will take them for transport across the country.
“With the rail network being a critical component of a successful supply chain, Wallenious Wilhelmsen Logistics is delighted to support Volkswagen’s rail connections via CSX and Norfolk Southern,” said John Felitto, president and CEO of WWL Vehicle Services America and EVP of Wallenious Wilhelmsen Logistics Americas. WWL handles vehicle processing and yard management at the Chattanooga Plant.
The day began with the Golden Spike ceremony participants arriving on a former Southern Railway #630 steam locomotive originally built in 1904. The engine was retired in 1952, returned to service in 1967. In 1999 it was donated to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum by Norfolk Southern. It has just undergone a ten-year overhaul and returned to service this year.
CSX serves major markets in the eastern United States and has direct access to all Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports, as well as the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. The company also has access to Pacific ports through alliances with western railroads.
Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates approximately 21,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East.