The derailment incident at E. Palestine, OH, involving an Eastward train from "roundly" St. Louis (Madison) to "roundly" Pittsburgh (Conway) has prompted me to wonder just how many East-West routes NS has available.
My first instinct was why wasn't the train simply routed over the Panhandle, or otherwise, the PRR route of the "Spirit of St. Louis" and the "Penn-Texas" (and I would guess, the "Pan" is the Eastern end of the PRR; the Handle this line St. Louis-Pgh). E. Palestine is not on the Panhandle, but rather on the PRR line now used by Amtrak's Capitol Limited.
Now, from reviewing this topic, it appears that some portions of this line, while intact, are in the hands of Short Lines.
Of course, we should note that Topper (NS) has several other lines to handle traffic to and from St Louis- namely the Wabash (interchanging with the Nickel Plate at Ft Wayne and the NYC near Bryan OH, and NKP (trackage over the NYC from STL). But it would still seem the Panhandle is the only means to handle East-West traffic from both Indianapolis or Columbus.
So, if the Panhandle has been chopped up and in the hands of Short Lines along with their varying FRA Track Classes, how does Topper efficiency handle East-West Columbus and Indianapolis traffic?