• Sublettering of Norfolk Southern units

  • Discussion relating to the NS operations. Official web site can be found here: NSCORP.COM.
Discussion relating to the NS operations. Official web site can be found here: NSCORP.COM.
  by USRailFan
I've noticed that all Norfolk Southern units seem to be sublettered for NS' predecessor railroads (Wabash, PRR, N&W, Southern, etc.)

Is there a list somewhere over which units are sublettered for which railroad?

  by ACLfan
Well, I'm not sure that the word "predecessor" is the right word to describe the practice of sublettering. "Subsidiary" might be a more accurate word.

The sublettering practice that you mention is a continuation of a former Southern Railway System practice. The Southern often assigned "ownership" of their new locomotive units, when purchased, to former independent railroad lines that had been acquired by the Southern. NS has continued this practice with former independent rail lines that are now part of the NS.

Don't forget that NS also letters former Conrail equipment (locomotives, freight cars, etc) that they acquired as part of the Conrail split-up with CSX as "PRR", while CSX uses "NYC" for their former Conrail equipment.


  by USRailFan
OK, but semantics aside, is there any roster anywhere which explains which NS locomotives are assigned to which subsidiary?

  by Ken S.
As far as I know;
PRR- Ex-Conrail
NS- Roams entire system
NW- Ex-Norfolk & Western
SOU- Ex-Southern

  by USRailFan
Since people seem to have trouble understanding English, I guess it is time to go into spoonfeed mode:

The Norfolk Southern Railway, formed in 1982 with the merger of the Southern and the Norfolk and Western, is, to my knowledge, the only US railroad that still follows the practice of sublettering its locomotives with the letters of the company's predecessor/subsidiary railroads. This includes NW (for Norfolk & Western), PRR (for Conrail), SOU (for Southern), CG (for Central of Georgia) etc. So, one would think that on the Internet, somewhere, there would be a list of which of the subsidiaries the various locomotives carry sublettering for? Ie - which locos are sublettered NW, which locos are sublettered PRR, which locos are sublettered CG, which locos are sublettered SOU, etc

  by ACLfan
OK, USRailFan, no need to get your nose out of joint and have a fast bowel movement!

Maybe you don't read too good either. If you knew how to read pretty good, you would have noticed that I explained that the practice of sublettering had begun BEFORE the creation of the Norfolk Southern System. The Southern Railway System had been using the sublettering system for over a decade BEFORE THE FORMATION OF THE NORFOLK SOUTHERN SYSTEM!

But, since you want to cop an attitude, I'm off this topic, and I'll take my list of sublettering with me. I had researched the list of sublettering in response to your information request, but after reading your very rude response, I'm not posting it! If you're so much smarter than the rest of us, then why are you asking us dummies for help?

You can find the information yourself, since you seem to think that the rest of us are not smart enough to understand or read English! U probly culdnt reed our riting anyway!


  by ACLfan
Golly, USRailFan, I must be getting sentimental in my old age, so here's a hint for you!

Get out more often, and visit your friendly neighborhood hobby store.

Betcha that your friendly hobby store has a little book on its shelves that contains just the information that you are looking for! Yeah, the listing has a few errors regarding current NS sublettering, but its around 90% correct.

But, when you are asking for the book, please be nice to them, and don't be snotty or condescending! Getting snotty with people gets you nowhere!

You have a good one, you hear!

Cordially yours,


  by ANDY117
Calm down you 2! It's little letters on a locomotive for God's sake!

Now let's all act above the mentality of a 3 year old.

  by AmtrakFan
I have seen ones with CNTOP on them. I think it has to do with there former owners.

  by ACLfan

RE: CNOT sublettering

Nope, it is simply how the Southern Railway wanted to assign the "paper" ownership of locomotives that the Southern had acquired.

Example: NS # 7073, a GP50, is sublettered GN (for the Georgia Northern).

The GP50 was built long after the GN had been acquired by Southern Railway, and no longer had a corporate existence.

The GN would have been absolutely thrilled to have owned a new locomotive! During the years when they operated, they were an operating railroad museum, with their "newest" locomotive being over 20 years old when they purchased it!

Their shop forces were miracle workers in keeping old junkers in reasonably good operating condition! It was a real trip back in the past each time I visited their operations.


  by ACLfan

No problem as far as I'm concerned.

I'm just getting too old to put up with people that don't know how to be nice.

And, Andy, thanks for the "compliment", but, no thanks.


  by ACLfan
AmtrakFan (John P.):

Regarding the CNO&TP that you mentioned, this railroad was acquired years ago by the Southern Railway System.

As of January, 2005, 74 NS diesel locomotives still carried the CNOT sublettering. I have not yet received the new updated list of NS units (to be issued in January, 2006).

None of these units were ever owned or operated by the CNO&TP when it was an independent railroad.
Southern just chose to "assign" these units with the CNOT sublettering.

All sublettering is either 2, 3 or 4 letters, with no more than 4 letters, hence CNOT for CNO&TP.

An increasing problem is that most of the NS sublettered locomotive units are units that were owned by the Southern Railway before the SR - NS merger, so they are getting up in age, and many have already been retired, are about to be retired, or will be retired during the next few years.

So, all of the "unique" sublettering created by the Southern Railway will most likely be gone within the next decade.

N&W was never thrilled with the idea of sublettering, so after the merger with the Southern, N&W did not subletter any units for their former acquisitions such as the Wabash, Nickel Plate, A&D or Virginian railroad lines. N&W just used NW sublettering for all of their locomotive units.

All new locomotives such as the Dash 9 and ES series units are simply sublettered with the generic NS. No use of subletters of acquired railroad lines whatsoever.

Except for PRRX, no use of subletters of former railroads that were absorbed into Conrail, either.

So, the practice of individualized railroad sublettering is no longer being practiced by NS. Too bad!

Hope that this is helpful.


  by ACLfan
AmtrakFan (John P.)

I meant to clarify the status of the CNO&TP:

The railroad's name is the Cincinatti, New Orleans and Texas Pacific RY,
but it only extended between the cities of Cincinatti, OH and Chattanooga, TN. The railroad never made it to New Orleans, or to Texas and certainly not to the Pacific Ocean!

Of course, the Southern Railway made it to New Orleans, via the Alabama Great Southern and the New Orleans & Northeastern.

The Southern Railway coined the nickname of its Cincinatti - New Orleans line as "The Queen and Crescent Route", as Cincinatti is referred to as the "Queen City", and New Orleans is referred to as the "Crescent City", hence the term "Queen and Crescent".

The Southern Railway never owned the CNO&TP (neither does NS), as it is used on a long-term lease from guess who? The City of Cincinatti, the owner of the railroad!

The CNO&TP has the famous "Rathole" Division through the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee. This nickname was derived from the numerous tunnels that had a physical resemblance to large rat holes in the walls of rooms. Most, if not all of these tunnels have been either enlarged or "daylighted" in order to accommodate doublestack intermodal freight cars.

Thought that you might find this info. sorta interesting.


  by Schuylkill Valley
from here on this thred is locked.