WILLIAMSON - Norfolk and Southern recently furloughed 20 of its employees work worked at the rail yard in Williamson.

The company released a statement that said the decision is in line with other moves made to right-size the rail transportation company.

"Norfolk Southern continues to focus on ensuring that we have the optimal number of people and assets at every location across our system in order to operate safely and efficiently. As we execute our new strategic plan and reimagine our business, we expect that targeted hiring and furloughing will remain components of our operating model. That entailed the furlough of approximately 20 employees in Williamson, West Virginia. All furloughed employees will have the opportunity to apply for positions elsewhere at Norfolk Southern," the statement said.

The company laid off 10 workers at the Williamson yard as recently as 2012 and 200 positions in total within West Virginia, citing a weakness in the coal market.

The company also laid off 38 conductors from its Roanoke, Virginia, operations in January 2016, again citing a downturn in the coal industry.

The Williamson railyard was built by the old Norfolk and Western railroad with construction starting in 1901, according to the history tab on the cityofwilliamson.org website. The yard is still the largest on the N&S line between Portsmouth, Ohio, and Roanoke.

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