US railroad Norfolk Southern has been given a $8.4m grant to double the length of a passing track on the line between Macon and Atlanta in Georgia, US. 

The grant was given by the state’s Department of Transportation and will fund part of the $21m project, which is aimed at reducing the frequency of blocked road crossings by trains along the freight rail corridor. 

Mike McClellan, Norfolk Southern’s senior vice president and chief strategy officer, said: “It’s a triple win: enhancing service for our local customers, improving mainline train access across our 22-state network, and easing congestion along the way. 

“These infrastructure improvements will bolster our operational efficiency while driving economic growth across the region, promising enduring benefits for our communities.” 

The funding is provided as part of the first round of the Georgia Freight Rail programme and will support the line which forms part of the freight rail corridor connecting the Georgia Port Authority’s Garden City Terminal in Savannah to the metro Atlanta area. 

The remaining funding for the new passing track, from McDonough to Locust Grove in Henry County, will be provided by Norfolk Southern itself. 

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Russel McMurry, state commissioner of transportation in Georgia, said the project would benefit both the people of Henry County and the entire state: “Georgia’s freight rail network is a key economic driver and a vital component of our overall transportation network.” 

Earlier this year, Norfolk Southern employees in Atlanta became some of the first to join the US Federal Railroad Administration’s Confidential Close Call Reporting System, a pilot programme to improve whistleblowing procedures.