by David Williams, HNN Freelance Correspondent
As employees of AK Steel in Ashland brace for impending layoffs to arrive during the last two weeks of the year, reports are coming in that CSX is planning to realign the Hunt
ington district.

According to  The Akron Railroad Club :

"CSX may announce on Tuesday (12/15) that it plans to realign its Huntington Division in the wake of falling coal traffic, Trains magazine reported on Monday.

The division covers CSX routes from southern Tennessee to central Ohio and reaches to the coast of Virginia.

The entire length of the former Chesapeake & Ohio as well as all of the former Clinchfield are part of the Huntington Division. Included in that territory are the railroad’s coal-heavy branches in Kentucky and West Virginia.

Trains said it has learned that the realignment might affect jobs in management, train dispatching and clerk positions.

The division employs more than 100, including division managers, a regional vice president, directors and supervisors of train operations, more than 65 train dispatchers, and 20 yardmasters."

While the War on Coal may only be partially responsible for the steel industry woes as foreign countries dumping steel at low prices is mainly hurting the US market, the railroad industry is directly impacted by lower production in coalfields.

As more and more coal mines are closed in West Virginia and Kentucky, the railroad industry is being hurt as there is obviously less coal to transport.

The railroad industry has been a major employer in Huntington going back to the days of The B&O and C&O Railroad and their merger into The Chessie System which evolved into CSX.

West Virginia will continue to suffer as the coal industry suffers because not only will coal miners be affected but so will businesses that depend on them such as railroads.  Once enough jobs are done away with in Huntington and West Virginia, the economic damage will impact other industries such as the retail industry that depends on money brought in from the manufacturing industry.

Any loss of coal business in West Virginia will impact other business in the state and eventually impact every city in West Virginia.