Fox, who died in January 2011, headed the railroad’s coal group for seven years, during which he has been credited with improving revenues, customer service and cost controls. A native of Radford, Va., and a graduate of Crewe High School in Crewe, Va., and Virginia Tech, Fox came from a railroad family. He began his career as an assistant trainmaster for Norfolk and Western Railway in 1969. By 1993, he was general manager of Norfolk Southern’s eastern region, when he joined the coal marketing department as assistant vice president sales and service.
“Bill was a railroader, respected not only by his fellow employees but by customers as well,” said Danny Smith, senior vice president coal marketing. “He particularly had an affection for the Pocahontas Division and the coal business, so it is very fitting to name a building for him at Williamson.”
The J. W. Fox, Jr. Building is three stories and 9,500 square feet. It includes a parking garage, locker rooms, a break room, a conference and training room, and offices for management personnel. A 26-foot high atrium on the third floor allows natural light into the building.
The Williamson Yard has been a critical linchpin in Norfolk Southern’s coal business for more than 100 years. It handles about 45 trains a day, most of which are coal trains. The yard also has repair yards, engine service buildings, and machine shops that keep engines and cars functioning safely and efficiently. The roundhouse and turntable is one of the few operating roundhouses left in the U.S. and is still used to service freight cars. Norfolk Southern employs about 270 people at the yard.
Norfolk Southern Corporation is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal and industrial products.