Norfolk Southern: ‘Technology is at the center of our strategy’

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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NS CEO Jim Squires to retire; Alan Shaw will succeed him.
David C. Lester

Technology points the way to the future among Class 1 railroads.

Most readers are familiar with the tremendous technological changes that have occurred in the rail industry over the past twenty years. Track inspection equipment mounted on locomotives to inspect much more track than was previously possible with geometry cars, PTC, locomotives sporting powerful computers, and LIDAR mapping systems available for track geometry and engineering departments to inspect the right-of-way.

For those who think the railroads have taken about all of the new technology they can stand, there is plenty more to be done. During the NS 2021 shareholders meeting on May 13, President and CEO Jim Squires said that technology advancement will continue to be a core strategy for the railroad.

From Squires’ remarks:

“Having made significant progress in our company’s transformation, technology remains at the center of our strategy. We are moving quickly to lead the industry in innovation, launching our “Digital | NS” initiative, and building the digital railroad of the future. Mobile applications, artificial intelligence, and mathematical models are all at work across our organization to enhance safety and increase productivity.

“We’re paying close attention to the evolving supply chain needs of our customers, using our technological capabilities to improve the customer experience, and better aligning our definition of success with their own.

“We have goals that range from short-term, practical improvements in daily operations to long-term, aspirational “moonshot” projects that will transform our company and the rail industry. Regardless of their scope, these technology investments reflect our company’s pursuit of operational excellence as well as a deep commitment to sustainability as core to our business. For example, by adopting smart operating practices and energy management technologies, we achieved record locomotive fuel-efficiency in 2020.”

Watch this space for continued reporting on the latest technological advances that are in service, in the testing stages, or still on the drawing board.

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