Norfolk Southern rolls out precision operating plan

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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South Carolina Ports Authority

Norfolk Southern is preparing to roll out TOP21, the railroad’s new precision scheduled railroading operating plan, to enhance customer service, increase operating efficiencies, support growth, and drive long-term shareholder value.

TOP21 is a key initiative of Norfolk Southern’s new three-year strategic plan to Reimagine Possible in all aspects of business operations. In April, the railroad announced that the first phase of TOP21 will focus on the company’s general merchandise market. Norfolk Southern already has made initial changes to its train plan for TOP21, and the railroad will make the rest of the changes starting in early July, coinciding with the July Fourth holiday.

To demonstrate commitment to a smooth transition to TOP21, Norfolk Southern has been working closely with customers, including inviting them to town hall meetings attended by train and engine crews as well as employees involved in operations, marketing, and customer service.

“As we Reimagine Possible, a hallmark of our brand of precision scheduled railroading has been and will continue to be intense customer communication and collaboration,” said Norfolk Southern CEO James Squires. “As we have promised, we will work closely with customers before and after we implement TOP21. Our goal is to achieve mutually beneficial results that include reliable and consistent service as well as growth opportunities. We want to grow our business and our customers’ business, all while operating more efficiently and safely.”

“TOP21 supports the five principles that are at the heart of our reimagined railroad: serve our customers, manage our assets, control our costs, work safely, and develop our people – what we call the NS Way,” said Mike Wheeler, chief operating officer of Norfolk Southern. “With TOP21, the company’s goal is to serve our customers better while operating our network more efficiently and driving down operating costs.”

Norfolk Southern began developing the TOP21 plan last year using computer modeling and simulation tools to analyze data and train flows to achieve optimum network fluidity and velocity. Under TOP21, the railroad will focus on reducing circuity of freight car movements to and from customers and balancing its network flows. This will allow the railroad to run fewer trains, use its operating assets more efficiently, and create capacity for growth.


Categories: Class 1, Freight
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