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Key sectors other than coal will outpace slow economic growth, CSX's Ward says

CSX Corp. last year "successfully withstood" a significant drop in coal business by making quick operational adjustments and focusing on safety, service and productivity, said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Ward in the Class I's recently released 2012 Annual Report.

"Experience has shown that when CSX does those things well, we can turn good conditions into great results, or bad conditions into better results," Ward said, noting that last year, employees led the major U.S. freight railroads in safety, and the Class I drove customer satisfaction levels to all-time highs and delivered productivity savings of about $200 million.

Looking ahead, key business sectors other than coal will outpace the slow, steady growth that is expected in the economy this year, Ward said.

"Our customers across many industries believe that America is primed for real recovery, and so do we," he said.

Ward explained that CSX's confidence in the long-term rail industry outlook is based on: the inevitable movement of more freight as populations and consumption rise; the pressing need to deliver freight efficiently between ports as global trade continues to build; the increasing congestion on the nation's highways, which is driving freight to rails; the re-industrialization of America; the challenges associated with trucking companies' labor, fuel and other costs; and the nation's need for more environmentally friendly transportation options.

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