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November 2012

Rail News: Norfolk Southern Railway

A new safety culture at Norfolk Southern; RailTrends rescheduled

— by Pat Foran, Editor

Safety: NS aims for a new gold standard

There’s a difference between winning awards and winning employees’ trust. The management team at Norfolk Southern Railway, which has won 23 straight E.H. Harriman gold safety awards, is well versed in the former. Now, NS leaders are attempting to inculcate a safety culture change they believe will go a long way toward earning the latter — and, in turn, improving safety over the longer haul, as Managing Editor Jeff Stagl reports this month.

Launched in January, the effort began in the operating department and involves training thousands of supervisors and field workers. Communication, problem-solving and positive reinforcement (as opposed to the negative kind) are all on the training docket. As NS Chairman, President and CEO Wick Moorman told Stagl: “We have to be rule driven, yet we need to be more in a coaching mode than a compliance mode.”

In this cultural evolution, the coaches will be doing a lot of learning — and, just as important, unlearning. It’s a key trust-building component as the Thoroughbred aims to establish a new gold safety standard. We’ll follow NS’ pursuit of the new gold in the months ahead.

RailTrends rescheduled for December 10-11

Superstorm Sandy forced us to postpone our annual RailTrends® summit, which now will be held Dec. 10-11, 2012. We’ll host RailTrends 2012 at the originally scheduled venue — The W New York Hotel in Manhattan — but we’ll be holding the event at a distinctly different period in time. We’ll be convening five weeks after Election Day instead of five days before it.

That’ll take at least one “uncertainty” chip off the RailTrends discussion table. At the rescheduled summit, we’ll know who the next U.S. president is. We’ll also know what Congress is going to look like for the next couple of years.

Of course, a couple of definites won’t do much to clarify what’s to come on the political front. It’s anybody’s guess, educated or otherwise, what this next batch of elected officials will do once they’re in office; the extent to which the opposition will or won’t work with their counterpart powers-that-be; and what all of that might mean for the rail realm. But that won’t keep RailTrends presenters and attendees from weighing in on what lies ahead — not at this year’s future-focused event, where transportation leaders will discuss post-election issues, rail’s prospects for near-term growth and a host of other topics.

You can weigh in, too. Join us at RailTrends 2012. To obtain program information or to register, visit

AARS unveils Richter scholarship winners

The American Association of Railroad Superintendents (AARS) recently announced the 2012 winners of its annual Frank J. Richter Scholarships.

AARS created the scholarship program in 2001 in recognition of Richter — who co-founded Progressive Railroading magazine — and his long-time dedication to the association and its ongoing activities.

This year, AARS awarded two $1,000 scholarships. The winners:

  • Valerie Edwards, an aviation science student at Elizabeth City State University. She’s interned with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and worked as a Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholar intern at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
  • Jay Banna, a civil engineering student at Arizona State University. He has participated in research work, including a study of railroad efficiency entitled “U.S. Railroad Efficiency: A Brief Economic Overview,” by Gerard McCullough, Ph.D., University of Minnesota.

Undergraduate students, as well as graduate students who have completed at least one semester of undergraduate work, can apply for the next batch of Frank J. Richter Scholarships beginning March 1, 2013. For more information, visit AARS’ website:


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