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3/29/2001



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

NS team rolls out operational-process changes


NS21, Norfolk Southern Corp.’s team-oriented initiative designed to improve operational processes, recently began implementing recommendations made in January by the NS21 steering committee.
In NS’ casualty and freight claims departments, the railroad is centralizing a claims management system designed to eliminate non-essential reports and provide more discretion to local agents to determine how to more efficiently handle claims.
"We hope to be able to eliminate a lot of time-consuming paperwork," said Henry Light, NS vice president, law, in a prepared statement, adding that claims agents with large territories could reduce their travel burden and costs by handling some reports by phone or through field supervisors.
NS21 also plans to inject more electronic communication into the claims process to eliminate mailing large files or some letter correspondence.
"Large claims organizations are moving quickly to electronic transmission and communication via the Internet," said Joe Folk, NS assistant vice president planning and analysis. "This allows the agent to devote more time to claims investigation and settlement, and less on paperwork."
Meanwhile, NS21 also began implementing changes to NS’ car management processes.
The railroad now is combining some transportation marketing functions, standardizing performance measurements for coal and merchandise services, disposing of 12,000 surplus rail cars, initiating Web-based car-ordering modules and developing decision support tools for fleet management.
"Combining coal marketing and coal transportation into the Coal Business Group gives us a common focus and enables us to provide a much better product to our customers," said Bill Fox, NS senior vice president coal marketing.
All car types would be part of the 12,000 rail cars — which have been identified — that NS plans to sell later this year.
"By getting rid of the surplus, we can concentrate on maintaining and managing a fleet that sees plenty of use," said Mark Manion, NS vice president transportation services and mechanical.


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