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Rail News: Norfolk Southern Railway

NS shares sustainability strategy in CDP filing


Norfolk Southern Corp. has disclosed its business strategy for reducing greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions and improving the company's environmental footprint in a recent filing with the CDP, a nonprofit organization formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Among the key strategic initiatives described in the filing, NS plans to: purchase more fuel-efficient locomotives; equip older locomotives with more fuel-efficient, cleaner-burning engines; continue to research and develop alternative power, including renewable biofuels and battery-powered locomotives; expand its use of idle-reduction and train-handling technologies; improve infrastructure to increase capacity and fluidity of major routes, including the Heartland and Crescent corridors; and upgrade facilities with more energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems.

The Class I's annual public disclosure to CDP provides customers, investors, employees and communities information about how the railroad plans to address potential risks and benefits related to GHGs, NS officials said in a press release.

"Norfolk Southern is committed to being an industry leader in environmental stewardship," said Blair Wimbush, NS' vice president of real estate and corporate sustainability officer. "Efforts to improve our performance and to mitigate the environmental impacts of business operations are part of daily life on our railroad."

The railroad has made "considerable progress" toward its goal of reducing GHG emissions by 10 percent per revenue ton mile between 2009 and 2014, NS officials said. At 2012's end, the company had reached nearly 69 percent of the goal.

In the longer term, the Class I plans to continue pursuing infrastructure investments — including public-private partnerships — to expand capacity and enable shippers to reduce their supply-chain carbon footprint, NS officials said. For example, the Crescent Corridor intermodal route — which spans 11 states from Louisiana to New Jersey — has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 1.9 million tons annually when fully developed due to truck diversions, they said.

The Class I also expects to continue engaging with customers and suppliers to share information about sustainability practices, carbon efficiency and GHG emissions. In September, NS and GE Transportation plan to co-sponsor their third annual "Railroad Sustainability Symposium" to advance discussions about sustainability in the rail industry.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/12/2013