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Rail News: Norfolk Southern Railway

NS readies operating plan for precision scheduled railroading

"We will work closely with customers before and after we implement TOP21," said CEO James Squires.
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Norfolk Southern Corp. is preparing to roll out the Class I’s new precision scheduled railroad operating plan known as TOP21.

The initiative is a key component of NS's new three-year strategic plan to "Reimagine Possible" in all aspects of its business operations. In April, the company announced that the first phase of TOP21 will focus on the general merchandise market.

NS already has made initial changes to its train plan for TOP21, and the railroad will make the remaining changes starting in early July, according to an NS press release.

To demonstrate what the company describes as a smooth transition to TOP21, NS has been working closely with customers, including through town hall meetings attended by train and engine crews, as well as employees involved in operations, marketing and customer service, NS officials said.

“As we have promised, we will work closely with customers before and after we implement TOP21," said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer James Squires. "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.”
NS 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, company officials said.

“TOP21 will improve our network fluidity and velocity, reduce our circuity and train miles, make our railroad more resilient, and give us greater capacity for growth,” said Chief Marketing Officer Alan Shaw.

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