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March 2022

Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

From the Editor: Preparing for (and to) change


By Pat Foran, Editor

The past couple pandemic years have done a number on companies, industries and economies of all kinds. In the freight transportation realm, “business as usual became business as highly unusual,” as Managing Editor Jeff Stagl put it in this month’s cover story detailing the Norfolk Southern Railway brain trust’s response to said unusualness, and the corresponding adversity surrounding same.  

To be better prepared as consumer habits, the supply chain, and other freight and global factors change, the Thoroughbred needed a new operating plan, a sharper customer focus and a few new tools (e.g., additional automation), NS execs told Stagl. 

The need to be better prepared took on yet another dimension last month.  

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted a number of companies from around the globe to halt product sales and shipments involving Russia. The world’s largest ocean carriers didn’t wait for governments to impose sanctions on specific freight moves; at least six had suspended Russian bookings as this issue went to press. Every link in the freight transportation chain will be affected by the booking and business suspensions. Meanwhile, U.S. consumer prices have risen nearly 8% over the past 12 months. And oil prices surged to a seven-year high on March 1. 

So, yeah. Unusualness and the corresponding adversity.  

NS couldn’t have picked a better time to aim to be more customer centric, more predictable, more reliable. To be better prepared for, and better prepared to, change. It’s something every link in the freight transportation chain needs to be ready for, and prepared to do. Just as important: Customers need to know said links are prepping, ever prepping. No matter how strong the headwinds … or how strong the urge to close ranks. Especially when the horizon’s murky. 

ESG summit videos available on RailPrime 

On Feb. 24, Progressive Railroading hosted a virtual summit on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. A focus for more and more organizations worldwide, ESG “has moved from niche to mainstream to mandatory,” as CN Vice President of Sustainability Janet Drysdale noted in her presentation detailing the Class I’s sustainability practices.  

Joining Drysdale on the virtual dais were Wabtec Corp. Chief Commercial Officer – Americas Gina Trombley, who discussed “New Power Options for Locomotives”; and CSX Director of Fuel Strategy and Utilization Corey Davis, who talked about his railroad’s fuel-saving strategies. 

The three-hour event was free to subscribers of RailPrime, our digital information offering dedicated to all things freight transportation and home to the lion’s share of our originally reported coverage. (Non-subscribers paid $99 to attend).   

You can view the three presentations on RailPrime. An annual subscription is $199; you also can subscribe monthly for $19.99. For more information about the site and to subscribe, visit: progressiverailroading.com/railprime.

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