Norfolk Southern's strategy for the long haul

For the past two years, Norfolk Southern Corp. Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Squires has ventured into the field at least once a month to visit the Class I’s customers.

At each visit, he takes with him two or three NS execs to listen and learn. After a tour of the facilities, Squires & Co. sit down for a conversation with the customer’s leaders. The NS team wants to know: How is the Class I doing when it comes to serving them? How can service be improved? How can NS help customers grow?

A few themes have emerged from those dozens of visits — themes that NS has incorporated into its five-year strategy to streamline operations, drive profitability, grow traffic and revenue, and enhance shareholder value. The strategic plan, which Squires has taken on the road to pitch to the investment community as well as customers, is designed to position NS for even tighter competition in the eastern U.S. freight-rail market. That focus is especially fitting now that main rival CSX has brought in Hunter Harrison as CEO to overhaul its operations with his “precision railroading” philosophy.

To learn more about how NS is implementing its five-year strategy, read my cover story in this month's issue of Progressive Railroading.

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