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In ‘monumental’ effort, NS fends off historic flooding

Across Missouri prairie land, the floodwaters came, inundating roads, houses, businesses – and railroad tracks. As the waters rose, Norfolk Southern’s Engineering Department forces launched into battle mode to protect track and wayside infrastructure from the surging currents. What they achieved is remarkable.

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New strategic plan boosts network resiliency

Norfolk Southern operation leaders say the railroad’s new strategic plan is increasing network resiliency. Gains in network velocity and fluidity, which translate into additional capacity, has enabled NS to weather a record-cold polar vortex and floodwaters in Missouri with minimal disruption.

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In tough conditions, NS employees get tougher

When there’s ice and snow everywhere and the wind chill hits minus 40 or 50 degrees – as it did across northern Illinois and Indiana in late January and early February – just getting out your front door can be a challenge. During the polar vortex of 2019, employees patrolled tracks, kept locomotives and rail cars operating, and moved trains through yards and across the network to deliver customers’ freight.

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Connecting past success with future promise

Late last year, as Norfolk Southern was preparing a strategic plan to transform railroad operations, the company quietly celebrated a milestone that joined past success with future promise. NS completed an innovative “retub” program on its Top Gon coal car fleet. The initiative achieves all five principles that underpin the new strategic plan: serve the customer, manage assets, control costs, work safely, and develop people.

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NS taps employee idea to keep the rail cars moving

During field visits last spring, CEO Jim Squires and Chief Operating Officer Mike Wheeler encouraged employees to share their ideas on how the company could operate more efficiently. A suggestion by an employee who maintains and repairs rail cars is helping to reduce congestion and improve service at some of Norfolk Southern’s busiest rail yards. NS’ innovative ‘Go Team’ concept now is being used to rapidly deploy locomotive crews and rail car repairers on short-term assignments to locations where they are needed most.

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Adding speed, capacity, efficiency to NS service in New York

With its new Portageville Bridge, Norfolk Southern has carved out a faster, more efficient passage on its Southern Tier Line, sustaining the scenic vistas of a famous New York state park while opening new business opportunities for freight rail customers from the Midwest to New England.

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Preparing for storms is an NS team effort

For a freight railroad like Norfolk Southern, preparing for an advancing hurricane involves many moving parts. With planning, communication, and coordination across multiple operations departments, NS employees run the process with the precision of a well-tuned locomotive.

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Toledo employees trim pounds to gain health

Hoping to reduce injuries and improve employee health, Chris Seyer, a locomotive engineer in Toledo, Ohio, started a “Biggest Loser” contest. Sixty-one employees at Toledo Terminal accepted the challenge. Norfolk Southern, through its voluntary WellNS program, supports efforts that promote a happier, healthier workforce.

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When the going gets tough, NS operations employees get going

Norfolk Southern’s operations departments work diligently to prevent derailments. When one does occur, they know that restoring train service as rapidly and safely as possible is essential.

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From a walk to a run: Finding a path to WellNS

Two years ago, Keith Farmer weighed 296 pounds and found walking, sleeping, and even tying his shoes difficult. He recalled his father’s struggle with weight-related health problems and vowed not to follow in his footsteps. Now, he’s training for an overnight, 200-mile team relay race from Chattanooga to Nashville, Tenn.

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A railroad song for America from an NS signal maintainer

A freight train is more than a big piece of steel rumbling down the tracks – it has heart. So says Gregg Eargle, a Norfolk Southern signal maintainer who has written a song celebrating trains and railroading. Eargle and the Norfolk Southern Lawmen Band recorded “The Steel Rail News” for a music video released June 1, NS’ 35th anniversary. 

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At employee town hall, NS director offers business insights

Norfolk Southern director John Thompson joined employees for a town hall meeting in Atlanta, where he shared career advice and business insights gleaned from more than 40 years of corporate experience. The session, sponsored by an employee resource group committed to the retention and advancement of black Americans at NS, focused on diversity and inclusion. NS is making strides to increase workforce diversity, Thompson said.

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Fitness journey: From the sidelines to Marathon Mom

Gail Anthony’s journey to improved fitness began three years ago when she ran a small triathlon with her two sons, then 7 and 5 years old. Since then, the Norfolk Southern senior technology engineer has shed more than 40 pounds and earlier this year completed her first marathon. NS supports employees like Anthony through its voluntary wellness program.

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NS volunteers give back to the community

Through the Thoroughbred Volunteers, Norfolk Southern’s formal employee volunteer program, employees support local food banks, homeless shelters, community clean-up events, and many other activities that make our communities better places to work and live. Members of NS’ Norfolk, Va., chapter spent a Saturday in late April with hammers, paint brushes, and rakes at a “Paint Your Heart Out” event to support an elderly homeowner.

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NS introduces Girl Scouts to railroading

In 2010, Norfolk Southern created an industry-first railroad safety patch for Girl Scouts. Scouters earn the “Explore Norfolk Southern” patch by learning about rail safety, the environmental benefits of shipping by rail, and other essential railroad facts. In its latest partnership, NS teamed with a North Carolina transportation museum to sponsor a Girl Scout Rail Camp attended by more than 260 Girl Scouts, troop leaders, and parents.

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Trailblazing women at NS

Female railroaders are making their mark at Norfolk Southern. During panel discussions at the company’s offices in Norfolk and Atlanta, six women who are leaders at NS spoke about challenges and opportunities in an industry where many operations and leadership jobs historically were held by men. In recent years, NS has hired record numbers of female management trainees and conductor trainees as part of ongoing efforts to diversify its workforce.

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A pipeline for future leaders at NS

Norfolk Southern is leveraging its college student intern program to increase workforce diversity and establish a pipeline for future leaders in railroad operations. For students, the three-month paid internships offer a slice of life in operations and an opportunity to see if railroading is a good fit. For NS, the program is a cost-effective way to recruit talented employees more likely to stick around for a career after they graduate.

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NS’ new safety tool: Tell Me

Norfolk Southern works continuously to enhance rail safety in the workplace and in the communities it serves. The newest addition to its safety toolkit is “Tell Me.” This peer-to-peer safety communications tool encourages employees to speak up about safety concerns. The tool was introduced to leaders of NS’ local safety and service committees during the company’s 2017 Safety Summit in Atlanta.

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WellNS screening pays health dividends

In April 2016, Mike Maggard decided to participate in a health screening offered by WellNS, Norfolk Southern’s voluntary health and wellness program. He’s glad he did. He showed symptoms of prediabetes, an eye-opening discovery that spurred him to action. Over the past year, he has improved his health numbers with changes in diet and regular exercise.

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Making a safe railroad even safer

Pioneering work by Norfolk Southern and the rail industry to develop and deploy positive train control shares similarities with the challenges faced by the U.S. in sending humans to the moon, according to railroaders leading the effort. NS is deploying the safety technology on about 8,000 route miles of track and equipping nearly 3,000 locomotives with onboard PTC equipment designed to stop a train to prevent certain accidents from occurring.

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A workplace where employees thrive

Representing a mix of gender, race, age, ethnicity, geography, and work experience, employees who serve on Norfolk Southern’s diversity and inclusion councils gathered for the company’s first “Inspire! Summit” in Atlanta on Feb. 15-16. The summit featured workshops, discussion, and messages from NS leaders about the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce and how that contributes to business success in today’s competitive and ever-changing marketplace.

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In 2017, NS targets service and growth

Customer service and growth are key focus areas for Norfolk Southern in 2017, CEO Jim Squires said during a Feb. 10 employee town hall meeting in Atlanta. Chief Financial Officer Marta Stewart, who joined Squires at the employee-engagement forum, discussed disciplined cost control that helped NS achieve an all-time best operating ratio and increase profitability in 2016 despite a tough economy.

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Goodbye sugar and fat, hello WellNS

Approaching her 60th birthday and starting to think about retirement, Lynn Otis decided it was time to take charge of her health. Otis, a customer care team lead in Norfolk Southern’s Information Technology Department, discovered a novel way to lose weight and improve her heart health – she said goodbye to sugar and saturated fats.

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Celebrating diversity and inclusion at NS

Norfolk Southern embraces diversity and inclusion in its workforce as a key business strength in the global economy. In Atlanta, employees at the company’s Goode Building joined Asian colleagues to celebrate the Lunar New Year. 

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From couch potato to NS WellNS Champion

With inspiration from co-workers, his wife and children, and WellNS – Norfolk Southern’s voluntary wellness program – Bill King has transformed himself. Since July 2016, the locomotive machinist in Altoona, Pa., has shed more than 100 pounds, dropped 10 waist sizes, and improved his health numbers.

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Ethics ‘Jeopardy’ reflects NS’
commitment to good governance

Norfolk Southern is committed to good corporate governance in the workplace, the marketplace, and the communities it serves. As part of employee engagement, NS’ ethics and compliance group hosted ethics “Jeopardy” lunch and learns recently where employees tested their knowledge of the Thoroughbred Code of Ethics and company policies. Who says that serious business can’t also be fun?

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At NS, it’s all about the customer

After a tough business year, Norfolk Southern has emerged as a stronger, more nimble company well-positioned to grow and adapt to a changing economy, say CEO Jim Squires and CMO Alan Shaw. The key to success is service delivery, they told employees at a town hall meeting, and NS currently has a variety of initiatives underway to improve customer experience and how NS engages with customers.

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NS hazmat safety train builds ties with first responders - and communities

In April 2016, Norfolk Southern rolled out its safety train, reflecting the railroad’s commitment to operate safely in the communities it serves. First responders from New York to Louisiana have given the train positive reviews, and now the Safe America Foundation has recognized the train with a WorldSafe award.

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Keeping NS customers happy
with military discipline and duty

In the U.S. Air Force, Doug Widdis worked on the flight line to maintain and repair radar systems, radios, and flight controls on high-tech fighter aircraft. Every detail counted, because a slip-up could be disastrous. He has brought the same discipline and attention to detail to Norfolk Southern, where he plays a key role in customer service.

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Applying military lessons to a railroad job

Tiffany Morris faced something tougher than the battlefield during her eight years as a personnel specialist in the U.S. Army – informing families that their soldiers would not be coming home. Her years in the Army taught her discipline, leadership, and other skills she now applies at Norfolk Southern as a chief crew dispatcher in Atlanta.

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Susan Decker_20161103_11017

Railroad a good fit for retired chief petty officer

Unsure of what she wanted to do in life, Susan Decker joined the Navy at 17 and spent the next 24 years finding her direction while traveling the world. In 2007, she traded in her Navy blues to become a railroader at Norfolk Southern. Now an EEO officer and working regular office hours for the first time in her career, the retired chief petty officer is an advocate for military veterans inside and outside NS.

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From military ‘Blackhorse’ to railroad Thoroughbred

Before joining Norfolk Southern in 2006, Dwight Anderson spent 24 years in the U.S. Army, including Cold War duty in a divided Germany, training troops for armored warfare, and 15 months in Iraq that earned him the Bronze Star. At NS, the assistant trainmaster has found a rewarding second career overseeing trains instead of tanks.

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Women in railroad operations are vital to NS

Norfolk Southern is making progress in hiring and retaining women in operations, and the company aims to do more: The railroad’s success depends on it, says Terry Evans, vice president transportation.

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The Heroes of Hurricane Matthew

As Hurricane Matthew bore down on the Atlantic Coast, the biggest challenge facing Norfolk Southern was how to prepare for a major storm that threatened to disrupt train operations from Florida to Virginia. Thanks to NS employees, the railroad weathered the storm with less damage and fewer service disruptions than expected. If Matthew is the villain of this story, NS employees are the heroes.

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Safety milestones at Roanoke locomotive shops

Employees at Norfolk Southern’s two locomotive shops in Roanoke lead the way in workplace safety. Both shops recently achieved repeat performances of 1 million employee-hours of injury-free service. They credit their success to looking out for each other, reinforcing safe work behaviors, and believing that injuries can be prevented.

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NS commendation coins make safety and service personal

Small commendation coins designed to recognize Norfolk Southern employees for their contributions to safety or service are having a big impact. The numbered coins, passed from one co-worker to another with little fanfare, are an offshoot of NS’ “i am Coming Home” safety brand.

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Striving for ‘GreatNS’

At Norfolk Southern, employees love to invent “NS” words – think WiNS, WellNS, YoungNS, BizNS, VeteraNS, GeneratioNS. Mark Myers, who manages NS' IT Help Desk, has introduced another winner: GreatNS. Myers, an officer of NS Toasters on Track – Atlanta, an employee resource group and affiliate of Toastmasters International, introduced GreatNS during a speech at a recent club awards ceremony.

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A life saved in Pennsylvania

Quick action by two machine operators who work on a Norfolk Southern track gang played a key role in the rescue of a fisherman whose boat capsized on the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, Pa.

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David Norwood 2015 spirit awards June 2016

PTC challenge earns award-winning performance

David Norwood, a Mechanical Department employee in Atlanta, helped create PosiTraC, a custom database that Norfolk Southern uses to manage the complexities of deploying positive train control – one of the rail industry’s most challenging and extensive undertakings. His work earned him recognition as NS’ 2015 Chairman’s SPIRIT Award winner.

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Building enterprise with facility upgrades

Norfolk Southern is targeting investments in office and crew facilities at rail yards across its network to boost operating efficiencies, support business growth, and modernize work spaces for employees. The focus is on cost-effective solutions that generate benefits across the enterprise. 

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More women are joining NS’
field operations workforce

During the past year, NS hired record numbers of female conductor trainees and management trainees.

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Customers on board for green, cost-efficient intermodal

Norfolk Southern is gaining intermodal business at the South Carolina Inland Port by offering cost-efficient and environmentally friendly rail transport to and from the Port of Charleston. NS is helping companies reduce shipping costs and truck CO2 emissions.

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Getting personal about safety

As part of Norfolk Southern’s “i am Coming Home” safety rebranding, the Operations Division is trying new ways to communicate with employees.

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D&H South Line deal: Doing it like Sinatra

Norfolk Southern’s purchase of the Delaware & Hudson Railway Co.’s South Line in September strengthens the railroad’s competitive position in the Northeast and opens the door for long-term business growth.

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NS team shines on D&H transition

Norfolk Southern’s purchase of the D&H South Line was considered a “minor transaction” by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. Bringing the 282-mile line under NS’ ownership and control, however, was a major undertaking for employees. Their planning, teamwork, and attention to detail added up to a smooth start.

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Former CP employees like what they see at NS

Former Canadian Pacific employees hired by Norfolk Southern to help operate the D&H South Line territory are bullish about the line’s future under NS ownership.

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Mechanical finds savings, efficiencies with inventory network

Three Mechanical Department facilities have become Norfolk Southern’s version of for locomotive and car shops. Results include reduced shipping costs, quicker delivery of parts, and better visibility of inventory.

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Got a concern? Report it!

During the past two years, Larry Pennino and his team of three compliance investigators have fielded more than 500 calls related to ethics and compliance issues at NS. Pennino’s message to employees: Don’t be afraid to contact the group to report a concern or ask for advice.

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From the NS archives

Delivering first-class customer service is part of Norfolk Southern’s legacy. In January 1957, the Norfolk and Western Railway published an advertisement about an “ingenious” rail car classification system that enhanced operating efficiencies and service.

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