Skip to main content

Norfolk Southern successfully rolls out TOP21 precision scheduled railroading operating plan

Norfolk, Va. - Jul 22, 2019

As America was celebrating its independence, the Norfolk Southern team was working around the clock to ensure a smooth transition to the railroad’s new TOP21 operating plan, which was rolled out during the first week of July. Their efforts resulted in a seamless changeover with minimal impact to customer service and network operations.

The company attributes the successful launch to extensive planning and customer collaboration leading up to the implementation. This included iterative modeling by the Network Planning and Optimization team, with corresponding adjustments based on reviews by both the operating and marketing groups.

“We are one team, dedicated to serving our customers, managing assets, controlling costs, operating safely, and developing people,” said John Friedmann, vice president network planning and optimization. “The benefits associated with TOP21 – reduced circuity and improved velocity – will directly benefit our customers through faster, more predictable transit times that require fewer assets to move their shipments.”

Leading up to the July 1 implementation, Norfolk Southern hosted a series of 19 town hall meetings across its network with employees and customers participating in the discussion.

“We took a deliberate and collaborative approach in planning and executing our TOP21 operating plan, and we brought customers with us, quite literally, along the way,” said Mike Farrell, senior vice president transportation.

Norfolk Southern’s marketing team met with hundreds of key customers in May and June to prepare customers for the plan and communicate expectations for the transition. The company also established two 24/7 command centers to monitor network status and customer concerns throughout the implementation, with no significant issues reported.

“To our employees, we thank you for your dedication in ensuring a smooth transition to our new operating plan with minimal disruption,” said Alan Shaw, executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “To our customers, we cannot thank you enough for your business, and we welcome continued opportunities to grow our business, together.”

This first phase of TOP21 was focused on Norfolk Southern’s carload and automotive networks. “We have already begun the planning process for the next phase of TOP21 to improve our operations and to better serve our customers,” said Mike Wheeler, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We expect another successful rollout based on frequent communication with our customers and employees to ensure another seamless transition.”

Customers who wish to submit specific feedback or questions regarding the TOP21 implementation can contact Norfolk Southern’s marketing team by emailing Including a company name and location in the email subject line will assist in expediting a response. Requests are monitored by managers across the network to ensure timely and thorough responses. Normal service inquiries should be directed to the NS Customer Service team within Operations and Service Support.

About Norfolk Southern
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 19,500 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern is a major transporter of industrial products, including chemicals, agriculture, and metals and construction materials. In addition, the railroad operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a principal carrier of coal, automobiles, and automotive parts.

Media Inquiries:

Media Relations, 404-420-4444 (

Investor Inquiries:

Peter Sharbel, 757-629-2861 (