Alan Shaw at NARS: “We Can Do Better”

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw addressed the North American Rail Shippers conference May 26, where he “outlined the progress that Norfolk Southern continues to make in East Palestine [and] also discussed the company’s efforts to provide safe, reliable service as a customer-centric, operations-driven organization.”

Shaw’s entire presentation can be downloaded below. Following are several excerpts:

“Each and every day we’ve got about 300 Norfolk Southern employees and contractors who are working on the environmental remediation, working on community assistance and helping East Palestine thriveAs soon as the National Transportation Safety Board [preliminary] report came out on East Palestine, it said the Norfolk Southern crew was doing everything it was supposed to do. There were no track defects. Wayside detectors were working. It was really focused on a catastrophic wheel bearing failure of a car that no railroad owns. Candidly, it touched three roads before it got to us on that trip. That tells you it takes an industry-wide response.”

“Last year, Norfolk Southern’s derailments were the lowest in the past two decades. And we can do better. Last year, Norfolk Southern’s employee injury rate was among the lowest in all of the industry and was the lowest in a decade. And we can do better. So, we are investing in safety.”

“Customer-centric means you listen to your customers … Operations-driven means having a vigilant standard of care for operations because we are an operating company. 100% of our revenue comes from our customers and 100% of our revenue is handled by operations.”

“I made the promise last year that in the first economic downturn, we’re not going to furlough. We’re going to keep hiring. Right now, there’s a lot of murkiness out there and no one knows what’s going to happen the second half of this year, but our pipeline of conductor trainees is near the highest on record because we’re hiring.”

“Last fall, I was at a customer event and one of our customers came up to me, somebody who we’d been given really lousy service to earlier in the year. He told me that what he was seeing from our team is this awesome alignment now between marketing and operations, service and growth.”

“Our employees trust us. I’ve asked them to trust that we’re going to run Norfolk Southern in a manner that they can be proud of five years from now, ten years from now. I’ve asked them to trust that we’re going to give them a safe operating environment and that they’re going to get home to their families in the same shape that they went to work that day.”

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