Class I Briefs: CSX, NS, UP

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
(CSX Image)

(CSX Image)

CSX recognizes six shippers for their “commitment to sustainability” by converting a portion of their freight from truck to rail. Also, Norfolk Southern (NS) offers customers a Rail Emissions Report tool and introduces the “Safety Up” mobile app; and Union Pacific (UP) kick starts a plastics collection pilot.


Amazon, General Motors, Heidelberg Materials North America, Nissan North America, Tropicana, and WestRock have earned CSX’s Customer Environmental Excellence Awards for 2024. The third-annual awards program recognized customers whose “highway-to-rail conversions resulted in substantial emissions savings during the previous year,” the Class I railroad reported April 22.

CSX said it provides customers with a tool to calculate emissions savings for their shipments. Customers who choose rail over truck transportation can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% to 80%, according to the Class I, which noted that a typical CSX freight train can carry the cargo load of 280 trucks and is three to four times more fuel-efficient than highway transportation.

“Sustainability is a shared priority between CSX and our customers,” said Kevin Boone, CSX Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. “Helping them reduce emissions by converting from trucks to rail is an important part of our strategy. The winners of this year’s awards achieved the highest annual emissions savings totals among all CSX customers, reflecting their commitment to environmental citizenship.”


(NS Video)

NS on April 22 reported offering customers a tailored Rail Emissions Report tool that provides “a transparent and accurate view of their rail emissions, helping them to understand their environmental impact, develop strategies to reduce emissions, and meet their reporting and decarbonization goals” (see video above). Launched last year, the tool provides data on total carbon dioxide emissions, fuel consumption, and train miles traveled.

Each year, NS estimates its customers avoid 15 million metric tons of emissions shipping by rail. 

“More than 25% of our customers have publicly announced goals for carbon reduction, and the Rail Emissions Report [tool] provides customers with visibility into the full lifecycle and carbon footprint of moving a shipment across Norfolk Southern’s 22-state rail network,” the Class I reported April 22. “These insights are helping customers make informed decisions about transporting their goods and develop strategies to both reduce their emissions and meet decarbonization goals.”

NS said the Rail Emissions Report tool builds on its overall efforts to further sustainability. In 2008, it launched a carbon calculator, and in 2022 introduced an update.

(NS Video)

Also on April 22, NS reported debuting the “Safety Up” mobile app. Hosted by Axonify and available on all NS-issued devices, it offers customized and personalized interactive safety exercises “tuned to the work we do every day,” the railroad said. Exercises take 3-5 minutes to complete, and the app provides an opportunity to play a game in between questions.

NS has made “Safety Up” available to its entire workforce and said it is scaling up the content. “By starting each shift with a Safety Up exercise, railroaders begin their workday with a focus on safety,” according to NS. “Gamified exercises will help to expand and reinforce knowledge.”

“We are looking for every opportunity to create a safer work environment here at NS,” NS Vice President-Safety John Fleps said. “‘Safety Up’ is one of many ways we are raising the standard for safety by taking advantage of innovative technology to make custom learning accessible, quick, and enjoyable. This tool aims to leverage the competitive nature of many railroaders with the ability to track streaks, earn points and badges for different achievements, and compete against co-workers and other teams across the company.”


The first of many plastic collection bins is now stationed at UP’s Englewood Yard in Houston, Tex. From left: Cyclyx’s Zach Divin, Director, Operations-Houston Metro Programs, joins UP’s Mary Lincer, Director-Sales; Bobby Martin, Manager-Marketing; Ashley Stinebaugh, General Director-Marketing and Sales; and Jared Boysen, Manager-Environmental Compliance. (Caption and Photograph Courtesy of UP)

Cyclyx—whose mission is to “increase the recyclability of plastic waste from 10% to 90%”—is collaborating with municipalities, consumers and industry partners like UP to source and collect plastic waste destined for landfills, UP reported April 22. Currently, just 10% of post-use plastic is recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, because existing infrastructure accepts only certain types and qualities of plastic waste for recycling.

UP’s initial pilot with Cyclyx is focusing on beverage bottles, commonly made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), according to the railroad, which said the program will expand to all-plastic collection, “providing a convenient channel to effectively recycle plastic film, drums, and even locomotive parts.” Post-consumer plastic can be recycled into many things, including new soft drink and water bottles, carpet, or nylon fabrics, UP said—all of which the railroad hauls for its customers.

Cyclyx is currently familiarizing UP employees with the “10to90” program and processes at the railroad’s Englewood and Settegast facilities in Houston, Tex. It is also providing bins to expand plastic waste collection beyond PET.

“Union Pacific joined the Cyclyx Consortium to partner with its member companies and lend our expertise to develop supply chain solutions for increasing recycling rates,” said Ashley Stinebaugh, General Director-Marketing and Sales at UP. “As the premier rail carrier of plastic resin in the United States, we are always looking for new ways to participate in plastics circularity opportunities.”

UP said its interest in supporting the “circular economy” extends beyond the Gulf Coast.

“This collaboration with Cyclyx and our business resource group, Planet Tracks, is just one example of our commitment to supporting sustainable economic growth,” Stinebaugh said.

TrinityRail and Savage have also partnered with Cyclyx to help reduce plastic waste.

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