Class I Briefs: NS, UP

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
The team at Norfolk Southern’s Inman Yard in Atlanta is improving productivity through communication and alignment.

The team at Norfolk Southern’s Inman Yard in Atlanta is improving productivity through communication and alignment.

Communication enhancements improve productivity at Norfolk Southern’s (NS) Inman Yard in Atlanta, Ga. Also, Union Pacific’s (UP) Heartland Service Unit win its first-ever Safety Bell.


NS’s Inman team reviews a terminal plan document with Intermodal, Mechanical, and Engineering that “ensures a clear strategy to manage the day’s expected volume.” The team also communicates with each other throughout the day to stay ahead of potential obstacles, utilizing the terminal plan to stay aware of any changes that may occur. “Crew members, terminal leadership, and supporting departments are joining together to deliver safe, reliable, and resilient service to our customers,” NS said.

The new approach has led to measurable improvements in productivity, including:

  • After the terminal plan was introduced, train dwell time declined nearly 50%.
  • On-Time Performance (OTP) increased after the team defined the train build process by 20% over the last six months of 2023.

“We want Norfolk Southern to be the rail partner of choice for our customers,” said Terminal Superintendent Neil Palmer. “We’re meeting this challenge by ensuring that we have a solid daily plan, and we have the right crew members together to discuss each day’s volume.”

To sustain these improvements, NS says its Inman Yard is growing its next generation of leaders. Four of the yard’s high performing Lead Supervisors were recently paired with junior supervisors to assist with their professional growth. In addition, the entire team is further developing for increased responsibility in the future.


UP on Feb. 13 announced that its Heartland Service Unit recently claimed its first Safety Bell, the Operating Department’s highest annual team safety honor awarded to the service unit with the best overall safety record.

UP’s previous Safety Bell winner, the Commuter Operations Service Unit, held the title for seven consecutive years (2016-2022).

Heartland craft professionals stand proudly with the Safety Bell.

“Safety doesn’t happen by accident,” said General Manager-Transportation, Heartland Service Unit Coleman Bell. “Heartland craft professionals have created a culture of openness, committing to safety as a value.”

Several teams within the service unit achieved injury-free records of one year or more, and some regional teams achieved even longer records: Enid, Okla., and Salina, Kans. (three years); Dalhart, Texas, and Vaughn, N.Mex. (five years); Herington, Kans. (six years).

“My Heartland teammates and I look out for one another—what affects one of us, affects all of us,” said Harold Brooks IV, brakeperson. “One small shortcut or mistake can have a huge impact, so covering each other’s backs is essential in ensuring a safe workday.”

UP says its Heartland team’s safety commitment is evident during job briefings, peer feedback, COMMIT debriefs, recognition and training. As UP continues to enhance its systemwide safety culture, the Class I railroad says training plays a valuable role—more than 85 employees recently participated in its new full-day craft professional training, focusing on “Go Home Safe” rules and the “How We Win Together” experience.

“After participating, I have a clearer understanding of the ‘Go Home Safe’ rules—the open dialogue and knowledge is especially important for our newer employees,” said Jason Martinez, conductor. “And ‘How We Win Together’ highlighted how important it is to safely provide great customer service, increasing opportunities to gain more business.”

Additional sessions will be held across the network for all craft professionals this year.

Tags: , ,