NS outlines initiatives on greenhouse gases

Written by Douglas John Bowen

Norfolk Southern on Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 disclosed the railroad's business strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and its environmental footprint in a filing with the international not-for-profit CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project.

The railroad’s annual public disclosure to London-based CDP provides customers, investors, employees, and communities information about how Norfolk Southern is addressing potential risks and benefits related to greenhouse gas emissions, NS said.

“Norfolk Southern is committed to being an industry leader in environmental stewardship,” said Blair Wimbush, vice president real estate and corporate sustainability officer. “Efforts to improve our performance and to mitigate the environmental impacts of business operations are part of daily life on our railroad. We are proud to offer customers a fuel- and carbon-efficient means of transporting their goods.”

In its CDP filing, Norfolk Southern described key strategic initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They include:

• purchasing new, more fuel-efficient locomotives;

• expanding use of idle-reduction and train-handling technologies;

• making infrastructure improvements to increase capacity and fluidity of the company’s major rail corridors, including the Heartland and Crescent corridors;

• continuing research and development of alternative power, including renewable biofuels and battery-powered locomotives;

• upgrading office buildings, shops, and yard facilities with more energy-efficient lighting and heating and air-conditioning systems; and

• recycling older locomotives by equipping them with more fuel-efficient, cleaner-burning engines.

Norfolk Southern says it “has made considerable progress toward its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10% per revenue ton mile between 2009 and 2014. By the end of 2012, the company had reached nearly 69% percent of the goal.”

Looking ahead, Norfolk Southern says its investments in infrastructure, including public-private partnerships, are expanding the nation’s freight rail capacity and providing shippers a way to reduce their supply-chain carbon footprint.

“For example, by diverting long-haul freight to trains from trucks, Norfolk Southern’s Crescent Corridor— which spans 11 states from Louisiana to New Jersey _has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases by 1.9 million tons annually when fully developed,” the company says.

Next month, Norfolk Southern and Erie, Pa.-based rail supplier GE Transportation will co-sponsor their third annual Railroad Sustainability Symposium to advance discussion of sustainability in the rail industry.

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