NS prepares TOP21 launch

Written by Andrew Corselli

Norfolk Southern (NS) recently announced that it is preparing to unveil TOP21, its Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) operating plan.

Under TOP21, the railroad said it will focus on balancing its network flows and reducing circuity of freight car movements to and from customers. At Investor Day earlier this year, NS said TOP21 aims to, among other things, help NS operate fewer, heavier trains; reduce reclassification; fully integrate local and system operations; and reduce costs.

In April, NS revealed that the first phase of TOP21 will focus on the company’s general merchandise market. It already has made initial changes to its train plan for TOP21, and the railroad said it will make the rest of the changes in early July.

NS began developing TOP21—a key initiative of its three-year strategic plan to Reimagine Possible in all aspects of business operations—last year using computer modeling and simulation tools to analyze data and train flows to “achieve optimum network fluidity and velocity.”

“As we Reimagine Possible, a hallmark of our brand of Precision Scheduled Railroading has been and will continue to be intense customer communication and collaboration,” said NS CEO James A. Squires. “As we have promised, we will work closely with customers before and after we implement TOP21. Our goal is to achieve mutually beneficial results that include reliable and consistent service as well as growth opportunities. We want to grow our business and our customers’ business, all while operating more efficiently and safely.”

“TOP21 supports the five principles that are at the heart of our reimagined railroad: serve our customers, manage our assets, control our costs, work safely and develop our people—what we call the NS Way,” said NS COO Mike Wheeler. “With TOP21, the company’s goal is to serve our customers better while operating our network more efficiently and driving down operating costs.”

“TOP21 will improve our network fluidity and velocity, reduce our circuity and train miles, make our railroad more resilient, and give us greater capacity for growth,” said NS CMO Alan Shaw. “We are engaged with our customers to talk about these changes and how we all can benefit from the opportunities that lie ahead as we fully implement the plan.”

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