NS CEO Pledges Better Service in 2018

CSX is not the only eastern Class 1 railroad seeking to recover from service issues.

James Squires

During a speech at a shippers conference in Chicago, Norfolk Southern CEO James Squires pledged to work toward having a “more stable, resilient” network in 2018 in the wake of service issues in recent months

Squires made the remarks in response to questions about what was termed service volatility last year, some of it weather related.

“I am not here to make excuses. Yeah, it’s been tough,” Squires said. “When it gets cold in the south  . . . we struggle. It’s tough and it has been tough.”

Among the issues the NS has faced are periodic crew shortages, slower average train speeds and longer idle times of cars in yards.

NS’s average train speed fell to 20 miles per hour as of last week, versus 23 miles per hour a year ago, and the average time rail cars sat in terminals was 28.4 hours versus 24.7 hours a year ago.

“What you want from us is an action plan,” Squires said. “My commitment in 2018 is to a more resilient, durable, predictable, marketplace.”

Squires said the crew shortages were not a sign of a systemic problem and were localized and not system wide.

“We think that we have adequate resources to handle foreseeable demand, but we’ve got to get that resources equation right in each and every place we operate,” he said. “That can be a challenge.”

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