NS Implementing New TOP21 Operating Plan

Norfolk Southern became a full-fledged member of the precision scheduled railroading club today when it implemented its TOP21 operating plan on Friday.

TOP21 is said by the carrier to be based on the principles of precision scheduled railroading and was the subject of an 18-month planning process.

The initial implementation of TOP21 will affect merchandise traffic. Intermodal traffic will be switched to TOP21 in 2020.

In a service alert, NS said it does not expect any service disruptions, but has created a command center to address any operating issues that may arise.

As has been the case with other railroads that have implemented precision scheduled railroading, NS expects to operate longer and heavier trains as well as may greater use of distributed motive power.

With fewer trains operating, NS expects to have fewer train starts.

It will also favor more pre-blocking of cars at customer locations and local service yards.

TOP21 has already been implemented in areas that NS expects to see increases in traffic, including Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Elkhart, Indiana; and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

However, some major classification yards are expected to play a lesser role in the new operating model.

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