STB Asks NS to Address Service Issues

Norfolk Southern has been asked to address service issues that a key federal regulator described as a “poor performance.”

Martin Oberman, chairman of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, wrote to NS CEO James Squires to ask him to provide regulators with “a review of the current state of NSR’s network, and your assessment of what factors are affecting NSR’s ability to achieve past levels of fluidity and consistent service, and in particular the impact on customer service of previous headcount reductions for train, yard and maintenance employees.”

Oberman’s letter recounted how several key service metrics at NS have deteriorated and are hovering far below comparable numbers for 2019.

This has included a decline in average train speed of manifest freights, an increase in the average system dwell time and a rise in the number of manifest freight trains being held per day.

At the same time, the number of operating employees at NS has declined by about 8,200 each month during the past three months, suggesting the carrier lacks enough workers to avoid the service problems it has experienced.

The letter also cited an increase in complaints to the STB about NS service, including missed switches, cars stranded in yards, longer transit times, operating plan changes without notice, and a lack of communications from customer service.

Oberman wrote that this has increased costs for these shippers without any corresponding compensation from NS.

The letter can be read at https://www.stb.gov/wp-content/uploads/Letter-to-J.-Squires-re-Service-Issues.pdf

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