NS Details Service Issues in Letter to STB

Norfolk Southern President Alan H. Shaw acknowledged in a letter to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that its service quality is not where it should be.

The letter, dated Dec. 10, outlined the steps the Class 1 carrier is taking to improve its performance.

Shaw’s latter came in response to an inquiry from STB Chairman Martin Oberman who had written in November to then NS President James Squires to ask the railroad to address the deterioration of “key operating metrics” and an increasing number of shipper complaints about NS service.

Shaw blamed high workers attrition and a tight labor market for the service issues, noting that the company has been actively seeking to hire new conductors.

The service issues have been particularly acute in the Cincinnati-Chattanooga, Tennessee, corridor; in Birmingham, Alabama; and on the former Southern Tier line east of Buffalo, New York.

NS has taken such steps as redeploying personnel, reworking crew districts on the former Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific line, and taking advantage of reduced activity during the Thanksgiving holiday period to alleviate yard congestion in Birmingham and Chattanooga.

However, Shaw said similar progress has remained elusive for the Southern Tier.

As for hiring new conductors, Shaw said that through Dec. 6 NS had 285 employees in conductor training with another 939 prospective employees in the pre-employment process.

The company has offered economic incentives to prospective new hires and existing workers to encourage them to continue working for NS.

Shaw said it will take time to get its new hires into position and to address the service issues it has experienced.

The letter from Shaw to the STB can be viewed at https://www.stb.gov/wp-content/uploads/NS-Response-Letter-to-Chairman-Oberman-Regarding-Service-Issues_December-10-2021.pdf

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