NS Launches New Operating Plan

Norfolk Southern launched on Monday a new operating plan that is largely focused on improving intermodal service although it will be applied to all types of freight shipments.

The plan, known as Thoroughbred Operating Plan|Service Productivity Growth was described as an evolution of its previous operating plan known as Thoroughbred Operating Plans 21.

TOP|SPG continues to build upon the elements of the precision scheduled railroading model with its emphasis on efficiency but also adding and more point-to-point intermodal service.

For example, NS will consolidate all intermodal traffic moving between Chicago and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at one terminal in Chicago, 47th Street.

Under the previous operating plan, NS operated one train daily between 47th Street in Chicago and Rutherford Yard in Harrisburg and one train daily between 63rd Street in Chicago and Rutherford.

In the new operating plan Chicago-Harrisburg intermodal operations will be consolidated at 47th Street and expanded to four daily trains between there and Harrisburg. The intermodal trains serving the 63rd Street terminal will be eliminated.

NS officials said they are seeking to increase the number of miles per day that cars travel by reducing how often those cars are handled en route and how much time they spend sitting in yards.

The running time will be adjusted for more than half of all road trains. Schedules will be changed for 90 percent of all scheduled trains.

There will be changes to 39 percent of yard blocks. The officials said the new operating plan seeks to reduce network directional imbalance, and simplify operations of routes and terminals.

The carrier indicated it will increase the number of daily intermodal trains it operates systemwide from 79 to 85.

NS CEO Alan Shaw cautioned that implementation of the plan won’t occur overnight.

In a video created to announce the new operating plan, Shaw said the goals of the plan are reducing the complexity of the NS network by reducing train meets and how often cars need to be worked while en route.

In a social media post, NS said the new operating plan “isn’t a radical change in how we work with our customers, but a shift in how we execute our operations to move their shipments more directly and consistently.”

NS said there will be no operating changes for most customers and for those who are affected It has been working with them to ensure they are prepared for coming changes.

Above all, NS indicated, the new operating plan seeks to provide greater consistency in the service provided to shippers.

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