Posts Tagged ‘NS executive train’

NS OCS Makes Northern Ohio Appearance

June 26, 2018

The executive train of Norfolk Southern is no stranger to Northeast Ohio, but its visits and few and far between enough to make getting it still a treat when the opportunity arises.

Such was the case on Sunday afternoon when operating as symbol 955 the train of A-B-B-A F units and 12 cars can through on the Cleveland Line and then the Chicago Line.

It was en route to Chicago and reportedly stayed overnight in Elkhart, Indiana, before continuing to the Windy City on Monday morning.

I intercepted it in Oak Harbor along with fellow Akron Railroad Club members Marty and Robert Surdyk.

We had been in Fostoria for the annual ARRC longest day outing and decided about 5 p.m. to head up to Oak Harbor, where the 955 came through about 7:20 p.m.

The train did not appear to have anyone aboard other than the head end crew.


NS OCS Passes through NE Ohio

May 25, 2018

On Wednesday the Norfolk Southern office car special came through Northeast Ohio. I caught it at Alliance. I was about to head home when I heard a report that the Central of New Jersey heritage unit was leading NS train 15V. This train takes the Fort Wayne line at Alliance. I went to Louisville where I got him at the MP94 signals which are still a Pennsylvania Railroad design.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

NS Executive Train Passes Through NE Ohio

March 29, 2017

This past Tuesday the Norfolk Southern office car special came through northeast Ohio on its way to the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. The railfan community was out in force to document this move.

The top photograph was made in Alliance. The weather wasn’t great so I did mine in black and white. Next is the special at Canton in a photograph made by Michael Punzalan.

The final photograph was made at Lucas by Matt Arnold.

Article by Todd Dillon

NS OCS Travels Through Northeast Ohio

August 6, 2016




This past week the Norfolk Southern office car special came through Northeast Ohio. On Monday it deadheaded to Cleveland and on Wednesday it took officials to New York via the former Nickel Plate Road and Southern Tier routes.

I got these photos at Cleveland on Wednesday morning. Aside from the two views of the OCS, I also found an interestingly painted RTA car being used on the Red Line.

Photographs by Todd Dillon 

Saving Pennies to Bolster an Exective Image

April 10, 2016

Cancellation of the steam program, putting a posh executive resort up for sale and now not sending the executive train to the Masters golf tournament in Georgia.

None of those actions that have been undertaken by Norfolk Southern will do anything to improve the company’s bottom line, but they will have symbolic value in the months ahead as the NS board of directors continues to fight an unwanted takeover bid by Canadian Pacific.

Trains magazine reported last week that NS didn’t send its executive train to the golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

It remains to be seen, but chances are the executive train won’t be going to the Kentucky Derby either.

On TransportationIn both instances, NS has historically sent its executive train to both high-profile sporting events to entertain shippers, public officials and executives of other railroads.

Just as predictable as flowering trees in the spring, the NS executive train has departed Altoona, Pennsylvania, in the morning and passed through Northeast Ohio on the Fort Wayne Line about a week before the Derby, which is held on the first Saturday in May.

But when you are trying to cut costs, executive perks can become expendable. It is all about promoting an image.

“We do not have business cars at the Masters,” NS spokesman Rick Harris told Trains. “It was an internal business decision.”

CSX and BNSF do have their executive trains in Augusta, but they are not currently the target of a takeover bid by CP or someone else.

Norfolk Southern is not cutting expenses because it is unprofitable.

NS may be suffering from lost coal traffic, but it is not losing money. It is far from being Penn Central or Erie Lackawanna, two railroads that served the Eastern United States that lost a gondola load of money, seeking bankruptcy protection as a result.

No, the issue is a matter of how much money NS makes and whether it is doing enough to make more of it.

In that regard, the primary concern of NS executives is not just prevailing over CP as it is pleasing Wall Street analysts who can influence the buying and selling of NS stock.

That is not to say that the CP takeover bid in unrelated to what Wall Street analysts think.

When a company is unable to increase its financial performance with substantial new business, it often tries to make itself look good by cost cutting.

There is a saying that you can’t cut your way to growth, but you can make your financial statement look better in the short term, which is mostly what Wall Street cares about.

Hence, NS has announced a five-year strategic plan to achieve $650 million in annual savings and reduce its operating ratio to 65 percent or lower by 2020.

The plan also talks about finding new business. The strategic plan is filled with long-term goals and objectives, but it was created for short-term benefit.

Whether the five-year plan ever achieves its objectives is largely immaterial at this point. It shows that current management is doing something now to bolster the balance sheet.

In the short term, NS management is most concerned about the May 12 annual meeting at which interests representing CP will propose a resolution directing NS to discuss a merger with CP.

NS CEO James Squires will point to a laundry list of actions his company has undertaken to reduce costs as a way of arguing against the resolution and against the need to merge with another company.

Not operating the executive train to a golf tournament will save only a few pennies in the scheme of things, but keeping the executive horses in Altoona will be worth valuable debating points.

The last thing Squires needs is a dissident shareholder harping about how NS is spending money on “frills.”

Squires needs to create the impression that he and the current NS management are doing all they can to turn things around and that they know what they are doing.

It is all about building an image that instills confidence in the current management among stockholders.

That might be enough to persuade enough of them to vote down the CP-sponsored resolution.

Saving pennies is the sort of thing that you do when you are in a tough situation that has no easy or immediate solution. You play for time and hope to ride out the storm.

It must gall Squires and the NS directors that CP’s E. Hunter Harrison has all but called them incompetent by saying that if Harrison were the CEO of NS he could realize $1.2 billion in savings by implementing his precision railroading operating plan.

In time, NS will either chase Harrison away or succumb to him. In either case, it seems likely that the NS executive train will be back at the Masters in 2017.

If NS triumphs over CP, it will be able to return to a sense of normalcy, which means wooing shippers, politicians and other railroad executives by taking them for a train ride.

If Hunter gets what he wants, he, too, will need to reach out to the same constituencies.

And what’s spending a few pennies to do that? It won’t affect the bottom line but could go a long way toward helping build a badly-needed positive image.

NS OCS Passes Through NE Ohio on Monday

October 27, 2015
Norfolk Southern's office car special passes some fall foliage in Ravenna on Monday afternoon.

Norfolk Southern’s office car special passes some fall foliage in Ravenna on Monday afternoon.

The Norfolk Southern executive train made a trek through Northeast Ohio on Monday afternoon. Online reports indicated the train was bound for Fort Wayne, Indiana, via Cleveland and Bellevue.

The train passed through Ravenna about 3:30 p.m. and picked up a new crew at Rockport Yard in Cleveland. It then went through Berea at about 5:50 p.m. It was spotted in Bellevue at 8:30 p.m. and continued westward.

Photograph by Todd Dillon

NS Puts 2 Special Trains Through NE Ohio

August 7, 2015
The engineer of the Norfolk Southern office car special waves to the photographers.

The engineer of the Norfolk Southern office car special waves to the photographers.

Norfolk Southern offered a double dip of special passenger trains in Northeast Ohio on Thursday. The Whistle-Stop Safety Train operated from Bellevue to Alliance via Cleveland while the company’s executive train ran across the state on the Fort Wayne Line.

Both trains passed through Alliance and continued on toward Pittsburgh, with the executive train taking the Bayard Line.

I couldn’t get the favored shot at Moultrie with the farm silo’s the background.  Unfortunately, the cornfields were too high for a photo but I did manage a few going away photos of this rare move on the Bayard line.

The image of the NS 9-1-1 pulling the safety train were made in Alliance.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

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NS OCS Pays Visit to Northeast Ohio

June 10, 2015
Norfolk Southern F9A No. 4271 leads train 955 past the Willis Picnic Area  of the Bedford Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks on Tuesday.

Norfolk Southern F9A No. 4271 leads train 955 past the Willis Picnic Area of the Bedford Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks on Tuesday.


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The Norfolk Southern executive train made a trip to Northeast Ohio on Tuesday afternoon and spent the night at Rockport Yard.

Online reports indicated that the train was to leave early Wednesday for Chicago where it would make a same-day turnaround and return to Cleveland later in the day.

The reports did not say why the office car special was traveling to Chicago.

Operating under symbol 955, the train was led by F9A No. 4271. That locomotive along with SD60E No. 9-1-1 is scheduled to appear on June 13 and 14 at Norfolk Southern Days at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg.

The 955 passed through Alliance in early afternoon and was making good time until tripping a defect detector near milepost 101 on the Cleveland Line just after 2:30 p.m.

After about a half-hour delay, the 955 continued on to Rockport Yard without further incident.

It was reported today through Elyria at 8:06 a.m. and operating as No. 951.

Photographs by Craig Sanders


Late Day Norfolk Southern OCS in Cleveland

November 21, 2014



A deadhead move of the Norfolk Southern OCS train occurred last week. By the time it got to me it was well into late afternoon with fading light. I elected to go grayscale to lessen the harshness of the less than stellar lighting. It is shown here at milepost 184 in the Battery Park area of Cleveland. I liked the small reflection of the F unit on that UPS trailer in the wider photo.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

NS Show Horses Strut Their Stuff in NE Ohio

September 24, 2014


Norfolk Southern’s executive train has been hanging around Cleveland’s Rockport Yard since late last week all in preparation for on Tuesday to Belleveue.

NS hosted a conference in Cleveland for investors, financial analysts and NS share holders. As part of the activities, attendees were treated to a train ride to Bellevue to see the expansion of the classification yard there.

The executive train departed from Rockport at 11:30 a.m. and returned just after 5 p.m. After unloading passengers, it then began making its way back to its home base in Altoona, Pa.

In this series of photographs, the train is shown westbound doing track speed through Olmsted Falls.