Railroad News

NS' Squires talks Atlanta move, PSR and economic recovery

Norfolk Southern Corp. officials expect to make the company's historic move to a new Atlanta headquarters in September, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer James Squires said earlier this week.

In a "fireside chat" held Tuesday with members of the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC), Squires said construction of the new campus is well underway.

NS and Georgia state officials announced in December 2018 that the Class I would move its corporate base from Norfolk, Virginia, to a new campus in midtown Atlanta. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in March 2019.

Also during his conversation with the NRC, Squires said he expects the economy will recover from the COVID-19 pandemic during 2021's second half.

"It's the darkness before the dawn right now," Squires said. "The pandemic is still raging, and we are continuing to make the maximum effort to protect our front-line employees in ways that will keep them safe. ... With the vaccines coming, we expect the economy to respond and pick up — in the short term, that will be the result of [federal] stimulus. But as the vaccine takes hold, we expect to see a big pickup in volume. I'm optimistic that in the second half of the year, we expect to see a great deal of activity."

Squires also addressed NS' transition to precision scheduled railroading (PSR). Although not yet complete, NS made a lot of progress in 2020 toward its PSR implementation, he said.

"We right-sized our resources to serve customers efficiently," Squires said. "Cost control is important, but this is  about operational excellence — which includes an insistence on safety and customer service."

Achieving efficiency involves operating the railroad in a predictable way, he added. That also means keeping customers in the loop as PSR is rolled out, he said.

"We refer to our version of PSR as the 'no surprises' version of PSR," Squires said. "We are committed to informing our customers about the operational changes we make so they can adjust as necessary."

Moreover, the company is committed to growing the franchise and has many initiatives underway — including its digital strategy — to do so, he said.

To learn more about NS' digital strategy, read this feature article in the August 2020 issue of Progressive Railroading.

 

 

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