The first phase of TOP21 announced in April focused on the company’s general merchandise market. NS already has made initial changes to its train plan for TOP21, and the railroad will make the rest of the changes starting in early July, coinciding with the July 4 holiday.

NS began developing the TOP21 plan last year using computer modelling and simulation tools to analyse data and train flows to achieve optimum network fluidity and velocity.

Under TOP21, the railroad will focus on reducing circuity of freight wagon movements to and from customers and balancing its network flows. This will allow NS to operate fewer trains, use its assets more efficiently and create growth capacity.

NS says it has been working closely with customers, including inviting them to town hall meetings attended by train crews as well as employees involved in operations, marketing, and customer service.

“Our goal is to achieve mutually beneficial results that include reliable and consistent service as well as growth opportunities,” says NS CEO, Mr James Squires. “We want to grow our business and our customers’ business, all while operating more efficiently and safely.”

“TOP21 supports the five principles that are at the heart of our reimagined railroad: serve our customers, manage our assets, control our costs, work safely, and develop our people - what we call the NS Way,” says chief operating officer, Mr Mike Wheeler.