Railway operating revenues increased 3% to reach $US 11.6bn, driven by a 5% increase in traffic, while operating expenses rose by 1% to $US 8bn.

Coal revenues declined by 6% to $US 2.4bn as volumes continued their downward trend with a 5% decline. Fourth quarter coal revenues dropped by 15% to $US 543m, which NS blames on a weak export market and lower demand from domestic utilities.

However, this was offset by stronger performance in other sectors, with 2014 general merchandise revenues increasing 6% to $US 6.7bn thanks to a 5% rise in traffic and intermodal climbing 7% to $US 2.6bn with traffic increasing by 8% compared with 2013.

NS also improved its operating ratio, which reached a record 69.2%, compared with 71% in 2013. Income from railway operations reached a record $US 3.6bn, a 10% year-on-year increase, while diluted earnings per share also achieved a record $US 6.39, up 6% from the previous year.

Capital investment is set to increase from $US 2.2bn in 2014 to $US 2.4bn this year, which includes around $US 200m for the continued rollout of Positive Train Control (PTC).