Norfolk Southern enhances service and productivity with our grain customers

Part of delivering safe, reliable, and resilient service for our customers is continuously enhancing our productivity together. With that goal in mind, our Operations and Marketing teams have enhanced service offerings for our grain customers.

Historically, Norfolk Southern has operated 85-car grain trains originating from locations throughout the Midwest. Starting in April 2023 as part of our TOP|SPG operating plan, we began working with customers on a more productive grain shuttle train size. We determined through analysis that a 105-car unit train was the optimal train size for our evolving locomotive fleet composition.  The 20-car train size enhancement will fully leverage the investments we have made in transitioning our locomotive fleet from DC to AC and will provide greater capacity in supply chains for our customers.

Enhancing our shuttle grain fleet is part of our balanced strategy to safely deliver reliable and resilient service, drive further productivity improvement, and bring smart and sustainable growth to our network and our customers’ supply chains. Using a Team of Teams approach, we took a comprehensive look at how we were supporting our grain customers and took things to a new level. 

The increased train size allows NS to move 23 percent more grain with each loaded train. We are operating fewer trains and freeing up resources to create additional capacity on our network through key corridors. To provide a sense of the impact we have on our customers’ and the global supply chain, in the past year, NS moved enough oats, wheat, barley, corn, and grain to contribute to feeding 1.2 billion birds for the poultry industry.

“We’re unlocking capacity to handle more business for both our current and prospective customers,” said Ed Elkins, Chief Marketing Officer. “With the increase in train size, our customers will now have to plan and coordinate their operations around fewer trains. This creates new opportunities to explore ways we can leverage the capacity this frees up for both the customer and Norfolk Southern.”

Through continued partnership and investments with our customers at both origin and destination, we have now begun handling these larger shuttle trains and expect to fully transition our entire network over time.