Norfolk Southern launches customer-centric operating plan

Norfolk Southern have launched TOP|SPG, a new operating plan that is designed to improve service and enhance productivity.

Norfolk Southern Commtrex

Credit: Norfolk Southern

Norfolk Southern Corporation (NSC) have launched TOP|SPG, a new operating plan designed to improve service, enhance productivity, and create a platform for growth. The operating plan guides the day-to-day movement of trains and shipments through Norfolk Southern’s network. See the video at the bottom of the page for an in-depth overview.  

Credit: Norfolk Southern

“Our robust hiring efforts, coupled with TOP|SPG, will enhance our overall service recovery,” Alan H. Shaw, President and CEO for Norfolk Southern, said. “Everyone at Norfolk Southern is focused on bringing our service product to a level our customers expect, and TOP|SPG gives us additional alignment, while boosting productivity and creating a pathway for future growth. This is an important part of our effort to become more customer-centric and operations-driven.”

TOP|SPG builds on Norfolk Southern’s legacy of successful Thoroughbred Operating Plans (TOP), while balancing the important goals of service, productivity, and growth (SPG). The plan is an evolution of the company’s previous operating plan, TOP21, and will better serve the changing needs of its customers and consumer demands. Built upon a repeatable schedule, TOP|SPG is designed to be executable day in and day out.

Core elements of the plan are built upon:

  • Service: Providing a platform for consistent service was the top goal in designing TOP|SPG. Norfolk Southern has worked with customers to ensure that plan changes will have minimal impact on their operations and is designed to meet their future growth
  • Productivity: TOP|SPG works by making the company’s operating plan simple, consistent, and executable every day. Shipments will travel more directly across Norfolk Southern’s network; one-market origin to one-market termination. Additionally, a balanced network flow helps ensure that shipments are less likely to get caught at choke points and facilities keep goods moving
  • Growth: TOP|SPG provides a platform for growth – for customers and Norfolk Southern. Team members, engines, rolling stock, and terminals are aligned to effectively serve customers, while being nimble enough to handle future volume.

“Improvements within our Merchandise and Bulk segments were the focus of TOP21, and the primary focus of TOP|SPG is our Intermodal business,” Paul Duncan, Vice President of Network Planning and Operations for Norfolk Southern, said. “TOP|SPG works by making our daily operations simpler, more consistent, and executable. It’s meant to serve the current needs of our customers more reliably, and to be nimble enough to scale as they grow their businesses.”

Customers were integral to the design of TOP|SPG. Norfolk Southern has been working closely with them throughout the plan’s development to include their feedback and to ensure they were informed throughout implementation. Where it makes sense, Norfolk Southern began to shift daily operations to TOP|SPG, realising early benefits. Moving forward, TOP|SPG is designed to be scalable, allowing Norfolk Southern to grow with its customers. 

“TOP|SPG is not a radical change in how we’ll serve our customers, but a shift in our operations to move their shipments more consistently,” Floyd Hudson, Vice President of Transportation for Norfolk Southern, said. “As our new operating plan is implemented, and we hire more crews, over the coming months we will see an improvement in our service product.”

A video further detailing the TOP|SPG can be found below.

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