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Relatively solid performance in the fourth quarter helped Norfolk Southern Corp. set five annual financial records in 2014.Fourth-quarter revenue and net income were flat at $2.9 billion and $511 million, respectively, but income from railway operations increased 1 percent to a Q4 record $891 million, volume increased 4 percent to 1.93 million units, railway operating expenses declined 1 percent to $2 billion and the operating ratio improved 0.4 points to 69 compared with fourth-quarter 2013 results.General merchandise volume rose 5 percent to 646,800 units and revenue increased 3 percent to $1.7 billion. Within the sector, chemicals and metals/construction revenue grew 11 percent and 5 percent, respectively, and automotive revenue was flat, while paper/forest products revenue dipped 3 percent and agricultural products revenue declined 2 percent.Meanwhile, intermodal volume climbed 6 percent to 979,300 units and revenue rose 5 percent to $649 million. Coal volume slipped 6 percent to 302,100 units and revenue tumbled 15 percent to $543 million due to weak shipments in both the utility and export coal markets.For the full year, NS set the following five financial records: railway operating revenue at $11.6 billion (up 3 percent versus 2013); income from railway operations at $3.6 billion (up 10 percent); net income at $2 billion (up 8 percent); diluted earnings per share at $6.39 (up 9 percent); and operating ratio at 69.2 (a 1.8-point improvement). Volume rose 4 percent to 7.67 million units and railway operating expenses inched up 1 percent to $8 billion."Norfolk Southern delivered another solid quarter of financial performance, capping a record-setting year," said NS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Wick Moorman in a press release.The Class I also announced its projected capital spending for 2015 will total about $2.4 billion compared with $2.1 billion in 2014 and $1.97 billion in 2013. The 2015 budget includes $927 million for roadway maintenance and projects, $404 million for freight cars, $238 million for locomotives, $238 million for facilities and terminals, $220 for positive train control implementation, $199 million for various other projects, $104 million for infrastructure and $65 million for technologies.The capital expenditures will help the railroad maintain safety and rail network quality, enhance service, improve operational efficiency and support growth opportunities, said Moorman.
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