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Norfolk Southern Corp. yesterday posted its 2016 annual report online, highlighting its progress at achieving first-year goals in the Class I's five-year strategic plan to streamline operations and drive profitability and growth.In the report, NS Chief Executive Officer James Squires told shareholders that the company in 2016 met or exceeded its targets to lower operating costs, increase profitability and improve customer service, which put NS "well on our way to achieving our 2020 goals."For 2016, NS: • achieved an all-time best operating ratio of 68.9 percent;• reduced expenses in all areas of operations to generate $250 million worth of savings, surpassing a targeted $130 million;• increased income from railway operations and net income by 7 percent each, driven by an 11 percent decrease in operating costs; and • rationalized 1,000 miles of secondary rail lines.While exercising disciplined cost control, the company invested in strategic capital projects "to ensure safe and efficient operations and promote growth," Squires noted in the report and a press release. In addition, efforts to improve locomotive fuel-efficiency, reliability and emissions reduction continued as a cornerstone of the company's sustainability and business strategy, he said.Amid shifting markets and industry dynamics, NS is "more focused than ever on services that will help convert freight from highway to rail," Squires said. To drive growth, the Class I is working on customer-service initiatives that range from modernizing its e-commerce platforms to developing shared performance indicators for measuring service.Moreover, the railroad's management team began a structured dialogue with key customers and is using their input to improve efficiencies."We are changing the way we do business in order to meet and exceed our customers' expectations and to drive superior value creation for shareholders," Squires said.
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