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Norfolk Southern 'Reimagines Possible' with new strategic plan to drive service, efficiencies, growth, and value, CEO tells shareholders

ATLANTA, May 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Norfolk Southern (NSC) in 2019 is reimagining possible in all aspects of its business to serve customers better, operate more efficiently, drive growth, and create shareholder value, CEO James A. Squires said today in remarks at the company's annual meeting of shareholders.

"We are moving full speed ahead with a new plan for the future that provides a clear path to continued success – success that benefits our customers, our employees, and our shareholders," Squires said.

Norfolk Southern's new three-year strategic plan, released in February, is driving transformational changes at the company, Squires said. The plan is based on an operating model known as precision scheduled railroading, and is built on five principles: serving customers, managing assets, controlling costs, working safely, and developing people.

"We are transforming our operations, and, indeed, our entire organization," Squires said. "We're getting the right people in the right positions and in the right places. We're looking at old challenges in new ways – and we're turning challenges into opportunity."

Through a process called Clean Sheeting, Norfolk Southern has streamlined operations at its rail terminals, improving the consistency and reliability of customer service while lowering operating costs and creating capacity for growth. In the third quarter of 2019, the railroad plans to roll out its new TOP21 operating plan to drive improvements in the velocity and fluidity of train movements across the company's 22-state rail network.

"We want to grow our business and our customers' business, all while operating more efficiently and safely," Squires said.

Over the past three years, guided by the first strategic plan developed under Squires' leadership, Norfolk Southern has delivered record financial results, including year-over-year improvement in operating ratio, the company's primary efficiency measure. In 2018, the company achieved an all-time best operating ratio of 65.4 percent. Under the new strategic plan, the company's goal is to achieve an operating ratio of 60 percent by 2021.

The new strategic plan already is delivering results, Squires said. Under the new plan, the company achieved all-time best first-quarter performance in 2019 across a range of financial measures, including net income, earnings per share, and operating ratio. The company also accomplished significant improvements in network fluidity and velocity, increasing average train speed 14 percent and reducing the time that rail cars dwell in terminals by 23 percent.

"Norfolk Southern today is operating from a position of financial strength – and we have a plan to grow even stronger," Squires said. "As we Reimagine Possible, we are building a railroad for tomorrow and for years to come."

Squires' full remarks are posted on the "Invest in NS" section of the Norfolk Southern website under "Presentations."

In official business, based on preliminary results, shareholders elected 11 directors for terms expiring in 2020:

  • Thomas D. Bell Jr., chairman of Mesa Capital Partners LLC
  • Daniel A. Carp, former chairman and chief executive officer of Eastman Kodak Company
  • Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., president of Purdue University
  • Marcela E. Donadio, former partner and Americas Oil & Gas sector leader of Ernst & Young LLP
  • Thomas C. Kelleher, president, Morgan Stanley
  • Steven F. Leer, former chief executive officer and chairman of Arch Coal Inc.
  • Michael D. Lockhart, former chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Armstrong World Industries Inc.
  • Amy E. Miles, former chair and chief executive officer of Regal Entertainment Group Inc.
  • Jennifer F. Scanlon, former president and chief executive officer of USG Corporation
  • James A. Squires, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Norfolk Southern
  • John R. Thompson, former senior vice president and general manager of BestBuy.com LLC

In other preliminary results, shareholders ratified appointment of KPMG LLP as independent auditors for 2019; approved an advisory resolution on executive compensation; and approved a shareholder proposal regarding simple majority vote.

About Norfolk Southern
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NSC) is one of the nation's premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 19,500 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern is a major transporter of industrial products, including chemicals, agriculture, and metals and construction materials. In addition, the railroad operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a principal carrier of coal, automobiles, and automotive parts.

Forward-looking statements

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the safe harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. These statements relate to future events or future performance of Norfolk Southern Corporation's (NSC) ("Norfolk Southern," "NS" or the "Company"), including but not limited to statements regarding future financial performance and anticipated results, benefits, and targets related to the strategic plan. In some cases, these forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words like "will," "believe," "expect," "targets," "anticipate," "estimate," "plan," "consider," "project," and similar references to the future. The Company has based these forward-looking statements on management's current expectations, assumptions, estimates, beliefs, and projections. While the Company believes these expectations, assumptions, estimates, and projections are reasonable, forward-looking statements are only predictions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which involve factors or circumstances that are beyond the Company's control, including but not limited to: general North American and global economic conditions; changes in energy prices and fuel markets; uncertainty surrounding timing and volumes of commodities being shipped; changes in laws and regulations; uncertainties of claims and lawsuits; labor disputes; transportation of dangerous goods; effects of changes in capital market conditions; and severe weather. These and other important factors, including those discussed under "Risk Factors" in the Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"), as well as the Company's subsequent filings with the SEC, may cause actual results, benefits, performance, or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Please refer to these SEC filings for a full discussion of those risks and uncertainties we view as most important.

Forward-looking statements are not, and should not be relied upon as, a guarantee of future events or performance, nor will they necessarily prove to be accurate indications of the times at or by which any such events or performance will be achieved. As a result, actual outcomes and results may differ materially from those expressed in forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, the occurrence of certain events or otherwise, unless otherwise required by applicable securities law.

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