Our ‘Virtual’ Connection with Communities
For an organization with operations in 22 states, the use of social media helps us put a face on a large company. Social media outlets give us tools to personally connect with communities we serve and help us educate people about the economic and environmental benefits of rail and how trains deliver many of the goods they use every day.
As of early 2014, the railroad had more than 38,200 fans on Facebook, 11,500 followers on Twitter, and 2,100 followers on Instagram. We also have a presence on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, and Tumblr.
“We want people to understand that Norfolk Southern is part of their community,” said Stacey Hugo, manager community outreach. “Our employees live and work in these communities, so what is important to the general public is important to us as well.”
The Personal Touch
When it comes to discussing rail transportation, Norfolk Southern employees are the company’s best advocates. Employees volunteer to share the railroad’s message with an array of civic, business, school, and community groups through our Thoroughbred Speakers Network. In 2013, employees spoke to approximately 20 groups, providing a vital link to the communities we serve.
Among employees speaking to local groups were a chief train dispatcher, an industrial development manager, and the railroad’s historical archivist.
Recreating History in the 21st Century
The sights and sounds of steam locomotives are alive today on Norfolk Southern lines. As part of the railroad’s 21st Century Steam Program, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society offer public steam excursion trips pulled by restored steam locomotives.
Employees, customers, suppliers, government officials, and other guests are invited on these short trips in climate-controlled coaches as part of the program’s efforts to highlight the rail industry’s long history and to showcase the role Norfolk Southern plays in today’s global economy. In 2013, steam-excursion trips were offered in Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Exhibit Car Educates and Entertains
Norfolk Southern’s Exhibit Car, a restored 1926 Pullman car, is a mobile museum that gives visitors a hands-on view of the company’s history as well as modern-day contributions to U.S. freight transportation. In its 43 years of service as a display car, more than 1.5 million people in 300 communities have toured its exhibits.
A locomotive simulator, complete with throttle, brake, and horn, is a popular display, putting visitors in control of a virtual freight train. A new game, “Load the Line,” challenges players to match freight products with the correct type of railcar. The Exhibit Car also features displays about the railroad’s heritage, volunteer programs, safety, and sustainability.
In 2013, the Exhibit Car made a public tour through Pennsylvania, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
Girl Scouts Appreciate Us
Members of Girl Scout Troop 5455, part of the Girl Scout Council of the Colonial Coast in Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina, presented the company with a Girl Scout “Community Award” that reads: “Your support of Girl Scouting and Service Unit 717 Hickory has helped build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.”
Norfolk Southern employees developed an “Explore Norfolk Southern” Girl Scout merit badge in 2010. Scouts earn the badge by learning about railroad safety, rail’s environmental benefits, and rail’s contribution to the economy. During 2012 and 2013, the company hosted the scouts on a special train ride and provided a tour of the railroad’s museum in Norfolk.