Norfolk Southern is composed of hundreds of predecessor railroads dating to the earliest days of American railroading. The company traces our lineage to the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road, which began operating in 1830 in Charleston, S.C.
The modern Norfolk Southern Corporation, headquartered in Norfolk, Va., is the third-largest publicly traded U.S. freight railroad, formed by the 1982 consolidation of Norfolk and Western and Southern railways. The corporation’s partial acquisition of Conrail assets in 1999 increased the railroad’s network by half and expanded our reach into the northeastern U.S.
The corporation’s Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates approximately 20,000 route miles of rail in 22 states and the District of Columbia. The railroad serves every major container port in the eastern U.S. and offers efficient connections to interline rail partners, extending the company’s reach to markets on the U.S. West Coast and in Canada and Mexico. Although most of Norfolk Southern’s customers are domestic, many products, including consumer goods and commodities, are moving to and from global markets, including countries in Europe, Asia, and South America.
Norfolk Southern’s common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol NSC.
Norfolk Southern trains transport raw materials, intermediate products, and finished goods to major consumer markets and communities across the U.S. Southeast, East, Northeast, and Midwest.
Our trains move vehicles; lumber to build homes; coal to generate electricity and manufacture steel; canned foods that shoppers buy in grocery stores; grain for poultry and livestock farmers; and a host of products essential to households, businesses, and industries.
In 2014, the railroad moved 205 billion revenue ton-miles of freight while traveling 74.8 million train miles. The railroad moved 7.6 million rail cars and intermodal units across the network.
Norfolk Southern serves seven primary business markets.
This market includes consumer goods of every type, such as clothes, appliances, electronics, beverages, and furniture that move in trailers and containers. Shipments are handled on behalf of intermodal marketing companies, international steamship lines, truckers, and other shippers. In 2014, for the first time, revenues from intermodal traffic outpaced coal revenues to become the railroad’s top revenue generator among our business markets.
The company’s coal franchise supports the electricity needs of households and businesses across the eastern U.S., serving approximately 84 coal generation utility plants. The railroad also moves domestic and export metallurgical coal used in steel-making, export utility coal, and industrial coal for manufacturing processes. Coal revenues declined 6 percent in 2014 versus 2013 on a 5 percent drop in volume, reflecting decreased demand across all coal business segments.
The chemicals market includes sulfur and related chemicals, petroleum products such as crude oil, chlorine and bleaching compounds, plastics, rubber, industrial chemicals, and chemical wastes. Recent growth in this market has been driven by increased shipments of crude oil from oil fields in North Dakota’s Bakken region and in Canada, as well as by higher shipments of liquefied petroleum gas from the Utica Shale region.
Product in this market includes soybeans, wheat, corn, fertilizer, livestock and poultry feed, food oils, flour, beverages, canned goods, sweeteners, consumer products, ethanol, transportation equipment, and items for the U.S. military. Increased demand for ethanol production in 2014 led to higher shipments of corn.
The railroad moves finished vehicles for BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen. The railroad transports auto parts for BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen. Automotive volume and revenue increased by 2 percent in 2014 due to increased production of vehicles at manufacturing plants served by the railroad.
This market comprises lumber and wood products, pulp board and paper products, wood fibers, wood pulp, scrap paper, and clay. Continuing recovery of the housing market since the 2007-2009 recession boosted lumber shipments in 2014, while transport of newsprint and paper dropped due to mill and plant closures and declining demand.
Among industry peers, Norfolk Southern ranked No. 4 among the 10 largest U.S. companies in the trucking, transportation, and logistics sector on Fortune magazine’s Most Admired 2015 list. The company ranked the same on the magazine’s 2014 list.
The sector rankings were based on a survey of executives, directors, and analysts from within the industry sector. They rated companies on nine criteria, from investment value to social responsibility. Norfolk Southern’s highest scores were for social responsibility and financial soundness, followed by people management, use of corporate assets, quality of management, and long-term investment value.
To make the Fortune list, a company’s score had to rank in the top half of its industry survey.