At Spencer Yard, a hump facility in Linwood, N.C., Darrell Wood, a Mechanical Department employee who repairs rail cars, spoke up. Senior management listened. Now, his suggestion about how the company could improve its response to short-term rail car repair needs is helping to reduce congestion and improve service at some of Norfolk Southern’s busiest yards.
During the town hall meeting, Wood, a 29-year carman, listened as Squires and Wheeler outlined a company plan to address network congestion that was slowing service across the Southern Region. One initiative they discussed was formation of a Transportation Department “Go Team,” an innovative program that features a volunteer pool of train and engine employees. Members of the team quickly take to the road when needed to serve short-term assignments filling locomotive crew shortages in congested territories. The Go Team concept advances the goals of the company’s strategic plan by enhancing service, promoting stewardship of resources, and supporting growth.
The Go Team resonated with Wood. He wondered: Why couldn’t the company form a Go Team for carmen? This team, he reasoned, could expedite repairs of “bad order” rail cars in areas with the greatest need and get them back into service more quickly.
“The idea to temporarily deploy carmen came to me while they were talking,” Wood recalled. “There’s been a shortage of workers at different places on the railroad, and having trained carmen come in from other places would give relief and make everything more fluid. When severe weather damages electrical grids, utility teams from other places are called out to help restore power, and extra firefighters are called out to fight severe fires, so why can’t we send extra people to help repair some of these cars?”
Wood shared those thoughts when Squires and Wheeler asked for suggestions.
“Mr. Squires said it was a good idea, and said he would check into it,” Wood said. “The next thing I knew, the carmen Go Team was being formed.”