Norfolk Southern, SMART-TD collaborate to enhance conductor training and raise craft trainer pay

July 26, 2023

New initiatives will enhance training program and focus on safety

ATLANTA and INDEPENDENCE, OHIO (July 26, 2023) — Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE:NSC) and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers — Transportation Division (SMART-TD) announced Wednesday that they are partnering to launch several new initiatives to further enhance the training program for conductor trainees and increase compensation for conductors who help provide this important training.

“Ensuring that every conductor trainee receives proper training is the foundation of running a safe railroad,” said Jeremy Ferguson, president of SMART-TD. “These changes will deliver even greater quality and consistency for the Norfolk Southern conductor training program and ensure that every trainee will have a positive and comprehensive experience focused on safely performing their important work.”

“Our craft colleagues are the heart of Norfolk Southern,” said Alan H. Shaw, president and CEO of Norfolk Southern. “We have an obligation to make sure our newest employees — our conductor trainees — have the skills and knowledge to get the job done as safely as possible. We committed to partnering with our unions on safety, and our ongoing work with SMART-TD is another step in fulfilling that promise and investing in the future of our people.”

The new agreement underscores NS and SMART-TD’s joint commitment to immediately developing and deploying innovative training initiatives, including:

  • A train-the-trainer program for all conductors and foremen to ensure consistency and quality in the training they provide to new trainees.
  • A standardized process to monitor and report progress on all activities outlined in the existing trainee qualification book.
  • A bilateral rating system to allow conductor trainers and trainees to rate each other’s engagement, professionalism, and commitment to safety.

“With these changes, we are ensuring that the Norfolk Southern conductor trainee program will be the gold standard in the industry for safe and effective training,” said General Chairperson Tommy Gholson (GO 898). “We are committed to working with Norfolk Southern to ensure that our future members have access to the resources and instruction they need to have a safe and rewarding career on the railroad.”

To further recognize the important role that the company’s craft conductors play in training, effective Aug. 1, 2023, Norfolk Southern will increase the training stipend for conductors providing instruction from $10 to $30 for a through-freight-service shift, and $35 for all other service shifts.

“This increase in pay for our craft conductors is an acknowledgement of the key role they play in building a safe and productive workforce,” said General Chairperson James Ball (GCA-687). “I am thrilled we were able to partner with Norfolk Southern to secure this significant increase in compensation for our hardworking members.”

Finally, for those craft employees who step away from their work full-time to offer support and instruction – known as craft mentors – Norfolk Southern will raise their daily pay from $325 to $375, acknowledging the critical impact these railroaders make in our efforts to develop the company’s conductor workforce.

“The collaboration of SMART-TD and Norfolk Southern will vigorously improve the conductor training program,” said General Chairperson David Phillips (GCA-680). “The comprehensive training of new conductors is vital to the future existence of our industry. The new training compensation package places a well-deserved increased value on the conductor craft.”

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About Norfolk Southern
Since 1827, Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) and its predecessor companies have safely moved the goods and materials that drive the U.S. economy. Today, it operates a customer-centric and operations-driven freight transportation network. Committed to furthering sustainability, Norfolk Southern helps its customers avoid approximately 15 million tons of yearly carbon emissions by shipping via rail. Its dedicated team members deliver more than 7 million carloads annually, from agriculture to consumer goods, and is the largest rail shipper of auto products and metals in North America. Norfolk Southern also has the most extensive intermodal network in the eastern U.S., serving a majority of the country’s population and manufacturing base, with connections to every major container port on the Atlantic coast as well as the Gulf of Mexico and Great Lakes. Learn more by visiting

SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members who work in a variety of different crafts in the transportation industry. These crafts include employees on every Class I railroad, Amtrak, many shortline railroads, bus and mass transit employees and airport personnel. More information about the union is available at