The leadership struggle at Norfolk Southern (NS) has recently escalated, drawing attention from various stakeholders as the company braces for its Annual General Meeting on May 9. The clash between NS and investor group Ancora over new board member proposals has divided industry figures and raised concerns about the company's future direction.

NS leadership has emphasized the endorsement of Surface Transportation Board Chairman Martin Oberman, who criticized Ancora's campaign for new leadership as disruptive to rail stakeholders. Oberman underscored the importance of NS's focus on intermodal traffic, contrasting it with Ancora's proposed changes.

On the other side, Ancora has gained support from two major unions representing a significant portion of NS workers. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division (BLET) Teamsters and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED) Teamsters have thrown their weight behind Ancora, citing the need for new leadership to address longstanding issues within NS.

The battle between NS and Ancora has been marked by accusations and disagreements, with Ancora's criticisms targeting NS's safety record, operational efficiency, and approach to Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR). Ancora advocates for increased PSR implementation, citing potential benefits such as cost predictability and reduced headcount, drawing on the experience of its proposed COO candidate from rival railroad CSX.

However, industry voices like the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of AFL-CIO caution against Ancora's proposals, labeling them as a reinforcement of a "failed strategy." Oberman echoed similar sentiments, citing past consequences of PSR implementation at CSX as evidence of potential risks to the industry.

As the proxy battle reaches its climax, the future leadership and direction of Norfolk Southern hang in the balance, with stakeholders anxiously awaiting the outcome of the board vote.