The company already has a director of community affairs and others who work on community engagement.
But amid growing complaints about rail crossings and other issues in communities, Norfolk Southern said the director of public engagement will be “the company’s point person on issues such as: at-grade crossings, public events that cross railroad tracks, right-of-way maintenance needs, and others.”
“Norfolk Southern has a responsibility to be a good corporate citizen, and this new role will help deliver on that commitment,” said Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw in a written statement.
Norfolk Southern also faces pressure over fallout from a February derailment that spilled hazardous materials in East Palestine, Ohio.
Rail safety issues have gained increased attention this year in the wake of the East Palestine derailment.
President Joe Biden last week issued an executive order to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for cleanup and response to the East Palestine derailment, and to protect those who live in the community.
The order directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to designate a federal disaster recovery coordinator to oversee long-term recovery efforts in affected communities and assess who would qualify for federal assistance. The executive order also calls for oversight actions by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as a report from the U.S. Department of Transportation on its response to the derailment.
Norfolk Southern says it has committed more than $95 million in support to the community, according to its website on its response to the East Palestine derailment. The company last week announced it broke ground on a training center in East Palestine to train first responders in the region.