CEO of rail company Norfolk Southern rewarded with 37% pay raise after derailment and toxic fire in Ohio

Norfolk Southern seemed to have a tough year, with a train derailing in rural Ohio and spilling toxic burning chemicals everywhere. But CEO Alan Shaw received a 37% increase in compensation, reports CNN, leading to questions about exactly what he achieved to earn it.

The company's overall net income fell 44% last year to $1.8 billion. Shares of Norfolk Southern (NSC) fell 22% in the two months following the accident, but the stock has since recovered most of its value, and its current share price is slightly above its pre-derailment level.

Shaw's changes in railroad procedures have won the support of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the union that represents the company's engineers. But the problems at Norfolk Southern have sparked a proxy battle, as an investor group led by Ohio-based Ancora Holdings is seeking to elect an alternative slate of candidates to the company's board of directors, with the goal of replacing Shaw.

The implication seems to be that there was an anticipated outcome of the disaster for Norfolk Southern—liabilities, bankruptcy, corporate collapse, compensation to locals, and so on—but Shaw managed to avoid it. The derailment cost the railroad $1.1 billion, according to its most recent estimate. Perhaps it should have (and expected to) cough up a lot more. How are things in Palestine, Ohio?

Previously: Feds go after Norfolk Southern, operator of derailed train that dumped toxic chemicals in East Palestine