“CSX’s performance shows improved transit time, train speed, car-handling efficiency and terminal fluidity as we continue implementing the principles of scheduled railroading and the previous transitional issues are resolved,” railroad President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison said in an Oct. 5 statement.
According to the company’s most-recent internal performance report, system-wide train velocity on CSX’s 21,000-mile network has increased by about 16 percent since mid-July, and is now higher than the 2016 full-year average.
Also, CSX metrics state that transit times for scheduled merchandise trains have returned to a normal range, and are lower than transit levels at the outset of CSX’s precision scheduled railroad implementation in first quarter of this year.
Average terminal dwell – the number of hours cars spend in terminals between their origins and destinations – has steadily improved over the last two months and is currently 11.2 hours, declining more than 15 percent since the summer. Dwell is now lower than 2016 full-year average, according to the company.
Precision Scheduled Railroading, a system championed by Harrison, theoretically increases efficiency. It consists of seven principles that, in theory, allow a railroad to move the same amount of cargo with fewer trains, equipment and personnel: minimizing car dwell times in yards, reducing car classifications, using multiple traffic outlets, running general-purpose trains, balancing train movements by direction, minimizing power requirements, and striving for steady workflow.
Under Harrison, CSX in the past six months has begun consolidating inefficient unit trains, which the company says allows it to optimize train length and reduce the total number of trains while increasing the frequency of service to customers at the same time. The railroad has also transitioned hump facilities in seven cities into flat switching operations to reduce freight handlings and transit times for traffic processed at those terminals.
But in implementing Harrison’s precision scheduled railroading and other efficiency measures, CSX has hit some major stumbling blocks. During the second quarter of the year, customers began complaining of a significant deterioration in service. According to complaints made by rail shippers to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Board, problems ranged from unpredictable transit times, gateway congestion, unreliable switching operations and poor customer service.
A public listening session on CSX’s service issues is scheduled for Wed., Oct. 11 at Surface Transportation Board headquarters in Washington, DC.