CSX Touts Improved Transit Times

A CSX executive said this week that by closing hump yards, reducing car handlings, and adjusting its operating plan, the railroad has been able to reduce the transit time of merchandise carloads by nearly a day.

Speaking at the Citi 2017 Industrials Conference, CSX Chief Marketing Officer Fredrik Eliasson said the decrease in average transit time is a 15-percent improvement. It had been 5.9 days.

Eliasson said CSX also cut coal train cycle times by reducing loaded transit time to 2.3 days, down from three days in March.

The executive attributed the improvements to the implementation of the scheduled precision railroading operating plan of CEO E. Hunter Harrison, who presumed his position on March 6.

On-time originations have improved 12 percent, while on-time arrivals have improved 36 percent, Eliasson said, noting that premium intermodal trains have arrived on time 97 percent of the time in the second quarter.

“For our customers this is a big deal,” Eliasson said. CSX management believes that reduced transit times and more consistent service will enable the railroad to capture business from trucks.

Eliasson said there have been some problem spots in the wake of the conversion of seven 12 hump yards to flat switching.

And the pace of the changes has meant that despite a commitment to communicate with customers about service changes and seek their views that it has not always been possible to touch base with shippers before operational changes are implemented.

Eliasson said that earlier this year about 25 percent of intermodal trains operated daily. Now, half of them do, which he said reflects Harrison’s belief in operating a balanced network.

In some instances trains have been combined due to volume and scheduling reasons.

CSX also is continue to reduce the number of trains it operates but is still moving roughly the same amount of tonnage.

It has stored 700 locomotives stored — up from 551 in May — and retired more than 24,000 freight cars through storage, scrapping or returning them to lessors.

Eliasson  said CSX doesn’t expect to order new locomotives anytime soon. “Overall, we are good on locomotives,” he said.

CSX second-quarter volumes have increased 1 percent in the second quarter, which is slightly lower than expected. The company expects volume to improve later this year as trucking capacity tightens.

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