CSX Contends it has Cut Freight Transit Times

Despite some performance metrics showing mixed results, CSX management contends that it is making substantial progress in implementing its precision scheduled railroading operating plan.

CSX Chief Operating Officer Cindy Sanborn told Trains magazine that CSX has cut transit times by reducing the number of times that cars are handled en route.

She was responding to a report by the magazine that found that during June terminal dwell has increased 8 percent and average train speed fell by 4 percent.

Those figures were taken from reports that Class I railroads must provide to federal regulators.

“What you don’t see are the cars that used to go into that terminal . . . but don’t go into the terminal anymore,” Sanborn said.

She said that means that when a car is handled just once instead of twice, it arrives a day earlier, which reduces shipper costs.

The latter is primarily the case with shippers who own their own fleet of cars and reduce the size of their fleet because cycle times have improved.

CSX also contends that it is providing more consistent service. Sanborn said that through June 10, CSX was operating trains on-time 79 percent of the time.
Sanborn said reducing transit times has been the primary motivation for closing hump operations and shifting to flat-switching at major classification yards.

Before the implantation of its current operating plan, CSX road freights would pick up blocks of traffic bound for the nearest hump yard.

But now Sanborn said the only traffic going to a hump or classification yard is that which needs to go there.

She said that although locals are still pre-blocking traffic for the nearest hump yard, they also build blocks for additional destinations.

Those blocks are picked up by road trains and block-swapped or switched closer to their final destination.

Sanborn acknowledged that there will continue to be teething pains and issues that must be addressed as the railroad implements its operating plans.

The railroad’s operating team is constantly monitoring performance and is seeking to balance daily traffic flows by shifting some unit train traffic onto manifest freights.

This has been particularly the case with auto rack traffic and aggregate shipments that once traveled in dedicated trains.

Consolidating traffic has meant that CSX will be operating the same number of trains in each direction on every corridor, which Sanborn said will improve locomotive and crew utilization by reducing deadheading moves.

The railroad’s goal is to move the same tonnage on fewer trains.

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