STB to Monitor CSX in Wake of Shipper Complaints

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has notified CSX that it will closely monitor the railroad’s performance.

In a letter to CSX head E. Hunter Harrison, the STB said it would conduct weekly service calls with senior railroad executives.

The STB said some shippers have lodged informal complaints with the agency about the deterioration of service between April and June.

It was during that period that CSX began implementing the precision scheduled railroading operating philosophy that Harrison has long espoused.

“In particular, shippers have complained that transit times have increased significantly and/or become unpredictable; loaded and empty rail cars sit for days at yards; switching operations have become inconsistent and unreliable; car routings have become circuitous and inefficient; and CSX customer service personnel have been unable to provide meaningful assistance,” the STB wrote.

Congestion has hindered CSX operations at its St. Louis and New Orleans terminals and the railroad’s performance metrics indicate that trains are moving more slowly and cars are spending more time in yards, while the number of cars online has increased.

“We understand that these disruptions have forced a number of rail shippers and their customers to curtail production, temporarily halt operations, and/or utilize other transportation options,” the STB letter said.

The letter went onto cite CSX for not communicating well with it customers, saying that many shippers have been caught off guard by the service changes and didn’t have the lead time required to adjust their supply chains.

Earlier this week, STB officials and senior CSX officials had a meeting to discuss the railroad’s operations. CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle said the railroad will provide the information the STB has requested.

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