Data Shows Decline of Class 1 Freight Service

An analysis by Trains magazine of data recently submitted by four Class 1 rail systems to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board found that all of them have seen their on-time delivery performance plummet since May 2019.

Before the pandemic, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and BNSF averaged an 85 percent on-time delivery rate but during the last week of May that had fallen to 67 percent.

The STB considers a shipment to be on time if it arrives at its destination within 24 hours of the projected delivery time given the shipper.

However, the Trains report cautioned that railroads often create trip plans for individual shipments that are tighter than the STB standard.

It also said comparing the performance of railroads against each other can be misleading because of variance in how each carrier collects information and calculates on-time performance and such performance metrics as terminal dwell time and average train speed.

The railroad industry has largely blamed shortages of operating crews for the service issues they have experienced in the past year.

As the average speed of trains has fallen, that has created congestion, which in turn has led to the need for more crews and locomotives.

The problems intensify because new crews and motive power are out of place from where they are needed.

CSX reported its overall on-time performance since May 2019 has slid from 96 percent to 85 percent.

The carrier said the most current figures show carload traffic posted a 66 percent on time rate whereas intermodal shipments were 95 percent on time.

Norfolk Southern said that for the 12 months ending in April 2020, its overall on time figure was 87 percent. It has since fallen to 52 percent.

The report can be read at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/data-reported-to-federal-regulators-reveal-extent-of-deterioration-in-rail-service/

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