Posts Tagged ‘CSX employees’

CSX Hiring New Conductors, Making Service Changes

June 18, 2021

CSX told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board this week that it is hiring more conductors.

In a letter to regulators, the carrier said its service is improving due to operational adjustments that have reduced congestion, particularly along the Gulf Coast.

“We’re making significant progress and we recognize there is more to be done,” CEO James Foote said. “We are investing in our workforce and network while engaging frequently with our customers to ensure their freight is reaching consumers in a safe and reliable manner.”

The letter was sent in response to an STB inquiry of all Class 1 railroads seeking information on how they are getting ready to handle increased traffic.

STB Chairman Martin J. Oberman said regulators are responding to shipper complaints about rail service as traffic rebounded from an economic downturn triggered last year by the CVOID-19 pandemic.

STB asked railroads for information on their hiring plans, as well as current crew and locomotive availability.

Some trade associations had singled out CSX as having widespread service issues due to crew shortages.

Foote said CSX was caught short as were other businesses by the fallout from the pandemic.

He acknowledged that railroads have seen a surge in volume and that the supply chain has endured a variety of capacity constraints among various transport modes, shippers and receivers.

“For some traffic we were able to move blocking to fluid yards and bypass constrained yards to provide more direct routing to customers,” Foote wrote. “We also partnered with other railroads to increase hand-off efficiencies and avoid congested interchanges where possible. For example, we moved a number of trains from the crowded New Orleans gateway to the more fluid Memphis gateway.”

Aside from hiring new crew members, CSX said it has stepped up recalling furloughed crews as volume has recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

“CSX’s T&E active staffing levels have been brought back to within 4 percent of the pre-pandemic levels (6,851 now versus 7,132 March 2020) and we continue to hire and train employees in effort to get ahead of rising demand,” Foote wrote. “As of June 1, 2021, less than 1 percent of CSX T&E employees remain furloughed. The few places they remain on furlough are in locations with less volume recovery.”

Foote indicated CSX plans to hire nearly 500 new conductors this year. Thus far it has hired almost as many conductors as it did in 2019 and 2020 combined.

Foote said CSX has enough locomotives to handle current and expected demand, with 2,349 active units, 70 stored ready for immediate service, and 400 in longer-term storage.

He said the railroad is working with shipper groups to respond to their members’ service complaints.

“Our review to date has pointed to the Gulf region coupled with a few other isolated spots and most of the identified concerns relate to conditions earlier in the year,” Foote wrote.

CSX intermodal operations have been hindered by slowdowns in loading and unloading of containers at customer facilities, which has created a backlog in intermodal terminals and shortages of both chassis and dray drivers.

To mitigate that situation, CSX has begun using off-site container yards at Memphis and Indianapolis to remove long-dwelling containers from its terminals.

Foote said the CSX reservation system has helped balance incoming loads and train and terminal capacity.

Some adjustments have been made at individual terminals.

“In Chicago, we recently shifted a large portion of international traffic out of Bedford Park into our 59th Street terminal while moving a large portion of domestic traffic from 59th Street to Bedford Park,” Foote said.

No Turning Back, Foote Says

January 18, 2018

New CSX CEO James M. Foote wanted to make one thing clear. On his watch there will be no turning back from the commitment made to precision scheduled railroading that the late E. Hunter Harrison brought to the carrier last year.

James Foote

During a conference call on Wednesday to discuss the railroad’s fourth quarter financial results, Foote praised Harrison and said CSX would not be where it is today without him.

“I am committed to seeing his vision through and making CSX the best railroad in North America,” Foote said.

Speaking during the same conference call the newly-appointed CSX vice president of operations, Edmond Harris, said the carrier will continue what Harrison started, including operating fewer trains, putting more locomotives into storage, moving the same tonnage with fewer freight cars, and having a more fluid network.

“The table has been set,” Harris said, saying CSX will take advantage of technology and boost the use of distributed motive power.

Foote said he made changes to the sales and marketing structure to simplify the organization by reducing the leadership group to three business units and aligning certain functions into other departments.

He said he also implemented changes in the operating department at the staff and field levels in order to achieve more efficient operation and achieve service improvements.

Foote noted that one of his first moves as CEO was to order the hump to be razed at Tilford Yard in Atlanta.

The yard, which remains open as a flat switching facility, was one of eight hump yards that were converted last year.

As for what the future holds for CSX operations, Harris said that he favors run-through interchange trains and would like to see CSX bypass the Belt Railway of Chicago by running merchandise trains directly to BNSF and Union Pacific.

He will also seek partnerships with short lines railroads and other Class I carriers to create shorter, more efficient routes.

CSX will study creating directional running for longer trains and will continue to build longer trains pulled by fewer locomotives per train.

Foote said CSX will make it a priority to improve its on-time performance, which was just 56 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Calling that unsatisfactory, Foote said CSX plans to create schedule plans for every carload as a way to improve on-time deliveries.

Foote acknowledged that the rapid changes that Harrison ordered at CSX before his death last Dec. 16, disrupted operations, resulting in angry shippers and additional regulatory oversight.

The railroad also lost some traffic, but Foote predicted that most of it will return. “We are seeing some of those customers return already,” Foote said.

However, CSX doesn’t expect to recoup the 7 percent loss it suffered in domestic intermodal business after it closed its Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal and ditched the hub and spoke strategy toward building intermodal traffic.

CSX’s intermodal strategy will be built on increasing container traffic to East Coast ports and not on seeking to develop low-volume service lanes.

Capital spending will fall by 20 percent to $1.6 billion in 2018 on top of a 25 percent cut last year.

That prompted some analysts on the conference call to express concern about CSX’s ability to maintain its infrastructure.

In response, Chief Financial Officer Frank Lonegro said CSX will spend $1.4 billion this year on track maintenance, which he said is about the same as it spent in previous years.

Lonegro said most of the curtailed capital spending would have been for new locomotives and freight cars. But with 900 locomotives in storage, and 20,000 cars sidelined, he said it would be many years before CSX needs to buy more rolling stock.

Looking ahead to a March 1 investors conference, CSX executives said they did not want to provide many details about their expectations for this year and beyond other than they expect the operating ratio to improve due to operations improvements and efficiency gains.

However, they did say that CSX expects to reduce its payroll by 2,000 people this year and that it ended 2017 with 3,282 employees than it had on the last day of 2016. CSX now employs 24,000. CSX also reduced the number of consultants that it hired by 1,418.