Posts Tagged ‘CSX locomotives’

CSX Touts Improved Transit Times

June 16, 2017

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.

CSX Repaints Locomotive to C&O Livery

June 7, 2017

CSX shop workers in Huntington, West Virginia, have repainted another diesel into heritage colors.

The Huntington Locomotive Shops has adored former Chesapeake & Ohio SD40 No. 7534 into the livery it wore when it left the Electro-Motive diesel assembly plant.

The locomotive was repainted on behalf of the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, which plans to display it at its museum in Clifton Forge, Virginia.

The unit was previously CSX No. 4617 and was the last locomotive in the CSX fleet to wear C&O colors.

The C&O group might use the locomotive to pull trains on the Buckingham Branch Railroad.

Rob Catlin, project manager at the C&O Historical Society, told Trains magazine that although the locomotive is serviceable, it is missing six traction motors.

Earlier this year, the Huntington shops repainted a locomotive in Chessie System colors. That unit is currently in Erie, Pennsylvania, waiting to be moved to the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

Get Hunter on the Phone

June 6, 2017

What in the name of precision scheduled railroading is going on with this CSX train? It has two locomotives and a mere three cars, two tank cars and a cover hopper.

And here we thought the operating plan at CSX since E. Hunter Harrison took over is to expand train length and not shrink it.

Of course this train, show passing through North East, Pennsylvania, en route to Buffalo, New York, after working the yard in Erie is a local and those are usually short.

CSX manifest freights had been growing in length long before Harrison arrived on the scene.

Yet it seems only a matter of time before someone in Jacksonville gets the idea that one of those monster manifests could have dropped off the cars in Erie and another could have picked up the outbound traffic.

For now, it would seem that locals continue to have a place at CSX and perhaps in the foreseeable future. But the railroad is still working out its operating plan and more changes are likely to occur.

Perhaps overlooked in Harrison’s philosophy is his belief that cars should not sit idle in yards. He likes to see freight moving, not sitting still until the next train can be made up sometime in the next 24 hours or the next few days.

That is why we are now seeing cuts of cars tacked onto the rear of auto rack trains.

These are, to say the least, interesting times for those who enjoy watching how railroads operate.

May ARRC Program to Highlight CSX Locomotives

May 22, 2017

The program at the Akron Railroad Club meeting on May 26 will be a slide show by Jim Mastromatteo focusing on CSX locomotives of the early 1990s.

At the time, CSX was less than a decade removed from the merger of the Chessie System and Seaboard Systems and a lot of “heritage” motive power was still moving around the systems.

CSX also had some liveries in that era that have fallen by the wayside. Remember the “gray ghosts?”

The meeting will begin with a short business meeting followed by the program at approximately 8:30 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

Following the meeting, some members gather at the Eat ‘n Park restaurant at Howe and Main streets in Cuyahoga Falls for a late dinner, dessert or an early breakfast.

Visitors are always welcome at Akron Railroad Club meetings.

Chessie System Locomotive on the Move

May 18, 2017

The cosmetically restored Chessie System GE B30-7 has been reported to be en route to its new home at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

The locomotive was spotted earlier this week dead-in-tow heading for Russell, Kentucky.

From there it was expected to travel via Columbus, Willard and Cleveland to North East.

The locomotive was repainted into the Chessie livery by the CSX locomotive shops in Huntington, West Virginia.

The unit was built in 1980 as C&O No. 8272 and also was CSX No. 5554.

Stumbling Into a Photograph

May 11, 2017

Nothing about this photograph was planned. At the time that it was made, I was chasing after a Wheeling & Lake Erie train that was leaving the siding at Hiles east of New London.

The case began at the northwest parking lot for the New London reservoir. You can sit there and watch trains on the CSX Greenwich Subdivision.

With a good antenna and radio you can also pick up radio transmissions on the W&LE frequency.

And so that was how I learned that a tank train I had seen earlier in the day in the Hiles siding was reading to go east.

I wasn’t sure that I could catch that train before it got to Spencer. I started to move, then sat back down. There is too much distance.

A moment later I began having second thoughts. The train will be accelerating from a standing start. It won’t be moving all that fast. In a worse case scenario I can catch it at Spencer.

So I drove out of the parking lot and on the spur of the moment decided to take a road that would go south of New London, which I thought would save time as opposed to going through town.

I had been on the road earlier that day when I had a false start trying to chase that Wheeling tank train. In that case, the conversation I heard on the radio was not the crew of the tank train.

I’m racing along eastward on a road I don’t know well but had been on earlier in the day. I make a left turn on a road that I think will lead me to Ohio Route 162.

It did, but it wasn’t the road I wanted. I turned on Chenango Road when what I really needed was Butler Road.

Chenango Road crosses the W&LE tracks, but by the time I reached them the tank train was gone. I also realized that I had the wrong road.

OK, I thought, I’ll go north a short distance and then turn east. Except that there were no crossroads.

Maybe there would be one just beyond the CSX crossing. As I was crossing the CSX tracks, I looked to my right and saw the headlight of a westbound train. That gave me a jolt.

Just as or just after I cleared the tracks, the gates started to come down. That gave me another jolt.

At that point instinct and experience kicked in. Something told me I could get a photograph of this train.

There was a dirt road to the right. I pulled in, grabbed my camera and headed for an opening near the tracks.

There was no time to think through the shot. I spotted a puddle and instinct and experience kicked in again.

In retrospect had I been standing back a little further I might have been able to capture the ditch lights and locomotive nose in the heart of the puddle rather than on the edges.

I also had the misfortune of photographing as a cloud blocked the sun. It was one of five times when that happened.

This, like most of the photographs that I made on this day, turned out to be less than ideal. It was that kind of a day.

But at least I didn’t come away from this photo op empty handed as I had earlier when just as I was catching up to the head end of an eastbound stack train on the New Castle Subdivision, I ran out of highway because U.S. 224 was closed for construction east of Nova.

Both Sides Now

May 9, 2017

I look at this photograph and I think of that Joni Mitchell song Both Sides Now. She sings about how clouds can be rows and flows of angel hair and ice castles in the air.

Clouds can add beauty and drama to an image, but they can also, as the second stanza of Both Sides Now reminds us, block the sun.

And so it was as CSX eastbound intermodal train Q010 came along as I stood atop the reservoir at New London.

My objective in making this image was clouds. I got the clouds all right, but at the crucial moment one of them blocked the sun.

Anyone who has spent time trackside has seen clouds from both sides. It is sometimes called getting cloud skunked.

I made the photograph anyway even though the train was in the shadows.

Of course, shadows can be a wonderful thing, too. But like clouds, they, too, are multifaceted. They can be your friend or they can be your adversary. Sometimes they are both at the same time.

So this image didn’t work out as I had planned, but at least I got some nice clouds.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

CSX 1st Quarter Net Income up 2%

April 21, 2017

CSX said on Thursday that its first quarter 2017 net income rose 2 percent to $362 million, or 39 cents per share.

In a news release, CSX said that discounting a $173 million restructuring charge, the adjusted earnings were 51 cents per share.

Those numbers compare with net income of $356 million, or 37 cents per share in the first quarter of 2016.

During the first quarter of this year revenue was up 10 percent to $2.87 billion compared with $2.6 billion in 2016.

CSX attributed the revenue growth to volume growth across most markets, overall core pricing gains and increased fuel recovery.

The railroad believes that its second quarter outlook is favorable because of anticipated growth in most markets, including agriculture and food, export coal, fertilizers, forest products, intermodal and minerals.

The business outlook is neutral outlook for automotive, chemicals, metals and equipment. The domestic coal market has an unfavorable outlook for domestic coal.

CEO E. Hunter Harrison said during a conference call that CSX expects to have an operating ratio in 2017 in the mid-60s, earnings per share growth of around 25 percent off the 2016 reported base of $1.81, and free cash flow before dividends of around $1.5 billion.

The CSX board of directors have approved a $1 billion share repurchase program, which management expects to complete by the end of the first quarter of 2018.

CSX began buying back shares of its stock in April 2015 and has spent $2 billion on that to date.

As for capital spending, CSX now expects to invest $2.1 billion in 2017, including approximately $270 million for Positive Train Control.

More than half of the 2017 capital spending will be used to sustain core infrastructure with the balance allocated to projects supporting profitable growth, efficiency initiatives and service improvements.

CSX trimmed its capital budget for this year by $100 million. Some planned capital projects are being paused as management continues to study its terminal and operating plans.

As expected, CSX plans to continue creating longer passing sidings, particularly in the Chicago-Florida corridor where train lengths are limited by 6,500-foot sidings.

Under the Michael Ward administration, CSX had announced plans to extending or add 27 sidings in that corridor. Harrison expects to move some sidings to create a longer siding elsewhere.

“If we have sidings that are too short for the longer trains, we’re certainly not going to leave those sitting in the ground and not being utilized,” he said. “We’ll pick up one 6,500-foot siding and move it 15 miles down the railroad and put it with another 6,500. We’ve got a 13,000-foot siding.”

Since Harrison took over as CEO last month, CSX has laid off 765 employees – about 3 percent of its workforce – and further announcements are expected of continued cost cutting initiatives.

CSX chopped a record $420 million of expenses in 2016 and expects to top that this year.

Among the expected moves will be consolidating the railroad’s nine divisions. Also likely to be consolidated are the nine dispatching centers CSX now operates.

The streamlining of operations will result in 550 of the railroad’s 4,400 locomotives being removed from service and stored by the end of the summer. CSX has already mothballed another 550 locomotives.  About 25,000 freight cars will be stored.

CSX wants to impose a balance of operations over seven days a week and reduce the average terminal dwell time from 26 hours to somewhere in the high teens.

During the conference call, Harrison suggested that he does not expect any mergers or acquisitions to occur during the four-year life of his contract.

Technology Predicts CSX Locomotive Failures

March 28, 2017

CSX has been working with a new technology that predicts when a locomotive might fail.

The system developed by Mtll of Aspen Technology, is expected to save CSX millions of dollars while helping it get the most out of its motive power fleet.

CSX executives have been so impressed with the system that they have named Mtll as winner of the railroad’s Supplier Innovation Award for 2016.

Trains magazine reports that the Mtll system uses real-time data and maintenance information to predict when a locomotive might fail by as much as two to six weeks in advance.

Thus far CSX has installed the system on 3,800 locomotives. The analysis that the software conducts compares a locomotive’s performance against a list of common locomotive failure indicators.

Mtll says its system can catch about 95 percent of locomotive failures.

The company’s next step is to apply the system to defect detectors to search for potential failures in rolling stock.

CSX Gets SD303E ‘Echo” Locomotives

February 2, 2017

CSX has taken delivery of the first of 13 Eco locomotives that are being rebuilt from EMD SD40-2 units by Progress Rail at its plant in Muncie, Indiana.

CSX logo 3The ex-CSX units are now classified as SD40E3 and carry roster numbers in the 1700 series.

Trains magazine reported that the units will be assigned to terminals in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Camden, New Jersey.

The SD40E3s will be assigned to yard duty and on local freights.

“The low emission locomotives are ideal for moving and sorting freight in our yards, providing a more environmentally friendly way to build trains around the clock and efficiently serve customers,” CSX Media Relations Manager Laura Phelps told Trains.

Phelps said the SD40E3s are not intended to replace SD40-3 locomotives that have been rebuilt by MotivePower in Idaho from SD40-2s.

She said CSX continues to evaluate the role that SD40-3 motive power will play at the railroad.