Posts Tagged ‘CSX operations’

Harrison Gives Preview of What’s in Store at CSX

April 21, 2017

CSX CEO E. Hunter Harrison gave a preview on Thursday about what is in store at the railroad in the coming months and years.

Speaking during a conference call with Wall Street investors, Harrison called the CSX network a bowl of spaghetti when compared to the linear-oriented systems he oversaw at Canadian Pacific, Canadian National and Illinois Central.

E. Hunter Harrison

Although he thinks that CSX does well in moving intermodal trains, Harrison believes merchandise freight needs to move faster.

The average speed of CSX merchandise freight is now 18 mph between terminals, but Harrison believes it could be boosted to 27 to 28 mph.

One way to boost transit times is by skipping terminals. Ultimately, Harrison wants to see CSX provide merchandise service that is on a par with trucks.

CSX Chief Operating Officer Cindy Sanborn said CSX has made two significant operating changes since Harrison arrived.

Some traffic that had been moving in unit trains has been merged into merchandise trains and four of the railroad’s 12 hump yards have been converted to flat switching.

Sanborn said the changes will allow CSX to provide seven-day-a-week service, bring balance to the system, increase train length, cut terminal dwell time and reduce the time that freight spends in transit.

CSX is expected to continue closing humps although Sanborn said she doesn’t know by how many because management is studying each yard individually.

Harrison described hump yards as a relic of an era when a much higher percentage of rail freight traffic was merchandise service.

In a related matter, Harrison said CSX will consolidate yards in areas where multiple yards now exist and sell the land used by yards that are closed.

There was speculation earlier that CSX would sell some secondary lines, but Harrison said he doesn’t expect any major line sales in 2017 because management is focusing on improving operations of the current network.

Other steps CSX plans to make, Harrison said, include having fewer train sets devoted to unit coal train service, but having faster cyling of cars between mines and customers.

CSX is not looking to drop some of its less-profitable merchandise traffic as Canadian Pacific did while Harrison was that railroad’s CEO.

“No, we’re not looking at demarketing,” he said. “We’re looking at marketing.”

As predicted, Harrison will trim the CSX work force. The railroad now has a hiring freeze in place and expects to lose 9 percent of its work force through attrition.

He added, though, that management does not have a target for work force cuts.

Another labor-related change may see CSX pull out of national negotiations with labor unions and instead bargain directly with the unions.

Harrison would like to see train and engine crews paid by the hour in return for the company offering job guarantees. Ultimately, Harrison said he wants to lower T&E costs by 30 to 35 percent.

One area in which Harrison does not expect change is the number of crew members on each train. “I’m not a one-man crew advocate,” he said. “ . . . to take a 20,000 ton train on line of road, with one person, I don’t think it’s good business,”

Sounding like a union officer, Harrison said there are safety issues with one-person crews and he sees the value of having extra set of eyes and ears in the cab.

If one crew member had to deal with such things as a broken air hose or a knuckle failure, that could result in delays.

Harrison said one-person crews might make sense in some situation, citing switching at mines.

CSX Closing Stanley Yard Hump in Toledo

March 29, 2017

CSX plans to close the hump at Stanley Yard in Toledo, rearrange the schedules of trains originating there and convert the facility to flat switching.

The changes were to begin this week and be phased in over a period o f weeks.

A CSX spokeswoman told Trains magazine that the move will result in the elimination of 34 jobs. The yard will still have 40 workers once the restructuring is completed.

The laid off employees will be train service and maintenance employees, the Toledo Blade reported. CSX employs 360 workers in the Toledo area.

It will be the second time that CSX has reduced operations at Stanley.

It closed in spring 2004 but within days the railroad had resumed flat switching there and it reopened the hump that July due to freight congestion in neighboring rail yards.

Stanley Yard is a former Toledo & Ohio Central (later part of the New York Central) yard and one of two hump yards on CSX in Toledo.

Walbridge Yard, a former Chesapeake & Ohio facility, but its hump is no longer used.

Instead, Walbridge is used to sort auto rack cars and store unit trains of coal, grain and other bulk commodities that do not require en route sorting.

Stanley is the second CSX hump yard to be closed since E. Hunter Harrison became CEO on March 6.

The railroad also plans to cease hump operations at Tilford Yard in Atlanta.

CSX will have two hump yards left in Ohio at Willard and Queensgate Yard in Cincinnati.

CSX is framing the closing of the Tilford and Stanley hump yards as a cost cutting move that will make the railroad more efficient.

Among the trains that originate at Stanley are Q319 to Indianapolis; Q322 to Flint, Michigan; Q392 to Detroit; Q394 to Cumberland, Maryland (via Willard);  Q507 to Cincinnati; Q509 to Chicago; and Q511 to Louisville, Kentucky

It is not yet clear if these trains will now be handled at Willard or continue to be classified in Stanley by flat switching.

The Blade reported that another recent CSX practice, operating symbol trains every 28 hours, ended shortly after Harrison became head of CSX. The every 28 hours starts resulted in trains operating six days a week rather than seven.

The practice had been implemented more than a year ago. At the time, CSX had also combined the operation of some symbol freights.

Harrison is known for his operating philosophy of precision scheduled railroading, which seeks to reduce if not eliminate the number of times that a train is reclassified en route.