Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Class 1 Railroads’

STB Finds 4 Class 1 RRs Revenue Adequate

September 7, 2017

Four Class I railroads were revenue adequate last year, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board has determined.

That means that Norfolk Southern, BNSF, Union Pacific and the Soo Line (the U.S. subsidiary of Canadian Pacific achieved a rate of return on investment equal to or greater than the Board’s calculation of the average cost of capital to the freight rail industry.

The STB determined that the 2016 railroad industry cost of capital was 8.88 percent. The revenue adequacy figure was calculated for each of the Class I freight railroads in operation as of Dec. 31, 2016, by comparing this figure to 2016 ROI data obtained from the carriers’ Annual Report R-1 Schedule 250 filings.

The Class I ROI figures were: BNSF, 10.11 percent; CSX, 8.62 percent;  Grand Trunk (including U.S. affiliates of Canadian National Railway), 8.60 percent;  Kansas City Southern, 6.23 percent; Norfolk Southern, 9.20 percent; Soo Line, 9.58 percent and Union Pacific, 13.39 percent.


U.S. Class 1 Railroad Employment Fell in July

August 22, 2017

The Surface Transportation Board reported that U.S. Class 1 railroad employment fell 0.7 percent in July when compared to the previous month.

The railroads had 147,540 workers in the United States as of mid-July, which was down 3.4 percent from the same period in 2016. Employment fell in all six employment categories.

The number of executives, officials and staff assistants declined 0.24 percent to 8,678; professional and administrative staff, 0.3 percent to 12,643; maintenance of way and structures workers, 0.57 percent to 33,849; maintenance of equipment and stores employees, 0.97 percent to 27,036; transportation (other than train and engine) ranks, 0.26 percent to 5,790; and transportation (train and engine) workers, 0.92 percent to 59,544.

When compared to 2016, the July 2017 figures showed that all employment categories except one posted declines.

The number of professional and administrative staff was down 7.7 percent; executives, officials and staff assistants, down 6.5 percent;  maintenance of way and structures, down 6.5 percent; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 5.1 percent; and transportation (other than T&E), down 5.3 percent.

The number of T&E employees rose 1.04 percent.

CSX Contends it has Cut Freight Transit Times

July 14, 2017

Despite some performance metrics showing mixed results, CSX management contends that it is making substantial progress in implementing its precision scheduled railroading operating plan.

CSX Chief Operating Officer Cindy Sanborn told Trains magazine that CSX has cut transit times by reducing the number of times that cars are handled en route.

She was responding to a report by the magazine that found that during June terminal dwell has increased 8 percent and average train speed fell by 4 percent.

Those figures were taken from reports that Class I railroads must provide to federal regulators.

“What you don’t see are the cars that used to go into that terminal . . . but don’t go into the terminal anymore,” Sanborn said.

She said that means that when a car is handled just once instead of twice, it arrives a day earlier, which reduces shipper costs.

The latter is primarily the case with shippers who own their own fleet of cars and reduce the size of their fleet because cycle times have improved.

CSX also contends that it is providing more consistent service. Sanborn said that through June 10, CSX was operating trains on-time 79 percent of the time.
Sanborn said reducing transit times has been the primary motivation for closing hump operations and shifting to flat-switching at major classification yards.

Before the implantation of its current operating plan, CSX road freights would pick up blocks of traffic bound for the nearest hump yard.

But now Sanborn said the only traffic going to a hump or classification yard is that which needs to go there.

She said that although locals are still pre-blocking traffic for the nearest hump yard, they also build blocks for additional destinations.

Those blocks are picked up by road trains and block-swapped or switched closer to their final destination.

Sanborn acknowledged that there will continue to be teething pains and issues that must be addressed as the railroad implements its operating plans.

The railroad’s operating team is constantly monitoring performance and is seeking to balance daily traffic flows by shifting some unit train traffic onto manifest freights.

This has been particularly the case with auto rack traffic and aggregate shipments that once traveled in dedicated trains.

Consolidating traffic has meant that CSX will be operating the same number of trains in each direction on every corridor, which Sanborn said will improve locomotive and crew utilization by reducing deadheading moves.

The railroad’s goal is to move the same tonnage on fewer trains.

Class 1 Rail Employment Down 0.14% in April

May 23, 2017

Employment at U.S. Class 1 railroads fell 0.14 percent in April, the Surface Transportation Board said this week.

Between mid-March and Mid-April there were 149,107 workers on Class 1s. That figure is a drop of 2.64 percent compared with figures from the same period in 2016.

Of the six employment categories, half reported decreases compared with mid-March. This included executives, officials and staff assistants, down 2.5 percent to 8,832 employees; professional and administrative, down 4.04 percent to 12,671; and maintenance of equipment and stores, down 0.28 percent to 27,849.

Rising during the period was employment of maintenance of way and structures, up 0.35 percent to 34,218 workers; transportation (other than train and engine), up 0.09 percent to 5,849; and transportation (train and engine), up 0.84 percent to 59,688.

On a year-over-year basis, executives, officials and staff assistants were down 5.35 percent; professional and administrative, down 8.21 percent; maintenance of way and structures, down 5.45 percent; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 4.19 percent; and transportation (other than train and engine), down 6.15 percent.

Transportation (train and engine) was the only category to post an increase in employment on a year-over-year basis, rising 2 percent.

Class I Railroad Employment up in March

May 2, 2017

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board reported that U.S. Class 1 railroad employment rose by 0.32 percent between mid-February and mid-March. However, employment was still down by 2.86 percent compared with the same period in 2016.

Three employment categories saw declines this year, including executives, officials and staff assistants, down 0.44 percent to 9,058; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 0.05 percent to 27,927; and transportation (other than train and engine), down 0.73 percent to 5,844.

The number of professional and administrative workers rose 0.03 percent to 13,204; maintenance of way and structures, up 0.09 percent to 34,099; and transportation (train and engine), up 0.92 percent to 59,191.

Compared with 2016’s report, the number of executives, officials and staff assistants was down 3.36 percent; professional and administrative was down 5.17 percent; maintenance of way and structures was down 5.28 percent; maintenance of equipment and stores was down 4.99 percent; and transportation (other than train and engine) was down 5.82 percent.

The number of transportation (train and engine) workers increased 0.62 percent compared with mid-March 2016.

CN Net Income up 12% in 1st Quarter

April 26, 2017

Canadian National’s first quarter 2017 net income increased by 12 percent to C$884 million, while diluted earnings per share increased 16 percent to C$1.16, compared with the first quarter of 2016.

Adjusted net income increased 11 percent to C$879 million, with adjusted diluted EPS increasing 15 percent to C$1.15.

Operating income increased 7 percent to C$1.3 billion. Revenues increased by 8 percent to C$3.2 billion. Carloadings increased 9 percent and revenue ton-miles increased 14 percent. Operating expenses increased 9 percent to C$1.9 billion, mainly due to higher fuel prices and higher costs due to increased volumes of traffic. The operating ratio of 59.4 percent, was an increase of 0.5 of a point from the prior-year quarter. Free cash flow was C$848 million, up from C$584 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Revenues increased for coal (39 percent), grain and fertilizers (16 percent), metals and minerals (16 percent), automotive (10 percent), intermodal (7 percent), and petroleum and chemicals (1 percent). Revenues declined for forest products (3 percent).

CN said the increase in revenues was mainly attributable to higher volumes of Canadian and U.S. grain, frac sand, coal exports, overseas intermodal traffic, and finished vehicles; freight rate increases; and higher applicable fuel surcharge rates. These factors were partly offset by the negative translation impact of a stronger Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues. Rail freight revenue per carload decreased by 1 percent.

Class 1 Employment Rose in February

March 23, 2017

Class 1 railroad employment ticked up 0.28 percent in mid-February, but was down 3.48 percent when compared with the February 2016.

The U.S. Surface Transportation  Board said the railroads employed 148,843 in the United States as of mid-February.

Of the six employment categories, three reflected increases compared with January’s employment report.

The number of train and engine employees rose 1.05 percent to 58,650 employees; executives, officials and staff assistants were up 0.24 percent to 9,098; and professional and administrative employees were up 0.08 percent to 13,200.

Categories reflecting decreases were maintenance of way and structures, down 0.31 percent to 34,067 employees; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 0.33 percent to 27,941; and transportation (other than train and engine), down 0.41 percent to 5,887.

Compared with mid-February 2016, all employment categories reflected decreases. The number of executives, officials and staff assistants was down 4.03 percent; professional and administrative, down 5.87 percent; maintenance of way and structures, down 4.91 percent; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 5.8 percent; transportation (other than train and engine), down 7.07 percent; and transportation (train and engine), down 0.41 percent.

Harrison’s Compensation at CSX Outlined

March 9, 2017

Hunter Harrison and CSX agreed to a base salary of $2.2 million, the railroad said this week in a regulatory filing.

The compensation package also includes an annual target bonus opportunity of up to $2.8 million, with that amount as a guaranteed bonus this year.

Harrison will receive options on 9 million shares of CSX stock, which is valued at $448 million at its current price of $49.79 per share.

Half of those options will hinge on his continued employment and the other half are tied to his meeting a series of performance targets.

The agreement to hire Harrison as its CEO also came with a number of changes in the CSX board of directors.

Clarence Gooden is no longer vice chairman and board member Timothy O’Toole has resigned immediately.

CSX’ has amended its corporate bylaws to separate the roles of CEO and chairman of the board as well as to change the mandatory retirement age of 75. Harrison is 72.

Although it remains to be seen how Harrison’s management philosophy will play out at CSX, analysts expect that he will further thin the number of managers and employees at the company, close yards and shops, and sell off some rail routes.

These measures will be aimed at improving operations, reducing expenses and boosting profitability.

Some have noted that CSX is far different than were Canadian National and Canadian Pacific when he took over as CEO at those railroads.

The Canadian roads were linear systems whereas CSX has a more complex route network.

That will challenge Harrison to impose his precision scheduled railroading philosophy, which he developed as CEO of the Illinois Central Railroad in the 1990s.

One decision Harrison will need to make will be whether to continue the CSX of Tomorrow strategy, which emphasized intermodal and merchandise traffic while focusing on its major routes operating in a triangle operating from Chicago to New Jersey to Florida and then back to Chicago.

CSX, Harrison Reach Agreement on CEO Post

March 6, 2017

CSX said Monday afternoon it has reached an agreement to hire E. Hunter Harrison as its CEO effective immediately.

Current CEO Michael Ward, who had announced on Feb. 21 that he would retire on May 31, will become a consultant to CSX.

The railroad also said it has reached a pact with hedge fund Mantle Ridge to reorganize the CSX board of directors.

In a news release, CSX said it would appoint five new directors agreed upon by Mantle Ridge and current CSX management.

They are Paul Hilal, who founded Mantle Ridge, Harrison, Dennis Reilley, Linda Riefler and John Zillmer.

Three incumbent directors will complete their terms at or before the conclusion of the CSX 2017 annual meeting. The CSX board will then have 13 members.

Edward J. Kelly, III, the current presiding director, will become chairman of the board and Hilal will become vice chairman.

Harrison will receive an award of incentive options to purchase nine million shares of CSX stock at its current trading price, eight million of which will be granted as an inducement award under the Nasdaq listing rules, CSX said in its news release.

The options will vest over four years with half of the options vesting based on service and half vesting based on the achievement of designated performance goals over the four-year period.

However, the CSX board will still seek shareholder direction with regard to an $84 million payment to cover compensation and benefits that Harrison forfeited by retiring early from Canadian Pacific.

CSX said that Harrison, 72, has said that his acceptance of the CEO position is subject to CSX ultimately providing this replacement protection initially offered by Mantle Ridge upon his departure from CP.

If he does not receive the reimbursement and tax indemnity that he is seeking, Harrison will resign after the 2017 CSX annual meeting.

CSX said it will ask CSX shareholders to conduct an advisory vote during the annual meeting.

A previously announced special stockholders meeting will not be conducted.

The news that CSX, Harrison and Mantle Ridge has reached an agreement was reported in various news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, before it was formally announced by CSX.

CSX Layoffs Affect 20% of Employees

March 1, 2017

The plans by CSX to lop off up to 1,000 management employees is expected to affect more than 20 percent of its workforce and save at least $175 million annually.

CSX logo 1In a regulatory filing this week, the railroad said it will take a pre-tax charge of at least $160 million related to employee termination benefits, including severance, pension, and stock compensation costs.

Those losing their jobs are expected to receive severance pay equal to two times their base salary.

They also will receive a target bonus and a prorated bonus payment and be credited with three additional years of age and two additional years of service under the company pension plan.

The layoffs are expected to be completed by the middle of this month.

CSX CEO Michael Ward, who will be retiring at the end of May, has described the layoffs as “essential to CSX’s ability to remain competitive in a challenging and changing market.”

The management restructuring is part of an on-going cost cutting campaign over the past year that has seen CSX reduce expenses by $430 million. The railroad also has said that it expects to reap another $150 million this year through efficiency and productivity gains.

Much of the cost cutting has been triggered by the loss of coal revenue, which has been $2 billion over the past five years and $470 million last year alone.

At the same time that it is cutting its management ranks, CSX is implementing a program of long-term incentives for managers who remain that is tied to performance units, restricted stock units, and stock options that will account for 50 percent, 25 percent, and 25 percent of the payouts, respectively.

New CSX President Fredrik Eliasson will see his base salary increase to $700,000. His short-term incentive opportunity has increased to 100 percent of annual base salary and the value of his target long-term equity incentive award rose to $2.5 million.