The new CEO of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Class I railroad CSX says that the precision scheduled railroading system implemented by his predecessor is not only still being adhered to, but has so far resulted in “a remarkable rate of positive change.”
In a Jan. 3 letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB), CSX CEO Jim Foote said the implementation of the precision scheduled railroading system consists of two phases, the first of which is “top-to-bottom changes” in a railroad’s operation, which is something that was undertaken by the railroad’s former CEO, E. Hunter Harrison, who died in December, following an illness.
Harrison only served as the head of CSX for nine months before his passing, but in that time, managed to “introduce the company to a new way of thinking” about its network, Foote said in his letter, “which led to major operational enhancements,” including conversions of some hump yards to flat switching, as well as “strategic adjustments” to other systems.
The second phase of precision scheduled railroading, Foote indicated to the STB, is daily execution of five tenets that had been put in place: service, asset utilization, safety, controlling costs and people.
“Our performance metrics show a remarkable rate of positive change,” Foote wrote. “Train velocity and car dwell have seen four consecutive months of improvement, and recent trends significantly exceed the prior full year average, while car handling efficiency and terminal fluidity also exceed 2016 levels.”
Foote’s letter was in response to a Dec. 14 request by the STB for an update on CSX’s transition to precision scheduled railroading. The STB had requested periodic updates since last fall, following an October listening session in which it heard from CSX about its service issues and recovery efforts, as well as hearing from rail shippers and other stakeholders affected by service disruptions.
The session was necessitated by complaints by shippers and others that CSX’s service had deteriorated markedly during the second quarter of last year, which coincided with CSX’s implementation of Harrison’s precision scheduled railroading strategy.
Specifically, rail shippers that rely on CSX had said they they’ve experienced increased and unpredictable transit times, loaded and empty railcars sitting at yards for days, unreliable switching operations and congestion at critical gateways, among other issues.
But according to Foote, most of the issues have not only been resolved, but the railroad is in an excellent position moving forward.
“As network velocity continues to improve and cars cycle more quickly, CSX expects to continue fulfilling demand at high levels,” Foote wrote. “At every level, we are focused on executive PSR each day to improve transit times, enhance reliability and strengthen lines of communication with customers through the upcoming year.”
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