CSX Service Concerns Update

Here is an update to our post on July 25th regarding CSX’s service problems. Over the past month the Surface Transportation Board (STB) has expressed their concerns to CSX and the railroad has issued several statements.

A summary of events:

  • 7/27/17: The STB sent a letter to CSX’s CEO expressing concerns about deteriorated service resulting from the railroad’s operating changes. The STB also began having weekly conference calls with CSX representatives.
  • 7/31/17: CSX sent customers a letter from CEO reaffirming CSX’s commitment to customer service. Also put blame on employees.
  • 8/14/17: The STB sent a second letter to CSX CEO expressing continued concerns for the degradation of service, whether or not improvements are being put in place, and requesting the railroad provide performance indicators that will enable to STB and shippers to asses CSX’s recovery efforts.
  • 8/16/17:  The STB sent public letters to the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on CSX’s rail service issues.
  • 8/16/17: CSX CEO responded to several trade organizations claiming their statements of services experienced by some customers was unfounded and grossly exaggerated.
  • 8/22/17:  CSX announced that they added new service measurements to their web site as part of their commitment to improve efficiency and service.

CSX’s New Service Metrics

CSX will post the service metrics, and a reference file of restated historical data, online at www.csx.com/servicemetrics. The key service metrics they are providing:

  • Train velocity
  • Terminal dwell
  • Cars online

These metrics are already reported under STB Ex Parte No. 724 (dwell, trains delayed, cars held, and carload count are available on RSI’s Railroad Performance Reports page). However, CSX made the following changes to the way the service measures are reported on their website:

  • Train velocity expanded to include intermediate dwell, now measuring end-to-end transit time and speed.
  • Dwell expanded to include car dwell time at terminals on through trains, now measuring all car dwell time on an end-to-end trip.
  • Cars on-line reduced to exclude inactive car categories (e.g. stored, sold), now reflecting active freight cars online.

As CSX states, the revised calculations should more accurately reflect the company’s operational performance. CSX also posted a presentation with additional metrics that the STB requested. The additional metrics cover the prior 9 weeks and include on time origination/arrival, right car right train, train & engine headcount and re-crew rate, weekly car orders and fill rate, and customer service logs.

RSI’s Perspective

From our perspective, we have not seen any service improvement in:

  • Cars moving out of route.
  • Delayed cars.
  • Missed switches at origin and destination.
  • Transit and dwell time continues to increase.

It also sounds like more layoffs and yard closures are being discussed. Therefore, our short-term forecast for our customers is:

  • Expect continued delays and cars moving out of route.
  • Backlogs at major interchanges with other Class I railroads will cause delays on those connecting lines.
  • Once we do begin to see an improvement in CSX’s service, it could take several months for the backlog to clear out in badly congested areas.

Our recommendations to clients are:

  • Allow for increased transit times.
  • Route cars via other railroads where possible.
  • Plan to ship via other modes where possible, do not rely on a car arriving on time in a critical situation.
  • Continue to open problem logs with CSX as cars are mishandled.
  • RSI will help to escalate issues where plants are at risk of a shutdown due to mishandled cars.