Federal regulators schedule listening session on CSX service problems

RELATED TOPICS: REGULATION | CSX | EAST
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WASHINGTON — The Surface Transportation Board will hold a public listening session in September regarding ongoing service disruptions at CSX Transportation.

CSX executives are expected to provide an update on service recovery efforts during the meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 12. The session also will provide shippers with a forum to discuss how CSX service problems have affected their operations.

Federal regulators scheduled the meeting in response to a petition from coal producer Murray Energy, whose subsidiaries and affiliates have been highly critical of CSX service.

The nation’s largest privately owned coal mining company on Monday also asked the STB to begin a formal proceeding to investigate CSX’s service problems. In addition, the Murray companies asked the board to require CSX to disclose how it plans to improve service to the coal industry.

The STB on Thursday said a formal proceeding regarding CSX’s service problems was unnecessary. But it reserved the right to launch more formal action if warranted.

The board already is requiring CSX to participate in weekly service calls regarding service recovery efforts. The railroad also is required to file much more detailed service metrics every week to enable federal regulators to better monitor service levels.

“CSX looks forward to participating in the Surface Transportation Board’s listening session,” railroad spokesman Rob Doolittle says.

Interested parties have until Sept. 7 to let the STB know they intend to participate in the meeting. The meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. in the board’s hearing room, 395 E Street S.W. in Washington.

The STB last held similar rail service hearings after the harsh winter of 2013 and 2014 led to severe congestion in Chicago and elsewhere in the Midwest.

CSX began struggling in mid-July amid the broad operational changes CEO E. Hunter Harrison has made while implementing precision scheduled railroading. Two ill-timed major derailments in recent weeks only hurt the railroad’s operational performance.

Shippers have been complaining to Congress and federal regulators regarding widespread service disruptions. The erratic service has caused plant shutdowns and production slowdowns while forcing some CSX customers to resort to diverting shipments to trucks.

Harrison has told the STB to expect noticeable service improvements after Labor Day. The railroad’s latest report to the STB, issued on Monday, showed service had stabilized or improved in many areas across the system.

But terminal dwell remains high and average train speed remains low relative to long-term levels.

CSX says precision scheduled railroading ultimately will result in faster, more dependable service for shippers.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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