CSX: Performance metrics improve despite hurricane strike

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — CSX Transportation operations continue to improve despite the effects of Hurricane Irma last week, railroad executives told federal regulators on Monday.

Terminal dwell improved for the seventh straight week, and average train velocity improved for the fourth week, when adjusted for Irma-related preparations and post-storm service outages in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.

“Hurricane Irma did not interfere with broad recovery momentum,” CSX said in its presentation to the Surface Transportation Board, which was posted on the railroad’s website Tuesday morning.

Average train speed of 15 mph was the highest it’s been in nine weeks, while average terminal dwell of 11.2 hours was the lowest it’s been in 14 weeks. On-time originations and arrivals both rose, as well. The 66-percent on-time arrival rate was the highest in nine weeks and equal to last year’s figure.

The storm did, however, have a localized effect on CSX’s service metrics. The effects are likely to linger into this week’s numbers, as well.

CSX evacuated 1,500 freight cars from Florida before Irma hit. It also held thousands of cars and nearly 200 trains to avoid damage during the storm. The railroad relaunched service in the Southeast within hours, in and out of northern Florida within 24 hours, and through nearly all the rest of Florida within a week of the storm making landfall.

Crews cleared 8,000 fallen trees that blocked track and sent out more than 700 generators to power signals and grade-crossings after widespread commercial power outages.

Final hurricane repairs, as well as reducing hurricane-related traffic backlogs, are expected to be completed this week.

The improving service metrics may not necessarily be translating into better service, shippers say.

A chemical shipper complained to the STB last week regarding CSX’s significantly higher transit times, lost shipments of hazmat cars, and communications failures that disrupted the company’s operations.

“We have tried repeatedly to address these issues directly with CSX, but we have lost faith in their ability to self-correct,” Phil McDivitt, president and CEO of Ascend Performance Materials, wrote. “We ask the Surface Transportation Board to compel CSX to restore service to previous levels.”

CSX began experiencing service disruptions in July amid broad operational changes CEO E. Hunter Harrison has been making while implementing his precision scheduled railroading operating plan. CSX has said the problems are temporary and the new operating model will ultimately produce faster, more reliable service.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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