Shippers discuss poor communication with CSX

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WASHINGTON — Bill Scott says he's been working with CSX Transportation for 35 years, and he's not happy about the decline in service he's seen.

“I have seen service go from having a CSX agent at your door, to having to call someone in Jacksonville, Fla., who is looking at a computer screen, but knows nothing about your local facility or your local rail line,” said Scott, vice president of Collum's Lumber Products in Allendale, S.C.

Customer service was a major theme that ran through the Surface Transportation Board's listening session Oct. 11, where Scott and fellow CSX customers discussed the problems ranging from service disruptions to car supply to local switching service.

Shippers also said that CSX had not given enough advance notice about changes in network service. Mary Pileggi, logistics manager for the Chemours Co., and representing the National Industrial Transportation League, said that members were planning 24 to 36 months in advance what their transportation needs would be.

“Customer service is a critical function.” Pileggi said. “For anyone to think that a few weeks or a few days notice can fit into that model, they're wrong.”

E. Hunter Harrison, CSX’s CEO, was to have the final word at the day-long session, but Cindy Sanborn, the railroad’s chief operating officer, spoke in his place.

Sanborn said that the railroad had “loudly and clearly” heard what shippers said about communications. For any future changes, the CSX customer service department in Jacksonville would be notifying customers.

STB Acting Chairman Ann Begeman asked how many customer service representatives the company had. Bob Frulla, senior vice president of network operations, said that there were 40 customer service clerks and 40 managers, down from 120 people before the management changes.

Sanborn noted that several shippers had expressed pleasure with the service they've received under the new operating scheme.

“We are seeing an overall improvement in the network performance, but we understand that on an individual customer basis there may be differences in how they see it,” Sanborn said. “We do feel that precision scheduled railroading will take us to a better place than we've been in the past, and our customers will be very pleased with our efforts.”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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