CSX operations stable, as performance metrics remain above last year’s levels

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — CSX Transportation is operating better than last year while the railroad continues to focus on executing the Precision Scheduled Railroading foundation built under the leadership of the late CEO E. Hunter Harrison, executives told federal regulators this week.

On-time performance averaged 75 percent so far this year, well above the 61 percent posted in the first quarter of 2017, according to CSX’s Feb. 6 report to the Surface Transportation Board and last year’s first-quarter regulatory filing.

Trains moved faster and cars spent less time in yards in January compared to last year’s marks, as well. Average velocity for January was 18 mph, up 19 percent from the 2017 average of 15.1 mph. January’s average terminal dwell of 10.5 hours was 7 percent below 2017 levels.

CSX reported 2,886 active road locomotives last week, down 482 units from last year’s average, as the railroad continues to move its tonnage on fewer trains. The active fleet sank 139 units during January, “in concert with network velocity improvement,” CSX said.

The train and engine crew headcount has continued to fall this year, driven by the faster network. Some 8,509 crew members were in service last week, down 9 percent from the average of 9,365 in 2017.

The railroad said its car-order fulfillment rate is averaging 99 percent so far this year. The local service measurement, which measures the percentage of cars pulled or placed at customer locations based on daily customer requests, stands at 84 percent this year, down from 87 percent in 2017.

Customer problem logs have declined for four straight weeks. For the year, the railroad is receiving an average of 236 problem logs per day, with most of the complaints about delayed cars. The railroad averaged 284 problem logs per day last year. The metric peaked at 570 per day during the height of last summer’s service problems, which prompted increased regulatory scrutiny and the railroad’s weekly reports to the STB.

The service issues last year drove some CSX customers away to trucks and railroad rival Norfolk Southern.

So far this year, CSX’s total volume is down 6.2 percent, with carloads off 10 percent and intermodal units down 1.2 percent, according to its latest Association of American Railroads weekly carload report.

The AAR reported that Class I railroad traffic was down 3.4 percent in January.

NS, meanwhile, saw its traffic dip just 0.5 percent in January, while its intermodal traffic grew 6 percent.

A spokesman for the Rail Customer Coalition, an umbrella group of railroad shippers, did not immediately return an email seeking comment on CSX service levels.
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