CSX Transportation curtails operations at Cumberland, Md., locomotive shop

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LonegroFrank
Frank Lonegro, CSX Corp. Chief Financial Officer
CSX Corp.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – CSX Transportation has laid off about 100 workers at its locomotive shop in Cumberland, Md., as it reduces the facility from 24-hour operation to one daily shift.

Workers at the former Baltimore & Ohio shop were informed on May 11. The Cumberland Times-News reported that 96 workers and four supervisors were laid off.

CSX would not confirm the number of employees affected, noting that some of them will be eligible to transfer to positions elsewhere on the railroad.

“CSX informed employees last Friday that some positions in Cumberland were being eliminated as part of an ongoing company-wide review of operations to improve efficiency and safety and to better serve customers,” a CSX representative says.

The downsizing of the shop is in line with the reduction in the number of active locomotives in the CSX fleet. At the end of March, CSX reported an active locomotive fleet of 2,900 units, down 863 units from the first-quarter average a year ago. The railroad has 600 units stored serviceable.

Cumberland’s location on the edge of coal-mining country likely didn’t help the shop’s prospects. While coal traffic is up this year, it remains 47 percent below the year-to-date volume of 2011.

Cumberland’s car shop is not affected by the layoffs.

Last year the yard hump was idled at Cumberland, one of eight classification yards systemwide that was converted to flat-switching as part of then-CEO E. Hunter Harrison’s sweeping operational changes.

CSX reduced its workforce 14 percent in 2017, including the elimination of 3,300 employees. The railroad expects to reduce its workforce by around 2,200 positions this year, bringing its headcount to 25,000 by year’s end.

The layoffs are a byproduct of operational efficiency gains at CSX, which is moving the same amount of tonnage on fewer, longer trains.

The strategy has enabled the railroad to use far fewer locomotives and freight cars – and therefore fewer train crews and mechanical forces, Chief Financial Officer Frank Lonegro said at an investor conference this week.

The railroad is halfway to its anticipated workforce reductions this year, Lonegro says.
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