- The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has sent its second letter within three weeks to CSX, this time requesting a detailed schedule on its intended changes for the remainder of 2017, reported Jacksonville.com. The STB also criticized CSX's earlier reply to its initial letter.
- Weekly phone meetings between the STB and CSX were required as a result of the first letter; however, with little success resulting, the agency issued its second written alert. The STB said that CSX had not provided enough hard data and that no improvements in service were observed.
- In addition to at least a dozen metrics of service that CSX should have ready to share with the STB via phone, the railroad has until August 24 to provide its list of changes.
The latest bump in the road for implementing Hunter Harrison's Precision Railroading at CSX involves negative feedback from more than 40 trade groups from around the country, representing everything from chemical and agricultural companies, beer makers and importers to steel and auto makers. The group has complained to U.S. lawmakers on both House and Senate Transportation committees about the "chronic service failures" at CSX, and how they might negatively impact the American rail network.
The trade groups are asking Congress to simplify the process of filing complaints and allowing other rail lines to use CSX tracks during numerous service disruptions. Current data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR) shows CSX dwell times — the average time a rail car sits at a terminal — have risen to 29.4 hours through the week of August 4 versus 26.2 hours for the same period in 2016. In addition, train speeds have lost two miles per hour, from 20.7 mph in 2016 to 18.7 mph, in 2017. The most egregious examples of increased delays occurred in Montgomery, Alabama, where dwell times leapt to 60.9 hours in 2017 versus 35.8 hours in 2016, and Nashville, Tennessee, where dwell times doubled to 71.9 hours.
In addition to staff furloughs and defections to Norfolk Southern and other lines, CSX is also suffering from depleted morale, as remaining workers and their unions defend themselves against Harrison's finger pointing and criticism. Now, with the STB demanding more detailed tracking, it's uncertain how Precision Railroading will continue to unfold.